Vlog Review: Lemons by Melissa Savage

Plan to hear more about Lemons when we get closer to the Back to School season. I am in the process of creating a lesson plan (with graphics) that focuses on discussing the lemons in our lives and how we can "make lemonade". I asked The Mob to identify some lemons they deal with right now in their Middle School lives (see below) and it gave me a lot of good ideas of what I need to "throw into the pitcher" this summer. 

Until then, we are going to read, bask in the summer sun and sleep until 10am (with our mouths open because the Zzzzz's are so good)!

Okay, maybe 11am -- no judgement.

End of the Year {Secret} Book Tradition

Traditions. I love them. I have too many of them. I will probably create more of them.  An end of the year {secret} tradition that I have for my kids is a book full of messages from their teachers. At the end of the year I use my mad stealth skills and secretly pass their teachers the copy of Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss.

On the first page of the book I paste the image above and write their name. Then I choose the most memorable photo I have of that school year and paste it to the page that I want the teacher to write a message on. It's simple, personal and is a snapshot of their school lives.

Right Click & Save Image

The monsters have no idea I'm such an awesome mom, maybe I should divulge this secret act of service... Nah, I like this little nugget. Sweet Stuff and I have a blast reading through them each year and for now this is more of a tradition we enjoy.

Happy Summer Reading!

Vlog Review: Bug Girl (#1) by Benjamin Harper & Sarah Hines Stephens


Our Fiery Redhead gives Bug Girl "a million stars" and she knows books & bugs! Add Bug Girl to your TBR summer lists for #middlegrade readers who love bugs, surprises and superheros.

Book Review: Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

Summary: Nobody's ever really explained the Spill. Was it an angelic visitation? A nanotech accident? A porthole opening from another world? Whatever it was, no one's allowed in the Spill Zone these days except government scientists and hazmat teams. But a few intrepid explorers know how to sneak through the patrols and steer clear of the dangers inside the Zone. Addison Merrick is one such explorer, dedicated to finding out what happened that night, and to unraveling the events that took her parents and left her little sister mute and disconnected from the world.

Release Date: May 2017
Age Group: YA, Graphic Novel
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

I am a complete and total #newb to the world of Graphic Novels. I have been wanting to read one because this is the genre that my 11 year old LOVES but I just can't bring myself to read a MG, graphic novel... there I said it,

Ah, I feel better.

But I did want to give Spill Zone a try. My reasons were a bit superficial but relevant:
  • It's a new area of literature I needed to try
  • It would really increase my cool mom card
  • It was YA! I didn't know there were graphic novels that were more mature. For all those graphic novel and manga lovers, I'm sorry, I just didn't know. 
  • The cover was WAY too shiny to pass up. It literally has a blue sheen to it and it just calls to a bibliophile like a freaking Siren.
I sat right on my front porch and read Spill Zone in about an hour. It took an hour because I got so wrapped up in all the pictures. Remember, I'm a #newb. Now, I totally understand why my daughter loves graphic novels. The pictures gave me a bit of a break from reading and let my mind wonder about the story before moving on.

It's a twisted little story and the creepy vibe was on-point. The storyline is multi-layered  and is definitely for a more mature audience. I think this series will easily capture new audiences not from the GN genre simply because the story is a bit dark and the world building has the potential to be huge.

I'm not sure where the story is headed but in the end I was left hanging with a new fear of all things Raggedy Ann & Andy; I will never think of those dolls the same way.

Thanks Westerfeld, I'll be digging out those dolls and using them for Halloween props this year.

Summer Reading: Little Ninja Picture Books

Summer is almost here! I thought it would be fun to start collecting different groups of books for summer reading. So, this month I decided to compile all the Ninja themed books in #kidlit that my monsters have loved. I remember when my daughter was in Tae Kwon Do it was incredibly hard to find anything for an aspiring Ninja and look, 5 years later, there are loads! Most of these can be found on Amazon and school book fairs.

  1. Ninja Red Riding Hood 
  2. Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!
  3. My Grandma's a Ninja
  4. Dojo Surprise
  5. Nighttime Ninja
  6. The Ninjabread Man
  7. Ninja Boy Goes to School
  8. Samurai Santa: A Vert Ninja Christmas
  9. Ninja! {My personal favorite}
  10. Hensel & Gretel Ninja Chicks

Book Review: Missing by Kelley Armstrong

Summary: The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.

But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

Release Date: April 2017
Age Group: YA, Thriller
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

I read that Armstrong was jumping over to a new sub-genre (Thriller) in YA lit and man did she deliver.  This book had me in a constant state of paranoia. I heard every creaking noise in my house and I just knew someone was there to steal me from my bed! It was just so dang good. I was the same kind of "jumpy" when I read Forest of Hands and Teeth (minus the Zombies). I'm not sure I've read a better YA Suspense than Missing.

I really loved the setting. It reminded me of several remote places I've visited and thought either: "Are people still really this backwards?" or "Wow, we have a lot of people that really just need help".  The setting, the suspense and the plot are all fantastic and this is a YA that I think would catch the attention of young guys. The love interests are minimal and not the meat of the story.

I loved Winter Crane, she was just as unique as her name. I felt like I knew her and found myself thinking of what I might do in her situation... then I would get too freaked out and just start reading again. This book was like watching an episode of CSI that had Katniss Everdeen as one of the investigators who gets tangled in the crime/mystery.

Missing was unpredictable, unique and clever.I'm not sure what else I can say that will not be spoiler'ish other than Armstrong got me, in a good, creepy way. Fans of CSI type series and Thrillers are sure to love Missing!

Book Review: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.

Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control . . . or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.

Release Date:  April 2017
Age Group: YA, Contemporary
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

When I read the summary for The Whole Thing Together I thought it sounded both tragic and hopeful. It was more tragic for me. I will admit that I didn't know what to think when I finished this book. Was I happy? Sad? I didn't know because I felt so freaking bad for this family.

The writing style is smooth and Brashares does a good job of explaining the crazy family connections between two blended families. Every single character has their flaws and semi-storyline. I really think that almost everyone could have had their own story because the issues that arise are no easy topics (infidelity, race, adoption, etc). And because of these topics I am pretty confident that some readers are going to pick apart certain aspects of this story. Am I going to? No. For me, some of the crazy made sense and I was more focused on the effects of divorce on kids. I am a child of a pretty nasty divorce and come from a white mother and a Hispanic father {that refused to teach me Spanish #stillbitter}. Oh man, I got stories.

Overall, I did enjoy the story but I wasn't surprised by the outcome. It was pretty much what I guessed would happen. I felt like it was cut short. There was a huge build-up and then you just said goodbye.

Even though this story was a bit too heavy for me, I still feel like I found a new author to enjoy. I like Brashares flow and ease of writing. I am motivated to give one of her other stories a try.

Ann Brashares is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now,
3 Willows, The Last Summer (of You & Me), and My Name Is Memory. She lives in New York City with her family. Visit Ann’s website at AnnBrashares.com and follow on Twitter @AnnBrashares.

Hoppy Easter Blog Hop & Giveaway

Congrats to LadyMagnolia99 for winning the Amazon GiftCard!

I tried & tried to think of the perfect book for this giveaway but I just couldn't decide what genre or even age group let alone an actual book! So I am going with the tried & true, 100% guarantee you will get what you want, an amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Want to win more goodies? HOP from blog to blog (listed below) and enter as many giveaways as you can!  

I hope each of you have a fantastic weekend with family and friends.  
Tweet ya soon!


Book Review & Blog Tour: The Book of Air

Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors.  
Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must decide where her future lies.
These two stories interweave, illuminating each other in unexpected ways and offering long vistas of loss, regeneration and wonder.
The Book of Air is a story of survival, the shaping of memory and the enduring impulse to find meaning in a turbulent world.

Release Date: April 2017
Age Group:
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

For me, the Gold Standard for any dystopian novel revolves around 2 things: originality and possibility. My two absolute favorites are The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood and and The Giver quartet by Lois Lowery. The Book of Air will be added to this prestigious list. This story is so clever and original that I started recommending it to friends 3% into it!

The storyline is unique to anything I've read in that the POV is simultaneously driven by two characters, Jason & Agnes, one of past and one of present. It did take me a few chapters to figure this out but when I did, I was hooked. Once I fell into the two storylines and they started to unfold, it really moved at a steady pace. With each chapter the reader gets a little more of what created the post-apocalyptic world that Agnes knows.

When I figured out what The Book of Air actually was, my level of excitement skyrocketed. I don't want to spoil anything. I just can't. Seriously, such a clever twist on what humanity will deem important. The anticipation of trying to figure out the link between Jason and Agnes was torture (but in a fun emoji face kind of way).

Simply put, The Book of Air is original, compelling and hopeful. A must-read for all dystopian fans.
About Joe Treasure
Joe Treasure currently lives in South West London with his wife Leni Wildflower. As an English teacher in Wales, he ran an innovative drama programme, before following Leni across the pond to Los Angeles, an experience that inspired his critically acclaimed debut novel The Male Gaze (published by Picador). His second novel Besotted (also published by Picador) also met with rave reviews.
Get your copy of The Book of Air  HERE.

Book Review: Confessions of a High School Disaster {Chloe Snow's Diary} by Emma Chastain

Summary: In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a lovably flawed high school student chronicles her life as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in a diary that sparkles with humor and warmth. 

Release Date: March 2017
Age Group: YA
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By:  Maryn

"This was a book I loved to hate and hated to love!" 
Confessions of a High School Disaster is one of those books that you know you should  probably put down but you just can't, it's a train wreck you can't look away from! It is kind of like the Bachelor, I probably shouldn't watch it but I record it every single week and silently cheer for one of the girls... silently, because I don't want anyone to know I'm watching it.

This story focuses on Chloe Snow's diary and her high school experience as a freshman. It is very rare that I don't support the main character of a book and I could not handle Chloe because she is extremely self-centered, hypocritical, and naive.  I didn't find her to be relatable at all, and her life at high school was unrealistic. I was constantly thinking to myself, are people really this mean? If I'm completely honest though, this is the reason the book was so entertaining. Chloe is shockingly similar to Celeste from The Selection series, and you just love to hate her

I did like the meanness of this story and there were several parts that I felt would be inappropriate for young readers, this is definitely for older kids.  I enjoyed the story more than I thought I would and suggest that people looking for a funny, light, and easy read pick it up!
If you loved Mean Girls then this is a Diary for you!