Friday, February 15, 2019

Podcast: Episode 2: December 2018

Episode 2 is now available here, or you can follow us on Spreaker.  Hopefully we will be up on iTunes and other podcasting systems soon!  This month I talk December books with Jen, one of my reviewers.  Find out what we thought were the best books reviewed on KTB last month.

You will find the show notes by clicking on Kiss the Book: the Podcast under our Links to Love

Listen to "Ep 2: December 2018 in Review" on Spreaker.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Stain by A. G. Howard - ESSENTIAL

Stain by A. G. Howard, 516 pages.  Amulet, 2019. $20.  

Language: G (1 swear, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Princess Lyra was born just as her mother died.  Born into a kingdom of perpetual day, she was promised as the bride to a boy born to a land of perpetual night.  Her governess, her aunt Griselda, has other ideas for her destiny.  How about killing her off and substituting her own daughter to fulfill the prophecy?  Lyra is rescued by an unlikely cast of characters and raised on the wild border between the kingdoms with no memories of her former life nor of her ordained future. If fate doesn’t intervene what will happen to the two kingdoms?

It says prominently in the promotional materials that this is based on The Princess and the Pea.  I don’t see it.  SO ignore that and just enjoy this for the fine high fantasy read that it is.  While there are glimpses of several familiar tales within, this is really just a wonderful weaving of story and character that you will reread as soon as you are done so that you can enjoy its nuances again.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Sheets by Brenna Thummler - ADVISABLE

Sheets by Brenna Thummler, 238 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Lion Forge, 2018 $13.00 Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

13-year-old Marjorie runs the family laundry business, dealing with angry customers and the nosy Mr. Saubertuck who wants to take the business away from her. Wendell is a young ghost who breaks the rules of ghost town by returning (unauthorized) to the human world, and is disrupting things at Marjorie's. Marjorie's mother has passed away and her father has shut down, she doesn't need a ghost causing trouble, too. 

Sheets is a sad story - Marjorie has no friends, a difficult home life and works harder than a girl her age should need to. Wendell doesn't adapt well to death, and his backstory is tragic. My graphic novel readers tend to like funny or adventure stories, I'm interested to see if this becomes popular, it is certainly an emotional, sensitive read that will appeal to a larger audience. 

 Lisa Librarian 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith - OPTIONAL

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith, 288 pages.  Swoon Reads (Mcmillan), 2019.  $18.

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mia is desperate to date Vince, her high school’s BMOC, especially since homecoming is just around the corner.  She has been trying to manipulate her best friend, Robyn, the school’s most skillful matchmaker, to help her, but Robyn refuses.  When Mia takes matters into her own hands and sends a fake email to Vince, pretending it is from Robyn, Mia gets her wish.  But why is Logan, the school’s class clown always in her thoughts and in her life?  

If what you need is a palette cleansing light read for the beach or complete mindless downtown, this will fit the bill.  It does what it sets out to do – be a feel good, you-know-where-this-is-going romantic comedy.  There are a few pleasant detours along the way.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm - ADVISABLE


The Third Mushroom (Fourteenth Goldfish, #2) by Jennifer L. Holm, 220 pages.  Random House, 2018.  $17.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Ellie loves science and she decides to partner with her grandpa for the middle school science fair.  Ellie’s grandpa, Melvin, looks like a teenager because of a science experiment he did on himself (more of that story in the Fourteenth Goldfish).  Melvin and Ellie discover an animal that can adapt and grow new body parts, and when Melvin tries it on himself it doesn’t have the predicted outcome.  There are lots of changes in Ellie’s life, so on top of navigating her grandpa’s crazy experiments she also must figure out her friendship with her best friend, Raj.  

This is a cute sequel to Ellie and Melvin’s adventures in the Fourteenth Goldfish.  Ellie is a likable character and the story line is creative, with a little bit of attempted romance between Ellie and Raj.  The end of the book has mini biographies on some of the better-known scientists.  If your readers enjoyed Fourteenth Goldfish, they will like this as well, but I recommend reading them in order.  

C. Peterson

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit - OPTIONAL

The Nebula Secret (Explorer Academy #1) by Trudi Trueit, 207 pages.  National Geographic, 2018.  $17.

Language:G ; Mature Content: G; Violence PG (some danger)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Cruz, 12, is finally off to the Explorer Academy.  He will be training with a talented group of teens with the best professors in their respective fields.  The competitive spirit among the kids runs high, but Cruz has more to worry about - he is also traveling in his mother’s footsteps.  Not only did she work and teach at the Academy, she also died there. Can Cruz find out what really happened to her?

As I sat down to write this review, I realized I have no idea what the purpose of the Academy actually is.  It seems more like they are training spies and evil scientists than explorers.  I mean, what is the purpose of their explorations when everything seems to revolve around thwarting evil plans and creating tech that can and will be used for espionage? This lack of focus made it harder for me to buy into the worldbuilding.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix - ESSENTIAL


The Faithul Spy by John Hendrix, 175 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL Amulet Books (Abrams), 2018.  $25.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a German who lived during Adolf Hitler’s rise in the Nazi Party.  Bonhoeffer loved God and felt like Hitler was spreading evil and hate, so Bonhoeffer became a part of the German resistance fighters.  He spread information and tried to help others, but eventually was imprisoned for a long time regardless of the fact that those incarcerating him didn’t have hard evidence.  Dietrich was a good person who swore his allegiance to God and was willing to die for his beliefs.  

I loved this book for so many reasons.  First, the illustrations are powerful with bold bright colors and details that cause the reader to feel what Dietrich is feeling.  Second, the biographical information is succinct and compelling.  Third, I cared for Dietrich and his courageous stand and feel like this book draws attention to the fact that there was a German Resistance.  Great book-everyone should read it.  

C. Peterson 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Words We Don’t Say by K.J. Reilly - OPTIONAL

Words We Don’t Say by K.J. Reilly, 274 pages.  Hyperion (Disney Book Group), 2018. $17.99

Language: R (185 swears, 69 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Joel is alone in life—except for his parents, his little brother, the new kid who doesn’t know how to not say what he’s thinking, the principal of the school, the girl he likes, the homeless people he serves food to at the soup kitchen, the rest of the school, and a bunch of other people on the planet. So, pretty much, he’s not alone. But Joel doesn’t feel like he can always say what he needs to even when he finds a gun and the consequences become bigger than anything he thought might happen.

As I read, the story felt like Joel was narrating his life without purpose beyond his occasional interjection that an event mentioned was a mistake because of what would happen later. While I was often amused by some of Joel’s inner commentary, the story continued to meander through the entire book, even at the climax. Reflecting back on the story, I like the theme that Reilly brings out about how we often don’t say something because of fear but it’s better to take the risk; I just think that the story told to bring out that theme is slow.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer - ESSENTIAL


A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, 496 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2019.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (16 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Harper is the lookout for her brother while he takes care of a job for the neighborhood bad guy, but while waiting she sees a man trying to take a woman.  Harper steps in to defend the woman and quickly finds herself in another world--Emberfall.  The prince of Emberfall is Rhen and he is stuck in a curse that unless he can find a woman to love him, then his kingdom will fail.  Harper is his last hope, but Harper longs to be home with her dying mother and she is confused by the magic of Rhen’s world.  They need to trust each other to save Emberfall and each other.  

I love any spin on Beauty and the Beast and this is a good one.  Kemmerer writes fantastic chemistry between Rhen and Harper and their strengths and weaknesses are realistic and give the book depth.  I totally enjoyed this journey and can’t wait to read more in this series. 

C. Peterson

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith - OPTIONAL


Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith, 264 pages.  Marvel (Disney), 2018.  $17.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

T’Challa is a teenager, but also the prince of Wakanda.  The king is worried about T’Challa’s safety in Wakanda so he wants T’Challa and his friend, M’Baku to go to Chicago anonymously and attend middle school.  At first, T’Challa and M’Baku like the freedom, but M’Baku falls in with a bad crowd who is known for doing witchcraft and T’Challa has to call on the powers of the Black Panther to try and fight the evil before M’Baku gets himself into an unforgiveable situation.  

I enjoyed the movie Black Panther and thought this back story would be fun, but I was disappointed by the drag in the story line with all the details of the life of a middle school-er.  Also, the idea that the king of Wakanda would send his middle-school-aged prince son without an adult chaperone to inner city Chicago is far-fetched.  This book could have been good-the bad guy was interesting and I like T’Challa, but it was just boring.  

C. Peterson

The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari - OPTIONAL

The Sweetest Kind of Fate (Windy City Magic #2) by Crystal Cestari, 310 pages.  Hyperion (Disney Book Group), 2018. $17.99

Language: PG-13 (35 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Family, friends, and enemies alike are withholding information that Amber thinks she should be privy to, while she keeps secrets herself. Wanting to prevent unfavorable outcomes for herself, Amber refuses to let go of the control she has on her present. However, procrastination does not prevent the pain of reckoning day.

The continuation to Amber’s story was very enjoyable to read, even if it wasn’t what I expected. This sequel played out more like a soap opera than the first book did, which makes for a fun story, but I was disappointed to find less substance in this part of Amber’s story. The best part is when everything comes together to teach Amber and readers that we are in charge of our own destiny.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen