Monday, March 31, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday: The Bat-Chen Diaries

Bat-Chen Shahak was an ordinary girl, living in Israel in 1996, when she was killed by a suicide bomber while shopping. This short book contains photographs, postcards, poems, and little bits of life that Bat-Chen kept in a diary up until her death.

Pretty self-explanatory and will be enjoyable those kids, mainly girls, I know, that like reading diary-type stories. Plus, it’s true and one I would compare to Zlata’s Diary, published back in the mid-90’s about a girl’s life in Sarajevo. A pretty good selection for today’s society, though I personally enjoyed Zlata’s Diary a bit better. That being said, the reader will still learn something about Israel’s strife and Bat-Chen herself and as well as get their dose of diary writing that so many enjoy.

Non-Fiction Monday: Good Night World series

With a new baby on the way and lots of babies in the library at any given time, board books are always on my mind, for better or for worse. A lot of board books are just pictures with one or two words on them, allowing babies and toddlers to get the feel for what a book is, as well as stick it in their mouths and not have it disintegrate. A plus all around! This series, however, is a great bedtime series that puts a little more into the “board book” concept, while still maintaining their simplified book status.

The three books in the series that I own, Good Night Beach, Good Night America, and Good Night Zoo are all pretty great. Very similar to the infamous Good Night Moon in nature, each page presents a different item we’re saying “good night” to, and even good morning and good afternoon, but focusing on a specific topic. In the America book, we say good night to the White House. In Beach we say good night to the waves. And in Zoo we say good night to the monkeys. YAY for monkeys! We love monkeys in my family, probably because my husband is one. :-)

These are great bedtime books for teaching about our world, but also settling down for the evening. As with Good Night Moon, kids will enjoy saying good night to different, familiar things, or even not-so-familiar, allowing them to learn more each night, even in such a scaled down version of a non-fiction book. The series includes over 20 different titles, focusing mainly on states and major cities around the U.S.

New Giveaway and a Winner

I just came across this giveaway, which is PERFECT for new and expectant mamas! Head over to WAHM Spot and enter for a huge baby prize package! Today is the last day to enter, so hurry on over!

The winner of my A Mending at the Edge giveaway is Marilyn! Email me your address Marilyn and I'll get it out to you ASAP. Thanks for all that entered!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Giveaway and Some Help please!

First, I want to remind everyone of my giveaway of A Mending at the Edge. Enter before midnight tonight on my previous post and I'll be drawing a winner tomorrow morning. Good luck!

Second, I'm in need of someone to chat with about the latest Jodi Picoult book, but I haven't found a whole lot of people who have read it. As most of you know, she is my favorite "adult" author and her books always make me contemplate what I would do in the situations her characters are in. I can talk about her books for weeks on end...but this latest one, Change of Heart, has left me speechless. I almost threw the book across the room last night after I finished it, because I had so many unanswered questions, especially as a Christian. So...if you've read the book, please email me! If you haven't and are willing to, please do! I'm really looking for another Christian's perspective (Deena, Cee Cee, or Emily help a girl out :-), though at this point, anyone's will do! I love when books to this to me, but I hate it at the same time!

Matthew Livingston and the Prison of Souls

In a very small package, this book packs a pretty large punch! Matthew Livingston and the Prison of Souls is written by Marco Conelli, an author that I must admit I had never heard of until I received an email about this particular book, though if enough people learn about this title, I know we'll be hearing a lot more about him, as long as he keeps writing books that is!

Dennis Sommers has a problem. All the money he had from selling tickets to the Hard Rock Band Competition was stolen from his locker and he has to figure out who took it, and get it back, before the night of the concert. He immediately enlists the help of his friend Sandra and the infamous Matthew Livingston, a guy Dennis thinks is a complete genius. Hey, if Matthew can solve a mystery the way he plays chess, that counts for something right? While conducting an intense search for the money, using mainly the internet as their guide, the trio not only found the thief, but also discovered a conspiracy recruiting teens to commit crimes around town. During a huge confrontation with the "bad guy," Dennis, Sandra, and Matthew have some things go wrong, some go right, and may just turn out to be heroes.

Though only 95 pages long, this book is geared towards young adults (though this adult was pretty happy with what she read). The story line is exciting and fast paced, keeping the pages turning. My only real "complaint" with the book is the size...if I were to purchase this for the library, where I know it has the ability to circulate well, it would get lost on the shelves. It's very small in height, not only 6 inches, and as far as I can see is only published in paperback, making it very easy to lose on a shelf filled with large hardcovers. Other than that, it was a fun mystery and one that will make kids think as they read...always a plus!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker

Cute, cute, cute! This book is just, plain cute! Written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, this adorable story will have you hooked from the start…probably with a grin on your face as you read.

Bear is positive about one thing: he doesn’t like visitors. He even goes so far as to put a sign on his door, stating “NO visitors allowed.” When a curious mouse shows up, wanting a bit of tea and something to eat, Bear is adamantly against it. He repeatedly tells the mouse to go away, get out, scram, get lost, but the mouse just keeps showing up, insistent that he should be allowed have some tea and food before he goes. Finally, Bear gives up and allows the mouse to stay and eat. The pair begins chatting and Bear realizes that maybe having visitors isn’t such a bad thing after all. In fact, he actually likes the mouse!

A Visitor for Bear is sweet and the illustrations are beautifully matched to the characters and situations. This is an adorable selection for younger children as a read-a-loud or for those beginning to read to themselves. The story line is funny to children and has that bit of sarcasm that makes adults laugh as well. A very enjoyable book overall!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Astro Socks by Leigh Le Creux

What an interesting little book! Have you ever just come across a book that had somewhat of a strange concept, but in the end it really worked? That would be this selection for me. At the beginning I was slightly confused as to where the story would go and just how the author was going to get it told in only about 70 pages, yet at the end I was very happy the way it turned out.

Astro Socks is written by Leigh Le Creux and illustrated by the students of her son’s fifth grade class. How cool is that?! The reader meets Christopher, a loving ten year old that though slightly jealous of his new baby sister at first, discovers he really wants to help her out with a problem she’s been dealing with. You see, Rachel, the baby sister, has chubby little infant legs. As Chris describes them they are somewhat like chicken drumsticks and they just won’t hold onto the baby socks she wears, resulting in them always flying off her feet. Chris becomes determined to invent a pair of socks that will stay on those chubby little legs and feet and still be cute.

Chris begins dreaming up ideas for the socks and even emails the head of a giant company that produces all kinds of neat stuff, wondering why they have nothing of this sort in their stock of products. Through emails with Mr. Crosby, as well as his own imagination, Chris slowly becomes the main inventor of Astro Socks. Chris didn’t just dream about being an inventor, he actually became an inventor! He followed his idea and at the end of the book, gets what many kids have only dreamt about.

I can just see kids rooting for Chris throughout this entire book. So many children want to invent something cool or even just do something different, yet only really ever dream about. The main character of this short book shows those kids that when imagination and determination are combined, anything can be accomplished; a lesson we are always trying to teach our children, yet Le Creux does it in a fun and creative way!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Family Squeeze by Phil Callaway

So I may not be the most “qualified” to review this book, besides the fact that I read it. I’m not middle aged, at least I don’t think I am, I suppose I’m even part of the “gimme” generation that the author writes about, though I often feel as if I belong in the middle aged category! My pants and wallet are tight, a baby is on the way, and I’ll be caring for my mother before I know it! Family Squeeze: Tales of Hope and Hilarity for a Sandwiched Generation, written by Phil Callaway was perfect for me, even though I’m only almost 25, rather than almost 45. :-)

The book contains, on a Christian platform, 38 different stories, anecdotes, and tips for surviving this “sandwich” generation of middle age, broken down into chapters. My favorite is chapter 18: I Proposed in a Chain Letter. You’ll have to actually read the book the find out why, but it was so funny! There are also all kinds of quotes, cartoons, and a great introduction that tie in great with the chapters. I laughed so hard while reading this book, but it also makes great points. It may be funny, but there is a seriousness to the whole concept and one that will help me as a “youth” to grow into my own middle age gracefully.

If you are a parent on the verge of taking care of both your children and your own parents or even if you are on the younger side, as I am, you should definitely read this book. It’s a lot of fun and has a great message, all written with our Lord in mind. It really is a heartwarming, lovely book.

The Little Candy Breathing Dragons

Dragons and candy, who could possibly not be enticed by this book title? The Little Candy Breathing Dragons is written by Buffalo, New York author (a city very close to my heart) Gloria Clark and illustrated by Bobbi Switzer. In it we meet two dragons, Nay-Nay and Maj, each that breathe candy scents, rather than fire, which in my mind is a delightful concept and who set off on an adventure that brings them friends and life lessons.

As the dragons are off on their adventure, they encounter different characters that are in need of help. We meet a deer that is stuck in a well and a dragon from another universe that has lost his way. Though I don’t think I liked the whole “other universe” aspect, it seemed unnecessary; Dig was my favorite of the friends! The dragons are happy to lend a hand and end up helping each character in their own, unique manner. The give advices, lend a hand, and spread wisdom throughout their journey, as well as making lots of new friends along the way.

As a children’s librarian and one who often does read-alouds with the children, it’s a little difficult to evaluate this book as a whole. The pictures are great, very vibrant and bold, but the actually written text wasn’t what I was hoping for. All of the writing is on the left side of the book with black letters and a white background, with the illustrations on the right side, not a problem in itself, but the paragraphs are so long, I feel children may get bored with long text being read to them and the illustrations only on one page. Mind you, not all of the paragraphs are really long, but a few take up most of the page.

Another small issue is the rhyming within the paragraph. The story does rhyme, which is always an attention grabber, yet the text is in big paragraphs, so getting a “flow” with the rhymes, while reading out loud is slightly difficult. If half the text was cut out I think this would be an awesome picture book and still convey the message Clark wanted to get across.

Even with the few small issues I had with the book, I enjoyed the story of the candy breathing dragons and I think young children will be salivating for some candy once the story is over. I certainly was! Gumdrops sound pretty great right about now!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Mending at the Edge and a Giveaway!

If you've never read any of the "Change and Cherish" series by Jane Kirkpatrick, I insist you run out to the bookstore or the library and get started with the first book, A Clearing in the Wild. I love the freshness of this unique, historical series and the fact that it isn't the same as all the other dozens of historical Christian series out there. Kirkpatrick wrote the series based on a true story and her main character, Emma Giesy was a very real woman who made a huge dent in history.

A Mending at the Edge is the third book in the "Change and Cherish" series and again follows German-American Emma Giesy through difficult, trying, and extremely emotional times. She was the only woman that set off into the Oregon territory in the late 19th century, basically to begin her own society, which she is constantly succeeding at, though failure seems to loom above her every second. This is a real glimpse into our American history and allows the reader to not only fall in love with the characters, but learn something about ourselves as well.

The writing is lovely; very descriptive and real, and I enjoyed the unique glossary of terms Kirkpatrick added in the back. It was nice to be able to flip back there to see what some of the German words used meant...very helpful! The author's note was also very informative, allowing more of the facts to come through after reading the story. All of the books in the series contain a cast of characters and maps of the area, which is also quite helpful in keeping all the information straight.

If you are going to pick up one historical series this year, let it be the Change and Cherish series by Jane Kirkpatrick. I thoroughly enjoyed all three books and felt good about learning more about our country's history as I read an entertaining story. These are excellent novels by a truly talented author and I plan to pick up more of her works as soon as I can!

This Sunday night I'll be giving away a copy of A Mending at the Edge. Just leave a comment on this post and I'll enter your name!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Elephants Never Forget by Anushka Ravishankar

Elephants Never Forget is written by Anushka Ravishankar and illustrated by Christiane Pieper. It’s the story of a small elephant that finds himself all alone, lost from his herd, deep in the jungle after a thunderstorm. The elephant looks for help from the monkeys, but they just throw coconuts at him. He starts to feel that all hope is lost, when he comes across the buffalo herd and they make him feel right at home. When his elephant herd comes back, the little elephant is faced with a difficult decision. Does he go with the elephants? Or should he stay with the buffalo?

Done in blues, creams, and black, the illustrations in this book accompany the story very nicely. The subtle rhyming technique is soothing, but the loud bellows of the buffalo and the toots of the elephants add some excitement to the story as well. This a nice selection to read aloud and with the soft, pretty illustrations it would be great for bedtime or naptime reading.

Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer

We’re coming up on prom time, at least in New Mexico, I know it’s a little early everywhere else. My review for today is perfect for teen girls getting ready for the big night or even those that still have a few years to go before they get to buy the dress, rent the limo, and wear those horribly uncomfortable shoes. As the prom queen of my high school’s junior prom, I have some advice for these girls….it’s SUCH a waste of money, but SO much fun! Skip the heels and the limo, buy a fun, appropriate, comfortable, affordable dress, dance your heart out, and read this hilarious book!

It’s prom time in L.A. and the fever has hit everyone Cindy knows, including and especially her two horribly annoying stepsisters and her super-stuck up stepmother (who just happens to be utterly addicted to Botox). Cindy is totally not into the whole prom thing, believing that all it does is result in an even bigger gap between the popular and “regular” students and actually writes about her feelings to the school newspaper, gets it published, and then has a whole mess of aftermath to deal with.

Her classmates and even a few teachers are shocked at Cindy’s letter and her status on the ever important social totem pole begins to take a nose dive. Fortunately, Cindy’s two best friends stand by her side, as does the most popular senior guy at her school…who happens to be Cindy’s crush. With the help of a fabulous pair of shoes and a surprise source, “Cindy Ella’s” prom night may not be a bust after all.

As the prom queen of my high school’s junior prom (go ahead, make fun), I have some advice for these girls….prom is SUCH a waste of money, but SO much fun! Skip the heels and the limo, buy a fun, appropriate, comfortable, affordable dress, dance your heart out, and read this hilarious book! Not only a modern retelling of Cinderella, this novel is a tons of fun and makes a great point about what the real meaning of social status is in high schools. I enjoyed this and know teen girls will as well.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thirteen by Lauren Myracle

Thirteen is the follow-up novel to Lauren Myracle's bestselling Eleven and Twelve books. Winnie Perry is finally a teenager and ready to make the most of it. Unfortunately, as soon as she graces the teenage world with her presence, teenage size problems start coming with her every day routine. Her best friends are each growing up at their own pace; one waaay too slow and the other waaay too fast, leaving Winnie feeling completely confused and alone. Not to mention Lars, Winnie's amazing boyfriend, who starts to be not-so-amazing. And let's not even bring up her home life. No. BIG changes are happening at home too, bringing with them their own slew of problems.

Winnie is caught in the middle of everything and nothing at the same time. She starts to wonder if she really does want to be a teenager after all. Life at eleven and twelve was complicated, but nothing compares to her life now!

Even if you haven't read the other books in Myracle's series, you can still enjoy Thirteen. It's great for teen girls and even good for those that are still in the "tween" stages. Enough fluff to satisfy the girliest of girls (makeup, dresses, boys) and enough substance to make it a great, humorous story (home life, problems). I laughed out loud several times while reading and am wondering if a Fourteen is in the works.

Non-Fiction Monday: Environment Books for Young Readers

For me, the hardest thing to do, as a librarian, is to find age appropriate non-fiction books for younger readers. When a mom or dad comes to me and says they want their young kids to start "learning" about different subjects, but can't yet read or are just beginning to read, the search is really on. First Step Non-Fiction books, published by Lerner, are awesome for this purpose, especially on an issue as big in society today as the environment.

The three books in the Ecology series, People and the Environment, Animals and the Environment, and Plants and the Environment, are created to inform children, on a simplistic level, as to not overwhelm them with big words, "boring" text, or too much information. Each page is presented with one sentence about the particular topic, with one main word written in bold. The bolded word can then be expanded on in the short glossary located at the back of the book. Each page also depicts a large photograph, acting out the sentence.

The books are just right for little hands, not only in their size, but in the amount of pages, approximately 23, including the glossary and index. I really enjoy this series and believe it will be great for those younger kids wanting non-fiction books. In addition to the Ecology series, there are 18 other categories, each with a various number of books included.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Life As We Knew It

I thought I was one of the last readers to finally get their hands on this book, but lately I've been seeing quite a few reviews around the blogs I frequent, so maybe I wasn't last! I actually am almost glad it took me until February to get a hold of a copy, now I only have to wait a few months for the sequel, rather than an entire year. :-)

Miranda is a typical teenager in high school, worrying about friends, boys, and homework when her world is suddenly thrown off kilter. Scientists begin predicting a strong meteor shower, one that everyone is highly anticipating watching and when the night comes, it's like a movie theater in everyone's backyards. One of the meteors strikes the moon, resulting in a shift closer to Earth. Though, at first, this doesn't seem like a big deal to Miranda, she soon learns how important the moon is in her everyday life.

Tides shift, causing coastal cities and states to become completely submerged under the ocean. Tsunamis and earthquakes are constantly occurring, along with severe food and gas shortages. Soon, Miranda and her family must learn to survive without a food source, electricity, or any of the luxuries they are used to living with. Tough, often devastating decisions must be made daily, making life as the family knew it, basically over.

After reading Pfeffer's book, I can certainly see why it sparked such a phenomenon among readers. Though we've all read books related to this concept before, Life As We Knew It definitely stood out as a unique page turner. Miranda could have been me a few years ago and her reactions to the situations going on around her were spot on. I loved reading a page and then sitting back and thinking about what I would do if I were experiencing the same things as Miranda and her family. Not to mention Pfeffer described the disaster in such a manner that it really left me thinking...what if? This is an excellent book for teens and adults, one every library should have and will have trouble keeping stocked. The sequel comes out late spring, so keep you're eyes peeled!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008

Katrina over at one of my favorite blogs, Callapidder Days, is once again hosting the Spring Reading Thing and I knew I definitely had to join, for no other reason than to get my to-be-read list down a bit. Rules are simple and explained over at the blog post. Just click on the picture to get started! My list, which includes books from my shelves at home, books I've just been meaning to read, as well as additional challenge books, is below....

1. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin

2. Saving Levi by Lisa Bentley

3. Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice

4. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

6. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

7. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

8. Eldest by Christopher Paolini

9. Peeled by Joan Bauer

10. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

11. Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway

12. Physik by Angie Sage

13. The Report Card by Andrew Clements

14. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

15. Gods of Manhatten by Scott Mebus

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bilingual Picture Books

Living in New Mexico, only about an hour from the Mexico border, bilingual titles are very popular in our library and unfortunately, we don't have that many. We've had a hard time finding quality bilingual picture books, but this week I was lucky enough to read three that will be great additions to our shelves. It is also wonderful to find new books that you know will circulate well, but it is especially awesome when the books will fill a genre that is quite lacking.

The first title, Paco and the Giant Chile Plant, or Paco y la Planta de Chile Gigante, is written by Keith Polette and illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. Basically, the story is a retelling of the infamous "Jack and the Beanstalk" story that is always popular with children. In this edition, Paco's mother sends him to town to sell the family cow for money. Paco ends up exchanging the cow for a bag of magic chile seeds and I'm sure we all know the rest of the story. Nothing is really different from the typical "Jack" story, other than the characters using Spanish words intertwined with English words, and the characters being Hispanic.

I really liked how the Spanish words were sprinkled into the story, rather than it being told first in English, then in Spanish as many bilingual books work. There is also a list of vocabulary words in the back of the book, which is very helpful when trying to learn either English or Spanish.

Traveling With Anna (De viaje con Ana): Postcards From Chicago, is written by Laura Crawford and is part of a travel series. Postcards are written from Anna to various family and friends, describing different parts of her trip to Chicago. The places she writes about are then expanded upon, offering different facts about the area. Anna is able to visit the Field Museum of Natural History and see the famous T-Rex, Sue. In the facts section, it is explained how "Sue" was given her name and other interesting tidbits about the artifacts at the museum.

I loved the actual photographs of places Anna visited on her trip, interspersed with drawings of the characters. The postcards actually read like they were written by a child and the facts were not overpowering, just enough for the reader to learn something throughout the book. There was one con to the book, though not big enough for me to not recommend it. Unfortunately, the postcards from Anna were completely in English, with no Spanish translation. The facts section on each page was, however, translated into Spanish, though it would have been nice for the postcard to have been as well.

Post Cards from New York City and Postcards from Washington D.C. are other titles in this series.

The final title I was able to preview is entitled I Wish I Was Strong Like Manuel, or, Quisiera ser Fuerte Como Manuel written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook and illustrated by Bonnie Adamson. This was a sweet story in which Willie will do just about anything to be as strong as his friend Manuel, even going so far as to wear water wings under his sweater to appear to have big muscles, guaranteed to make kids and parents giggle! At the end of the story, the reader learns that Willie has a special characteristic of his own, one that Manuel is envious of.

Definitely celebrating differences and unique abilities, this was a charming story, told both in English and in Spanish. It also has a companion book, I Wish I Was Tall Like Willie, as well as and additional series including two books, I Wish I Had Glasses Like Rosa and I Wish I Had Freckles Like Abby. Very cute book!

All of these titles are published by Raven Tree Press and will be available this spring.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday: Let's Clear the Air

Since my first post for Non-Fiction Monday was one for a younger crowd, I figured I should throw one in for the older kids as well. There are lots of “anti-smoking” books out there, aimed at all different age ranges, though this is presented in a quick, easy to read format that is actually interesting, rather than preachy.

Let’s Clear the Air: Reasons Not to Start Smoking is not written by any one particular person, though it does include a foreword by Christy Turlington. She explains how she first started smoking at 13, why she did it, and how and when she quit. The book then goes on to list 10 reasons why kids should not start smoking, each reason having its own, individual chapter. Each reason also has an except from a child or teen, explaining why that particular reason is meaningful to them. There are also fast fact blocks included every couple of pages, describing consequences of smoking, as well as descriptions of specific activist movements in history surrounding smoking and cigarettes.

Overall, this book is filled with facts, some simple, some rather gruesome, all of which are great reasons not to start smoking. The parts that will really hit home to kids are the personal accounts written by real kids for the teens and older children reading the book. Those written accounts are what make the book go by so quickly and actually make it an enjoyable read. Let’s Clear the Air is an excellent book for schools and libraries to have on hand for kids to pick up just to read or as the basis for a project on anti-smoking.

Non-Fiction Monday: Pale Male

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City written by Janet Schulman and illustrated by Meilo So is the wonderful, true story about an exceptional bird, presented in a book easy enough for children to read.

In 1991 a young red-tailed hawk was noticed in New York City, flying around the buildings and spending his nights in Central Park. Over the years, Pale Male, as he was delightfully named, takes a mate and together they build a nests high in the rooftop of an apartment building. Through citizen complaints, nest destruction, and un-hatched eggs, Pale Male and his mate continue to be one of the most popular attractions among the residents of the city, a pair that some residents will do anything to keep around.

Meilo So’s beautiful, bright watercolors accompany a rather remarkable tale and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. There is a section in the back with more information on Pale Male’s story and some additional facts that add to the story. To me, as a librarian, the best non-fiction books are those that both educate and entertain, a goal this book certainly reaches. It can be read aloud to children or used in a project for school. Though a native New Yorker, I’ve never actually been to NYC, though now I definitely want to make a trip, just to see the building these two birds inhabited for so long!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Oliver Has Something to Say

Oliver Has Something to Say, written by Pamela Edwards and illustrated by Louis Pilon, is an adorable story of a little boy that has lots to say, but too many people to say it for him. Every time Oliver is asked a questions by someone, one of his family members decides to speak up before Oliver has even a remote chance to answer. Somehow, Oliver has become afraid of dogs, loves trains, and doesn't want more spaghetti at dinner, even though those aren't the actual answers Oliver would have given to the questions he was asked.

I thought this was a very cute book and one that young children will very much enjoy. The illustrations are vibrant and bold and the story is one that will have them in giggles. Oliver has the best facial expressions each time someone else answers a question directed at him. For children that are often afraid to speak up, this is an excellent book to encourage them to tell us adults how they really feel (to an extent of course :-).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Two for the 888 Challenge

I've finished two more for the 888 challenge, though I'm still far, far behind. My own fault for putting so many long books on there! These will be short reviews, being that most of you have already read both books. No need for lots of repetition on my part!

Being a big fan of the Percy Jackson books created by Rick Riordan, I was very much up for the mythological adventure set up by Anne Ursu in The Shadow Thieves. When Charlotte's cousin Zee comes to stay with her, all the way from England, she's hoping he might spice up her boring life with something interesting. When her and Zee become involved in a plot of overthrow the Lord of the Underworld, Hades, Charlotte begins to regret her wish. She and Zee must travel to the Underworld to stop a crazy "man" from ruining the world of the Dead, before it's too late.

The book is fast paced and cute, though it doesn't stand up against the Percy Jackson books. It is the first in a series and I will be searching for the others, as books such as these have caught my attention and I have found I very much enjoy.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodson Burnett, is a much loved favorite of so many and I'm book I'm sure all of you has read a time or two. This is probably my third time reading the book, but I enjoyed it just as much as if it were the first time I have read it.

When spoiled Mary is forced to move from her home in India after her parents die to an old country mansion in England, she is less than thrilled. She is a wretched child to her nurses and believes she should have everything handed to her on a silver platter, until she discovers a secret garden on the grounds. Mary's whole world begins to change, very much for the better. She becomes healthy, spending long days in the fresh air and sunshine and makes a couple of friends, which increase her social skills. Mary begins to find not only herself, but helps her cousin Colin become a better boy as well, not to mention her withdrawn Uncle.

The garden seems to hold all the magic of this story, though I love the characters Burnett creates. My only complaint about this book now, as it probably was years ago when I first read it, is the difficulty of reading a Yorkshire accent that Mary's nurse has. I swear it took me five minutes to read a page when that woman was talking! Maybe I just need to increase my knowledge of different dialects.

Graphic Universe Series

So...I'm going out on a limb here, waiting to here the wrath of those readers that looove this genre, but I am not typically a graphic novel fan. I didn't read comic books when I was a kid and to me, graphic novels are just thick comic books, making me shy away. This series, however, though it may not be my cup of tea, seems perfect for those readers that do enjoy graphic novels and want to learn something through the reading process.

Graphic Universe is a series put out by Lerner Publishing that includes 22 different books covering a huge span of myths and legends. At my library, myths are an extremely popular category, as are graphic novels and until this series came along, I can't say we ever had a combination of the two. From Atalanta, a Greek myth to The Hero Twins, a Mayan myth the series spans a ton of different countries and includes many of the most popular myths and legends, as well as some I had never heard of. There is the popular Jason and King Arthur and the not-so-well known Sunjata and Yu the Great.

Each book includes a glossary and word pronunciation guide, further reading and website lists, an index, and just how the author created the graphic telling of famous myths and legends. As I've said, I'm not a huge fan of graphic books, but I know these will circulate well at our library, have a high interest level in kids and teens, and are educational as well, making it quite the successful series.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Baby: An Owner's Manual

At first glance, I was entirely sure I would get a whole lot of information from this book. It appeared to be another "help the new mommy" baby book that would probably contain all the info that all the other books I've looked at had. However....I was completely wrong! Yes, the book does contain some repeat information that I've heard many times, but repetition for a first time mom-to-be like myself is never a bad thing!

The full title being Baby: An Owner's Manual, A Beloved Pediatrician Answers Your First 365 Phone Calls, written by Dr. Bud Zukow and Nancy Sayles Kaneshiro, this awesome book has a huge range of questions that all new moms probably want answered. From circumcision care to cradle cap, cloth diaper use to having the baby sleep in your bed, this guide really does cover it all. The answers the doctor gives to the questions are in plain English, not "doctor-speak," which is a definite plus over all those other baby books out there.

Though I may not have learned a whole lot of brand new information from Baby: An Owner's Manual, I did get a whole lot of clarification on issues I had slight confusion on, as well as a valuable doctor's opinion on my husband's and I's biggest baby argument...cloth diapers! I definitely recommend this for all new moms and mamas-to-be. It's a great baby manual and definitely a huge step above a lot of the rest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

I posted my review of Zarr's newest title, Sweethearts, a couple of weeks ago and realized I had never posted a review of her first novel. Better late than never I guess! I enjoyed this one just as much as Sweethearts and am probably one of many that hope Zarr is already at work on a third (and fourth!).

In Story of a Girl, we learn that Deanna, our main character, was caught having sex with a much older boy by none other than her father when she was only 13. Her life was already going on a pretty horrible path, but that one night ruined not only her reputation, but her relationship with her dad. She is scared, lost, and the one man in her life that actually meant something to her will no longer look her in the eye.

Fast forward three years later and Deanna is still known as the school slut. It doesn't matter that she hasn't been touched by another boy since that last night with Tommy; it's high school and in those years what people first learn about you is what you are branded by until you leave. Her dad still won't look at her, her brother and his girlfriend live in the basement with their baby girl, and her mother is an emotional wreck. Deanna only has 2 friends to confide her troubles in and unfortunately she is in love with one of them, who just happens to be dating the third member of their trio. She gets a job at a trashy pizza parlor in hopes of making enough money to help herself move out of her parent's disfunctional household. Trouble even follows her to her job when she finds out the infamous Tommy, Mr. Virginity-taker, works there as well. Deanna just can't seem to get a break, no matter how hard she tries to do the right thing and just be happy as herself. Everywhere she turns there is another obstacle blocking her way to happiness.

I love it when certain sentences or paragraphs really stick out as I'm reading the story. My favorite line in Story of a Girl has stuck with me since I finished reading it months ago, and I still have it written down in a notebook today.

" 'How am I supposed to find my own way out,' I repeated, tears rolling down my face, 'when every time I turn around...there's me?' :

I've personally felt that way so many times, though could never put it quite as eloquently as Sara Zarr has. A lot of times, as is the case with Deanna, our own worst enemy is ourselves and until we let go of whatever is making is come unhinged, we simply can't move on to the good stuff in life. Though I didn't go through the same things Deanna went through, I could certainly relate to the way she felt as a teen, going through tough stuff and feeling she didn't have a whole lot of people to turn to. This is an excellent book for young adults (and us adults too!) and I know that Sara Zarr is going to have a fantastic career as an author of this genre of books.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tin Angel by Shannon Cowan

Tin Angel is definitely not a simple book, with a mindless plot that readers can quickly get through and forget about as they move on to their next book. This is another selection I would label as incredibly intense, leaving me somewhat bewildered at the end, and not really sure how I felt about what I had just read. I enjoyed the story and was definitely sucked right in from the beginning, however I was left a little lost on the final page.

The prologue introduces us to our protagonist, revealing that she is fourteen and being arrested for the murder of a man, presumably at his funeral. Heart grabbing isn’t it? We then move into the story where we learn that the girl, Ronnie, has lived all of her life at beautiful Raven’s Mountain Lodge, where the family is seemingly cut off from the outside world, except for their guests of course. Ronnie and her sister are homeschooled and their parents only make the trek to town once in a great while for necessary supplies. Ronnie loves this life and wouldn’t change it for anything. When Louis Moss comes to stay as a guest and Ronnie learns he wants to buy the lodge from her family, she is at first frightened, but knows her father would never allow that to happen. Unfortunately, when Ronnie’s father passes away months later, all of Ronnie’s knowledge of her life is taken away.

Ronnie, her mother, and sister must move to town, to the complete unfamiliar, supposedly still under the wing of Louis Moss. Ronnie begins getting into trouble at school, mainly at the fault of ignorance at how to act, her mother falls into a deep depression, and Louis Moss slowly begins to ruin their lives. When an unexpected meeting at Ronnie’s old home ends in Moss being dead, Ronnie is accused of murdering him. Ronnie isn’t even sure if she killed him or not, leading the reader to believe that every single character in the novel has something to hide.

This is definitely a mystery, though one that I’m not sure was ever solved. The reader knows that Ronnie didn’t kill Louis Moss, at least until she begins to suspect herself. Up until that point, I was very much involved in the story, but when the character became detached from herself, I felt myself detach as well. Still a great thriller that teens will love, Tin Angel left me a bit confused, but I definitely enjoyed the read!

Animals Are Sleeping

After reading this adorable book, I have added a new favorite bedtime story to my list!

Animals Are Sleeping by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Gary Phillips is great for putting children down for naps or bedtime and perfect just for a simple story time as well. Not only a soothing, "sleepy time" book, but also a great educational tool, teaching kids about animals and their sleeping habits. Each page exhibits a new animal, sleeping of course, illustrated beautifully with soft colors in calming, flowing strokes. The reader can use a whisper voice in order to ready the child to sleep, getting quieter with each "shh, shh."

The last few pages of the book explain what each pictured animal is, as well as a fact fill-in to use as the children learn more about the animals of the story. You can start by reading this book to infants, as I certainly plan to do, and because of the educational factors, the story can grow with the child. This has definitely become a favorite in my house and I know I won't be able to keep it on the shelves at the library either.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday: Biographies

I love reading biographies written for school-age kids. They are so much more readable than adult biographies and I often walk away knowing more about the person featured in the book than if I had read an adult version (probably because I end up skimming the longer, more dense ones). These two bios are great for kids, the first being written in more of a diary form for younger kids and the second being a biography for the older crowd.

A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero, was both adapted and illustrated by Gina Capaldi. Told in Montezuma's own words, this book is the true story of a boy named Wassaja, meaning "Beckoning" in his language. Wassaja was kidnapped by the Pima Indians and sold as a slave, to white men at the age of only five. The boy grows up to be Dr. Montezuma, working for Native American rights, as well as an esteemed medical doctor.

The book includes photographs and original letters, as well as diary entries and small tidbits of Native American facts along the sidebars. Also included are author's notes and an excellent bibliography for future research. The illustrations are beautiful and help to tell Dr. Montezuma's story in a fluid and strong manner. I'm ashamed to say I had never heard of Dr. Montezuma before I read this book, but was intrigued to learn as much as I could once I did complete his story, especially because I live so close to where his birth and kidnapping took place in Arizona.

This is great for classes studying Native America history or for those studying great men in history. Dr. Montezuma certainly qualifies as a great man!

For upper middle grade levels, into high school, I have a great biography of Willa Cather, written by Milton Meltzer. Willa Cather was an amazing author, having written the infamous My Antonia, as well as the Pulitzer prize winner One of Ours. Though an extremely private woman, this biography of Cather delves deep into both her personal and professional life, offering up a wealth of information on how she became as successful as she did, in a time where women were expected to remain in the home. The book includes great photographs, a chronology of Cather's life, as well as a list of the works written by Cather.

For those involved in projects centering on one individual or woman, this biography of Cather is excellent. It includes all the information one could possibly want, while still being written on a level that kids, though older kids, can definitely understand.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

2 Alice Books

My selections for the Themed Reading Challenge, hosted by Caribou’s Mom, are going quite quickly, though I’m starting to think I may have chosen a few too many! Nothing else is new; I always pick too many books for challenges, but I’m definitely enjoying rereading these books I loved in grade school. At any rate, I completed two more this week and from now on will probably be reviewing them in blocks of two.

In Reluctantly, Alice our hilarious main character starts seventh grade, not happy about being on the lowest rung of the school ladder. She decides, however, that she is going to spend her year being the most likable girl in school, friendly with everyone, hoping that will make seventh grade the start to a great high school career. Unfortunately, Alice does not realize she will soon have Denise, who goes by the nickname “Mack Truck” and is the school bully, on her back.

Alice is also dealing with the constant woman troubles her father and older brother are going through. Being the only female in the house, Alice feels she has a responsibility to watch out for both men, but often only makes things worse for the pair, including inviting both of Lester’s ex-girlfriends over at the same time and planning a date for her teacher and father, without the knowledge of either.

Just as funny as the first two, Naylor has done Alice justice with this third installment in the series.

All But Alice seems like a somewhat stagnant fourth book, after coming from such a funny third book. Not a whole lot of excitement happens in this one, though Alice does get her ears pierced and Patrick kisses her. The storyline is based on Alice wanting to be part of the in-crowd, no matter how boring the things the in-crowd are doing. Through the book she works out whether or not being a part of that group is really worth it and what else she would rather be doing.

Alice is still at the crazy “help her father and brother with women” plight, which is always funny. Marilyn is back in the picture with Lester, which then makes Crystal show up and Alice becomes a bit hurt when she finds out her father and teacher have been dating without telling her.

Two more down, 13 to go!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Baby Update: It's a.........!!!!!

Ready, ready, ready??? It's a boy!! YAY! Daddy gets a little mini-him and I get two Aaron's running around. Oh brother, what am I in for?! We had our ultrasound and though the tech believed it would still be a little too soon to tell, little Snowflake was flaunting his stuff for the world to see, which made Daddy and I very happy! So now you know the sex....the name will remain a secret until delivery day. And no, his name will not be Mo Snow or Lotta Snow, though I would love to take guesses! Ahhh...the jabs you get when your last name is Snow! Maybe as the time gets closer we'll run a little contest...guess the baby's first name and you get a book!

Now it's time to start buying cute little clothes and decorating the nursery! 17 weeks down, only 5 billion to go. :-)

Poetry Friday: A Crossing of Zebras

A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry is written by Marjorie Maddox and illustrated by Philip Huber and in my humble opinion, a must for any library shelves. Any book that combines beautiful illustrations, entertainment, and essential education elements into poetry is a gem, something this particular work definitely is.

Each page depicts a different pack of animals, listing their proper pack names and a fun poem to teach the reader about those particular animals. With exciting animals such as a "tower" of giraffes and a "rumba" of rattlesnakes, along with the well known "school" of fish and of course the "crossing" of zebras, this is the ultimate learning adventure.

I certainly had never heard of at least half the packs listed in the book and enjoyed some quality learning time myself! Huber illustrations are also beautiful, very rich and colorful on the page. I had a lot of fun reading A Crossing of Zebras and was impressed by all the different elements the author included in the educational, yet fun poems. A definite two thumbs up from this librarian!

A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry will hit shelves in April.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Fold by An Na

Joyce has never been one to give a second thought to how she looked. Always feeling "pretty enough" and perfectly fine with her Asian heritage, Joyce seems like a confident and secure teenager. Unfortunately, when Joyce becomes romantically interested "JFK" or John Ford Kang, a gorgeous older guy she goes to school with, all that confidence gets thrown out the window. Suddenly Joyce feels awkward in her own skin and begins comparing herself to all the other girls at school, as well as her beautiful older sister Helen, and wonders why JFK doesn't seem to know she is even alive.

When Joyce's Aunt wins the lottery and decides that she is going to spend her money bettering her family, including finding a marriage match for Helen and providing expensive vitamin supplements to Joyce's younger brother. Joyce is thrilled, wondering what exactly is in store for her, though a little wary once she finds out. Joyce's Aunt tells her that she is going to pay for a controversial eyelid surgery, in which a fold is created, making the patient appear to be more American, less Asian, and supposedly "more beautiful" overall. Joyce now has to struggle with the biggest decision she's ever faced; does she want to look more beautiful and American and have JFK finally notice her? Or does she want to remain plain, old Joyce?

Though written on a very serious subject matter, An Na has created a light and often humorous story line. Joyce has all of the same emotions and fears as most teenagers today, including body image and impressing romantic interests, definitely making her relatable to today's girls. Though I have heard of it being done, I enjoyed learning about just how big this eyelid surgery has gotten in the Asian and Asian-American cultures and how much these women are willing to risk in order to appear more beautiful. An Na definitely gives us a glimpse into the process of making a decision to have plastic surgery, the benefits, the disadvantages, and the risks. This book great for young adults and something I would probably have my daughter read...if I had a daughter that is :-). For now, I'll just recommend it to my teen readers!

The Fold by An Na, will be published in April.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Scarlet Stockings: The Enchanted Riddle

I honestly had a love/hate relationship with this book. Ok, maybe hate is too strong of a word, especially since I didn't hate anything about it, I actually rather liked it, however there were definitely parts where I was somewhat disappointed as to where the story was leading and how it's main character was acting. I suppose that is a part of a lot of books (I should know that by now, eh?), I guess just fell in love with the beginning of the story and wasn't quite as in love when the book ended. Still an enjoyable read and one I know young girls will like.

Charlotte Kandel has created a story around a timeless life lesson: be careful what you wish for. 13 year old Daphne was dropped off at an orphanage right after she was born and grew up wondering what it would be like to have a family. She also grew up being in love with ballet and dancing and wished for a day when she had the time to practice and the money to take lessons. When a mysterious package arrives anonymously in the mail for her, containing a book about ballet and a scarlet pair of stockings, Daphne is perplexed, but intrigued, especially when she discovers that the stockings are magic.

When she wears the stockings, magical things happen to her. She begins to be great at ballet and most importantly, is adopted by a wonderful family right there in London. She is able to begin taking dancing lessons and life seems to be great, until greed gets ahold of Daphne. The stockings change Daphne, making her want more and more out of life until it doesn't matter anymore who she hurts in the process. She leaves her family to study ballet far away and actually begins to make it rather big in the ballet world, landing a great role, though leaves her family in the dark the entire time. She becomes selfish, arrogant, and pompous. When Daphne realizes she no longer likes herself or the life she now has, making her wonder just where the real Daphne went. She must overcome the power of the stockings to return to who she once was and who she really wants to be.

This really is an enjoyable book and I think young girls will really enjoy Daphne's story. The jacket is absolutely beautiful with swirly pink letters and gold foil, instantly making me want to pick it up. The direction I first thought it would go is not how the story ended up, leaving me a tad bit disappointed. I didn't like how wicked Daphne became, though I know it was to show just how much a material possession, especially one with magic, could rule a young girl's life. I do recommend this book to others, especially girls between about 8 and 12 and will be purchasing it for the library. I know it won't stay on the shelves long, just as much as I know I would like to see more from Charlotte Kandel!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Niner by Theresa Martin Golding

Now that my box of tissues is completely empty and I've fallen in love with yet another author, I suppose I can write the review of this wonderful, heart wrenching book. Due to be published in April, Niner is written by Theresa Martin Golding, an author I have not read before, but will certainly be looking for again.

Macey is known to her friends as "Niner," for what should be a various obvious reason, despite the odd nickname. Macey only has nine fingers (well really, eight fingers and one thumb) and to Macey, a thumb is not all she's missing out on in her short life. First, she was adopted, meaning she's missing her birth parents. Pretty big, but not as big as the fact that now her adoptive mother has left as well, leaving Macey missing a mom altogether. Macey is searching for something in her life to just be solid and constant and when she finds a locket in her yard, she believes she's been given a sign telling her that eventually everything is going to be just fine.

With the help of her sister Deena and a few of her friends, Macey fights to keep the locket in her possession, catapulting the kids into circumstances they never imagined they would be in. And besides that big mess, Macey still has all kinds of crazy questions floating around her brain. Was it her fault that BOTH her mothers left? Why couldn't she just be born white like the rest of her family? What really is her history? Macey faces some really tough challenges in this story and tries her hardest to really come out on top, despite so many things working against her.

I absolutely loved the writing in this book and felt I had to include a couple of my favorite paragraphs. These were the sections in the story that really made me stop and think about what this poor girl was experiencing with the feelings she kept all bottled up inside of her.

"Who would ever dream of having a daughter with skin that wasn't white and smooth like Deena's or dark and beautiful like Ty's, but instead a mottled shade of brown, like a mud stain on a clean shirt, with nine fingers and gangly arms and legs and hair that springs up wildly all over her head? No one ever dreams of having a daughter like that (69)."
"Sometimes I wonder about coincidences and how little things can change your whole life. Like what if my parents had gone to the adoption people a week earlier or a week later than they did? I could be living in a whole different city or even country. I might have a different religion and a different name. For Deena and Ty, everything was set the minute they were born-their parents, their families, their history. Sometimes I think of me lying behind glass with all the other babies, like the meats at the deli counter in a supermarket. Each time the buzzer goes off and the 'number served' changes, a different couple steps forward with their little ticket and gets handed a baby. Almost like a game, a whole other life waited for me with each set of parents, all determined by a ticket, a place in line. Did I win? The question slipped into my head so fast that I couldn't stop it. I was suddenly ashamed. Of course I won (135)."

I loved the book and I loved the characters and I loved how real the writing was. I can't say enough about this book! In April make sure you grab this one up or for all you librarians, order it for your shelves. Trust me on this one! Definitely a middle grader, though probably older middle grade. There's some tough issues dealt with, but it's really a great book.

Unearthing Ancient Worlds: Non-Fiction Monday

I recently had the chance to review two books from an awesome new series, perfect for Non-Fiction Monday here in the Kidlitosphere. The series is titled "Unearthing Ancient Worlds" and currently has four titles. The books are geared towards the older middle grade reading level, possibly even into the teens and are great for not only homework and school projects, but really tell a story making them good "entertainment" reads as well.

Palenque is the first book I had the opportunity to read and enjoy. Ancient Mayan ruins located in Mexico, Palenque was first uncovered in 1840, but it was not until the 1950's that archaeologists began their intense work on the city of Palenque. Beautiful photographs illustrate just how amazing the ruins are, from the outside in. There are also photographs of ancient Mayan artifacts found during the discovery of Palenque, as well as maps depicting just where the site is located. Quotes from different sources, including the New York Times newspaper, archaeologists at the 1950's site, and from John Stephens, the man who originally came upon Palenque in the 1840's, are also scattered throughout the book.

Pompeii was the book I was very excited about reading through. The story of Pompeii has always intrigued me and I really enjoyed being able to peruse photographs and paintings of just what happened the day Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. Pompeii was officially discovered in the 1730's though the book has records of people finding artifacts long before then. I was able to learn a lot of different facts about the process of uncovering the ancient Roman city and how the archaeological digs were conducted. The pages of this book are filled with photographs of artifacts found and tons of facts about what was going on in the world both when Pompeii was buried and when it was uncovered.

These are great books for visual learning, as well as text reading. They are written in a very flowing manner, rather than dry like a lot of non-fiction books, and read almost like a story. The photographs and paintings depicted in the books are amazing and the huge amount of facts offered is astounding. Both are filled with maps, timelines, a glossary, and even a word pronunciation guide, which is something a lot of books need. Overall I was very impressed with these books and will be ordering the rest of the series for our library shelves.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Finding Home by Sandra Markle

Maybe it's just my pregnancy hormones, but this book made me bawl like a baby! A picture book for young children, this story focuses on the consequences bushfires can bring upon wildlife and the motherly love and devotion that can be seen truly be seen in animals, as well as in humans.

Sandra Markle, along with illustrator Alan Marks, create a beautiful book surrounding the true story of a mother koala and her determination in protecting her joey from harm. When bushfires begin attacking their home forest, forcing them to lose all sources of shelter and food, the mother koala knows she must now seek refuge elsewhere, a task much easier said than done. Through injury and exhaustion, the mother koala never loses focus on her goal and always keeps her joey safe.

This fantastic book includes not only the beautiful story, but also facts about koalas and an author's note explaining the basis for the book and what happened to the mama koala and her joey. The illustrations are amazing as well, allowing me to truly love the entire package. This is a great book for teaching children about animals and the dangers they face in the wild. It's sure to evoke questions, which is always a great asset to reading any book to kids! This selection will definitely have a place on our library shelves in the near future!

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Oh what a doozy of a book this was! Spanning over 30 years, this book took me close to a week to read, simply because of how intense the plot was. I could only read it in small doses, then allowing my brain to slowly soak in the depth of the relationships I was reading about. Having read Kristin Hannah plenty of times before, I was expecting mainly a romance, with a somewhat happy ending. What I actually got was a friendship unlike any other and the ability to understand just how an author can grow as he or she continues in their writing career. If I wasn't aware of who the author was, I never would have guessed it was Hannah, though as a fan of hers, I am so proud.

Kate and Tully meet when they are very young girls, Kate being the "normal" one, from a strong family, Tully being the wild child with the drug addicted mom. The two girls couldn't possibly be more different, yet were so much alike because of their desire to just be wanted. Kate felt ordinary and Tully felt lost, leading the two to become extremely close. When Tully's mom abandons her, yet again, Kate's parents take her in, making her not only an honorary daughter, but also Kate's sister.

The pair swear to always do everything together and through high school they do just that. When they get to college they both decide to study journalism, after Tully convinces Kate they can be the next big news team. Kate isn't exactly happy in journalism, but she doesn't want to break her promise to her best friend.

Fast forward ten years and the girls, have definitely gone their separate ways in life, though are still as close as ever. Tully has climbed her way to the top of the news world, though discovers life is actually quite lonely when you're all alone at the top. Sure, she has plenty of men eating out of her hand, but she doesn't have what Kate has. Kate is a stay-at-home mom with a great husband and a seemingly simple life. The only problem being, her husband was in love with Tully first and hasn't seemed to let that flame die.

Through the course of this novel we get glimpses into the lives of the rich and the normal. How two girls so very different from the start ever began a friendship, not to mention maintained that friendship is quite puzzling, yet Hannah pulls it off. These girls have their fights, some huge ones, and at some points in the book I definitely couldn't stand Tully and often felt sorry for Kate. Kate's life is relatable and Tully's somewhat desirable, yet the pain she always seems to be experiencing left me never wanting to be in her shoes.

Again, this novel is very intense, but I feel it is one of Hannah's best novels to date. Typically a quick-read writing style, this book definitely swayed from the norm and became something I often had to put down or I felt my mind would explode. I think I need to go back to children's books for a week or so before picking up another adult title!