Books I’m Pining For

Right now, my world is centered around a tiny 6 lb monster who likes to cry and bark.  🙂  I’m reading two puppy training books, Puppies For Dummies and My Smart Puppy: Fun, Effective, and Easy Puppy Training (Book & 60min DVD) without much time for anything else. But here are a few books I am looking forward to reading after he settles down….


Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal- This one has been getting mentions all over the blogosphere so I am dying to get my hands on it!

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarite Engle- Last year Engle snuck up on me and snatched a Newbery Honor. So when I saw that Betsy Bird had this book on her Newbery 2010 contenders list, I knew I needed to to read it! Plus, I am always on the lookout for new Holocaust stories that focus on aspects of the tragedy that aren’t a part of the general curriculum at our grade level.

Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson- I hate doctors and hospitals. I love books about medicine. Weird, huh? The novel focuses on the organ donation process and I am dying to read more.



 Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart- “How do you paint regret?” That sentence has been at the back of my mind ever since reading a review of Beth Kephart’s newest novel. I think I’ll be purchasing this one this week!




L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad- So sue me, I love The Hills and Lauren Conrad! I am dying to see how this one is, because I’m hearing good things so far. Plus, who doesn’t love a little light, fluffy reading during the summer?



So, what books are you pining for?

The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin and John Busby

I have to admit- I am a crime show junkie. I never miss an episode of Law and Order: SVU, Without a Trace, or Shark. I watch the reruns of Law and Order on TNT. I love reading crime blogs online and web sleuth message boards. So when I received an ARC of The Year We Disappeared: A Father – Daughter Memoir by Cylin and John Busby, I was thrilled. Yesterday I sat down to read it and finished in one sitting. This is a thrilling YA memoir with huge adult crossover appeal. In this day and age of TV crime dramas, this true life tale of a family nearly destroyed by a brutal shooting will not go unnoticed!

When Cylin Busby, now a a writer for young readers and former Teen editor, was nine years old she lived a normal live on Cape Cod. Then, overnight, her family’s life changed forever. A policeman in smalltown Falmouth, Massachusetts, her father is shot in the face on his way to work the overnight shift for the local department. The point-blank shots tear off John’s jaw, leaving it laying on the passenger seat of his car. While John is fighting for his life, he is also fighting to bring the perpetrators to justice. He knows that local small town, petty crimes and arsonist Raymond Meyer is to blame. However, Meyer holds the town and police department in the palm of his hand, and the investigation goes nowhere. Meanwhile, John’s family is placed under 24-hr surveillance while doctors struggle to repair his face. He can no longer speak or eat and is forced to spend months in the hopsital. Cylin and her brothers must live with constant police presence, including escorts to school, police officers guarding their classrooms, and a high-tech security system. This eventually leads to no contact with friends, as most of them are too scared to even speak to the family anymore.

Worst of all, the shooter is still on the loose. With little being done by the local police department, John struggles with the anger he faces due to his injuries and the the revenge he so badly wants to enact on the man who has destroyed his family. Cylin struggles to come to terms with this new life her family is forced to live and her own fears. Over the course of a year, the family realizes that life can’t continue this way- and they disappear- moving to a new state, where no one knows them or their story. And they pray that no one from their old life finds them.

The story is told in alternating chapters by John and Cylin. The reader experiences both of their lives through that harrowing year. From the shooting to its awful aftermath, the story is at times heartbreaking. It also shows how families can come together and rise above even the worst circumstances.

Today, John and his wife, Polly, live in an undisclosed location. To this day, the man who shot John has never been prosecuted. His family still lives with the fear of retaliation in the back of their minds. Yet John and Cylin have decided to share their story in this jaw-dropping memoir of life on the run for an average family.

The Luxe

Pretty girls in pretty dresses,870E1FD4-C2DB-40AB-A12E-E478CC963DB0.jpg
partying until dawn.

Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles
and dangerous intentions.

White lies, dark secrets,
and scandalous hookups.

This is Manhattan, 1899….

When I saw the buzz about The Luxe hitting the blogosphere a few months ago, I immediately added it to my list of “must-reads”. Novels about the gilded age, or set in Victorian settings, have been some of my recent favorites. I also loved the Gossip Girl series and the TV show is appointment tv for me. The Luxe seemed like a perfect combination of these two. After getting a few giftcards for Christmas, Anna Godbersen’s book was #1 on my list.

First of all, how gorgeous is this cover? Despite the fact that one couldn’t even move in a dress like that, I want it! Where can I get a dress like that? If that dress evokes similar feelings in you, I am sure you will enjoy this debut novel from Anna Godbersen.

The Luxe is the story of rich, spoiled teenagers living in Manhattan. The twist? It’s 1899. The main characters are Elizabeth Holland- prim, proper, beautiful, and the eldest of the Holland clan (and hiding a secret romance with a boy below her class); Diana Holland- fun, silly, romantic, and everything her older sister is not; Penelope Hayes- rich, snotty, and full of new money…a mean girl for the ages; and Lina- the Holland girls’ maid servant with ambitions of her own. The chapters alternate from one girl to the next, with each chapter beginning with a primary document. For those familiar with the Gossip Girl series, instead of beginning chapters with emails and text messages, Godberson begins each chapter with a ball invitation, society gossip column, or correspondence. From blind items in the gossip pages to scandalous notes sent from one character to another, the primary documents are essential to the book’s plot.

It took me a few chapters to really get into this book. However, once I did I was swept into the world of balls, carriage rides, and Sunday visiting hours. While not overly heavy with historical facts, there is enough history thrown in to appease most readers. Mentions of Gramercy Park, Admiral Dewey, and the corruption that ran rampant in NYC politics at the time serve as a subtle backdrop for the scandalous lives of the main characters. I do wish the setting played a bigger part in the story. At times, it felt like the setting was merely background and the story could have been taking place anywhere, at anytime. Godbersen has an opportunity to really make NYC an important character, if you will, and I hope she takes advantage of that.

I did especially enjoy the almost circular ending. I finished the book very late last night, and immediately reread the first chapter. All of a sudden, so much more made sense. The first chapter serves as a great lead to pull you into the book, as you question exactly what is happening. It also serves as a great ending, so make sure you do reread it after finishing the book! My opinions on the characters also changed as the book went on. Godbersen slowly made each character seem more human as the plot unfolded, and characters that I hated as first began to seem more human.

This is a very fun book. The next book, in what is sure to be a 3-4 volume series, is due out in June, according to Amazon. I will definitely read the sequel, just to see what happens to these characters! Plus, I can’t wait to see what the next cover looks like- this book definitely wins the Cover of the Year award for YA!

Window shopping

Am I the only one who window shops online? For the past two days, I have been filling, emptying, and refilling my carts on Amazon and Amazon is running their 4-for-3 promo and I am dying for some new books. However, I never order from Amazon without trying the same order at BN, to compare the final price. So far, I am coming up pretty even on most of my combinations for both sites. The problem is, I can’t pull the trigger!

I wish books weren’t so expensive. Although, I would have a house even more full than I do right now, if that were the case. Anyway, these are the books I am considering: Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes(thanks to a review on Mentor Texts), The Secret Under My Skin by Janet Mcnaughton, Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson, The Periodic Table by Adrian Dingle (thanks to a mention in the Cybils nominations!), and Shug by Jenny Han.

All of these books have been reviewed in the kidlitosphere and have caught my eye over the past month or so. Of course, I can’t seem to commit to buying them! Part of the problem is that I just received my invitation to the Holiday Scholastic Warehouse Sale. I know I will spend a good amount of money at the warehouse sale, so it’s hard to convince myself to buy new books before then! At the same time, I know that neither the warehouse sale nor the monthly book clubs will carry newer books for a few more months. I need to figure out how to get ARCS…..that would save me a lot of money!!!!!! It would also make it easier to let my students read and review new books (something they LOVE to do). Well, there’s another thing to add to my to-do list. 🙂