Monday, August 30, 2010

It’s a Book

It's a Book by Lane Smith is an adorable tongue in cheek reflection on a potentially endangered species: books. In a world that is so focused on technology (one where the art of the written letter is all but totally lost), one has to wonder about the fate of the printed book. In Smith's picture book we meet a mouse, a monkey and a jackass (and this is what will give some parents pause, the use of the word jackass as opposed to donkey.) Slapstick humor ensues in an armchair face-off when one character, reared on a diet of 21st Century technology simply has no idea what to do with a book. He wants to know "how you scroll down, can he blog with it, can he make the characters fight?" Finally, in exasperation monkey hands the book over. The immediate response is "too many letters" and changes it to text speak. Still he is intrigued by this strange thing called a book. The reader watches as he becomes fascinated with it for hours. As with any good picture book, the illustrations are key to getting the full story and they pull the reader deeper into this story. The book ends with a somewhat off color response to the suggestion that the book will be "charged up" before returned to the owner. The use of the label jackass rather than donkey may cause some parents to shy away from purchasing this clever book for their children. That would be a real shame as the book is a great advocate for reading.

It's a Book - book trailer

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hero by Mike Lupica

Disclaimer:  This book has not yet been released. I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from Penguin.

I liked this book, but how much I liked it depends on whether is the first book in a series or whether it is a stand alone story.

Billy Harriman is the only child of a wealthy mother and a famous father. Billy’s father, Tom Harriman, is a problem solver for the president of the United States.   Many would consider Billy’s dad a hero, but what they don’t realize he’s actually a superhero.  Even Billy is not aware of his father’s special gifts until after Tom Harriman is killed in a mysterious plane crash.  Then everything changes, including Billy.  With his dad gone, Billy’s own superhero powers begin to develop and her must learn to handle those powers without a clear guide.
The pacing might be a little slow for those used to Lupica’s fast paced sports stories. Everything seems to be building up to a cliffhanger that doesn’t quite happen.  Yet there are still many questions left unanswered opening the way to a sequel. As a stand-alone book, things are a little vague at times.  Tom Harriman fought against the Bads, but it is not clear just who the Bads are.  It is also difficult to figure out who is on the side of good and who is on the other side. (This could be considered a clever writing ploy as it keeps the reader guessing and wanting to come back to find out.)
The book has a lot to offer young adult readers – girls and boys.  There’s magic, potential love interest, typical teen angst (Billy is plagued by a bully at school), mystery (just who did Billy’s dad work for?) and good vs. evil.
Though I would have liked a faster pace, I have to admit I’m hooked. I want to know more about Billy and the other characters.  The book is scheduled for release in November 2010. I will recommend it to my fourth and fifth grade readers and their older siblings.
If the book is the beginning of a series, then I’d have to say I really like it. I checked Lupica’s website and as of this writing there’s no indication either way. If it’s a stand-alone book,  I’d have to say I like it but not as much as previous books by Lupica.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett

This is my favorite of all the Booktown Mysteries. In this installment mystery bookstore owner Tricia Miles must solve the mystery surrounding a gas explosion that killed the owner of the local history book store owner and injured Tricia's sister's boyfriend Bob Kelly, who also happens to be head of the Chamber of Commerce. Tricia has never been too keen on Bob, but out of loyalty to her sister Angelica, who is off signing copies of her new cookbook, Tricia looks into matters. Things are complicated by the fact that list of suspects continues to grow. Even the victim's mother doesn't seem to have liked him very much. Tricia barely has time to crack open a book as she is kept busy trying to solve the mystery as well as trying to cover Angela's cookbook store and her café all the while worrying about the financial woes of her employees.

I've always enjoyed this series, but in this book the characters, even the secondary characters, really seem to come into their own. Once I started reading I couldn't stop. If you enjoy books, food and mysteries, then you should rush out and purchase a copy of Chapter and Hearse for your collection.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Want To Find Out About New Releases?

I saw this at Lori's Reading Corner and just had to pass it along.
Any New Books is a new service where you can sign up to receive weekly email updates about new release books. Best of all, it's totally free! I just signed up and I'm eagerly awaiting my first email updates. There are lots of categories to choose from (42 in all). I'll be getting updates on new releases in Fiction, Mystery and Thrillers, Crafts, Photography, Children's and Teen genres and many more. Check it out at

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cozy Mystery Give Away

Love cozy mysteries? Love getting free ones? Check out this opportunity at Lori's Reading Corner: Be sure to sign up to follow her blog, not only for the great contests, but the great reviews as well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse is a mind reading waitress living in Bon Temps, LA. Things are quiet in the small town until the vampire shows up. Not only is he handsome, but his mind is a blank – at least to Sookie. This is a great relief to Sookie who has spent her entire life trying to block out the thoughts of others. He’s the one person she can’t “hear.”

Unfortunately, not everyone is as happy as Sookie is to the see the vampire. Vampires have only recently entered society explaining their condition as a “virus” and surviving on synthetic blood and vampire groupies. Many humans still regard them with caution. To complicate matters young women known as “fang bangers” start turning up dead. When Sookie’s brother is suspected of the crimes and then her beloved grandmother is murdered, Sookie must solve the mystery in order to clear her brother, protect her new vampire friend Bill and get justice for her grandmother.

This is a wonderful vampire story for adults. There’s mystery, romance and sex (caution: while the book is not as graphic as the HBO show True Blood, which is based on this series, there is still some mature content. Young middle school girls enthralled with the Twilight series should look elsewhere for their next vampire read.) Sookie is a breath of fresh air. She’s a strong character (no dumb blonde here) who is not afraid to do what is needed to protect those she loves. Bill, the handsome, brooding vampire provides the love interest. Sookie’s boss, the mysterious Sam also adds a little spice. This series has a lot to offer: the supernatural, the mysterious and romance. What more could you ask for? Can’t wait to read the other books in the series.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mockingbird (mok'ng-burd) by Kathryn Erskine

I read this book in one day. It is a wonderfully written story of a young girl with Asperger's who is also trying to Deal With the loss of her beloved older brother in a school shooting. As an educator I have some limited experience with students who have Asperger's. Erskine does a fabulous job of communicating the day to day frustrations that students who have Asperger's must feel when just trying to get along in a world they don't understand and doesn't understand them. There is a great deal of emotion in this book and I can't imagine anyone reading it all the way through with a dry eye. It also has a relationship with To Kill a Mockingbird - one of my all time favorite books. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a glimpse into the world of Asperger's - especially from a child's point of view.