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Buffy vs. Angels?

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:40am

EmbraceEmbrace by Jessica Shirvington is an exciting new novel for older teens that will also appeal to adults who read paranormal romance. This is the first book in a series that is already very popular in Shirvington’s native Australia.

 

When Violet Eden turns 17, she receives a cryptic letter from her deceased mother that says that Violet will have to choose. Soon, Violet learns about a secret that will change her life forever.  She is a member of the Grigori, a race of part-human, part-angel warriors whose job is to hunt exiled angels who seek vengeance on Earth. Violet will have to choose—will she embrace and accept her life as a Grigori or turn her back on it?

 

Violet is also in the middle of a love triangle. Her friend and training partner, Lincoln, is her Grigori partner. He has known what she is since he met her, and Violet feels betrayed that he has kept the secret from her.  Soon after learning about her role as a Grigori, she also meets Phoenix, an exiled angel who she finds intriguing. Phoenix is honest about who and what he is, and it’s clear that there’s much more to Phoenix than meets the eye. Can Violet really trust him?

 

Embrace is engaging and filled with romance, intrigue, and action.  Violet is a tough heroine--think Buffy the Vampire Slayer taking on evil angels! The angel mythology in the story is unusual enough to engage the reader.


 
 

Take a Journey to Wonderful!

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:38am

The Mighty Miss MaloneA Nation's Hope

Christopher Paul Curtis delivers again with a Depression-era historical fiction in The Mighty Miss Malone.  Readers will delight in getting to know the mighty 12 year old Deza Malone (a character in Curtis’ Newbery winner Bud, Not Buddy) and her family.  Brother Jimmie is small but has a beautiful singing voice, and Mom and Dad just want the best for their kids.  The family is a tight unit and even has a motto:  “a family on a journey to a place called Wonderful.”  Deza is smart and spunky and even while her family is struggling with unemployment and illness, she has an optimistic outlook and a strong sense of self and her future.  The family’s strong bond is tested when Mr. Malone seeks work in Flint, Michigan. But Deza, Jimmie and their mother decide to follow him and travel with him on his journey. There are hardships, but this story is filled with humor, a strong sense of history and place, and truly wonderful characters.  Readers wanting more should check out the reading guide provided by Random House.

 

One of the frames Curtis uses to share Deza’s story is the boxing match of 1936 which saw German Max Schmeling face off against the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis. This match took on great significance because of Adolf Hitler’s increasingly powerful Nazi Germany. All Americans, and in particular African-Americans, pinned great hope for their future in this boxing ring. When Louis lost, African-Americans’ spirits sank even lower as they grappled with the Depression. In 1938, the two met in a rematch in Yankee Stadium in front of 80,000 fans, and Louis was victorious. The win helped boost morale across the country. Matt de la Peña shares the story of the second match in A Nation’s Hope: the Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.  Kadir Nelson’s remarkable illustrations highlight this story which was a watershed cultural event. Of special note to locals – Baltimore Colts’ legend Artie Donovan’s father was the referee during this match!


 
 

Baby on Board

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:35am

Lola reads to LeoPecan Pie BabyChloe, Instead

The challenge of a new sibling is addressed in several new picture books which provide different spins on the blessed event. In Lola reads to Leo, by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, our favorite book lover Lola is delighted to welcome new brother Leo. Lola helps care for Leo by sharing her love of reading. She brings him a soft book for his crib when she meets him, holds her best bear story while Mommy feeds him, and tells him a duck tale during his bath time. While many new baby books focus on the negative, this gentle celebration of family and reading offers the fun side of being a big sib!  Other Lola stories include Lola Loves Stories and Lola at the Library

 

Gia has heard all she can about "the ding-dang baby" that her mother is expecting in Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. But that baby is all ANYONE wants to talk about.  Gia is worried about the upheaval ahead and already knows what she will miss the most:  “My whole, whole life.” Her emotions come to a head with a very public meltdown.  But Mama is able to calm her by showing Gia her important role in their expanding family. The subtle seasonal changes complement Gia’s changing attitude. This is an honest story about the very real feelings children have when faced with change.  

 

Molly already has a sister, but not the sister of her dreams.  “I was hoping for a little sister who was just like me, but I got Chloe instead.”  In Chloe, Instead by Micah Player, Molly colors with crayons while Chloe eats them. Molly loves books. Chloe loves to tear pages. Molly is frustrated but still sympathetic and Player uses stylized, colorful graphics and simple text to share her perspective. Player is a graphic designer whose work might be familiar to Target shoppers – he designed the branding for their popular Paul Frank line. With this fresh story, Molly does come to see that Chloe’s personality can be fun too, and readers who are still on the fence about a younger sibling will see that there may be some good in it after all!


 
 

One Cool Book

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:32am

One Cool FriendQuality picture books have the ability to engage both the youngest and oldest of readers with stories and illustrations that work together to capture the imagination. One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo with illustrations by David Small, falls into that elite category of books we return to again and again. Tuxedo-clad Elliot is a “proper young man,” a boy who prefers quiet, solitary pursuits. When his scientist father proposes a trip to the aquarium, Elliot is unsure. He’s quickly enchanted by the penguins, asking his distracted father if he might have one. A misunderstanding leads a confident Elliot to pop the smallest Magellanic bird into his backpack for the journey back to their spacious, well-appointed home. His new friend proves to be a delight, if not a bit of a challenge.

Small works in pen and ink, ink wash, watercolor, and colored pencil, rendering charmingly witty pictures that add a surprising amount of humor and depth to the story. Readers will delight at the details Small works in to give depth to the character of Elliot’s father, details that begin to hint at the surprise that reveals itself as the story progresses. This is a sophisticated, nuanced book that demands multiple readings in order to fully appreciate the interdependence of Buzzeo’s highly original plot and Small’s clever illustrations.

 


 
 

Moose Meltdown

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:29am

Z is for MooseMost kids love alphabet books and this one will not disappoint. In Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, Zebra is organizing the alphabet into an A-B-C show and Moose cannot wait! His eagerness gets him into trouble with Zebra and the others.  See what happens when one excited Moose doesn’t get his way. Perfect for the youngster who knows the alphabet and who has felt disappointment! Beautiful bold pictures accompany the story and will make the reader laugh out loud. Poor Moose will tug at the reader’s heart. Fans of Mo Willems’ Pigeon books will surely enjoy this twist on the traditional ABC book. Check it out to see why Z is for Moose!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

Superhero Showdown

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:26am

Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-AllIn a world of superheroes, Question Boy defeats Garbage Man, Paperboy, Mailman and others with his unending questions. Nobody had enough answers for him until he meets…..Little Miss Know-It-All.  In Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All by Peter Catalanotto, the two have a showdown at the park. Miss Know-It-All starts out strong, but Question Boy fights back with the dreaded “Why? Why? Why?” Showcasing two of the most annoying but utterly adorable traits of childhood, this brightly colored picture book will strike a chord with children and adults alike. A crowd gathers to watch the little boy with unending questions take on the girl with all the answers (even if she has to make some up.) Tensions rise. Who will triumph in this battle of annoying childhood traits? The artist complements his story with expressive pictures. By making community workers into superheroes, Catalanotto reminds the reader of that certain time of childhood when seeing the trash truck was an event and getting the mail could be the highlight of a day. (And adults, don’t worry, the author kindly lists Miss Know-It-All’s made up facts on the back cover, so there’s no need to research.)

 


 
 

Goofy Goodness

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:23am

The Crazy Case of Missing ThunderGoofiness abounds with the newest detective agency to hit the scene. The Goofballs are four elementary school friends with unique goofy talents like making funny disguises and nutty inventions. Jeff, Mara, Brian and Kelly have been a team since first grade. They solve mysteries. In The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder, by Tony Abbott, the gang is hired to find a rich kid’s missing pet. With the help of Jeff’s dog, Sparky (the official Goofdog), the friends ferret out clues and don disguises, all the while dropping puns and having a good time.

 

This series is sure to be a hit with young readers who enjoy a mystery and a good laugh. Your 2nd to 4th grader will giggle at the word play and have a good time. It’s a fresh silly series for your young reader who is ready for chapter books. Parents will love the underlying message of friendship and self-confidence the young sleuths demonstrate. Be sure to also check out the second in the series - The Startling Story of the Stolen Statue.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

The Night StrangersHalloween is long past, but readers can recreate the ambiance with Chris Bohjalian’s (Midwives, The Double Bind) new book The Night Strangers.  Set in a small town in upstate New Hampshire, a community’s sinister secrets are gradually unearthed, creating a satisfyingly creepy tale. 

 

The setting says it all.  An isolated town with spotty cell phone reception.  A spooky Victorian house with a mysterious door in the basement.  Disturbing rumors about the former owners.   Enter Chip, who moves his family to this house after a passenger plane he was piloting crashes and kills almost everyone on board.   As they settle in, the family discovers unnerving elements about their new home, including hidden weapons and a heavily bolted door in the basement.  They also meet some unsettling townspeople, the “herbalists”, who have taken a special interest in the twin daughters.  As the story further unfolds, the reader follows Chip in his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and his slow descent into a world of ghosts and voices from the beyond.

 

This is a refreshing read because it is, simply, a ghost story with plenty of psychological terror (think Stephen King’s earlier books like The Shining) and a subtly frightening cast of side characters.  And like any good horror story, the family doesn’t see the danger until it’s too late.  All the signs are there, questions are raised, but (sigh) the family stays.  Although this book is a departure from Bohjalian’s usual style and lacks any real shocking twists or mind-bending ending, it is still a mature tale with a conclusion that leaves much room for discussion.  Interestingly, the author himself lives in an old home with a strange door in the basement…


 
 

Remember When "The Police" Meant the Band?

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:16am

Down the Darkest RoadSince the disappearance of her sixteen year-old daughter four years ago, Lauren Lawton has had to cope with the suicide of her husband and the silent struggles of her younger daughter who self mutilates because of her unhappiness.  Lauren’s pain is exacerbated by the fact that she believes she knows who abducted her child.  She is outraged that the police have been unable arrest the suspect.  So begins the newest novel by Tami Hoag, Down the Darkest Road

 

In an attempt to rebuild their lives, Lauren and her daughter Leah relocate to the quiet and beautiful town of Oak Knoll. The peace that they are seeking is not meant to be as it quickly becomes apparent that the alleged kidnapper has also moved to the community.  Are they being stalked? Is her youngest daughter the man’s next target? Will the police just stand by and do nothing, again?  Lauren has developed an acute mistrust of the police; however she hasn’t dealt with the members of the Oak Knoll Sheriff’s Department before. This community has been the setting for Hoag’s two previous spine-chilling books Deeper than the Dead and Secrets to the Grave.

 

The series is set in the 1980’s and is filled with humorous references of that era. The interesting twist to these thrillers is reading about the forensic technology and police practices of that time. There is no DNA database and ViCAP is just wishful thinking. We follow the dedicated law enforcement personnel as they attempt to solve crimes with limited tools by today’s standards. Any of these novels can be read as a standalone, but if you enjoy this novel you will definitely want to check out the others!


 
 

Ironic Inequality

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:14am

Behind the Beautiful ForeversBehind the Beautiful Forevers has everything a reader could ask for – drama, fast-paced narrative, compelling characters, and a fascinating setting. Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo has written an incredibly engaging, deeply human story. Her powerful new book takes an unflinching, intimate look at poverty in one of the world's most interesting, dynamic, and economically uneven cities: Mumbai.

 

Journalist Boo tells the stories of the residents of Annawadi, a slum set in the shadow of Mumbai's gleamingly modern International Airport, and just steps away from luxury hotels. Sitting atop tons of garbage and next to lakes of sewage, Annawadi is home to nearly three thousand squatters. They are making a living off of the refuse of their wealthy neighbors while trying to improve their lot in life. For more than three years, Boo lived among the families and recorded their stories. While she was initially treated with suspicion, over time the residents of community began to trust her and share their stories, sorrows, and hopes for the future.

 

Boo primarily focuses on human drama that plays out in the lives of one family and a few of their neighbors during her time there. Readers meet Abdul, a teen who sorts garbage each day, providing his family's only source of income; Zehrunisa, a formidable matriarch and Abdul's mother; Asha, Annawadi's powerful political negotiator; and Asha's bright daughter, Manju (the slum’s "most everything girl") who hopes that education will be her ticket to a better life. Boo tells their stories with clear, understated prose that remains fiercely riveting from beginning to end.

 

Readers of The Washington Post and The New Yorker will be familiar with Boo's relentless journalism and crystal-clear writing style. Throughout much of her career as a journalist, she has focused on telling the stories of society's poor and neglected citizens. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is set to be the most critically acclaimed title of the year. It has been praised in nearly every major media outlet for the author's fearless reporting, unblinking honesty, and understated prose. Boo’s ability to tell an incredible story makes Behind the Beautiful Forevers a book not to be missed.

 

 


 
 

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