A Little More Seriousness: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

It’s about time I posted a review! :) I listened to the audiobook of Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover as a part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge.

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally CarterWhen Cammie “The Chameleon” Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she’s in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she’s there to watch Macey’s father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world’s best school (for spies), “exciting” and “deadly” are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers’ plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can’t shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion’s corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?

Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey’s private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth.

I know I’ve said this before, but I adore the Gallagher Girls. Seriously, I LOVE this series!

I wish I was friends with Cammie and her friends. I love their interactions and the way they’re so loyal to each other. If I was friends with them that would also mean I was a student at the Gallagher Academy too, which would be awesome….okay so anyway.

One thing I appreciate about this series is that it’s so lighthearted and easy to enjoy. I read this series when I need a break from some of the darker or edgier Young Adult fiction. But, despite the lightness these books carry maturity that is at times refreshing from the younger middle grades fiction I read.

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover, the third book in this series, definitely takes Cammie’s story a little deeper and darker that the first two books, but not in an overly intense way. Right away, the girls are faced with what turns out to be real danger, instead of a simple school exam. I know that some readers weren’t a fan of the more serious tone in this novel, but I appreciate the chance to see the characters, especially Cammie, show their more mature and thoughtful side. It’s real to life, because at some point everyone as to mature and deal with real problems – Cammie’s are just full of more secret agent intrigue than normal!

This book is packed with quite a few action scenes as Cammie and her friends strive to protect their friend Macy. Carter always keeps me guessing whats going on until the very end and this one is no different, I kept wavering between different guesses at what I thought was going on and who was actually involved. Carter had me stumped the whole time!

Regarding the narrator, Renee Raudman, I think she does an excellent job. Her voices are all easy to differentiate between the others and she infuses the characters with the right amount of humor and sensitivity. Sometimes her voice for Liz, can be a little over exaggerated, but I think it adds to the lightheartedness of the series.

I need to get my hands on Only the Good Spy Young, the fourth Gallagher Girls novel, before the fifth title, Out of Sight, Out of Time, is released in March! I highly, highly recommend this series to readers middle grades and older.

Author: Ally Carter

Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (June 9, 2009)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins

Narrator(s): Renée Raudman

Series: Third in a series


Buy the Book: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls Series)


Top Ten Tuesday: March New Releases

Well, hello there!

So, its not quite March yet but it is time to showcase some of the books that will be released in March! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is focused on March new releases! Now,  there are obviously more than ten new releases in March, but these are some that I’m particularly excited about.  Its time for the list so, here it is!

Storm Runners: Eruption by Roland Smith1. Storm Runners: Eruption by Roland Smith (March 1)

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould2. Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould (March 13) 

Out of Sight Out of Time by Ally Carter3. Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #5) by Ally Carter  (March 13)

Big Nate Goes for Broke by Lincoln Peirce 4. Big Nate Goes for Broke by Lincoln Peirce (March 20)

Dead is a Battlefield by Marlene Perez5. Dead Is a Battlefield (Dead Is #6) by Marlene Perez (March 6)

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen6. Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (March 27)

Pinch Hit by Tim Green7. Pinch Hit by Tim Greene (March 20) 

A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink8. A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink (March 20) 

Dead of Night 30 Clues by Peter Lerangis9. The Dead of Night (The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers Series #3)  by Peter Lerangis (March 6)

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter10. Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter (March 27)

Like I said, there are tons of new releases in March. Are there any newbies you’re excited about that I didn’t mention?


In My Mailbox (5)

Happy Sunday!

Its been a few weeks since I posted an In My Mailbox post, but that’s because I was waiting to write a big one!

See? I waited patiently, and now I have seven books to share with you and it seems I have lots of people to thank!

The first two books I have to share were given to me by two different friends.

Shannon Hale Tahereh Mafi

My friend Deborah (Thank you!!) gave me Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale as a gift to make me smile and feel loved through a pretty difficult week. She knew it would be the perfect gift because we both adored the first Austenland and have been waiting a long time for this one to come out! Can’t wait to finish this one (I started a little so far and love it!)

The second one is Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and was given to me by my friend Stephanie (Thank you!) because she read it and thought I might enjoy it. I haven’t gotten a chance to start it yet, but I’ve heard very good things, so I’m hopeful!

Next up is a group of books I acquired in three different ways.


The two on the top: Stay with Me by Paul Griffin and The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg, were given to me by fellow book blogger The Compulsive Reader. (Thank you!) Also excited to read these!

Next we come to Storm Runners: Eruption by Roland Smith. Roland Smith is awesome. Seriously, he held a contest for teachers and librarians to receive one of four ARCs of his newest (releasing March 1) in the middle grade Storm Runners series. So, I entered and checked back later only to find out he not only was giving away the four ARCs but also twenty-four finished copies, one of which I won!!!! Did I mentioned he autographed it?! I did a little happy dance when I saw my name of the list and another when I found the book in the mail!! A huge thank you to Roland Smith!

The sixth book I personally bought, with a gift card someone sent my way (THANK YOU!!) and I knew The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith was exactly what I wanted!


The last book I got this week was actually more of a “find”; I was rummaging through the Teacher Book Exchange shelf in the copy room at my school and came across Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty! There is never any YA books in that shelf, so I was pretty excited to find one! Needless to say I snatched it up right away!

Okay, so this isn’t a book, but my Mockingjay Pin came in the mail this week! YAY!  It as taken up proud residence on my teacher ID lanyard! My students love it! (excuse the blurry finger!)20120226-093731.jpg

So, all in all I’ve received some pretty fun stuff over the past few weeks! What titles are in your mailbox?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.


Book Trailer of the Week: Name of the Star

The Name of the Star by Maureen JohnsonToday’s Book Trailer of the Week is The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson.  I’ve only read one book by her,  but I’ve heard such good press about this one, that I think it’ll be the next Maureen Johnson book I checkout.  This one sounds creepy, but oh so good!

Watch the trailer to learn more about The Name of the Star!


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Book Talking this Month at School

A book talk is simply a way to get someone (mainly students) interested in reading a particular book. The goal is to create excitement for the book by telling the listener just enough about the book to whet their reading appetite! Teachers and librarians give book talks all the time – they’re a major tool of the trade! The main way I do book talks is over the school’s morning announcements, and I usually do one or two a week.

Today’s Top Ten list is centered on ten books I’m book talking this month at school. Since my book talks are a bit too long to add to this post, a brief summary of each book is included under each title.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George1. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick2. Wonder Struck by Brian Selznick

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard3. Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren – a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi’s curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she’s ever had to make: the life she’s always longed for – or the love she can’t live without?

Heist Society by Ally Carter4. Heist Society by Ally Carter

For as long as she can remember, Katarina has been a part of the family business—thieving. When Kat tries to leave “the life” for a normal life, her old friend Hale conspires to bring her back into the fold. Why? A mobster’s art collection has been stolen, and Kat’s father is the only suspect. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help. The only solution is to find the paintings and steal them back. Kat’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history—and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

The Underdogs by Mike Lupica5. The Underdogs by Mike Lupica

Will Tyler can fly on a football field. He may not be the biggest running back around, but no one can touch him when it comes to hitting the hole and finding the end zone. And no one can match his love of the game. When Will has a football in hand, he may as well be flying for real because life can’t touch him – his dad isn’t so defeated, his town isn’t so poor, and everyone has something to cheer for. All of which does him no good if the football season is canceled. With no funding for things like uniforms and a cared-for playing field, with seemingly every other family moving to find jobs, there simply isn’t enough money or players for a season. Unless one kid can rally an entire town and give everyone a reason to believe . . .

The Maze Runner by James Dashner6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko7. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Moose Flannagan moves with his family to Alcatraz so his dad can work as a prison guard and his sister, Natalie, can attend a special school. But Natalie has autism, and when she’s denied admittance to the school, the stark setting of Alcatraz begins to unravel the tenuous coping mechanisms Moose’s family has used for dealing with her disorder. When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the Warden, he knows right off she’s trouble. But she’s also strangely irresistible. All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents’ expectations, and stay out of trouble. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell8. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer” … but it wasn’t always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb?

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hirandani9. The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hirandani

After her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia’s mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn’t always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren’t part of the “in” crowd. At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she’s dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it’s hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances.

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman10. No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman

Wallace gives a thumbs-down to a book much to the chagrin of his English teacher, who sentences him to help with a stage version of the book. Wallace is unaware that his improvement suggestions will wind up changing the entire production and his life as well.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish!


Winner Announcement: Tempest Audiobook Giveaway

Happy President’s Day and Happy Giveaway Winner Announcement Day!

Before we announce the winner lets review the prize!  Yes!  It’s very exciting!  The winner of this giveaway will receive an audiobook copy of Julie Cross’ debut Young Adult Fiction novel, Tempest!

So, let me just say that my free account does not allow cool giveaway widgets like rafflecopter, so being the librarian that I am, I ran this giveaway the old fashion way.

I assigned numbers to every participant who completed the giveaway entry form on the giveaway post, and wrote those numbers on little pieces of paper (plus additional entries for those who completed the extra entry options). Those  slips were then placed into a bowl (a pretty Fiesta Ware bowl, mind you!).


Miles, the Giveaway Inspector Pup, assured me that the raffle was fair.


So, I picked a number out of the bowl (because remember this a very technological giveaway!).


The chosen number was number 8, which was one of the numbers assigned to…..

Julie Gurley

Congratulations to Julie Gurley who just won herself a copy of  Tempest on audiobook!

All I need from you is to email me  your mailing address at  tinalina(at)gmail(dot)com within the next 48 hours and I will ship your winnings to you right away!

Thanks to everyone who entered!  This giveaway was a success and it’s because of you!

Also, a huge thank you to MacMillan Audio for donating this audiobook for giveaway!  For more information on Julie Cross and Tempest check out her website!


An Unlikely Heroine: May B., A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose

Before we focus on the review, don’t forget there is still a few more hours to enter the Tempest Audiobook Giveaway! Okay, now to the book review!

May B by Caroline Starr Rose

I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again.

May B.: A Novel is Caroline Starr Rose’s debut into middle grades fiction and I’m so happy I got to read it as a part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, which is being hosted by The Story Siren. Plus that cover is gorgeous!

May B. is written in verse so the story reads very quickly – seriously, I read it in less than 24 hours! Although I adore historic fiction, I must admit it can sometimes be slow, but this story is anything but. The writing moves you along and the reader can really sense the feeling of panic that the main character is experiencing.

The main character, Mavis Elizabeth Betterly or May B., is a rather unlikely heroine. May B. is a twelve-year-old girl struggling with dyslexia and living on the Kansas prairie with a family not her own. She was sent away to help a newlywed couple so as to help bring in some money for her family, but the couple leaves her all alone during a threatening prairie winter, and May B. is forced to fend her herself. The story is told through the eyes of May B., so the reader understands May B.’s fears, insecurities, memories and courage in a deep way.

May shares a lot of her struggles with reading while she is attempting survival. She doesn’t understand why the words on the page refuse to cooperate with her, and she doesn’t understand why everyone thinks she’s stupid when she’s not. I really appreciate Rose’s interest in the history of America’s education system and have often asked myself the question of how did students with disabilities fare in the largely reading, writing, and repetition centered classroom. Probably not so well, and May B. sheds light on this reality in a powerful way.

Historical fiction can be a hard sell to middle grade readers (it barely gets checked out in my Media Center), but the quickness of the story may allure some potential readers. I am going to buy this one for my Media Center and I recommend May B. to middle grade readers and older (actually older elementary age kids would enjoy it as well). Teachers could also use May B. in the classroom as it is a manageable length but packed with tons of curriculum connections.

Do you know of any other middle grades historical fiction titles that deserve some love? If so, please share them!

Author: Caroline Starr Rose

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (January 10, 2012)

Format: e-book ARC (NetGalley)

Length: 240 pages

Series: Standalone


Buy the Book: May B.


Just Finished: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally CarterIf you haven’t read the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter, you’re really missing out on a quality middle grade/YA series.  It has quickly become one of my favorites!  Last night I finished Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover, the third book in the series that follows Cammie and her friends trough their time at the spy school.  I wish I could be a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women!  A review will most definitely be coming soon.

Also, don’t forget you can still enter the Tempest Audiobook Giveaway until Sunday night!


Book Trailer of the Week: Dear Dumb Diary Year Two

Dear Dumb Diary Year Two by Jim BentonMy students love the Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton and it looks like he has created a second series Dear Dumb Diary: Year Two.  My kids might freak out if they know about this and I don’t have it on the shelves, so I’ll probably be buying this new middle grades series. It really is a cute female version of the Wimpy Kid books.  Watch the trailer to see for yourself!

Also, there is still time to enter the Tempest Audiobook Giveaway!  The giveaway ends Sunday at midnight!


Rumors and Consequences: In Too Deep by Amanda Grace

Looks like a good day for a book review! But before we get to that, don’t forget you can still enter the Tempest Audiobook Giveaway until February 19!

In Too Deep by Amanda GraceI never meant for anyone to get hurt. All I wanted to do that night was make a play for Carter Wellesley. His heartless rejection was mortifying, but people got the wrong idea when they saw me leaving his bedroom, crying. That’s how rumors of rape started.

Now girls at school are pouring out their sympathy to me. Guys too. But not everyone’s on my side. The school has become a war zone and the threats are getting scary. What began as poetic justice has morphed into something bigger–forcing me to make a terrible choice.

I received In Too Deep by Amanda Grace from the publisher (Thank you Flux Books!) and was interested from the moment I read the jacket summary.

Although the plot of In Too Deep deals with sexual assault and rape, the story’s main plot line focuses on lies and how you can’t erase them.

One of the first things I noticed about this book is the honesty of the supporting characters. Take Nick for example. He is Sam’s best friend and has been for years. Although he does cherish their friendship and Nick is loyal, he is not afraid to call out Sam when she is wrong. Nick is not scared to say the things that may be difficult for Sam to hear, he knows its better for her to heat them. I appreciate this kind of loyalty and friendship portrayed in YA fiction, because often friends can be portrayed at loyal to a fault. This is reality. Real friendship is like that; real friends love you and aren’t hesitant to bring up the hard stuff.

Grace has written Sam’s character well. Sam is nowhere close to being perfect. The story starts with Sam making a dumb decision in an attempt to get a boy to notice her and then it’s like a dumb decision snowball that keeps getting bigger and bigger (I kept yelling at Sam in my mind!). Although Sam didn’t intend for the false rumors of rape to circulate around school, she also does nothing to stop them. Sam knows she’s in the wrong and has good intentions to put the stories to rest, but she just never gets up the courage to actually end it. Sam is a good person, but she makes bad mistakes. Sounds like me at that age and almost every other teenager I’ve ever known, which is why I think Sam’s character is well written. I think readers can relate to Sam.

Now, to the ending (without spoilers), I absolutely loved the ending especially the last few sentences (which I want to post but can’t because that would be wrong!). In the midst of tons of hardship and difficulty (brought on by the main character by herself) there is hope on the horizon, which is what made me really like this book.

Some people may be uncomfortable about middle schoolers reading In Too Deep based on the intense subject matter, but I think the lesson learned by the main character in the end is an important one for middle grade readers. That is why I would recommend this book to older middle schoolers and up who are looking for a realistic contemporary read.

Author: Amanda Grace

Publisher: Flux Books (February 8, 2012)

Format: Print ARC

Length: 228 pages

Series: Standalone


Buy the Book: In Too Deep