Monday, March 27, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cover Reveal: That Inevitable Victorian Thing

Author: E. K. Johnston 
Release date: October 3, 2017
Published by: Penguin Young Readers
Set in a near-future world where the British Empire never fell and the United States never rose, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a surprising, delightful, and thought-provoking novel of love, duty, and small moments that can change people and the world. 

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of the empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process--just like the first Queen Victoria. (Summary from

Doesn't this sound fantastic!? I can't wait to try it! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

REVIEW: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl 
Author: Hope Jahren
Published by: Knopf/PenguinRandomHouse
Release date: April 5, 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who knew science, plants, and scientists could be so interesting?
"Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited" ( 31).

This was an amazing memoir. Jahren's life as a scientist and her descriptions of plants are entrancing. The beautiful structure of this book unfolds with chapters about different plants or plant processes interspersed with chapters about her life--and, of course, the connection between the two seemingly disparate topics always becomes clear.

The first section of her memoir is called "Roots and Leaves" and that lovely quote above comes from a short two-page chapter where I learned how seeds work, followed by a chapter about her beginnings as a scientist. Here's another example of Jahren's writing style: "Working in the hospital teaches you that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the sick and the not sick. If you are not sick, shut up and help. Twenty-five years later, I still cannot reject this as an inaccurate worldview" (44). Her writing is both poetic and pragmatic, and certain lines or paragraphs fill my ears with delightful sounds or ring a bell in my head. Trust me, I have more notes tabbed in this book than you'd care to read! Or you could just read the whole book and enjoy it as much as I did.

I leave you with one final insightful line that delighted me: "Love and learning are similar in that they can never be wasted" (174). I tabbed it with a note called "good thinking line," enjoy!
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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cheese Days 2016 is here!

Tomorrow is the start of the 2016 Green County Cheese Days in Monroe, WI. Rachel and I both teach in Monroe and the girls go to school there too. If you haven't heard of this festival before you are truly missing out! It is so darn fun. It is all about celebrating cheesemaking, dairy farming, brewing beer, and the Swiss heritage of the people who moved to this area many, many years ago. 

To learn more, go to this Travel Wisconsin page, OR go to 

If you are anywhere near Monroe, WI you should make the trip out for either Saturday or Sunday! (Sunday is the big parade.) It is well worth the drive. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

New school year overload = guilt...

I'm not really sure where to begin...but holy moly has this beginning of school year kicked my butt! I haven't been posting, I haven't been reading as much, and I have SO much guilt about it. Does that ever happen to you? I now I need to figure out a way to "get back on the horse" but certainly cannot make any promises at this point. 

In the mean time, here's a bit of a "Where I am in books right now..."

Just finished not too long ago: Sisters of Salt and Iron by Kady Cross - This was just as gripping as the first book filled with teen angst, creepy dead people and sisterly drama both good and bad. I had tons of other things I should have been dong and instead hid out and read this one weekend. :) Kady Cross remains one of my all-time favorite young adult authors ever.

The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger (5 Books) - This is one I've had for quite a while on my TBR. I decided to swallow it whole just before school started here. I did pretty good trucking through them but did drag a bit after the first two. I do have to say that I had hoped that the characters I loved so much from the young adult Finishing School series were in the books more but they really aren't sadly. 

Now reading: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey - I loved this first book, The Girl at Midnight, from the cover to the story and its incredible creatures and world. It is getting me to read even when I really need to be doing other things but that's ok in my opinion. It's just as good as the first one so far. 

What's up next? - I'm never truly sure where I'm headed next with reading, except that I have learned I cannot read books that have a similar theme in a row. So I cannot read a fantasy next for pleasure reading...maybe The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout will be next. It sounds SO darn good and would fit my requirements of not a fantasy next. 

The other option would be Girl Last Seen by Anne Greenwood Brown and Heather Anastasiu. I adore a good mystery, and it's co-written by one of my favorite people, Anne Greenwood Brown! She is such a truly real, smart and downright great person. 

What do you think? What would you choose next? 

I do HAVE to read a professional book next to begin more serious work on creating and completing my graduate capstone project involving building a formal makerspace in my middle school library, Invent to Learn: making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.  

How have you been doing with your blog and reading lately? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #238 - Spontaneous, Rebel Genius & Bad Blood

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Aaron Starmer 
Release Date: August 3, 2016
Published by: Dutton Books for Young Readers 

"Katelyn Ogden was a lot of things, but she wasn't particularly explosive, in any sense of the word."

Mara Carlyle's senior year at Covington High suburban New Jersey is going on as normally as could be expected, until the day - wa-bam! - fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won't be the last senior to spontaneously combust without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason--Terrorism! Drugs! Homosexuality! Government conspiracy! -- while the seniors continue to pop like balloons.

Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it with tell-it-like-it-is insight as she tries to make it to graduation in one piece through an explosive year punctuated by romance, quarantine, lifelong friendship, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bloggers, ice cream trucks, "Snooze Button", Bon Jovi, and the filthiest language you've ever heard the President of the United States use over Skype. (Summary from Goodreads)

OMG! Exploding teenagers and a girl just trying to make it to the end of her senior year. I hope this is as full of humor and insight as it sounds as Mara comes of age in a strange new world.

Author: Michael Dante DiMartino 
Release Date: October 4, 2016 
Published by: Roaring Brook Press 

In twelve-year-old Giacomo's Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous and outlawed. Every artist possesses a Genius, a birdlike creature that is the living embodiment of an artist's creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punishment akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he's in serious trouble.

Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools -- objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path -- Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him. (Summary from Goodreads)

This sounds SO GOOD! I love the idea of music being dangerous and outlawed. Plus there are also a whole group of friends who artists and then drama too! I'm in!

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Published by: Disney-Hyperion

When Cassie Hobbes joined the FBI's Naturals program, she had one goal: uncover the truth about her mother's murder. But now, everything Cassie thought she knew about what happened that night has been called into question. Her mother is alive, and the people holding her captive are more powerful - and dangerous - than anything the Naturals have faced so far.

As Cassie and the team work to uncover the secrets of a group that has been killing in secret for generations, they find themselves racing a ticking clock.

New victims. New betrayals. New secrets. 

When the bodies begin piling up, it soon becomes apparent that this time, the Naturals aren't just hunting serial killers. (Summary from Goodreads)

I love this series! It's very Bones and Rizzoli and Isles for me. Plus, it has all the dark drama of it being teenager crime fighters for the FBI. Love it! 

What are you waiting on this week?

Review: Nemesis

Author: Anna Banks
Series: Nemesis, Book 1
Release date: October 4, 2016
Published by: Feiwel&Friends
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sepora is both the only princess of Serubel and the only living Forger of spectorium anywhere in the world. These two things should mean that her life is magnificent, but instead it means that she lives a life of slavery to the King, her father, who demands more and more spectorium from her. When Sepora runs away from Serubel and straight into the hands of her enemy she has no idea she will fall for him.

My thoughts: This is such a great book! I love the idea of a Forger as a person's possible ability. This book had ALL the things I love in a book: people with fantastic abilities, a Romeo & Juliet-type romance, and drama, drama, drama between kingdoms and people.

Sepora is a great character who is extremely resilient even when she goes through ridiculous amounts of drama and trauma. She never stops caring about her people even when she's become part of Theoria in so many ways. I cannot wait to see what happens for Sepora. 

Tarik is a wonderful young leader who has just taken over as King in the wake of his father's tragic death by a terrible disease ravaging their people. The cure it seems is spectorium and they need more and more. Tarik's character was so dar great too because of his relationships with everyone else. He was easily the guy that everyone wants to be friends with. 

Together Sepora and Tarik easily begin to create a world that they can both happily fit into whether they realize that's what they're doing or not. This was one of the BEST ARCs I've read. I thought that the cover was perfect for the story of the book too. This world was so engaging. Loved it! It's a MUST BUY for both my home collection AND the school library! 

What did you think? 

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