Monday, June 30, 2014

Thoughts On: Skink--No Surrender

I love Car Hiaasen's books and Skink, No Surrender was no exception. (Although I am still very partial to Chomp). In this book, the beloved character of the former governor of Florida and vehement if unpredictable environmental activist teams up with a teenage boy attempting to find his abducted cousin.

Richard comes across Skink on the beach where he is impersonating a turtle nest in order to catch a poacher. Not that he turns the bad guy into the authorities or anything. And despite Skink's disturbing actions and appearance, Richard trusts the man and tells him all about his cousin, Malley, and her disappearance. So Skink investigates and then reports back with news that Malley is in more danger than previously realized. What follows is a desperate chase into the wilds of Florida where Richard, Skink and Malley face off against weather, crocodiles, and the kidnapper.

Skink is an extremely interesting character, and one I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Hiaasen discuss at the BEA Children's Authors and Illustrators breakfast. I can't believe people now send him roadkill recipes. Actually, I can. But I just love that this means Skink is such a beloved (am I really describing him like that) character.

***ARC received at BEA.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thoughts on: Stone Cove Island

When a violent hurricane reeks havoc on the tourist destination of Stone Cove Island, a decades old mystery has come back to haunt the islanders.

Eliza finds a cryptic note while cleaning up the island's lighthouse. Starting an investigation she learns that this may be an important clue in solving the murder of her mother's childhood best friend. But the islanders don't want the investigation to begin again and by asking around she may be putting herself in danger.

I give this book 4 stars because it is compelling and interesting to someone from New England. There are lots of places like Stone Cove Island out here. But, Suzanne Myers wrapped up the story too cleanly. Or maybe not cleanly at all. I don't want to write any spoilers but while the ending was believable I thought some of the reactions were not in character.

***ARC received at BEA.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thoughts on: Stronger Than You Know

I was so glad I was able to read this book!

Joy has finally found a safe home with people who care about her. Her mom never let her leave their trailer, she and her friends abused Joy for years. Her aunts home is safe, but it will take some time for her to understand and learn to trust.

This is a beautiful story of strength. 4 Stars.

**ARC received at BEA.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thoughts On: Half My Facebook Friends are Ferrets

Half My Facebook Friends are Ferrets by J.A. Buckle is an easy fast paced glimpse into the life of a teenage boy.

Funny and entertaining, I was left with a few questions. Such as, why are half is friends ferrets?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thoughts On: The Art of Secrets

I was expecting a very different story when I picked up James Klise's new novel The Art of Secrets.

This is a story of a community trying to help a family who lost everything in a fire. Actually it is a story of how a community sabotaged each other and suspected each other of one crime after another. It is also about a famous artist's never before seen work--a collection of paintings that could bring substantial money to the family in need and the school sponsoring the efforts to help them. But someone doesn't want that to happen.

A unique mystery told in many voices, Klise takes to heart the voice of the unreliable narrator(s). Who is honest, who is acting in their own best interests, and who is acting against the system?

Four stars.

***ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley.

Thoughts On: A Time to Dance

For some reason I always loved stories about people overcoming physical limitations. At least those that are done well. And A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman is one of these books.

Veda lives to dance. It is all she wants despite her parent's disapproval. But then after winning a prestigious competition, she is in a terrible accident that costs her a leg. Veda must then relearn to do everything that comes easy to her--from walking to her beloved dance. In well-written verse, Veda's struggle is a believable one filled with hope and promise.

Four stars.

***ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley for honest review.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Thoughts On: Coin Heist

I have decided that Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig is the perfect book for reluctant readers because it reminds me of so many movies. 
Four teens band together to try and save their elite school from closing after the former head of school embezzled most of the money. Their target? The United States Mint. Apparently they have really weak security. But it still takes this group months to plan their crime, create alibis, get the necessary tools and grapple with right and wrong. 

There is no clear message, but that does make the ending more of a surprise. I definitely thought it was going to end a different way. I won't share here because of spoilers, but this book will keep teen's interest. 

***ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley. 

Thoughts on: Surrounded by Sharks

Surrounded by Sharks was the second book I have read by Michael Northrop. The first was Trapped.

This book tells the story of three teens:

Davey: The older brother who just wanted a quiet place to read. And who may have disregarded a sign on an abandoned beach labeled: No Swimming.

Brando: The younger brother who regrets not alerting his parents as soon as he noticed Davey was missing and tries to make up for this error by finding his brother.

Drew: The tourist who saw Davey reading and who joins Brando in his rescue attempts.

Davey wasn't really going to go swimming. He saw the sign. But wading the water quickly changed to floating in deep water, being dragged out to sea and then of course surrounded by sharks.

Just in time for summer and shark week this book is action-packed, realistic and terrifying. The jumps in point-of-view character makes Davey's observation of the sharks nail-biting scary and suspenseful.

***ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley.

Thoughts On...The Eye of Zoltar

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde is the third book in the Chronicles of Kazam series. 

Snarky, witty, and amazing. I finished this book and before I could even thinking about the next book (how long do I have to wait!) I wanted to re-read this one.

Jennifer Strange and her band of eccentric magicians captured my heart once again. My favorite part of the series, the quarkbeast, did not take a leading role in this book and while that did make me very sad, the selfish yet startlingly economic savvy princess filled the void superbly. I hope we see lots more of her in the next few books.  

5 Stars. No Questions.

Programming Idea: Art contest for the creatures of the Un-united Kingdoms. 

***ARC received from publisher at BEA 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Thoughts on: if you want to see a whale

A boy and his dog experience the wonders and beauty of the world while searching for a whale.

The illustrations really capture the majesty of the simplest things as seen through a child's eyes. 

I really like it when the words in picture books tell a good story but are also enjoyable for grown ups. This one makes me want to go to the beach and not read (my second favorite beach activity after swimming) but instead look around and try to see the world as I did when I was five or six.

Thank you to those who created this book.