29 August, 2013

YA Movie Time

Hi, everyone! Just checking in on the latest news on the YA movie scene. It seems like so many YA books are being turned into movies these days. I think it's great. They may not all be winners but I appreciate the attempt. I saw The Mortal Instruments movie last night and I thought it was entertaining. Not my favorite but certainly better than I expected. So here is a roundup of some of the upcoming book to film releases. 

Of course the big news this week was the release of the Divergent teaser trailer. It really is a tease - just over 10 seconds long. But with that brief glimpse I think we can see the tone of the film and all of the actors look great. I have a soft spot for Maggie Q, too, so hoping this one is good. Divergent releases March 21, 2014.

How I Live Now is based on a book by Meg Rosoff and stars Saroirse Ronan. I didn't know about this until just recently. I have not read this book yet but I hear good things about Rosoff and this trailer looks good. Pretty intense but good. How I Live Now had a release date of August 13, 2013 though I don't know if that release has gone wide yet.

I am pretty excited about the Ender's Game movie. It looks epic and the imagery looks great. I am hoping this one lives up to my expectations. Ender's Game will be released on November 1, 2013.

I finally saw The Book Thief trailer this weekend preceding The Mortal Instruments. Like any movie about The Holocaust/WWII, it looks intense. I may be the only person of my acquaintance who has not read this book yet (I swear I own it and am going to read it!). It looks great and you gotta love Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. Promise I will read this one soon. The Book Thief will release on November 15, 2013.

Lastly, we come to Vampire Academy, the book that I am the biggest fangirl for. I have really high hopes for this one because I love the series so much and I am a fan of the director. I don't love the trailer - it's a bit campy at times. But I reserve judgement since this is just a trailer and I know that anything with Mark Waters is going to have some camp and sarcasm involved. I buy Zoey Deutch as Rose and Dmitri looks hot. Lissa's not who I imagined in my head but I don't mind her. We'll see what happens though. Really hoping it's good. Vampire Academy comes out February 14, 2014.

28 August, 2013

Call for Blog Tour Hosts! Middle Grade Readers

I have two great middle grade books to send out right now, so if you have a blog and are interested in these titles, please let me know! Email frootjoos at gmail dot com with the subject "Middle Grade Blog Tour"! You can also fill out the form embedded below.

The first book is a middle grade fantasy. 

The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog by Frances Sackett

Release date: October 1, 2013 from Holiday House

Peter Lubinsky, who doesn’t even like dogs, suddenly finds himself compelled to adopt a scraggly white mutt from the local shelter. It turns out that The Dog, as Peter dubs him, can talk and do magic! But he needs Peter’s help to rescue his former master. In exchange, The Dog will teach Peter enough magic to bring his father home from the Middle East, where he is deployed with the air force. So Peter embarks on an incredible adventure, flying through the air to the magician’s fantastic mansion: a wonderland of childhood delights, including a nonstop carnival with rides, games, and prizes. But as Peter’s magical power grows, he finds himself filled with dark anger. Is he turning evil? 
A bedroom full of dinosaur fossils, a waiter who was formerly a mouse, and an epic battle of magicians add thrills galore to this fantasy about the power of enchantment and love.

The second book is a beautifully illustrated non-fiction book about rivers.

River Life: A Journey from Headwaters to the Sea by Marianne D. Wallace

Release date: May 15, 2013 from Holiday House

Add to Goodreads | Order now on Amazon

Published in partnership with the Rivers Institute at Hanover College 
From a small stream in a Pennsylvania woodland, this book follows the seasons of river life along three connected rivers: the Allegheny during spring, the Ohio during summer and the Lower Mississippi during fall. 
What animals and plants will you find along the river's edge? How do the changing seasons affect the insects, flowers and birds you might see? Why do some of the fish and other animals found in the water live among rocks and gravel while others are found in sandy or silty areas? 
River Life: A Journey from Headwaters to the Sea is a great book for river exploration, even if you never leave home.
In addition, the table of contents, glossary, list of scientific names, river facts of the world and index make this book an excellent educational resource for classrooms and home schooling.

Thanks for checking them out! If you are not a blogger but are interested in these books too, please consider adding them to your to-be-read shelves or wish lists.

Ugly Fish - Review

Ugly Fish 
by Kara LaReau (author) and Scott Magoon (illustrations)
Publication date: 01 June 2006 by HMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 0152050825 | 9780152050825
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Category: Children's Picture Book
Keywords: Picture book, dark humor, bullying
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library


Ugly Fish is ugly and big and mean, and he won't share his driftwood tunnel or his special briny flakes with anyone. And that means the wimpy little fish who keep showing up in his tank have got to go. But then one day someone bigger and uglier and maybe even meaner arrives . . . and suddenly Ugly Fish isn't feeling quite so confident anymore.

From Kara LaReau, author of the Rocko and Spanky series, here is an irreverent and terrifically funny book about a bully who at last gets his comeuppance.


I picked up Ugly Fish at my local library last week based purely on the cover. Ugly Fish stared at my defiantly as if daring me to read him. Not one to be cowed by a mere illustration, I took the book home with me.

Ugly Fish lives in a very nice fish tank all by himself. He has a driftwood tunnel and is fed special fish flakes. Life is great until, one day, a new fish arrives. The new fishwants to be friends with Ugly Fish but Ugly Fish doesn't want to share his tank with anyone. So what does Ugly Fish do? He eats the new fish! This happens several more times, with new fish arriving and promptly being eaten. Now Ugly Fish is truly alone in his fish tank. After awhile though, Ugly Fish begins to feel quite lonely and wishes for a friend. He gets his wish when a new, bigger fish comes to live in the tank. Unfortunately for Ugly Fish, Shiny Fish doesn't like to share and Ugly Fish soon ends up in his belly.

This is a really great story with a subtle lesson. The message here is to treat others how you want to be treated and also that it's not cool to be a bully. Ugly Fish finds himself friendless and alone after his bad behavior. When he finally realizes the error of his ways, it's too late, and he has to suffer the consequences. I picked this book up because of the illustrations and they did not disappoint. Animated and colorful, they really brought the story to life.

I think children will like it because the story is funny and the ending is unexpected. I'd definitely recommend this for children and adults who have a darker sense of humor. A very fun, clever read!

Visit the author online at karalareau.com and follow her on Twitter @karalareau

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

26 August, 2013

The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic - Blog Tour

Today we welcome author Uma Krishnaswami who has written about a character in her new middle grade novel, The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic! Make sure you stick around after the post and watch the trailer, then enter the giveaway! (cross-posted at cleverbee.org)

Dini and Maddie are together again in this fun follow-up to The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. Dini travels home to attend Bollywood star Dolly Singh's U.S. premiere. The two girls will be part of the festive opening ceremonies and everything seems as perfect as a rose petal milk shake. So why can’t Dini untie the knot in her stomach? Because there is so much that can go wrong when a big star like Dolly is in town. Is that an elephant walking down the street?

Mini’s Memory

Mini of course has the memory of an elephant, and this is what she remembers about what happened in the story that everyone is now calling The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic, except for the kid, Maddie, who is calling it TPWBSH.

To begin with, Mini remembers a whole big mess of thumping and hammering in the Elephant House at the place that everyone calls the National Zoo. Among the thumping and the hammering, Mini remembers peanuts. Crunchy peanuts, roasty peanuts. Ooh-yoo delicious peanuts. There is a lock in there somewhere as well, and a click, and a walk. Yes, that would be a long, long walk with machines zipping past her and making honking noises and even humans sticking their heads out of the machines and yelling, which is not at all a nice thing to do but there you are.

There are other machines that fly overhead and do things that are downright terrifying. Mini remembers running around and around, seeing the same island of flowers blurring as she goes, feeling her elephant heart thudding to bursting. Something flies by her and someone falls down which is also not what people usually do in Mini’s view of how the world should be. She wants things happy, and falling-down people are not happy.

Screaming. She knows there was screaming from small people and big people.

Mini & Dolly
illus. Abigail Halpin

All of this happened on a big, long road with trees on both sides and a bridge, with stone carvings on either end. Oh, Mini’s mind is just full of these rememberings.

But wait. There is a starry person in the remembering as well, with jangly bangles on her hands and a scent of roses. Oh, Mini loves that starry person. She’ll sit down for that person anytime. The person tickles her between the eyes which makes Mini as happy as peanuts! Dancing. There is dancing. And a sweet, soft eating of something Kris wouldn’t want to give her but she sneaks some anyway. Only the kids are around to see and they’re laughing, which is a very nice sound, much better than hammering and screaming and such. Mini likes kids to laugh. She likes kids in general and these three look pretty promising. And because you want to know, Mini says the soft eating thing is just mmm-mmm. It’s rosy-perfect, better than peanuts even.

Go on. Look for it, Mini says. Right in the pages of that story with the long name.

Enter to win a copy of the book here! (US only, ends 9/3)

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Uma Krishnaswami is the author of several books for children, including the first story featuring Dini, Maddie, and Dolly, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. She is also on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Ms. Krishnaswami was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives in Aztec, New Mexico.

To learn more, visit her website: http://www.umakrishnaswami.com/.

Follow all of the unforgettable characters from The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic on Uma Krishnaswami’s blog tour!

Follow all of the unforgettable characters from The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic on Uma Krishnaswami’s blog tour!

Mon, Aug 19 - GreenBeanTeenQueen - Dini
Tues, Aug 20 - There's a Book - Maddie
Wed, Aug 21 - Once Upon a Story - Soli Dustup
Thurs, Aug 22 - The Compulsive Reader - Dini's father
Fri, Aug 23 - Sharpread - Chickoo Uncle
Sat, Aug 24 - Booking Mama - review
Mon, Aug 26 - Read Now, Sleep Later - Mini
Tues, Aug 27 - I Read Banned Books - Dolly
Wed, Aug 28 - Through the Wardrobe - Chef Armend Latifi
Thurs, Aug 29 - The Book Monsters - Ollie
Fri, Aug 30 - The Brain Lair - Alana

24 August, 2013


Thanks to Claire Legrand for including us in her blog tour for The Year of Shadows! Check out her guest post and giveaway, then head over to the other stops on the tour. (cross-posted over at cleverbee.org)

The Year of Shadows - Click to find out more

The Music of The Year of Shadows, Part II

Music always has been and always will be a huge part of my writing process, but probably never more so than when writing The Year of Shadows. This story takes place at a music hall and the main character’s father conducts their city’s orchestra. At the beginning of The Year of Shadows, main character Olivia is overcome with bitterness and resentment toward music. It’s an understandable sentiment; her father’s obsession with his orchestra drove Olivia’s mother out of the house and causes him to neglect Olivia in a time during which she desperately needs him. Will Olivia ever be able to work through her personal demons in order to love music and her father’s orchestra as she once did? Of course, you’ll have to read to find out. ;)

Below you’ll find a few clips from my “soundtrack” for The Year of Shadows. I listened to this music while brainstorming, drafting, and revising, which I do for every project. The music in my book playlists typically follows the plot of the story, scene by scene. The playlist for The Year of Shadows was special in that it is comprised of two parts: instrumental music that inspired me while writing, and the orchestral music Maestro Stellatella’s orchestra performs throughout the book. I hope you enjoy listening to this music! Be sure to check out the other “Music of The Year of Shadows” posts at The Book Cellar (August 21) and Novel Sounds (August 28).


This track, “Ikea” from the 500 Days of Summer score by Mychael Danna & Rob Simonsen, is my theme for one of Olivia’s friends from school—Joan Elizabeth Dawson, junior activist and self-proclaimed séance expert. Joan’s family is wealthy—her “Daddy” is a very important businessman in town—but that doesn’t stop Joan from attaching herself to misfit Olivia and her quest to help the Emerson Hall ghosts and save the City Philharmonic. Joan was so fun to write; she’s excitable, earnestly throws around SAT words, and doesn’t focus on her looks or her money. Olivia says “Joan would have probably been popular, if she’d cared about things like that.”

“Cliffs”, from the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack by Karen O and the Kids, is one of my favorite tracks on the playlist. I think of it as my theme for Olivia. It’s sweet, lilting, innocent, and dreamy. I can imagine Olivia distractedly humming to herself much like the vocalist in this song—maybe lounging on the catwalk above the Emerson Hall stage, sketching monsters and kicking her heels together, while Igor rests on her back and scrutinizes her progress over her shoulder.

After Olivia’s mom left, she isolated herself from pretty much everyone in her life. Figuring she’d never have real friends again—and liking it that way (or so she thinks)—she’s reluctant to let Mr. Perfect Henry Page into her life. But Henry saw the ghosts too, and won’t rest until Olivia accepts that they’re real—and that he can help her find them. This track, “To Be, or Not To Be” from Christophe Beck’s exquisite score for Phoebe in Wonderland, highlights a sweet scene between Olivia and Henry later in the book, when Olivia realizes just how good a friend Henry is, and how well he knows her.

At one point while Olivia and Henry are exploring Emerson Hall, Olivia enters the Maestro’s room and roots through his possessions. What she finds there tells her more about how her parents met, and how things started to go wrong. It’s a heartbreaking moment for Olivia, a terrible reminder of how good things used to be. This track accompanies that scene: “Collecting Things” from Jon Brion’s score for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

This quirky, slightly eerie track is my theme for the four ghosts Olivia befriends—Frederick, Tillie, Jax, and Mr. Worthington. These ghosts look disturbing, and they have experienced some horrible things (though they can’t remember them), but there’s something comical about them, too—the way Tillie and Jax talk over each other, the sounds the reticent Mr. Worthington makes, and how Frederick literally comes apart in moments of stress.

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Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn't stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a writer, Ms. Legrand can often be found typing with purpose at her keyboard, losing herself in the stacks at her local library, or embarking upon spontaneous adventures to lands unknown.

Her first novel is THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, a New York Public Library Best Book for Children in 2012.

Her second novel, THE YEAR OF SHADOWS, releases August 27, 2013, with her third novel, WINTERSPELL, to follow in fall 2014.

She is one of the four authors behind THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, an anthology of dark middle grade fiction due out in July 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins.

Claire lives in New Jersey with a dragon and two cats. Visit her at claire-legrand.com and at enterthecabinet.com.

Monday, 8/19: The Book Smugglers

Tuesday, 8/20: Mundie Kids/Mundie Moms

Wednesday, 8/21: The Book Cellar

Thursday, 8/22: Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust

Friday, 8/23: Cuddlebuggery

Saturday, 8/24: Read Now Sleep Later

Sunday, 8/25: Unleashing Readers

Monday, 8/26: The Midnight Garden

Tuesday, 8/27: Release Day - From the Mixed-Up Files

Wednesday, 8/28: Novel Sounds

Thursday, 8/29: Teach Mentor Texts

Friday, 8/30: The Mod Podge Bookshelf

Tuesday, 9/3: Nerdy Book Club

Wednesday, 9/4: Heise Reads & Recommends

Thursday, 9/5: The Compulsive Reader

Friday, 9/6: Great Imaginations

22 August, 2013

Chick-o-Saurus Rex - Blog Tour - Review

cross-posted at cleverbee.org

Publication date: 23 July 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 1442451866 | 9781442451896

Category: Children's picture book
Keywords: Bullying, family history, friendship
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Source: Review copy from author and illustrator

A bullied little chicken discovers his inner strength along with some surprising dinosaur ancestry in this farmyard tale with huge heart.


Do you love chicken jokes? Then you'll love Chick-o-saurus Rex! Our protagonist, Little Chick, doesn't feel much like laughing, though. When the farmyard gang excludes him from the treehouse for being, well, chicken, his dad pulls out the old family album to look at their illustrious ancestors--crossing roads, chicken-dancing, and laying large eggs. Looking back at his relatives, Little Chick really doubts he can prove he comes from brave and mighty stock.

Then he and his father dig up a surprising family skeleton! I'm sure you can guess by the title which one it is. Finding an impressive ancestor gives Little Chick the confidence not just to stand up to the bullies but to stand up for them in face of an even bigger foe. 

The science behind this story may be inconclusive, but the picture book is pretty fun nonetheless. I love the thick lines on the cartoony farmyard characters. Bright colors pop off the page and the animals' expressions are classic. The writing is silly and fun to read out loud, especially since kids will get to bleat, squeal, and cock-a-doodle-doo (or is it RAWR?!) along with the characters as they go through the story. In the end there's a great and simple lesson about friendship.

Daniel & Lenore Jennewein

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, Lenore, & Daniel for sending a review copy!


You can find out more about the author at www.lenoreappelhans.com and the illustrator at www.danieljennewein.com. Tweet @lenoreva!

19 August, 2013

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop (US - Ends 8/27)

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and The Bookhounds. I have been waiting for this hop because there are lots of books that need new homes. The box will contain what's in the picture and we may throw in some swag and other prizes as well. US residents only. Thanks and good luck!

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17 August, 2013

Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists

Review cross-posted at cleverbee.org
Enter below to win a copy of Craft-a-Doodle, courtesy of Sterling Publishing (US only, ends 8/24/13)

Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists by Jenny Doh
Publication date: 6 Aug 2013 by Sterling Publishing
ISBN 10/13: 1454704225 | 9781454704225

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Adult nonfiction
Keywords: Crafts, doodling, drawing, creativity
Format: Trade paperback
Source: Review copy from publisher


Using a simple doodle as a starting point, 18 artists take you on an inspirational, crafty journey! Filled with inventive prompts designed to fuel the imagination, these 75 exercises motivate crafters to pick up a pencil, brush, or marker, and explore their artistic voice. From quick “try it” ideas using shapes and patterns to doodled portraits and contour drawings, these step-by-step projects are wild creative fun. The featured artists include Cori Dantini, who provides a “Recipe for a Face”; Flora Chang with innovative watercolor designs; and Teesha Moore who offers ideas for adding personality to doodled characters.


I jumped at the chance to review Craft-a-Doodle, the new book by Jenny Doh of Crescendoh Studios. I had just recently purchased another book of hers, Creative Lettering, which is also well done. Her instructional craft books have this great way of communicating techniques as accessible skills that are easy to pick up and practice. Just grab a pen and paper, then give your inner art critic the day off so you can have fun creating whatever comes to mind.

Craft-a-Doodle's exercises are engagingly worded and easy to follow. Just the photos alone will be enough to set kids' imaginations on fire, whether or not they can read the directions. The design of the book really emphasizes the relaxed but attractive aesthetic that will appeal more to the hobbyist than the fine artist, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. The lack of intimidation can be really freeing for both novice and expert draftspeople.

The great variations among the exercises will make this a cool tool for getting the creative juices flowing, particularly for people like me who hold back from creating for fear of making mistakes. In addition to the 75 exercises, the artists added more ideas for changing up their methods and producing even more diverse results than they show in the book.

This book manages to balance instruction and inspiration really well, making it practical as well as motivational. Particularly for any entrepreneur wannabes, Doh's compiled lessons capture that twee visual quality that is so popular on handmade shopping sites like Etsy. Just beware of copying anything outright and selling it; emulate the exercises to shape your own style.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

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Visit the author online at www.crescendoh.com and follow her on Twitter @jennydoh

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

15 August, 2013

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp - Guest Post and Giveaway (US ends 8/22)

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp Blog Tour

Kathi Appelt shares this guest post about conservation for our stop on this blog tour. Her new book, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, was released on July 23, 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Make sure you stick around for the trailer, enter the giveaway, and check out the other stops on the tour!

I didn’t really set out to write a book with a conservation theme. With all of my books, I work on the story first, and if a theme emerges I’m happy and sometimes surprised. So, when it became clear to me that the swamp that I had created in The True Blue Scouts was under attack from two sides—an introduced species, and a greedy developer—it gave me a lot of room for thought.

When I was in college, I lived in deep East Texas for a short time. I shared a small cabin with my sister, and it sat right on the edge of swampy area. We spent many hours tramping around in there. If you’ve ever spent any time in a swampy area, you know that it has its own feel to it. For one, it feels old, ancient, as if time has forgotten it. With its tall trees that block out the sun, it’s also dark, with shadows at every turn. In other words, it feels both primeval and magical, as if anything could happen in there. And that makes it also both wondrous and creepy. It’s not a place that is easily forgotten. So, even though I don’t live near any swamps anymore, the one I spent so many hours in as a young adult made an impression upon me.

Also, I’m interested in the way we approach conservation. I think it’s relatively easy to want to protect places that are beautiful and animals that appeal to our aesthetic senses. A panda, with its round shape and its stuffed-animal look, seems easy to love. A mountain range, with its lofty peaks and beautiful meadows invokes a sense of awe in us that makes us want to keep it the same forever.

I think it’s harder to go to bat for a swamp and the denizens who naturally live there—poisonous snakes, alligators, carnivorous plants—not to mention the breeding grounds for a billion insects or more. There’s nothing really cute about swamp creatures.

But I believe that there is beauty to be found in all of our natural places. And there are also heroes there, even though they may be in the form of a pair of raccoon brothers and a young boy who is tall for his age.

It makes me feel hopeful about the future somehow. If we can love a swamp and its natural critters, we can love the whole rest of the world too.

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the highly acclaimed novel Keeper, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and many picture books. She is a member of the faculty at Vermont College’s Master of Fine Arts program. She has two grown children and lives in Texas with her husband. For more information, visit her website at http://www.kathiappelt.com/.

Watch these two rascally raccoons in the most adorable book trailer ever:

Find this book on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Goodreads

Be sure to visit Kathi’s other stops on her blog tour!

Mon, Aug 12 - GreenBeanTeenQueen - http://www.greenbeanteenqueen.com/

Tues, Aug 13 - There's a Book - http://www.theresabook.com/

Wed, Aug 14 - Bigfoot Reads - http://www.bigfoot-reads.blogspot.com/

Thurs, Aug 15 - Read Now, Sleep Later - http://www.readnowsleeplater.com/

Fri, Aug 16 - I Read Banned Books - http://www.jenbigheart.com/

Sat, Aug 17 - Booking Mama - http://www.bookingmama.net/

Mon, Aug 19 - The Compulsive Reader - http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/

Tues, Aug 20 - Mother Daughter Book Club - http://motherdaughterbookclub.com/

Wed, Aug 21 - The Book Monsters - http://www.thebookmonsters.com/

Thurs, Aug 22 - Sharpread - http://sharpread.wordpress.com/

Fri, Aug 23 - The Brain Lair - http://www.thebrainlair.com/

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

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12 August, 2013

What Makes a Nuclear Power Plant Work? - Out of Print Review

Ok, so this is a bit of a departure in a few ways. I haven't posted a lot of picture book reviews lately (I'm about to! I just haven't yet), nor do I usually cover nonfiction, and I don't think I ever post about books that are out of print. But this book was just so awesome I couldn't miss writing about it. 

What Makes a Nuclear Power Plant Work? by Erich Fuchs
Translated from the German by Edite Kroll
Copyright 1971, 1972 by Verlag Heinrich Ellerman, Munich

So anyway, like I normally do of a Monday, I stopped by my local library to pick up my Hold books. I usually have a couple and something to return. Always, I take a few moments to look (ok, really look at one-by-one) all of the books in the sale section. This is a set of shelves set aside for books that were donated or are being discarded from the collection for whatever reason. Everything's a quarter.

I read the title first, What Makes a Nuclear Power Plant Work?in Helvetica on a gray spine. Pretty uninspiring, don't you think? The cover wasn't much more exciting. I pulled it out anyway.

Then I opened it. 

Click to embiggen

Oh. My.


I just want to frame every page.

It's a very simplified overview of how a nuclear power plant works, with many considerations: why are they situated by water, what technology is required to run them (there are some amusing drawings of punch card readers), and how we use the energy they generate. So it's actually pretty informative.

It's not a pristine copy; I mean, I think it's been in the library for about 40 years, but the colors are still bright. It's actually quite a cheerful book that doesn't cover possible disastrous meltdown effects in depth (it only mentions "terrible consequences"). 

If you're a lover of graphic design, picture books, and nostalgia, definitely pick this up if you come across a copy. I snagged mine for 25 cents, but there are a few available from used booksellers online. (There's one listed for $247... it's probably worth every penny if it's truly mint. They don't make them like this any more.)

I hope you enjoyed this little diversion from our usual reviews. Would you like to see more reviews of old-school books? Let me know in the comments!

07 August, 2013

August 2013 Events

Hi, everyone! Sorry this update is a bit late. Summer is flying by and we're just trying to catch up. There are some really fun author events coming up in August. We will definitely be at the Scott C signing and I would love to do Sarah J Maas, but I don't live very close, so we'll see. If we've missed any events, please let me know and we'll add it to the calendar. Happy August!

An Evening With Local Authors
Thursday August 8, 2013 5pm
Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop
1030 Bonita Avenue
La Verne, California 91750
event Facebook page

Come down to Mrs. Nelson's and enjoy an evening with local authors: Scott Speer,Cecil CastellucciKristen KittscherTeddy SteinkellnerElana K Arnold, Melissa Buell, Jessi Kirby, Morgan MatsonJoanna Philbin and Eliza Wheeler!

05 August, 2013

The Turning - Review

Publication date: 25 Sept 2012 by Harper Teen
ISBN 10/13: 0061999660 | 9780061999666

Category: Young Adult Fiction/Ghost Story
Source: ARC provided by Publisher, Harper Teen
Format: Hardcover, ebook

Kimberly's review:

The Turning is a re-telling of the story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I wasn't familiar with that story before reading The Turning but now I am curious to read the original. Jack, a local teen, gets a job of being a full time babysitter for the summer to two young children--Miles and Flora. Whisked away to a remote island, the children are left alone with him and their cook. Gardeners visit once a week. Items and supplies are ordered and dropped off too. The place is isolated and quiet. The kids do not have television, Internet or movies. They read, they explore, they are mostly alone.

Jack feels like there is something not quite right about the place. And his suspicions are confirmed when strange things start happening around the island. Things he cannot explain. And then...

I wanted to like this book more. Besides the cover being brilliant, the synopsis of the book was very intriguing. It promises ghosts, haunted houses, scary children and a remote island. And I think it could have been a fantastic book. But for me, it just didn't quite make it.

There are some really great things about this book. I liked the overall tone of the story. It reminds me of older stories, such as Gothic tales like Jane Eyre. Creepy, distant feelings of something being off, not quite right. The book is told in letter format, which also reminds me of older styles. There is no Internet so Jack is reduced to writing long letters on his computer and then printing them out and sending them snail mail. I really liked this idea--the thought of being so isolated that this small bubble has to go back to an older time period. I also enjoyed watching Jack's character deteriorate through the story. The circumstances surrounding Jack change him in subtle and then not so subtle ways. His letters grow frantic, angry and hostile. He becomes just as threatening and scary as the ghosts.

There are a few things that irked me. As I said, I enjoyed the idea of the letters back home. But the execution left me feeling empty. Jack's voice doesn't sound like a teenage boy. He gives descriptions and commentary that are unnecessary and seem to be added in just to inform the reader of back story. Maybe it would have worked more like a diary that Jack kept?

And I also want to note that this is a story based upon the idea that this teenage boy, teenage boy, is babysitting for these two children on a remote island for an entire summer. Their guardian wants nothing to do with them. He doesn't want to be informed of their happenings at all, unless dire circumstances. And while Jack may be getting some pretty good dough for this experience, it seems unlikely that a parent would allow their child to go off and do this kind of job for the summer--with little ways of communicating in case of emergency and sole responsibility for two young children. I mean, my mom wouldn't let me babysit overnight for kids, let alone stay on an island in the middle of no where with no way to get to a hospital or call for help. (A note: in the original story, I believe the protagonist is a governess, which makes a lot more sense during the time period.)

I also think the story could have moved faster, with more creepiness. I liked the overall tone, but for long periods, the story stalls, leaving me wondering if I had missed something. And by the end, it's all a bit dramatic and unbelieveable, with not a lot of support. I finished the book and thought--that's it?

Overall, it's quick read with enough of a tingle to keep me interested. But I was disappointed it didn't live up to my expectations.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

You can find more about the author at blueflowerarts.com. Find more reviews from Kimberly at thewindypages.com.

02 August, 2013

Summer of YA Recap

Hi, everyone. Last week we attended the Summer of YA event hosted by B&N Americana in Glendale, CA. The event featured 11 YA authors - Andrew Smith, Elizabeth Ross, Lissa Price, Jessica Brody, Carol Tanzman, Stacey Jay, Allen Zadoff, Gretchen McNeil, Kathy McCullough, and Ann Stampler - in a speed dating type event where all of the attendants would get to visit and talk with each author.

We arrived pretty early and checked in. Since we reserved our (free) tickets online, our tickets were waiting for us along with a colored wristband. Everyone with the same color wristband would be in the same group and they would move together from author to author. While waiting, we ran into some really cool bloggers like Ashlyn and Stacey. Also at the even were our friends Crystal, Nicole, Kimberly, Aly and Katie. It was really fun hanging out with everyone while we waited for the event to start.