Sunday, December 31, 2017

MMGM (1/1/2018): Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (a re-review)

Today, I'm doing something odd: instead of looking forward toward the new year (happy new year, by the way!), I am looking backward, to April, specifically. In April, I reviewed what I consider to be my favorite book of all time, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead. However, as I even recognized in the review itself (click here), my comments do not do the book justice, which has nagged at me for eight months. Therefore, in order to enter the year with a clean conscience, I am re-reviewing Goodbye Stranger. (My old review will remain up for anyone who is curious.)




Here's the publisher's description:

This brilliant, New York Times bestselling novel from the author of the Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me explores multiple perspectives on the bonds and limits of friendship.

Long ago, best friends Bridge, Emily, and Tab made a pact: no fighting. But it’s the start of seventh grade, and everything is changing. Emily’s new curves are attracting attention, and Tab is suddenly a member of the Human Rights Club. And then there’s Bridge. She’s started wearing cat ears and is the only one who’s still tempted to draw funny cartoons on her homework.

It’s also the beginning of seventh grade for Sherm Russo. He wonders: what does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend?

By the time Valentine’s Day approaches, the girls have begun to question the bonds—and the limits—of friendship. Can they grow up without growing apart?

There are so many wonderful things I could say about this book! First, it does not fall prey to the overused topics that have plagued many middle-grade books, such as death (although Bridge has had a near-death experience, having been hit by a car and heavily injured at the time) and loss of friends (although Bridge, Em, and Tab are changing in different ways, they have a strong bond and are always there for one another). The book jumps between several stories (a main one which follows Bridge and her experiences, a smaller one which centers around an unidentified high schooler who is hiding on Valentine's Day, and a yet smaller one which consists of letters from Sherm to his grandfather and occasional backstories about him). Each of these stories is always entertaining, at times heartbreaking or thought-provoking, and often filled with small explanations or events of the day that make each character's life seem real, but not disjointed. The novel explores such concepts as trauma and its big and small effects, feminism (and Tab's misunderstanding of it), and pride in one's body, but it always does this through the eyes of its characters, thereby never talking down to readers. Finally, nearly every chapter of the novel adds in a pleasant experience, however small, that makes this book so incredibly enjoyable to read and reread (which I have done at least four times). Every person who reads this book will be glad they did, as it will stay with them and touch them for the rest of their lives!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

MMGM (12/18/2017): Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

For MMGM, I am recommending Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.




Here’s the publisher’s description:

Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer.  At first she thought Florida might be fun — it is the home of Disney World, after all.  But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park.  It’s full of . . . old people.  Really old people.

Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around.  She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors.  But the question remains — why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place?  The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .

I enjoyed this graphic novel, which combines humor and some sadness in an easy-to-read package! Sunny’s stay with her grandfather at his retirement home is marked by boredom, as she has nothing to do (not even using a smartphone, as the book is set in the 1970s) except accompany her grandfather on errands. Eventually, she befriends a boy named Buzz whose father works at the retirement home, and their efforts to inject some fun into their lives are fun to read about. The book moves quickly and switches between flashbacks and the present day, both marked by dates at the beginning of each chapter. The flashbacks help show Sunny’s family’s struggles as her brother, Dale, befriends questionable people and makes questionable choices (I won’t spoil these; readers will find them out as they proceed through the book). Dale’s issues are handled well and inspired by the authors’ own experiences with a relative. The art in the book, if not stunning, is a pleasant backdrop for the story to take place against. Sunny Side Up is a fun, speedy read that all readers will enjoy!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The winners of the Holiday Signed Book Extravaganza have been chosen!

I have chosen the winners of the Holiday Signed Book Extravaganza from a group of 7 entrants! Here they are:

The winner of Nightfall (Keeper of the Lost Cities #6) by Shannon Messenger is:


Macey_M16!

The winner of Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is:


June!

The winner of Kids of Appetite by David Arnold is:


Rosi!

The winner of Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash is:


carloshmarlo!

Finally, the winner of Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs is also:


carloshmarlo!

If you are a winner listed above, I have sent you an email informing you that you have won (be sure to check your spam or junk inboxes!). Please respond to this email within 48 hours with a mailing address that I can ship your book(s) to (even if you have already won one of my giveaways before); if you fail to respond, I will unfortunately have to choose another winner for your books. Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the winners!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

MMGM (12/11/2017): New and Upcoming MG Books!

First, the Holiday Signed Book Extravaganza doesn't end until Tuesday, so click here to enter! Next, for today's MMGM, I have posted a list of new books to from authors of books I have previously recommended! Some of these are sequels, while some are not; most have come out, but some won't until after the holidays. Note that I have read none of these books (although I do own some of them), and this post is not a recommendation, but rather just a list of things to look forward to.

The first book I want people to know about is The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. The book, which is available now, is the sequel to The War that Saved My Life, a Newbery Honor book that I reviewed here. The publisher's description is as follows:

Like the classic heroines of Sarah, Plain and TallLittle Women, and Anne of Green Gables, Ada is a fighter for the ages. Her triumphant World War II journey continues in this sequel to the Newbery Honor–winning The War that Saved My Life
 
When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now?

World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from
Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy?

As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

Ada’s first story,
The War that Saved My Life, was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won a Newbery Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award, and the Josette Frank Award, in addition to appearing on multiple best-of-the-year lists. This second masterwork of historical fiction continues Ada’s journey of family, faith, and identity, showing us that real freedom is not just the ability to choose, but the courage to make the right choice.

The next book is also out now, and it is the sequel to Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall, which I reviewed here. The book is called Shadow of a Pug (Howard Wallace, P.I., Book 2), and here is its publisher's description:

“My partner scanned the message and a slow grin took over her face as she said our four favorite words: We have a case.’
HOWARD WALLACE IS BACK!
Middle-school detectives Howard Wallace and Ivy Mason are itching for a juicy case. But when their friend and cohort Marvin hires them to prove his nephew— ├╝ber-bully Carl Dean—didn’t pugnap the school mascot, they’re less than thrilled. To succeed, not only must Howard and Ivy play nice with Carl, they’ll have to dodge a scrappy, snoopy reporter and come face-to-face with Howard’s worst enemy, his ex-best friend Miles Fletcher. Can Howard deal with all these complications and still be there for Ivy when her life is turned upside down? Or will he once again find himself a friendless P.I.?


One of my favorite books, Greenglass House by Kate Milford (reviewed here), now has a sequel! The book is called Ghosts of Greenglass House, and it, too, is available now. Here's the publisher's description:

Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul. 
This exciting sequel to a beloved book that was praised in a starred review as "an enchanting, empowering read" is sure to thrill both fans and newcomers. Like its predecessor, it's a smart, suspenseful tale that offers ghosts, friendships, and a cast of unforgettable characters, all wrapped up in a cozy mystery.

A series that I read about on MMGM also has a new book! This series, the Wells & Wong Mysteries by Robin Stevens (the U.S. editions are reviewed here), now has a new book, A Spoonful of Murder. Note that the series is published first in the U.K. with different covers (such as this one), so it will be released soon after the 4th book, Jolly Foul Play, will be released in the U.S. Before you read this book, which comes out on February 8, 2018 in the U.K., you will need to read Jolly Foul Play and Mistletoe and Murder (the 5th book), and you can also read the Cream Buns and Crime short story compilation. All of these can be ordered online, even from the U.S., and you can pre-order A Spoonful of Murder on Amazon.co.uk here. Here's the publisher's description (with no spoilers from the so-far-U.K.-only books):


When Hazel Wong's beloved grandfather passes away, Daisy Wells is all too happy to accompany her friend (and Detective Society Vice President) to Hazel's family estate in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong. 

But when they arrive they discover something they didn't expect: there's a new member of the Wong family. Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery. Tragedy strikes very close to home, and this time Hazel isn't just the detective. She's been framed for murder! 

The girls must work together like never before, confronting dangerous gangs, mysterious suspects and sinister private detectives to solve the murder and clear Hazel's name - before it's too late . . . 

Finally, in what may be the most exciting news yet, authors Rebecca Stead (I have reviewed her books here and here) and Wendy Mass (I have reviewed her books here, here, and here) are collaborating on a new book called Bob, with illustrations by Nicholas Gannon! The book comes out on May 1, 2018, and the publisher's description is here:


It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.

It turns out she’s right.

Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who―or what―he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.

Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.

Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, two masterminds of classic, middle-grade fiction come together to craft this magical story about the enduring power of friendship.

I am certainly looking forward to reading all of these books, and I hope you are too! Next week, I will hopefully have read a book which I can review, but, until then, I thank you for continuing to read this blog through its messier periods! Also, look out for the announcement of the Holiday Signed Book Extravaganza winners, coming this week!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Introducing the first Holiday Signed Book Extravaganza!

With all of the illness I have mentioned in previous posts, I have gotten behind on school projects which are due Friday (!). Therefore, instead of posting a review today, I am starting the Holiday Signed Book Extravaganza! What does that mean? It means that you can enter to win 5 different signed MG and YA books! Here's how it works: First, read through the below list of signed books that I am offering and their publishers' descriptions, and choose the books you would like to win.



Nightfall (Keeper of the Lost Cities #6) by Shannon Messenger

Sophie and her friends face battles unlike anything they’ve seen before in this thrilling sixth book of the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Sophie Foster is struggling. Grieving. Scrambling. But she knows one thing: she will not be defeated.

The Neverseen have had their victories—but the battle is far from over. It’s time to change tactics. Make sacrifices. Reexamine everything. Maybe even time for Sophie to trust her enemies.

All paths lead to Nightfall—an ominous door to an even more ominous place—and Sophie and her friends strike a dangerous bargain to get there. But nothing can prepare them for what they discover. The problems they’re facing stretch deep into their history. And with time running out, and mistakes catching up with them, Sophie and her allies must join forces in ways they never have before.

In this spectacular sixth book in the
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must uncover the truth about the Lost Cities’ insidious past, before it repeats itself and changes reality.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of 
Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.


Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash

All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor, this graphic-novel memoir is a debut of the rarest sort.

Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She's from Atlanta, she's never kissed a guy, she's into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie's savant-like proficiency at the camp's rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it's too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.


Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

Before Miss Peregrine gave them a home, the story of peculiars was written in the Tales.

Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of the Peculiar—the collection of fairy tales known to hide information about the peculiar world, including clues to the locations of time loops—first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.

Riggs now invites you to share his secrets of peculiar history, with a collection of original stories in this deluxe volume of Tales of the Peculiar, as collected and annotated by Millard Nullings, ward of Miss Peregrine and scholar of all things peculiar. Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned woodcut artist Andrew Davidson this compelling and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for not only fans, but for all booklovers.


A perfect gift, reminiscent of classic bookmaking, this beautifully packaged volume features full-page woodcut illustrations, gold foil stamping, a ribbon, and removable back sticker.



Now that you have decided which books you would like, fill out the form below! As a courtesy to others, do not select books you do not actually want, as you may end up winning them and taking them away from those who do want them. You will be entered in a separate drawing for each book you select, so you may win more than one book. Your entry must be made using the Google Form below. Entries in any other form, such as by comment, will NOT be accepted. Comment-based entries will be deleted for your privacy. Your email address will not be published; it will only be used to, if you win, alert you and request your mailing address. Your nickname (which does not need to be your real name) WILL be published on this blog to announce who has won the giveaway. To protect the entrants' privacy, all entries will be deleted after the giveaway ends. I will close the giveaway entry form on the morning of Tuesday, December 12, 2017 (in Central Time). All entries placed before the form is closed will be accepted. If a winner does not respond with a mailing address within 48 hours after I send an e-mail requesting one, I will choose a new winner and alert the former winner. Be sure to check your spam or junk folder if you do not see my request! (P.S. When you submit, the confirmation will be at the top, so scroll up!)