“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

The Girl from the Well big The Girl from the Well
by Rin Chupeco
Publication date: August 5, 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

Review: The Unicorn Thief by R.R. Russell

Unicorn Thief The Unicorn Thief
by R.R. Russell

ISBN-13: 9-781402-279928
Publication: May 2014 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Source: publisher
Series: book 2 in Unicorns of the Mist
Rating: 3.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it

Twig and Ben are unicorn riders – guardians whose job it is to keep the last free unicorn herd safe. But a new danger is threatening the beautiful, mysterious creatures of Lonehorn Island. A thief from Terracornus has snuck onto the misty island and stolen Ben’s loyal unicorn, Indy. There’s only one path for Ben and Twig – straight into the secret, shadowy heart of the island and through the passage to Terracornus.

But their rescue mission is unexpectedly complicated by a secret Ben has been hiding. A secret about the Queen of Terracornus who has enslaved all the unicorns of Ben’s homeland. A secret that could save them all – or start a war.

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Book two in the Unicorns in the Mist series by R.R. Russell, The Unicorn Thief picks up where Wonder Light left off and brings the reader immediately into the current conflict – a thief is stealing unicorns from the castle in Westland in Terracornus.

I quite enjoyed The Unicorn Thief and feel it’s a strong second book. While it continues and expands the main plot line found in book one – Twig becoming a unicorn rider and the need for her and Ben to start taming the free herd on Lonehorn Island – it also introduces us to new characters in Westland and a larger story-arc involving Ben and his former home. Unicorns are being stolen, war is coming to Terracornus and Lonehorn Island and the herd is being affected despite being a world away. When Ben’s unicorn Indy goes missing, Ben and Twig venture to Terracornus where they encounter a dungeon, a thief, a Boy King and a secret that Ben has been hiding. There are some wonderful action sequences, some soft family scenes and heartwarming moments between the unicorns and their riders.

3.5 heart

The Unicorn Thief by R.R. Russell builds nicely upon its proceeding book Wonder Light and sets up some great potential plot for future books. It’s a shorter book, sitting at only 200 and some-odd pages, and though I did enjoy it I found some parts felt a bit rushed. At one point, Ben receives a letter stating that something he needs to do will take place in six weeks. Those six weeks are covered in about two pages. Yes, we can’t see the entire time (that would be boring), but it would have been nice to get a few small moments highlighted. I also couldn’t help but have intense visions of the Fire Swamp from The Princess Bride when reading the parts taking place in The Death Swamp (just instead of ROUSs there are giant lizards). If you’ve never read or seen The Princess Bride, this won’t bug you!

Despite these few quibbles, The Unicorn Thief and its series will definitely find a home in my classroom – I can see the students really enjoying it!

e-ARC provided by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Christmas Book List

Despite all attempts to add more hours into my days and thus extend the year, it is already December and Christmas is only 12 days away. This year, with the help of a couple wonderful publishers and publicists, I thought I’d put together a list of books to both help celebrate the holiday season and to give as gifts. Let’s get started! First things first, a few awesome Christmas themed books for those of you who celebrate:

Kat McGee Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit
by Rebecca Munsterer
Goodreads | Website | Amazon | Book Depository
Check back later today for a book feature of Kat McGee!

If Kat McGee had one Christmas wish, she’d wish to be special. Instead, she’s the boring middle in a family packed with sparkly siblings, including three sisters who have all starred as Mary in Totsville, Maine’s annual big-deal Christmas Pageant. All Kat’s done is wet her pants on a rollercoaster and earn herself the horrible nickname, “Kat McPee.” When she doesn’t get the part of Mary, Kat’s convinced that Christmas will be just another Kat McPee failure. But then Kat’s beloved Gram lets it slip that she went to school with Mrs. Claus. The Mrs. Claus. Before Kat knows it, a magical snowglobe whisks her away to the North Pole, where she makes friends, checks naughty and nice lists, and takes classes in cookie baking, reindeer training, and toy designing. It’s a Christmas miracle…but something is wrong. The North Pole is being threatened, and only Kat McGee can help. Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit is about a modern girl in a magical adventure. Kat is about to learn who you can be if you believe in Christmas…and yourself.

Fancy Nancy Christmas Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas
by Jane O’Connor
Goodreads | Website | Bookd Depository

What could be fancier than Christmas?

Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles—and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited about decorating the Christmas tree. She bought a brand-new sparkly tree topper with her own money and has been waiting for Christmas to come. But when things don’t turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?

Mouse to the Movies If you take a Mouse to the Movies
by Laura Numeroff
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

If you take a mouse to the movies, he’ll ask you for some popcorn. When you give him the popcorn, he’ll want to string it all together. Then he’ll want to hang it on a Christmas tree. You’ll have to buy him one…

The energetic little mouse from If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is back again, this time with a host of holiday antics.

Night before Christmas The Night Before Christmas
by Clement Clarke Moore, Jan Brett
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Who’s that peeking out of the sleigh?

As St. Nick and eight tiny reindeer descend through a brilliant night sky onto the roof of a Victorian house in a snowy New England village, the famous Christmas poem begins. The father of the family narrates the words just as Clement Moore wrote them, and artist Jan Brett captures the spirit in brilliant illustrations that reflect this memorable night. Visually she extends this favorite Christmas story for children, who will delight in watching the two mischievous stowaways from the North Pole enthusiastically exploring the sacks of gifts on the roof while St. Nick, unaware, journeys down the chimney… until the toys spill down onto the lawn and he turns with a jerk!

A Porcupine in a Pine Tree A Porcupine in a Pine Tree
by Helaine Becker & Werner Zimmermann
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Christmas, as only Canadians can celebrate it! Where else do Mounties frolic, squirrels enjoy a fine game of curling, and hockey players mark the season as lords-a-leaping? This hilarious, tongue-in-cheek re-setting of the popular Christmas carol is the perfect gift for Canadians new and old, young and young-at-heart.

Now, to the nitty gritty. Books to give as gifts! This list is broken down into sections, and composed of books that I love and recommendations from both Creston Books and Sourcebooks. Hopefully there is a little bit of something for everyone.

First, some great titles to give the elementary school teacher in your life:

Lola Goes to Work: A Nine-to-Five Therapy Dog by Marcia Goldman
Goodreads | Website | Amazon | Book Depository

How to be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz
Goodreads | Website | Amazon | Book Depository

Cozy Light, Cozy Night by Elisa Kleven
Goodreads | Website | Amazon | Book Depository

Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in Fifteen Voices by David M. Schwartz
Goodreads | Website | Amazon | Book Depository

Wolf Island by Celia Godkin
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Goodreads | Book Depository

Next up, some fantastic picture books that are perfect for both home and the classroom:

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
Goodreads | Wbesite | Book Depository

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian
Goodreads | Book Depository

Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

The Snatchabook by Helen & Thomas Docherty
Goodreads | Book Depository

Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter
Goodreads | Book Depository

For the middle grade reader in your family (or anyone, really):

Danny’s Doodles: The Jellybean Experiment by David A. Adler
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Rose by Holly Webb
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole by Eric Pierpoint
Goodreads | Book Depository

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

And finally, the young adult section of this list, which I could have had much longer but thought I’d narrow it down:

Broken by CJ Lyons
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Scorched by Mari Mancusi
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards
Goodreads | Book Depository

Half Lives by Sara Grant
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Goodreads | Website | Book Depository

Variant by Robison Wells
Goodreads | Book Depository

Review: Broken by CJ Lyons

Broken Broken
by CJ Lyons

ISBN-13: 9-781402-285455
Publication: November 2013 from Sourcebooks Fire
Source: publisher/Netgalley
Rating: 3.5 ♥ / 5♥ – I liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

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Broken by CJ Lyons is an intriguing medical mystery that you think is heading in one direction, and then completely changes trajectory – and that’s cool. Scarlet has a condition called Long QT Syndrome that means her heart could stop at any time. She gets three days to prove that she can handle high school (she wants to live a little after spending most of her life in hospitals and home) but what starts as a trial run to see if she can survive her condition, turns into a race to see if she can help herself and her new friends survive something much worse.

Scarlet is a hard character to pin down. She’s spent her life listening to her mother about everything to do with nutrition, health and activities. So she’s fairly meek in some instances. But in others, Scarlet is defiant. She wants to be at school, to have friends and to live. In small ways, she is trying to break out from under her mother who she knows has good intentions, but is smothering her. With a father who is mostly absent due to work, Scarlet starts to find acceptance and companionship in her support group at the school. And the cute boy Tony in her biology class.

The book is a decent size, with small chapters. The writing is very engaging and the pace keeps up well throughout the book. The mystery builds through Scarlet’s friends – finding out why they are in the support group, why her mother dislikes them, and what’s really in her medical records that she can’t see. In three days, Scarlet’s life is turned upside down – and it’s not because of her illness.

3.5 heart

Broken turned out to be so much more than I was expecting, and I really enjoyed it. As for the final mystery, the reveal and solution, I’m a little sceptical that no one uncovered anything over fifteen years worth of hospital visits and medical records and that a high school sophomore put all the clues together. Also that Scarlet takes very little time to come to terms with things (she does freak out a bit, but it goes very fast once we hit the end section of the book). But it works in this case, and didn’t detract from the story and plot. I would definitely read more from CJ Lyons.

e-ARC received through Netgalley from Sourcebooks Fire. Thank you!

Guest Post: Helen & Thomas Docherty – The Snatchabook

Please welcome Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty to Escape Through the Pages! Helen has a post for us on the inspiration behind the character of the Snatchabook and Thomas has provided some early illustrations of the Snatchabook’s design.

Snatchabook Helen: I have always been drawn to characters that transgress in some way – characters that are flawed, but not beyond redemption. Dr Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite children’s books, and was definitely an influence in the creation of the Snatchabook (although they are, of course, very different characters). I am also interested in outsiders, and how their arrival impacts on a community (a theme also explored in our next book, Abracazebra).

The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. A book cruncher? A book snatcher? No, a Snatchabook! Almost immediately, I saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense, a brave heroine and a twist in the tale – namely, that the Snatchabook is just a pitiful little creature, whose motivation for stealing all the books is simply that is he is desperate to be read to; to be included in the cosy bedtime world of Burrow Down. When you read to your own children and see their faces light up when they’re listening to a good story, the idea of any child being excluded from that experience is almost unbearable.

Tom and I had a lot of fun developing the character of the Snatchabook visually. I had an image in my head of a sort of bush baby with long, delicate wings and a long tail, and Tom set to work drawing sketches. He interpreted it so brilliantly that it looked like a creature that already existed. Here are his earliest sketches:

Snatchabook_01

Review: The Snatchabook by Helen & Thomas Docherty

Snatchabook The Snatchabook
by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

ISBN-13: 9-781402-290824
Publication: October 2013 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Source: Sourcebooks @ BEA
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Where have all the bedtime stories gone?

One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down…when a Snatchabook flew into town.

It’s bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.

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The Snatchabook by Helen & Thomas Docherty is an adorable children’s book about the mysterious disappearance of story books. The heroine Eliza Brown finds the culprit and hatches a plan to get the books returned and keep everyone happy – including the elusive thief.

This book is so much fun to read out loud. The rhyme scheme of the narrative lends the words a musical quality and is perfect for catching and keeping a child’s interest. I’ve already read this one to a grade one class and they had a blast figuring out who was stealing all the books (one bright kid guessed right away it was the Snatchabook who “flew into town”), spotting the little creature on different pages and then recommending their own favourite books that they could share and read out loud if they were ever visited by the Snatchabook.

4 heart

The Snatchabook is graced with quite wonderful illustrations that set the mood of each page and really allow children to explore Burrow Down and easily follow the progression of the story. Helen and Thomas Docherty have crafted a picture book treasure that I will definitely enjoy sharing with any and all future students.

I am very lucky to have a guest post from Helen and Thomas Docherty later today, so please stop by to read about the inspiration behind the character of the Snatchabook and view some sketches of his early incarnations.

ARC obtained at Book Expo America from the publisher. Thank you!

Review: Icing On the Cake by Sheryl & Carrie Berk [blog tour + giveaway]

Icing on the Cake The Cupcake Club: Icing on the Cake
by Sheryl & Carrie Berk

ISBN-13: 9-781402-283277
Publication: September 2013 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Series: The Cupcake Club 4
Source: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky/Netgalley
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Meet Jenna.

She’s the cupcake club’s official taste tester, but the past few weeks have not been so sweet. Her mom just got engaged to Leo — who Jenna is sure is not “The One” — and Peace, Love, and Cupcakes has to bake the wedding cake. Jenna is ready to throw in the towel, especially when she hears the wedding will be in Las Vegas on Easter weekend, one of the most important holidays for the club’s business.

Can Jenna and her friends handle their busy orders — and the Elvis impersonators — or will they have a cupcake meltdown?

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Icing on the Cake by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is the fourth book in the wonderful middle grade series The Cupcake Club. Each books has focused on a different member of the club, and this time it’s Jenna, the official taste-tester of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.

Along with the sweet recipes and hijinks that the club finds themselves in, each story deals with subjects and issues that students may find themselves facing on a daily basis. In Icing on the Cake Jenna has to come to terms with her mother re-marrying. Jenna maintains her dislike of Leo and it’s only through her friends, the club and the love and attention of a sweet little puppy that Jenna starts to think differently. Of course, this is in the midst of Easter – the biggest cupcake holiday for the club – making her mother’s wedding cake and dealing with a last minute Elvis impersonator who has a request of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.

4 heart

Icing on the Cake by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is a sweet story about family, friends, changes and learning to roll with the punches. Jenna has a lot of things thrown at her in the course of only a couple months but she doesn’t let them bring her down. She is, after all, an important member of Peace, Love and Cupcakes and she has her friends to keep her strong and proud.

e-ARC provided by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

GIVEAWAY
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky is offering all four books in The Cupcake Club series to one lucky winner! Please fill out the form below to enter.

– must be thirteen years or older
– duplicate entries will be disqualified
– ends 11:59pm EST on September 17, 2013
– if you cannot see the form, click this link to enter