Monday, July 24, 2017

Weird School Books ~ Dan Gutman, art by Jim Paillot reviews [@HarperChildrens @DanGutmanBooks ]

Mrs Master is a Disaster! (My Weirdest School #8)
Harper Collins
June 20, 2017
112 pages
(ages 6-10)
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

With more than 11 million books sold, the My Weird School series really gets kids reading!


In this eighth book in the new My Weirdest School series, it s Grandparents Day at Ella Mentry School! Alexia s grandmother Mrs. Master makes weird inventions for a living, but A.J. and the gang come up with the weirdest invention of all. And they re going to make a bazillion dollars from it! Will they succeed? Or will their great big idea be flushed down the drain?

Perfect for reluctant readers and word lovers alike, Dan Gutman s hugely popular My Weird School chapter book series has something for everyone. Don t miss the hilarious adventures of A.J. and the gang!





My Weird School Fast Facts: Explorers, Presidents and Toilets
HarperCollins
June 20, 2017
192 pages
(ages 6-10)
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Think fast with A.J. and Andrea from My Weird School!

Did you know that the word “independence” never appears in the Declaration of Independence? Did you know that soldiers in World War I collected thousands of glowworms in jars to help them see at night?!

Learn more weird-but-true U.S. history facts with A.J. and Andrea from Dan Gutman’s bestselling My Weird School series. This all-new series of nonfiction books features hundreds of hysterical facts, plus lots of photos and illustrations.

Whether you're a kid who wants to learn more about our country's history or simply someone who wants to know how many Americans are involved in toilet-related injuries each year, this is the book for you!

With more than 11 million books sold, the My Weird School series really gets kids reading!

These were the first two Weird School books I read and they were a fun discovery. The My Weirdest School book does seem able to be read individually, out of series order. (Though, other books likely explain some aspects: My Weirdest School #1: Mr Cooper is Super probably explains their teacher dressing like a superhero.) The nonfiction Fast Facts books can definitely be read separately from the Weird School series books.

My Weirdest School #8: Mrs Master is a Disaster! was a cute look at the process of inventing something. The process was definitely simplified and sped up, but included some useful information (you need to think of what people need but don't already have, making a prototype, etc_.

The parts about Grandparents' Day at the school have some bits that parents/older readers will get (one about being at Woodstock) but kids may just miss.

It is a fun, cute story that should be good for young readers.


My Weird School Fast Facts: Explorers, Presidents and Toilets is a nonfiction book with A.J. and Andrea from the Weird School books giving the information. The book does a great job presenting the information at an age-appropriate way. It doesn't stick with what you often learn as a kid: that Columbus discovered America in 1492. Readers learn about how the Native Americans were already here, how the Vikings came, and more, but without certain details that you don't need at that age.

The book had a lot of things I did learn through school, many of which I had forgotten about. It also had quite a few things I had never heard before (things involving oyster ice cream, pigeons in war or the movie Psycho, for example).

The explorers facts transition very well to those about the presidents and the combination seems natural. The inclusion of facts about toilets seems a little odder, but adds a bit of levity, seems to fit with A.J.'s character and might entice additional readers.

There was a joke repeated from Mrs Master is a Disaster but . . . whatever.

The photographs included in the book were of disappointingly low print quality, however. Many of the black and white images didn't have enough contrast, in the printed book, to really be seen. Based on web previews, the ebook versions seem clearer. I also wish they were larger.

Books like this one are ones I would have loved as a kid, with interesting facts put forth in a very entertaining and readable way.








books received from publisher for review consideration





Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Trailer Friday [@JamesENicol @chickenhsebooks]

This week I chose the trailer for  The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol for my post because the beginning of the YouTube description was just too good to pass up: "Every witch has a rough spell, especially when they fail their witch's test!"

Here's the trailer:



A special middle grade debut of magic and courage in a world of witches, written with the charm and enchantment of Circus Mirandus and The Apothecary.

Arianwyn has flunked her witch's assessment: She's doomed. Declared an apprentice and sent to the town of Lull in disgrace, she may never become a real witch-- much to the glee of her arch-rival, Gimma.

But remote Lull is not as boring as it seems. Strange things are sighted in the woods, a dangerous infestation of hex creeps throughout the town, and a mysterious magical visitor arrives with his eye on her.

With every spirit banished, creature helped, and spell cast, Arianwyn starts to get the hang of being a witch--even if she's only an apprentice. But the worst still lies ahead. For a sinister darkness has begun to haunt her spells, and there may be much more at stake than just her pride . . . for Arianwyn and the entire land.




July 25, 2017 // Chiecken House // Goodreads // Book Depository // Amazon 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday [@JMCwrites ‏@DuttonYR]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:



BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough

A stunning debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

Joy McCullough's bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia's heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia's most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman's timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.

I will show you
what a woman can do.

published March 6th by Dutton Books for Young Readers

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


Why?

I really love historical fiction and both Artemisia Gentileschi and seventeenth century Rome are new to me. I have read novels with stories of women (both real and fictional) being something other than what was expected of them in Regency or Victorian times, during the French Revolution or the Tudor Court but those are eras we're all more familiar with. I am really looking forward both to learning more about Rome in 1610 and how it is a part of Artemisia's story.

I am incredibly intrigued by the fact that Blood Water Paint is a novel in verse. It is a different style of storytelling and I am curious how it will work with this historical fiction tale.

Blood Water Paint sounds very appealing and I can't wait for its March release.



That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bring Her Home ~ David Bell (earc) review [@DavidBellNovels @penguinusa @BerkleyPub[

Bring Her Home
Berkley Books
July 11, 2017
464 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


In the breathtaking new thriller from David Bell, bestselling author of Since She Went Away and Somebody I Used to Know, the fate of two missing teenage girls becomes a father's worst nightmare....

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price's fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer's bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer's life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He'll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family...

READERS GUIDE INCLUDED

Bill Price is a recent widower whose teenage daughter Summer, along with her best friend Haley, has been missing for a few days. Now, an early morning phone call tells him to get to the hospital: they've found the girls.

I thought the author did a great job in the very beginning with Bill's portrayal. He seemed to be a great mix of upset, angry and confused, but glad his daughter was alive. He was sort of awkward in what he said or expected, but it worked. As things continued,  did have problems with Bill. He is a very angry person, which I suppose could be largely attributed to his grief (but not entirely as we're shown in some scenes from prior to his wife's death). He also seems to decide things (like what happened to Summer or who did it or why) without much or any basis or evidence. His fervent belief in these things, his overzealous actions and proclamations were just too dramatic.

I think that if there had been more focus on some of the other characters, or they had been more fully developed, I could have liked it more. There were just too many problems with Bill's character, the central one, for it to work for me.

There were small details, that while not really harming the story were distracting for being illogical or not following what had already happened. (Two non-spoilery ones: Bill notices Summer, while in the ICU, is not wearing her bracelet and wonders if whoever took her stole it. Only there's no way the hospital would have left that on her. There was no autopsy when his wife died because it was clearly an accident - except a healthy, young woman dying, alone from an accident seems like it would still require one.)

The language of Bring Her Home could get repetitive (phrases, specific words, even a story from Bill and Paige's childhood) and the twists were almost entirely predictable (the first may have been because I previously read a book, based on something true, where the same thing happened), but something did keep me reading this book. As much as Bill and his actions did not work for me, I did really wan to find out how it all ended. Bring Her Home was definitely dramatic but also very intense and that intensity keeps you pulled in, wanting to know the final whodunit (and why). Give Bring Her Home a try, Bill's character might work well for you.

NB: I checked points of issue against a finished copy and only factored those not changed into my review (some absolutely were removed/fixed).






digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley
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