Wonder Show

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

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When Portia Remini, the youngest in a gypsy family is dropped off at the doorstep of McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls she knows she won’t be there long. She just has to wait long enough to, not only survive, but gather enough information to piece together the puzzle that is her father’s disappearance.

But surviving in Mr. McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girl isn’t easy. Surviving means not being chosen to be creepy McGreavy’s wife. It means mending uniforms. It means cleaning and cooking for an ungrateful man. It means keeping your mouth shut.

While Portia is busy surviving, she’s even busier searching the depths of Mr. McGreavy’s hidden closet searching for any clues as to where both her file and her long lost father are. She doesn’t find much, but the longer she searches, the more she believes, in her heart of hearts, that her father is traveling the country with a circus. But which circus, she isn’t sure.

So when Portia is out, running errands for Mr. McGreavy, and happens upon a card full of dates and local cities, she knows it’s fate intervening. Running away is her only option, her only way out. Soon she finds herself in the midst of Mosco’s Traveling Circus, scouring the crowds day in and day out for the one familiar face she longs for. But as days turn into nights, without her even realizing it, Portia finds the family she’s dreamed of right under her nose.

Wonder Show is author Hannah Barnaby’s debut novel. Full of surprise and wonder, this debut will leave readers in awe.

Admittedly, as I reader I went into Wonder Show for one reason, and one reason alone: the circus. As a girl who is fascinated with in the inner workings of life in a working circus, I knew this book was going to be my kind of read.

But any expectations I had were surpassed. Barnaby’s writing is stellar. Her way with words is lyrical, sentences flowing into paragraphs, paragraphs flowing into chapters flow free and seamlessly.

Beyond this Barnaby’s writing is so vivid readers will be instantly transported into Portia’s life. They’ll experience the ups and downs alongside her as she’s living at McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls. They’ll feel the adrenaline pumping through their veins as Portia pedals hard and fast away from a life of misery and towards a hopeful future. They’ll befriend all the freaks and geeks that Portia soon considers her family.

Beyond the vividness of Wonder Show, this is a book full of unforgettable characters. Portia is a girl who readers will easily relate to. She’s feisty, headstrong, and a true heroine.

But Portia isn’t the only character that jumps off Wonder Show’s pages. All of the sideshow/circus performers Barnaby has created leap off the pages and straight into reader’s hearts. On the outside they may look different, but at their core they are people that readers will see a little bit of themselves hidden within.

From the outside Wonder Show appears to be a story about a circus and a girl living within the confines of said circus. In reality though, this is a coming of age story – the story of a girl coming into her own – finding, not only her place, but a family.

There’s a whole lot to love about Barnaby’s Wonder Show. With surprise and wonder found on every single page, Wonder Show will keep readers engaged and in awe.

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Book of the Week: Ol’ Mama Squirrel

Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein

mamasquirrelPublished: 2013 by Nancy Paulsen Books

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

This book definitely lives up to all the buzz I’ve heard about it!

I like squirrels.

I really loved how author David Ezra Stein really managed to capture the fierce-ness of the mama squirrel.

Squirrels really do bark – or in this case CHOOK! CHOOK! CHOOK! (I’ve actually heard a squirrel bark.)

A barking or chooking squirrel is NOT a happy squirrel as readers will see through this book.

Mama squirrel is brave, she’s not afraid to go head to head with creatures that five times bigger than she is.

When cats get to close, she warns them.

When dogs start sniffing around her treat, she chooks them away. Leaving the dog to believe that that mama squirrel is NUTS! (get it?! ha ha )

She even chooks and waves her tiny fist at passing airplanes and red kits that get tangled within her tree’s limbs.

I love how reader’s really do get the sense that Mama Squirrel is a very loving character and squirrel.

I love Mama Squirrel’s catch phrase:  “And THAT takes care of that!”

But one day a giant grizzly bear appears, and he doesn’t seem to be afraid of Mama’s chooking.

I love how it appears that there’s a giant brown grizzly bear roaming the city-scape. He seemed so out of place, which made the whole situation funny.

Speaking of the grizzly, I particularly love the illustrations of the giant bear scaling the tree – he’s only mere inches off the ground.

Mama tries everything from clattering in the branches, chooking at the top of her squirrel lungs, and even pelting him with stored nuts.

The grizzly is one determined bear! You got to give him credit for that.

Mama Squirrel has no choice but to whip out the big guns. She gathers her squirrel babies, and seeks the help of all the mama squirrels in the area.

Mama squirrels are everywhere: by fire escapes, under train tracks, deep within the treetops, and at every corner of the park.

Together all the mama’s join forces and chook! chook! chook! that big mean bear out of there territory!

Mama Squirrel is a real hero. Animals and people alike will easily recognize that.

I love how this book shows that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

This book also shows the importance of working as a team.

The writing …. smart, sassy, with a hint of whimsy! Loved every minute of it.

This is a book for animal lovers of all ages.

The illustrations really capture the spirit of the story and the writing.

Author/Illustrator David Ezra Stein pays close attention to the finest details. For instance the character’s expressions are perfect. I really appreciated that aspect.

I love how all the animals are portrayed in a very humanistic aspect – making them easy to relate to and sympathize with.

This book will make kids laugh, a lot!

Story of a Girl

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

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Deanna Lambert made a mistake three years ago. A mistake that has changed her life in the worst way possible. A mistake that she’s still paying for.
She knew that hooking up with Tommy, her older brother’s stoner friend, wasn’t the smartest decision she’s ever made, but she certainly didn’t think it was the worst. After all, Tommy made her feel good, pretty, special even.
But when her father finds her in the backseat of Tommy’s beat-up car, in a rather “uncomfortable” position, she realizes that hooking up with Tommy was quite possibly the worst decision she made, and will ever make in her life.
Now, haunted by a father who can nearly make eye contact and a bad reputation all Deanna wants is to disappear.  But when she takes a summer job at a local pizza place she discovers more than just the fact that Tommy works there. She discovers, who she really is.
Story of a Girl, written by author Sara Zarr, is quick read that focuses on the realities of life. A quick read, this book will satisfy some, but not all reader’s tastes.
Zarr’s writing really is the shining star. Strong and simplistic, Zarr creates an atmosphere that reader will relate to, will believe, and ultimately will sympathize with.
However, her characters are not as strong as the her plot is. Main character Deanna comes off as rigid.  A character that has surrounded herself with the memories of her past, unable to move forward.
For me, Deanna often came off a whiney sixteen year old who takes the easy way out, blaming everyone else for her mistakes. It’s her father’s fault because he completely ignores her. It’s her best friend Jason’s fault because he’s in love with Leigh, not her. It’s Tommy’s fault because he was older and should have known better.
My biggest struggled with Zarr’s Story of a Girl was the fact that it was so short. Normally, length doesn’t matter to me, so long as the plot and the characters make up for it.  In the case of Story of a Girl, everything seemed rushed. Rushed with very little resolution.
I wanted to love Story of a Girl, but somewhere it fell short for me. I liked the premise of the plot and felt that the writing was strong. But the underdeveloped characters left me underwhelmed.
Even though this wasn’t my favorite read, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t the perfect read for someone else!

Let’s Celebrate!

Happy Birthday BookBandit Blog!

That’s right, today The BookBandit Blog turns a whopping three years old!

Like a proud mama looking back on the life of her child, I can honestly say I can’t believe The BookBandit Blog is already three years old!  It’s been a whirlwind three years, chock full of highs (and lows), great books (and some not so great), over three hundred posts – a mix of book reviews, author interviews, and of course book related ramblings.

Even though a lot of reading, writing, and overall work has gone into creating and maintaining The BookBandit Blog, this blog wouldn’t be what it is without you. To all the readers and subscribers I want to say THANK YOU for the continued support and reading.

To celebrate The BookBandit Blog turning three years old, I’ll be hosting a giveaway, a chance for three lucky winners to win one of these prize packs:

Prize Pack # 1burnforburn

A hardcover copy of Burn for Burn written by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, a flyer promoting the book signed by the two authors themselves, and an on-the-go bottle of Burn for Burn sun block lotion.

Prize Pack # 2

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A hardcover copy of What Happened to Goodbye written and signed by author Sarah Dessen, two bottles of nail polish that match the beautiful book cover, and some book marks.

Prize Pack # 3

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A hardcover copy of The Gathering by Kelly Armstrong, a bookplate signed by Leanna Renee Hieber,  an Associate Member card for Her Majesty’s Association of Melancholy Bastards, and a bookmark for The last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde.

The BookBandit Blog Birthday Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only, ages thirteen (13) and up.

Birthday Giveawy will run from April 3rd, 2013 (at noon) until April 10th, 2013 (at 11:59 p.m). To enter simply leave a comment on THIS BLOG POST ONLY! telling what was the best birthday gift you have ever received.  When leaving a comment please make sure to include which prize pack you are most interested in, as well as a VALID e-mail address.

Three winners will be selected via random number generator, and will be notified on April 11th, 2013 via e-mail. If no response is received by April 12th, 2013 new winner(s) will be selected.

Thanks for Celebrating with The BookBandit Blog! Good Luck!

Book of the Week: Madam President

Madam President by Lane Smith

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Published: 2008 by Hyperion Book CH

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

I love how Madam President reads up on all the presidents that were in office before she was.

Presidents are very busy … busy reading in bed that is!

Executive orders are really breakfast orders.  Waffles please!

Daily briefs is just a fancy name for to-do lists.

Kissing babies, as Madam President points out, is a VERY important part of the job.

And I love how the baby is waving a tiny American flag.

Madam President excels at bring peace – between cats and dogs that is!

Madam President has a secretary for EVERYTHING!

The list of secretaries:  Secretary of State (in the shape of Texas), Secretary of Treasury (a pink piggy bank), Secretary of Agriculture (Mr. Potato Head), Secretary of the Interior (the human skeleton), Secretary of Fantasy (a rainbow color unicorn – obviously!), Secretary of Defense (a card displaying a soldier), Secretary of Pizza (a pizza chef – I think ALL Presidents need a Secretary of Pizza), Secretary of Energy (a smiley face lamp), Secretary of Naps (a sleeping sock monkey), Secretary of Education (a very wise looking owl), Secretary of Pets Who Should Be in Their Cages (a small bird), Secretary of Soccer (a soccer ball sporting a cowboy hat), Secretary of Transportation (a toy duck on wheels), Secretary of Health (a stuffed animal dressed as a doctor), Secretary of Undersea Exploration (a gold fish), Secretary of Dance (a ballerina twirling inside a jewelry box), and the Secretary of Secretaries (a small, red typewriter).

Our Madam President really does capture all the qualities of a President: she’s a commander, she’s fearless, and a BIG CHEESE!

Her pet cat is her secret service agent! And yes, he’s wearing a pair of black shades! Men in Black style!

I love how this book shows that a President’s work is never really done.

I feel like this book really did touch upon all the important aspects of a President’s life.

The illustrations were simply charming. In fact they are the reasons why I picked this book up, and checked it out from the library.

The writing was really strong, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. I really liked, and appreciated that aspect. Young readers too will appreciate this aspect.

I think this would be a great book to introduce what/who a President is and does.

I love the red, white, and blue color scheme that runs throughout the entire book. It’s a patriotic touch that does not go unnoticed.