Sunday, December 25, 2016

MMGM (12/26/2016): Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall

Firstly, I hope everyone:
  • is having/has had a merry Christmas.
  • is having a happy Hanukkah.
  • is having/will have a happy Kwanzaa.
  • has had a happy winter solstice.
  • has had/is having/will have a happy [fill in other holiday].
Before the recommendation, I would like to show you just how many books I have gotten over the holidays (about 14.8125 inches tall):

(Caption: 😄😄😄!!!)

Finally, for MMGM, I am recommending Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall.

Here's the publisher's description:

“What’s with the get-up? Is that the company uniform or something?”
“This? All P.I.s wear a trench coat.”
“Dude, that’s a brown bathrobe.”
I shrugged and straightened out my sleeves. “First rule of private investigation, Ivy: work with what you’ve got.”

Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace lives by his list of rules of private investigation. He knows more than anyone how to work with what he’s got: a bathrobe for a trench coat, a makeshift office behind the school equipment shed, and not much else—least of all, friends. So when a hot case of blackmail lands on his desk, he’s ready to take it on himself . . . until the new kid, Ivy Mason, convinces him to take her on as a junior partner. As they banter through stakeouts and narrow down their list of suspects, Howard starts to wonder if having Ivy as a sidekick—and a friend—is such a bad thing after all.
(Note: The text at the beginning that is in normal print was formerly italicized.)

This book is great! The main characters, Howard and Ivy, have many facets. Howard has a sarcastic, busy personality that hides the fact that he is friendless, while Ivy is happier and more impulsive, often doing things that Howard usually wouldn't. The mystery of who is behind the blackmail can be somewhat easy to predict, but there are several suspects until the actual mastermind is revealed. The book does a good job of making the villain not seem evil by giving her/him a rational (yet still wrong) motive. One nice touch of the book is Howard's list of "Rules of Private Investigation." These rules are often referenced and serve as part of a small conflict. Finally, the plot moves constantly, making the story always interesting. Howard Wallace, P.I. is a great book for everyone!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

MMGM (12/19/2016): The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

Notice: You can now comment on my blog anonymously! To do so, in the comment field, click the dropdown box that follows "Comment as:" and select "Anonymous." You can also comment with several other types of accounts as well, such as WordPress.

Notice 2: There is a new poll on the sidebar below the old poll! Be sure to vote in both, as they end on New Year's Day. (It may take several clicks of "Vote" before your votes are accepted. Also, if using a Mac, when looking at the results, you may not see a scroll bar, but you can still scroll sideways to see the poll results.)

One of the best parts of the holidays is new books! (My Christmas list has 18 books on it!) However, to get through this next week, for MMGM, I am recommending The Candymakers by Wendy Mass.

Here's the publisher's description:

In the town of Spring Haven, four children have been selected to compete in the national candymaking contest of a lifetime. Who will make a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Yellow Lightning Chew?

Logan, the candymaker's son, who can detect the color of chocolate by feel alone?

Miles, the boy allergic to rowboats and the color pink?

Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy as if it were a feather?

Philip, the suit-and-tie-wearing boy who's always scribbling in a secret notebook?

This sweet, charming, and cleverly crafted story, told from each contestant's perspective, is filled with mystery, friendship, and juicy revelations. 

I love The Candymakers! One part of this book that I love is the multiple-POV setup. The book is told in 3rd-person, but the parts focus on specific characters and their thoughts and feelings. Each part allows you to discover more about each character, since their part is based on what they thought about, not what others thought about them. This shows you the inner workings of each character and allows you to discover why some may be mysterious, some may be mean, and some may be odd. In addition, the plotline is very interesting and contains several twists and revelations. The book has a great balance of action and emotion. Finally, it is fun (as you would expect in any candy-themed book) to read about the contestants' different candies. This book is enjoyable enough (and long enough, being 453 pages) to be a great read for the holidays! (And if you enjoy it, there is a sequel available, The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase.)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Poetry Sunday (12/4/2016): "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens

To start off the winter, I am recommending "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens. Here's the link. I hope you enjoy it!

MMGM (12/5/2016): Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

For MMGM, I'm recommending Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur.

I loved this book long before I started this blog, so I'm finally recommending it. The main character, Aubrey, starts the story living alone in her house, since, after her father and sister died in a car crash, her mother left in grief, leaving Aubrey alone. Aubrey then goes to live with her grandmother as she deals with grief and her new home, including making some friends. Aubrey is a likable main character who you sympathize with as she deals with the loss of her father and sister without her mother. The aspect of the story involving Aubrey getting used to living in a different state with her grandmother and going to a different school is also deftly handled. The settings (both the outside world and Aubrey's new home) are enjoyable and allow you to sink into them. Finally, the book's balance of flashbacks allows you to see into Aubrey's head, in a way. Although this book is sad, it is still a great read for anyone.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Secret Keepers giveaway winner!

The winner of the giveaway of the signed copy of The Secret Keepers has been chosen, and it is...

Congratulations! Now, back to cleaning out my bookshelves!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

MMGM (11/28/2016): Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Reminder 1: The giveaway of a signed copy of The Secret Keepers ends on Tuesday. Don't miss it! To enter, click here and fill out the form at the bottom of the post.

Reminder 2: If you'd like to know about the best TV show designed for children, but perfect for all ages, then click here.

For MMGM, I'm recommending Greenglass House by Kate Milford.

Here's the publisher's description:

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.

This book is perfect to curl up with over the holidays! The visitors to the inn have interesting backstories and personalities. Various in-story objects influence Greenglass House, such as when a book in which the characters tell stories inspires storytelling at the inn, creating an opportunity for guests to reveal more about themselves. Another example is when Milo and Meddy are influenced by a board game to create their own personas, of which Milo's helps him become more brave. An often-discussed topic is the wondering of Milo, who was adopted by his parents, about his birth parents, which is deftly handled. The setting has an interesting past that nicely sets up for the amazing, shocking twist near the end of the book, which just adds to the list of reasons why this book is fabulous!
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at:
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at:
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at:
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at:
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I'm Thankful for Steven Universe

Since today is Thanksgiving, I decided I would talk about something I'm thankful for. However, I'm taking a departure from books to tell you about my favorite children's show of all time: Steven Universe. And if you're reading this thinking, Why would I watch a kids' show when I'm not a kid?, the reason is the same as why you would read a kids' book: because they're great! As is Steven Universe, which has aired on Cartoon Network since 2013 (and which I have watched since shortly before last Thanksgiving).

Above (clockwise from top): Garnet, Pearl, Steven, and Amethyst

The main character of Steven Universe is, unsurprisingly, a 12-year-old boy named Steven. However, Steven is not a normal child: he is half-human and half-Gem, a type of alien. Although Gems are aliens, they possess human forms and seem like humans, but in different colors and with special powers. Steven lives in the town of Beach City with 3 Gems: Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. Although Steven is often involved with the Gems, he is also involved with the human residents of Beach City. Now for the reasons why I love Steven Universe:

Great characters. Steven Universe has complex characters with varying personalities and flaws. Steven is a happy kid who tries to see the best in people, but he has trouble living up to the legacy of his mother, a Gem named Rose Quartz. Pearl can be sometimes obsessed with perfection and acts as somewhat as a mother figure of Steven, being very protective of him. Amethyst acts sort of like a sister to Steven, having similar interests to him. however, Amethyst is very self-conscious, especially after the events of "Too Far." Garnet does not talk much during the beginning of the series, but more is revealed about her fierce yet wise personality (as well as her origins) later in the show. I could talk more about each character of Steven Universe, but I will just say that even minor characters are more than just plot devices.

Complex and entertaining story. The story of Steven Universe is extremely interesting. Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl are members of the Crystal Gems, a group of Gems dedicated to protecting the Earth. Before the events of the series, Rose Quartz, the leader of the Crystal Gems, fell in love with a human named Greg Universe, a failing singer. Rose Quartz eventually becomes pregnant, but as Gems do not normally reproduce, she cannot exist if Steven does, causing her "death." As the series progresses, more is revealed about the home and history of the Gems, and other Gems come into play. The series has several  shocking revelations, and each one is incredibly interesting (and usually foreshadowed).

Beautiful animation. Steven Universe's animation is fantastic! Characters are drawn beautifully, locations are meticulously crafted, and the style in which the sky is drawn contrasts nicely with the other imagery.

Fabulous score and songs. Steven Universe's score has different instruments and styles for the main characters. For example, Amethyst is often accompanied by drums, Pearl's music involves piano, and Garnet's music involves deep sounds. All of the show's music is beautiful (the piece at the end of "Rose's Scabbard" is amazing), as are the songs. Steven Universe often uses songs in particularly emotional scenes, and not only do the songs accurately portray the emotions, but they are also beautiful and easily get stuck in one's head.

Discussion of important topics and themes. Steven Universe often discusses important themes. The show has many elements of feminism (many main characters are non-objectified women), and characters are diverse racially. The show also prominently discusses LGBT themes (several main characters are lesbian). Finally, Steven Universe also has several topics discussed on a smaller scale, such as family, accepting yourself, and loss.

Steven Universe also has a very calm, relaxing feel, well-crafted foreshadowing (spanning both single episodes and multiple ones), and various other stuff which I'll let you find out for yourself. All in all, Steven Universe is a beautiful show that is fantastic for anyone!

Update (11/25/2016): Several notes:
  • Several streaming services have episodes near the end of double-length season 1/beginning of season 2 out of order. (On Amazon Video, these episodes are "The Return" through "Joy Ride" as listed by Amazon.)
  • "Open Book," "Story for Steven," and "Shirt Club" aired in a different order relative to the other episodes. (The intended order is shown on the page linked below, while footnote 1, or nb 1 next to the episodes, shows the order that occurred.
  • "Say Uncle" is a crossover episode with Uncle Grandpa and is non-canon.
For a correct list of episodes, see this Wikipedia page.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Shannon Messenger's signing!

Here are some photos from Shannon Messenger's signing!

The signing had 150 people, and I stood in line (and got the signed copy of Lodestar that I'm giving away here)!

MMGM (11/21/2016) (plus giveaway): The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (plus a giveaway of a signed copy of The Secret Keepers!)

For today's MMGM, I'm recommending The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. (See the bottom of this post for a giveaway!)

Here's the publisher's description:

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?"

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.

As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?

Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society. 

I love this book! One of the best parts of this book is the plot. It is gripping, with many events and discoveries, some small, and some large. The book also has many funny moments, as well as several emotional ones. The villain's plan is complex and very evil. The villain is also interesting, but he does not seem to have been made with weaknesses specifically designed for the main characters. Speaking of the main characters, they have many different well-developed personalities, such as the main character, Reynie, a kind boy who has a balance between audacity and reason. It says a lot that as I am trying to write this review, I keep getting caught up in reading the book!

The author of The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart, has recently released a new book called The Secret Keepers. I have a signed copy of this book that I am giving away. To enter, fill out the form below with your email address and a nickname (it does not need to be your real name, or any name, for that matter). If you win the contest, your nickname will be published on my blog. The contest will end at midnight (12:00 AM) on Tuesday, November 29. Please don't leave your email address in the comments. Please use the form below to enter. Again, you do not need to provide your real name on the form. Your email address will be used to contact you and ask for a shipping address to mail the book to. If you don't get a response from me after the deadline, be sure to check your spam inbox.

Poetry Sunday (11/20/2016): "The Idea of Order at Key West" by Wallace Stevens

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "The Idea of Order at Key West" by Wallace Stevens. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lodestar giveaway winners!

The Lodestar giveaway is over! Thanks to everyone who entered! Now for the winners. The winner of the Lodestar giveaway is...


Congratulations! In addition, through various charades and shenanigans, I have several extra items of swag that I am also giving away to another lucky winner, who is...

 Sydney W.!

Congratulations! Finally, be looking for my next signed book giveaway, coming soon! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

MMGM (11/14/2016): The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

P.S. You still have Monday to enter in the giveaway for the signed copy of Lodestar by Shannon Messenger. Click here to enter.

For MMGM, I am recommending an old classic: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

(Note: The cover above is of the Barnes & Noble Classics edition, which I read as an e-book.)

Today, I'm going to skip the description and make up my own: After her parents died of cholera, rude, grouchy Mary is made to live with her uncle (who is a widower) in his large house known as Misselthwaite Manor. While living there, she gradually becomes happier as she befriends people (such as Martha, a servant in the home, and Dickon, Martha's brother who is 12) and discovers secrets of Misselthwaite Manor, such as the garden of Mary's late aunt, which became locked after Mary's uncle buried the key in grief.

This book was first fully published in 1911, and it has aged remarkably well, becoming one of my favorite books of all time! One thing I loved about this book is how Mary's change of personality is handled gradually, making her seem more realistic. She slowly warms up to the other characters and her new life. Another great part of the book is the setting (specifically, the location.) It is well-described and makes you feel as if you were living there yourself. The story also has many characters with varying personalities, ranging from those who have it in them to be kind, such as Dickon, and those who have to find it for themselves, such as Mary. All in all, The Secret Garden is a masterpiece that is just as good now as it was 105 years ago!

Poetry Sunday (11/13/2016): "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

MMGM (11/7/2016) (plus giveaway): Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (plus a giveaway of a signed copy of Lodestar!)

This is an interesting MMGM for 2 reasons. The first is that I am recommending Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger, the author who collects links to the MMGM posts and posts them on her blog, which is how I started getting comments in the first place. The second reason is that I am also giving away a copy of Lodestar, the 5th book in the series, signed by Shannon Messenger!

So, anyway, today I am recommending Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger.

Here's the publisher's description:

In this riveting debut, a telepathic girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world—before the wrong person finds the answer first.

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…

But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.

But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.

Firstly, the fact that I have read this book (488 pages in paperback) and its sequels (Lodestar is 676 pages in hardcover) should tell you that this is one of the most fabulous book series I have ever read. That would be correct! The best part of this series is its complexity (which does not mean that it's confusing; it isn't). The world the characters live in is complex, seeming both awesome and incredibly realistic, with every part of life thought about and made as cool as possible. The characters themselves are complex, always seeming like a real person you could meet, having different personalities and staying true to them. Sophie is brave and still trying to figure out her new life, and Fitz (who is not on the cover) may seem perfect, but you will learn that he isn't in the later books. Not to mention that there are tons of characters not in the book description. Finally, the storyline is complex, full of twists and turns that make you think, "Duh!" while still being shocked. Oh, and, also, the book has just the right balance of hilarity, melancholy, and tension.

The 5th book in the series, Lodestar, was released on Tuesday, November 1, and to celebrate, I am giving away a free copy of Lodestar, signed by Shannon Messenger! One random winner will receive the signed copy of Lodestar. The giveaway will end at 12:00 A.M. (midnight) on Monday, November 14, 2016 (a week from now) Tuesday, November 15, 2016. To enter, fill out the Google Form below. Your nickname will be published on Completely Full Bookshelf if you win, so make sure that it can be publicized. Your email address will not be publicized, and it will only be used to ask you for a shipping address to mail the book to you.

Update (11/7/2016): Just to clarify, your email addresses will never be shared with anyone, and I will delete them as soon as the contest is over.

Update (11/8/2016): The giveaway has been extended one day (to Tuesday, November 15, 2016) to allow for more people to enter!

Update (11/20/2016): The giveaway winners have been posted here!

Poetry Sunday (11/6/2016): "Night Journey" by Theodore Roethke

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "Night Journey" by Theodore Roethke. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

MMGM (10/31/2016): Coraline by Neil Gaiman

P.S. I have blog news, including the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Post Navigator (link below the blog title)! For information, as well as my Poetry Sunday post, click here.

As a special Halloween-themed recommendation, I am recommending Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Here's the publisher's description:

The day after they moved in,
Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.
The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it's different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

This book is not Halloween-themed, but it is a very spooky read. There are many creepy details, such as when the other mother is eating live beetles. However, this is a really good book! There are many interesting characters, some of whom are different in the world of the other flat, such as a snarky black cat who can talk in the other world. Coraline is an easily relatable character, since she is somewhat disgruntled about life but not mean. One of my favorite parts of the book is at the end, and, about it, I will say this: it is easily the scariest part of the entire book. Despite being scary, Coraline is not horrifying or overly upsetting, since otherwise I wouldn't have enjoyed it so much. All in all, this is a great read!

Various News (plus Poetry Sunday)!

Edit (12/25/2016): A typo has been fixed.

Blog news! First, since Thursday is extremely inconvenient for me to write blog posts, Poetry Thursday is now Poetry Sunday! The first official Poetry Sunday post is for "Come into Animal Presence" by Denise Levertov. Here is the link.

In other news, I have started trying to make my blog easier to navigate. Firstly, I have labeled all of my posts, and you can view just one label by clicking on it in the far-right sidebar. Secondly, just below the blog title, there is now a link to the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Post Navigator, which shows all of my MMGM posts with covers and links. Clicking on anything that has to do with the book (cover, title, or date) will send you to the review. I hope you like these new blog changes!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Poetry Sunday (10/23/2016): "Variations On The Word Sleep" by Margaret Atwood

For my belated Poetry Thursday post (I skipped the one before this entirely), I am recommending "Variations On The Word Sleep" by Margaret Atwood. Here is the link. I hope you like it!

MMGM (10/23/2016): When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

For MMGM, I'm recommending When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin.

Here's the publisher's description:

Pinmei's gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei's grandmother--before it's too late.

A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.

I loved this book! This book is similar to its previous two companions in many ways. It features folktales from the story's universe interspersed with the rest of the book. These are interesting in that they're one of the few times when a book temporarily changes off-subject, and I don't think, Get back to the story already! They're as enjoyable as the rest of the story. The book also features many similarities to the past books, such as an abundance of characters, which have many different personalities. They change throughout the book, such as when Pinmei becomes progressively less shy. The language is very poetic and features interesting similes that you wouldn't normally think of. (I started to notice how struck I was by these.) This is one of those rare books that transports you!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

MMGM (10/17/2016): The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

For MMGM, I'm recommending The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.

Here's the publisher's description:

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.
Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a 2010 Newbery Honor Book and the winner of the 2010 Bank Street - Josette Frank Award. This title has Common Core connections.

I really enjoyed this book! It is one of the few historical novels that manages to still be exciting and not boring. The book also tackles topics of women's roles, since Calpurnia is expected to grow up and become a debutante, while she would rather be a scientist. Calpurnia's relationship with her grandfather is special in that they have bonded strongly, and the relationship is written in a way that would make one wish that they had had such a relationship. The story is composed of many different subplots, which are interesting and vary the plot. The book was also a Newbery Honor, and for good reason. This is a great read for kids and adults alike!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

MMGM (10/10/2016): Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle

P.S. I have changed the color palette of my blog slightly. I hope you like it!

For MMGM, I'm recommending Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle.

Here's the publisher's description:

From beloved and bestselling author Lauren Myracle comes the first book in an enchanting trilogy about three sisters, the magic of traditions, and the extraordinary power of hope. This heartwarming, timeless story is perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Ingrid Law.
On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes.
The first wish is an impossible wish.
The second is a wish she can make come true herself.
And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart.
Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She’s full to bursting with wishes, however. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class, and she thinks maybe it would be nice if her very first kiss came from him. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be . . . noticed.
So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined. 

At the bookstore, I always look for books with nice covers, and then I read the flap description. If the description is interesting, then I buy it. This book has a fabulous cover, and I'm glad I purchased it. It's great! Firstly, something not mentioned in the summary is that, in the story, Natasha receives mysterious notes, which, in the beginning, compliment her. The mystery of who these notes are from is interspersed throughout the book, and is just one of the many elements in the book. Natasha and her 2 sisters have very different personalities. Natasha is quiet and, despite having a best friend, mainly introverted. Her younger sister, Darya, is popular and somewhat mean, while the youngest sister, Ava, is somewhat naive but very nice. At the end of the book, an interesting twist changes the ending of the book from what is expected to a great surprise, unlike many other books. All in all, Wishing Day is a fabulous read like no other!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Poetry Thursday/Texas Teen Book Festival! (October 6, 2016)

Firstly, today's Poetry Thursday recommendation is for an extremely old poem: "'Hope' is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson. Here is the link.


On October 1, I attended the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin, Texas (I was conveniently returning back from San Antonio that day), so, without further ado, images!

I'm here!

Is Mindy Kaling actually here?

Sitting in the auditorium!

Laini Taylor is waving to the crowd!

Slightly fuzzy, but nonetheless: Mindy Kaling!

So, if you were wondering if it was awesome, it was! I wasn't there for the entire festival, but I still enjoyed it!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (October 3, 2016): Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Edit (October 6, 2016): A formatting error has been fixed.

For MMGM, I'm recommending Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

Here's the publisher's description:

For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.

In this graphic novel debut that earned a Newbery Honor and five starred reviews, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverance, and girl power!

As shown above, this is a graphic novel and the recipient of a Newbery Honor. But rest assured, there's no death! This book is actually very humorous (I love the drawing on page 159 depicting Astrid's hatred of clothes shopping), although it's not all fun and games (hence the Newbery Honor). Astrid and Nicole split apart in the book, due to both differences and character flaws, and the process of how Astrid is sad, makes a new friendship, and struggles are very realistic (and saddening). Astrid's relationship with her mom is also interesting, with Astrid often being mildly upset with her mom but also loving her. I love how the art is both pretty and contributes to the humor and plot. The sport of roller derby (which the author plays) is also interesting to learn about. All in all, Roller Girl is a great book that can be added to the ever-growing list of fabulous graphic novels.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Poetry Thursday (September 29, 2016): "On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou

For Poetry Thursday, I am recommending "On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou. This is a transcript. The page also has a link to the recording of Maya Angelou reciting the poem during Bill Clinton's first inauguration. The recording won a Grammy, so listen to it!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (September 26, 2016): Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

For MMGM, I'm recommending Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo.

Here's the publisher's description:

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

Kate DiCamillo writes great books, and awards have backed this up (her debut was a Newbery Honor book and she later wrote two books that won the Newbery). Raymie Nightingale is no exception. The book features many descriptions and anecdotes that work very well in the story. For example, at one point in the book, Raymie remembers taking lessons on how to save people, such as those who are drowning. This is very well-described, and ends up serving a purpose at the end of the book. The characters are very well-written. Beverly is somewhat cynical, and can be kind or somewhat mean. Louisiana is friendly but very strange, such as when she reads a book but makes up what is happening. Raymie is very upset about her father leaving, but, although her sadness mixes in with regular life, she keeps going. This book is a great read with a perfect balance between sad and happy moments.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Poetry Thursday (September 22, 2016): "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

For Poetry Thursday, I am recommending "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver. You can read it here. In addition, a recording of Mary Oliver reading the poem is available here by scrolling down.

I hope you enjoy the poem! (P.S. If you haven't noticed, I love Mary Oliver's poems!)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (September 19, 2016): Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Edit (10/30/2016): A formatting error has been fixed.

For MMGM, I'm recommending Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier.

Here's the publisher's description:

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake — and her own.
Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.

Firstly: ART! ART! ART! ART! ART! In other words, Ghosts is a graphic novel, just like Telgemeier's other books (such as Smile, a super-popular graphic novel which you should also read). The art is beautiful, and captures the town in the book, Bahía de la Luna, incredibly well as a foggy ocean town (for a completely fabulous image, see pages 22-23). The story is as great as the art. Telgemeier has always been both a great artist and writer, and Ghosts is no different. Cat's sister, Maya, suffers from cystic fibrosis, and Telgemeier handles it very well, especially with worries about the possibility of Maya dying. The characters are very well-written, and both Cat's nervousness about Maya and Maya's ability to stay happy are very realistic. In addition, as you might have guessed from the title, there are ghosts in the book, and they tie into the theme of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday which is less about mourning and more about celebrating those who have died. The description of this holiday is great, and the visuals for the related festival are great, featuring great color by Braden Lamb, the book's colorist. This book does everything fabulously and is a great read.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (September 12, 2016): The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane

For today's MMGM, I'm recommending The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane.

Here's the publisher's description:

Front door locked,

kitchen door locked,
living room windows closed.
Nobody in the closet,
nobody under the beds.

Still, Maggie is worried. Ever since she started middle school, she sees injustice and danger everywhere--on the news, in her textbooks, in her own neighborhood. Even her best friend seems to be changing.

Maggie believes it is up to her, and only her, to make everything all right. Can she come up with a plan to keep everyone safe?

The Best Worst Thing is a perceptive novel about learning the limits of what you can control, and the good--sometimes even best--things that can come of finally letting go.
(Note: The bold portion was italicized originally, and also in bold.)

This book would be a great pick as the next Newbery. It's that good! The main character, Maggie, seems to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the depiction is very true to life. The book tackles many interesting topics, such as marriage conflict, entering middle school, and poor parenting and how that affects kids. All of this is handled deftly. This book would be great to read in class, since it offers many things for kids to relate to. However, whether you're in class or not, this book is still a fabulous read that all ages will love!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Poetry Thursday/Book Recommendation (September 8, 2016)

Edit (September 25, 2016): I have fixed the formatting issues, and added the cover of Tricky Vic.

Sorry that my book review is late. I haven't had a lot of time this week. However, I have the review, but first, Poetry Thursday. This poem has helped me go to sleep before, and it is "The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm" by Wallace Stevens. This is the link.

Now for the book review. I am recommending "Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower" by Greg Pizzoli. Unfortunately, since I am posting from my iPad, I can't post the cover, but I can post the description:

In the early 1900s, Robert Miller, a.k.a. “Count Victor Lustig,” moved to Paris hoping to be an artist. A con artist, that is. He used his ingenious scams on unsuspecting marks all over the world, from the Czech Republic, to Atlantic ocean liners, and across America. Tricky Vic pulled off his most daring con in 1925, when he managed to “sell” the Eiffel Tower to one of the city’s most successful scrap metal dealers! Six weeks later, he tried to sell the Eiffel Tower all over again. Vic was never caught. For that particular scam, anyway. . . .

Kids will love to read about Vic’s thrilling life, and teachers will love the informational sidebars and back matter. Award-winner Greg Pizzoli’s humorous and vibrant graphic style of illustration mark a bold approach to picture book biography.

This is technically a picture book, so I didn't post it for MMGM. However, it is entertaining and interesting for all ages, and has a beautiful art style. This is a book that everyone should read.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (September 5, 2016): The Underdogs by Sara Hammel

P.S. Come back tomorrow for another review, and on Thursday for Poetry Thursday!
I took a break from blogging last week, but I'm back! For MMGM, I'm reviewing The Underdogs by Sara Hammel.

Here's the publisher's description:

Who killed Annabel Harper?
When a popular teen beauty’s body is discovered by the pool at an elite tennis club, the regulars are shocked—especially twelve-year-old Evie and her best friend, Chelsea. While everyone else is haunted by the teen’s death, Evie and Chelsea jump on the case, dogging the footsteps of the lead detective as he investigates. As temperatures soar over the summer, tensions rise, fingers are pointed, and a heroic act sets in motion a chain of events readers will never see coming.
In the tradition of The Westing Game comes this debut mystery with a breathtaking twist.

This book is great! The book is told from the perspective of Chelsea, and the chapters flip between events that occurred before Annabel's death and after. The chapters from before the death usually involves Chelsea's friend Evie, who is overweight and is bullied for it. As the story progresses, Evie gains confidence and happiness. The chapters set after the death focus on the detective, Detective Ashlock, and his questioning of other characters, through the ears of Evie and Chelsea, who are eavesdropping. Also, the ending has a spectacular twist, which is the perfect kind where there are hints along the way but you still don't guess it, leaving you bewildered and then excited as you connect all the clues together. This book is a entertaining mystery that is great for anyone.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (August 22, 2016): Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea by Anna Humphrey, and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Other posts:
Poetry Thursday (August 18, 2016): "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver

My feature today is for Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea by Anna Humphrey, and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.

Here's the publisher's description:

Ten-year-old Ruby Goldberg is determined to win her school science fair and beat her nemesis Dominic Robinson. She’s snagged second place for the last two years, and she’s set on claiming first prize. The only trouble is that Ruby has no ideas. When her grandfather’s beloved basset hound dies, Ruby thinks of the perfect thing that will cheer him up and win her first place—an innovative, state-of-the-art, not-to-be-duplicated Ruby Goldberg invention!

Before long Ruby is so busy working on her idea that she ignores everything else in her life, including her best friend, Penny. And what started out as simple turns into something much more complicated! Can Ruby get her priorities—and her project—in order before it’s too late?

This book is absolutely amazing! First of all, Ruby is a great character. She is likable and her interest in inventing is very fun to read about, but she's not without flaws and is easily distracted from everything else in her life. Her perspective on many things, such as her enemy, Dominic, changes a lot throughout the story. The death of Ruby's grandfather's dog, Tomato, is also important in the story, and changes her grandfather, a happy person, into a sad person in a realistic way. This book is a great read for anyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Poetry Thursday (August 18, 2016): "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver

I've decided to start Poetry Thursdays, in which I will post a link to a poem that I love. Today's poem is "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver. Click here for the poem.

(Note: This link won't open in another window, so, if you want it to, right-click it and click on "Open in New Tab" or "Open in New Window." If you have a Mac mouse that doesn't right-click, turn right-click on in the settings.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (August 15, 2016): Ava and Pip by Carol Weston

Edit (10/30/2016): A formatting error has been fixed.

It feels like it's been two weeks since my last post! But I checked and nope, it's only been one. Anyway, for today's MMGM, I'm reviewing Ava and Pip, by Carol Weston.

Here's the publisher's description:

Meet outgoing Ava Wren, a fun fifth grader who tries not to lose patience with her shy big sister. When Pip's 13th birthday party turns into a disaster, Ava gets a story idea for a library contest.
But uh-oh, Ava should never have written "Sting of the Queen Bee." Can Ava and her new friend help Pip come out of her shell? And can Ava get out of the mess she has made?

I really enjoyed this book. It is depicted as Ava's diary, which is a nice change from the traditional first-person point of view. There are also two interesting ideas in the story that aren't in the description. The first is that Ava's family loves words (Ava enjoys writing), and the children's names were chosen because they are palindromes, or words that are the same if written backwards. Ava then notices many different palindromes throughout the story, which is a nice touch to the story. The second is that Ava also feels that her parents pay more attention to Pip than to her, which adds another struggle to the two shown in the publisher's description. The story that Ava writes, Sting of the Queen Bee, shows that Ava cares about her sister, and is an interesting way for her to gain a friend. Also, the book has two sequels, Ava and Taco Cat and Ava XOX. The sequels stand up to the high bar set by the first book. The book series has occasional (one or two) slight descriptions of puberty, if you're screening for a younger child. This book is a great read for anyone, young or old.

P.S. I will post articles on my blog during the week, but I probably won't have one every day. However, stay tuned! For instance, on Thursday, I have a poetry-themed surprise for you! Also, if you enjoy reading my blog, leave comments, answer the poll (for some reason, you may have to click Vote several times, so check to see if your vote is added), and subscribe via the "Follow by Email" widget, which will deliver new posts to your e-mail!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (August 8, 2016): When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Edit (October 6, 2016): A formatting error has been fixed.

Hi! Welcome to my new blog, Completely Full Bookshelf! This post is for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM), a meme created by middle-grade author Shannon Messenger, author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. As a reader of these books and a student who recently completed middle school, I decided to join the MMGM fun with my own blog! Today, I am reviewing Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.

Here's the publisher's description:

This remarkable novel holds a fantastic puzzle at its heart.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

Firstly, this book is one of my favorites of all time. The setting of New York City in 1979 is incredibly believable and descriptive, and adds depth to the story. The main character, Miranda, is a great character and narrator, and the other characters in the story, such as friends that Miranda makes in the story, are enjoyable and have interesting personalities. The classic A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle is often discussed, and hints at the end resolution of When You Reach Me. Finally, the question of who is sending the notes is an interesting one, and has an amazing answer. All in all, When You Reach Me is a book that everyone, kid or adult, will love and appreciate.