First Lines

What if you judged a book – not by its cover – but by its first line? I’m just putting out some new books, what do you think of these first lines?

“At last my hands have stopped shaking and I can write.” – Down the Rabbit Hole by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

“I want to say at the very start that I am not the type to do this.” – A City Tossed and Broken by Judy Blundell

“There were ten items on Coke McDonald’s to-do list for the month of July.” – You Only Die Twice by Dan Gutman

“On the morning I was scheduled to die, a large barefoot man with a bushy red beard waddled past my house.” – Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

“It was the bitterest, meanest, darkest, coldest winter in anyone’s memory, even in one of the forgotten neighborhoods of Chicago.” – Hold Fast by Blue Balliett

“I remember my mom quoting ‘the fog comes in on little cat feet’ and my dad replying ‘more like big elephant feet’ ” – Serendipity & Me by Judith L. Roth

” Ever told a lie to save yourself?” – Burned by Sara Shepard

“I can’t believe what I’m witnessing.” – Witch & Wizard: The Kiss by James Patterson & Jill Dembowski

“My brother is a philosopher.” – Pieces by Chris Lynch

“I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help.” – In Darkness by Nick Lake

“In the momentous year of 1776, on the twenty-second of September, my mother and I were rushing back to the city of New York.” – Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi

“One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.” – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Have a favorite first line from a book? Share it!


ALA Awards Announced


It’s always interesting to see what books make the awards lists at the annual Mid-Winter meeting of the American Library Association.  Back in the day, it was all about the Newbery and the Caldecott. Now there are twenty different awards on the docket, from those honoring non-fiction excellence to those honoring the best book for young people translated from a foreign language. Quite a testament to the variety and diversity of the written word!

I am always taken by surprise when going over the lists. I am happy when I discover that I have already gotten all of the winners and honor books in a category (Newbery!) and shocked when I have never even heard of the winner in a category (Printz!). I also love seeing the Sibert Award in the mix, as I knew the amazing Sibert family in my tenure at a former library and like seeing their name up in lights for their long-time support of books and libraries.

Unlike the Academy Awards, or the Grammys, or the Golden Globes, no one ever knows what books are being considered for the ALA Youth Media awards. It is known only to the lucky few who are asked to serve on the various selection committees. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate in sweet agony? Being asked to read tons of incredible books and choosing so few to highlight? (And not talking to anyone during the process!!!)

Want to have a look at the books and media who got the nod this year? Here’s the link to the big list of all the award categories with descriptions and history of each one – enjoy!


Let’s Celebrate: Holiday Picture Book Season is Here!

There are so many things to love about the holiday season: time spent with family and friends, finding that perfect gift, making those special goodies… but for me, one of the best treats of all is digging out all of the fabulous holiday picture books – both new and old!

Here are some to share this holiday season!

(PCCL does not own all of these books and some may even be out of print — so, remember if there are favorites in your house, be sure to buy a copy while it’s still available so that you can share it  for many holidays to come!)

willy-may-christmas-story-judy-schachner-hardcover-cover-artAunt May and her canary Willy have never missed spending the holidays with May’s niece, but this year the weather may keep them from their plans…. or will a special someone make everyone’s holiday dreams come true?



Turkey has managed to survive Thanksgiving, and now it looks like he may be on the Christmas menu! He decides his only hope is to take his worries all the way to the top – straight to the North Pole!


Truffle the mouse is in a quandary – he knows he should ask for the practical gift, but he SO wants the fun gift instead! He asks for one and then changes his mind – so he decides to wait outside in the snow to let Santa know before he makes his gift deliveries to the mouse house – but will Santa see a tiny mouse hidden in the snow?


Maria loves the tradition of making homemade tamales with her family for the holidays. Everyone is in such good spirits, she is even allowed to try on her mother’s beautiful wedding ring. But later, the ring turns up missing………


Best friends Toot & Puddle could not be more different. Toot is off exploring the world, while Puddle stays home getting ready for the holidays. All of Toot’s postcards promise he’ll be home for Christmas, but will he make it in time?

tree of cranes

A young Japanese boy has trouble understanding his mother’s work to put candles and paper cranes on one of their trees – until she shares the stories of Christmas form when she grew up in California as a small child.


The Stick Man just wants to celebrate the holidays with his stick family, but a rowdy dog snatches him up and runs away. Soon he is too far from home to ever make it back on his own – but perhaps a favor for a stranger could turn things around?

spinelli together

Ten little mice huddle together in the snow. One by one, they seek out separate spots to stay warm, but soon realize that being warm and lonely for one another at Christmas doesn’t feel quite right after all….


Santa’s favorite cat tumbles from his sleigh into the hustle and bustle of New York City’s holiday season. Snow cat wanders through the city searching for Santa – but it will take the North Wind and the Lemon Moon to spot him.


Crazy new lyrics for familiar holiday songs and David Catrow’s hilarious illustrations make this a fun, irreverent look at the holidays. Sing along and sing aloud if you can stop laughing long enough!


A fun holiday book back in print again! When the Snitcher steals into town and steals all of the sprinkles no holiday cookies can be baked or shared! It’s up to one young boy to track down the Snitcher and teach him to share…


Evil brat Bradley  has it in for Santa, because Santa knows he is not a good soul and never leaves him anything but socks! So Brad’s got truly horrible plans to trap Santa when he comes to deliver the presents this year. Who will win the battle??


Just how DID Santa get his job? This is a fun look at all the different jobs Santa tried (all of them  have an element of foreshadowing)  until discovering the one job he was absolutely perfect for!


When Santa’s sleigh breaks down in Firefly Wood, it’s up to Russell the Sheep to come up with a way to save Christmas!


The classic book is the tale of a young boy whisked onto the Polar Express bound for the North Pole and a chance to see Santa take off on his Christmas Eve adventures. Despite the popularity of the movie, do yourself a favor and share this exquisitely illustrated original with your family this holiday season. It all started here between these covers.


Mr Putter and Tabby are two of my favorite characters. When they decide to bake a cake as a gift for their  friend and neighbor Mrs. Teaberry and her dog Zeke, all sorts of calamities ensue! A warm and funny story of friendship and giving.


Little Robin has a collection of seven lovely warm vests to wear during the week leading up to Christmas. But as he goes about the woods, he meets others who are mush more in need of warmth than he and on Christmas Day, finds himself shivering and vestless. But someone has noticed his kind-hearted giving and has a gift of their own….


What if Santa’s own son was on the naughty list? And what if felt that Santa’s no-toys-for-bad-boys policy was unfair? Well he might just gather all the kids on the naughty list to plead their case with Santa himself – but will that work???


Peef is a special little stuffed bear that was made for some little girl or boy, but Santa likes him so much, he just hangs on to him for himself. Will Peef always be Santa’s bear? Or does someone else need the little bear more??


Joe asks Santa for a real live penguin named Osbert for Christmas and on Christmas morning – there he is under the tree! Joe is over the moon with joy – until the real work of caring properly for a penguin from Antarctica begins to sink in…..


Only the most beautiful tree will do for wealthy Mr. Willowby, but the one that arrives is just a bit too tall. But when the excess bit of tree is thrown out in the snow, it catches the eye of someone else….


Julie Vivas is instantly recognizable for her unique style of illustration. Her talents shine in other great books like I Went Walking and Sleepy Pendoodle and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. With this rendition of the Nativity, she’s created another memorable picture book.


Morris isn’t too crazy about the teddy he receives, but he finds all sorts of delight in something someone left behind….


Max is determined to stay up to see Santa and Ruby is determined that he will do no such thing. Who wins?


Mary Engelbreit provides a colorful rendition of the traditional poem in this splendid picture book!


What would it take to list EVERYTHING you ever wanted for Christmas on your list for Santa?


There are many picture book versions of this lovely e.e.cummings Christmas poem about a little tree and the siblings who claim it for their holiday, but I am especially fond of this one with marvelous illustrations by Chris Raschka.


Llama Llama is very excited about Christmas, but all of the preparations and work leading up to the big event cause him to have a little holiday meltdown. Good thing Mama Llama is right there to make things better….


Seuss. Grinch. Whoville. No Christmas is complete until this ORIGINAL classic book is shared.  (Sorry Jim Carrey, but you cannot hold a candle to the genius of the original…)


When the King finds the most beautiful, soft, red cloth he has it made into a gorgeous cloak for his daughter’s Christmas gift. The scraps get placed on the back steps for the rag man, but someone gets to them first and decides to………


Wally and Carrie Koala get into a big brother-sister squabble over who will decorate their tree for Christmas and end up breaking the ornaments! Can their friend Piper the Lorikeet help them find a way to save the holiday?


Hilarity ensues when Harriet and George make a pact to avoid Mrs. Whosit and her ever-present fruitcake for the whole holiday season. But just as they think they’re home free, Harriet’s little brother is offered a treat – will it be the dreaded fruitcake??


When the Gingerbread Pirates discover they’ve been left by their makers as a snack for a cannibal named Santa Claus, they decide to take matters into their own hands (and peg-legs!) Silly fun for everyone!


Crispin has everything and more but values nothing. So one Christmas, Santa leaves him nothing but an enormous empty box. But the box turns out to be full of something Crispin has never had…….


Lovely little book about all of the quiet moments that surround us during the holidays. Perfect for one on one sharing and stories about your own quiet times. (Be prepared to be enchanted by the ice skating owl…..)


When a houseful of poor little pigs are bemoaning the fact that they can’t have a real Christmas without the money to buy all sorts of fancy things, the Angel Pig appears and shows them how to look for and celebrate the true magic of the holidays!


When a small cricket creeps into a holiday ready home to escape the dark and cold, he feels small and unworthy of such a grand hiding place as the lovely shining tree. But he soon discovers he, too, has a gift to share.


A crocodile is delivered as a Christmas gift and proceeds to munch on nearly everything and even several somebodies! Can this present truly have been delivered to the right house? Can the mystery be solved while at least one other present remains?

christmas magic

Michael Garland has done many lovely holiday books, but this is my favorite. The story of two children’s snowpeople coming to life under the light of the moon is most assuredly a book filled with Christmas magic.


Santa has dropped his book of all the names and gifts at Edward’s house making it impossible to finish delivering the toys! When Edward gets it back to him safely, Santa invites Edward to ride along – but when Santa loses his glasses out over the ocean, can very new reader Edward take over the job of checking the book to save the day again?


Bear is usually asleep at Christmas, but his friends really want to share the magic of the season with him. So they keep him busy helping with all the preparations and are able to show Bear just what Christmas is really about!


My all-time favorite Christmas book, this is the tale of a man whose desire to decorate his house and yard for the holidays in the biggest  way anyone has ever decorated in the history of the world ends in mayhem, a little wisdom, and happily, no loss of the ability to dream big. Possibly a bit intense for the littlest tyke, but a crazy, over the top take on what the true meaning of celebrating the holidays is that I have loved since the very first time I read it. (And yes, it is written by that David Shannon..)

Happy holidays and happy holiday picture books to all!

And hey, now it’s your turn to let me know what your favorite picture books are for holiday sharing!

What Have I Read Lately? Glad You Asked!

Ordering new books is one of the most awesome parts of my job, but then I want to READ all of them! Never enough time to read them all, but here’s what I’ve read over the past several weekends:

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The Templeton Twins Have An Idea by Ellis Weiner (J-Fic)

I love a snarky narrator and this book has one of the snarkiest narrators EVER! Abigail and John are the 12-year-old twins of a very famous inventor. (They also have a ridiculous little barking dog named Cassie.) When their father takes a job at a new university in order to complete his research on one of his coolest inventions, their lives become terribly complicated and dangerous! Can the twins examine all the clues in time to save themselves and their father’s inventive reputation?

What Came From the Stars by Gary Schmidt (YA Fic)

A planet in a distant galaxy is under attack, so the heroes decide to pour all of their civilization’s beauty into a single necklace and send it out into the universe hoping for a safe landing. Of course, they could never have imagined it would land in the Ace Robotroid lunch box of 6th grader, Tommy Pepper. What powers does the necklace contain? How will it change the lives of everyone in Tommy’s town? And who is ransacking everyplace in sight trying to get it back??

Zip by Ellie Rollins (J Fic)

Lyssa’s mom was a bona fide Texas singing star and their lives were full of concerts and music and creative people. When her mother dies, Lyssa and her stepfather relocate to Washington State to try to start a new life away from all the memories. It’s not a bad life, but feels so ordinary and dull that Lyssa is restless and edgy. Then word reaches Lyssa that their wonderful old house in Texas is going to be torn down and she knows she has got to go to Austin to stop it. But how?

Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood (J Fic)

Prairie Evers has always lived in the mountains of North Carolina, where life is a cozy quilt of family and farm life. Homeschooled by her Grandma and happy with the creative freedom that comes from being so involved in the natural world, she is content. Then her parents have an opportunity to take over a much larger farm in New York state and Prairie finds herself uprooted from everything she’s ever known and plunked down in public school to boot! Can this country girl find a place, a pal and a purpose?

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (YA Fic)

When Amy’s dad dies in a car crash, everything changes for her family. Her mom has to look for a new job, her brother falls into bad habits and Amy just feels lost. Then her mom decides to accept a job on the opposite coast and makes arrangements for Amy to ride cross-country with the son of an old family friend. Amy can’t think of anything more unpleasant – but when they decide to take an epic detour – life may just turn around for everyone!

Splendors & Glooms by Amy Schiltz (J Fic)

The master puppeteer, Grisini is truly talented and a more than a bit frightening. But orphans Lizzie and Parsifal are happy to have become part of his troupe and have grown used to their new responsibilities and hardships. But when they do a puppet show for the very rich Clara Wintermute’s birthday party and she turns up missing the next day, their lives may never be the same. What magic is afoot? Where is Clara? And is running from Grisini taking them toward someone even more dangerous?

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (YA Fic)

The sequel to This Dark Endeavor finds Victor Frankenstein’s family devastated by the death of his twin brother, Konrad. Despite all the alchemy and sacrifice and terrifying schemes Victor and his friends attempted in order to save Konrad’s life, it was to no avail. In despair, all the materials from his grandfather’s secret library are thrown onto a huge bonfire and the tower room is to be permanently sealed to avoid any further entanglements with such experiments. Yet, as Victor views the smoldering rubble, he finds a metal book, and inside another key that could be the means to bring his beloved brother back to life. Could it be possible that he might truly succeed this time?

The Agency by Y.S. Lee (YA Fic)

Twelve year old Mary Quinn is an orphan and a thief on the mean streets of London. As the story opens, she has been condemned to hang for her crimes and accepts her fate as an expected way out of her wretched life. Knocked out with chloroform by the warden, she awakes in a private boarding school which specializes in reclaiming the lives of young girls such as herself. But when she turns 17, Mary discovers that the school is really a cover for a secret spy agency that uses brave young women as agents to unravel all manner of criminal cases. Assigned her first case, Mary has a small crisis of faith – can she really pull off life as a spy?

Fourmile by Watt Key (J Fic)

Foster may only be 12, but he knows that his mom’s new boyfriend is not a good guy. But since his dad died, she’s been so lonely and sad, that he feels badly about having such a negative attitude when she seems to feel happier. Without his dad on the farm, they’re unable to keep up with things and are planning to sell the farm. Then one afternoon, a stranger and his dog come walking down their dusty rural Alabama road and all of their lives come rushing toward one explosive moment.

The Applewhites at Wit’s End by Stephanie Tolan (J Fic)

The crazy Applewhite family has always managed to squeak by just fine on their dilapidated farm. One or the other of the eccentric, artistically talented family members always manages to find a way to bring in some money to keep them afloat…. until this year. In desperation, they decide to become a sleep away camp for promising young students of the arts – a plan that is half-baked at best. Add to the mix some very unhappy campers and a sneaky spy set on closing the camp down and you have quite a summer underway!

Hurt Go Happy by Ellen Rorby (J Fic)

Joey has been in a silent world for nearly 7 years – ever since she lost her hearing. Her mother has never allowed her to learn sign language, which has made it harder for Joey to adjust to her situation. Everything changes when she accidentally meets Dr. Mansell and his baby chimpanzee and begins to learn sign along with them. Her life is better than ever until her new chimp friends’ lives are threatened….. 

Almost Home by Joan Bauer (J Fic)

Sugar and her mama have not been dealt a good hand. Her grandfather died and her father is gone again and the bank has evicted them from their house. Bravely, they set out to start over in Chicago, but times are hard there, too, and they end up in a homeless shelter –  along with the puppy Sugar accepted from a little girl outside a grocery store. Sugar’s always been told to see the good in things, but if things get much worse, she’s not sure she and her mama will be able to keep smiling – especially if they can’t even find a way to stay together.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (J Fic)

Georges and his dad have just moved into a big Brooklyn apartment building. While storing some things in the basement, they discover a notice announcing a meeting of the spy club. Georges dad encourages him to check it out, which leads him to meet Safer and his very unusual family. Safer considers himself the consummate spy and enlists Georges help in tracking a mysterious tenant in the complex. Soon the spying goes to levels Georges is not really comfortable with and he has to decide how far he will go for a new friendship.

The Whisper by Emma Clayton (J Fic)

The sequel to The Roar finds the captured children able to communicate telepathically in order to defeat the power-hungry man who has imprisoned them to be used as his own private army. The children know that it is up to them and them alone to find a way to overpower the mastermind and his henchmen and then disarm the rest of the warring world in order to find peace and bring harmony back to the planet. A very tall order, even for the mutant leaders of the children’s army. Can the healing breath of the Whisper defeat the jangled cries of The Roar?

Son by Lois Lowry (YA Fic)

Lois Lowry has revisited this story four times now, creating an intricate quartet of viewpoints and characters that are interwoven between the books. SON is the fourth book in the series (The Giver, Gathering Blue, The Messenger) about a futuristic society in which personal choice is no longer an option and families and jobs are chosen by the Society not the Individual. SON is a marvelous finishing touch to the series.

Sammy Keyes & the Power of Justice Jack by Wendelin Van Draanen (J Fic)

Sammy Keyes ought to know that Santa Martina is full of weird people and events, but no one was really prepared for Justice Jack. A doughy guy in a homemade costume and mask, he rides around on a dirt bike looking for crime to stop. Quirky and harmless – until the residents of her grandmother’s high-rise hire him to look into a missing resident and one of her best friends applies to be his new sidekick!

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (YA Fic)

The sequel to The Girl of Fire & Thorns, this novel finds Elisa a young widow and new queen  in the capital city. What should be a time of triumph and healing after winning a war against dark forces is instead one of despair and unrest. When emissaries of the dark begin arriving to capture Elisa and her powers for their own use, she must set off on a perilous journey to stop their power at its very source. Another great installment in this great trilogy about a girl chosen for greatness whether she finds herself ready for it or not…..

The Diviners by Libba Bray (YA Fic)

I am not a fan of scary books. (If you’ve ever asked me for a recommendation for a scary one, you know this is true.) But I’d read other books by Libba Bray before and had heard some great word of mouth about this one…. so I read it. It is set in 1920’s New York City where a party of flappers and dandies are fooling around with a Ouija board. Little do they know that they have just unleashed an evil spirit from the past that will wreak havoc on the Big Apple in terrifying ways… can a brash young flapper-wanna-be from Ohio be the one to discover the way to defeat the devil? Amazingly detailed and truly frightening… don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Fave Fiction Jamboree: Young Adult Books

So many books to recommend and so little time: so I’m opting to go with the YA FAVE FICTION BLITZ EDITION!

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is a sixteen-year-old cyborg who has a stunning ability to repair almost any malfunctioning machine. Considered a freak by her stepmother, she toils in a small market booth to earn her keep. When the Prince stops by to see if she can help repair his android and sparks fly, Cinder dares to dream that she could have a different life – but then her sister dies of the human plague and her wicked stepmother devises an evil plan that Cinder may not be able to find a way out of alive. This is an uber-cool, futuristic version of the Cinderella tale that is tough to put down!

Nation by Terry Pratchett

When a giant rogue wave washes across his tiny island, Mau believes that he is the only person left alive. Then Daphne appears out of the ravaged jungle, the sole survivor of a ship from the other side of the world which was also destroyed by the wave. Together, they begin to recreate a world and as other refugees arrive, they find themselves struggling against fear, ancient spirits, secrets and death. Can Mau and Daphne really succeed in creating a new world?

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Radley is volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti when the President of the United States is assassinated and the American People’s Party takes over the country and declares martial law. Her only thought is to get home to Vermont to be with her parents but with all the chaos, it takes nearly 24 hours just to land back in the States. Stuck in New Hampshire with a dead cell phone, cancelled credit cards, no money and no paperwork that will satisfy any of the new checkpoint guards, she begins to get back to her parents in the only way she can – by walking home alone.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

During the thick of World War Two, daring young women joined the fight against Nazi Germany by becoming secret airplane pilots and spies. Not really acknowledged, their missions were often unsupported and thus, even more perilous. In this novel, two of these women find their bravery and their friendship tested to the ultimate limit as they work behind the scenes to win the war.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Victor Frankenstein may have created The Monster, but what was it that created Victor? At sixteen, Victor’s twin brother, Konrad falls gravely ill with an incurable disease. In agony at the prospect of his brother’s death, Victor convinces his cousin and his best friend to accompany him on a quest to find the ingredients that are rumored to create an Elixir of Life. Thrilling, terrifying and twisted, this book lays bare the creation of the Mad Dr. Frankenstein… 

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina is willing to follow her friend Mal and the rest of the army into The Fold – a frightening black hole of darkness where creatures feed on human flesh. Only half-way across, Mal is attacked and in desperation Alina calls on an inner power she never knew she possessed to save him. News of her stunning rescue soon reaches the royal court and Alina finds herself chosen by The Darkling himself to be trained as a member of his elite magical squad known as the Grisha. At first, the pampered adulation is amazing, but what darkness really lies along this new path?

Curveball by Jordan Sonnenblick

Peter Friedman’s life is baseball. He lives, breathes and eats it and is the all-star pitcher on his freshman team. Everything about his life is wrapped up in his identity as the star pitcher – it’s just who he is and always will be. Then a nasty accident in a summer game changes everything. Who is he now? Who are his real friends? What’s happening to his beloved grandfather all of a sudden? And is it possible to find a girlfriend who doesn’t care that he is no longer the star athlete at school?

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

It’s 1996. Josh and Emma have been neighbors and best friends forever. So when Josh’s family gets a free trial CD in the mail to sign up for AOL, Emma’s family is fine with him bringing it over to install on their new computer.  Excited to try out the new technology, the two friends log on and find themselves on something called Facebook – which has not even been invented yet. Ans what’s more – they both have Facebook user profiles that are showing them the daily posts from their lives fifteen years into the future! Nothing they imagined seems to have played out for them, so they begin to experiment with making changes to their present to alter their futures. Can what they choose today really make a difference that will show up in their online futures? 

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman

Min and Ed are breaking up. It’s not a pretty break-up. In fact, Min has collected everything that she’s kept to commemorate their relationship – bottle caps, notes, stolen sugar, matches – every single thing and packed it into a box. On the top of the box she’s written, “You either have the feeling or you don’t”, and she’s dumped the whole thing on Ed’s front step to explain to him EXACTLY why they are breaking up. Part journal, part scrapbook, and all angst, this is a sharp look at love and its aftermath.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Seventeen-year-old Hazel has had some success with experimental treatments over the years, but her diagnosis has always been that she is a terminal case. She’s always known it, her family has always known it, and the other kids in her newly required Cancer Kid Support Group have always known it. Then one of the regulars at the Group brings along his gorgeous friend, Augustus to a meeting and everything changes. Is it possible, or even wise to allow yourself to love and hope and dream when you know your days are numbered?

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Elisa has never been the honored sister. Her older sister is poised, beautiful and accomplished and will rule the kingdom when her father transfers his powers. Elisa is clumsy, chunky and awkward and feels the burden of knowing that her birth was the cause of her mother’s early death. Yet when her father seeks to marry one of his daughters to the dashing King Alejandro, it is Elisa who is chosen for her secret and untested power. Just sixteen, Elisa finds herself married, lost on a desert journey, and hunted by those who seek to control her power for their own purposes. Can she overcome her many doubts and insecurities in time to be the leader everyone else believes her capable of becoming? (We also just got the sequel, Crown of Embers!)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Amy and her parents have agreed to become part of the crew aboard the Spaceship Godspeed. Their goal is to colonize a new planet, which they’ve named Centauri-Earth. Because the voyage will take three hundred years, each of them will be cryogenically frozen in individual chambers and will be awakened upon their safe landing on the new planet. But fifty years before the ship is due to land, Amy’s chamber is unplugged, waking her too suddenly. The scene onboard is nothing she could have expected – manned by a cruel and tyrannical leader and a generation of people who have never known what it is to live anywhere but on a ship hurtling through outer space. Amy is a seen as freak and an outsider who is not to be trusted. But who woke her and why? Was it to help the mission or was someone trying to murder her? (We’ve got the second book in the series now, too – A Million Suns.)

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

Leo has his life all planned out. President of the Young Republican Club, accepted to start at Harvard in the fall, there’s nothing that can derail his all-too-bright future. That is, until he learns that his biological father is none other than King Maggot, the world’s most notorious punk rocker. Somehow, that knowledge of what sort of person must lurk inside of his blood sets Leo on edge and in an act of defiance, he manages to lose his scholarship. Never one to be without a back-up plan, Leo signs on as a roadie with his dad’s band, hoping to be able to bond enough to convince his new dad to pay his tuition. But Leo has no idea what life on the road has in store for his life, his heart, or his future! 

Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman

Vince Luca may seem like a regular high school guy with regular high school problems, but his father just happens to be the godfather of a powerful crime family. Making friends and dating get pretty complicated when you can’t really describe what the family business entails, but when he meets Kendra the complications seem like they could be worth the trouble. Everything seems to be going great until Kendra shares the news that her dad is an FBI agent – the same agent who’s trying to take down his father’s empire! Can their love survive in the crossfire?

Pool Boy by Michael Simmons

Fifteen-year-old Brett is a rich, spoiled jerk. He’s got the mansion, the Mercedes and a $5000 stereo system and is happy to make sure you notice all of it. Then his father is arrested on insider trading charges and his family loses everything. Forced to find a summer job to help keep them afloat while his dad is in jail, Brett finds himself cleaning his former friend’s pools for a living. Will anything ever be good again for this former lord of the McMansion set?

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Thirteen-year-old Conor has a recurring nightmare that wakes him from his sleep in a panic. Then at 12:07 AM, a tree-like monster calls to him from the yard overlooking the church graveyard and tells him that he will continue to appear at that hour to tell him three stories. In return, Conor must tell him the story of his terrifying recurrent nightmare. If he refuses, the monster will kill him. Who is the monster and how has Conor’s nightmare called him forth? And will Conor find the courage to describe his darkest fears to save his life?

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate’s world is filled with superstitions and curses and a great deal of pain. An orphan, she toils as a wood-carver and her skill at it has many claiming that she must be a witch. When a strange fog begins to envelop the country, bringing death and sickness, the town decides to blame their misfortunes on Kate. Desperate, Kate is approached by a stranger, who says he can help her escape and grant her dearest wish for a home and a family and a place to belong. In exchange, she must forfeit her own shadow. In the face of her wretched solitude and imminent danger from the townspeople, Kate thinks her shadow is a small price to pay, but is she right or very, very wrong?

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Lucky is anything but lucky. His grandfather never made it out of the Laotian prison camp after the Vietnam war, his father never got over the loss of his father, his mother just wants to pretend that everything is perfectly fine, and the worst bully at school has chosen Lucky for his personal target. Luck is something in very short supply. But in his dreams, Lucky roams the war-torn Laotian jungles, braving all sorts of dangers in an ongoing effort to find and rescue his grandfather. How can Lucky keep up this balancing act between fantasy and reality? And what will happen if he can’t?

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

It’s not every day that a 13-year-old boy gets a new baby brother. It’s even less often that the new baby brother is an 8-day-old chimpanzee. Ben Tomlin’s dad is a famous behavioral scientist and is embarking on an experiment in which their family will raise the baby chimp as a regular member of their own family twenty-four hours a day. Ben is to treat Zan as his actual baby brother – a feat that seems about as likely as walking on Mars. But Zan soon bonds with his new big brother and what started as an experiment becomes very real. Then Ben is caught between his father’s methods and his own heart and must make the toughest decision of his life.

Every Day by David Levithan

Every day A wakes up in the body of another person. Every morning it is someone new. In a new place. Girl, boy, rich, poor, sick, well… every day is a new experience. A has never known any other kind of existence. So there are rules to try to stick to: don’t get attached, don’t get noticed, don’t interfere. Best just to try to get through the 24 hours without making any impact or being impacted, for tomorrow will literally be a totally new day. Then one morning A wakes up in Justin’s body and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon and just like that, A’s rules seem meaningless. For A would do anything to be able to be with her every day for the rest of eternity. But how can A convince Rhiannon to fall in love with someone who appears in a new body day after day after day?

The List by Siobahn Vivian

Every year for as long as anyone can recall, on the last Monday in September at Mount Washington High four hundred copies of a list appears all over campus. On that list are eight names: the names of the prettiest and ugliest girls in each of the four classes. No one knows who makes the choices or how the list seems suddenly to be everywhere. Nor does anyone know who owns the embossing stamp that always marks it as The Official List.  How can you navigate the rest of the school year when you’ve been branded by someone unknown with the power to make or break eight lives? 

Stuck on Earth by David Klass

Ketchvar III has been given one mission by the rulers of his home planet of Sandovinia: travel to Earth, inhabit the body of a normal teenaged boy and then use that body to observe and analyze the human race to see whether or not they should all be destroyed. Taking up residence in the body of geeky, 14-year-old Tom Filber, Ketchvar soon discovers that being human is a terribly complicated matter. Is there enough good to recommend Earth for a reprieve or are they better off at the business end of the Gagnerian Death Ray?

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Sargent’s mother and aunts are all able to talk to the dead. Theirs is a world of fortunes told and prophecies made – one of which is that Blue will be the cause of the death of her one true love. But Blue is only able to magnify their abilities instead of actually making any sort of contact herself. Then one evening in the churchyard, as her mother watches a procession of soon-to-be-dead souls pass by, a boy’s spirit emerges from the darkness and speaks directly to Blue. Her shock at this is intensified when she meets the boy in town several days later and learns he is Gansey, and a Raven Boy – the nickname given by the townspeople to the rich kids who attend the local private school. Why did Gansey’s soul speak to her? Could he be her one true love? Or is he the invitation to a much larger mystery that Blue cannot resist? 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

In early 1941, the nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia disappeared from the maps of the world – the result of annexation by the Soviets during World War Two. Fifiteen-year-old Lina is preparing for a wonderful summer filled with dates and fun before heading off to art school until the night that they Soviet Secret Police drag her, her mother and her little brother out into the train yards. There they are loaded onto cattle cars with many of the others from their neighborhoods and begin a long harrowing journey to a work camp in Siberia. Harsh, heartbreaking and hopeful, Lina’s fight for life and to keep a written record of the brutality her people endured is an unforgettable tale.

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Audrey Cuttler wants her life back. She just wants to hang out with her friends, go listen to some live music, maybe manage to get a date with the cute guy at work. Instead, she’s being hounded by paparazzi everywhere she goes and her face is splashed on every tabloid in sight. How did such a regular girl become an overnight sensation? Could it have something to do with her ex-boyfriend’s number one single on the Billboard Charts? The one detailing their break-up entitled Audrey, Wait!?


Fave Recent Fiction Jamboree: J Fic Edition

Lots of new books these days – some brand new to the world, some brand new to the library. I have a stack to recommend and never enough time – so here’s the LIGHTNING ROUND FFJ (Fave Fiction Jamboree):

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The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson

Do you love a story that’s been sparked by a bit of history? This is just such a tale. In 1927, the children of Japan sent 58 beautiful dolls to the children of America. What became of them? What happened as they traveled through the country? Where are they now? Discover the answers for yourself by reading one doll’s account of her journey from treasured gift to treasured friend.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

One of my favorite books EVER. Auggie was born with a serious facial deformity. With the love and support of his family, he’s managed a long road of surgeries and medical issues and feels he’s just a normal kid with a not-so-normal face.  This year, he’s going off to 5th grade at public school for the first time. Will Auggie’s classmates find the kindness to see the real boy inside?

Deadweather & Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg by Geoff Rodkey

Being named Egg and being 13 is tough enough. Living on a pirate-filled island with a vicious family makes it worse. But when Egg’s father whisks them off to the glittering island of Sunrise to make a mysterious deal with one of the land’s richest men – and then disappears – Egg’s life becomes a dangerous puzzle of life and death!

With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

Ollie is used to traveling town to town with her family. Her father, the Reverend Everlasting Love, brings the Lord’s Word to small towns with his tent revivals and in two or three days, Ollie never makes a lasting connection with anyone she meets. But Binder, Arkansas is not to be like any other stop – on their first day in town, Ollie finds herself caught up in the dark secrets of a murder investigation!

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

Need something taken care of? Something that might be not quite on the level – say a fake hall pass or a forged doctor’s note? See Mac at recess or over the lunch hour. He’s the sixth grader who’s got office hours in the East boy’s bathroom, fourth stall from the high window and he can take care of anything you need – for a fee.  Until one Monday, when a certain third grader comes looking for protection…….

Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger

Lenny and Casper love to shop at Sven’s Fair Price Store. No other spot has the goods like a Super Sticky Hand, walking wind-up teeth, or fake doggy doo. Then Casper buys a $129.99 fake moustache with his birthday money and soon after, the world is struck by a series of brilliant bank robberies – all with a very short robber with a lush mustache! Can Lenny stop his old friend from taking over the world with his nefarious schemes?

Vanished by Sheela Chari

Neela treasures the beautiful instrument – a veena –  given to her by her grandmother in India. She dreams of mastering it so completely that she will be able to travel around the world giving concerts that transport others with her beautiful music. Then one afternoon, she ducks into a church to shield her instrument from a sudden rainstorm and her beloved veena disappears! Devastated and confused, she begins a search for clues to its whereabouts that take her much, much farther around the world than she ever could have imagined!

The Roar by Emma Clayton

Life in futuristic London is a grim, unhappy one for Mika and his parents. Without his sister – who disappeared a year ago – Mika finds himself less and less able to cope with the demands of his life. Then a new arcade opens nearby with some elaborate new flying simulators and Mika discovers a talent for piloting them that gains him a lot of sudden attention. Can his new fame help him find his sister? Or will it make him a target of those that may have been responsible for her disappearance?

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

Stella’s mom has never been a very steady presence in her life, so Stella finds herself living with her Great Aunt Louise. The familiar routines of their life together is something she counts on – but those are shattered when Louise agrees to welcome a tough, troubled foster child named Angel into their household. Angel and Stella are at odds from the second they meet – but a shocking event will test their ability to pull together in ways they could never have imagined!

When Life Gives You OJ by Erica Perl

Zelly has wanted a dog for as long as she can remember. At 10, she feels that her parents are being completely unreasonable to continue to refuse her requests. Frustrated, she agrees to a completely crazy plan concocted by her grandfather, Ace, that may finally prove she’s responsible – but may also make everyone else in her life think she’s gone crazy!

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

Giannane loves computer games and arcade games and virtual reality games. She’s good, too, but easily bored, so when a new virtual reality game shows up called Heir Apparent, she decides to give it a try. Hooked directly into the machine, the game feels so real it’s amazing…until the president of the gaming company appears in the middle of the game to say that there’s been a malfunction and the game can’t be turned off. There are no more resets – now Giannane is truly playing for her life!

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Damian likes the privacy of his moving box fort by the railroad tracks behind the house. He studies his cards about the lives of the saints and enjoys the giddy feeling as a passing train makes the whole place shiver. A place of peace and reflection – until a huge bag of money comes crashing through the walls. Is it an answer to a prayer? Is it loot from a robbery? Is it meant to be returned or spent as quickly as possible? What should Damian do with his unexpected millions?

Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt

Moving to a new town in junior high is not Doug’s idea of a good time. His father is angry, his brother is accused of robbery and his older brother is coming home from Vietnam. Then Doug stumbles upon a book in the local public library that will change his life forever and give him a purpose he could never have imagined….

Sammy Keyes & The Search for Snake Eyes by Wendelin Van Draanen

Sammy Keyes and mysteries just can’t avoid each other – even when she’s just hanging around at the local mall arcade waiting for her friend  to finish a game. A young girl approaches and begs for help hiding from a scary, tatoo-covered dude out front, but before Sammy can get her whole story, the girl thrusts a shopping bag in her arms and rushes away. What’s in the bag is a shock – will Sammy be able to find the girl and return it before the scary thug realizes who’s got it now?

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs By Betty Birney

Eben McAllister longs to travel and see the Seven Wonders of the World. Each of them would be incredible and amazing and wonderful – unlike his boring little town of Sassafras Springs. His mother suggests a compromise to his travel plans – if he can go out and discover Seven Wonders in tiny Sassafras Springs to share with her, they’ll make a trip to Colorado. Can Eben really find Seven Wonders right here at home?

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healey

Snow White. Sleeping Beauty. Cinderella. Rapunzel. Each princess found her Prince Charming at the end of their tales and lived happily ever after – or did they? For the Princes really had their own names, too – Liam, Frederic, Duncan and Gustav – and this is the tale of what happened to them after the fairy tales ended and how they plot to reclaim THEIR happily ever afters!

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Mo washed ashore during an awful hurricane and was taken in by Miss Lana and the rest of the folks in Tupelo Landing. Now a sixth grade graduate, she feels lucky to have found a home and friends and a job in this close-knit town, though she still keeps up the search for her Upstream Mom. Her summer plans are shaping up to be the best ever – until one of the crankiest men in town turns up dead and everything Mo thought she knew turns upside down. Can her life be three times lucky or has her luck finally run out?

The London Eye Mystery by Siobahn Dowd

If you watched the Olympics this summer, you saw the photos of the enormous ferris wheel along the River Thames known as the London Eye. It’s one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, so when Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim comes to visit, they can’t wait to take him for a ride. But it’s expensive, so when a stranger offers them an extra ticket, Salim goes on without his cousins. They watch him climb aboard and see the pod door seal and take him off for a ride into the sky. But when the doors open to let him off again, Salim has disappeared! Ted and Kate are the only ones who can save him – but can they do so alone and in time?

Mr. & Mrs. Bunny: Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath

Madeline is startled to discover her parents have gone missing! The kidnappers left a note on the fridge signed “The Enemy” and the getaway driver looked an awful lot like … a fox? Luckily, Madeline enlists the help of Mr. & Mrs. Bunny, who have only just recently decided to become detectives. Can one large girl and two small bunnies foil the evil plots of The Enemy in time to save Madeline’s parents?

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Donovan is not the one to look to for help with homework or great school spirit. He and his pals are the ones to look to if there’s an opportunity to make some mischief – especially in a grand, spur-of-the-moment sort of way.  But when a major prank goes majorly wrong, Donovan needs a place to hide out fast. Yet,  he sure never expected the superintendent of schools’ error would put him in the one spot no one would ever think to look for him: The Academy of Scholastic Distinction (aka The Genius School).

Don’t Librarians Just Sit Around & Read All Day?

Sadly, no. (Most days,  as I am surrounded by so many great books,  I wish that were true, though!) Fortunately, my one super power is being able to read quite fast, so I do read a lot  in my free time. What can I say – I love books and if you ask me to recommend one, I want to be able to talk about a book that I have actually read – not just read about. We’ve gotten in hundreds of new books in the past few months and I”ll post about some of my favorites here in Book Snacks. Enjoy!

Looking for a series………

Discovering the first book in a new series is sooooooo exciting. You read through breakfast, into the afternoon, and with the flashlight under your covers. Then you close the book and want to read the next book in the series IMMEDIATELY! You come in to the library or check at the bookstore and learn that the next book won’t be out for months and months and months….. AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!

Sometimes, the best time to discover a new series is …… after the author has finished it! I know that seems weird, because it isn’t something brand new and hot off the press…. but if you haven’t read it yet, isn’t it still sparkling new to you? So it’s a win-win: great new series, all the books already written and available, and probably not a whole huge list of other people on the waiting list to read it!

So what are some of the series books that I would recommend in this category?

If you like futuristic suspense, you might check out Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Shadow Children Series.

In the series opener (Among the Hidden), the world has become so overpopulated that no family is allowed to  have more than two children. The Garner family farm holds a stunning secret: Mr. and Mrs. Garner have three sons – one more than is legally allowed. That third child is twelve-year-old Luke, and no one outside of the family can ever discover that Luke exists. Hidden away from the world, Luke passes his days and nights in forced isolation, until one day when he is sneaking a look out of his high attic window and discovers someone else in a house across the way peeking out of her window. Could she be another secret shadow child?

Looking for a series that is all about worlds colliding in the most unexpected places? Then Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series may be just your ticket!

You may have seen the movie that was made from the first book, but unless you’ve read the series, you have no idea how great this tale is of a teen who discovers his father is Poseidon, God of the Seas. A   full-on, wild ride through endless battles between mythological creatures, gods and their half-human offspring, this is a series that you will not be able to put down until you’ve read every last page. Start out with the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and I guarantee that you’ll never see an image of the St. Louis Arch the same way again!

Maybe you’re in withdrawal over having read (and re-read) the whole Twilight series and long for something else in the whole vampire/werewolf genre. No worries – pick up Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy!

Since she was a little girl, Grace has always loved watching the wolves in the woods behind her home. Especially the wolf that almost seems to be speaking to her through his yellow eyes. She’s never been afraid of him and always searches the pack to see if he’s among the group roaming through the winter snow.  It’s as if they are connected somehow…..

Then one summer afternoon, Grace steps into a shop and meets a mysterious golden-eyed boy who seems so very familiar…. but how could it possibly be her yellow-eyed wolf?

A gripping, supernatural romance that is hard to put down, this might be exactly the right diversion while your countdown clock to the final Twilight movie’s opening day ticks away….

Maybe you are looking for a longer term commitment. How about a really good mystery series with a spunky female lead that already has 14 books out and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon? Sound like a match made in heaven? Then look no further than Wendelin Van Draanen’s totally fun Sammy Keyes Mysteries!

Sammy (aka Samantha) Keyes has a pretty unusual life: she never knew her dad and her mom decided she’d rather follow her dream of becoming an actress than be a mom. So Sammy lives – illegally – with her Grandmother in a senior citizens only high rise apartment building, which makes for some interesting schemes to keep from being discovered! Sammy seems to have a nose for intrigue and stumbles upon one mystery after another – all the while trying to keep out of trouble herself. Add the fact that she’s crushing on the older brother of her worst school rival and life gets messy in a hurry!

Funny, suspenseful and always entertaining, Sammy’s series is a great one to discover – and if you read fast, you might catch up before the 15th book comes out in December!

Maybe you’re already reading a series and just want to know what book comes next! Or you heard about a series and you want to see how many books are involved. Or you loved one series by a certain author and you wonder if they have another one you could start next. Well there’s a fantastic website that can give you all of those answers – check it out at the link below!