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