Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Picture Books for 2011

My Year in Review: Ahhh....picture books. I can't say enough about them. They can inspire creativity and imagination. They can take their readers to giggling out loud at their silliness or send messages that can be taken with them. They can be colorful and bold or simple and pleasing to the eye. This year there were plenty of books to choose from and I found new authors and old authors that did just all of these and more.

Here were a few that stand out in my mind as being some of my favorites for our little readers:

The Quiet Book
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

The Loud Book!

The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood

Little Croc's Purse

Little Croc's Purse by Lizzie Finlay

The Best Pet Ever

The Best Pet Ever by Victoria Roberts

My Mom Has X-ray Vision

My Mom has X-Ray Vision by Angela McAllister

Follow Me

Follow Me by Tricia Tusa

Perfect Square

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

How Rocket Learned to Read

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

Hush, Little Horsie
Hush, Little Horsie by Jane Yolen

Kindergators: Hands Off, Harry...
Hands off Harry! by Rosemary Wells

Little By Little

Little by Little by Amber Stewart

Favorite MG Reads for 2011

My Year in Review: I found many well written and great books this past year for middle grade readers. I am always happy to find books that have strong characters, good development and of course positive messages for our young readers. Too many books are promoted for middle grade readers that are advanced in content and are just not a right fit for their reading level or maturity.

Here are a few books that I remember that were good middle grade reads:

Wild Wings

Wild Wings by Gil Lewis

Selling Hope

Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell Tubbs

Sparrow Road

Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Na...

A Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

Hide and Seek

Hide & Seek by Katy Grant

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Hound Dog True

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban


Hothead by Cal Ripken, Jr.

Calli Be Gold

Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Wild Life

Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice

The Year Money Grew on Trees
The Year Money Grew on Trees by Aaron Hawkins

Favorite YA Reads of 2011

My Year in Review:  I read several YA books this past year but I really think I had a tough time finding some good ones. I found a wide selection of different genres as well over this past year but ended up abandoning quite a few of them because I lost interest in the characters or the storylines were weak. I am hoping 2012 will bring me some better choices. I do have several lined up now for January reads that I am looking forward to diving into from some new authors that have sent me copies.

I was able to pick a few memorable YA reads that really stuck out for me in 2011:

Close to Famous

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

The Revenant

The Revenant by Sonia Gensler

Imaginary Girls

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Ho...

Young Sherlock Holmes - Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

The Name of the Star (Shades o...
The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

Chamelia review


Meet Chamelia! Chamelia is a chameleon. Most chameleons like to blend in, but Chamelia prefers to stand out. She just loves being the center of attention. But when standing out means being left out, can Chamelia learn to share the spotlight?  (goodreads summary)

This is a cute story about keeping your individuality but mostly how to make it fit for the right moment.  Chamelia is quite charming and full of expression in the way she dresses so she will not blend in with the other chameleons. She wears colorful patterned clothes and loaded with accessories to stand out.  Although it backfires on her when her sequined high heels are not right for playing soccer and she overdresses her part for the Goldilocks play.  Instead of feeling special she begins to feel left out.  She realizes that she can join in and still be different with just a touch of something special instead of overdoing it. The illustrations are colorful and the text is short and simple. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4-7.~

Title: Chamelia
Author: Ethan Long
Pub. date: May 2011, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cryer's Cross Review

Cryer's Cross

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. (goodreads summary),

The story opens with the end of Kendall's junior year and the community is searching for Tiffany Quinn. Eventually over the summer people stop talking about the disappearance and a new school year resumes. Kendall, who also has OCD, tries to manage her challenges on a daily basis living on a small farm in Montana and starting her senior year.  She arrives the first day of school doing her usual routines but finds it more difficult with Tiffany's desk sitting empty and new changes ahead. The only one who understands her is Nico Cruz her best friend whom she has known her whole life.  In the meantime, two new students Marlena and Jacian Obregon move to Cryer's Cross from Arizona. Marlena is happy about the move but her brother Jacian is not thrilled with the new transition to such a small town. He is hard to reach and seems very withdrawn. Kendall moves on with her new school year and one day notices some changes developing with Nico. He seems to be in a sleepy state and one day turns up vanishing just like Tiffany had months before. The community issues a curfew and a buddy system for all students and Kendall's buddy ends up becoming Jacian. As she tries to deal with the grief and loss of Nico, she also finds herself fighting feelings for Jacian. One day, she notices strange messages appearing on the desk that Nico once sat at during school asking for help. She also pieces together that it is the same desk that Tiffany sat at as well. Kendall finds herself becoming entranced with the eerie messages and soon believes that she hears Nico's voice calling to her for help. Will she find what is behind the strange feelings and messages to possibly save Nico from being lost forever if he is truly trying to reach her?

I was very uncertain about this book when I finished the last pages. It will probably be viewed differently to other readers. It had a teenage girl with OCD, a best friend who wasn't sure if he was a boyfriend, a new guy that was hard to connect to, the mystery of missing teenagers, a little bit of romance, adults with secret pasts and some supernatural elements. It had a lot packed into this fast paced, easy-to-read book. I found myself reading it in one day because I was determined to find out what was with the creepy desk?  It was definitely written with a small town feel making the townspeople and families seem realistic as well as Kendall's daily struggle with OCD. It was not that extreme but just enough for me to feel what it would be like to be the character. As the days move on, Kendall also finds herself having unsure feelings about Jacian. I didn't connect with this part of the storyline and wasn't sure if it was going to lead into him being a likely suspect in Nico's disappearance. When the end finally revealed the paranormal side of the story, I felt like I just read a John Saul book. I will say it was chilling and creepy with a bit of a disturbing twist with that desk that kept my wondering thoughts alive. Reading about the lost souls in the book were sad and the thought of how they became that way was even sadder for my soft heart. It did have a few profanities but it wasn't anything out of the norm. I usually enjoy a good ghost story and will say that this one was unique.  It's a book where either you'll like it or not. I'm glad that I did give it a try and I probably would look for other books by this author just to get a feel for her talents. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 14 and up.~

Title: Cryer's Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Pub. date: February 2011,  Simon Pulse
Genre: young adult, mystery/supernatural
Hardcover, 233 pages

Friday Hops - December 30

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme which is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read that expands your blog following.  It is a great way to meet new bloggers! Each week there is a great question and each host will have a featured blog too. I have been a follower of Alison's blog for the past year and finally decided to join on this hop. I hope to hop from time-to-time!

This week's question is:

The New Year is here -- and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog? 

My Answer:  Oh, Resolutions are so hard to keep......this year I have a few changes planned for myself and family. I plan on doing my best sticking with them!  But I do want to keep on blogging.
As for my blog, I would like to keep up better with my posts and not letting them go so far in between. I have books read (alot waiting to be read too) but something always came up which delayed my reviews. So, I am going to dedicate one day a week to writing and scheduling posts. I also want to learn how to make buttons and do giveaways if anyone has suggestions on how these work for you........
Happy New Year everyone and may 2012 be a great year for reading!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Hops - December 16

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme which is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read that expands your blog following.  It is a great way to meet new bloggers! Each week there is a great question and each host will have a featured blog too. I have been a follower of Alison's blog for the past year and finally have found the time and decided to join on this hop. I hope to hop from time-to-time!

This week's question is:

Q: When you’ve read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)

My Answer:  Good question this week.. I noticed that so many people have such a wide variety of books that I was interested in finding out where they all come from and what they do with them when they are done.  I get the majority of my books from our local library so it is easy enough to return when I'm finished. I sometimes purchase books that I really want and then just save them. Since our books we own are in such good shape, once a year I go through them and donate to our Friends of the Library group for their sales.

I'm looking forward to reading what others say and hope to find some new bloggers along the way! Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - December 6

It is time for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Anyone can join and it's fun to read what others have to say. This week's Top Ten is:

Top Ten Childhood Favorites

I used to love getting the scholastic book order form when I was a kid and would circle a ton of books every time. There were so many favorites and I feel like I am aging mysef, so here it goes.

Once again, not in any particuliar order:

Tikki Tikki Tembo  - Tiki Tiki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Ped... - Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Green Eggs and Ham - Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

The Elephant's Child - The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling

Clifford The Small Red Puppy - The Clifford Series by Norman Bridwell

The Giving Tree - The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Little House on the Prairie - Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, #1) - The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler

Black Beauty - Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

I am looking forward to reading what others have to share. I'm sure there will be many that will bring back wonderful memories for me. Have a great week!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Do You Hug a Porcupine review

How Do You Hug a Porcupine?

Can you imagine hugging a porcupine? Sure, it's easy to picture hugging a bunny or even a billy goat, but where would you begin to try to hug a porcupine?  After seeing all his friends hug their favorite animals, one brave boy works up the courage to hug a porcupine, but the porcupine isn't so sure he wants to be hugged!  (goodreads summary)

This was such a cute book! The rhyming text makes for a wonderful read-aloud. It flowed easily and children will love seeing each animal getting its own special hug. The illustrations are pleasing to the eye and adds an extra warm feeling with all the smiles and hugs going around. The little boy really wants to know how to hug a porcupine and comes up with a funny resolution in the end. Children could come up with their own animal to hug and catchy rhyming words to make their own story. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: How Do You Hug Porcupine?
Author: Laurie Isop -  Illustrated by Gwen Millward
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date: July 2011, Simon & Schuster Books for Young  Readers
Hardcover, 32 pgs.