Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Crown's Game

cover_imageTITLE: The Crown's Game
AUTHOR: Evelyn Skye
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PAGES: 399 pages
SERIES: The Crown's Game book 1
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 7-12

SUMMARY: In 19th century Russia, where magic is real, the Czar relies on an Imperial Enchanter, someone with the power to protect the country beyond military control. This generation, two enchanters have been born, so the Czar puts the Crown's Game into effect. Vika Andreyevna is a typical girl that lives on the small island of Ovchinin and trained in the magical arts by her father to one day prepare to become the Imperial Enchanter. Nikolai Karimov has known his magic since birth and it has scared off anyone close to him, until one day he is taken in by a woman who can prepare him for his future. But will these two be willing to use their magic against eachother to become the next Imperial Enchanter?
FAVORITE QUOTE: "As for whether the magic in The Corwn's Game is real, well... that deoends. Do you believe in what you cannot see?" ( , Skye) 

WHAT I LIKED: I absolutely love that this story took place in Russia, and included all of the Russian places and history like the Czars and the names. It was different from any other book I've read recently. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The story was a little predictable in the fact that there is a boy and a girl, both with powers that have to end up competing against each other to win the title of Imperial Enchanter. It was predictable in the idea that ::spoiler alert:: the two fall in love. I mean, who didn't see that coming?

SERIES UPDATE: Book Two: The Crown's Fate releases May 17, 2017

READALIKES: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

BOOK TRAILER: And here I give you the strangest book trailer I have ever seen. No idea what this dance video has to do with the book, but it is the "official" book trailer provided by HarperCollin's Children's Books.

3/30/17 UPDATE: I've found a better Book Trailer, created by Epic Reads, that gives you a little more information about the actual video.

Monday, January 30, 2017


cover_imageTITLE: When
AUTHOR: Victoria Laurie
RELEASE DATE: January 2015
PAGES: 327 pages
GENRE: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Mystery
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12

SUMMARY: Maddie Flynn has always seen numbers when she looks at people, whether it be in person, in a picture, or on the television. It wasn't until her father was killed in the line of duty that they figured out the numbers that Maddie sees are the person's death date. When Maddie predicts a boy's death date and then he turns up missing, Madelyn is at the top of list of suspects. The FBI believe Maddie and her best friend, Stubs, are part of a string of murders. But how can Madelyn prove that her ability is real and get her best friend out of jail without putting herself in danger?

WHAT I LIKED: This book is great for both boys and girls. It has a gruesome murder and police investigation, but also includes the drama-filled life of a teenage girl. As part of the 2016 Lone Star List, I've booked talked this with my junior high students and they eat it up. The students race to the computer to be the first to put it on hold. I currently have a list of over a dozen students waiting to read this book, and we own three copies in our library. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: This ending was just a little cliche. It seemed like the entire story, one bad thing after another is happening to Maddie, then for some reason the author felt they needed to tie it all up in a pretty little bow with a Happily Ever After...

READALIKES: Numbers by Rachel Ward

BOOK TRAILER: not the official book trailer, but a good one created by Kimberly Zavala

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Image result for sweet emmy laybourneTITLE: Sweet
AUTHOR: Emmy Laybourne
PUBLISHER: Feiwel and Friends
PAGES: 272 pages
GENRE: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Paranormal
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12

SUMMARY: On a cruise ship filled with celebrities, the rich and famous, Laurel feels out of place. But when best friend, Viv, convinces her parents that she wants two tickets for herself and her best friend as part of the collateral damage of their divorce, of course they agree. This cruise ship promises major weight loss for all the passengers through a tiny packet of SoLu. After a seven day cruise, the ship will come back thousands of pounds lighter due to the weight everyone has lost. But are a couple of pounds the only thing people lose? When the passengers become addicted to SoLu, they begin to lose their minds, attacking each other to get more of the weight-loss sweetener. Can Laurel and her friend Viv survive seven days?

WHAT I LIKED: I liked the total twist in the story. You think you're reading this sweet story of two best friends off on their own on this fabulous cruise. Then Laurel meets her crush, famous child star Tom Forelli, and immediately they click; two of the only people on the ship not taking the weight loss sweetener, SoLu. Then the plot twists, and all the passengers turn into these dangerous zombie-like vampires. While the beginning is great for my girl readers, all about best friends, love interests, clothes and weight-loss; my boy readers will love the second half with people attacking each other and drinking their blood. 

READALIKES: In the After by Demitria Lunetta, Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry

BOOK TRAILER: Not the official book trailer, but one created by the amazing Tobie Cattarin for the 2016-2017 TLA Lone Star Book Award

Monday, January 23, 2017

Truth About Twinkie Pie

cover_imageTITLE: The Truth About Twinkie Pie
RELEASE DATE: January 2015
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown and Company
PAGES: 342 pages
GENRE: ChickLit

SUMMARY: GiGi (born Galileo Galilei) moves from a South Carolina trailer park to Long Island when her sister DiDi wins a big baking contest and can finally afford to send her little sister to a prep school that is worthy of GiGi's intellect. While DiDi works in the saloon, GiGi goes to school determined for a fresh start. She changes her name to Leia and even becomes friends with the most popular boy in school, Trip. But this new friendship also comes with a new enemy: Mace who is intent on ruining Leia's dreams of a better life. 

WHAT I LIKED: Throughout the book Gigi uses her mom's recipes to compare to her own situations in life. I really loved this because by the time I finished reading, I wanted to make some of the recipes myself!

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: This book has a slow start. Too often I have students return it after only reading the first couple of chapters. The story seems a little immature for my junior high students, but after giving a short book talk on what else the book has to offer, students are intrigued and usually give it a second chance. All I have to say is, stick with it, the story gets really good about half way through. 

READALIKES: Genuine Sweet by Faith Harkey, The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando

BOOK TRAILER: not the official book trailer, but a good one created by Tobie Cattarin

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Girl at Midnight

cover_imageTITLE: The Girl at Midnight
AUTHOR: Melissa Grey
PUBLISHER: Delacourt Press
GENRE: Fantasy
SERIES: The Girl At Midnight #1
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12 

SUMMARY: When the Ala, a magical, feathered being, caught Echo trying to pick her pocket as a child, she didn't see a homeless orphan, she saw hope. But now Echo is stuck in the middle of a war between the Avicen that she considers family and the dragon-like Drakharin. Only by teaming up with the Dragon Prince to find the Firebird can Echo finally end this centuries-old war.  
FAVORITE QUOTE: "The young always think they're invincible, right until the moment they learn otherwise. Usually the hard way." (Grey, )

WHAT I LIKED: I love the idea of a secret world full of magical creatures taking place right in the world of New York City (or should I say under it). The story starts out with the Ala visiting the New York City Public Library after hours with sunglasses and a scarf to cover her head of feathers. It makes you wonder how often magical people are hiding among us.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There is so much backstory to this book that I feel like it barely skims the surface. I really think this book series needs a prequel. I would LOVE to hear Rose's story. 

READALIKES: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

SERIES UPDATE: Book 2: The Shadow Hour, Book 3: The Savage Dawn will release July 11, 2017

BOOK TRAILER: official book trailer not available at the time this blog was published

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ink and Ashes

cover_imageTITLE: Ink and Ashes
AUTHOR: Valynne E. Maetani
PAGES: 386 pages
GENRE: Adventure, Mystery

SUMMARY: Claire Takata is your typical high school girl, she loves playing soccer, and hanging out with her brothers and best friends. But all that changes when she comes across a strange letter from her deceased father to her step father. Claire begins to question her father's death and her entire family's future. Digging deeper, she finds only secrets and lies from her mother and stepfather. But what happens when she digs too deep and finds that her father belonged to the yukuza, the Japanese mafia. Has she uncovered a secret that was better left buried? Has she put the rest of her family in danger? 

WHAT I LIKED: This book definitely kept me on my toes. I don't normally read mysteries because I can always figure out the ending too early. However, this book definitely throws you for a couple of loops before finally finding the actual culprit. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Throughout the book Claire gets into a lot of trouble: things are stolen from her locker, eye balls are left wrapped like a present in her backpack, she's run off the road, and someone almost bombs her house. I seriously just wanted to shake the girl and say "Call the police! Tell your parents!" Its like any scary movie you watch, "Don't run up the stairs!" 

READALIKES: How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler

BOOK TRAILER: not the official Book Trailer, but a pretty good one as far as being created by a student. Credit: Tobie Cattarin

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


cover_imageTITLE: Defiance
AUTHOR: C.J. Redwine
RELEASE DATE: August 2012
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PAGES: 408 pages
SERIES: Defiance book #1
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 7-12

SUMMARY: Rachel is not like other girls in her walled city of Baalboden. While they are taught to sew, cook, and be obedient; Rachel is learning to read, write and hunt. But when Rachel's father disappears beyond the wall, her life changes and all of her freedoms are gone. She must escape, go beyond the walls, and through the Wastelands to find her father.   

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: This story was just like every other typical Dystopian today. There is a city with walls and a terrible Wasteland beyond that isn't safe for anyone to live, most likely because mankind did something to destroy it (in this case, we brought forth giant snake creatures that live beneath the earth). But of course, the main character ( a girl) fights against all odds to save the world: enter danger, love story, and sequel. 

FAVORITE QUOTE: "I love how you still think if you tell me to do something, I'll just check my brain at the door and do it." This quote shows Rachel's stubbornness, especially toward Logan.

SERIES UPDATE: Book Two: Deception and Book Three: Deliverance

READALIKES: Graceling by Kirsten Cashore