Books

Books

Fri
17
Feb

Claudia Gray Novel Wins Best Book of 2016, by Force

Star Wars Bloodline Best Novel 2016

Continuing our series of releases for the Best of 2016 Awards, we now come to the category for Best Novel of 2016. And, boy, did we have a selection of choices in titles and genres!

However, there were three standouts who topped the list, starting with THE CROWN by Keira Cass, which came in third, edged out by BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah -- both really excellent books and neither one anything at all alike. That's just a taste of the kind of range faced by our readers who voted in this poll.

Wed
15
Feb

Ira Bloom Crafts YA Must-Read: Hearts & Other Body Parts

Hearts & Other Body Parts by Ira Bloom

Ira Bloom's HEARTS & OTHER BODY PARTS reads with such fluidity and magnetism that it's difficult to believe this is a debut novel. It's a YA romance novel that blends urban fantasy with modern reality to the point that it is neither one and better than both.

Esme, Katy and Ronnie Silver are sisters attending the same high school. Esme is an intellectual overachiever, Ronnie is a natural beauty and knows it, and Katy is an everygirl whose fun to have around. They're also witches. Real spell-casting, potion-brewing, hex-tossing witches. And, no, they're not attending Monster High, tempting though it might be to draw the comparison. Middleton is an average high school filled with everyday kids -- and three witches.

Tue
07
Feb

Batgirl: New Hero of the Night (Backstories)

Batgirl New Hero of the Night (Backstories)

I've been a fan of Batgirl ever since I first saw Yvonne Craig don the tights when I was just a wee lad laying on the floor with my chin propped up on my hands watching a 17 inch color television. (I couldn't reasonably go outside as the Earth's crust was still cooling, obviously.) Over the years I've added numerous odds and ends to my Batgirl collection, including first appearances of both Batgirl and Bat-girl in comics, some statues, and a couple of autographed stills from the television show.

You'd think there'd be nothing in BATGIRL: NEW HERO OF THE NIGHT, the latest in Scholastics DC COMICS BACKSTORIES line, for me to learn. In fact, given the tenure of the hero, I scoffed a little at the "new" in the title.

Mon
06
Feb

Spinale Spins Epic Wonder with UMBERLAND

Umberland by Wendy Spinale

In EVERLAND, Wendy Spinale took readers through a mind-magnet of a tale with a steampunk rendition of the legend of Peter Pan. It involved a virus that wiped out most of the adults, set upon the world by the Bloodred Queen and her devoted son, Captain Hans Otto Oswald Kretschmer (or "Hook"). After the bombing of London, Pete and his Lost Boys, along with the seemingly immune Gwen and her siblings, left the Everland province with what they thought was a cure for the horrible Horologia virus.

It was a case where the cure was worse than the disease.

Thu
02
Feb

Join the Ninjago Team to Battle the Time Twins in this LEGO Activity Book

Ninjago Hands of Time LEGO activity book

Uh oh! Master Wu's past is catching up with him when two old enemies return to wreak havoc. The Ninjago team of Cole, Jay, Kai, Lloyd, Nya and Zane have their hands full with the Time Twins, who have the power to change the future and the past! Fortunately, they have the best help they can get on their side: You!

NINJAGO: THE HANDS OF TIME is an activity book that uses these fan-favorite LEGO Ninjago characters as teaching tools, taking the reader through tests of math, logic, and reading comprehension skills. Oh, and it's also fun from cover to cover! And as an added enticement, this book comes with a Vermillion Warrior LEGO minifig to add to your collection!

Wed
25
Jan

Clown Lives Matter in Legacy: Laughing Matter

I have been waiting for the 6th book in the LEGACY series for a long time.  As I have mentioned in the past, LEGACY is a spin-off from THE DESTROYER series.  I am a long time fan of THE DESTROYER, and new series writer RJ Carter did a terrific job with his first book in the series, BULLY PULPIT.  But, I have to admit that I like the LEGACY books even more.   They take the brilliant world of THE DESTROYER and flesh it out to a whole new level.

Mon
26
Dec

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Unicorn Training is Witty Fun for Young Animal Lovers

PIP BARTLETT’S GUIDE TO UNICORN TRAINING is the second book in Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce’s whimsical Pip Bartlett series. I have not read the first book, PIP BARTLETT’S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES, but I had no problem following along in this fun, cute, and witty sequel.

Pip Bartlett assists her Aunt Emma in her job as a vet. However, these aren’t cats and dogs coming to the clinic – these are magical creatures like Rockshines, Griffins, and Greater Rainbow Minks. Never heard of them? Don’t worry – there are full-page textbook entries with pictures of each species throughout the book, so it’s easy to keep them straight.

Pip has a special skill to aid her in her work: she can speak with these creatures as easily as speaking with a friend. And they’re full of personality.

Mon
26
Dec

The latest NOTEBOOK OF DOOM installment is great fun for early readers!

My nephew has loved Troy Cummings’ Notebook of Doom series for a couple years now. So when I noticed the eleventh book in the series, SNEEZE OF THE OCTO-SCHNOZZ, was available for review, I had to check it out.

The Notebook of Doom series features Alexander and his friends – members of the exclusive S.S.M.P. (Super Secret Monster Patrol) – as they hunt down monsters in their neighborhood and school.

In OCTO-SCHNOZZ, there’s a honking, stinky monster afoot – and it’s stealing rotten food! Alexander and his friends must work together to take down this smelly fiend, chasing it all the way to their newest member, Dottie’s, mini golf birthday party. If that’s not bad enough, Alexander is forced to attend private classes with their mean – and possibly monstrous – principal, Ms. Vanderpants.

Thu
01
Dec

THE BAD GUYS is so GOOD!

The Bad Guys #1

I think I have a new favorite Middle Grade series!

THE BAD GUYS by Aaron Blabey is just so FUN! In this new middle grade graphic novel series (I read the original BAD GUYS and the second installment, MISSION UNPLUCKABLE), Mr. Wolf sets out to show once and for all that he is NOT a bad guy! Along with three other antiheroes – Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark, they set out to prove that they’re more than their stereotypes. Starting “The Good Guys’ Club,” these four friends set out to rescue a cat from a tree and spring some dogs loose from the pound (I mean, if Mr. Snake can stop trying to eat Mr. Piranha).

Mon
28
Nov

What Happens When a Squirrel Discovers the Wheel? Evolution Revolution!

Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines by Charlotte Bennardo

Jack is a squirrel who's just a little bit smarter than others. He knows how to avoid traps, and he knows how to get around barriers to bird feeders. And he knows that the young boy, Collin, who sits outside in his wheelchair, will feed him treats.

He also knows that when the big yellow machines show up, it means more trees will be torn down and more human dens will appear. And now the big machines have shown up at the edge of the woods where his nest is.

But Jack -- so named by Collin -- has also learned something. He's learned what a wheel is, how it works -- and how it can be stopped. Using this tiny bit of knowledge, Squirrel communicates to the rest of the forest creatures and organizes them to work together to stop the machines from threatening their homes and their lives. But as Jack and the other animals are about to discover: a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Because humans don't like to lose.

 

Tue
22
Nov

Username: Regenerated Returns Readers to Digital Fantasy World

Username Regenerated

Fantasy stories that find a person transported to another world have always been a staple in the industry. Whether the protagonist walks through a wardrobe or falls down a rabbit hole, falls asleep in a cave of mists (like Edgar Rice Burroughs' A PRINCESS OF MARS) or gets swallowed by a hippo at the zoo (Brandon Mull's BEYONDERS), the method is usually nothing more than a convenient story device to get Person A to Plot B for the sake of expediency so the action can begin.

Mon
14
Nov

BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES is a Creepy, Ghostly New Psychological Thriller

Black Flowers White Lies

BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES by Yvonne Ventresca (Sky Pony Press) is a creepy, psychological thriller about a girl whose life is upheaved when she learns her mother may have lied about her father’s death – and life.

Despite the fact that her father died before she was born, Ella Benton always felt a connection with him. Deeper than their shared love of animals, she believes her father has been her guardian angel ever since a mysterious voice shouted her name as a child, saving her from stepping into what became a car wreck.

Fri
11
Nov

KOOKABUK - Half Picture Book, Half Parenting Guide

When I picked up KOOKABUK SHARES HIS SHOVEL by Kevin Howard and Jesse Howard (illustrated by Lorian Dean), I was expecting a didactic book for children that teaches about sharing. As someone who hated “lesson” books as a child, I was a bit hesitant.

However, this book is way more than that. Half picture book, half parenting guide, KOOKABUK demonstrates how to navigate difficult situations when your child is on the autism spectrum or has a developmental disability.

In this story, Emily – a neuro-typical child (a child without developmental disabilities) – befriends Kookabuk, a child on the autism spectrum, at the park. But they struggle when Kookabuk won’t share his shovel with Emily. Kookabuk’s mother implements several strategies, and soon all three are playing happily together.

Mon
07
Nov

Looking for the Next Big Thing in YA? Scot Westerfeld's HORIZON is it.

There are two words that will always make me pick up a book to read it: "Scott" and "Westerfeld." So it was a given that when Scholastic sent me the advance of HORIZON, I was going to read it. And now that I have, I can safely say, "So should you."

HORIZON is more than the name of the airline that crashes early in the book, carrying a high school robotics team among other passengers. But this is no ordinary crash. The survivors survive because they were chosen to survive, crashing in a jungle that is passing strange -- and not just because the plane was flying over the North Pole (en route to Japan) when it went down.

Are they wildly off course? Are they even on Earth anymore? The questions and theories build as this unique group of kids encounter unusual plants, unrecorded species of animals, and technology that defies anything known to man.

Fri
04
Nov

UFO FAQ. OMG, WTF?

UFO FAQ

Like the fictional Fox Mulder of THE X FILES, I want to believe. Since I was a kid I would eat up all the writings of J. Allen Hyneck and Erich von Daniken. It didn't hurt that it was the heyday of Stephen Spielberg's wildly successful CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and the television film adaptation of Barney and Betty Hill.

So I've read just about everything that could possibly be interesting about UFOs. Not.

Because now David J. Hogan has released the UFO FAQ through Backbeat Books, and it lives up to its subtitle: All That's Left to Know About Roswell, Aliens, Whirling Discs, and Flying Saucers.

Wed
02
Nov

DK Preps Moviegoers in Advance with Mysterious Worlds of Doctor Strange

Mysterious Worlds of Doctor Strange

Just in time for the release of Marvel's latest superhero epic, DOCTOR STRANGE, comes this DK tome dedicated to THE MYSTERIOUS WORLDS OF DOCTOR STRANGE.

As with nearly every DK book I've ever read, this collection by Billy Wrecks and Danny Graydon (with a foreword by comics writing icon, Roger Stern) succeeds in being exhaustive yet condensed, providing the reader with access to just about everything that has touched Doctor Stephen Strange's life since he became the Master of the Mystic Arts. Hardcover with gilt-edged pages (a nice touch!), this oversized book takes readers on an encyclopedic tour of Strange's origins, his allies, his associates, his enemies, and the notable turning points in his life.

Thu
27
Oct

Of Kangaroo Kisses and Hippo Headaches

Nandana's muse for Kangaroo Kisses, her niece, Hiya.

by Nandana Dev Sen

Well, it all started with a rather ordinary bath, and a naughty little girl called Hiya. When asked to get out of the tub and go to bed, my niece noisily turned the tap on. "Two more minutes!" she yelled over the water. "I’m just NOT clean enough yet for bed!" Then – a succession of "two more" minutes later -- when I finally handed her a hippo-headed toothbrush, out burst another loud protest. "Two more minutes, Toom-Ma!" She flashed her almond-shaped eyes at me with reproach. "My hippottamouse has a bad headache, you see – if I brush my teeth now it’ll only get WORSE! We have to wait for it to go away!"

Tue
25
Oct

All the Wrong Messages in Pig the Pug

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

At first blush, PIG THE PUG is a cute story set to rhyme about a greedy pug dog who refuses to share with his fellow housemate, a happy little dachshund named Trevor. So he piles all his toys up and sits on them like he's king of the castle.

At second blush, there's a little too much schadenfreude at Pig's ultimate fate after he falls from his perch -- and out a window that's higher than the first floor, resulting in Trevor getting to play with all the toys while Pig recuperates in a body cast.

Mon
24
Oct

Tan's THE SINGING BONES Seduces Readers with Compelling Imagery and Stories

Shaun Tan has simultaneously mesmerized and confounded readers with his surreal fables like TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA and THE ARRIVAL. His use of imagery and text -- and sometimes complete absence of text -- deliver artistic works of bizarre elegance.

Thus it is with THE SINGING BONES, a collection of snippets from the Grimm Fairy Tales juxtaposed with photos of sculpture created and photographed by Tan. With every turn of the page, readers are treated to a compelling passage of a fairy tale -- hardly ever the whole story but enough of it to feel as though you've experienced something important -- placed in parallel with an illustrative photograph that supports the passage in a way that is perfectly grotesque and stunningly beautiful.

Thu
06
Oct

Run, Run Gingerbread Boy!

Kid's Book Elisa Kleven Gingerbread Boy

 

The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy: A San Francisco Story by Elisa Kleven is a wonderful newly-imagined romp through a classic tale. Everybody knows the Gingerbread Man tale and each generation has a retelling of the same story, ie cookie comes to life, causes mayhem, ends abruptly, usually in someone’s stomach. In this version of the folk tale, we are allowed a completely unique look at the boy who cried ginger and a bold location with a ton of personality.

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