Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best of 2011: Fiction

In the past year, I have read 44 books. Throughout all of the hurricanes, royal weddings, and faraway vacations, I have found the time to enjoy some unforgettable reads. Here are my top ten of the year. Hopefully you will try some in the year to come!

Top 10 Fiction Books of 2011
This list is a combination of Young Adult and Juvenile Fiction Novels

10. A Step from Heaven, An Na

9.  The Summer Before Boys, Nora Raleigh Baskin
     Read about Nora Raleigh Baskin here

8.  The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart

7.  Ways to Live Forever, Sally Nicholls
     Read my review here

6.  Peter and the StarCatchers, Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
     Read my review here

5.  If You Come Softly, Jacqueline Woodson
    Read my review here

4.  Hope Was Here, Joan Bauer
    Read my review here

3.  Everything on a Waffle, Polly Horvath
     Read my review here

2.  The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Heather Vogel Fredrick

1.  The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I have also created lists of my Top 10 Historical Fiction Books and Top 10 Characters of the Year.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Best of 2011: Historical Fiction



Top 10 Historical Fiction Reads of 2011

10.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
       Read my review here
9.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

8.  The Fifth of March, Ann Rinaldi

7.  Moon Over Manifest, Claire Vanderpool

6.  Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson

5.  Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatly, Ann Rinaldi
     Read my review here
4.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

3.  Uprising, Margaret Peterson Haddix 
     Read my review here
2.  The Help, Kathryn Stockett
     Read my review here
1.  Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Best Of 2011: Characters

As the year comes to a close, I have decided to start a series of posts dedicated to the Best of 2011. I will be creating a list of my top 10 characters from books I read this year (they can be major or minor characters), authors, and finally, my favorite books.

Top 10 Characters of 2011
(Does not include re-reads or series where previous books were read in 2010)

10. Jason - Anything But Typical, Nora Raleigh Baskin

9.  Isabel Gardener - Chains and Forge, Laurie Halse Anderson

8.  Scout Finch - To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

7.  Jo March - Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

6.  Yetta - Uprising, Margaret Peterson Haddix
      Read my review here

5.  Molly Aster - Peter and the Star Catchers, Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
     Read my review here

4.  Reynie Muldoon - The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart

3.  Celia Rae Foote - The Help, Kathryn Stockett
     Read my review here

2.  Francie Nolan - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

1.  Emma HawthorneThe Mother-Daughter Book Club Series, Heather Vogel Fredrick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Brian Selznick
511 pages

Hugo Cabret is an orphan, clock keeper, and thief. Living within the walls of a Paris train station, his survival depends on the croissants and milk he swipes from the baker's shelves.

Hugo's secret life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Isabelle, a bookish girl with just as many secrets as himself, an old man who owns the station's toy booth, and a mechanical man, whose story is just as inquiring as his own.

Brian Selznick has taken a whole new look on story telling, with 284 pages of original drawings, and images from the first movies.

 Although the plot and descriptions are simple, readers will find it hard to decide whether or not this is a mystery, or just plain historical fiction. Hugo is a curious character, and his thoughts are clearly displayed throughout the book.

This book is is targeted toward younger readers (3rd - 5th grade) but the more advanced reader just might be surprised...

The Invention of Hugo Cabret has won the Caldecott Medal, and the new motion picture of the book is in theaters now.





Friday, December 16, 2011

Historical Fiction Challenge 2012

The Historical Fiction Challenge is hosted by the blog Historical Tapestry for 2012. This is my first time participating, and I am excited to announce I have signed up as an "Undoubtedly Obsessed" reader, meaning I will try to read and review 15 historical fiction books this coming year.

You don't have to have a blog to participate, just click on the link above, and post a comment stating you're interested.

Love historical fiction? Try some of these:

1. Uprising, Margaret Peterson Haddix
     Check out my review here

2.  Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons, Ann Rinaldi
     Check out my review here

3. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
    Check out my review here

4. Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson

5. Al Capone Does My Shirts, Gennifer Choldenko

6. Weedflower, Cynthia Kadohata

7. Penny From Heaven, Jennifer L. Holm

8. The Fifth of March, Ann Rinaldi


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thin Yet Thick: Hope Was Here

Hope Was Here
Joan Bauer
186 pages

"Thin Yet Thick" are books thin from cover to cover (around 200 pages or less), but have a thick and deep meaning. "Thin Yet Thick" reads will leave you feeling great and I think might even change your life. These books should take three days or fewer to read, and most likely are of an easy reading level.

Sixteen year-old Hope, and her aunt are about to make their biggest move yet. When they pack up their things and head from New York City to a small dairy town in Wisconsin, Hope is not quite sure what she's in for. At the local diner that she and her aunt help run, Hope meets G.T, a middle-aged man battling leukemia. G.T inspires Hope with his big dreams and positive attitude. Together, they help bring everyone a little more hope during rough times.

Although Hope Was Here is a Newbery Honor Book, I feel a little disconnected from Hope throughout the book. I really enjoy books where I feel I know the character inside and out, and I didn't feel that way with this one. As a big positive, this book made me laugh, as well as tear up through vivid descriptions and insightful messages.

Bauer brings a little of everything into this book: humor, romance, sadness, and of course, pure hope itself!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Changing America, One Great Book at a Time

Uprising
Margaret Peterson Haddix
330 pages

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted! To make up for the time, I've got a great book to review for you.

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a historical fiction book, but don't let that turn you away. Uprising set in the early 1900's tells the story of three very different women who develop a long-lasting friendship.

Bella, fresh off the boat from southern Italy, gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.

Yetta, is Russian immigrant and believer in fair work conditions and pay.

Jane, a wealthy and sophisticated girl who gets involved in the cause despite her father's intentions for her.

When the fire erupts on the 8th floor of the shirtwaist factory on March 25th, 1911 all three of their lives will be changed as well as the work conditions in American factories forever.

Uprising  is perfectly researched, and keeps the reader's eyes moving from page to page. Although the beginning is choppy, and a bit confusing, the rest of the book is engaging and interesting. Each chapter is written from a different character's point of view, so an even distrubution of thoughts can be found thoughout the book.

Overall, Haddix creates a vivid picture of each girl's hope for freedom, and what they sacrifice for the future of others.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A National Bestseller: The Help

The Book
The Help
Kathryn Stockett
451 pages

"Three extraordinary women, are about to take one extraordinary step." This line, cited from the cover of the book, definitely invites you to join in the journey.

Skeeter, a recent college graduate, who wants to be a writer, 

Abileen, a colored maid raising her seventeenth white baby,

Minny, a colored maid with a large temper.

The Movie
They all have very different backgrounds, but come together to write about something they truly believe in. Skeeter, Abileen, and Minny decide to write a novel telling the stories of colored maids, and the families they work for; the good, the bad, and the heart wrenching moments in which they experience everyday,

This story takes place in the early 1960's during the height of the civil rights movement. All three main characters find home in Jackson, Mississippi.

The book is written from each character's point of view, alternating chapters. You follow a span of about two years with them. The reader will look into the white familys' homes that Abileen and Minny work for, the cotton farm Skeeter's family owns, and the town and fashions of the era. Each section is written with great detail and attention to historical events.

Be prepared to smile, laugh, and cry out, as you read this extraordinary look into one of the most unforgettable moments in American history.

This #1 New York Times Bestseller was recently made into a major motion picture. Look for a The Movie vs. The Book review in the near future!

To read see a list of current New York Times Bestsellers click here.










Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Movies vs. The Books: Harry Potter

As promised, I am continuing my discussion on everything Harry Potter. Last night, I watched the epic finale to the Harry Potter phenomenon. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 the movie hit the shelves and online stores yesterday.

This review contains SPOILERS

Many people argue that when books are made into movies, they are not authentic to the original story. I disagree when it comes to Harry Potter. I agree, and disagree with that statement. Here's why:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
The scenes showing Harry's first trip to Diagon Alley, Platform 9 3/4, and the Sorting Hat, were portrayed well, and I think it gave people who did not read the books a good idea of what the wizarding world is like.

Something I did not like was the scene showing the night Harry's parents were killed. The movie did not really explain Voldemort's reasons for doing so.  

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Overall, this movie was very true to the book, accept for the fact that Hagrid is taken to Azkaban in a hurry. It kind of comes out of nowhere.

The line said by Dumbledore, "Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it." in Hagid's hut is said perfectly, and does come up again in later movies, like in the books.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In my opinon, this was the least accurate movie. There is not enough background information about who Sirius Black is, and his connection to Harry until the end of the movie when he escapes Azkaban Prison. For someone who did not read the books, this movie could be hard to follow.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This movie was very true to the book. The Yule Ball disagreements between Harry, Ron, and Hermione were laughable and a bit uncomfortable, as they should have been, due to the fact that the reader is left wondering if their friendship would last.

I think the ending scene (in the graveyard) was portrayed well too, even when Harry's parents come back from the dead to aid him in a battle with the newly re-born Voldemort.

Harry Potter and the Order of  the Phoenix
This was my favorite book in the series, and I believe the movie did it justice. I enjoyed seeing all of the members of the Order of the Phoenix come to life. All of Harry's visions of Voldemort's doings and where-abouts were also done well.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
My only problem with this movie was the fact that one of the main focuses of the movie was the relationship between Ron and fellow Gryffindor Lavender Brown. Several scenes show them hugging or "snogging", but Emma Watson, who plays Hermoine Granger in all eight movies,  did a great job of showing her feelings for Ron and this relationship.

I would have rather liked to have seen the relationship between Harry and Ginny Weasley instead of Ron and Lavender throughout the movie, as it kind of comes out of nowhere at the end when they come back to The Burrow.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
This was definitely a very heart-pounding and intense movie. Bill and Fleur's wedding was done nicely, and so was Harry and Hermione spending the summer at The Burrow. One think I missed in the movie, was Harry's seventeenth birthday scene. I wish they had included this part so that we could see the decorations and guests.

The scene of the battle inside Malfroy Manor was also well done. Ollivander the wandmaker and Griphook the goblin were not showed, and their reasons for being at Shell Cottege in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 are unknown to viewers who have not read the books.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The mood and music of this movie was very dark, just like the second part of the book. The Battle of Hogwarts was very intense, and at some moments I even wanted to cry, like when they showed the dead lined up on the floor of the Great Hall. The loss of Fred Weasley, Lupin and Tonks weighed heavy on all.

In the book, the Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore played a fairly large role, but it was left out entirely in the movie. Except when Aberforth talks briefly of their sister Ariana in the painting above the fireplace. I wish some of this plot was included in the movie.

Epilogue
The ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book and movie was perfect for all fans. In the movie, I wish they had told the names of all Harry and Ginny's children in order to see that he named them after the most important people in his life: James Sirius Potter, Albus Severus Potter, and Lily Luna Potter.

Overall, I think all of the movies were true to the main events in the books by J.K Rowling although, for people who did not read the books, they might be a bit challenging to follow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Harry Potter Fans,

This is the second in a series of posts that I am writing about the world acclaimed Harry Potter books by J.K Rowling. Like many people, I am proud to say I am an avid Harry Potter fan and I am anxiously counting down the days until the release of the seventh movie (part 2) on DVD next Friday - 11/11/11

I've decided that instead of writing a review for each book separately, that I would write one really long one. So please bare with me if this seems to go on and on. :)

Harry Potter Series
many, many, excellent pages

Upon reading the first pages in Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone (Year One), the reader will feel automatically hooked. You are thrown into a world across the ocean that isn't much different than the life we live today: a humble, British town, and a young boy oblivious to a future that is destined for him to achieve.

As the story and books progress, Harry Potter grows immensely, and faces many diffferent conflicts that will keep the reader's eyes glued to the page. As Harry enters Hogwarts for the first time in book one, he is amazed that such a place could exist, and that there are so many other people like him. SPOILER: *Unfortunatly, this is also a feeling he shares with the Dark Lord Voldemort who plans to take over the wizarding world with Dark Magic.* Harry faces intense Quidditch games, OWL exams and many battles that build as the years at Hogwarts become unforgetable.

Rowling does a great job of creating settings that seem so real. Hogwarts, Privet Drive, Hogsmeade, Grindelmaud Place, and The Burrow can be pictured perfectly and although not all of them are cozy and inviting, they each play an inportant roll in each book.  
 
Rowling also vividly creates characters that invite you to read their tale time and time again. Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger have no idea of the triumphs and tradgedies they will face when they step onto the Hogwarts Express for the first time. Other minor characters I love are: the sweet and loveable Mrs. Weasley, the odd, yet engaging Luna Lovegood, curious Neville Longbottom, beautiful Ginny Weasley and the peppy Nymphadora Tonks. 
 
The Harry Potter Series is as follows:
 
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone         309 pages
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets   341 pages
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  435 pages
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire           734 pages  
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 870 pages
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince     652 pages  
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows        759 pages
 
As you read, Harry Potter becomes more than just a protagonist in a great story, but a best friend you want to keep forever and ever.
 
For everything Harry Potter visit: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
 
 
 
 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Couches, Controversies and The Boy Who Lived

For the last week or so, each night, I have been drawn to the couch to continue turning the pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. About two years ago, I read this entire series from beginning to end in the short time of September to Christmas.

For a recent school assignment, I was asked to pick a book off of the "Banned Book List". This list is full of titles that were challenged by people and/or organzations because they felt the content was not appropriate for teenage readers.

I was very surprised to find that the entire Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling is on that list. The series was challenged because it was thought to promote Witchcraft. I disagree with this of course (since I am one othe thousands of Harry Potter Lovers), but many people do believe these books should be taken off library shelves.

The following is a list of The Top 10 Banned Books:

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, Mark Twain
2. The Catcher and the Rye, J.D Salinger
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
4. Bridge to Teribithia, Katherine Paterson
5. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
6. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
7. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
8. Harry Potter Series, J.K Rowling
9. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
10. The Bluest Eye, Tony Morrison

credit to: http://712educators.about.com/od/bannedbooks/tp/banned_books.htm

As you can see, many of these books are classics that have already been read by thousands of people. These books are ongoing controversies that never rest.

I would like to know your opinion! Post a comment, and have your say on the Banned Book List. For more information go to: ala.org (The American Library Association).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Historical Fiction at it's Best

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley
324 pages

I am a big fan of historical fiction; especially books that center around the Colonial Era. Ann Rinaldi is known for her historical fiction novels including; The Fifth of March, Taking Liberty, and Or Give Me Death.

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons is the unknown story of Phillis Wheatley and her life as the first women African-American poet.

Phillis was one of several slaves at the Wheatley House in Boston, MA. When the Wheatley's discover her talent for writing poetry, they begin to mold her future by having her "perform" for important guests. Eventually, Phillis is sent to England to have her first book of poetry published. Although Phillis is adorned with fame, she is still troubled with her way of life. Nothing can change the fact that she is still a slave.

This book is written through Phillis's voice, and dates help form a vivid timeline of her life. Ann Rinaldi perfectly illustrates her triumphs, as well as struggles throughout her poetry career. Several flashbacks take place throughout the story taking the reader back years before the setting of the book. Through Ann Rinaldi's careful research the reader will meet Phillis's friends and family, as well as her enemies.

This tragic yet inspiring tale will surely leave you breathless.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Teashop Girls

The Teashop Girls
Laura Schaefer
240 pages

The Official Rules of the Teashop Girls
1. Teashop Girls are best friends forever.
2. Tea is held every week no matter what.
3. All tea and scones must be split equally at all times.

In Laura Schaefer's debut novel, Annie, Genna and Zoe are the best of friends, or used to be. As Annie gets a job as a barista at her grandmother's teashop, Genna is always at theater, and Zoe is busy with tennis, the girls begin to wonder how much longer they can stay together.

Suddenly, The Steeping Leaf receives an eviction notice, and the shop might have to close for good if the girls can't help make the place "hopping" with customers again. While working at the shop, Annie quickly develops a crush on her co-worker, and as eighth grade comes to a close, new adventures arise.

This book is honest and sweet; perfect for the young teenager.  The characters are so real and relateable, I would want to have friends just like them. If I knew there was a shop like The Steeping Leaf in Wisconsin, I would head there for a cup of English Breakfast right away!

The following is a recipe from the book:

Annie's Tea Pops:

INGREDIENTS
2 cups (approximately one small pot), herbal tea, brewed double strength
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar

Brew hot tea using double the amount of leaves you usually would. Let steep for 4 minutes, them allow time to cool. Stir the orange juice and sugar into the cooled tea, then pour the mixture into ice pop molds or ice cube trays, leaving some room at the top. Place in freezer and wait 3 hours or until solid.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ways to Live Forever

Ways to Live Forever
Sally Nicholls
224 pages

1. My name is Sam.
2. I am eleven years old.
3. I collect stories and fantastic facts.
4. I have leukemia
5. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

Told through journal entries, Sam tells the story of his life as he lives through the last stages of leukemia. He collects lists, stories, questions and pictures that create a vivid picture of a boy who knows his days are coming to an end.

Some questions of Sam's include: "Why does God make kids get ill?" and "Does it hurt to die?" he tries to find the answers to the questions with his fellow leukemia sufferer, Felix. The two are home schooled, due to their illness, and their teacher challenges them to write about themselves. While Felix writes one entry and forgets about it, Sam keeps writing, using this journal as a way of expressing his concerns and triumphs. In his journal, Sam also explains how his illness affects the rest of his family.

Although the ending is inevitable, Sally Nicholls handles the topic with such a gentle voice and clarity.

Be prepared to laugh, as well as cry, as you read Sam's touching story in Ways to Live Forever.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peter and What Came Before

I am currently in the midst of reading Peter and the Shadow Thieves which is the second book about Peter Pan by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. This book had me hooked right away with it's plot and characters. The book consists of all the original characters (Peter, the Lost Boys, Captain Hook etc.) but a few new ones are thrown in as well. Molly Aster is introduced, as well as William Slank and Little Richard.

This series of books takes place before the real story. Taking you back to what happened before the classic book by J.M Barrie. These books offer an origin for Captain Hook, fairies, and the Lost Boys. Each book is about 400 pages long and divided into many chapters. The novels are also illustrated by Greg Call.

The series is as follows:
1. Peter and the StarCatchers
2. Peter and the Shadow Thieves
3. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
4. Peter and the Sword of Mercy

Don't even think about reading this book unless you have a comfy chair and plenty of time. It's the classic adventure story. Dangerous pirate duals, unforbidding weather and a secret chest leave you awaiting more!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Little About...Nora Raleigh Baskin

Nora Raleigh Baskin is a middle grade novelist who has written several award winning books.

About Nora
Nora grew up in Brooklyn, New York where her childhood was filled with books and the theater. Nora was one of five children. She started writing seriously in the 5th grade. Writing has always been her way of dealing with the drama of life. Before publishing her first book, Nora worked as a preschool teacher for several years.

Nora's Books
Anything But Typical
Jason is an autistic 12-year-old struggling to survive in a neurotypical world. Most days, it's just minutes before something goes wrong. Then, he meets PhoenixGirl, who posts stories similar to his on an online story chat. PhoenixGirl knows nothing of his Autism, so when they meet at a writer's conference out-of-state, Jason wonders if she will like him for who he really is.
Winner of the ALA Schneider Award.

The Summer Before Boys
Julia and Eliza are best friends. They've shared everything, from school troubles to the imaginary worlds they've created. Now, Julia's mother has gone to serve overseas in the Iraq war, and Julia is going to spend the summer living with Eliza and her parents. As the summer throws them new adventures, the two friends begin to grow apart. Can they find a way to stay together?

The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah
Caroline's mom is Jewish, but her dad is not. When her Nana dies and leaves her a Star of David Necklace, Caroline wonders which religion suits her. Should she have a Bat Mitzvah like her friend Rachel? Will that just upset her dad?

What Every Girl (except me) Me Knows
This novel is based on the sad and funny events of Nora's life. She was advised by many people not to write it; "It's too personal" but after six months of writing, this book has been brought to the shelves to touch people's hearts.

Other books by Nora Raleigh Baskin include: Almost Home, Basketball (or something like it), In the Company of Crazies, All We Know of Love.

More
Read more about Nora at:
http://www.norabaskin.com/
or
http://web.mac.com/norabaskin/Site/a_little_more....html


Friday, September 9, 2011

Would You Care For a Waffle with Your Steak?

Get ready to laugh as you read Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath! Primrose Squarp's journey is  full of humorous experiences that will leave you wanting more.

Primrose's (the main character in this story) parents have disappeared in a terrible storm at sea, but she refuses to believe they are dead. Although the towns-people try to persuade her otherwise, Ms. Bowzer the owner of the restaurant Girl on the Red Swing keeps Primrose's spirits up. At the Girl on the Red Swing, where everything is served on a homemade waffle, Primrose learns to cook.

This book is beautifully written and although it is short, it leaves a big impact. So, join the journey as Primrose discovers the answer to this question:

Have you ever known something deep in your heart,
even though you don't know why?


At the end of each chapter, the author includes a special recipe from the book.

Everything on a Waffle is a Newbery Honor book, as well as a bestselling novel.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coming Soon to Bookstores Near You!

I've been anxiously waiting the arrival of several books. Series such as The Mother Daughter Book Club, and The Moon Books always leave me excited for the next installment. Please remember that these are tentative release dates. They are subject to change. The following books are coming soon to shelves near you!


1. 13 Gifts, Wendy Mass - the sequel to 11 Birthdays and 12 Finally is to be released this coming Thursday, September 1st. Tara will soon be turning 13 and she figures this will be a good time to break out of her shell. Of course, nothing ever goes quite right in Willow Falls though...

2. Ashes, Laurie Halse Anderson - this novel is the sequel to Chains and Forge and will be released on October 1st. All three books take you back to the Revolutionary War era. Two young slaves are on the run from the rich families they were bound too. One has joined the patriot forces, and must help defend the country during these desperate times.



3. Home for the Holidays, Heather Vogel Fredrick - the fifth book in the Mother Daughter Book Club series is to be released in October 2011. On a holiday cruise with their families, the girls find themselves in many predicaments. From sledding injuries, to dashing captains, and family vacations the Mother Daughter Book Club has much in store!

4. The Shade of the Moon, Susan Beth Pfeffer - The Shade of the Moon is the the sequel to Life As We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone, as well as This World We Live In. The new book takes place several years after the meteor collides with the moon. Miranda, Alex and the rest of the family will take you on new adventures when it comes to shelves in September 2012.

By clicking on the authors names above, you can access their websites and find out more about their books. Pre-Order any of these books at Barnes and Noble here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If You Come Softly

I was drawn to this book, by it's unique title and the author. Previously, I had read several other books by Jacqueline Woodson including Feathers, Peace Locomotion, and Last Summer with Maizon. The following poem by Audre Lorde was her inspiration for this novel:
If you come softly,
as the wind within the trees.
You may hear what I hear.
See what sorrow sees.
Miah and Ellie both attend a private school in New York City where they first fall in love. Throughout their relationship, people whisper behind their backs and give them disapproving looks. Why? Ellie is a white, Jewish girl and Miah is black. Can their love survive high school and their parents reactions?

This story will break your heart and touch a chord. You might even shed a tear.

Here are a couple of quotes I felt inspiring from the story:

"You think it will always be like this, Miah?"..... "Think of it as rain - the people who got problems with us being together - let's call them and their problems rain." Ellie nodded. "Okay, they're rain." She smiled. "So now what?" "So, it's not always raining is it? But when it's not raining, we know the rain isn't gome forever."

Miah turned back to the window. Last Saturday, after they left the library, he and Ellie had been walking down fifth avenue holdin hands when these white boys started acting stupid - saying stuff like "jungle fever" and "who turned out the lights?" Miah had clenched his jaw and held tighter to Ellie's hand. "Walk through the rain" Ellie had said.

I leaned against his shoulder and smiled. "You know what, Miah?" "What?" "I'd marry you tomorrow. Isn't that crazy? How much...you know, how much I love you?"

"It’s pretty, that poem." I closed my eyes. Maybe people were always coming toward each other – from the beginning of their lives. Maybe Miah had always been coming toward me, to this moment, sitting in Central Park holding hands. Coming softly.


Once, I asked Miah if he ever forgot he was black. "No, I never forget." he said. "But sometimes it doesn't matter - like I just am." Then he asked me if I ever forgot I was white. "Sometimes" I said. "And when you forget, what color are you?" "No color" Then Miah looked away from me and said, "We're different that way."

Of course there are plenty more, but I hope this will give you a sense of the theme of this incredible story. If you want to learn more about Jacqueline Woodson, click here

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From Willa, With Love

Not five minutes ago, I turned the last page in this quality read. It was fantastic. From Willa, With Love by Coleen Murtagh Paratore is the 6th book in the Life of Willa Havisham series. It was released in July 2011. This book takes place in the fictional town of Bramble, Cape Cod in the height of summer vacation. Willa lives at her family's inn, The Bramblebriar Inn.

This story is geared for teenagers (age 12+) therefore, you can find this series in the Young Adult section of your library. From Willa, with Love is written in the first person narrative, which makes the reader feel as if they are there alongside Willa. Each chapter is started using a quote. These quotes introduce the chapter and are very inspiring.

At the end of each novel, you will find a "Willa's Pix List", which is a list of recommended reading material by Willa herself. These are books the character read in the story.

Overall, the author sets an exciting scene in all of the From the Life of Willa Havisham books and also draws you in with interesting characters and plot lines. Definitely a five-star read!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Last-Minute Summer Reads

With the summer winding down, I find myself scavenging for a good read. I've exausted my own collection, as well as the library's. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation though. Many of you might also be out of good book choices. The following is a list of short, but fantastic reads. Whether you are taking them to that last trip to the beach, your backyard pool, or your plane ride home, they will surely speak everything summer!

1. The Summer Before Boys, Nora Raleigh Baskin - two best friends struggle to stay together during their "summer before boys". One deals with changing a family, the other the idea of growing up. A touching novel about the power of friendship.

2. Turtle in Paradise, Jennifer L. Holm - visit Key West, Florida as you meet eleven-year-old Turtle and her interesting family. Staying with relitives she's never met, Turtle discovers the changes that 1935 brings to her life, and her summer.

3. The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall - meet the Penderwick sisters, and their dog Hound as they go on an exciting adventure full of laughter, embarassment, love, and friendship. When they meet Jeffery, a young boy on their vacation to Arundrel their summer goes for an exciting twist.

4. The Best Last Days of Summer, Valerie Hobbs - a summer of baking cookies, making pottery, and canoeing awaits Lucy in this novel. The month of August means spending time with her Grandmother in her rustic lake house. But when Grams starts getting forgetful, Lucy wonders if her summers will ever be the same again.

5. Touch Blue, Cynthia Lord - Tess lives on a small island off the coast of Maine, and when the state plans to shut down her schoolhouse, the island comes together to come up with a plan to save it. Tess leaves her hope in the hands of luck, and a surprising new addition to their family.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to Off The Shelf!

I am new to blogging, but have been a follower of many for a long time. On this blog, you can find  reviews, organizational tips, upcoming releases, guest bloggers and much, much, more.

Reading is my favorite pastime. On the left hand corner of this blog, I will keep you updated as to what I'm currently reading. Need suggestions? Check out My Pix List, which will include favorite authors, series, and novels.

Feel free to comment, and I will happily reply!