i am malala (giveaway!)

Today I’m over at the BookPal blog with a review of I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick.  I loved it, and I'll be giving (and recommending) it as a holiday gift to many.  Here’s a little snippet of what I had to say:
i am malala by malala yousafzai book coverI Am Malala is not only a good book, but an enjoyable, intelligent and affecting one as well, highly recommended for all readers (but especially grades 5+).

To read the full review, head over to BookPal.  And now... I’m hosting a giveaway of the book!  To enter, simply fill out the FORM.  For one extra entry, read my review at BookPal and let me know that you did so in the comments here.  Giveaway open internationally, will end on November 18, 2014 at 11:59pm EST.  Winner will be notified via email.  Good luck!

Fine print: I am hosting the giveaway, and I did not receive any compensation for this post. 

julia’s house for lost creatures

The folks at First Second (Macmillan) have found a gem in author/illustrator Ben Hatke.  I read his graphic novels in the Zita the Spacegirl series this summer and enjoyed their energy, intergalactic travel and art immensely.  I was very interested in seeing his first picture book, Julia's House for Lost Creatures, and can I just say… it does not disappoint.  I’ll be picking up everything Hatke creates from here on out.

julia's house for lost creatures by ben hatke book cover
When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about her new neighborhood except how quiet it is! So Julia puts a sign up: "Julia's House for Lost Creatures." Soon she's hosting goblins, mermaids, fairies, and even a dragon. Quiet isn't a problem anymore for Julia...but getting her housemates to behave themselves is!

The simple, sweet text of this picture book by New York Times best-selling Zita the Spacegirl author/illustrator Ben Hatke is perfectly balanced by his lush, detailed, immersive watercolor illustrations.

Julia is a resourceful girl.  When she and her house set up shop by the sea, she realizes that it is too quiet.  She makes a sign and waits… and soon finds a new group of friends with which to share her house.  The magic of friendship might be strained by mess and bother, but Julia knows how to fix this problem too… and in the end, peace (if you want to call it that) is restored.

While the text of Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is quite brief, it is still funny, charming, fantastical and sweet.  It also tells a short story, but the ending leaves the door half open for imagination.  Children and adults alike may find themselves wondering “What happens next?” and the beauty of it is that Hatke introduced so many varied characters in the space of a short book that anything is possible (and very likely probable).  And after all, what is better than a book that can carry you away in a daydream?

The art is really the thing about this book, and it is just adorable.  I really don’t know another, more refined way to put that.  There are the main things: Julia running to and fro making signs and answering the door, the lost creatures themselves, the house! by the sea, and then there are also the unexpected details and lovely watercolor washes and the sense of a whole world that anyone could invite inside.  I used the word charming before, and that’s really the sense of the whole book: it’s delightful and whimsical, and it should (with any luck) make the reader’s heart happy.

Recommended for: fans of picture books (especially those enthralled by inventive art and fantastical themes), and anyone who liked Levi Pinfold’s Black Dog.

Fine print: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.  I did not receive any compensation for this post.

waiting on wednesday (83)

Today I’m participating in "Waiting On" Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Its purpose is to spotlight upcoming book releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I've read one Justine Larbalestier book, How to Ditch Your Fairy.  I thought it was quirky, fun, and I know it would have appealed to teen me (I was a very dedicated teen athlete as well as a bookworm, and I never thought there were enough books for my demographic - especially books featuring girls-who-play-sports!).  I also checked out the short story collection Zombies vs. Unicorns, which she co-edited with Holly Black. Those (positive) reading experiences led me to Larbalestier's blog and Twitter, and I've found that she's articulate, funny, and interesting on social media as well as a great writer of fiction.  So I was quite disappointed when I heard that her latest book hadn't sold in the U.S.  It seemed like pure bad luck.  But hey, that's changed!  It's coming!  I'm super stoked.  Razorhurst will be released by Soho Teen on March 3, 2015.

razorhurst by justine larbalestier book cover
Sydney’s deadly Razorhurst neighborhood, 1932. Gloriana Nelson and Mr. Davidson, two ruthless mob bosses, have reached a fragile peace—one maintained by “razor men.” Kelpie, orphaned and living on the street, is blessed and cursed with the ability to see Razorhurst’s many ghosts, and she sees the cracks already forming. Then Kelpie meets Dymphna Campbell.

Dymphna is a legendary beauty and prized moll of Gloriana Nelson. She’s earned the nickname “Angel of Death” for the trail of beaus who have died trying to protect her from Mr. Davidson’s assassins. Unbeknownst to Kelpie, Dymphna can see ghosts, too, and as Gloriana’s hold crumbles one burly henchman at a time, the girls will need one another more than ever.

As loyalties shift and betrayal threatens at every turn, Dymphna is determined to not only survive, but to rise to the top with Kelpie at her side—and to save Kelpie from both the living and the dead.

What books are you waiting on?

top ten fantasy series i want to start

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | | 8 comments
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where we all get to exercise our OCD tendencies and come up with bookish lists.  If you’d like to play along, check out this post.

top ten tuesday

There are over 300,000 new books published in the United States each year. I read somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 books per year (and no, my Goodreads stats won’t back that up – I’m choosy about what I claim on the internet).  This means I am missing… so many books.  And I will never catch up!  Even if we narrow it down to fantasy novels, there are still too many for any one human being to read.  So.  How do I ever choose?  I take suggestions, I store bits of conversations in my brain, and I bide my time.  This week’s list is about series I know I want to start (and for some of them, I've known this for years) – books that have stellar recommendations from readers whose taste I trust.  I can’t wait to dive in!

Top Ten Fantasy Series I Want to Start

1. Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce – Take away my YA fantasy fan card, I've never read ANY Tamora Pierce.  I know.  I know.  I plan to fix that soon (probably when I find the entire series at a used book sale).

2. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – I've had internet and IRL (in real life) friends telling me to pick up this series for a while now.  I even have all of the books.  Just need to dive in!

3. Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier – Angie of Angieville is a huge fan of this series, and she's never steered me wrong before.  Plus, the cover artwork is gorgeous.  I show a consistent weakness for pretty things... (but especially books!)

4. Temeraire by Naomi Novik – Dragons + Napoleonic Wars.  It's the kind of crack-y concept that I would have devoured back in the day when series were just an excuse to spend more time buried in books (these days there's a bit more of a time crunch). This series would make a good holiday gift for my youngest brother - and of course it's only polite to read the books along with him so we can discuss!

5. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – I've read one Sanderson book, The Rithmatist, and that was enough to convince me that I need to check out his other worlds.  This series also came with a very high recommendation from a real life friend.  So there's that.

6. Cecelia and Kate by Patricia C. Wrede – Well, you'd think I'd have picked this book up on the series title alone, since one of the characters and I share the same name and all.  But.  I've been holding off, Not sure exactly why, except that I always love Wrede's books, and maybe I'm hoarding for a later (bad) day.

7. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin – Here's what I know about these books: they're complex, epic, political fantasies with well-developed worlds, written by an author of color, and very well received by fans of fantasy.  Also, the first one is on my shelf.  

8. The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – When I moved home to Seattle in 2009 after leaving grad school (I abandoned a PhD program), I did a bunch of odd, part-time jobs until I made the move to DC and found full-time work.  One of those occasional things was to drive a family friend's teenage son to tutoring.  He had a well-loved copy of The Thief in his backpack, and he was so in love with the book (and eager to tell me all about it) that I promised to eventually give it a try.  I now have a copy on my Kindle app, and given the amount of love I see everywhere for this series, I know I need to read it.  Soon.

9. The Books of Raksura by Martha Wells – I can't remember who recommended this series so strongly to me... but I remember thinking, "Oh, those sound like my sort of books."  I promptly purchased the first one, and it has been waiting on my e-shelf ever since.  It's kind of my M.O. at this point.

10. The Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox – Emma (Miss Print) convinced me to move these books up my TBR (to be read) list, and I broke down and bought myself copies a month or so ago.  I just need to move from owning to reading.  Which shouldn't be hard, because I adored Mortal Fire, the only other Knox book I've read.

What is one series you’re excited to start reading?
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