When it Happens


When it Happens by Susane Colasanti

There’s only two things Sara wants for her senior year: to get into the college of her dreams and to be Dave’s girlfriend. Getting into her choice school is practically in the bag. The only thing left to bag is Dave.

And Dave is interested. Even if they’ve only talked once during an assembly – last year. Even if he didn’t call her all summer long. Sara has it all worked out. She’s visualized it.

She’s sent her visualization up to the heavens in a tiny pink bubble. But what Sara didn’t visualize was Tobey, a boy she’s known forever, but barely knows.

Tobey knows Sara’s the one he’s meant to be with. He knows he can find something real with her. The problem is convincing Sara that he’s what’s right for her, not Dave. Sure he’s popular, good-looking, and on the top of his game. But he’s a jerk, who only wants one thing from Sara.

How can Tobey show Sara that Dave’s wrong for her? How can Tobey show Sara that he’s the one who’s right for her?

Written by author Susane Colasanti, When it Happens is a charming book that is the first of many charming books written by this author.

When it Happens is told from two perspectives. Told from both Sara and Tobey’s perspectives readers get the chance to hear the two sides of this one very charming story. Both Sara and Tobey’s voices are conversational and authentic. Tobey’s especially. Colasanti has managed to capture the essence of how guys communicate – with other guys, with girls, and within their own heads.

Colasanti’s writing is captivating. Not only is her writing style uniquely her own, it’s well crafted. Readers will be sucked into the short, yet insightful chapters, the quick paced dialog, and the possibility of finding something real.

Even stronger than Colasanti’s writing characters. Sara is the best friend we want, while Tobey is the guy we are all drooling over. What makes When it Happen’s characters pop off the page is that they are relatable, they’re honest, and they’re emotional characters.

Colasanti’s knack for capturing teens in their natural element is astounding. She has a way of turning the trials and tribulations of high school from scary to laugh out loud funny. When it Happens isn’t just another fluffy love story. It’s a substantial love story that is full of deep characters and complex situations. It’s smart, funny, and so much more!

Book of the Week: The Cloud Spinner

Book of the Week, Children's

The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool Illustrated by Alison Jay

Published: 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love how this book just popped out to me from the library shelf. Almost calling me.

This is an understated story, but it speaks volume.

Main characters are important, and in this book, the clouds are some of the main characters.

The Cloud Spinner is a story with a magical feel. Starting off readers will just know that this is going to be a special story.

All of the colors featured within the pages of this book are all earth tones. Which is important because, I feel, it tells that this is as earthy story.

I love how the hill in which the main character, the little cloud spinner, lives upon has a face. And it’s smiling! I love how this illustration alone  welcomes readers into the story.

This story reminded me of one of my favorite stories, Rumpelstiltskin, or at least the whole straw to gold aspect of it. In this case clouds to thread.

I love that there’s a loom in this book. It shows, not the magical side, but the technical side of the story.
This book also shows the importance of traditions and keeping those traditions alive. For example, the boy’s mother has taught him how to weave, and how not to take advantage of the clouds and the natural resources.

I love the king’s horse, it’s speckled and kind of egg shaped. It makes me laugh.

What makes me laugh even more is the king himself, he’s even more egg-shaped than his speckled horse.

The book shows the importance of seeing the error in your ways.

Nothing good comes from being greedy.

The little cloud spinner is a hard worker.

I love how this story has a bit of science woven into the plot. With no clouds left in the sky, there’s no rain. And with no rain, the animals are thirsty and the crops are drying up.

I love how all the illustrations have a faint crackle over them. I think it shows how dry the land is because of the lack of rain.

The writing is outstanding. The illustrations are beautiful. Both relying on one another to make one amazing picture book.

I feel that as much as children will love and appreciate this book, adult readers will love and appreciate it even more.

This would make a great bedtime story.

I love how the young princess is smart, witty, and doesn’t rely on her father’s power. She’s a real leader. And unlike the King isn’t materialistic.

This book also shows that two unlikely people can be the best of friends.

Rain is important to the land and the people of the land.

Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop

Contests, Random

Hey Readers!

Guess what readers!? I’m participating in another AWESOME giveaway hop hosted by Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and the Page Turners Blog.

So what’s up for grabs this time around?  One winner will win a vamp-tastic prize which includes:

A hardcover copy of Melissa De La Cruz’s Bloody Valentine, A Blue Bloods Novel. And a Drink, Slay, Love (By Sarah Beth Durst) bookmark.

The giveaway hop is open from May 25th (12:01 a.m.) thru May 31st (11:59 p.m.), 2012. Entering is simple: just leave a comment on THIS POST (and this post alone) telling me what your favorite paranormal read is. With your comment please make sure to leave a VALID e-mail address.

One winner will be selected via random number generator (random.org) and will be contacted via e-mail on June 1st, 2012. Winner will have until May 3rd. If a response is NOT received by end of day of May 3rd another winner will be selected.

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only, ages 13 and older.

Be sure to check out all the other great blogs participating in the hop here!

Good luck and happy hopping!

Beneath the Meth Moon


Beneath the Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

Before the moon Laurel was a normal girl. A girl who had dreams and aspirations of one day becoming a writer. A girl who had friends and family. But that was before. Before Hurricane Katrina. Before her, her daddy, and younger brother Jessie left to go stay with her aunt. Before the water washed away her home. Before the water washed away her mamma and grandmamma. Before life as she knew it ended.

But when new boyfriend T-Boom turns Laurel onto Moon a new life opens up to her. A life she never knew was possible. Feeling higher than life, the moon allows her to move forward and to forget the past.

Her new life means forgetting. Forgetting the past, the people she loves and who love her, forgetting herself. Is Laurel strong enough to shake her habit, or will she die before she has the chance to?

Written by acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson, Beneath the Meth Moon is a gut-wrenchingly painful, yet beautiful examination of addiction.

Just under two hundred pages Woodson’s has brought the life and struggles of a meth addict to light. These struggles aren’t pretty, they are gritty and often ugly. These struggles aren’t easy, they’re ruthless and full of frightful emotions. These struggles, as Woodson presents them, are startlingly realistic.

Woodson’s writing is sharp and purposeful. Beyond that there is a poetic quality to her writing. And even though as hopeless as Laurel’s story is, there is a hopeful tone to the overall book. As the story bounces from one point in time to a completely different, unrelated point, readers won’t only understand Laurel’s life as a meth addict, but will come to appreciate the brutal honesty in which her story is told.

Laurel, who’s often portrayed as weak due to her crippling meth addiction, is a strong character. Not just strong, but memorable. Reader’s will carry her story with them, in the minds and hearts long after the book has ended. At first glance Laurel often appears helpless, lost, and weak. But the perseverance that lives inside of her makes her a powerful character that is determined to make a better life for herself dispite her problems.

Beneath the Meth Moon is a one of a kind book. Reader’s will appreciate Woodson’s delicate handling of the subject matter, and will applaud her honesty.

Book of the Week: Lost and Found

Book of the Week, Children's

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

Published: 2005 by Philomel

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love Oliver Jeffers’ work, and I love penguin. This is a win/win book for me.

I love how Jeffers’ books often start our randomly, as if they have no point, but end on a meaningful note.

The main character, the little boy, is familiar to Jeffers’ readers. It seems as if he has appeared in other books. There’s a comfort to his familiarity.

The little boy is determined. He doesn’t give up, and he doesn’t slack off.

I love how this little boy can be any one of Jeffers’ readers. He’s not only familiar, but he’s also relatable.

This book shows an array of emotions – not just from the little boy, but from the penguin as well.

This book does a great job at illustrating how animals – penguins – have feelings just like people. Just because they cannot verbalize those feelings doesn’t mean they aren’t present. It really does show just how sensitive animals are.

The little boy is an inquisitive character. When he sets out to find out where penguins live, he’s determined to find it. No matter how big of a challenge, he’s always up for it.

The penguin reminds me of the lamb in Mary Had A Little Lamb. Like the lamb followed Mary, the penguin followed the little boy everywhere.

I think this book isn’t only about showing an array of emotions, but also shows how emotions can be misinterpreted.

I love how there’s a Lost and Found office, and how some birds just ignore people.

Lost and Found is a creative, imaginative story.

When he finally finds out where penguins live, he sets out on a new mission, to bring he lost friend home.

The little boy is a strong character. He’s fearless, and he’s loyal.

I love how they are going to sail all the way to the South Pole in a very small rowboat.

The little boy loves telling stories. The penguin loves listening to them. I love how this book suggests the power and the importance of oral tradition.

I love how all the colors featured in Lost and Found are various shades of blue. From light blue to dark midnight blue, every shade of blue is accounted for.

The writing is simple. But the story speaks volumes.

At the core this is a story about friendship, and the importance of friends.

I love how these two characters are dependant on one another.

All the illustrations are outstanding. My favorite one just may be the one with the penguin sailing the ocean in an umbrella.

Readers will quickly realize that the penguin isn’t sad because he’s lost, but because he’s lonely.

It sows how friends help make everything better.

It also shows that life isn’t fun when you’re living life alone. It reminds me of what someone smart once told me: “We weren’t meant to live this life alone.”

I love how this book, without saying it, has a happily ever after ending.

I love how this book also shows that friends comes in all different shapes, colors, forms, and sizes. And that friends can be found in the most unlikely place.

I think this book shows the give and take of a relationship, and how relationships are unique because the people involved in them are unique.

No denying, Oliver Jeffers may be one of my most favorite picture book authors…of all time!

Winter Town


Winter Town by Stephen Emond

Evan and Lucy share a long history together – they’ve shared secrets, dreams, and a childhood full of memories. But when her parents divorce Lucy is forced to leave her life and her best friend behind in New England while she’s to make a new on in Georgia.

Lucy hates Georgia, the only thing she really likes about it is that once a year – winter break – she gets to leave for two whole weeks to visit her father, but more importantly Evan. But when Lucy finally lands in Evan’s snow-filled New England both of them don’t seem to live up to the memories they have of each other.

For one thing, Lucy’s changed – drastically. She’s chopped off her flowing locks. She’s swapped her preppy style for a new – all black goth style. And she’s replaced her once genuine smile for permanent scowl. And it’s not just the new look, it’s the new, bad attitude.

And than there’s Evan. For as long as Lucy’s known him he’s been a talented artist, always hiding his head in a sketchbook or daydreaming about adventures in the land he and Lucy made up when they were little. Now, he’s given up his dreams for a safe and secure future, a future that his father wants, not what he wants.

Lucy and Evan have changed, a lot. But can their friendship survive all these changes?

Winter Town written by author/illustrator Stephen Emond is a compelling examination of friendship, life, love, and the loss of one’s self. It’s honest approach will make readers think hard about their own lives, and their own friendships.

Emond’s writing isn’t only strong, it is also engaging. And I say this even though I dislike books told from a third person perspective. I often find, for myself as a reader, that third persona narration removed, and as if I’m an outsider who is never let in on the story. This is NOT the case with Winter Town. Even though I was the outside looking in, Emond’s skillful writing made me feel as if I was right in the middle of the story, that Lucy and Evan weren’t just friends, but my personal friends.

Black and white images accompany Emond’s writing. These illustrations don’t just enhance the story, but they also expand upon it. They give insight and perspective to the two sides of Evan and Lucy’s story. Reader’s will also get the chance, through this amazing illustrations, to step inside Evan’s mind and art work.

As engaging the writing, as alluring the illustrations what makes Emond’s Winter Town a stand out read were main characters Evan and Lucy. They are polar opposites in many respects: Evan is straight laced while Lucy’s rebellious side often shines brightly. Evan is confident, while Lucy only pretends to be. Evan is pretty well-adjusted for a seventeen year old, while Lucy is still trying to figure things out. Both characters were well realized, well crafted, and beyond relatable. Reader’s will find a piece of themselves within both Evan and Lucy.

Full of a mixture of both serious and laugh out loud moments, Winter Town is truly an enjoyable read.

Big News About One of My Fave (New) Authors

Food For Thought, Random

Hello Readers!

It’s May 15th!

And do you know what May 15th is?! It’s the day that The Near Witch is released in paperback. To celebrate the paperback release of this AWESOME book, “The Ash-Born Boy” is finally posted at the Disney Hyperion Website!

So, what is “The Ash-Born Boy” you ask?

It’s a free story that author Victoria Schwab wrote as a Thank You to her fans, and to answer one burning question: “Who was Cole before he come to Near?”

Have you already read The Near Witch (I have! Review to be posted soon!) Well, if you have “The Ash-Born Boy” is guaranteed to change the way you see Cole. If you haven’t, well, what are you waiting for!? Get on it! But don’t fear, The Ash-Born Boy contains no Near Witch spoilers. So either way, you should really read Cole’s story.

If you would rather wait to read The Near Witch first, don’t worry! Cole’s story will stay up on Disney Hyperion’s website, and if it ever comes down, Victoria Schwab will carve out a space for it on her own website. It will AlWAYS be available, and it will ALWAYS be free.

Cole’s story isn’t the only goodie to go along with the paperback release. In the paperback itself, you’ll find the first chapter of Victoria Schwab’s new book, The Archived, which doesn’t come out until January (2013)!

What are you waiting for?!

Help Victoria celebrate today by checking out “The Ash-Born Boy”, and don’t forget to buy/order/pick up your very own paperback copy of The Near Witch – you won’t regret it!

Book of the Week: Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All

Book of the Week, Children's

Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All by Peter Catalanotto

Published: 2012 by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love that this picture book had a comic/graphic novel feel to it.

From the start until the very end there’s a sense of adventure.

This book shows how two seemingly similar children are actually vastly different. To me, this is important, it shows how everyone is unique and has their own personality. As adults we shouldn’t urge kinds to conform, but we should push them to stand out, to be their own person.

I love question boy. He’s not afraid to ask a question (or ten). He reminds me a lot of myself.

Both Question Boy and Little Miss Know-It-All are relatable characters. Both children and adults will find a little bit of themselves within these great characters.
I think this book clearly illustrates how (some, not all) adults response to being asked a lot of questions: ignore the questions all together, or say they don’t know.

I love how every character in the book from the “Wonder” waitress to the paper boy is dressed in full superhero gear.

Like comics/graphic novels, this text is made up of a lot of dialog.

I love the questions that Question Boy asks: could the whole moon fit in a garbage truck? Where exactly is the oil tank?

The moment Question Boy meets Little Miss Know-It-All is like the classic meeting of two rivals.

I love how Little Miss Know-It-All’s superhero costume is a pink tutu and a tiara.

Little Miss Know-It-All isn’t afraid or ashamed to be her know-it-all self.

She can answer all of Question Boy’s questions, all except one, which is her kryptonite: why?

Other, adult characters, seem to get annoyed with Little Miss Know-It-All, but I appreciated how smart she was.

I love how this two rivals, join forces. The world will be a better place for this union.

I love the lush colors that fill this picture book. Even though they are subdued, they make the illustrations pop.

The writing is quick and sharp.

I love how this story grabs your attention from the very start of the book.

This book shows the important of, not only friendship, but teamwork.

This is a great book, for children (obviously) but also for us kids at heart. Honestly, it made me wish there were books like this when I was little.

Oddfellow’s Orphanage


Oddfellow’s Orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin

Newly orphaned Delia doesn’t know what to make of Oddfellow’s Orphanage. She doesn’t know if she’ll fit in, if she’ll be accepted as one of the inhabitants, if she’ll feel right at home. But as the newest addition to the orphanage of the odd and abandoned, Delia quickly learns what it’s liked to be loved and cared for.

In between fairy tale and cryptozoology classes Delia, not only makes friends with the other kids at the orphanage, but also finds time to go on many adventures. Adventures like a sea monster sightseeing trip and finding an endangered species right in the orphanage’s backyard.

There, Delia learns about life, about friendship, but most importantly about love and acceptance. It’s there that Delia learns that blood doesn’t make a family, it’s the people and the lives they share that does.

Oddfellow’s Orphanage, written by artist Emily Winfield Martin, is a debut children’s book that is uniquely charming and delightfully sweet.

Martin has created a book that is full of whimsy, but unfortunately falls short on plot. Oddfellow’s Orphanage is a straight up story, an account of the character’s lives within the orphanage itself. It lacked in having a visible problem and solution for said problem. As a reader I found there was no tension built, no twists, turns, or mystery. But what it did include – mini biographies of the characters, and even adventures the characters have with each other – was well written, and attention grabbing.

The illustrations featured in Oddfellow’s Orphanage are exquisite.Even though they are not bright or flashy – no bright colors or larger than life pictures – but they are warm and inviting. All the illustrations are done in a sepia tone lending to the old-time feel of the story and the book as a whole. Oddfellow’s Orphanage often offers readers portraits of the already vivid character, and depictions of the action-filled bits of the story. Young readers will love the illustrations, but older readers will adore them too because of the beautiful artistry found within each and every picture.

Oddfellow’s Orphanage may fall short in some areas, but the one thing is isn’t short on is love. Even though this is a short chapter book readers will be able to see the love and the attention to detail author and artist Martin has put into this well crafted book.

Book of the Week: Kali’s Song

Book of the Week, Children's

Kali’s Song by Jeanette Winter

Published: 2012 by Schwartz & Wade

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love how this book is set in prehistoric times, back when giant-sized dinos roamed the Earth, yet there are no dinos to be found within this story.

I like how instead of focusing on dinosaurs (which a lot of picture books – great picture books – do) it focuses on other animals of the time. For example, the Wooly Mammoth.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I love end papers. I really love the end papers of this book, they depict all the hills and valleys in which Kali lives.

I think this book shows how parents have expectations of their children, and children in turn try to live up to those expectations. But also shows that parents will love their children whether or not expectations are met. In Kali’s case, he’s expected to hunt, but even though he tries, he just can’t bring himself to do that.

Kali’s a musician.

I love how this book felt like a history lesson. It didn’t discuss, but depicted cave drawings, how they survived off the land and animals, even who shaman’s are and do.

Kali is ingenious. I love how he turns his bow into an instrument to kill into an instrument of music, to bring joy to not only himself, his family, but also to the animals and stars.

I think this book shows the fear of not living up to what is expected of you too. For example, on the day of the big hunt, readers will sense that Kali was scared.

I love the colors used to illustrate this book. They are all earth toned colors – greyish blue, soft greens, grainy browns, etc..

I love the illustrations. They are simple, yet intricate.

As I was reading this I felt like there was a history lesson to be learned.

I love how the book chronicles Kali – from a small boy getting ready to go on his first hunt to an elderly shaman who still loves to make music on his bow – for him and the stars. I think this shows progression, and natural evolution.

I feel like this book also, not in so many words or illustrations, shows the circle of life.

I also liked how when Kali’s father and hunting buddies heard him playing the bow, and seeing how the animals responded, that they were all mystified. And that they saw the animals as more than just objects to be hunted.

I loved how Kali’s mother, a cave artist, works Kali and his musical bow into her paintings. I also liked how the author made sure to mention that the paints were “colors from the earth.”

At one point towards the end of the book Kali is shown, as a grown man, in full shaman wear. I think this illustrations the importance of believe and customs.

I love how when the book is completely open, it depicts Kali playing his bow to a full-sized wooly mammoth.