Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review: Ballet Cat: Dance, Dance Underpants!

Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants! 
Author: Bob Shea
Series: Ballet Cat
Release date: February 2, 2016
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Poor Butter Bear is afraid to dance until Ballet Cat says no one will be mean just because your underpants show while dancing.

My thoughts: I just LOVE these! They are SO darn fun, sweet, and adorable!! The colors, the characters, and the story are all perfectly fantastic. 

The girls thoughts: WE LOVE IT! These books are so fun and funny too! We can't wait for the next one. 

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #200 - The Trouble with Destiny & Thicker Than Water

"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: Lauren Morrill 
Release Date: December 8, 2015 
Published by: Delacorte 

It's not about the destination, it's about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm - the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can't imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She's therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she's especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens to be Liza's ex-best friend and leader of the Athens, a show choir that's the band's greatest competition.

But it's not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza's best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she's about to find herself lost at sea. (Summary from Goodreads)

Okay, this sounds like a really fun read. Can't wait to get it in my hands! :)

Author: Brigid Kemmerer 
Release Date: December 29, 2015 
Published by: Kensington Books 

On his own.

Thomas Bellweather hasn't been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad's cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there's any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she'd like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden... (Summary from Goodreads)

WOW! This sounds SO GOOD! And, I LOVE Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series SO MUCH!!

What are you waiting on this week?

Audiobook Review: All Fall Down

All Fall Down 
Author: Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row, Book 1
Release date: January 20, 2015
Published by: Scholastic
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Grace is an adrenaline junkie who has been dragged from place to place as an Army brat over the years. She's also the granddaughter of a very powerful ambassador. Grace grew up exploring every corner of Embassy Row each summer visiting her grandfather. Now, when she has no where else to go, she's back to stay with him for good. Will she be able to fit back into Embassy Row? Or will she go completely off the planned itinerary about the past?

My thoughts: This was an interesting one, that I listened to back and forth to and from work. The twists and turns were full of intrigue that kept me listening to the end. Full of teen drama, angst and the pain of extreme loss. 

I had a hard time liking, or connecting with the main character of Grace. She was too teenager for me and did things that were the opposite of what was the best idea. Of course, it's written for teens so it will be interesting to see what my students think of it. I was also worried about the storyline since I kept getting closer and closer to the end and there wasn't any hint of clearing up the plot drama. Plus, the fact that the "country" they're in really isn't a country at all in real life really bothered me for some reason. I don't know what my deal was with that, but boy did it drive me nutty. Maybe it was a visualizing thing.

As for the audiobook: I liked the reading that was done. Her voice fit with the character very well and also did a great job with all of the accents too. The other thing I really liked was the speed at which she read the story which was nicely done. 

Conclusion: Good luck guessing the ending ahead of getting there! Wow are there ever twists and turns! I cannot wait to listen to book 2! I have to know what happens next! 

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #199 - Rules for 50/50 Chances & Not If I See You First

"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: Kate McGovern
Release Date: November 24, 2015
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she's going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take a test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington's disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family's genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she'll live to be a healthy adult - including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules. (Summary from Goodreads)

It will be interesting to see how the main character faces life -- what an interesting topic. 

Author: Eric Lindstrom 
Release Date: December 1, 2015 
Published by: Poppy

The Rules: 

Don't deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public. 

Don't help me unless I ask. Otherwise you're just getting in my way or bothering me. 

Don't be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I'm just like you only smarter. 

Parker Grant doesn't need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there's only on way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that's right, her eyes don't work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened--both with Scott, and her dad--the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken. (Summary from Goodreads)

This sounds great...the drama, the tension, and more! 

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #198 - Just Visiting & Soundless

"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: Dahlia Adler 
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Published by: Spencer Hill

Reagan Forrester wants out--out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in--in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they're staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn't look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective...only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants...only to realize everything she's looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other's been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future. (Summary from Goodreads)

Oh, this one sounds like a lively story about friendship and growing up. Can't wait! 

Author: Richelle Mead 
Release Date: November 10, 2015 
Published by: Razorbill 

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei's home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon. (Summary from Goodreads)

Thoroughly enjoyed her VA series, and I cannot wait for a new one. Plus, this sounds so very different and interesting. Mysterious too. I'm in!

What are you waiting on this week?

Review: Illusive

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Series: Illusive, Book 1
Release date: July 15, 2015
Published by: Little, Brown Book for Young Readers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ciere is a thief who has very special skills...she can blend in with her surroundings so well that you could be standing right in front of her and not see her. Pretty handy! When the MK virus got a vaccine to control the epidemic, there were side effects for some. They gained special abilities. Ciere is one of them; she's an illusionist. But when a job goes bad, she teams up with a group of people/criminals to do another job that might just fix everything, or make everything much worse.

My thoughts: I think with this book my hopes for it were so much higher then what I feel like I got. I LOVED Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me series and have been hoping and waiting for something that's as amazing as that one ever since. This just wasn't it. I did like the idea of what was happening with the "Heist Society" + "X-Men" plot, but it just didn't get pulled off completely for me. Now, ask me if I'm going to read book 2 = YES! I'm still hoping for more! I was just underwhelmed with this I guess...

I thought the abilities were interesting. The fact that they only could get them if they'd gotten the vaccine was a cool idea. I also thought that how there were only a certain set of abilities that had manifested was an interesting way to go too. 

The characters are where I had a hard time. Ciere was not someone I could connect with which made things difficult for me as a reader. She froze up, wasn't brave, wasn't an empowering female like I'm always looking for in female lead characters. I get that teenagers don't want to listen to adults. I get that completely, but it was rather overdone with this character. It made Ciere seem a bit ridiculous since blowing them off for her meant that she was then completely out of other options because she was terrible in a fight scene. 

Like I said, I AM going to read book 2 and I'm looking forward to it because I'm hoping that Ciere is going to grow out of some of this junk that really bothered me. Perhaps that has been Lloyd's plan all along. Plus, the general plot and ideas are pretty cool! I saw that Andye thought the Audiobook was good so I might try that out too. 

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #197 - For the Record & Need

"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: Charlotte Huang 
Release Date: November 10, 2015 
Published by: Delacorte Press

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like...until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything.

Now she's the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level--not that they're happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne's bassist, are making life even more complicated.

Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band--and their fans--love her. If she doesn't, she'll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule...Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can't?  (Summary from Goodreads)

This one just sounds like fun. I can't wait to find out how Chelsea handles pressure! 

Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Release Date: November 3, 2015 
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers 

"No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better."

Teenagers at Wisconsin's Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need...regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. (Summary from Goodreads)

Doesn't this sound intense!? AND, it takes place in WI! I'm in!! 

What are you waiting on this week?

Review: Your Voice Is All I Hear

Your Voice Is All I Hear 
Author: Leah Scheier
Release date: September 1, 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

April is devastated when her best friend transfers to another school, so when the new kid starts asking to hang out with her she's thrilled! Jonah is so different from the others and they soon become more than friends. Not long into their relationship, Jonah starts to say and do things that are a bit dark, or off. April knows he has some sort of trauma in his past but doesn't want to press him about it. April will do anything to protect Jonah, even if it's from himself.

My thoughts: This was a tragic, but also hopeful story about mental illness in a teenager that really needs to be told. There is so much mystery and shame wrapped around mental illness in our society. Scheier pours out this story through her young characters in a way that felt very real for their age. 

April is a bit of an outsider who doesn't make close friends easily, and when her bff transfers to a private school she's adrift in the river of public school without her. So when she and Jonah hit it off she's thrilled. Then when they get even closer, she's excited to explore this uncharted territory of her first serious boyfriend. It's just that it ends up not being exactly how she thought it would be...

The problem? Everyone seems to not understand how much she likes Jonah, OR they do understand but they are scared by it for some reason. Do they think she's too young to be this serious? Maybe. Do they sense that there's something off? I think they do, but it's not at all what everyone else thinks. April seems to know rather early on, but she really wants to save him herself. She has a very hard time telling others what she fears about Jonah since he doesn't seem to be violent in any least in the beginning. Later there are a few things that are scary. 

I haven't read another book like this one for teens and I'm very excited to buy it for our high school library because of that. I'm also excited about it because the story is so well done for them as well. You may not be happy with the end, but by the time you get there you are ready for it. This one is a must read! And, seriously...Sourcebooks keeps hitting them out of the park for me! Woot! Woot!

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Review: These Shallow Graves

These Shallow Graves 
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Release date: October 27, 2015
Published by: Random House/Delacorte
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Josephine Montfort is part of the American aristocrat class in the late 1800's living in New York City. She has been raised to, and is expected to, not be too educated, to look her best at all times, be a sweet and quiet young woman, and above marry very well. Then Jo's father accidentally shoots himself while locked in his study one night. Jo refuses to believe her father, who's an avid handler of guns, would ever do anything as careless as cleaning a gun while it's loaded begins to dig into whether what the coroner, police and family really found out the truth. With the help of a young reporter from her family's newspaper, she starts on a very unladylike path to finding out the truth no matter the costs, dangers or hurdles she must clear.

My thoughts: THIS. WAS. INCREDIBLE!!!! I ate this book up in about a day and a half which means it sucked me right in. Donnelly's writing is just SO darn good. I felt like I knew every character in her book enough that I could step back into time with Jo, and know people in her world without anyone even introducing me.

The main character of Jo Montfort was instantly one that I could identify with. She is a young woman who's been told no all the time. She's also being told what to do by everyone around her all the time. There are just so many things that are expected of her by everyone. When she starts to investigate, they say she was always a wild one, or that she's not taking the stress of her father's death well...aka, she's gone off her rocker! These oppressive things people do and say to her really get you fired up as a reader on Jo's behalf.

The reporter, Eddie, is also a character that you spend a lot of time with. He takes her to the morgue where she meets Oscar, who's a modern day Bones, and so many other characters from "the other side of town" let's say which you really get to know well. 

I knew that Donnelly was a fantastic writer having read her AMAZING book, Revolution a few years ago. This was a completely different type of book than the other one so I was a bit worried but also excited to try it out. She did not disappoint! WOW! The book was incredibly accurate as far as I've learned about etiquette of the times and for that class, the requirements of someone of that class at that time, and so much more. It reminded me a bit (and its referenced in an off-hand way) of Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence. I wasn't a fan of the plot in that novel, but was a fan of the time she described and all that it entailed. I especially loved that she was of that class, and group that she wrote about. Talk about airing your neighbor's dirty laundry! I found Wharton's actual life to be much more interesting then her novel's characters. 

Again, the writing is amazing, the time and place she's set her characters in is so well done, and the actual storyline is fantastic! I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish! WOW! 
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