Sunday, August 30, 2015

Under the Big Green Roof: August's Picture Book Reviews

I adore picture books.  There's just something about the simple outward stories, and the full page illustrations that gets me.  So, although I have no children of my own, every month I'll be doing a post like this one, to review the picture books I discovered.

Liz Wong

Quackers is a duck who lives at the pond.  But sometimes he doesn't feel like he fits in with the other ducks.  Then one day he meets Mittens...

Cute, quirky, and filled with fun illustrations, Quackers is about struggling to fit in, and learning to find room in life for everyone.

Publication: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Knopf
-Digital ARC provided by edelweiss, in exchange for a review.


A Friend for Bo
Elisabeth Zuniga

A little rabbit named Bo has a new friend named Rollie.  The only problem is Rollie doesn't seem to do, or say much.  How can Bo get his new friend to have some fun?

The illustrations in this are golden!  I love the details in each page.  A Friend for Bo is an adorable story about how friendships have a way of 'hatching' exactly when you need them to.

Publication: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
-Digital ARC provided by edelweiss, in exchange for a review.


Penelope Perfect
Shannon Anderson

When Penelope oversleeps, her daily routine is thrown for a loop.  From wearing mismatched socks, to receiving her first 'B' ever, will 'Penelope Perfect' be able to survive this imperfect day?

Told in irresistible rhyme, Penelope Perfect is a brightly illustrated story about finding the balance in life, and not always being stuck on the same routine day after day.  Additionally, the last few pages are filled with activities and resources for parents or teachers to explore anxiety and perfectionism with young children.

Publication: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
-Digital ARC provided by NetGalley, in exchange for a review

August Chapter Books

Mouse Scouts
Sarah Dillard

Meet Violet, Tigerlily, Hyacinth, Petunia, Junebug, and Cricket, six new Mouse Scouts who are trustworthy and strong, thrifty and brave . . . and destined to be friends to the end! Best friends Violet and Tigerlily can’t wait to start earning their merit badges. But their troop leader, Miss Poppy, is one strict rodent. And earning their first badge—planting a vegetable garden—is hard work. Will the troop drive unwanted pests from the garden and earn their Sow It and Grow It badge? And will they ever get Miss Poppy to smile?


I found Mouse Scouts to be adorable and fun, brimming with cute black and white illustrations of the Mouse Scout's activities.  The very Girl Scout Mouse Scouts brought me back to my years as a member of Girl Scouts, and working to earn those colorful badges.  

Further, I liked that the pages from the Mouse Scout handbook were interspersed throughout the book; especially when they gave useful tips for elementary aged gardeners.  Definitely a series to pick up for fans of Ivy and Bean, or a child who likes animals and getting their hands dirty in the yard.


-Digital ARC provided by edelweiss, in exchange for a review.
Publication Date: January 5, 2016


Mouse Scouts: Make a Difference
Sarah Dillard

Violet, Tigerlily, Hyacinth, Petunia, Junebug, and Cricket are back, with another rousing adventure to earn their next merit badge!  This time the Mouse Scouts are working to earn their Make a Difference badge; but how can six little mice make a big enough difference in their community to be noticed by Mouse Scouts Monthly?


Once again, packed with adorable illustrations, and pages from the Mouse Scout Handbook which encourage young readers to try some of the Scouts activities, Mouse Scouts:  Make a Difference is a cute story about believing in yourself, and the little acts of kindness that can brighten someone else's day.

-Digital ARC provided by edelweiss, in exchange for a review.
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: The Sister Pact - Stacie Ramey

"I almost laugh.  Almost.  I don't even know how to think for myself.  I realize I've only been the negative space in Leah's life this whole time."

Title: The Sister Pact
Author: Stacie Ramey
ISBN: 9781492620976
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: NetGalley

Devastated by her older sister Leah's suicide, Allie hunts for the reasons why.  Especially since the two had a pact to always be together, in life and in death.  In her struggle to find out why Leah killed herself, Allie's not sure which is more distressing:  finding out the secrets behind her sister's death, or learning to live without her.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Mad About the Hatter - Dakota Chase

"First, it's right there in the name.  It's not the Practically Endless Sugar Sand Desert, you know."

Title: Mad About the Hatter
Author: Dakota Chase
ISBN: 9781634761505
Publication Date: August 20, 2015
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Source: NetGalley

Set fourteen years, or so, after Alice's Adventures into Wonderland, this trip down the rabbit hole brings you to a fabulously different Wonderland.

Alice's younger brother Henry, is sent to a bizarre world he refused to believe existed.  Now that he's there, surrounded by the weirdly wacky his sister has been talking about, his best chance to get home is the Mad Hatter himself.  Hatter, on the other hand, just wants to keep his head firmly attached to his shoulders, and his best chance for doing so is to do as ordered by the Red Queen, and bring 'Boy Alice' to her for a swift beheading.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Perfect - Ellen Hopkins

"Bad choices or good, if you never take chances, someone else will build your life for you."

Title: Perfect
Author: Ellen Hopkins
ISBN: 9781416983248
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Source: purchased

To continue with most of the reviews I've seen out thus far, this book was absolutely 'perfect'.

Now that my initial moment of flailing is a bit more manageable let's get to the review instead of just using a play on Ellen Hopkins' title. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: A Little Something Different - Sandy Hall

"I sit up straight.  She's talking to me.  No one ever talks to me.  Oh, how I wish I knew human and could answer her.  Instead I nibble on my peanut."

Title: A Little Something Different
Author: Sandy Hall
ISBN: 9781250061454
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: purchased

14 different points of view, none of which belong to either main character, weave together an irresistibly sweet romance between two college students.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: The Flux - Ferrett Steinmetz

"Maybe we do need to kill people.  Do you want to be the person who does that?"

Title: The Flux
Author: Ferrett Steinmetz
ISBN: 9780857664631
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Angry Robot
Source: NetGalley

Love something enough, and your obsession will punch holes through the laws of physics.  That devotion creates a myriad of unique magics: videogamemancers, culinomancers, bureaucromancers.

But when 'mancers battle, cities tremble...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy - Dinty W. Moore

"When you are not writing, be thoroughly not writing; when you are writing, be writing through and through."

Author: Dinty W Moore
ISBN: 978160774809
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Source: Blogging For Books

Wry and sarcastic, Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy is a delightful book to have on your shelf--even if you're not a writer.  Filled with questions about em-dashes, Facebook, Zebras, cocktail napkins, and polar bears, to name a few, Moore responds with essays in a myriad of forms, which will delight readers.

I really enjoyed the blend of humor and helpful that Moore employed throughout his answers.  Even his illustrations sprinkled throughout the book tie into the questions he's asked to answer; polar bears included.

As a writer myself, even though I write fiction primarily, I found myself giggling as I read through the different responses to the questions provided by some of today's top contemporary essayists.  Definitely a fun gift idea for the writer in your circle.

-Book provided by Blogging For Books, in exchange for a review

Review: Took - Mary Downing Hahn

"Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years - then lets her go and takes another one."

Title: Took
Author: Mary Downing Hahn
ISBN: 9780544551534
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: NetGalley

A witch called Old Auntie is lurking near Dan's family's new home. He doesn't believe in her at first, but is forced to accept that she is real and take action when his little sister, Erica, is "took" to become Auntie's slave for the next fifty years.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between - Lauren DeStefano

"Pram died just before she was born."

Title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
Author: Lauren DeStefano
ISBN: 9781619636002
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children
Source: NetGalley

Pram Bellamy is special - she can talk to ghosts.  She doesn't have too many friends amongst the living, but that's all right.  She has her books, her aunts, and her bets friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers.  Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help.  But the spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Bounce - Noelle August

"See?" I say, grinning.  "Magic and sparkly unicorns for all.  It's been decreed."

Title: Bounce
Author: Noelle August
ISBN: 9780062331106
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Edelweiss

Convinced by her best friend Beth to audition for the first feature film from Blackwood Entertainment, Skyler never imagines she'd be picked over Beth for the leading lady role.  On top of that, she can't stop thinking about her first audition partner, Grey, and the very real feeling kiss they shared.

Grey, having been roped into 'indentured servitude' for his brother, after a party gone wrong, finds himself working on the set of his brother's newest project.  All Grey wants to do is perform with his band, and focus on finding success as a singer, but there's something about the pink haired girl he read with that keeps derailing him.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey

"I'm coming back.  I'll take care of you."

Title: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
ISBN: 9780356500157
Publication Date: June 19, 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Purchased

Every morning, a girl waits in her cell for the men with guns to arrive and strap her into a wheelchair.  After she's strapped down, unable to move, she's brought to a classroom filled with other children strapped into chairs.  The girl jokes that she won't bite, thinking the men with the guns don't like her; but they don't laugh.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

"The circus arrives without warning."

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
ISBN: 9780385534635
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday
Source: ARC from publisher

With those few words you are welcomed to Le Cirque des Reves, The Circus of Dreams; and circus of dreams it is, though the title barely does justice to this compelling debut novel.

Set within the turn of the nineteenth century, The Night Circus follows an ethereal circus of black-and-white striped tents as it tours the world. Twisted within the acrobats, contortionists, carousel, and Ice Garden are two young illusionists bound to one another in a contest that neither knows the rules to.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tonks - The Cat in the Blog

When I was pondering a name for this blog, I got to thinking that maybe I should just name it after three of my biggest loves; my cat, Tonks, sweet, glorious caffeine, and of course, books.  And thus, 'Books, Cats, and Caffeine' was born.

So, without further ado, I present Tonks:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin

"Your're supposed to say, 'All I want is your happiness.  I'll do whatever it takes, even if it means being without you.'"

"Sorry," Noah said.  "I'm just not that big of a person."

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
ISBN: 9781442421776
Publication Date: October 23,2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased

Synopsis - from

After Mara survives a traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues.  She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend's sister.  Convincing her loving family to move to a new state to give her a fresh start seemed like the perfect solution.  But this fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations - or are they premonitions? - and then corpses; the boundary between reality and nightmare wavering.  On top of that, at school, there's Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined Mara is meant to be with him, even if it means helping her piece together what's real, what's imagined, and what's very, very dangerous.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

To Be Read Pile: August

I'm hoping, since I've got an extensive TBR pile, that if I post a list of titles I hope to read during the course of the month, I'll actually make it through them without getting distracted.

Picture Books

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review: The Wrath and The Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

"I love you, a thousand times over.  And I will never apologize for it."

Title: The Wrath and The Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
ISBN: 9780399171611
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Source: Purchased

First off, this book has been on my TBR pile since the first day I saw the cover on the internet.  Never mind the premise, it was the cover which drew me in.  Having now read the book, I'm happy to say that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover and not be disappointed.