Sunday, March 28, 2010

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. SUDDENLY SUPERNATURAL: SCHOOL SPIRIT

Kat’s mother is a medium. She’s okay with it, but has never brought home friends to show her off or anything. In fact, she’s never brought anyone home before. She lets people in town think that her mom is just a little strange like a new age hippie, but not the truth about what she really does. People visit the house a lot and her mom helps them communicate with their loved ones who have passed on.
Bringing friends home hadn’t been a huge issue before anyway, since Kat doesn’t have any close friends. Then a new girl shows up at school. Her name is Jac and her constant companion is her cello, which makes her just as strange as Kat. They begin eating lunch together and gradually they become friends. Kat hides her mother’s occupation as long as she can. But then when Kat begins to see dead people too, things start happening that cause her secret to be harder and harder to keep.
This is an easy story to get into. Kat’s endearing and engaging right from the start. Her friend Jac is a lot of fun and adds a lot to the novel. It's a great combination of mystery and supernatural.
This is the first in the series SUDDENLY SUPERNATURAL
Check out the author's site here. She's written a lot of great stuff! I was really intrigued by this book from the Little House series about Mary Ingalls. She wrote this book in 2008 about what it might have been like for Mary when she attended the Iowa College for the blind:



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Elementary Graphic Novels

I’m developing a graphic novel collection here at my elementary library. I know how “graphic” some can be, so I was super careful in reading the professional reviews. The order just came in and now I’m reading some of the books for a double check before I put them on the shelf. I found some good ones!

FASHION KITTY
By Charise Mericle Harper

Kiki Kittie didn’t ask to become a superhero. But on her birthday when she made a wish and several unfortunate things happened at the same time and Fashion Kitty was born. Fashion Kitty isn’t your normal, run-of the mill superhero. She fights for free fashion and helps others avoid fashion faux pas. Her abilities include: a brain that can mix and match hundreds of outfits in a second, ears that hear the distress call of someone in need of fashion help and a tail that makes everything seem all right with one touch.
This is an adorable graphic novel that will certainly appeal to girls of all ages in elementary. The illustrations are quirky and fun. Plus, there is a little paper doll type activity in the middle of the book. I’m glad I got this series, it will fly off the shelf!
There are 3 so far in the series.

RECON ACADEMY: SHADOW CELL SCAM
by Chris Everheart and Arcano Studio

Recon Academy is a secret society of  kid spies. The series has four main characters that each have their own special skills. Emmi is a martial arts specialist, Hazmat is good at forensics, Jay is a gadgets person and Ryker is a computer expert. This installment, Shadow Cell Scam, is focused on Emmi. A shadow cell group is trying to stop the US Navy from launching a spy satellite. The kids get involved in the case and try to stop the bad guys from winning.
This is a neat little series. The illustrations are vibrant and engaging. The stories are short and sweet and perfect for elementary. In the back of the book is a little profile of the main character in the book and a page that looks like a webpage called Spyspace: a place for international spies. There’s a little chat between the characters and a profile of the case just solved. Also, I love the little glossary of words in the book that kids may not know like decrypt, detection, network and prototype.
This is a neat set of graphic novels that seems appropriate for 4th and 5th and above. There are about 6 in the series.

Buzz Beaker Brainstorm Series
ATTACK OF THE MUTANT LUNCH LADY
by Scott Nickel and Andy J. Smith
Buzz forgot his lunch and has to suffer the school cafeteria lunch. He isn't looking forward to the mystery meat, deep fried green stuff and side of yellow creamed gloop. But he doesn't have a choice, so braves it. Later that afternoon, the principal comes into their classroom to tell them not to panic, but that a giant monster is eating everything in the school. When Buzz and his friend Larry encounter the monster, they can't resist attempting to take care of the monster and saving the school.
This is a fun series that fits elementary kids perfectly! Boys & girls will love it.

There are 7 or 8 of these books.


A few more series graphics that are great for elementary:
PRINCESS CANDY
by Michael Dahl and Jeff Crowther

EEK & ACK
by Blake A Hoena and Steve Harpster

BILLY BLASTER
by David Orme and Peter Richardson

Many of these series are from Capstone - here's a good link
http://www.capstonepub.com/category/LIB_PUBLISHER_SAB

Enjoy going graphic!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Patrick Carman. THE DARK HILLS DIVIDE

What an intriguing book! A student recommended that I buy this series, and boy, am I glad I did. I could tell it would be one of those books that’s hard to move without reading it yourself. It’s not one you can sum up in a short catchy sentence to get kids to check it out. So, I took it home.

First off, you see a map of the Land of Elyon right at the beginning, which I completely adore in a fantasy book. I bookmark it & refer back to it continually. Maybe I’m just a visual person, but I love maps and they help in made-up worlds.

Anyway, Alexa Daley is the daughter of the mayor of the town of Lathbury. The book begins with her going to another town where she spends many weeks each summer. Her father meets the other mayors and spends his time busy with work. So Alexa is free to roam around almost completely on her own. She spends a lot of time reading in the library, but mostly she likes to explore.

Her town and several towns around her are surrounded by huge brick walls. They were built to keep creatures out, but Alexa feels trapped. This summer, she has made it her number one goal to find a way through the wall to the unknown. She knows there must be adventure out there waiting for her.
What an amazing world the author has created. I can’t even tell you much of it without revealing a lot of spoilers. I wouldn’t ruin it for you, because I had such a wonderful time discovering this little gem myself.
This is a trilogy and I’m already into the second book!

Plus, I just read that Patrick Carman just wrote one of the 39 Clues books. I’m going to have to read more by him. Here is his website. Here is an awesome page with all of the books in this series! There are some great videos.
Check it out! I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

HEX HALL~ Rachel Hawkins Interview & T-Shirt Giveaway!!

Yay!! I was granted an interview with Rachel Hawkins, debut author of HEX HALL. (the awesome book I reviewed yesterday!)
After the interview, stick around to read how you can win a HEX HALL t-shirt!
Here goes:
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my burning questions about HEX HALL. 

After reading some of your blog, I get the idea that this book was originally called Demonglass. What made you change the title?

As cool as I thought the word "demonglass" is (and let's face it- that is an AWESOME WORD!), my editor and I both felt like it was a little too dark for a book that contains so much of The Silly!

What was the original idea that inspired Hex Hall?

There really wasn't one idea. It was more a combination of things. I was teaching high school, so I knew I wanted to write about teenagers. I also had a lifelong love for Southern Gothic, as well as boarding school stories. Once all three of those things started brewing in my brain, Hex Hall was born!

I read somewhere that the word Prodigium was a sign about the future that came from the gods. (former English teacher here too.) What is your process for coming up with such great names with significant meanings? (Hecate=also cool)

In the first draft, I just called all the magical creatures in the book "monsters." But this really bugged my husband, so he said I should find a better word! Like all students of English literature, I knew that when in doubt, go Latin. ;-) So I looked up the Latin word for monster, and lo and behold, it was prodigy! (Which is kind of scary when you think about it!) As for Hecate, she was the Greek goddess not only of witchcraft, but also of the crossroads. I couldn't ask for a better symbol!

This will be a series, right? (fingers crossed) I've grown really attached to Sophie, Jenna and even Archer (I’m wishful that he’ll be redeemed somehow in the next book).

It is! Hex Hall is the first of 3 books about Sophie and all her magical adventures! And don't worry, we're not done with Archer just yet!

Yay for that~ (Glad to hear about Archer too).

What are some of the biggest changes in your life now that you’re a full-time writer?

The biggest change is that I no longer have to wear pants to work, haha! And then of course there are things like self-employment taxes and paying for health care. But I also get to play with people who live inside my head, and that sure beats grading essays!

Great answer! Who are some of your favorite authors?

In YA, I LOVE Kristin Cashore, Suzanne Collins, Cassandra Clare, and Sarah Dessen. As for adult writers, I'm a big fan of George R.R. Martin, Jacqueline Carey, Thomas Hardy, Philippa Gregory, and Lev Grossman.

And finally, a totally random, but important question: Do you watch Supernatural, because a few phrases in Hex Hall reminded me of the show? (It’s my total favorite, by the way.)



I do watch it! My husband and I wait for it to come out on DVD so we can watch the season’s marathon sessions!


Thanks so much! I wish many more successful books for you!


To read more about Rachel Hawkins, check out her blog here.


Now for the HEX HALL T-Shirts!!Since you've read my review & realize what an awesome book HEX HALL is, you ALL want one of these beyond cool shirts, right!?
This your lucky day! I'll be giving one away. All you have to do is answer this one question in the comments section. Then, I'll pick one lucky person with my random number generator. OR YOU CAN EMAIL ME - view my profile to get my email address.

 Ready...Set...Here it is:
If you could be a one type of Prodigum for a few days just to check it out & play around, which would you pick? Faerie, Witch (or Warlock if you're male), Shapeshifter or Vampire. And tell us why you would pick that particular one to try on, please. Okay...go!
I will pick a winner by Wednesday, March 10th.(EXTENDED THE DATE due to comment posting issues) GOOD LUCK!




  















Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rachel Hawkins. HEX HALL

I love this stellar debut by Rachel Hawkins! It’s so full of awesomeness! It has witches, faeries, shapeshifters and vampires all in one book. Actually, they're all under one roof going to school together. Well, that isn’t entirely correct – it’s more like reform school, but still. Let me back up and start from the beginning

Sophie Mercer found out she was a witch when she came into her powers around twelve years old. Her mom, who is not a witch, told her as much as she could about her powers. Sophie has tried to keep her powers under wraps since then. She has used them from time to time to help people, but usually that’s when a human discovers her, freaks out, and they have to leave town. The most recent spell attracted too much attention from the powers that be, so now she is being sentenced to Hecate Hall – a reform school for wayward Prodigium (witches, faeries, shapeshifters, etc.).

Sophie is somewhat relived to be able to finally make friends and feel at home around others like herself. But when her roommate turns out to be the outcast vampire that everyone hates, her popularity doesn’t exactly soar. The three popular supermodel-looking witches view her with disdain. To top it off, she makes a fool of herself in front of the super hot warlock that she has developed a major crush on.
Then darkness envelops the school. A witch had been murdered several months before Sophie’s arrival. Everyone assumed it was a one time event. But after another girl is attacked in the same manner, people are spooked. They all assume it’s Sophie’s roommate, the vampire. But Sophie gets the feeling it is something way worse that has made its way inside the school.

The author called this a cross between Harry Potter and Mean Girls. That’s a nice succinct description. But it is so much more! I love the mythology and lore behind these different creatures. I love that they all live together in this school (although with some discrimination among the different species, which is to be expected). I love how Sophie learns of her intriguing ancestry. Really, I could go on and on. The writing flows beautifully. The characters are so much fun! I couldn’t put it down!

To find out more about this intriguing new author go here for her website and here for her blog.
Highly Recommended!! I look forward to more from Rachel Hawkins!
*******T-Shirt GIVEAWAY!! COMING TOMORROW!!!******