Category Archives: middle grade fiction

First Quarter Reading List 2017

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I thought I’d keep a running list of the books I read quarterly, as well as posting a full list at the end of the year. Here are the books I’ve read and loved so far this first quarter of 2017. While I’ve read 30 books so far, I’m way behind on my reading. More great books keep popping up. If only I could read and do nothing else! 🙂 Would love to hear what books you’re reading and loving!

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Keily

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Whobert Whover, Owl Detective by Jason Gallaher (illus by Jess Pauwels) ARC

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Mama Loves You So by Terry Pierce (illus by Simone Shin) ARC

In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (adult fic)

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins ARC

Egg by Kevin Henkes

The Takedown by Corrie Wang ARC

My Busy Green Garden by Terry Pierce (illus by Carol Schwartz) ARC

Flying Lessons and Other Short Stories edited by Ellen Oh

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

March Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Hug It Out by Louise Thomas

Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Silvensky ARC

Are You an Echo? translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, Michiko Tsubori (illus by Toshikado Hajiri)

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LeReau (illus by Matt Myers)

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howard (illus by Rafael LĂłpez)

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau (illus by Jen Hill)

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (adult humor)

Dark Horses by Cecily Von Ziegesar

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

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Welcome to the Spotlight Kara LaReau and The Bland Sisters!

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Ahoy there! Join me in shining the spotlight on children’s author Kara LaReau and her marvelous new middle grade series The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, starting with book 1, The Jolly Regina! She most recently won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor for her chapter book The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers and published by Candlewick Press. Stay tuned below to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Jolly Regina!

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The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Jen Hill (Abrams/2017)

Jaundice and Kale Bland are sisters who live in Dullsville darning socks, watching the grass grow, and eating cheese sandwiches. They enjoy these things quite a bit, despite not knowing where their parents had disappeared off to for years. But one day, they are kidnapped by a band of female pirates and forced on an adventure that leads them to search for their missing parents. Full of great wit and humor, this story will enchant readers. And they will fall in love with Jaundice and Kale. I can’t wait for the next book!

Spotlight on Kara:

A swashbuckling witty tale about two sisters who enjoy NOT having adventures, end up on a pirate ship. I love that the pirates are all women. What inspired this all-female cast of characters?

When I wrote the scene where Jaundice and Kale hear a knock at the door, I had to ask myself who the mystery visitor might be. I thought, “What would be the most surprising thing for these boring girls to encounter?” Of course, the answer was pirates. But there have been SO MANY stories about pirates already, and I didn’t want them to be run-of-the-mill. That desire to provide a fresh take on something conventional, combined with my indomitable feminist spirit, led me to the crew of The Jolly Regina.

The names of all the characters and places are such fun! What was your process for finding the right (and funny) names? Do you have a favorite?

I am a bit obsessed with names. I’ve been told my own name is hard to pronounce and hard to spell, so I’ve spent most of my life correcting people! It’s led me to focus on remembering how to pronounce and spell other people’s names, which has led me to focus on names in general. I love words that almost sound like names, and I am always noticing and tabulating interesting ones. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re a big fan of names, you’re REALLY going to like the next Bland Sisters adventure!

The Bland Sisters do not like change or adventure. The pirates, obviously, do! Are you more like Jaundice and Kale, or like the pirates? And what would your favorite activity be if you lived in Dullsville or on a pirate ship?

I am a little bit of both. I love traveling and socializing and being out in the world, but I also love the comforts of home, so sometimes it takes effort to change out of my pajamas. I channel that homebody side of me when I write the Bland Sisters.

If I lived in Dullsville, I’d probably want to work at the grocery store; I’d love to know what other kinds of “sundries” they have in stock, and making deliveries might be interesting.

If I lived on a pirate ship, I’d like to sit in the crow’s nest. It would give me some alone-time, the view would be breathtaking, and I’d always be on the lookout for adventure!

Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové; a chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill.  Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.

For more about Kara and her books, check out her web site, follow her on Twitter, and follow her on Instagram.

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To win a signed copy of The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, February 11 by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Monday, February 13 (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Maria G. for winning a signed copy of The Unintentional Adventures of The Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina!

Yo ho ho! Happy reading!

 

Welcome to the Spotlight H.M Bouwman and A Crack in the Sea!

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Happy New Year! What a thrill to be able to start off 2017 with a shiny bright spotlight on an amazing middle grade novel, already garnering high praise. It’s also a Winter 2017 Kids’ Indie Next Pick! Stay tuned below to enter to win a copy of this amazing page-turner.

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A Crack in the Sea by H.M. Bouwman (Penguin Young Readers Group/2017)

In the Second World, Pip can speak to the fish, a gift the Raft King needs in order to get his people through the mysterious “door” in the ocean back to the First World. When the Raft King kidnaps Pip from the island to Raftworld, Pip’s protective sister Kinchen is determined to rescue him. Also intertwining with this story are the stories from the First World of Thanh and his family escaping to the seas in post-war Vietnam and from the past of Venus and Swimmer who escape a slave ship to come upon the crack in the sea into the Second World. A fascinating and gripping tale of friendship, love, adventure, and truth, sprinkled with a Kraken love story.

Spotlight on H.M. Bouwman:

Congratulations on A CRACK IN THE SEA! What an amazing tale – I don’t even know where to start with the questions, so I’ll start with my usual: What was the spark behind the idea for this book? And how did it grow into a full-fledged story?

For me the beginning of a story is always something small, a footprint on the ground or a broken twig, and it’s not until I follow the trail for a long, long time that it widens and I see what the story is really about. With this book there were two initial sparks: the image of a giant Raft big enough to hold a whole nation; and the story of the Zong slave ship, which I was researching for an early American literature class I was teaching. I wrote for quite a while—free-writing and individual scenes that popped into my head and images that stuck with me—until the story started to emerge. Even then I made a lot of wrong turns before I realized this was at heart a story about immigration and finding your home.

I’m fascinated by all of the characters in the story, from adventurous Caesar of Raftworld to brave Venus who escapes the slave ship and manages to save many others. But I have to say that Pip really caught my heart. I love that his sister wants to protect him, but that Pip figures out how to manage his disability AND his gift and grows from this discovery. Do you have a favorite character (I know it’s hard to choose from your babies)? How did you develop such distinct personalities and stories for each?

Ohhhhh, that’s kind of like asking which of my kids is my favorite. Or which of my cats. I love them all infinitely. However, there are days that I certainly feel more akin to one or the other of these characters. Kinchen feels injustice strongly; Caesar is determined to put her best face forward; Thanh feels like he does everything wrong; Pip feels like he doesn’t fit in; Venus, at points, just wants to be left alone; and so on. On different days I feel closer to one or the other of these characters. What I hope is that a reader might have some of those same moments of recognition and closeness.

Okay, I have to ask about the Kraken! How did they make their way into your story? I love them!

HAHA! The Kraken came into the story when I was drafting and ran out of options. I had a rough-ish outline, and it just…trailed off to nothing. Kinchen was standing on the beach, needing to chase after Raftworld and with no way to get there. I stared at the screen for a long time, typed “Add sea monsters?” into my not-really-an-outline and quit for the day. The next day: there the kraken were, waiting for me and waving from the bay.

I was teaching a creative writing class at the time, and when I showed my students what I was working on (we were talking about ways of drafting and outlining and prewriting), one of them noticed that note and started laughing. “Just add sea monsters!” became probably the most memorable advice I gave that semester. I won’t say it was the most helpful advice, but it was probably the most memorable.

About H.M. Bouwman:

H.M. Bouwman is the author of middle grade historical fantasy novels
The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap and A Crack in
the Sea, which publishes with Putnam/PRH on January 3. She lives with
her two kids in St. Paul, MN and teaches in the English department at
the University of St. Thomas.

For more  about H.M. Bouwman and her books, check out her web site and follow her on Twitter.

To win a signed copy of A Crack in the Sea for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, January 7 by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Tuesday, January 10 (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Cherilyn for winning a copy of A CRACK IN THE SEA!

Come back again for more interviews, buzz reviews, and drawings! Happy Reading!

 

2016 Reading List

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Another year of reading fabulous books! I’m happy to share the list of books I read and enjoyed, but because I’m pressed for time this year, I won’t be providing my two-sentence summaries this year. I’ll provide links so you can see what each book is about and make purchases, though! And as always, I’m happy to hear your favorites from the past year.

By the Numbers:

77: total books

27: YA

21: chapter books/MG

12: picture books

17: adult

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UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT by Mike Jung MG fiction

HOUSE ARREST by K.A. Holt MG fiction

SEE HOW THEY RUN by Ally Carter YA fiction

WEBSTER: TALE OF AN OUTLAW by Ellen Emerson White MG fiction

RHYME SCHEMER by K.A. Holt MG fiction

HOW TO PUT YOUR PARENTS TO BED by Mylisa Larsen (illust. by Babette Cole) picture book fiction

ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan MG fiction

KEEP ME POSTED by Liza Beazley adult fiction

THICKER THAN WATER by Kelly Fiore YA fiction

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU (Firebird Book 1) by Claudia Gray YA fantasy/sci-fi

THE INCIDENT ON THE BRIDGE by Laura McNeal YA fiction

FOOTER DAVIS PROBABLY IS CRAZY by Susan Vaught MG fiction

THE MYSTERIOUS MOONSTONE (The Key Hunters Book 1) by Eric Luper chapter book fiction

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU (Firebird Book 2) by Claudia Gray YA fantasy/sci-fi

THE SPY’S SECRET (The Key Hunters Book 2) by Eric Luper chapter book fiction

THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE by Pat Zietlow Miller (illus by Frank Morrison) picture book

23 MINUTES by Vivian Vande Velde YA fiction

THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson adult fiction

SURF’S UP by Kwame Alexander (illus by Daniel Miyares) picture book

THE MEMORY OF LIGHT by Francisco X. Stork YA fiction

FOREST OF WONDERS (Wing & Claw Book 1) by Linda Sue Park MG fantasy

CALVIN by Martine Leavitt YA fiction

THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE by Christina Baker Kline adult fiction

WHY NOT ME? by Mindy Kaling adult autobiography/humor

THE LOONEY EXPERIMENT by Luke Reynolds MG fiction

THE SUMMERTIME GIRLS by Laura Hankin adult fiction

NOBODY’S SECRET by Michaela MacColl YA fiction

COYOTE MOON by Maria Gianferrari (illus by Bagram Ibatoulline) picture book nonfiction

THE WINNER’S KISS (The Winner’s Trilogy Book 3) by Marie Rutkoski YA fantasy

ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld adult fiction

FINDING PERFECT by Elly Swartz MG fiction

AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld adult fiction

THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD by Siobhan Vivian YA fiction

RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE by Kate DiCamillo MG fiction

SWING SIDEWAYS by Nanci Turner Steveson MG fiction

OUTRUN THE MOON by Stacey Lee YA fiction

EVERY EXQUISITE THING by Matthew Quick YA fiction

SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal adult fantasy

FLAMECASTER (Shattered Realms Book 1) by Cinda Williams Chima YA fantasy

TWO SUMMERS by Aimee Friedman YA fiction

THE STORY I’LL TELL by Nancy Tupper Ling, illust by Jessica Lanan picture book

LOVE AND GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch YA fiction

THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST by Ann Hood adult fiction

THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner MG fiction

BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina YA fiction

TRULY MADLY GUILTY by Lianne Moriarty adult fiction

THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS (The Remnant Chronicles Book 3) by Mary E. Pearson YA fantasy

TINY PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaiportra and Dhonielle Clayton YA fiction

FALLING by Jane Green adult fiction

FLYING by Carrie Jones YA fantasy

A CRACK IN THE SEA by H.M. Bouwman (ARC – due out Jan 2017) MG fantasy

WISH by Barbara O’Connor MG fiction

MOO by Sharon Creech MG fiction

INK AND ASHES by Valynne E. Maetani YA fiction

LEAVE ME by Gayle Foreman adult fiction

BELGRAVIA by Julian Fellowes adult historical fiction

THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB by Alexander McCall Smith adult mystery

CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan adult fiction

CLOUD AND WALLFISH by Anne Nesbett MG fiction

GERTIE’S LEAP TO GREATNESS by Kate Beasley MG fiction

SOME WRITER!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet nonfiction autobiography

MONSTER TRUCKS by Anika Denise (illus by Nate Wragg) picture book fiction

LUCY’S LOVEY by Betsy Devany (illus by Christopher Denise) picture book fiction

COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett adult fiction

THE NIAN MONSTER by Andrea Wang (illus by Alina Chau) picture book fiction

PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES by Jojo Moyes adult fiction

LIKE MAGIC by Elaine Vickers MG fiction

SHADOW AND BONE (Grisha Trilogy Book 1) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

SIEGE AND STORM (Grisha Trilogy Book 2) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

RUIN AND RISING (Grisha Trilogy Book 3) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

CROOKED KINGDOM (Six of Crows sequel) by Leigh Bardugo YA fantasy

BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA’S by Anika Denise (illus by Christopher Denise)  picture book

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING by Arthur Levine (illus by Katie Kath) picture book

THE YOUNGEST MARCHER by Cynthia Levinson (illus by Vanessa Brantley Newton) (ARC due out January 2017 picture book

LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE MURAL MYSTERY by Jill Diamond MG fiction

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon YA fiction

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I’d also like to thank each and every one of you for faithfully reading this blog. I know your time is valuable and I appreciate your time. I promise more give-aways in 2017! Happy reading!

Welcome to the Spotlight Elly Swartz and Finding Perfect!

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I am over-the-moon thrilled to shine the spotlight on talented friend and debut author, Elly Swartz! I first read a draft of FINDING PERFECT before she sold the middle grade novel to FSG, and I fell head-over-heels in love with Molly. Stay tuned for a chance to win a signed copy below!

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Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz (FSG/2016)

Twelve-year-old Molly misses her mom when she moves out of the country to Canada for a job. Molly knows if she can win a poetry slam contest at school, her mom would come home and reunite with Dad and family. But, as the days go by with her older sister distant, her younger brother needy, and her father busy with work, Molly starts to notice certain habits are taking over – washing her hands over and over, lining up her glass animals perfectly with a ruler, making sure her homework is mistake- and smudge-free, and counting counting counting, until it’s all she can do to hide it from her best friends and family. In this touching story about trying to “find perfect,” Molly learns to let go of fear and finally get the help she needs.

Spotlight on Elly:

How did the idea for this story come to you, and what was your journey like from idea to sale?

One day, I woke with Molly in my head, and she wouldn’t leave until I told her story. At the time, I knew a number of adults and kids whom I was very close with who had OCD. I was awed by the disconnect between how they saw themselves and the world saw them. I then spent the next 7 years researching OCD, writing Molly’s story, and working with OCD pediatric specialists to authenticate the manifestation, discovery and treatment of Molly’s symptoms.

The journey was long, windy, and wonderful. Finding Perfect was originally written in alternating 1st person POVs between Molly and Hannah. It was a way for me to understand the vast discrepancy between how Molly saw herself and how Hannah saw her. Ultimately, I got to know Molly better, and rewrote the story from just her perspective. In doing so, I learned more about the dynamic between Molly, Kate and Ian, and Molly and her mom.

In the time between idea and sale, both the story and my love for Molly grew. She has stayed with me long after wrapping up my final draft. Truly, I think a piece of Molly will stay with me always.

Molly is struggling with a heavy burden, dealing with missing her mom, her parents’ separation, and feeling neglected/abandoned. What was it like researching for this book and getting to know Molly? What were the particular challenges and joys to writing this book?

Getting to know Molly was both inspiring and challenging. She was hiding in a dark place, and that is always hard to write. As the author, I had to get into her head, really embody her, and what she was experiencing to fully understand her feelings and write her story from a place of true authenticity. But, that’s what ultimately led to the greatest joy and inspiration. Molly’s acceptance of herself and recognition of her own strength.

The two most difficult scenes to write were Molly’s unraveling on stage during the slam poetry finals and her reunion with her mom. As a loving and affectionate mom of two sons, I wanted to protect Molly from hurt, sorrow, and fear. I wanted to wrap her in my arms and tell her it was all going to be okay. But, as the author, I knew that moment had to come later and it had to come from within Molly. She had to realize that she was going to be okay. That she was not OCD. That she was not one thing.

In the end, I was inspired by Molly’s courage, strength, and acceptance of imperfection.

Molly has a glass animal collection she cherishes. Do you collect anything? If so, what?

Unless you count all the books in my TBR piles, I don’t collect anything as an adult. As a child, I had two collections. A postcard collection – I think I just didn’t want to collect stamps or Wacky Packs like my older brothers. And, like Molly, I had a glass animal figurine collection. It started when my Great Aunt Ty took me to a museum and bought me a present on the way home. However, unlike Molly, I was way too sloppy to keep them neatly aligned anywhere!

Huge thanks for taking the time to get to know my journey, me, and Molly a bit better!

About Elly:

Elly Swartz is a middle-grade author. Her debut novel, FINDING PERFECT (FSG October, 2016) is a story about a twelve-year-old girl named Molly, friendship, family, OCD, and a slam poetry competition determines everything. It took thirteen years, numerous drafts, many Twizzlers, loads of hugs, and much unconditional love, to find her way to YES. Through the years, Elly’s been a Sesame Place ride operator, messenger, lawyer, legal author, and college essay adviser. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband, two sons and beagle named Lucy. If you want to connect with Elly or learn more about what she’s working on, you can find her at www.ellyswartz.com, on Twitter @ellyswartz or Facebook.

Curriculum Guide:

http://images.macmillan.com/folio-assets/teachers-guides/9780374303129TG.pdf

Website:

http://ellyswartz.com/

To win a signed copy of Finding Perfect for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Monday October 31st, by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Thursday, November 3rd (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Using a random number generator, the lucky winner is commenter number 2! Congratulations Melodye Shore! Please contact me with your mailing address and I will send out your signed copy of FINDING PERFECT asap!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by. Happy reading!

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.)

2015 Reading List

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Another year, another list of fabulous books read! I really wish I had read even more. As is, my TBR pile seems to be never-ending. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do wish I could read all the books I want to. That being said, I really loved the books I did read and here’s the list. If the book made it on my list, it was worth the read. (Just FYI – I know I’m a week short of the official start of 2016, but I’ll be adding the books I read this week to the start of 2016’s list.)

EVERYTHING EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon (YA fiction) – Housebound teen “bubble girl” falls in love with neighbor boy.
SOME LUCK by Jane Smiley (adult historical) – First book in trilogy about a family in Iowa (starting in the 1920s).
THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander (MG fiction) – Award-winning novel in verse about 12 year old Josh, his basketball obsession, and his family.
CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell (YA fiction) – Companion to FANGIRL, the story about the young magician Simon Snow and his adventures at a school for magicians.
FLIGHT SCHOOL by Lita Judge (picture book) – A penguin wants to learn how to fly.

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SHELTER PET SQUAD #2: MERLIN by Cynthia Lord (chapter book) – Suzannah who volunteers at her local shelter, helps the Shelter Pet Squad find a missing ferret.
TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS by Leila Sales (YA fiction) – When her mother walks out, Arden finds comfort in a blog written by a boy in NYC.
ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King (YA fiction) – Teen keeps her best friend’s secret, but has secrets of her own, in a story about being true to yourself in a small town.
DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy (YA fiction) – Plus-sized Willowdean is comfortable in her own skin (even if her former beauty queen mother isn’t). This is my kind of book with an underdog to root for, relationships that need mending, and a hot boy.
PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE HOURGLASS by Ammi-Joan Paquette (MG fiction) – On her 13th nameday, Princess Juniper asks her father for her own (small) kingdom of kids to rule for practice. Full of adventure and mystery!
SHOPAHOLIC TO THE RESCUE by Sophie Kinsella (adult fic) – I’m such a fan of Kinsella. In the continuing Shopaholic saga, Becky and her troop are in Vegas searching for her dad who mysteriously “disappeared.” Always laugh-out-loud fun reading.
FAT ANGIE by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (YA fiction) – A touching story about Fat Angie who grieves her war-hero sister, and is intrigued by the cool new girl who befriends her.
THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox (MG fiction) – Suspenseful tale that weaves magic and mystery together in a page-turning story about 12 year old Kate and her siblings who are sent to a castle in Scotland during the London blitz.

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HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE by Margaret Dilloway (adult fiction) – After the American occupation, Shoko leaves her home of Japan and moves to America after marrying a GI, leaving behind her family and a brother who disowns her.
THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Leila Sales (YA fiction) – Bullied and friendless Elise discovers escape and friendship in an underground club as a DJ.
WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty (adult fiction) – After hitting her head, Alice loses 10 years of memories and is horrified to discover she’s in the middle of divorce proceedings with her husband whom she loves.

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CLEMENTINE FOR CHRISTMAS by Daphne Benedis-Grab (MG fiction) – Heart-warming story set before Christmas, three 6th graders are thrown together while volunteering on the pediatric ward at the hospital.
THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly (YA fiction) – Gripping thriller set in 19th century NYC, privileged Jo Monfort puts her reputation and engagement at risk to discover the truth behind her father’s death.
AFTER YOU by Jojo Moyes (adult fiction) – Follow up to ME BEFORE YOU – can’t say more in case you haven’t read the first book yet. So worth it!

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MYSTERY AT THE EAGLE’S NEST (Cooper & Packrat) by Tamra Wight (chapter book) – The continuing adventures of Cooper and Packrat, best friends who live at a campground. This time they are tracking a group of mysterious strangers who might be endangering the eagles at the campground.
BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert (adult nonfiction) – Inspiration for living the creative life.
HOW TO START A FIRE by Lisa Lutz (adult fiction) – A intricately woven story about three friends who met in college.
THE NUTCRACKER COMES TO AMERICA by Chris Barton, illust. by Cathy Gendrone (nonfiction picture book) – The story of how three brothers brought the ballet story The Nutcracker to America.
A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan (adult fiction) – A book-loving woman who “has it all” takes a risk and joins a start up company that might put her best friend’s bookstore out of business.
UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa Walker (YA fiction) – Clem is stuck on a boat with her family, nursing her wounds from a fight with her best friend, and unexpectedly falls for a boy on another boat.
HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Jennifer E. Smith (YA fiction) – High school sweethearts spend the last 12 hours before they go off to separate collages reminiscing and trying to decide if they should break up or stay together.
THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA fiction) – A touching coming-of-age story dealing with love, teen parenthood, and mistakes made. (And a totally swoon-worthy male love interest!)
KISSING IN AMERICA by Margo Rabb (YA fiction) – Sixteen year old grieving Eva falls for a boy who moves away and she finds a way to travel across the country to be with him.
LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE by Jeannine Atkins (adult historical) – Heart-warming story based on real life artist May Alcott (sister of Louisa May who wrote Little Women).
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black (YA urban fantasy) – Hazel and her brother live in a town that more or less peacefully co-exists with faerie folk until the eternal sleeping boy in a glass coffin wakes up and disappears.
NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio (YA fiction) – Krissy, senior star hurdler with a college scholarship in the bag and best boyfriend ever, learns she’s intersex. A deeply layered story of love and a self-acceptance.

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CLEO EDISON OLIVER, PLAYGROUND MILLIONAIRE by Sundee T. Frazier (chapter book)- Fifth grader Cleo has big aspirations to be a successful businesswoman and is determined to come up with the perfect business for her class assignment.
SANCTUARY by Jennifer McKissack (YA fiction) – Seventeen year old Cecelia must return to her childhood home, the estate on an island where memories haunt her.
THE HEART OF BETRAYAL by Mary E. Pearson (YA fiction) – Book 2 of the Remnant Chronicles follows the saga and adventures of Rafe, Kaden, and Lia. No spoilers here, but I can’t wait for book 3!
ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE by Tamara Ellis Smith (MG fiction) – The lives of two ten-year-old boys, one in Louisiana and one in Vermont, are swept up and thrown together in a tale dealing with and healing from loss.
BUNNIES!!! by Kevan Atteberry (picture book) – Humorous story about a monster who wants to befriend bunnies.
DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor (YA fantasy/fiction) – Book 3 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. No spoilers here!
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor (YA fantasy/fiction) – Book 2 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. No spoilers here!
FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (MG fiction) – A child who struggles with dyslexia gets support and help from a kind teacher and true friends.
IT’S A SEASHELL DAY by Dianne Ochiltree, illust. by Elliot Kreloff (picture book) – A child and mom spend a day at the beach, searching for shells and other treasures.

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ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA by Jim Averbeck, illust. by Jasmeen Ismail (picture book) – Sophie tries to convince her parents to get her a pet giraffe.
A HANDFUL OF STARS by Cynthia Lord (MG fiction) – Lily hopes to raise money for surgery for her blind dog Lucky who inadvertently introduces Lily to a migrant worker girl.
GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead (YA fiction) – Intertwining stories mostly about 8th grader Bridge – about friendship, first love, and family.
LOVE MAY FAIL by Matthew Quick (adult fiction) – Portia Kane leaves her cheating husband and returns to her hometown where she makes it her mission to help her former teacher.
MY DOG IS THE BEST by Laurie Ann Thompson, illus. by Paul Schmid (picture book fiction) – A boy and his dog. Adorable!
FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella (YA fiction) – With trademark Kinsella humor and empathy, a story about Audrey, a teen with severe anxiety who withdraws from the world, only to be slowly drawn back in by her brother’s friend.
IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? by Mindy Kaling (adult memoir) – Mindy Kaling of The Mindy Project’s humorous memoir.
THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES:FRIEND OR FOE by Jody Feldman (MG fiction) – Book 3 of the Gollywhopper Games series has middle grader Zane sidelined from trying out for the football team chosen as a reluctant contestant for the third Gollywhopper Games.
THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (adult fiction) – Bex Porter leaves behind America and her twin sister to attend Oxford and falls for Nick, the Prince himself – a perfectly swoon-worthy read!
SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen (YA fiction) – Sydney struggles with her emotions dealing with a brother in prison and her parents whose lives revolve around him.
P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han (YA fiction) – Starting just days after Lara Jean and Peter fight and end their fake relationship (TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE), the story continues to follow Lara Jean and her up and down love life and the fall out from the love letters she wrote (and didn’t send out, but somebody did).
PAPER THINGS by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (MG fiction) – Fifth grader Ari struggles in school and with friendship when her older brother removes her from her guardian’s care.
THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord (YA fiction) – A year after her boyfriend drowned, Paige, while still grieving, decides to try to start fresh.
THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma (YA fiction) – Amber has been held in the Aurora Hills Juvenile Detention Center since she was 13. For three years, she’s survived, but something is going on…
VALIANT by Sarah McGuire (MG fiction) – When her father the tailor falls ill, Saville disguises herself as a boy and uses her gift (as much as she hates sewing) to feed them in this retelling of The Brave Little Tailor.
RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES by Kate McGovern (YA fiction) – Seventeen year old Rose has big dreams of becoming a professional ballerina and wants to take the test to find out if she has her mother’s Huntington’s disease. Falling for a guy was the last thing she wanted or needed.
BEEKLE by Dan Santat (picture book) – Sweet award-winning picture book about imaginary friends.
THE WINNER’S CRIME by Marie Rutkoski (YA fiction) – Book 2 in the Winner’s Trilogy, Kestral’s life continues to spin with love, betrayal, secrets, and deception. No spoilers here! Can’t wait for book 3!

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PICNIC IN PROVENCE by Elizabeth Bard (adult memoir) – Ex-pat American and her French husband move from Paris to Provence with their infant son.
MY BEST EVERYTHING by Sarah Tomp (YA fiction) – When Lulu Mendez, who wants to escape her small town, learns her father has blown her college savings, she comes up with a desperate plan to make/sell moonshine.
GOOD OMENS by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (adult fiction) – A tongue-in-cheek telling of the Apocalypse involving Crowley (devil) and Aziraphael (angel) who because they have grown fond of living on Earth join forces to try to prevent the end of the world.
A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki (adult fiction) – When Ruth finds and reads a diary washed up on the shore of her Canadian beach, she get lost in the world of a teen age girl, uprooted from her home in Sunnyvale and forced to move to Tokyo after her father loses his lucrative Silicon Valley job.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (adult historical fiction) – Pulitzer Prize winning novel told in multiple POV, mostly from a young blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a young German boy Werner caught up in WWII.
FIRST FROST by Sarah Addison Allen (adult fiction) – In a return to the Waverly sisters (GARDEN SPELLS), Allen expertly weaves magical realism in a story filled with love, family, and hope.
ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter (YA fiction) – When 16yo Grace Blakely returns to live with her grandfather, the US ambassador to Adria, she is determined to prove she’s not crazy, convince her family her mother was killed not in an accident, and find her mother’s murderer. Can’t wait for book 2 of the Embassy Row series!
THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion (adult fiction) – In a follow up to THE ROSIE PROJECT (Spoiler Alert), Don Tillman and Rosie are now married and living in New York, and Don, who does not deal well with surprises, is surprised to learn Rosie is pregnant.
READ BETWEEN THE LINES by Jo Knowles (YA fiction) – Interrelated “short stories” told in multiple POVs centered around the middle finger after unpopular Nate Granger breaks his middle finger during high school gym class.
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor (YA fiction) – Book 1: Karou, an art student living on her own in Prague belongs to another world, one of half beasts – chimera, and in particular her foster father Brimstone who does some sort of magic with the teeth Karou is tasked to collect.
THIS ONE SUMMER by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki (YA graphic novel) – Rose, on the cusp of adolescence, reunites with her summer best friend as they explore questions of life and love.
THE SORCERER HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima (YA fiction) – In a continuation of the Heir Chronicles, Emma Lee/Greenwood continues to struggle with her fear that the boy she loves, Jonah, is responsible not only for her father’s murder but the other murders as well.

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What did you read that you especially loved in 2015?

Thank you for being here and for allowing me to share great books with you. Here’s to a fantastic 2016 of MORE great books (and more give-aways)!