Book of the Week: Daisy Gets Lost

Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka (Received advanced copy from publisher at BEA 2013)

Published: October 2013 by Schwartz & Wade

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

Daisy loves to play fetch. Back and forth, back and forth chasing that large blue ball.

Back and forth, back and forth until Daisy spots a small brown squirrel with an oversized tail.

Daisy prefers to chase after squirrel’s more than chasing balls.

The little squirrel doesn’t appear to be so scared of the white fluffy dog that is chasing behind it. Instead it seems amused. Just proving that squirrels are fuzzy troublemakers.

I love how this book is (mostly) wordless.

Daisy cannot climb trees, which really puts a hitch in her plan of actually “getting” the squirrel.

But Daisy doesn’t actually want to “get” the squirrel, she doesn’t want to do anything bad to it.

Daisy soon finds herself lost in the midst of the park in which she was playing. Her owner is scared.

So much so that she looks like she’s about to cry.

She goes to find Daisy, but all she finds is her big blue ball.

Daisy too is scared.

So much so that she cries out for help.

Because of her lost cries, Daisy’s owner eventually finds her.

They are reunited, and they are both happy! It shows on both of their faces.

I love how this book shows the relationship between humans and their pets.

Anyone who has a pet knows this. I personally do not have a pet, but I know what it feels like to love a pet like it’s my own.

I love the artwork that fills Daisy Gets Lost. It’s illustrated in true, classic Chris Raschka style.

Speaking of the illustrations, I particularly love the colors that Raschka used throughout the book: blue, yellow, green, brown, etc.. It’s all very Earth-y.

It’s a short and sweet read that will capture, not only reader’s attention, but their hearts as well. Beyond that, this is a book that young readers will love to read through over and over again.

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Read – a – Thon … of Sorts Update # 3

Hello Readers!

There’s a hitch in my plan!

But before we get into the hitch, let’s talk about basic updates!

It’s August 16th and I am officially sixteen days into my read – a – thon challenge. I have to say, up until this point I think I’ve been doing well. I’ve nixed the whole 100 pages a day bit. Why? Well, honestly it is just too much for me. I have a full-time job, a life, and quite frankly I like to sleep. Besides that, I’m in the midst of physically and mentally preparing myself for my very first overseas adventure. So there’s a lot going on!

But!

I’m three and a half books down at this point. In a mere sixteen days I cannot believe that I actually read three and a half (!) books! Especially considering one of the last books I’ve read took me almost an entire month to read (I’m not saying which book, since it will be reviewed at some point or another in due time). To recount I’ve read:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Falling In Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
and am currently just over halfway through with my top-secret read (which I’ll have you know if close to four hundred pages!)

Speaking of the top-secret read, I’ve decided to have a bit of fun with you, my dear readers. Below is a picture of a small portion of the cover. If anyone could identify/guess the title and/or author I will tell you what my top-secret read it – but I will not tell you why I am reading it (besides the fact that so far, it’s a pretty darn good read!)

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Moving right along …..

Now onto the hitch! My good friend and fellow blogger Miss Print and I have decided that we should join forces and do a synchronized read. Kind of like synchronized swimming minus the water and swim suits … and the theatrics. I don’t want to let myself, my readers, and my self-imposed read – a – thon down. But I really, really want to synchronize read with Miss Print.  Mainly because we’re BFFs and it would be fun and all, but partly  because of the book: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell! (You don’t know it, readers, since I haven’t written my review of Eleanor & Park (yet! I’m still working it all out), but I absolutely adore Ms. Rowell! So Fangirl is a definite priority. )

You’re wondering what am I going to do? Do I read Fangirl in place of my last read – a – thon book, which by the way is Robin Wasserman’s Lust? Nope! As I was trying to figure out what to do I thought to myself – it’s a bit crazy, a bit unconventional, and knowing myself will probably be a bit confusing – but why not read two at one time?!?
So there you have it readers, the update and the hitch in the original plan. I’m not sure how reading two books at once will play out, but I’m going to give it a go. (True story, when I was in Grad school it was completely normal for me to read at least two books at one time. Looking back I haven’t a clue as to what I read, so I’ve done away with that since graduating.)

I feel like I’ve been talking way too much about what I’m reading. Readers, what are you reading?

The Boy on the Bridge

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford (Received Advanced Readers Copy from BEA 2013)

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Laura Reid has dreamed of visiting Russia ever since she learned about the gritty and gruesome history in her grade school history class. Now a college student, Laura’s opportunity to study in Leningrad Russia is a dream come true.

So what if her time there takes place during the war? So what if the only reason a Russian person will take interest in her is for a one way ticket out of there? So what if there are so many rules, regulations, and boundaries in place she’ll never get to really experience the Russia she’s so longed to experience? All that matters is that her dream of visiting this vivid country is finally coming true.

But soon, Laura finds that Russia isn’t as vivid as she hoped. It’s cold, bitterly so. It’s grey, and unforgiving. Where’s the art? The college parties? The culture? Laura wants more. So when a chance meeting with a boy on the bridge occurs, Laura jumps at her chance to throw herself into, not only the Russian culture and experience, but a new relationship.

Being with Alexi, also known as Alyosha, means breaking rules and overstepping boundaries. Through him Laura experiences the Russia she’s always known to exist in her heart – the Russia full of art rather than soldiers. The Russia full of parties where Russians and Americans meet and experience one another.

Beyond that, Laura experiences love – truly, madly, and deeply. She loves Alyosha just as much as he loves her. Or so she thinks ….

The Boy on the Bridge written by author Natalie Standiford is a realistic romance set against the often chilly – literally and figuratively speaking – Russia during the Cold War.

Standiford’s a pro already. So as expected, the writing that fills the pages is strong. Besides that, it’s descriptive. Through her masterful writing, Standiford transports readers into a different time and place. Reader’s will not have to imagine the life Laura was living in Russia, they will experience alongside her. Laura often commented about the harsh weather. Reading, you can’t help but shiver. She often commented on the drab sky. Reading, you can’t help by picture the grey clouds hanging overhead. She often commented on Alyosha’s beautiful looks. Reading, you can’t help be feel as if you know him from the inside out.

Even though the writing was strong and descriptive, I found , that there were many predictable moments within this short book. Those predictabilities did not spoil the book, but ultimately left me wishing the storyline had been taken in a different direction. As a reader I wanted some more twists and turns. I wanted to be taken by surprise, just as Laura was the first day she met Alyosha on the bridge. I wanted something … unexpected.

The Boy on the Bridge is a character driven book. Flawed as they may be, Standiford characters are honest, and true. Easy to sympathize with and easier to root for, Laura is a great leading lady. She’s an average girl, exploring the many possibilities that life has to offer her, just as most college students do. She may be naive at times, and readers may not always agree with her decisions, but she’s real.

I enjoyed Laura as a character, no matter how frustrated I got at her. Admittedly there were times I wanted to shake her, but when the story panned out as a whole, I understood why she made the decisions she did. Beyond Laura, I absolutely loved her roommate Karen. She was funky, wise beyond her years, and had absolutely no problem speaking her mind. I wish that she had more play time. Personally, I wish she had her own book! She was a great sidekick, and beyond that a great friend to main character Laura.

Alyosha, the male lead of The Boy on the Bridge, is another main character that is both well crafted and easy to relate to. What makes him so is the fact that he’s a character that is full of emotions that readers pick up the moment he is introduced to the story. With that, however, I found moments of suspicion. I believed that Alyosha cared deeply for Laura, but I also believed that there was an ulterior  motives as well.

Standiford’s The Boy on the Bridge is a quick read, and one that reader’s will enjoy through and through.

Top Ten Tuesdays! Top Ten Fave Books with a Realistic Setting

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(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. The above image was taken by me*.)

Readers, dare I say it: I’m a bit of a reading snob. That is, I tend to read what I like and only what I like rarely stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m trying to change, but change as we all know isn’t easy. So when this Top Ten Tuesday Topic arose, I knew just what setting I wanted to focus this list on: the real world (and no, I don’t mean the MTV reality show!)

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

3. Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

4. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

5. Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

6. Winter Town by Stephen Emond

7. Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

8. Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

9. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

10. Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm

* The photo was taken and altered by me. Please do NOT steal it. If, for any reason you wish to use it, please ask and give me credit for it. Thanks!

Book of the Week: If You Want to See a Whale

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Published: 2013 by Roaring Brook Press

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

There’s a surprise hidden beneath the dust jacket. The actual book is blue material, and has a whale emblazoned on it! So pretty!

I’m a big fan of creatures that live in the sea, so I knew from the start that me and this book would be a match made in book heaven!

I love the use of green and blue through out the book. It really does give the book a very ocean-y feel.

Not to brag or anything, but my copy of this book is signed by the one, the only, the illustrator Erin E. Stead. I’m such a fan of hers!

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, books with nameless characters, I think, are great. Why? Because, I feel, that it allows for readers to step into the shoes of the character.

There are many ways to see a whale.

FIrst you need to sit by a window that is looks out into the vast expanse of the sea.

I like that the water in this book is referred to as “sea” instead of ocean.

There’s a dog in the book. I’m a real sucker for dogs in books.

The dog plays the crucial role of sidekick.

Waiting to see a whale means there will be a lot of waiting involved.

While waiting you can wonder, you can pass time, you can even mistake teeny-tiny birds for whales.

Whale watching, or rather waiting to see a whale can make one very sleepy. To remedy this, make sure to sit in a “not-so-comfy chair.”

There will always be obstacles in trying to see a whale. Roses get in the way – showy roses who don’t like whales because … well they aren’t pink, and they don’t smell sweet.

Beware of the roses, they will distract you.

What’s that? A pirate ship, you say! Well there will not be any whales there. I can guarantee it!

Did you know that pelicans smile? I didn’t know that before reading this book.

I love how this book really does ignite the reader’s imaginations.

Even though you really shouldn’t whale watch in the clouds, you may find a few whales (and other sea creatures for that matter) floating above.

Sometimes you have to look down, not out, in order to see a whale.

And other times, the whale will see you!

I loved the writing in this book. Author Julie Fogliano’s writing is strong, lyrical, and elegant.

Besides the words I also (obviously) loved the pictures! They are the perfect companions to the words.

I think this book would make a great bed time story.

I’m very happy to have this book in my own, personal library!

Read – A – Thon … of Sorts Update # 2

Hello Readers!

It’s August 10th, and I am currently ten days into my read – a – thon challenge.

Readers, I think I bit off more than I could chew. Going into this self-imposed challege I didn’t realize that reading one hundred (100) pages a day would be such a difficult task. If I had all the time in the world, it certainly WOULDN’T be a problem, but reality is I have a life – one that involves a full time job, friends, and family.  Beyond that I’ve been sleeping terribly so my desire to sleep outweighs my desire to read.

At this point I’m reading about fifty pages a day. So, not as much as I hope, but it’s better than nothing, right?!?

Even though I admittedly have not kept up with my one hundred pages a day promise, I feel that I am actually on track. Better than on track, dare I say it, I think I’m ahead of the game. To date, I have finished three books, and am making my way through the fourth.

Briefly….

Falling in Love with English Boys was a really fun read that took me by surprise. Readers, if you want a breezy summer romance, with a historical twist, this book is perfect for you.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery was a short and sweet read. I loved how the movie (which is one of my faves, but you already knew that, didn’t you?!) played in my head as I was reading along. The movie really did hit upon the major parts of the book, which is quite astonishing being that the book is a mere eighty-five (85) pages.

Boy Meets Boy is a really sweet romance that isn’t mushy or gushy. Just what I expected from a Levithan book!

Top Secret read … can’t say much about it until a later date. Sorry!

At this point I have twenty-one (21) days left to read two more books, one of which is just over four hundred (400) pages, the other is Lust by Robin Wasserman.
I have faith that I can and I will finish this challenge? Do you readers?!
Wish me luck, readers!

Partners In Crime (Sleuth or Dare #1)

Partners In Crime (Slueth or Dare # 1) by Kim Harrington

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Darcy and Norah are best friends. They do everything together  – homework, bike riding, you name it they do it … together. So when the two are given the assignment to create a fake business Darcy and Norah jump at the chance to work together, not only for a great grade, but for a great cause.

Darcy and Norah decide to open a detective agency. Besides being an awesome idea, the girls know that it’s an original one that will suit both of their personalities. Darcy loves a good mystery, while Norah enjoys helping people.

Darcy and Norah really only expect a great grade. They don’t expect anyone to take their detective agency seriously. It’s a class project after all. But when they get home and find an e-mail from an anonymous sender requesting the help of, not only them, but their detective agency, the girls jump at the chance to help someone find their long-lost sister.

Will Darcy and Norah be able to crack the case? Will they find the missing sister? And most importantly, will they figure out who sent the e-mail in their first place?

Partners in Crime, book one in the Sleuth or Dare series, is a debut middle grade novel written by author Kim Harrington.

Partners in Crime is a quick read, but a well written one.  Harrington’s writing isn’t only skilled, it’s strong, smart, and most of all engaging. Reader’s will be fully vested in the mystery, and in the outcome.

Beyond that, Harrington has a real knack for keeping her reader’s guessing, never giving away secrets or answers until just the right moment. As an adult reader, I found myself guessing at every page and turn of events.  I couldn’t seem to figure out the mystery!

Darcy and Norah are the driving forces of Partners in Crime. Even those these two detectives are best friends, they aren’t exactly alike. They are two unique characters who have individual and unique personalities.  Reader’s will easily identify with both Darcy and Norah. Darcy, who loves dark clothes and crime shows. And Norah, who loves school and quite frankly is a bit disturbed by the shows that Darcy enjoys.

Partners in Crime is a mystery unlike any other. In other words: it’s unique. Partners in Crime isn’t centered upon a grisly murder that needs to be pieced together.  There isn’t a who in the whodunit! Instead, it’s a mystery that relies solely on intelligence and imagination.

Harrington’s Partners in Crime (Sleuth or Dare 1) is a fun read! It’s one that will leave readers laughing and guessing all at the same time.