Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer.

With the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars and plenty of romance, bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer weaves a story of secrets and lies—set in a funeral parlor.

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

The Secrets of Lily Graves comes out May 13, 2014.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Boxers & Saints wins SLJ's 2014 Battle of the Kid's Books.

30 worst book covers and titles.  Some of them are seriously, seriously bad.  From Bored Panda.

Stephen Colbert rips into the Common Core.  From SLJ.

2013 most challenged books.  Captain Underpants tops the list.  Yawn.  From PW.

Idaho students get copies of novel banned from their curriculum.  From Settle Pi

L.J. Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries, uses fan fiction to reclaim her series.  From The Wall Street Journal.

Eric Carle museum honors author of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.  From SLJ.

E. Lockhart on embracing the young adult inside her.  From The Los Angeles Times.

Govenor Cuomo changes his mind about using Common Core test results for teacher evaluations.  From SLJ.

City schools and the Free Library of Philadelphia merge databases and get nearly 100,000 kids library cards.  Yay for doing something good for the children, Philadelphia!  From Library Journal.

Mariko Tamaki and Jilliam Tamaki on their new YA graphic novel This One Summer. From PW.

5 reasons to take your kid to the library.  From The Huffington Post.

ALA report: school libraries under fire.  From PW.

The third Divergent movie will be split into two.  Of course it will.  From EW.

On that note, hey, stop splitting YA books into multiple movies!  From Time Magazine.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Glitter Trap by Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Lacey Unger-Ware (yes, her real name) is in for a boatload of trouble when popular girl Paige Harrington's fairy godmother, Katarina, gets trapped in Lacey's hair.  With Katarina out of commission, Lacey has to take over Katarina's fairy godmother duties and get Paige her heart's desire.  If she doesn't, Lacey's heart's desire will never come true either!

Poor Lacey.  What were her parents thinking?  Bad enough to hyphenate Unger-Ware, but then to name their child Lacey?  Terrible.  Lacey was a fun character.  She's not popular, but she's also not a loner or desperate to become popular.  She's a bit intimidated by the popular kids, but she's got a great best friend, Sunny, and seems a pretty happy, well-adjusted kid, despite getting teased about her name.  She's got a great family.  Her parents are warm and supportive and has an adorable/annoying little sister.

Paige just came to Lacey's middle school that year, but is already the most popular girl in the class, and one of the kids who calls Lacey "underwear girl."  Lacey doesn't know much about Paige, just that she's pretty and popular and seems to have a personal spotlight shinning on her wherever she goes, while Lacey feels awkward and, well, like a middle school kid!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Yulia lives in Communist Russia in the early 1960s.  Yulia has an unusual ability, she can read the minds of people she touches, and when she touches objects can read the memories of the people who have touched them.  Yulia is captured by the KGB and forced to work as a spy, along with a handful of other psychic teenagers.  Their job is to find a traitor in the Russian space program who is passing secrets to the Americans.  Yulia quickly realizes that she is not being told everything about her powers, and that her mind is not truly her own.

I was enjoying this when it first started off.  But then things started making less and less sense and I had more and more questions. 

I liked the idea behind the story, and I liked the setting.  Russia during the Cold War in the midst of the Space Race.  Yulia has learned first hand that while everyone is supposed to be equal in Communist Russia, some people are more equal than others.  The KGB can show up at any time and take you or your family away, which is exactly what happens to Yulia.  She agrees to work for the KGB because they have her mother and brother.

Yulia finds that the other kids in the program have different kinds of psychic abilities.  Some can see the future, others can view remotely, one can even manipulate people's thoughts.  The head of the program, Rostov, is also a "scrubber," someone with the ability to manipulate people's minds, and Yulia beings to realize she can't trust her own thoughts.  What is her own and what's been erased or put there by someone else?  It's difficult to know who to trust.  So a good premise, but there were a lot of holes.

There will be lots of spoilers, so just be prepared.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stoke.

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Art of Lainey by Paula Stoke.

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with, if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?

The Art of Lainey comes out May 10, 2014.


Happy National Library week!  

Teen Lit Day is Thursday!  Celebrate by Rocking the Drop.  From readergirlz.

Should celebrities stop writing children's books?  From The Guardian.

The 10 most notorious parts of famous books.  From PW.

Where's the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss?  From CNN.

Madeleine L'Engle on  creativity, censorship, writing, and the duty of children's books.  From brainpickings.

Lauren Myracle on censorship.  From The Huffington Post.

Five slightly more plausible dystopias Quirk Books would like to see as YA novels.

Recent wins on school library positions spark optimism.  From SLJ.

Children's books: a shifting market.  From PW.

9 children's book morals for adulthood.  From Mashable.

Speak turns 15.  From Entertainment Weekly.

Writing middle grade fiction's first boy-boy kiss.  From SLJ.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King.


Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities—but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way...until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.

A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last—a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future comes out October 14, 2014.

Monday, April 7, 2014


New book features unpublished songs by Margaret Wise Brown.  From SLJ.

Bechel reacts to Fun Home controversy in South Caroline.  From PW.

Lost poem of Douglas Adams.  From The Guardian.

Diversity issues in librarianship.  From SLJ.

SLJ talks to Susan Kuklin about her book on transgender teens.

Retelling 12 Years a Slave for a younger audience.  From National Geographic.

It's the 100th birthday of Dr. Seuss

A Dr. Seuss-inspired guide to Twitter.  From HootSource.

What Dr. Seuss can teach an adult about life.  From The Huffington Post.

Principals Know: school librarians are the heart of the school

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Why are booksellers afraid of children's poetry?  From The Guardian.

Guess what?  Babies can't learn to read.  From The Atlantic.

French booksellers pose naked to support children's book on nudity.  From The Guardian.

An open letter to JK Rowling to not stop writing. From The Huffington Post.

Escapist postcards from YA favorites.  From BookRiot.

This makes me happy: Memorial services for E.L. Konigsburg held at the Metropolitan Museum.  From PW.

Dr. Seuss influenced nearly every American who learned to read.  From The Denver Post.

Children's book villains get sentenced in court.  From Book Patrol.

Ten classic children's books that will never be dated.  From BookRiot.

YA retellings brought to you by Epic Reads.

Harriet the Spy at 50:

Harriet the Spy turns 50.  From The Washington Post.

Contemporary authors reflect on Harriet the Spy.  From BookTribe.

Harriet the Spy: the most unlikeable hero in children's books.  From Salon.

Harriet the Spy turns 50.  From Al Jazeera America.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Greenglass House by Kate Milford.

A rambling old inn, a strange map, an attic packed with treasures, squabbling guests, theft, friendship, and an unusual haunting mark this smart middle grade mystery in the tradition of the Mysterious Benedict Society books and Blue Balliet’s Chasing Vermeer series.

Greenglass House will be out August 26, 2014.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

It's shortly after WWII, and Jack Baker finds himself in a boys' boarding school in Main, far away from his home in Kansas.  There he meets Early Auden, a strange boy with a fascination with the number pi.  During school vacation, Jack and Early are the only ones left at school, and they head out onto the Appalachian Trail on a quest.

This reminded me a bit of Francesca Lia Block's Love in the Time of Global Warming.  Not in writing style, of course.  But in both books we have a story, in LITTOFW it was The Odyssey, in Navigating Early it was the story of Pi, and the characters in the book go off on a journey that perfectly mirrors the story they read/heard/told.  I enjoyed Navigating Early much more.

It's an odd little book, one I think that's probably going to have more appeal to adults than middle grade kids, but I could be wrong about that.  It does have some boy appeal in two guys going off on an adventure.

Jack is torn up about the loss of his mother, although he tries not to show it.  He hardly knows his navy father, recently returned from the war, and his father is not the best at comfort and talking.  Jack feels lost and adrift, and the Main boarding school isn't helping to anchor him.

Although Jack is casual friends with the other boys, Early is the only one who really talks to him.  Early is odd.  He's probably has Autism in some form.  That's just my guess, it's not actually said in the book, that wouldn't have been appropriate for the time period.  Early has a number of characteristics that would fit though.  His father is recently dead, and he's living in the school basement, hardly ever going to class, and no one seems to care enough to do anything about it.  Early is adrift too, but in a different way.  What grounds him is the number pi.  In the never-ending numbers, Early can read a story, about a boy called Pi that loses his way, but finds his way home.

Early's brother has died in the war.  But Early is convinced his brother isn't dead, and that he's tied up in the story of Pie.  If only the story can have an ending, if Pi can find his way home, Early's brother will be able to as well.

Jack goes along with Early, mostly to not be left behind and alone.  Their journey mirrors Pi's journey, all the twists and turns, the meeting of strange characters and escaping danger.  Early is unflaggingly determined, Jack is skeptical.  The journey allows both boys to anchor themselves, although perhaps in unexpected ways.

I liked both the characters of Jack and Early.  They were well developed and unique and their actions were always believable.  The story surprised me and kept me interested.  Although there is action and adventure and even pirates, for heaven's sake, it's still overall a very quiet, thoughtful sort of book.
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