Monday, May 15, 2017

The DEVIL is IN OHIO! (and prolly a lot of other places!)

DEVIL IN OHIO by Daria Polatin... because summer reading is spent getting ready for Halloween/October titles!

Fifteen-year-old middle child Jules is having a tough time. She feels invisible at home and at school. Now, to make matters worse, her psychiatrist mom has brought home a patient, also a fifteen-year-old girl. Mae is quiet, mysterious, and pretty. Mom puts Mae in Jules’ room, buys Mae new clothes, even makes Jules show Mae around school. At the same time, Mom forgets everything relating to Jules: to pick her up from school, to leave mushrooms off the pizza, etc. So Jules’ already low self-esteem plummets even further. On top of that, there’s something about Mae that doesn’t seem right, especially that pentagram carved in her back!  Yup, that’s what I said. Girlfriend. Has. A. Pentagram. Carved. In. Her. Back!

Turns out, Mae is from Tisdale, a small backwoods town rumored to be filled with Satan worshippers. It doesn’t help matters when Mae sometimes enters trancelike states and chants creepy stuff like “For you are become as a building such as is not, save in the mind of the All-Powerful manifestation of Satan!” Yeah, like I said, creepy. Are these repressed memories, or is she calling down dark forces from daddy dearest?!

With sections alternating between first and third person narration, Polatin skillfully kept me wondering if Mae was victim or villain. Sometimes it seemed Mae was intentionally trying to supplant Jules (I mean, she DID take the boy Jules had a crush on); other times, Mae seemed to deserve all the pities (I mean, she WAS dumped on the side of the road from a moving car).

On top of all that, Mommy Dearest has some secrets in her past that may or may not coincide with Mae’s. I raced through the book trying to determine if Jules’ perception that Mae was trying to squeeze her out of her own family was valid or wildly imagined. And now, with THAT ENDING, there will be hell to pay (see what I did there?) if there’s no sequel! 

DEVIL IN OHIO is highly recommended for horror/thriller fans ages 14 and up and publishes November 7th from Feiwel & Friends, a Macmillian imprint.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cute Animal Chapter Books

The "Dr. KittyCat" series from Jane Clarke, published in the United States by Scholastic, is about as adorable as you can get. Dr. KittyCat, with her mouse assistant Peanut, helps all the little animals of Thistletown with their medical and sometimes not-so-medical issues. Each little critter, such as Posy the Puppy or Clover the Bunny, gets into some type of trouble and Dr. KittyCat is called in. Sometimes the patient isn’t suffering from a health malady…sometimes the li'l darling has stage fright or a fear of the dark. But with the help of Dr. KittyCat, Peanut, and all the animal friends, a happy resolution is found! The art is charming: photographs of real animals with line drawings superimposed and in the background. 

The latest title in the series is Pumpkin the Hamster. He fell down a hole that he didn't see because of poor vision.

Here he is after Dr. KittyCat diagnoses the problem and fits him for glasses. A happy hammie!

This sweet chapter book series (the titles of which don’t have to be read in order) is for animal lovers ages 7 to 9.  Read more about the author and her titles at

Some perfect partner titles/series for this age are:

“Pet Rescue Adventures” by Holly Webb, published by Tiger Tales. There are a lot of titles in this series (so there’s something for everyone!) but since I’m a cat lover, I had these two cover images handy. Cute, right?!

“Zoe’s Rescue Zoo” by Amelia Cobb, published by Scholastic. Sample title is The Lonely Lion Cub.

“Animal Rescue Center” by Tina Nolan, published by Tiger Tales. Sample title is The Unwanted Puppy.

As I discover more animal-related chapter books, I'll be sure to blog about them!

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Don’t be fooled by the classification of juvenile nonfiction, PHILANTHROPARTIES by Lulu Cerone (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster, May 2017) is for tweens, teens, young adults, and us grown folks! I was blown away at the quality and quantity of creative ideas between the covers!

Author Lulu Cerone was ten years old when she heard about the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. To raise money for Haitian relief, she organized a competitive lemonade stand that raised $4,000! Encouraged by this success, she founded LemonAID Warriors, a non-profit that shares idea guides for combining social activist intentions with fun events: philanthroparties!

The book is organized by month and offers three event ideas for each. Each idea comes with a list of supplies/materials needed and photo-illustrated step-by-step instructions. Here's just one idea: October is Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month. So, throw a Puppy Love Party! First coordinate with a shelter to make sure they can take your items. Then, have a party wherein you and your friends make homemade dog treats and toys... and then donate them to the shelter. Lulu gives recipes for dog and human treats and step-by-step instructions for making doggie toys with empty water bottles and old tube socks. Her ideas are very creative, thoughtful, and easily carried out.

I love Lulu's encouragement in the dedication, "Live each day with purpose and always remember to play"! Highly recommended for ages 10 to 110!

Perfect partner titles for this are:
  • Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster, Sept 2014)
  • The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution: A Guide for the Next Generation by Bernie Sanders (Henry Holt, Aug 2017)
  • Can Your Smartphone Change the World? by Erinne Paisley (Orca, Sept 2017)
  • I Am Malala (youth edition) by Malala Yousafzai (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Sept 2015)
  • It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired and Get Going by Chelsea Clinton (Philomel, Sept 2015)
  • Marley Dias Gets It Done - And So Can You by Marley Dias (Scholastic, Jan 2018)

Follow the author and her organization on Twitter (Lulu; LemonAID Warriors), Facebook, YouTube, and her blog.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

RADIUM GIRLS... they glowed in the dark

Whoa. Today's entry is very different from the previous one. THE RADIUM GIRLS: THE DARK STORY OF AMERICA'S SHINING WOMEN by Kate Moore (Sourcebooks, 5/2/17) is at once captivating and devastating, an emotionally tough book to read. 

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, young women were hired to apply radium-infused glow-in-the-dark paint to watch and clock dials. Because the surfaces they had to paint were so small, almost all of the women used the "lip-dip-paint" technique wherein they used their lips to make the brush as fine as possible. The employers, mainly the United States Radium Corporation (USRC), weren't upfront with their workers that safety precautions needed to be used when working with radium. As a result, many young women suffered terribly with radium poisoning: cancerous tumors in their bones, rotting jaws, stiff and sore joints, and ultimately death. Their search for a cause and treatment took a while and by the time someone figured out what was going in and brought suit, USRC claimed that the statute of limitations had passed. 

Reading about the girl's suffering and ongoing search for help, both medical and legal, is heartbreaking but compelling. I found myself racing through the book in the hopes I would read that they not only lived to see the end of their legal case but also won! This is really great narrative nonfiction and I highly recommend it!

*Note: I read a digital advance reviewer copy via Edelweiss.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Zelda's Big Adventure

WELCOME TO MY NEW BLOG where we're gonna talk about books... and cats... and hopefully, books about cats! (and other stuff, too)

However, in honor of my new baby chicks...

(photographed in middle Tennessee, March 18, 2017)

... my FIRST blog post is going to be for a FOWL picture book coming this fall from Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin. Author Marie Alafaci (with illustrations by Shane McG) tells us about ZELDA'S BIG ADVENTURE! 

Zelda the chicken has aspirations: she wants to travel to outer space. And, even if she has to do it all by herself, she's gonna build her spaceship and make her dream come true! (Feeling a hint of The Little Red Hen here?).

Zelda is my hero! She builds that rocket, launches it, and travels among the planets, conducting experiments. 

But even a brave, trailblazing hen still needs her flock. I wonder how Zelda can have both? Hmmm...

This picture book is just adorable!  And inspirational.  #ChickPower!

Watch for ZELDA to hit coop shelves September 12, 2017.

Thanks for checking out my newly hatched blog!  Let me know what you think about it!