Monday 31 December 2012

366. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
Published February 2009 John Wiley

From the publisher:
Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn't turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller's students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller's unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended "kid lit" that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.

All bets are off for book number 366.  It’s not a children’s book, and it’s not new, it was published in 2009.  I have included it because a friend of mine mentioned it, she’s a school librarian, and it sounded like the book that everyone who has anything to do with children and books should read.  As I was reading this book, I did think there was no way I could include it, mainly for the fact that I knew I wouldn't know where to stop when it came to raving about it, so I apologise in advance for that, and I really did try to only highlight the parts that jumped out at me.

Sunday 30 December 2012

365. Romance Diaries Book 2: Ruby by Jenna Austen

Romance Diaries Book 2: Ruby by Jenna Austen
Published January 2013 Harper Collins

From the publisher:
Ruby's worried that her friends keep making the same mistakes when it comes to romance. Then she develops a theory: most girls go for either a Jane Austen guy (funny, sweet, caring) or a Jane Eyre guy (dark, brooding, serious) -- when really they should be dating the exact opposite! But when Ruby puts her theory into practice, the results don't exactly go to plan ... And if shes so smart about love, how come she can't figure out who's been sending her all the flirty emails and flowers?

Being the book nerd that I am, my first thought when I saw this book, was Who Is Jenna Austen?  I was fairly confident that this was a pseudonym, and after a bit of Googling, I came up trumps.  Jenna Austen is non other than the well know Australian writer Sophie Masson!

Saturday 29 December 2012

364. Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Hannah Shaw

Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Hannah Shaw
Published August 2012 Barrington Stoke

From the publisher:
Beautifully packaged book from Children's Laureate, Julia Donaldson and illustrated by the wonderful Hannah Shaw. A tiger in the back garden! A bird-eating spider in the cupboard! Elmo and his sister love playing in the jungle house next door, that is, until mean old Mr Birdsnest moves in. But when it appears that Mr Birdsnest has kidnapped the children's grandma they must sneak back in to rescue her!

The name Julia Donaldson is a name that anyone who knows even a little bit about children's books would have hear of.  Does the book The Gruffalo mean anything to you?  While Julia Donaldson is most well known for her fantastic read-a-loud picture books, she has also written a number of novels, and this is one of them.

Friday 28 December 2012

363. Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt

Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt
Due to be published January 2013 David Fickling Books

From the publisher:
'Where does life go?' Who wouldn't want to know the answer to that if it was almost in their grasp?  Klaus's perfect white teeth were the only thing he had. But after they brought him to the attention of Kusselmann, the toothpuller, he discovers he has nothing. Not even his life.  When a hidden diamond is discovered in a dead man's tooth, the stage is set for a terrifying mystery to unravel. Unwillingly embroiled in the twin clutches of greed and ancient omen, Klaus and his friend Liesel only understand one thing: they must escape. At any cost. But where can you go when you are being hunted by a force more deadly and more powerful than anything in this world?

Who would have thought I would read three books this year that involve the collection of teeth?  Well I have, the first two, Daughter of Bone and Smoke and Days of Blood and Starlight, and now this one.  Admittedly, the teeth in this book are used to make false teeth, not chimaera (monsters), but still...teeth?!

Thursday 27 December 2012

362. What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Due to be published January 8th 2013 (eBook) Soho Teen

From the publisher:
Three teenagers with XP (a life-threatening allergy to sunlight) are a species unto themselves. As seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Allie Kim, they roam the silent streets, looking for adventure while others sleep. On a random summer night, while scaling a building like any other, the three happen to peer into an empty apartment and glimpse an older man with what looks like a dead girl. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues that escalates through the underground world of hospital confinement, off-the-grid sports and forbidden love.

While there is an actual story in this book, there are two key elements that stand out in this story and are worth mentioning from the start, XP and Parkour.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

361. Incredible Edibles by Stefan Gates illustrated by Georgia Glynn-Smith

Incredible Edibles by Stefan Gates illustrated by Georgia Glynn-Smith
Published December 2012 Walker

From the publisher:
Become a food adventurer with gastronaut, Stefan Gates!
Does chocolate make you happier? What’s the most dangerous food on earth? How do you milk a camel? What s the fartiest food of all? And what’s really in that burger you re about to eat? Find out the answers to these questions and much, much more in this seriously funny and hilariously informative book about food. Packed full of mad recipes to cook for your friends, kitchen science projects to try out at home and wild food facts this photographic cookbook will take you on a food adventure from breakfast right through to supper.

I knew nothing about this book, and did not know that Stefan is quite the TV star, featuring in many programs for both adults and children. My first thought was, this is Heston Blumentahl for kids.  On closer inspection I realised that there is a bit of Heston in some of the cooking, but there’s also a lot of science and a whole lot of weird and sometimes disgusting food.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

360. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 2: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 2: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Published November 2012 H & S Fiction

From the publisher:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living - one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers' arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon's secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel - a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.
This was not that world.

Not exactly a Christmas book, but for me it was little bit like Christmas, to say I was excited about this book would be an understatement.  I discovered Daughter of Smoke and Bone quite a while after it’s original US release, the paperback came out earlier this year, so it’s a very pleasant surprise that I get to read Book 2 in the same year!

Monday 24 December 2012

359. House at the End of the Street by Lily Blake

House at the End of the Street by Lily Blake
Published October 2012 Atom

From the publisher:

Seeking a fresh start, newly divorced Sarah and her daughter Elissa find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret.
Years earlier, in the house next door, a daughter killed her parents in their beds and disappeared - leaving only a brother, Ryan, as the sole survivor.
Against Sarah's wishes, Elissa begins a relationship with the reclusive Ryan - and the closer they get, the deeper they're all pulled into a mystery more dangerous than they ever imagined.

One thing I normally steer clear of, are books that have been adapted from movies. I was at my local library, and I can honestly say that I am struggling to find things to read at this time of year.  It’s not so much the books, just life getting in the way.  So I saw this book, I hadn’t heard of, or seen the movie, and it looked like a quick read, so I gave it a go.  Let’s just say I probably won’t be reading any movie novelisations again in the near future.

Sunday 23 December 2012

358. There’s a Fly Guy in my Soup by Ted Arnold

There’s a Fly Guy in my Soup by Ted Arnold
Published January 2013 Scholastic

From the publisher:
When Buzz and his family have dinner at a fancy hotel's restaurant Fly Guy isn't allowed in. After searching through the hotel's garbage Fly Guy smells a wonderful aroma coming from the restaurant's kitchen. Fly Guy causes some messy mayhem in the restaurant and, in the end, everyone needs a bath!

In this adventure Buzz and family, including Fly Guy are staying in a fancy hotel.  It’s so fancy that Fly Guy isn’t allowed in the restaurant, because no one wants a fly hanging around their food.  Buzz is sent out into the night and all he finds is a lot if horrible stinky rubbish.  Most flies would be overjoyed at such a bounty, but not this fly, he wants something nicer.

A delicious smell leads Fly Guy to the kitchen where he finds himself in the most lovely soup, perfect for a Fly Guy bath.  The only problem is that the diner who received the soup was not so happy with the bathing fly, in fact she shrieked and jumped causing her soup to fly, which then caused a neighbouring diner to shriek and throw his hands in the air, causing his soup to fly…and so the chaos begins, resulting in everyone being covered in soup!
Ever since the very first fly guy book Hi, Fly Guy! Book was published in 2005, young readers haven’t been able to get enough of these books about Buzz and his pet fly.  They work well because they are bright, funny and have chapters.  Chapters are very important to readers moving on from picture books, as it makes them feel very grown up!

Who will like this book: Boys and girls age 5+
Read it if you like: Fly Guy

Saturday 22 December 2012

357. Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes

Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes
Published November 2012 Quercus

From the publisher:
Yukio's two best friends are dead. Tormented and blackmailed by the Yakuza – the Japanese mafia – they have taken their own lives. Yukio is a kendo champion and he knows all the stories of the samurai.
Heartbroken and furious, he is determined to avenge the deaths of his beloved Hiroshi and Miko. And so begins a deadly struggle between Yukio and the Yakuza, and between Yukio's capacity for love, and his thirst for revenge.
Shot through with the beauty of Tokyo in spring, this is an unforgettable and uncompromising read.

A book about the Japanese Mafia with a Warning: Not For Younger Readers on the back, this has the makings of a must read for action loving boys everywhere!  Three Japanese teenagers, friends since childhood, who are as close as siblings.  One night while at an underage night club, and a chance meeting with Riko and Louise, nieces to a gangster godfather in the Japanese Mafia, the yakuza and their friend Kako changes everything. 

Friday 21 December 2012

356. From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers: Architecture for Children by Christine Paxmann and illustrated by Anne Ibelings

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers: Architecture for Children by Christine Paxmann and illustrated by Anne Ibelings
Published November 2012 Prestel

From the publisher:
Filled with colourful architectural drawings and engaging texts, this history of architecture for children is a great way to introduce young readers to the subject. Children will be utterly absorbed by this journey through the history of architecture, from the earliest mud huts to today's soaring towers. Chronologically arranged, this large-format book gives each iconic building its own double-page spread featuring an exquisite watercolour illustration and clearly written descriptions, facts, and features. These vibrantly detailed pages are filled with people, animals, and other objects that help bring the buildings to life. A detailed appendix includes a timeline, a world map that points out where each building can be found, and an extensive glossary. Children will enjoy poring over this book - and will come away with a fundamental understanding of not only the most common architectural terms, but also of how the built world has evolved marvelously over time. 

Another beautiful book, that has the combination of beautiful illustrations you would expect to see in a picture book, and simple and clear information you'd find in a non fiction title.

Thursday 20 December 2012

355. Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
Published October 2012 EUK

From the publisher:
Evening Spiker is recuperating from a freak accident in her mum's medical facility. She is healing at a remarkable rate, faster than physically possible. As she grows closer to the hot lab assistant Solo, who seems to be hanging around a lot, she realises that things at Spiker Biotech are not quite as they seem. Joining forces, Solo and Eve uncover a secret so huge it could change the world completely. Spiker Biotech is about more than just saving lives. It's about creating them.
Both of the author names associated with this title will be easily recognisable.  Michael Grant is the author of the very popular GONE series, and BZRK which I read earlier this year.  Katherine Applegate is the author of the extremely popular Animorphs series, which have recently been re-issued.  She also wrote the wonderful The One and Only Ivan, which I also read earlier this year. The other thing about this writing duo, is that they are also married, and this is their first collaboration.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

354. Om Shanti, Babe by Helen Limon

Om Shanti, Babe by Helen Limon
Published November 2012 Frances Lincoln

From the publisher:
Fizzing with energy, and laugh-out-loud funny, this is a roller-coaster journey of discovery, which also has an exciting environmental twist - all against the backdrop of beautiful Kerala.
Cassia can't wait for her first visit to India - Bollywood glamour, new friends to admire her uber-cool street-dance moves . But as she steps into real Indian life, NOTHING is as she expected... Cass is with her mum in Kerala, on a buying trip for their Fair Trade craft shop, and everything seems to be going wrong. There's Mum's new romance with "call-me-V" Mr Chaudury for a start, her own prickly stand-off with pretty, fashion-mad Priyanka, and the devastating news that her mum's business may be on the rocks. But then pop idol Jonny Gold arrives at the beach to promote his new song, Om Shanti Babe, sparking a mystery, new friendships and a race to save the mangrove swamps.

Cassia loves all things Bollywood, so a trip to India with her Mum is a dream come true.  Cassia’s Mum Lula has a shop named after her daughter that sells all sorts of fair trade goodies, all of which she sources from southern India, in a place called Kerala.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

353. Marvel Ready-To-Read Level 1: This Is Spider-Man by Thomas Macri

Marvel Ready-To-Read Level 1: This Is Spider-Man by Thomas Macri
Published January 2013 Scholastic

From the publisher:
When Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider he becomes super-agile and amazingly strong. He makes a disguise and calls himself Spider-Man. Sometimes, though, keeping his superhero identity a secret isn't easy.

Little boys LOVE superheroes, but there’s often a big difference between the age appropriateness of books about superheroes and the age of the children who love them.  Now that problem has been solved, as we have three new ready to read titles all about our favourite heroes.

Monday 17 December 2012

352. My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail

My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail
Published September 2012 Bloomsbury 

From the publisher:
There's unrequited love, lust (lots of it), bad romantic poetry, too many essays, and plenty of crisps. But the seventeen-year-old boy in this story has something extra to contend with. His older brother has learning difficulties and is languishing in a care home. Listening to his heart rather than his head, the boy knows he must get his brother, nicknamed Simple, out. But as their father is entirely preoccupied with his new wife, it's up to the boy to liberate Simple, and that means finding somewhere for them to live in the city. Funny, thought-provoking and clever, this French bestseller won the Prix SNCF du Livre de Jeunesse and was dramatised for French television; in Germany it won the prestigious Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.

This book was originally published in France in 2004, and it has won awards across Europe.  I have a theory that if a novel has been translated it's a book that I must read, as I believe that only the best books are ever translated.

Sunday 16 December 2012

351. Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B Cooney

Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B Cooney
This edition published December 2012 Random House

From the publisher:
 No one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar--a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey--she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl--it was she. How could it possibly be true? Janie can't believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, but as she begins to piece things together, nothing makes sense. Something is terribly wrong. Are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson really her parents? And if not, who is Janie Johnson, and what really happened?

OK, so it's late in the year, and here I am reading a book that was originally written in 1990, and I have read it before. I am including it because I did read it again, partly to see how it stands the test of time and also because there is a book 5 coming out next year, and I wanted to start jogging my memory.

Saturday 15 December 2012

350. Stories for 5 Year Olds Edited by Linsay Knight

Stories for 5 Year Olds compiled by Linsay Knight
Published December 2012 Random House

From the publisher:
Top stories specially chosen for 5 year olds! Authors include Janeen Brian, Ursula Dubosarsky, Victor Kelleher and lots more! Two toy gorillas, twelve princesses with a secret, a problem with bubblegum, a very hungry boy, a girl who likes exploring, a very popular dog, a class visiting ducklings, a postman with a problem, mysterious bush creatures and a gorilla adventure'll find all these in Stories for 5 Year Olds. And you'll find some of your favourite Australian authors too. Once you start reading, you won't want to stop!

When I first saw these books for 5, 6, 7, and 8 year olds I was really excited as it’s good to have short stories that will appeal to specific ages groups.  When I had a quick look at the contents page I was momentarily disappointed as I realised that many of these stories aren’t new.  It’s when I saw one story in particular that I was extremely happy that they had chosen stories that have been out of print, and are up there with my favourites stories of all time.

Friday 14 December 2012

349. Venom by Fiona Paul

Venom by Fiona Paul
Published December 2012 Harper Collins

From the publisher:
Beauty, romance, murder... A novel as stunning and seductive as Renaissance Venice itself. Cassandra Caravello is part of Venice’s wealthy elite. Her world is one of fabulous gowns, society parties and privilege, yet she longs for something more. While her fiancé is away studying in Paris, she has a chance meeting with an artist called Falco. He is attractive, audacious...and highly unsuitable. When Cass stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman - with a bloody X carved across her heart - she’s drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans and killers. Falco is quick to offer his assistance, but then another body is found and Cass starts receiving death threats... Is Falco more involved than she imagined? And will she be able to stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for someone she’s not even sure she can trust?

I am not a girly girl by any stretch, but I just love the dress on the cover of this book!  Again, I know not a good way to select my reading material, but that’s why I picked this one up.  This is a novel set in the Renaissance Venice, basically the story of a wealthy young girl, and a poor apprentice artist who should never have met, let alone fall in love, throw in a killer who is carving up women and you have a book that’s hard to put down.

Thursday 13 December 2012

348. Chocolate Dog by Holly Webb

Chocolate Dog by Holly Webb
Published December 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
Amy and Laura aren't looking forward to the arrival of their new brother or sister. There doesn't seem to be any room for them anymore. But at least they still have their gorgeous dog Choc-he always knows how to make them feel better.

You would be forgiven if you thought that this book was a book about a gorgeous chocolate brown dog, and while it does have a gorgeous chocolate brown dog in it, the story is more to do with families, and the way they grow and change.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

347. Watersong Book 1: Wake by Amanda Hocking

Watersong Book 1: Wake by Amanda Hocking
Published August 2012 Macmillan

From the publisher:
Beautiful. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Thea, and Lexi have caught everyone's attention, including the eye of practical Harper. But it's her sister, Gemma, they've chosen to be part of their group. Sixteen-year-old Gemma seems to have it all - carefree, pretty, and falling in love with the boy next door. But her greatest passion has always been the water. She craves late night swims under the stars, where she can be alone yet belong to the sea. Lately she's had company. Penn, Thea, and Lexi spend their nights dancing, singing, and partying on the cove - and one night Gemma joins them. When she wakes up groggy on the beach the next morning, she knows something has changed.

Book 2
What prompted me to go back and read this book was actually the second book in the series, Lullaby which was released at the end of November.  I liked it because of it’s cover, but thought I had better start with book one, which was only released in August, so not that long ago. It’s a book about mermaids, but not as we know them.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

346. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Published September 2012 Simon & Schuster

From the publisher:
In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter's senior year of high school, he is forced to examine everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.  Meanwhile, the crisis of faith spawned by a young missionary's disillusion in Africa prompts a frantic search for meaning that has far-reaching consequences. As distant as the two stories initially seem, they are woven together through masterful plotting and merge in a surprising and harrowing climax.

This book has won a multitude of awards, so I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed, given all of the hype.  I wasn’t disappointed, but it is quite a sleepy story.

Monday 10 December 2012

345. Daisy and the Trouble With Coconuts by Kes Gray

Daisy and the Trouble With Coconuts by Kes Gray
Published December 2012 Red Fox

From the publisher:
'The trouble with coconuts is that they are the worst type of nuts in the whole wide world. If you ask me, coconuts shouldn't be allowed in a funfair. If you double ask me, they shouldn't even be allowed to grow. Coconuts are too big. Coconuts are too hairy. Plus, if you try to win one, they just get you into trouble. Which isn't my fault!' Get up to no good with Daisy as she heads to the funfair - for a whole lot more trouble!

And now for something completely different.  Two days and two ghost stories, I though it was time for a change.Daisy, Daisy, Daisy, what can I say?  If you haven’t discovered Daisy yet (there have been 7 novels and a handful of picture books too) you really should give her a go.  If you’re looking for a funny read for a beginning readers, or want something longer than a picture book for a bedtime read, find a Daisy book.

Sunday 9 December 2012

344. Dark Souls by Paula Morris

Dark Souls by Paula Morris
Published December 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
Miranda Tennant arrives in York with a terrible, tragic secret. She is eager to lose herself amid the quaint cobblestones, hoping she won't run into the countless ghosts who supposedly roam the city. Then she meets Nick, an intense, dark-eyed boy who knows all of York's hidden places and histories. Miranda wonders if Nick is falling for her, but she is distracted by another boy-one even more handsome and mysterious than Nick. He lives in the house across from Miranda and seems desperate to send her some sort of message. Could this boy be one of York's haunted souls? Soon, Miranda realises that something dangerous-and deadly-is being planned. And she may have to face the darkest part of herself in order to unravel the mystery-and find redemption.

Two ghosty stories back to back, although this one doesn’t have any laughs.  What it does have is a teenage girl recovering form the death of her best friend and a visit to the most haunted town in EnglandYork.

Saturday 8 December 2012

343. Dead Harry by Ken Catran

Dead Harry by Ken Catran
Published December 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
Sam's best friend Harry is working on a school assignment about refugees from the Balkans, and comes across a photo of the school caretaker as a war criminal. The next thing he knows, Harry is dead and has returned as a ghost to help Sam solve the mystery of his murder. The boys, with the help of the class geek Anna, uncover an operation centred at their school, involving giving war criminals protection in exchange for big bucks.

When I think of the name Ken Catran, I think of historical fiction, primarily war/soldier stories.  At first glance you might think that this book is a massive departure from the norm, but as you start reading the story you realise there is an element of war in this story too.

Friday 7 December 2012

342. Matilda Saga Book 3 : Girl From Snowy River by Jackie French

Matilda Saga Book 3 : Girl From Snowy River by Jackie French
Published December 2012 Harper Collins

From the publisher:

The year is 1919. Thirty years have passed since the man from Snowy River made his famous ride. But World War I still casts its shadow across a valley in the heart of Australia, particularly for orphaned sixteen-year-old Flinty McAlpine, who lost a brother when the Snowy River men marched away to war.

Why has the man Flinty loves returned from the war so changed and distant? Why has her brother Andy 'gone with cattle', leaving Flinty in charge of their younger brother and sister and with the threat of eviction from the farm she loves so dearly?

A brumby muster held under the watchful eye of the legendary Clancy of the Overflow offers hope. Now Flinty must ride to save her farm, her family and the valley she loves.

Set among the landscapes of the great poems of Australia, this book is a love song to the Snowy Mountains and a tribute to Australia's poets who immortalised so much of our land. The Girl from Snowy River combines passion, heartbreak, history and an enduring love and rich understanding of our land. It continues the grand saga that began with A Waltz for Matilda.

It's funny, if I was asked the question "Do you like to read historical fiction?"  My immediate answer would be no, but put a Jackie French historical novel in may hands and I just can't put it down.  I am mostly preaching to the converted I am sure, when I say that Jackie French has a real way with making history readable.  

Thursday 6 December 2012

341. Geronimo Stilton Book 51: The Enormouse Pearl Heist by Geronimo Stilton

Geronimo Stilton Book 51: The Enormouse Pearl Heist by Geronimo Stilton
Published December 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
One day, my friends and I, Geronimo Stilton, made an amazing discovery. We found a huge oyster-with an enormouse pearl inside! I was so excited about this extremely rare, precious pearl that I wrote a special feature about it in The Rodent's Gazette. That article attracted lots of attention-both good and bad! The enormouse pearl was in danger of being stolen. Would my friends and I be able to protect.

So many confessions this year…and here’s another, this is the first Geronimo Stilton book I have ever read!  I am sure I have said before, that I pretty much read what I want in a regular year, and occasionally I read things I think I should read, to see what the content is like so I can determine its suitability, and them there are things I don’t have to read because they are so popular that they just fly off the shelves, Geronimo Stilton is one such series.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

340. Wings & Co Book 1: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner illustrated by David Roberts

Wings & Co Book 1: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner illustrated by David Roberts
Published December 2012 Orion

From the publisher:
Emily Vole makes headline news in the first weeks of her life, when she is found in an abandoned hatbox in Stansted Airport. Then, only a few years later, her neighbour Mrs String dies leaving Emily a mysterious inheritance: an old shop, a small bunch of golden keys and a cat called Fidget. It's the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime as the old Fairy Detective Agency comes back to life. It is up to Emily to reopen the shop, and recall the fairies to duty. Together they must embark on their first mystery and do battle with their great fairy-snatching enemy, Harpella.

This book is a little bit Harry Potter and a little bit Dahl.  The Harry Potter similarities start with the orphaned Emily, being adopted by Mr and Mrs Dashwood, they want a child, and reading in the paper about a baby abandoned at the airport sounds like just what they were after.  It’s fine at first, but Mrs Dashwood is not happy that Emily’s colouring doesn’t fit in with her and her husband.  Emily has dark hair and brown eyes, while the Dashwood's are blonde and blue eyed.  When Mr and Mrs….have triplets, three blonde blue eyed girls, they really have no need for Emily, and are not sure what to do with her, as they can’t send her back to the orphanage.  Their solution is to make her live in the laundry and work for them doing all of the housework and looking after the triplets. 

Tuesday 4 December 2012

339. The Twice-Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones by Susie Day

The Twice-Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones by Susie Day
Published December 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
On her thirteenth birthday, Blue makes a desperate wish. To be transformed into a cool, confident teenager. Enter Red, appearing from nowhere like a wacky fairy godmother. She's only visible to Blue-in fact, she is Blue, but a year older. With Red by her side to guide her, Blue can avoid all the gruesome embarrassments! But her future self causes a heap of crazy trouble-and there are dark secrets she's not telling...

I was almost tempted to not include this book, not because I didn’t like it, but because to say too much would spoil your reading of it.  There's a real OMG factor that I won't mention, but if you want to know the ‘spoiler’, email me, and I will tell you, but it a real spoiler in the sense that it may spoil how much you enjoy finding out for yourself.

Monday 3 December 2012

338. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Published December 2012 Usborne

From the publisher
From the best-selling author, Sara Zarr, comes the remarkable story of what it means to be a family, and the many roads we can take to become one. Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends - everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's trying to replace a lost family member with a new one. Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted - to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy falls pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. But will she ever find someone to care for her too? As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy - or as difficult - as it seems.

This is a book that's full of sadness, but it isn't a sad book.  It is about death, birth, family, grief, anger, wrong decisions and hopefully being able to make the right ones.  Sara Zarr has managed to capture the confusing mix of emotions that sometime make us behave in ways that are at complete odds with our true selves.  Told from dual perspectives, we have the stories about two very different girls, who ultimately want exactly the same thing.

Sunday 2 December 2012

337. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Published September 2012 UQP

From the publisher:

Moving to America turns Hà’s life inside out.
For all the ten years of her life, has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.
But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.
This is the moving story of one girl's year of change,dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next. 

Hà is a ten year old girl who has lived through the Vietnam war, her father went missing a number of years ago, but in spite of the sadness in her life, she is happy, and loves her country and it’s traditions. Her prized possession is a papaya tree, which she has grown from seed.  Every day she watches and waits, waiting for the papaya to ripen.  The imminent fall of Saigon, means the family must leave Vietnam, and that means leaving the papaya tree behind too.  Hà and her family are lucky enough to have a place on a boat, leaving Vietnam to make their way to a new unknown home.

Saturday 1 December 2012

336. Alfie Small: Pirates and Dragons by Alfie Small

Alfie Small: Pirates and Dragon by Alfie Small
Published November 2012 David Fickling Books

From the publisher:
Alfie Small is a famous explorer like his older cousin, Charlie. When he goes to the bottom of his garden, he finds himself transported to another world (via speed boat, hot air balloon, submarine or crocodile!). He has extraordinary adventures and always ends up the hero. Unlike Charlie, Alfie always comes back home safely in time for tea!

The surname Small may be familiar to you.  Alfie Small is the younger cousin of the very popular character Charlie Small (of the Charlie Small series of books).  This is the sort of book that will fly off the shelves.  Not only is the story good, it’s full of colour illustrations, it doesn’t have too much text, and there are chapters which really appeal to early readers.

One month to go...

Today is officially the first day of summer, and it has been hot hot hot here!

This is it, the last month, 31 days left, and that means 31 books to go. Am I sad?  Not really.  I said to someone recently that writing this blog has been like having a second job, sadly it’s a job I don’t get paid for!   In saying that I have enjoyed it, and the feedback has been amazing.  In the last week, my daily page views are averaging 200 a day, which may not be huge for some, but when I started I know I was thrilled when I hit 50! I haven’t decided on a name for next year's endeavour, but I will be sure to announce it here when I do.

I also thought it may be time to pull back the curtain and let people know who I am.  So many people I deal with through work already do, and my main concern was people thinking that I was only doing this to sell books, but I think everyone would know by now that this is not the case.

I am Rebecca Bird, and I work at Pegi Williams Book Shop in Adelaide.  We are a specialist children’s book shop, recently branching out to include teenage fiction as well.  We sell to schools and libraries all around Australia via our website and we have a retail store in Walkerville, a lovely suburb only 5 minutes from the CBD.  Now probably is a good time to mention the shop, as without it I wouldn’t have had such easy access to so many great books!

As for books this month, well there are a few great looking December titles I will include, but I still have books that have slipped through the net from earlier in the year, so I may go back and catch up on some of those.  Plus, I have been given some advanced reading copies for a few 2013 releases, so you may even get a sneak peek at those.