Binky Takes Charge

Binky Takes ChargeBinky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gotta love Binky the Space Cat. What’s not to love about Binky, he’s cool, he protects his humans from aliens and we share the same birthday. I only wonder if my cat has a secret life that I don’t know about. What does she do in the basement and come upstairs looking so dirty?

In Binky’s new adventure, he’s been promoted to lieutenant Binky within F.U.R.S.T (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) and is training a new recruit. When the new recruit arrives Binky thinks there must be some sort of mistake. The new recruit isn’t a cat at all but a dog. Can Binky train this dog into being a great space cadet or will they both fall flat on their faces?



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Tiptoe Joe

Tiptoe JoeTiptoe Joe by Ginger Foglesong Gibson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe has a secret something he wants all of his animal friends to see. He asks them to tip toe quietly through the forest to see his secret something. As we meet eat animal friend, they make a certain sound. Donkey makes a clop, clop, Rabbit makes a thump, thump, and Beaver makes a slap, slap. A fun way to introduce different sounds animals make as they walk through a forest. The rhyming story and sounds are repeated as more friends join in the parade to see the Joe’s secret something. When they arrive at Joe’s den they see, there are two baby bear cubs fast asleep in mama’s arms.

On the dedication page, there is a map of Joe’s journey through the forest and surrounding land. I noticed that there are dots on the map and then as I looked at each animal closer, I realized each animal wears their own color, Joe wears red sneakers and the other animals have their own item, such as a bandana, vest, necklace or even glasses. It’s a fun way to go back and see which animal lives where in the forest.

Recommended for toddlers and preschoolers.

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123 versus ABC

123 versus ABC123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A and 1 can’t get along. They each think that the book is a book about themselves. 1 says the book is about numbers and A says the book is about the alphabet. Each one pleads their case and then alligator shows up and as more an more things show up, they slowly begin to realize that the book can be about both letters and numbers. Each grouping of new animals and objects are highlighted in the text and I found myself wanting to count each monkey or lion to make sure there were in fact that exact number.

A fun book for kids who are learning to count and another fun alphabet book that’s encompassed within a story.

Recommended for late preschoolers and early elementary kids.

Read August 15, 2013

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Giant Dance Party

Giant Dance PartyGiant Dance Party by Betsy Bird

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can definitely identify with Lexy. She loves to dance but hates the recitals. At the recitals, she freezes up like an ice pop. She decides one day that she’s quitting dance for good. Her parents are stunned since she loves to dance at home. The key words being “at home.” Now Lexy has hatched the perfect plan, she won’t take dance lessons, instead she’ll teach dance to others, since teachers don’t have to perform. Her plan doesn’t work as well as planned until the day after she quits. That day the giants show up and want her to teach them to dance! She teaches the giants all about dancing and when it comes time for all of them to perform, Lexy saves the performance!

I loved to dance and always hated the dance recitals. Recently, I’ve started taking tap lessons and love learning new steps and not having to perform. Even the small individual performance in class makes me crazy. I freeze up and can’t remember any of the steps.

My one big issue with this book is that Lexy is always in a bubble-gum pink leotard and tutu when she’s dancing. I realize pink is the color most little girls associate with ballet dancers, but there are many different colors of leotards that girls wear in ballet classes. Little girls can wear more than pink in picture books but it just seems to play into the girls have to wear pink mind-set. I wish book editors would allow little girls to start wearing a different color in books.

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The Infinite Moment of Us

The Infinite Moment of UsThe Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced reading copy for review.

3.5 stars. Wren has always done just as her parents have asked. She’s worked hard for good grades, been accepted into a good college and now she’s graduating from high school. For once, her heart’s just not in the same place as where her parents want it to be.

Charlie has a sad and troubled history but his life is better with his foster family. His life finally seems to be going somewhere. From afar, Charlie has admired Wren, her beauty and everything about her.

Now that both have graduated from high school, life seems to be changing for both of them. Wren and Charlie meet and it’s an intense and emotional experience for both of them. They want nothing more than to spend nearly every waking moment with each other.

Of course, life gets in the way at times. Wren has applied and been accepted into a Peace Corps like organization to spend a year in Guatemala, instead of enrolling at the prestigious college where both her parents both teach. Charlie is still trying to figure out his relationship with an old girlfriend who can’t seem to leave him alone. He feels emotionally obligated to respond to her calls of need.

Lauren Myracle perfectly captures how crazy first love can be as a teenager. How the whole world and relationship can seem to come crashing down when there is some miscommunication. There were moments where I was frustrated with how reactionary Wren was with Charlie and I wanted to strangle Charlie for some of his stupid mistakes. Then I reminded myself, they are the perfect examples of teenagers and how irrational teenagers can be.

Wren and Charlie’s relationship is emotionally and sexually intense. At times, the sex scenes were more than I expected for a YA novel. Myracle has pushed the envelope and I thought I was reading a steamy New Adult romance novel than a teen novel. I’m sure there will be a few upset parents whose 12-year-old daughters pick up this book at the library presenting the perfect opportunity for a serious discussion with mothers and daughters, which most likely won’t happen.

Read July 29 to August 12, 2013

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Losing It

Losing ItLosing It by Keith Gray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced reading copy for review.

Losing It is a collection of short stories about teens losing their virginity. Originally, I was interested in this book because I saw A.S. King’s name on the cover and figured I might just read the one story. I read all of the short stories, some stronger than others but all were unique. All but two or three of the stories take place in the UK and are written with very clear British dialect. One of my concerns was that the book would be all about sex-crazed teens but that wasn’t true at all. The stories contained more about the anxiety of losing their virginity or dealing with the emotional after effects. Heterosexual teens were the majority of the teens portrayed in the stories but closeted boys are the subject of Patrick Ness’s story and Bali Rai’s story deals with a girl who experiences her first sexual encounter after an arranged marriage.

As I was reading this book, I wondered how it will go over with teens. I’m sure the title and cover will attract some attention but will they read all of the stories? I think it’s a very intelligent book and I love that it’s not about hormonally-charged teens, it deals with deeper issues.



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This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your LifeThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced reading copy for review.

There are those books that hit a little too close to home and I begin to wonder did the author know me in high school? First there was Eleanor Park earlier this year and now This Song Will Save Your Life is another such book. Music in both books is what at first saves the girls from total ruin.

Elise is an outcast and after a suicide attempt, she’s under near house arrest splitting her week between her mom and dad’s houses. She tries to make friends but somehow things blow up in her face without her even trying. (I know that feeling all too well.) She’s taken to walking at night and one night she walks to an area of town and two girls invite her to go to a club with them. It’s an underground dance club. Once the girls lie their way in and pull Elise in with them, Elise feels more alive than she’s felt in months.

The first few chapters of this book felt all too familiar. Pouring over Seventeen magazine to figure out what was cute and hip for the fall only to realize that my attempts fell totally flat. I tried to fit in but after a while it just became easier to be one of the weird kids but one who was still horribly uncomfortable in my own skin finding solace in music, especially The Cure, Depeche Mode and the Smiths, and books.

I kept waiting for one of Elise’s relationships to feel forced or not quite right but Leila Sales obviously had a lot of experience with teenage relationships teetering or turning sour for the oddest of reasons. Each of Elise’s relationships, including the ones with her parents, are extremely well-written and well-played out. I love that YA authors are taking chances and demonstrating that music, books and art really can save your life.

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Sisterland

SisterlandSisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Advanced reading copy generously provided by the publisher through NetGalley

Curtis Sittenfeld is one of my favorite authors. I’ve loved Prep, Man of My Dreams, and American Wife, so I had extremely high hopes for this book. While I enjoyed Sisterland, it will not sit up on my list of favorites as Prep and American Wife, that list that I turn to when a friend asks what they should read. I wish I could give Sisterland more than 3 stars but it’s really 3.5 stars. After seeing Curtis Sittenfeld speak and meeting her, of course, my perception of the book improved. I also think I had set my expectations too high so of course I was slightly disappointed.

Vi and Daisy (Kate) are twin sisters and since they were young, they’ve had senses. They couldn’t have turned out differently. Daisy, goes by Kate as an adult, is married late-30-something with two young children and is a stay-at-home mom in the suburbs of St. Louis. Violet (Vi) is a psychic who after there is an earthquake in St. Louis predicts there will be another but larger one in the future.

Kate spends her days with her friend, Hank, who is married to one of her husband’s colleagues. Their families are good friends and they spend a lot of time together.

When Vi makes her prediction about the future earthquake it sends Kate’s life into turmoil. Kate is self-conscious of being the sister of the “famous psychic from St. Louis” and is extremely worried about what the earthquake will do to her family.

Told in alternating chapters of present day (2009) and flashbacks of Daisy’s (Kate) youth, you get a sense of what it was like for Daisy and Vi growing up with the sense abilities and how they learned to deal with them. (I’m nearly the same age as the characters so I found their lives as children interesting fun to read.) At times, I found the coming-of-age part of the story more compelling than the present day part. I didn’t connect with Vi or Daisy in the ways I connected with Lee in Prep or Alice in American Wife. At times, their relationship hit a little too close to home.

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The Black Rabbit

The Black RabbitThe Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rabbit has a serious problem, he wakes up one day, steps out of his burrow and notices Black Rabbit is right behind him. Black rabbit follows him everywhere, Rabbit can’t seem to get rid of Black Rabbit. Black Rabbit is really freaking Rabbit out. The only way he seems to get rid of Black Rabbit is in the forest. As Rabbit is enjoying a carrot, a wolf chases Rabbit out of the forest. Thankfully, Black Rabbit is there to scare away Wolf. From then on Rabbit and Black Rabbit are inseparable. Wonderful artwork that’s simple but conveys Rabbit’s fear so well. Also a great book to introduce the concept of shadows. Most kids have noticed their shadows but do they realize that in the sunlight their shadow is always with them?



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Niño Wrestles the World

Niño Wrestles the WorldNiño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a rarity. It’s a fun book for those kids who love wrestling and may introduce the to Lucha libre, the wrestling style that’s popular in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries. It also fills in that space for fun multicultural books, as well as being a fun book for boys.

Niño is one fine wrestler, “out-of-this-world contenders line up to challenge him.” He makes takes on other worldly creatures, such as mummies, a ghost, and extraterrestrial being, even the devil himself but they are no match for Niño. Then the dreaded time arrives when his sisters wake up from their nap and then Niño’s met his match.



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