Category Archives: Book Buzz

#KidLitWomen – Book A Day in March (19)

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See KidlitWomen for daily links to posts by the children’s lit community, in celebration of Women’s History Month and focusing on improving the climate for social and gender equality. I plan to share my favorite books focused on girl characters and/or written by women through this month.

Doing something a little different today, all because I want to feature I book I haven’t read yet but am greatly anticipating. Full disclosure here, when I started out wanting to write for children 15+ years ago, author Cynthia Leitich Smith was my guide and mentor. She was patient and generous with her time and knowledge and I am forever grateful to her.

I fell in love with her work, first with Jingle Dancer, a picture book about a contemporary Native American girl excitedly preparing for an upcoming powwow where she will participate in a jingle dance for the first time. (Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright) And then with Indian Shoes, a book with six interconnected short stories. But my favorite of her books was a YA novel, Rain is Not My Indian Name.

It’s been many years since I’ve read the book, but I recall feeling so much sympathy for the main character, Rain, who had recently lost her best friend, and used photography to help her cope with grief. She also struggles with deciding how involved she wants to become in a controversy that has come up around her aunt’s Indian Camp. (Ah this makes me want to re-read this book!)

And now I recently learned that the author, who has had success with a series of paranormal novels, will be publishing a contemporary YA novel this fall! I’m beside myself with excitement!

Hearts Unbroken is due out on November 6. This from the publisher’s site: When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?

AHHHH! I can’t wait! But I will! Pre-order here.

#kidlitwomen

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Win an ARC of A CRACK IN THE SEA

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I just finished reading the ARC of A CRACK IN THE SEA by Heather Bouwman (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/January 2017). I loved this amazing MG novel so much I want one of you to be able to read it well in advance of the pub date. What’s it about? Hmmm….there are three stories interwoven: a boy with a gift for speaking with the fish is kidnapped from his island home by the Raft King, a slave ship full of sick slaves including the heroic and courageous Venus, and a boy and his make-shift family escape war-torn Vietnam – and a crack in the sea. Oh…and did I mention a Kraken love story? Leave your name in the comments section and I’ll draw one name at random tomorrow morning and send the ARC to a lucky winner. (I’m also posting this on my personal FB page so you’ll have some additional competition.) You must have a U.S. mailing address.

Good luck and happy reading!

EDITED TO ADD: The winner is Kristen W. Nitz! (Names were also drawn from comments made on my personal Facebook page. I normally don’t do that, and in the future will revert back to only choosing names from this blog.)

Buzz Review: The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

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The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller (illustrated by Frank Morrison)

Chronicle Books/2016

It’s the day before the big parade to honor three-time gold medalist Olympic runner Wilma Rudolph. Alta can’t wait and imagines herself being as fast, as quick as Wilma. But then along come Charmaine with her brand new shoes and challenges Alta, whose shoes are worn out, to a race. Alta wins, but then Charmaine does in a second race, upsetting Alta. The day of the parade, Alta tries to hurry with her banner but it’s awkward and hard to run with it. Charmaine offers to help, and the two girls along with Alta’s sisters take turns relay style until they all make it to the parade in time. The girls sit together as friends rather than competitors to cheer for Wilma Rudolph. In 1960, in segregated Clarksville Tennessee, Wilma agreed to a parade only if it was integrated – and the organizers agreed.

Fabulous story and fabulous illustrations!

The author’s web site

The illustrator’s web site

Book Buzz! Cooper & Packrat Are Back!

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Cooper & Packrat: Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest by Tamra Wight, illustrated by Carl DiRocco

Islandport Press, 2014

Cooper and Packrat are back in another Wilder Campground adventure. This time after they discover one of their campgroup geocache boxes filled with illegal eagle parts, two goons chase them down. Cooper and Packrat are determined to discover the mystery of these illegal activities, while trying to evade the thugs. When they find out that the campground eaglets may be in danger, they enlist the help of their friend Roy and try to protect the eagles. Will they save the baby eagles? Will they find out the mystery behind the stolen eagle parts? And will Cooper get grounded by his parents for sleuthing? An adventurous story with fascinating eagle facts.

This book is perfect for young readers who love adventure, mystery, and nature. I already look forward to the next installment. I hope there’s a next book!

For more about Tamra and her books, see my spotlight interview with her here.

Happy reading!

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A Fabulous Fairy Tale

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9781599903347_p0_v1_s260x420The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

Bloomsbury/2009

I love to support authors, particularly ones I meet and like. I heard Julie Berry speak at a novel revision retreat I attended at Vermont College earlier this year. I picked up her book and recently dove in.

One thing I admit is after years of reading MG and YA, I’ve grown impatient. I know there are tons of fabulous books out there. So when a book doesn’t capture my attention and draw me in within the first chapter, I often put it down. This was a book I could NOT put down! I adored the characters and didn’t want the story to end.

Once wealthy and greatly loved by her parents who died in a carriage accident, 15-year-old Lucinda now works as a servant to her hen-pecked uncle and his second wife at their jewelry shop. A mysterious woman shows up with a unique gem to be re-set, and Lucinda and her family are told she is the Amaranth witch. Aunt insists Lucinda return it lest the gem be a cursed, but Lucinda keeps it and what follows is fantastic fairy tale full of adventure, mystery, and romance. All my favorite things, plus a smart, loyal, and loveable goat named Dog. I shed tears and laughed out loud as I cheered for Lucinda to find true love and a happy ending.

I’m waiting with great anticipation for Julie’s next book, a YA titled The Truth About Me, due out from Viking in September. Looks intense!

A Joyful Surprise – The Crimson Crown

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One of the “problems” with reading so much and loving so many series in progress is sometimes not being able to keep up with new releases. I fell in love with Cinda Williams Chima‘s Seven Realms series the moment I started reading the first book, The Demon King.

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In a time when wizards are bound to the queen and streetlords thieve and run ragged in towns, Han (Hunts Alone) sheds his streetlord status and tries to go straight and raise money for his mother and younger sister.  His only escape is to the clan where his best friend Fire Dancer and matriarch Willo care for him and provide shelter.  Raisa, the princess heir, feels bound by her role and can’t seem to reach her mother, who is strongly influenced by her wizard advisor. When it becomes apparent that things are not right, Raisa chooses to act on her own, with help from old friend (and now part of the Queen’s Guard) Amon Byrne.  From there it’s a heart-pounding adventure that grabs onto the reader and doesn’t let go!

The second and third books in the series, The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne are just as gripping and fantastic and definitely don’t disappoint. I’m so in love with Han and Raisa. I don’t want to provide a summary of the books here because I don’t want to give anything away. I highly recommend this series if you love epic high fantasy with absolutely amazing characters.

So, when I was recently in New York City browsing the amazing children’s book store, Books of Wonder, I was thrilled to see a signed copy of the fourth book in the series, The Crimson Crown!

9781423144335_p0_v2_s260x420At this writing (and a day before this post goes live), I plan to start reading this very book as soon as I finish running errands this morning. Joy!

Books of 2013

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You will not be surprised to know that I have a towering pile of books to read. You will also not be surprised to know that I plan to add to it.

These are some of the books I’m highly anticipating come 2013!

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Just One Day by Gayle Forman (release date: Jan. 8, 2013)

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Return To Me by Justina Chen (release date: Jan. 15, 2013)

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Perfect Scoundrels: A Heist Society Novel by Ally Carter (release date: Feb. 5, 2013)

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Also Known As by Robin Benway (release date: Feb. 26, 2013)

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The Madness Underneath Book 2 of The Shades of London by Maureen Johnson

(release date: Feb. 26, 2013)

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Unremembered by Jessica Brody(release date: March 5, 2013)

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Fox Forever: The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary Pearson (release date: March 19, 2013)

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This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (release date: April 2, 2013)

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The Lucy Variation by Sara Zarr (release date: May 7, 2013)

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Isla and The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (release date: May 7, 2013)

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The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler (release date: May 21, 2013)

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The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (release date: June 4, 2013)

Oh and there will be more to add as I learn of other release dates – and more for the second half of the year! I’d better get reading!

Happy holidays to all of you! Thank you so much for joining me, here! I’ll see you in 2013!