Friday, November 26, 2010

Melissa de la Cruz. MISGUIDED ANGEL

If you like suspense, action, history, richness and mystery in your novels, you will not be able to put down this installment of the BLUE BLOODS saga.

MISGUIDED ANGEL begins with Schuyler and Jack plotting their escape from the Countess who had given them safe haven in the last book. Safe haven and protection had evolved into imprisonment. Although the Countess afforded them every luxury, she also didn't allow any freedom. Schuyler and Jack want to leave and continue their hunt for Gate of Promise.

Meanwhile back in New York, Mimi is suffering the dual emotions of mourning over Kinglsy and fiery revenge against Jack. To make things more complicated for her, she's been named Regis. The disappearance of Lawrence left the Conclave no choice. Just as Mimi takes on the role, her leadership is tested. She's sent a recording of a captured vampire with the threat of burning her alive. The abductors threaten the conspiracy and the very existence of vampires.

A new character is introduced- a Venator from Shanghai, Deming Chan. She's intriguing and I liked the relationship she formed with Mimi. In each book, I begin to like Mimi more and more. The more you learn about her, the more you understand her. Anyway, I'm thrilled that it appears Deming will be continuing on in the next book.

This series gets richer with each installment. When I finished this one, I remember how I felt after the first book. I knew it would be good, but I had no idea the depths the story would reach. I really love it! I'm attached to the characters. I hate being left hanging at the end, but that's certainly the best way to keep us wanting more!

Also, a few points about sequels and (not) remembering what happened previously. I like the way that the author gave us what we needed to remember important points from previous books withougt going into the long narratives you can get sometimes with other books. Although, there were still a few things that I wished I remembered better. Many characters have multiple names because of the reincarnation cycles. So, I would really love it if someone would write a book with all the characters lineage, multiple names and the major plot points summed up quickly. Some type of a BLUE BLOODS reference book or website would be nice. (I guess maybe someone could flesh out the Wikipedia entry...). But really, I'm just a curious librarian, so I want all the details of everything for further pondering. Don't get me wrong - my little questions didn't hamper my full enjoyment of the book, at all! I loved it!

As you may remember, I had the honor of interviewing the author, Melissa de la Cruz for the release of the previous book in the series. Go here to check it out. I've reviewed the previous books too. Go here for those. And here for the author's website.

Finally, here's the trailer for a brief taste of the book:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gitty Daneshvari. SCHOOL OF FEAR: CLASS IS NOT DISMISSED!

This sequel to SCHOOL OF FEAR is just as wonderful as the first book. Mrs. Wellington requests the presence of Madeline, Theo, Lulu and Garrison for another summer at School of Fear. She discovered that each of them has secretly regressed and need a follow up session.

The students are disappointed to learn that a fifth student will be joining them. The young girl's name is Hyacinth, and she brings her pet ferret, Celery, with her to the mansion. Hyacinth's fear is being alone, which causes her to be very clingy. Once she grabs someone's hand, she does not let go. Plus, she creates annoying nicknames for everyone and professes that they are all Bff's or "besties."

But that really is a minor challenge to some of the other fun times that ensue at Summerstone for the second session of School of Fear. Without giving too much of the plot away and spoiling the fun, I will just say that this summer the big challenge is saving the school or their phobias will never be cured!

This was just as hilarious as the first one, maybe more in some ways. I'm in total awe of Gitty Daneshvari's writing. She does witty humor better than anyone! (She's right up there with Adam Selzer in my book - and he's downright hysterical!). I cannot count how many times I woke up my husband laughing out loud through this book.

I will be first in line to buy her next book.
Check her out here

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nora Raleigh Baskin. ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL

Jason Blake is an autistic twelve-year-old in 6th grade. School is a struggle, to say the least. It's not the work. Dealing with people in a socially acceptable way is a challenge for Jason. For the previous few years, he had an aide with him all day. She was always there as a sort of translator to help him know how to deal with people. She would remind him of little things like looking people in the eye when talking and to answer when spoken to. People expect him to behave the way everyone else does.

Even though Jason has trouble interacting in person, he's a wonderful writer. He writes stories on an online community called Storyboard. He gets positive feedback on his writing. He even makes a friend. When he writes, he doesn't have to worry about any of the in-person struggles he as with reading facial expressions, looking in someone eyes, determining tone of voice, etc.

His parents surprise him with tickets to the Storyboard writing conference. His excitement is short-lived, though. As soon as he hears that his friend will also be attending, he worries about attending at all.  He's afraid of exposing himself completely. If she sees what he's really like, will she still want to be his friend? If the meeting is anything like his previous interactions and friendship attempts, it's doomed. Will she be different. Should he try to be different?

I loved this book! Nora Raleigh Baskin is a genius. She's woven so many fantastic threads together to form a brilliant story. You can feel how Jason is trapped by his situation - not being able to act sometimes, even when he knows he must. But through his fictional stories, you also feel his need to stand up for himself as the person he was born to be and not necessarily conform.

You will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what it's like for kids who see the world differently. I also think that kids from grade 4th all the way through high school would love this book. Because of the richness in character and story, different age groups will glean different levels of beauty and insight.

It's an unforgettable book. Trust me.
Check out the author's website here.

I put both the hardcover picture & the paperback, because I like them both. I think they both fit in their own way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tom Angleberger. THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA

When I first heard about this book last month during Book Fair, all I could think was...what a bizarre title. Then it was named to the Bluebonnet Award nominees list, so I decided to read it. It's quite surprising!

It's about a quirky, sometimes wise, sometimes baffling 6th grader named Dwight. He's always done some strange things, but now he begins carrying around an Origami Yoda  that he created himself. People ask the Yoda questions (while Dwight holds him up on his finger), and Yoda answers.
The surprising thing is that most of the time his answers are spot on.

Fellow classmates, Tommy and Harvey, decide to study this Origami Yoda and determine whether he's the real thing or a fake that Dwight has created. The book is organized with a different student narrating each different chapter, each of which are case studies. Each chapter end with comments at the end by Tommy and Harvey. Tommy makes arguments that Origami Yoda is real, while Harvey insists that Origami Yoda is a fake.

I laughed out loud many times! This is a fun novel that has an uncanny insight into the minds of sixth graders! Check out the author's website here, for so much more Origami Yoda fun stuff & details about the sequel!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lori Calabrese. THE BUG THAT PLAGUED THE ENTIRE THIRD GRADE.

I'm honored to be part of Lori Calabrese's Virtual Book Tour & Book Launch Party for THE BUG THAT PLAGUED THE ENTIRE THIRD GRADE!

Matt discovers an intriguing bug on his dad's car. He really wanted to win his school's Bug-a-Fair, so he scoured all his bug books, but couldn't figure out what kind of bug it was. That makes him ever more anxious to enter it in the Bug-a-Fair. But the next morning, he catches a different kind of bug, so his mom makes him stay home. Will he ever figure out what the bug is. Will he make it back to school in time?

Boys and bugs are a perfect match! The text is engaging and the illustrations are lively! This would be a great book to support insect curriculum, but it could work just as well in a poetry unit. In fact, the book has its own website with plenty of ideas and activities to use it in the classroom. Check it out here!

Lori Calabrese is a new author with a fascinating past. Check out this great interview here.

Also, check out the great book trailer: