Monday, July 24, 2017

Voyager's Greatest Hits- The Epic Trek to Interstellar Space by Alesandra Siy


Another Monday, another amazing Middle-Grade post! Today I am looking into outer space :) with the book, Voyager's Greatest Hits- The Epic Trek to Interstellar Space by Alexandra Siy.

This non-fiction book explores the travels and findings of both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes.Starting with the scientific concept of a 'Grand Tour" of the stars, the idea for the Voyager program began as only a Jupiter Saturn mission, but with the application of sling shot gravity pushes, the Voyager probes have been able to reveal more details about our solar system than ever imagined.

The title, contents and chapter titles are based on the "Golden Record" that was attached to each Voyager probe. An LP record that includes the music of Chuck Berry, Bach Beethoven, a Navajo chant, the Chinese folk song, "Flowing Streams", and a Peruvian wedding song- the Earth's greatest hits, get it, :)? I wish the book had actually spent more time on the record. I'm so interested in knowing all the details about it, and I bet kids would be too. The reason I wanted to review this book was based on the title, Voyager's Greatest Hits, so I thought most of the book would be about the record, not just one section in the ending chapter.

Now, back to the contents, which are separated into tracks, and include the probes journey's past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Along the way are actual photos that were sent back by the probes, which use eight track tapes to record everything! Wow, what a treat! I really wanted more pictures. I would have loved to have seen double the full colored spreads. There weren't enough considering how many thousands of images the probes have sent back to Earth since the 1980's.

I really loved delving into the science behind the voyages too. The book is detailed, but written in such a way that things are easy to grasp. Kids will really love this look into outer space and will dream about what might be out there left to discover! 4 Stars!




Friday, July 21, 2017

Blog Tour and Book Review- The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Granger


Hi everyone, and welcome to YA Friday! Today I am taking part in the blog tour for the new release from St. Martin's Griffin, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Granger. It will hit stores on July. 25th.

The Story-
Bash is trying to hold his life together while his grades are failing and his mom is dying from cancer. His so-called best friend Kyle, is a drunk, rich kid, who doesn't know the meaning of the word responsibility.

Birdie is a smart, geek girl who likes to quote facts. Her and Bash meet at a party, but before they can get to know one another, Kyle passes out. Then, the universe steps in. The next night, a drunk Kyle is driving Bash home when they think they hit a deer. That same night, Birdie's little brother is hit by a car while in his stroller, and suffers severe brain damage.

Kyle convinces Bash to keep quiet, but when Bash goes to work at the skating rink, and the new employee is Birdie, whose brother is in a coma because of a hit and run, their worlds collide.

My Thoughts-
As a writer, they tell you to put your character up a tree and throw stones at them to suck in a reader's emotions. Well, this author does an amazing job. Birdie and Bash meet and you know they are meant to be, then the accident, holy crap! How do you recover from that? Well, this story is told from two different perspectives, Bash's and Birdie's, a necessary duo so that forgiveness and acceptance can be given.

The whole book you're just waiting for the truth to come out and wondering how Birdie will react when it does. Both characters are so well written that the outcome is believable and heart touching. The tension of if Birdie's brother will survive hides in the back ground while the two get to know one another and slowly fall in love. Fabulous book!

A caution for readers, this book does contain a fair amount of curse words. In fact, I knew I was in trouble on the very first page. I know it is common in YA so I often don't care, but I did feel it was a bit excessive here. So, just a heads up.

Next, I don't often comment on cover design, but I really didn't like this cover. The roller skates on the front seem very juvenile and at first I thought this was a middle grade book, first page pulled me out of that notion though, lol. Very little time is spent at the rink and we actually don't see them roller skate more than once. I think something edgier would work for this concept. But, hey, the author doesn't get to pick the cover art, so I don't base my opinions on it.

This is a good read with heart. I really enjoyed the journey it took me on and the ups and downs that led to a great ending. Plus, bonus points for including the picture of Bash's bleeding heart bear at the end! I'm giving it 4 stars!

Excerpt-
BASH

"..., I lose sight of Layla for just a moment. The crowd parts in a zigzag fashion and beneath the light machine, where the red, green, and blue hit the hardest, I see her—this statuesque beauty—hiding behind a trail of long brown hair and thick-framed glasses. With her hands folded snug in her lap, she’s looking around, sinking farther into the couch’s wilted threads as if hoping to not be seen, but I see her because hiding is typically what I do, too.

“My God,” I say. The cigarette hangs from my bottom lip, and this girl, who finally stops talking, is still looking at up me, glitter plummeting from her silver-tinted eye shadow. The flakes dance down to the tops of my boots like little asshole snowflakes. That shit should be banned. She follows my eyes across the floor to the big, plaid couch, letting her smile fade. Losing interest (finally), she drops my hand and disappears into the sea of people from which she first emerged.

With my heart nearly beating out of my chest, I watch Couch Girl. The way she tucks her hair behind her ears with precision, the way she nudges her falling glasses up the bridge of her nose, the way she pretends she’s not as earth-shatteringly stunning as she really is. Radiance surrounds her—not a halo, but some kind of ethereal glow—and I can’t look away. She looks up at me. Once, twice, three times; tries to avoid my eyes, but can’t. For the length of a whole song, my gaze doesn’t abandon her, and by the middle of the next song, she’s smiling at me. Score."

Buy it now-


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Self Publishing Book Conference from Book Baby


Welcome to Inside the Publishing World Wednesday! I just got the notice of a Book Baby self publishing conference taking place in November 2017 in Philadelphia, PA. Here are the details:

When- Nov. 3-5

Where-  Sonesta
1800 Market St
Philadelphia , PA 19103

What- "The 2017 BookBaby Independent Authors Conference is a skills-building educational weekend event for 500 independent authors. Our goal is to bring together bright minds to lead sessions that will improve skills, foster learning, and inspire creativity.

Our purpose is to give independent authors the practical skills they need to publish and market their books and manage careers as independent authors.

There will be two tracks – publishing and marketing, plus keynote presentations, panel discussions, and workshops. "

Here's what you can expect:

Keynote presentations from successful authors and industry leaders
Over 20 workshops and panels focused on publishing and marketing your book
Opportunities to connect with fellow writers and expand your writing network
Discussions with real publishing experts ready to answer your questions
Personal interaction with knowledgeable industry professionals

Interested? Here is the LINK


Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review- Black Ships Before Troy- The Story of THE ILIAD



Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing Black Ships Before Troy- The Story of THE ILIAD, a children's retelling by Rosemary Sutcliff and Illustrated by Alan. Lee. This book won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. It was previously released in Great Britain, but has now come to the US.

The Story-
Well, it's the story of THE ILIAD, Homer's epic poem about the war between Troy and Greece all because Aphrodite wanted Paris and Helen together, so Helen leaves her husband for Paris, and a decade long war begins.

My Thoughts-
What caused me to pick up this book in the first place was the excitement of seeing THE ILIAD retold for children. I remember having to read the full thing in college, and though I loved its mate, THE ODYSSEY, I stumbled through the long, long prose of THE ILIAD. So, I wanted to see if it was even possible to remake this poem easy enough for children to read.

The answer is a definite YES! Wow, this retelling is so easy to follow. Gone are the long winded speeches (sorry classic lovers) and instead the author sums up the story into easy to read chapters that allow children to understand the time line, get to know the characters without confusion, and still feel the excitement of the battles.

Now, I don't see younger middle graders picking this up, but I do see pre-teens and history loving kids giving it a looksie. The illustrations give an added treasure to this gem. The pages are bracketed by wonderful art that tells the story through pictures. The classic dress and armor will give kids a look into the authentic culture of ancient Greece.

This retelling is a success and I give it 5 stars as a history winner!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway- The Ghost of You and Me by Kelly Oram


The Ghost of You and Me by Kelly Oram 
 How do you tell someone who hates you and blames you for the death of his best friend that you miss him?   The tragic death of Spencer Schott unravels the lives of the two people he loved most—his girlfriend, Bailey, and his best friend, Wes. Secrets and guilt from that fateful night keep both Bailey and Wes from overcoming Spencer’s loss and moving on with their lives. Now, nearly a year later, both Bailey and Wes are still so broken over what happened that Spencer can’t find peace in the afterlife. In order to put his soul to rest, he’s given one chance to come back and set things right...even if that means setting up his girlfriend with his best friend.


My Thoughts-
This book sucked me in and didn't let me go until the last page. Right off the bat, within the first five pages, I fell hard for these three characters. I don't know how the author did it in such a short amount of time, but I was fully invested from the first game of spin the bottle. The brief tale of Bailey and Spencer's romance is heart touching. It gives you the feeling of true love. Then, when Spencer comes back to help Wes and Bailey get together I was like, wait, no! But as the story progresses you are eased into their romance and come out rooting for it in the end. Wow, lucky girl, she finds amazing love twice!

Superbly done and worth the read, I give this book 5 stars!

Author Kelly Oram -
 Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen--a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She's obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.
Website * Twitter * Facebook



Excerpt-
I open the door and slam into a solid chest. Strong hands grip my arms to steady me, and they don’t let go. I know the hands are Wes’s without having to look. “Are you okay?” he asks.
At first, I’m comforted by his presence. His smell is familiar, and the heat of his tall, lean body feels like it could thaw my frozen heart. For a split second, I melt against him. His arms come around me as if holding me is as natural to him as breathing. For a second, everything is right in my pathetic world. For a second, I’m alive again.
“Bailey, what’s wrong?” His usually smooth, deep voice is gruff.
My head jerks up at the sound of my name, and reality catches up with me. I scramble out of his embrace, attempting to swallow back my panic. He’s watching me, waiting for an answer. I haven’t spoken to him since the funeral, and I’m not sure I can do it now. It takes me a minute to find my voice, and when I do, I blurt out, “What are you doing here?”
He sucks in a breath through his nose as he steps back, gripping the strap of a bag slung over his shoulder. Seeing the backpack, my jaw drops. “Are you coming back to school?”
The genuine horror in my voice makes him flinch. There’d been a bit of light in his eyes, but it’s gone now. His face closes off. “No, I’m not coming back to school here.”
He adjusts that strap again, then switches the backpack to his other shoulder while glaring at the ground. I’ve offended him. Or maybe he just still hates me. I wouldn’t blame him. I got his best friend killed, after all. I hate me.
Seeing him reminds me of that night all over again. The events replay in my mind with vivid detail. Everything from finding Wes and stopping him from doing something unthinkable, to the kiss, to the fight, and finally the accident and Wes holding me back while paramedics did their best to try and save Spencer’s life.
One look at his face, and I can tell Wes is thinking about the same events. He closes his eyes and takes a breath. When he looks at me again, his expression has smoothed out. “How are you?” he asks. “You know…today.”
I swallow back a lump of emotion. I’m not surprised that Wes knows today is Spencer’s and my anniversary, but his acknowledgement of it feels like a knife in my heart. Why does he care? He hated that Spencer and I were together, and he used to get so cranky on this day every year.
“What’s today?” someone behind me murmurs. “It’s not the anniversary of Spencer’s death. That’s not for a couple weeks.”
A crowd of students have gathered to watch the drama. I don’t know who spoke, but I wish I could make them all disappear. Could people be any more tactless? Why can’t they just mind their own business?
When my eyes start to burn, I turn to leave. I can’t stand here any longer.
Wes puts a hand on my shoulder to stop me. “Bay, wait.”
I freeze. Aside from that night, Wes hasn’t used my nickname since I got together with Spencer and he started hating me for stealing his best friend.
Wes lets me go and rubs a hand over his head. “Sorry. I just—we should really talk.”
“Don’t.” With a quivering voice and stinging eyes, I whisper, “I can’t do this. Not today.” Maybe not ever.
I can’t take it anymore. I can’t stare into those knowing eyes for another second. My guilt is bad enough without seeing his sadness and anger.
Wes doesn’t say anything as I leave, doesn’t try to stop me. I head straight for my car and don’t care if I get in trouble for leaving. All that matters is getting far, far away from here. I’m not really running from Wes. I’m running from the past. Running from myself. Those are two things I will never escape, but I run anyway.

Giveaway-
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 7/26/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts



Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing a Scholastic Book club pick, The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts.

The Story-
Katie Welker is almost ten years old. For most of her life she's lived with her grandma, but when grandma passes, Katie is collected by her mother. Katie struggles to live with a mother she doesn't really know in a new apartment and a new city. All her life, Katie has felt alone. She is always labeled the strange girl with the silver eyes. Whenever there's trouble people look her way, and even though she can make things happen just by thinking about them, she's not behind everything out there that goes wrong!

When  Mr. C moves into their apartment building things take a turn for the worse. He questions all the neighbors about Katie and seems to be digging into her past. She even overhears him commenting that Katie might be responsible for her own grandma's death!

Terrified, Katie begins to seek out others like herself, others with silver eyes. She finds out her mother once worked at a pharmaceutical company and that one of the drugs they made was pulled from production. Further digging reveals four women, including her mom, all got pregnant while working there. Katie is determined to find out the other children and prove that she did not kill her grandma!

My Thoughts-
This is a nice middle grade read with a fun sci-fi twist. Katie is a normal kid, it's just that she has the power of telekinesis. There is a great mystery with the pharmaceutical company and the three other children born with silver eyes. The tension is there with Mr. C and his lurking ways and there is a real fear that he will capture Katie and she will never be seen again. The author does a great job pulling the young reader into the story and then stretching out the mystery. It is not to scary a mystery, so it is okay for young readers. Nice cover too! A girl with silver eyes and an apple floating just above her fingertips. 4 stars!




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cover Love- The Dead and the Gone


Another post apocalyptic book for you today! Can you tell I'm partial? So, we have a huge moon hanging way too low in the sky, a green, creepy atmosphere, and birds hightailing it out of there. A non functional streetlight hangs despairingly over the abandoned street and people are not present. To me it also looks like the building in the dead center, but furthest away, is falling apart. Yep, I picked this one right up.