Archive for June, 2014|Monthly archive page

Guitar Notes

In YA Book Reviews on June 19, 2014 at 3:46 am


by Mary Amato

YA Realistic Fiction/©2012/273 Pages/Stand Alone Book/Recommended for 7th Grade and Above

Publisher’s Notes (Amazon):

A “sweet story of two different loners finding their counterpoint” (School Library Journal) from a star of state master and children’s choice lists making her YA debut. Clean YA with the emotional resonancy of John Green and Sarah Dessen.

On odd days, Tripp Broody uses a school practice room to let loose on a borrowed guitar. Eyes closed, strumming that beat-up instrument, Tripp escapes to a world where only the music matters.

On even days, Lyla Marks uses the same practice room. To Tripp, she’s trying to become even more perfect—she’s already a straight-A student and an award-winning cellist. But when Lyla begins leaving notes for him in between the strings of the guitar, his life intersects with hers in a way he never expected.

What starts as a series of snippy notes quickly blossoms into the sharing of interests and secrets and dreams, and the forging of a very unlikely friendship.

Challenging each other to write songs, they begin to connect, even though circumstances threaten to tear them apart.

From beloved author Mary Amato comes a YA novel of wit and wisdom, both heartfelt and heart­breaking, about the power of music and the unexpected chords that draw us together.

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that has it all – memorable characters, engaging plot, fabulous writing. I couldn’t read it fast enough! It grabbed me from the beginning with its unique format. Each chapter is a date followed by subtitles that state location and time, with most of the story unfolding via notes between the main characters. I just never wanted it to end. sigh….

My Rating: 5/5

Additional Reviews:




In YA Book Reviews on June 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm


Fantasy/©2013/272 pages/Stand-Alone Book/Recommended for ages 9-12

Publisher’s Comments:

This funny fractured fairy tale goes behind the scenes of Rumpelstiltskin. “A most magical feat,” writes Newbery Honor-winner Kirby Larson, “Liesl Shurtliff spins words into gold.”

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

A Texas Bluebonnet Master List Selection, Rump is perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted or Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm.

My Thoughts:

I am a fan of fairy tales retold, and this is one of my favorites. I love this incredibly creative and hilarious take on the Rumplestiltskin story. It hooked me from the beginning with its first line “My mother named me after a cow’s rear end. It’s the favorite village joke, and probably the only one, but it’s not really true.”  It was just one of those books I couldn’t put down. I always liked the original story, but I like this one even better. This story is aimed at the 9-12 year-old-set, but I think this is a book for anyone of any age who has an appreciation of fairy tales.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 Other Reviews:

The Forbidden Stone

In YA Book Reviews on June 17, 2014 at 3:15 am


(Copernicus Legacy Book 1) by Tony Abbott

Mystery Adventure/©2014/432 pages/1st in a series/Recommended for ages 8-12

Publisher’s Comments:

The Copernicus Legacy has everything middle-grade readers love-an international adventure, a compelling friendship story, and a mission that draws on history and astronomy. Readers who loved Percy Jackson will be eager to follow our heroes on this six-book, six-novella journey and excited to enter a sweepstakes to participate in a real-life scavenger hunt hosted by Tony Abbott that lets the reader become part of the story.

It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca-received a strange, coded email from Wade’s uncle Henry shortly before the old man’s sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade’s father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.

The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past that will unlock the Copernicus Legacy.

My Thoughts:

I think middle grade students will thoroughly enjoy the characters and plot in this series. It is highly entertaining, involves the use of current technology and secret codes, traveling to different countries, and has just enough action and suspense for a middle grade student. The second book (The Serpent’s Curse) comes out in October, 2014, and I think students will quickly get hooked on the series.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Selected Additional Reviews:



In My Book Club Books on June 12, 2014 at 4:45 am


 by Daphne du Maurier

Classic Romantic Suspense Novel/©1938

Book Club Date: June 9, 2014

Publisher Summary (Goodreads):

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

Book Club Discussion:

Our lively discussion started off with all of us commenting on what a wimp the second wife was. Of course, that reflected the era as well as being critical to the plot so the story could unfold the way it did, but it was still maddening to the strong confident women who comprise our book club. Once we finished our spirited comments about her, we continued with the questions in the following link to guide the rest of our discussion. Our attention centered on particular characters and scenes. In addition to the second Mrs. de Winter, we also had a lot to say about Rebecca, of course, and Maxim. We fully appreciated how the author slowly and carefully revealed details about both. Mrs. Danforth was another character that caught our interest, mostly because she was just so sinister and mean in her actions. As we continued our discussion, we discovered that two of us had selected an edition that included an Author’s Note and “The Rebecca Epilogue”, which provided additional information including the original ending to the book. That brought a whole new level to our discussion.



Book Club Rating: 4/5 Stars –

Overall it was a very satisfying read with a suspenseful plot and interesting characters.

Personal Note: After reading the book, I highly recommend viewing the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock production of Rebecca. There were a few changes to the book (most likely because of the industry standards at the time), but overall it was amazingly true to the author’s intent.

Discussion Questions:

More Detailed Review:

Book Club Menu for Rebecca

(hosted by Kathy and reminiscent of the English seaside setting)

Summer Salad with Strawberries

Lemon Shrimp and Rice Pilaf with Summer Vegetables

Strawberry Shortcake