Monday, August 31, 2015

Everything, Everything ~ Nicola Yoon (earc) review [@NicolaYoon @randomhousekids]

Everything, Everything
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
September 1, 2015
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Nicola Yoon's debut Everything, Everything is a book that is a book where it's not only possible to pick it up and read it right through to the end, but very easy to do so.  The combination of Madeline, her unique circumstances, the short chapters and the inclusion of emails, illustrations, lists, etc, all work together to pull you right into the story.

Madeline spends her life in her house - her whole, entire life. Suffering from SCID, an immune disorder, merely stepping out her front door could, theoretically, kill her. They don't know just what all is a problem for Madeline, so everything is. And she avoids it.

I enjoyed the picture Yoon painted of Madeline's life. While she does have a very limited life, it is not altogether lacking. She has things she enjoys, things to do and has almost managed to stop thinking about life outside.

Until Olly moves in across the street. He has her attention from the moment the truck pulls into the driveway. He's something she is sure she can't have, but wants anyway.

Even when everything seems impossible (Madeline's sick, Olly's outside, etc), you pull for them to work things out somehow. To find a way for her to still be 'safe' and alive, but for Olly to be a part of her life.

Their interactions are very creative and fun, both for how they are written/who the characters are and for how the author handles their interactions and how they occur.

I did not always agree wit the characters, with their attitudes or outlooks on life (like, "You're not living if you're not regretting" [p 186]), but they all seemed to stay true to the characters and fit within the story. It is really appreciated that the uniqueness and originality of the characters doesn't simply rely on Madeline's illness. There are their tastes in books, their views on math, on reading, their hobbies, their goals and the roles they each play in the others' lives. The novel has very well done characters.

The only thing that may keep this from being one of my favorite reads of this year, was the ending. It worked and there was nothing technically wrong with it but I do not like it. It undid some of the things I liked best about Everything, Everything and what it had to say.

Though, in following Madeline's advice when she says, "You should try again. The meaning changes every time you read it." (p 200), I may reread it in the future.

As she says, "...Like every time I've read it before, the meaning changes." (p 301) and I know even if it doesn't end up changing for me, you may see it differently.

Spoilery Question . . . (mouseover)

Cover Characteristic: Toys [@sugar_and_snark]

This is a new meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. It came about when Sugar was wondering which cover to use for her #70 Cover of the Week post. Sugar kept on thinking of more than one, and they all seemed to have a theme/characteristic. So she decided to switch things up a bit!

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).

You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

This week's Cover Characteristic: Toys
(covers link to Goodreads)

my favorite:

I think it's a cute cover and I like both the concept and the 'Barbie' doll characters on the front. It fits 
the title well and is definitely appealing and makes me wonder just what the Bubble World is about!

Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite 'toy' cover - and/or if you've read any of my picks!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Complete Children's Cookbook ~ review [@dkpublishing]

I can't give you (or take you to or make you) an actual Sunday Brunch, so, instead, here's the review version!

Complete Children's Cookbook
DK Children's
May 5, 2015
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/pr Amazon

Delicious dishes kids will really want to make. More than 150 fabulous recipes, divided into nine themed chapters (Breakfast, Soups and Salads, Light Bites, and more) will have you and your child in the kitchen and cooking in no time. From French toast to rainbow salad, vegetable lasagna to tomato soup, and ice cream to mini muffins, Complete Children's Cookbook has a recipe for every occasion. And with beautiful full-color photography, simple instructions, and a focus on safety, each one makes an ideal cook-together project that will have children excited to try the new flavors in the dishes they helped make. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and feature a picture for every step, so children can see clearly just what to do as they build basic cooking skills, safe kitchen practices, and adventurous palates.

The Complete Children's Cookbook really is a complete cookbook aimed very well at children. From the very beginning with the contents page (Before You Begin, Breakfast, Soups and Salads, Light Bites, Main Meals, Cakes and Muffins, etc.), the cookbook is well organized, colorful and aesthetically pleasing.

Before we even get to the recipes, there is the 'Before You Begin' section with tons of useful information for children (and any kitchen novices, as well). From what makes up a good diet (and ideas on portion size) to food/cooking safety, measurements names and abbreviations, and what to do before beginning a recipe, it's all useful. The Equipment pages are full color photos of any equipment (spatula, whisk, colander, grill pan, etc) the cook is likely to need. There's a page on the different ways to cook with a photo and explanation for each (i.e. broil, grill, poach), one on preparation methods (i.e. chop, mash) and some on baking techniques (i.e. knead, fold, separate an egg).

After a quick rules reminder and a how-to on reading and following the recipes, it's time for the recipes themselves.

Each is nicely set-up with a box listing the estimated time required, number of servings, ingredients and equipment. Most recipes included large, color photographs accompanying and demonstrating each step. In addition there are great photos of the finished food or drink and 'tips' for substitutions, storage, etc.

With recipes from the more everyday (pancakes, four ways to cook an egg, gingerbread, apple pie, tomato pasta) to the perhaps less so (vegetarian moussaka, chicken and ham pies, pea and mint soup, mini pumpkin pies), Complete Children's Cookbook will show kids how to cook their favorite dishes and introduce them to some new ones.

Whether you have (or are) a child wanting to learn to cook and bake, or an adult who never did learn, Complete Children's Cookbook seems like a great place to start!

review copy received, from the publisher, via Edelweiss

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Orphan Queen ~ Jodi Meadows review [@jodimeadows @harperteen]

The Orphan Queen (#1)
Katherine Tegen Books
March 10, 2015
391 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

I need to invent an award for Best Chemistry Even When Nothing Sexual is Happening (or When it Is) so that I can give it to The Orphan Queen. I love this book, the characters  and the world Jodi Meadows has created.

What I love about a book that says, "for a century using magic has been forbidden/"?  For it to be forbidden it has to be possible. You just know that - even with the wraith and all of the danger it and magic present - someone(s) is going to be doing some magic.

But not only is there (forbidden) magic, there's forgery, assumed identities, secret meetings, and, oh, the danger.

I really loved Wil and her desire to do what was right as Queen and protect the Ospreys, all while holding true to herself. I appreciated that she wasn't some gung-ho, the-ends-justify-the-means, ruthless leader. She had her limits and she was uncertain, sometimes, how to get things done within them - or if they should be.

The addition of the Black Knife was something I wasn't expecting. He was a bit like Robin Hood, though more secret and dealing with magical beings. (I want to say what the book's 'code name' was and how much I loved it - but that would be spoilery . . .so read the whole book.) With not only the palace and its inhabitants but also her Ospreys and then the Black Knife, watching her, Wil had a lot to keep secret and a lot to figure out.

The way that Wil's past - the overthrowing of their kingdom, the loss of her parents - was told in stages and pieces really worked well. Each part, as it's revealed, contributes to that part of the novel and to our understanding of the characters. The world building was done nicely, too. Rather than a big dumping of information, we learn more about the kingdoms, magic, the wraith and everything else as the story progresses and as WIl encounters or learns new things.

The way in which everything comes together - the characters, their roles, their relationships, the wraith, magic, lack of magic - is definitely rewarding, but leaves you incredibly eager (and anxious) for the next book. (no, seriously, can it be April, already?)

review copy received from publisher, thank you

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Whole New World ~ Liz Braswell (earc) review [@LizBraswell @DisneyHyperion]

A Whole New World (Twisted Tales #1)
Disney Press
September 1, 2015
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

If you have seen the Aladdin movie, there are probably a few things the story brings to mind. Though A Whole New World really is a whole new world from the Aladdin we know, there are definitely some overlaps.

Aladdin is still a street rat, he still has his (cute, funny) monkey and he still steals food - and he still shares it with/gives it to starving children.

 There's also still Jasmine in disguise, meeting (or, rather, being rescued by) Aladdin in the marketplace. This time between Aladdin and Jasmine that really sets everything up - introduces them to each other and readers - was where there was a nice sense of romance, of the draw between the two of them.

Then things get a bit twisted.

There is still the magic carpet, the lamp and the genie. Only, it's not Aladdin who gets the wishes, it's Jafar. Just as crazy as you probably remember, only now with more power. 

While, once we got into the story, I did not feel much of the love/attraction/romance/chemistry between Aladdin and Jasmine - at least in anything beyond friendship - everything else works. Evil Jafar gets nearly full reign to be his evil, creepy, power hungry self and it makes for a brand new tale.

Aladdin and Jasmine have to join together with the people of Agrabah to not only defeat Jafar, but save themselves. In A Whole New World we get the characters that we already love from the movie, but we get to see them in (mostly) new roles and to learn more about them. At the beginning, I definitely was imagining them as animated characters, but as things progress, they seemed more real, more flesh-and-blood.  Jasmine especially seemed more developed, more fleshed out from what I remember from the movie.

The genie was still that crazy, funny, off-the-wall jinn, only now taking place in a less lighthearted tale. With Jafar as his master, life outside the bottle isn't as enjoyable for him. I actually pictured his as the movie genie, with a bit of Doctor Who mixed in. (Odd, I know, but it fit.) He was still funny but with a bit of a melancholic edge. 

I loved that the story started out the same before going such a different route. The familiarity of that, along with the characters, pulled me right into the story. The author took a 'known' beginning but continued it into a well done, original tale. I was not feeling the romance (as in the presence of it), but didn't especially miss it. I am looking forward to both more from the author and more in this series.

digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@Stefan_Bachmann @harperteen @GreenwillowBook]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

A DROP OF NIGHT by Stefan Bachmann

Five gifted teenagers are selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780's to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace was sealed after the aristocrats fled there. No one has set foot in it for over two centuries.

Now, in the present day, the teenagers enter with cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art security, scientists and chaperones. And then a brutal accident occurs. No way out. Caught in the dark.

They will have to fight to survive. But are they really alone in the depths?

published March 15th, 2016 by Greenwillow Books

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


A secret, underground Parisian palace, sealed for almost two and a half centuries? Teenagers selected to help excavate it? Then it all turns into a (creepy sounding) thriller? Oh, yes, please!

I really can't put into word type things how appealing I find this book (and its cover).

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

This week's Ten:
Top 10 Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught YA Audiobooks 101

 Eight of these are noes that I think are great examples of a book turned into an audio book - the narrator(s) are great, you're pulled even more into the story than if you read it, and/or some other factor. 

The last two of them are ones that did not work so well for me in audio form. With both of them it had to do with the narrators . . . . (I think examples of how not to do something should also be on a syllabus.)

 These Broken Stars
on Goodreads

(I love, love this series as audiobooks!)


The Sin Eater's Daughter

Doctor Who: Dead Air

The Night Circus

In the After

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
on Goodreads


Tumble & Fall

Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite or essential audiobook listens - or if there's one that just does not work (as it's done) as an audiobook!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Never Said ~ Carol Lynch Williams (earc) review [@Carol_writer928 @@Zonderkidz]

Never Said
August 25, 2015
308 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

For as long as she can remember, Sarah’s family life has revolved around her twin sister, Annie—the pretty one, the social one, the girl who can do anything. The person everyone seems to wish Sarah—with her crippling shyness—could simply become.

When Annie suddenly chops off her hair, quits beauty pageants, and gains weight, the focus changes—Annie is still the star of the family, but for all the wrong reasons. Sarah knows something has happened, but she too is caught in her own spiral after her boyfriend breaks up with her and starts hanging out with one of Annie’s old friends.

Annie is intent on keeping her painful secret safe. But when she and Sarah start spending time together again for the first time in years, walls start to break on both sides … and words that had been left unsaid could change everything

For years, Sarah's family has seemingly revolved around Annie, their star. Now, with Annie no longer getting on stage, with her weight (purposely) increasing and her friends no longer coming over, they all seem lost.

Sarah wants them to figure things out. She wants to be able to tell their mother to stop haranguing Annie about her weight. She wants to know what to say to Annie. But her anxiety keeps her from giving voice to anything, to standing out in any way.

As much as the focus seems to be on Annie, her leaving pageants and popularity behind and her weight gain, Sarah's anxiety cannot be ignored. As she says, "I'm scared of being alone -- almost as much as I am of being with others." (pg 44) It's much more than being nervous to give a speech or in crowds. Sarah feels sick if she has to speak to a teacher or if it seems too many people are looking at her.

Her anxiety adds an interesting level to the story. It allows some of Annie and their mother's interactions to go unchecked, even when you'd expect someone to speak up -- even when Sarah wants to.

I am still not sure how I feel about their parents, their workaholic father and ignorant, image conscious mother. Part of me thinks they fit 'roles' too much and didn't seem like real parents and/or people. Another part, though, thinks that they were just horrible and unnoticing enough to feel real.

The ending felt a bit rushed (though at less than 300 pages of story and with so much story, made that's not unexpected. We know something along the lines of what happens, is coming. I was expecting something a bit different, based on things Annie said, but I think it was logical and fit.

Never Said isn't a novel that solves all of the characters' problems or gets them all fully to where they need to be. It introduces us to the characters and their troubles. It beings mending relationships and, perhaps, repairing some damages but they still have a ways to go and work to do.

thank you to the publisher for my review copy, via NetGalley 

Cover Characteristic: Bridges [@sugar_and_snark]

This is a new meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. It came about when Sugar was wondering which cover to use for her #70 Cover of the Week post. Sugar kept on thinking of more than one, and they all seemed to have a theme/characteristic. So she decided to switch things up a bit!

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).

You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

This week's Cover Characteristic: Bridges

my favorite:

The sharp letters, the high contrast skyline and bridge image and the simple colors (white, black, grey and red) really works for me.  It's a very attention-getting cover and I'm looking forward to reading it!

Please leave a comment and tell me your favorite 'bridge' cover - whether it's one of my picks or a different one! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Another Day ~ David Levithan (earc) review [@AAKnopf @loversdiction]

Another Day (Every Day #2)
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
August 25, 2015
300 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

The eagerly anticipated companion to David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller Every Day

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.
After reading Every Day last year, I was interested in Another Day, its companion or "twin" novel. Every Day gave us the story of A, someone for whom every day was different, a different body, a different life: "Tomorrow's body will be the same age as A - sixteen - and in close geographic proximity, but everything else, including the gender, is an unknown."

In Another Day, we get Rhiannon's story. She is someone who spends the day with A - but A in the body and life of her boyfriend Justin. If you've already read Every Day, then you know the story from A's perspective. If not, you get to meet both A and Rhiannon in Another Day.

Every Day and Another Day can be read in either order, or individually.

Since I read Every Day a year ago, I remembered the basic story and some of the bigger events of A and Rhiannon's tale, but not the particulars, not the details. It was fun to rediscover the story and their interactions as I read.

I think that Rhiannon's side of the story was easier to connect with. Of course there's the fact that she is so much more like 'us' than A will ever be, but it seemed more than that, too. Her doubts, her fears, her concerns about A, about A in her life, and all that would entail were so fitting. Believing that there is someone who is in a different body every day is something pretty extraordinary. Knowing how that fits in what you know, in your every day, is something else entirely.

I liked Rhiannon and how she thought about and did things. It was really interesting and, sometimes, enlightening, to see things from her perspective. I enjoyed seeing the progression of the story from the other side and knowing how each of them felt about things.

I do, however, want to take back the last six sentences of the book. I really didn't like what it promised, for the characters or story and thought Every Day's ending and Another Day were both leading somewhere different.

If you've read Every Day or plan to in the future, Another Day is a great expansion on that tale, a look at things from another perspective. If you haven't - or don't plan to - read it, Another Day is s good read with an intriguing concept and a relationship unlike any other.

digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley
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