Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesday is the day that Castle Glower changes. New rooms, corridors, and even secret passageways appear then. Princess Celie is doing her best to keep up with the changes. She goes about with her atlas and colored pencils mapping the castle. When calamity strikes in the form of her parents' disappearance, Celie and her sister Lilah and her brother Rolf do their best to protect themselves and the castle until their parents return.

What I thought: Jessica Day George is fast becoming one of my favorite fantasy writers. Tuesdays at the Castle was a delightful adventure from beginning to end. Celie is a wonderful character and Castle Glower is a fantastic setting. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Luckily for me, Tuesdays at the Castle is the first book in a new series.

Links to my reviews of other books by Jessica:
Dragon Slippers
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Princess of the Midnight Ball
Princess of Glass

(Bloomsbury, 2011. Review copy received from publisher.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Caster Chronicles #3

Things very similar to plagues are hitting Gatlin. The supernatural powers are off and not what they used to be. Ethan keeps losing things and forgetting things. Lena's claiming appears to be a means to an end. The end is near and Ethan is going to pay for it.

What I thought: (Please excuse the above summary. It was a hard one to write.) I would like to compare Beautiful Chaos to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in that this is not a happy book. Such strange events are happening. All the supposedly supernatural people are no help and poor Ethan! I thought this was going to be the last book, but the ending proved me wrong. A quick check of GoodReads confirms that Book #4 is due out sometime this year. Beautiful Creatures is still my favorite book in the series.

Links to my other reviews:
Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Darkness

(Little, Brown, & Co, 2011)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Entwined by Heather Dixon

After the death of their mother, Azalea and her eleven sisters are neglected by their father the king and forced into mourning that strictly forbids dancing which the girls love. After discovering another world in a secret passage, the girls are delighted to meet Keeper, a magical being who promises them dancing every night. Keeper isn't as debonair as he seems. Soon, the girls are in over their heads. What Keeper wants, he gets and keeps.

Meanwhile, the king returns and becomes interested in his daughters' nightly excursions. He declares a contest with Az's hand as the prize. Now Az has to worry about Keeper and the suitors. When everything converges, Az, Mr. Bradford, Fairweller, Lord Teddy, and the King are all in for a fight.

What I thought: An absolutely beautiful retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." I've read quite a few and each one I read seems a little better than the last not because they're better but because they're different. Entwined and Wildwood Dancing might be my favorites. Like Jessica Day George in Princess of the Midnight Ball, Heather chose to give the girls flower/plant names (Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Evening Primrose, Flora, Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale, and Lily). I guess this is a good way to name twelve sisters. The three separate romances add interest to the plot. This is a book I want to read again!

If you like the story of the dancing princesses, you might also want to read The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn.

(Greenwillow, 2011)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Home for the Holidays by Heather Vogel Frederick

Mother-Daughter Book Club #6

This holiday season, the Mother-Daughter Book Club is reading the Betsy-Tacy books. The girls and their families are scattered during the holidays. The promise of a New Year's Eve meeting and a Secret Santa gift exchange over the holidays keep the girls together in spirit if not person.

What I thought: Though Becca is probably not my favorite character, I was glad to see she finally got her own chapters. Megan and Becca's shopping trip on Black Friday was one of my favorite parts of the book. The Secret Santa mix-up was hilarious. A very enjoyable read, Home for the Holidays made me want to try to read the Betsy-Tacy books again.

(Simon & Schuster, 2011)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pies & Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick

Mother-Daughter Book Club #5

The Mother-Daughter Book Club faces another challenge this year when Emma and her family move to England for the year. To keep book club going, the girls (and moms) decide to read Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Emma will join the discussions via video conference. Megan develops a snarky fashionista blog that gets her noticed in all the right and wrong ways. Cassidy lives through her own personal Pride & Prejudice when Tristan Berkley takes an aversion to her. Jess decides to concentrate on her singing. The stateside girls decide Emma needs to come home for spring break. To raise money for the plane ticket, they come up with Pies & Prejudice, a baking company.

What I thought: This series continues to delight me. The girls' struggles are perfectly at pace with their ages. I loved the tension between Cassidy and Tristan. It seemed to me that less time was spent on the discussion of the book club book in Pies & Prejudice. What I liked most is that I guessed right as to what book they were going to read. See this post and that post for my guess and then my revelation.

(Simon & Schuster, 2010)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley

Molly's life changes for the better when she's sent to work at the castle. Though only seven years old, Molly understands and heeds her mother's advice--don't react to the visions you have. You'll only draw unwanted attention to yourself. That's right--Molly has visions and usually not happy ones. After a time, she becomes assistant to the Gentleman of the King's Silver. While polishing a silver bowl, Molly receives visions that reveal a plot to annihilate the royal family. With the help of her friend Tobias, Molly rescues Prince Alaric from an attack. But you can't run from a curse forever. Can Molly find the source before it's too late for the prince?

What I thought: This book hooked me from the first few lines. My preference for first person point-of-view grows. Molly is a great narrator (This book would pair well with Alchemy & Meggy Swann.) The story line was unique and I kept guessing until the end. The villain was unexpected. Overall, an excellent medieval fantasy.

(Harper, 2011)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush #3

The past five months are a blank. Nora can't remember where she was or who she was with. Her mom and best friend Vee are close-mouthed about the time she can't recall. What she does know: Her mom's new boyfriend Hank Millar--him, she doesn't like. And that guy Jev--why does he seem so familiar? Can Nora remember her past before it comes back to haunt or harm her?

What I thought: A solid book in the Hush, Hush series. I think I liked Silence better than Crescendo but not as much as Hush, Hush. I like the problem novels. For example, New Moon is my favorite Twilight book because I could feel Bella's depression. Nora's frustration (feeling out of the loop, etc.) comes across beautifully. Becca used dramatic irony to her advantage. I love it when I know more than the characters do. The ending was nice, but I have one question. This can't be the end of the series, can it? (No, it's not. The fourth book will be out sometime this year.)

(Simon & Schuster, 2011)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman

Chicken wants to help paint the barn, but instead she just turns everything and everyone blue. The other animals aren't pleased. Can chicken get rid of the blue before things escalate?

What I thought: A simple story with nice illustrations. Chicken is a lovable character. I can't wait to pair Blue Chicken with Wait! No Paint! and Art & Max for an art themed story time.

Story Time Themes: Art, Paint, Colors, Blue

(Viking, 2011)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Love, Mouserella by David Ezra Stein

Missing her grandmouse, Mouserella takes her mother's advice and writes her a letter. Mouserella's letter to her grandmouse is filled with adventure and love.

What I thought: Adorable! The letter is rambling and full of news as I would expect a child's letter to be. The items Mouserella encloses are funny (especially the ketchup). The illustrations are great. I really like Stein's style. I've been thinking of doing a story time on mail. Love, Mouserella will be a great addition.

Story Time Themes: Mail, Letters, Grandparents

(Nancy Paulsen Books, 2011)

Monday, January 9, 2012

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

Dog from If You Give a Pig a Party finally has his own book. He's quite an active canine. His snacking doesn't last long--soon he's off on a spectacular adventure.

What I thought: My love of Laura Numeroff's "If You Give..." series hasn't diminished a bit. I was so excited about the release of the latest title in the series that I planned and hosted Laura Numeroff Parties at all four of my branch libraries in October. I want so badly to try writing a circular story with older children. I think it would be very fun. If You Give a Dog a Donut offers so many story time opportunities (see below). I love the illustrations. They are great as usual. My favorite is Dog doing a happy dance.

Story Time Themes: Dogs, Donuts (Food), Apples, Baseball, Pirates, Kites

Links to my reviews of the other books in the series:
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
If You Give a Moose a Muffin
If You Give a Pig a Pancake
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
If You Take a Mouse to School
If You Give a Pig a Party
If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

(Illus. Felicia Bond. Balzer + Bray, 2011)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond

Summary from Dust Jacket:

Meet Charlie.

He's a ranch dog. Breakfast is his life, especially when bacon is involved. Charlie has dangly ears, floppy skin, and big fat paws. And he loves living in the country. That's because he works like a dog...fixing fences, gardening, and helping his family out on the range.

Yep, it's all work, all the time for Charlie the ranch dog. In fact, he's probably working right now...Zzzzzzz....

A ranch dog's work is never done!

Come along as Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, introduces us to her beloved short-legged pioneer dog named Charlie.

What I thought: I've been dying to read this book since I first heard about it. I've liked Basset hounds since I watched Luther's dog Quincy on the old sitcom Coach. Charlie is so appealing and his outlook on life is cheerful if a bit shewed. The illustrations are grand. I read an interview somewhere and know how much work Diane put into them. My favorites are the cover, Charlie cataloging his features, Charlie and chipmunk eating, Charlie fishing, and on the porch. What I want to know is does Charlie really have a pet chipmunk?

(Illus. Diane de Groat. Harper, 2011)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Me & My Dragon by David Biedrzycki

One little boy wants a very unusual pet. You might think a dragon would make a horrible pet, but that's not so. With a few adjustments, dragons can be perfect pets.

What I thought: Too fun! Me & My Dragon is another great book to add to my pets story time. In fact, maybe I should have an unusual pets story time. The illustrations are great--so saturated with bright and bold colors. My favorite illustrations are the cover, walking the dragon, brussel sprouts, and dragon reading.

Story Time Themes: Pets, Unusual Pets, Dragons

(Charlesbridge, 2011)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bailey by Harry Bliss

Meet Bailey. He's a dog. He goes to school. A dog that goes to school? Surely you jest! Nope, Bailey is a dog that goes to school and seems to enjoy it, too.

What I thought: This was a fun book. It seems preposterous that a dog would go to school. Readers' disbelief is easily suspended because despite Bailey's above average-ness, he still looks and acts like a dog. I love the illustrations. Bailey is quite a character. My favorite illustrations are getting dressed, his report, and music class.

Story Time Themes: School, Dogs

(Scholastic, 2011)