Thursday, April 30, 2015

ARC Review: Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy

Drive Me Crazy
Author: Terra Elan McVoy
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (April 28, 2015)

Description: Friendship can be a bumpy road. . . .

Lana and Cassie have met only once before, at the wedding of Lana's Grandpa Howe and Cassie's Grandma Tess two months ago. The two girls couldn't be more different, and they didn't exactly hit it off—but they're about to spend an entire week together for their grandparents' honeymoon, road-tripping from California to Maine in the backseat of a Subaru.
It's going to be a disaster.

Told in alternating chapters between Cassie and Lana, Drive Me Crazy is a tween rivalry-turned-friendship story bursting with humor and heart.

My Thoughts: This is a story told in alternate chapters by Lana and Carrie. The two are thrown together on a road trip with their honeymooning grandparents. They met for the first time at their grandparents' wedding. Lana thought that they had a chance to become good friends and was looking forward to the trip. Carrie isn't interested in being friends. Carrie is too busy trying to keep in touch with her new group of friends.

Lana is trying to have fun but she is also very worried about her mother. She has been having lots of headaches and Lana is certain that her parents are keeping something from her. Naturally, she fears the worst. What if her mother has cancer and is going to die? She is trying very hard to hide her fears from her grandparents and pretend that she is having a great time on their trip.

When the girls can forget about their other worries, they do have fun touring Hearst Castle, going to an amusement park, and doing other touristy things. But the tensions grow between the girls and they spend a lot of the trip not talking. I had a hard time empathizing with Carrie's obsession with some friends who didn't seem very nice or very kind. I had a little more sympathy when she was thinking about the fight she had with her former best friend Fiona which sent her looking for new friends.

I liked Lana a lot. I liked her caring relationship with her parents and I liked her delight in spending time with her grandparents. I thought her relationship with her Grandpa Howe was especially good. I could understand her worry about her mother and could also understand why parents might want to protect a twelve-year-old by not telling her what was happening.

This was an excellent story. I came to like both girls and the friendship they built.

Favorite Quote:
Lana stays calm. "I know that. But sometimes we don't get what we want. Sometimes... " She trails off, staring into space a second. She blinks, and her eyes snap back to focus on mine. "Sometimes you just have to be grown-up even when it's not fair. Sometimes, when other people can't take care of you in the ways you think they should, you have to be the one to do it."
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

ARC Review: The Novice by Taran Matharu

The Novice
Author: Taran Matharu
Series: The Summoner Trilogy
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (May 5, 2015)

Description: When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.


My Thoughts: I enjoyed this fast paced beginning to a new fantasy series. Fletcher is an orphan who was abandoned at birth outside the town of Pelt. He was taken in by the blacksmith. As an orphan, Fletcher has become the target for the local bully who happens to be the son a rich man. When he is given a book that contains a scroll, the bully wants it. Fletcher discovers that the scroll lets him call a demon. When he is ganged up on by the bully and his stooges, Fletcher has to run away from the town.

Fletcher and his demon make their way to a larger town where he tries to find work. However, that town has its share of bullies too. When he is cornered by some, he is rescued by Arcturus who sees his demon and decides to sponsor him to the Adept Military Academy. Students are trained there to summon demons and to use their demons in the on-going war with the Orcs.

There is all kinds of prejudice at the academy. Not only do the nobles look down on the commoners but most of the humans look down on the dwarves and the elves. Fletcher befriends Othello who is the first dwarf summoner admitted to the academy and he also befriends Sylva who is the first elf to enroll and who is an ambassador for her people.

The kids have to learn quickly because an upcoming tournament will seal there places in the war effort. Outside of school, Fletcher gets caught up in a plot by nobles who want to start a war with the elves and corner the market on firearms.

There was lots of adventure in this story. I really liked Fletcher and his relationship with his demon Ignatius. I look forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.

Favorite Quote:
Before the other man could interfere, Fletcher ran in. As the cudgel swung at him, he blasted a flash of wyrdlight from his hand, blinding the man with a beam of blue light. He kicked the man in the fork of his legs, then kneed him in the nose as he doubled over. Rotherham had been right; gentlemen's fighting was for gentlemen.
I got this ARC from

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
Mom and Dad can make me go on this trip, and they can even make me pretend to like Lana, but there's no way anybody's going to make me have fun.
This week my teaser comes from Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description of this April 28 release:
Friendship can be a bumpy road. . . .

Lana and Cassie have met only once before, at the wedding of Lana's Grandpa Howe and Cassie's Grandma Tess two months ago. The two girls couldn't be more different, and they didn't exactly hit it off—but they're about to spend an entire week together for their grandparents' honeymoon, road-tripping from California to Maine in the backseat of a Subaru.
It's going to be a disaster.

Told in alternating chapters between Cassie and Lana, Drive Me Crazy is a tween rivalry-turned-friendship story bursting with humor and heart.

Monday, April 27, 2015

State of the Stack (April 27, 2015)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full. 

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit. 

My Review Pile

June
Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper (June 2)
Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (June 2)
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (June 2)
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer (June 2)
Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Sea by Jonathan David Kranz (June 9)
 Blood Will Tell by April Henry (June 16)
Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat (June 16)
The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen (June 16)
Ever After by Jude Deveraux (June 23)
The Leveler by Julia Durango (June 23)
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (June 23)
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel (June 30)

July
Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker (July 7)
Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom (July 7)
Paperweight by Meg Haston (July 7)
Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley (July 7)
Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (July 14)
Lost by S. A. Bodeen (July 28)
Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner (July 28)

August
Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate (August 4)
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (August 4)
Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne (August 4)
Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre (August 4)
School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough (August 4)

September
 Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (Sept. 1)
Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers (Sept. 1)
Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein (Sept. 8)
 Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scalsa (Sept. 15)
Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 15)
Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty (Sept. 15)
 Dreamland by Robert L, Anderson (Sept. 22)
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (Sept. 22)
Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague (Sept. 22)
What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (Sept. 22)
This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee (Sept. 22)
 
I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. The Novice by Taran Matharu (April 29)
  2. Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer (April 22)
  3. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (May 7)
  4. The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman (May 9)  
  5. Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu (May 14) 
  6. The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher (May 16) 
  7. Blood on the Bayou by DJ Donaldson (April 29) 
  8. The Fog Diver by Joel Ross (May 20)
  9. A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith (May 21) 
  10. Velvet by Temple West (May 13)
  11. Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (May 23)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (April 2) 
  2. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre (April 4)
  3. Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (April 8)
  4. Skandal by Lindsay Smith (April 9) 
  5. The Pretty App by Katie Sise (April 11)
  6. Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook (April 15) 
  7. Shadow of Doubt by P. A. DePaul (April 15)
  8. Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt (April 16)
  9. Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret by D. D. Everest (April 18)
  10. Darkmouth #1: The Legends Begin by Shane Hegarty (April 22)
  11. The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver (April 23) 
  12. Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan (April 25) 
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date received and date published are listed in parentheses.
  1.  Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (Aug. 4)
  2. Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer (April 21)
  3. Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper (June 1) 
  4. Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker (July 7) 
  5. Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty (Sept. 15)
  6. Blood on the Bayou by DJ Donaldson (Oct. 31, 2014)
  7. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee (Sept. 22) 
  8. Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein (Sept. 1) 
  9. What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (Sept. 22) 
  10. Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 15) 
  11. Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague (Sept. 22) 
  12. Walk the Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (Sept. 22) 
  13. Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (Sept. 8) 
  14. Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson (Sept. 22) 
  15. Velvet by Temple West (May 12) 
  16. Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers (Sept. 1) 
  17. Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (Sept. 1) 
  18. Ever After by Jude Deveraux (June 23)
  19. Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate (Aug. 4)
Next Month's Plan

I stocked up this month on September releases. I just have one more May release to read before I start tackling the pile for June. Most of my summer blog openings are already filled. It is nice to know what I'll be reading for the next few months but I am starting to look with longing at some of the books I have recently purchased.

What is the state of your review stack?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (April 26, 2015)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

I bought this Kindle Daily Deal on Friday.
I added The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley. I read this one years ago and am glad to have a copy on my Kindle now.

I also added these two review books from Edelweiss and NetGalley:
Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers will be released on September 1, 2015. This is a debut book by the author. It is being compared to The Fault in Our Stars.

I also got Hunter by Mercedes Lackey. This one is being released by Disney Hyperion on September 1, 2015.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

ARC Review: Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLaughlan

Flirty Dancing
Author: Jenny McLachlan
Series: Ladybirds
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (April 28, 2015)

Description: Bea Hogg is shy, but she has a fiery core that she doesn’t let many see. When the national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It’s just her luck that her best friend Kat ditches her and agrees to enter with school super-witch Pearl Harris (and Bea’s former best friend).

Bea is determined to fight back! But when the school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea to jive dance, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

Debut author Jenny McLachlan weaves a warm and hilarious story of friendship and dance starring the refreshing and plucky Bea Hogg.

My Thoughts: This was a cute story starring a shy young girl named Bea Hogg who finds her courage when she enters a dance contest partnered by hottie Ollie Matthews. She has been abandoned by her best friend who decides to dance with a group led by Bea's nemesis and school bully Pearl.

Bea is a great character who loves her family, especially her Nan and her three-year-old sister Emma who spends a lot of her time naked. However, she is being bullied at school by Pearl and is just taking it. It gets even worse when she is paired to dance with Ollie since Pearl has claimed him as her boyfriend.

I liked the dancing scenes and the competitions as the two prepare for Starwars. I liked the way Bea finally got over her shyness with Ollie. I also liked that Ollie was a nice guy with dreams and goals of his own.

This story was fun. Fans of stories about friendship and first love will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
Even my snoring roomie can't ruin my mood. I curl up and smile to myself. I am not going to think about Starwars, or the fact that dancing with Ollie could end on Thursday. Tonight, I'm floating on air . . . on an airbed . . . with blisters all over my feet. Nan's low nose-whistle soon builds into a full on power-snore. It has no effect on me. I'm simply too happy.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Memes: Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description of this April 28 release:
Bea Hogg is shy, but she has a fiery core that she doesn’t let many see. When the national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It’s just her luck that her best friend Kat ditches her and agrees to enter with school super-witch Pearl Harris (and Bea’s former best friend).

Bea is determined to fight back! But when the school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea to jive dance, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

Debut author Jenny McLachlan weaves a warm and hilarious story of friendship and dance starring the refreshing and plucky Bea Hogg.
Beginning:
A small naked person is licking me. I don't panic—this happens a lot. The naked person starts kissing my face.
Friday 56:
The second Emma's released from her stroller, she crouches down, frowns and begins to jiggle in time to "She's Like the Wind." This is how she always dances and she can keep it up for hours. Hopefully, she'll develop a few more moves before she hits her teens.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

The Secrets We Keep
Author: Trisha Leaver
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (April 28, 2015)

Description: "A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters."

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When--after a heated argument--Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception or live her sister's life.

My Thoughts: Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins but, now juniors in high school, they couldn't be more different. Maddy is the social butterfly, average student, field hockey player, and devoted girlfriend of Alex. Ella is quieter, artistic, an Honor student, and has one devoted friend named Josh. Ella has always wished that she and Maddy were closer and is always there to pick up after Maddy when she needs help.

However, the night she goes to get Maddy from a party at Alex's house, Maddy won't tell her why she didn't get a ride home from her boyfriend or her best friend. The two argue on the way home and Ella loses control of the car. When she wakes up in the hospital she doesn't know who she is. Alex is there when she says Maddy's name which convinces him that she is Maddy. It isn't until she sees her sister's body that she realizes that she is Ella. But she feels so guilty about Maddy's death that she decides to let "Ella" be buried and to become "Maddy."nShe has the mistaken impression that her parents loved Maddy more than her and would want Maddy to be the one to survive. As Ella tries to fit into Maddy's life she learns that Maddy had been keeping secrets. She also learns that Josh is missing Ella more than she imagined he would.

This was a great story about guilt and the love between sisters. While I had some difficulty believing that the two girls were so identical that Ella could get away with her deception, I still thought this was a very good story.

Favorite Quote:
"You doing okay?" Dad asked.

Not knowing how to answer, I shrugged. I was so far removed from okay that even I couldn't put a name to the mess of emotions I was feeling. Anger, pain, regret, and an overwhelming amount of guilt churned together, leaving me numb.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ARC Review: Darkmouth #1: The Legends Begin by Shane Hegarty

The Legends Begin
Author: Shane Hegarty
Series: Darkmouth (Book 1)
Publication: HarperCollins (April 21, 2015)

Description: Discover a new middle grade series full of madcap adventure, mythological creatures, humor, and heart. The world's unlikeliest hero is also its only hope in this spirited tween fantasy debut, perfect for fans of How to Train Your Dragon and The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.

For generations, Finn's family has protected Darkmouth from the fierce magical creatures known as Legends. Now the Legends are plotting a major attack, and it's Finn's turn to defend his hometown. So it's too bad he's the worst Legend Hunter in history.

My Thoughts: This is a story about a twelve-year-old boy who should be the 43rd generation of Legend Hunters in his family but he just isn't very good at it. Finn knows the theory and he has had lots and lots of training but, whenever he actually faces one of the Legends, something inevitably goes wrong.

It doesn't help at all that Finn has no interest in being a Legend Hunter. He would much rather be a veterinarian. However, his father is one of those bulldozer-types who is sure that he knows what is best for his son and doesn't really listen to a thing he says. He seems to think that, if he just wants it bad enough, Finn will turn into a great Legend Hunter.

Their town—Darkmouth—is the last town that has Legends popping in. The other Legend Hunters are out of work. No one knows why Darkmouth still has frequent attacks by Legends. The people in Darkmouth are very tired of having creatures from another world appear on their city streets. They really don't like it when Finn almost hunts a legend but leaves a trail of destruction behind him.

Then Steve and his daughter Emmie come to town. Emmie befriends Finn but she seems to know too much for an outsider. It turns out that her father has been sent to spy on Finn and his father. He is from one of the villages that no longer faces attacks from Legend Hunters. Finn feels betrayed by someone he thought was a friend and his father is resentful that the Council sent someone to check him out.

This story had some interesting bits and was certainly the beginning book in a series since many plot threads are left dangling. Kids who feel that they are being pushed into a future they don't want and adventure lovers will enjoy this one. 

Besides Finn's viewpoint, we also hear from one of the Legends in the Infested Side who is eagerly anticipating his conquest of Finn's world.

Favorite Quote:
Finn had read about Reanimations, and understood the process as well as he understood the science behind a Desicacation—which was not very much at all.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
She's not who I thought she was, but that doesn't matter. Maddy was my sister, my twin sister, and I'll do anything for her, including losing myself.
This week my teaser comes from The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description of this April 28 release:
"A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters."

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When--after a heated argument--Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception or live her sister's life.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (April 19, 2015)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

This week my additions to the stack are all review books. 
I got Velvet by Temple West from Macmillan as my only print ARC of the week. It will be released on May 12.

Thanks to Edelweiss for all the rest of my list.

Bridget Wilder: Spy in Training is by Jonathan Bernstein and will be released on September 1,

Fans of the Impossible Life is by Kate Scalsa and will be released on September 8.
Ash & Bramble is by Sarah Prineas and will be released on September 15.

Dreamland is by Robert L. Anderson and will be released on September 22.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson will also be released on September 22.
What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler is also being released on September 22.

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee is also being released on September 22.

Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague is another September 22 release.

What did you add to your stack?  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

ARC Review: Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret by D. D. Everest

Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret
Author: D. D. Everest
Series: Archie Greene (Book 1)
Publication: HarperCollins (April 21, 2015)

Description: D. D. Everest's magical middle grade debut, filled with enchanted books and mysterious activity, is sure to captivate readers. Open this book . . . if you dare to face what awaits you inside!

On his twelfth birthday, Archie Greene receives a mysterious package containing an ancient book in a language he doesn't recognize. The gift leads him to a family he didn't know he had and a world he never knew existed.

With the help of his cousins, Bramble and Thistle, Archie tries to unravel the mystery behind his book, but he begins to realize that his gift is something more powerful than he could have imagined. And the only thing more perilous than its contents is being its owner. The book waited four hundred years for Archie Greene. Now Archie must discover why.

My Thoughts: This middle grade fantasy adventure reminds me of the early Harry Potter books. Our hero - Archie Greene - is an orphan being raised by his grandmother. They are poor but happy. When his twelfth birthday arrives, he received a magical book which starts his adventures.

His grandmother tells him that he is part of a magical family and sends him to a bookstore in Oxford to turn in his book. He also meets eccentric cousins that he never knew he had and becomes a magical apprentice in a museum where magical books are stored.

Archie has a unique ability too. Magical books talk to him; he is a book whisperer. He also finds out that he is part of a long-standing plan instigated by John Dee in the 1600s. When he found that someone was trying to release the dangerous magic from these books, he stored the book with a law firm to be delivered to Archie on his twelfth birthday. Enemies are on his trail however. They still want to release all the dangerous magics that are held in the books.

The book has eccentric characters, a hidden museum beneath the Bodleian Library in Oxford that is entered by sipping a magical potion and riding chairs to the underground location. There are talking books and magical creatures set to guard them. There are Greaders who are greedy for the books of magic and who especially want the Terrible Tomes which contain dark magic.

This was an exciting story about a young boy who learns about a magical world and who learns that he has a special place in that world. Sounds like Harry Potter, doesn't it?

Favorite Quote:
Archie felt the color rise to his cheeks. "How did you get rid of them? Where did they go?" he asked.

"I phialed 'em away, of course!" said Old Zeb, grinning. "With my popper stopper," he added with a twinkle in his eye. "All the Museum Elders have them. Don't know where we'd be without them. Well, yes I do, we'd be overrun with Poppers. That's where we'd be!"
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Memes: Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret by D. D. Everest

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret by D. D. Everest. I got this middle grade eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description of this April 21 release:
D. D. Everest's magical middle grade debut, filled with enchanted books and mysterious activity, is sure to captivate readers. Open this book . . . if you dare to face what awaits you inside!

On his twelfth birthday, Archie Greene receives a mysterious package containing an ancient book in a language he doesn't recognize. The gift leads him to a family he didn't know he had and a world he never knew existed.

With the help of his cousins, Bramble and Thistle, Archie tries to unravel the mystery behind his book, but he begins to realize that his gift is something more powerful than he could have imagined. And the only thing more perilous than its contents is being its owner. The book waited four hundred years for Archie Greene. Now Archie must discover why.
Beginning:
Sardines. That was the mystery ingredient in Loretta Foxe's chocolate cake, and both her children knew it.
Friday 56:
Archie pulled out a chair and sat, being careful not to bump a tower of books balanced on the kitchen table. Thistle pulled out the chair opposite.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

ARC Review: Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt

Dear Hank Williams
Author: Kimberly Willis Holt
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (April 14, 2015)

Description: It’s 1948 in Rippling Creek, Louisiana, and Tate P. Ellerbee’s new teacher has just given her class an assignment—learning the art of letter-writing. Luckily, Tate has the perfect pen pal in mind: Hank Williams, a country music singer whose star has just begun to rise. Tate and her great-aunt and -uncle listen to him on the radio every Saturday night, and Tate just knows that she and Hank are kindred spirits.

Told entirely through Tate’s hopeful letters, this beautifully drawn novel from National Book Award–winning author Kimberly Willis Holt gradually unfolds a story of family love, overcoming tragedy, and an insightful girl learning to find her voice.

My Thoughts: I fell in love with Tate P. Ellerbee as I was reading the letters she wrote to Hank Williams. Her teacher had given the class an assignment to choose a pen pal. The teacher had arranged for her class to write to Japanese children but, in 1948 Louisiana, many of the children didn't want to write to children in a country that we had fought a war with. Tate picks Hank Williams because she heard him sing on the radio.

Through Tate's letters, answered only with autographed photos, we learn what life is like for a dreamy 11-year-old in rural Louisiana. We learn about her Aunt Patty Cake who sells beauty products, her Uncle Jolly who works at a nursery and has bad luck in love, and we learn about Tate's pesky little brother Frog. Tate's letters also express how much she misses her mother and her father. And, as the letters go on, we learn why neither of them is a part of Tate's daily life.

We see Tate's rivalry with schoolmate Verbia Calhoun and we see her determination to sing in the local talent show. We see her relationship with her new dog Lovie and we feel her heartbreak when Lovie doesn't come home.

This story was filled with heart and hope and I sobbed as I read the last thirty pages. Readers who want a glimpse into life after the Second World War as told by a wonderful character won't want to miss this excellent story.

Favorite Quote:
I believe music should fill up inside a person like air and make them think they're so light, they could float to the clouds. Hank Williams, that's the way you sound when you sing, like you're a part of those words coming out of your mouth, heading toward the sky.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.