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How It Should Be Done: Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

Hello!

In high school photography was kind of my thing. I took a photography class and was even the head photographer of my yearbook staff for a few years. There were even these little freshman boys who had lockers near mine and used to call me “Camera Girl”…I loved it! I’d read Cynthia Lord before but was really interested in Half a Chance when I realized that Lucy, the main character, was an aspiring photographer!

When Lucy’s family moves to an old house on a lake, Lucy tries to see her new home through her camera’s lens, as her father has taught her — he’s a famous photographer, away on a shoot. Will her photos ever meet Half a Chance by Cynthia Lordhis high standards? When she discovers that he’s judging a photo contest, Lucy decides to enter anonymously. She wants to find out if her eye for photography is really special — or only good enough.

As she seeks out subjects for her photos, Lucy gets to know Nate, the boy next door. But slowly the camera reveals what Nate doesn’t want to see: his grandmother’s memory is slipping away, and with it much of what he cherishes about his summers on the lake. This summer, Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own.

Half a Chance is one of those middle grades novels that deals with difficult topics, but does it exactly how it should be done. Often times in middle grades fiction difficult topics are dealt with using a heavy hand, but Cynthia Lord manages to handle hard subjects with a perfect mix of sweetness and gentleness. What we see is Lucy struggling to get her father’s attention and help her new friend Nate’s family come to terms with their grandmother’s growing illness. All of this difficult stuff is approached through Lucy’s camera lens and creates a book that isn’t heavy handed in it’s struggles.

Lucy is your quintessential middle school girl who is constantly riding that line between self discovery and lack of confidence. Her father is this world renown photographer who is rarely home, she is the new girl in town who is starting to have a crush on her new friend and who isn’t too sure about the girl across the lake who hasn’t been very welcoming. I understand Lucy in the midst of all of this and she’s a very likable character.

The summer lakefront setting just adds to the gentle way Lord approaches Lucy’s story. The morning sunrises over the lake and the haunting calls of the loons (who play a major part in the story) create that kind of hazy summer setting that always seems to find itself in coming of age stories. It makes me wish I spent summers in a lake house!

I would highly recommend Half a Chance to any middle grade readers looking for a quick contemporary and even to parents interested in finding a way to open the conversation about an ill grandparent.

Author: Cynthia Lord

Publisher: Scholastic Press (February 25, 2014 )

Format: Hardcover

Length: 218 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book:

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Top Ten: Books on My Summer TBR List

Hi there!

Where are all my teachers at?! Who loves summer?! What what!!PupBooksI have so much free time to read and so of course, I have tons of summer reading plans with my little Reading Buddy (I mean seriously…how cute is he?!). I’ve already posted my June Reading Queue, so the titles I list below are other books I plan to read over summer break.

Defy by Sara B. Larson Wild Born by Brandon Mull 
-Defy by Sara B. Larson

-Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) by Brandon Mull

Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

-Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey

-Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

  TheRaftSee You at Harry's by Jo Knowles

-The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

-See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles

What the Dog Said by Randi Reisfeld Curveball by Jordan Sonnenblick

-What the Dog Said by Randi Reisfeld

-Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Pobloki Guitar Notes by Mary Amato

-The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki

-Guitar Notes by Mary Amato

I can’t wait to get to all these awesome looking books this summer! Have you read any of the titles on my list? Which should I start first? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag

Hello!

Well, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Broke and Bookish) theme is focused on books that I’ll have in my beach/pool bag this summer. I recently posted by Reading Queue for June, which is already kind of the same thing, so instead of me posting a redundant list, you should check out my June Reading Queue here! All of those books will be in my beach/pool bag for the summer.

As always, thanks for visiting BookTasty friends!

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Wish You Were Italian

Well we’re a few weeks into our extra six weeks of winter thanks to that little cutie Punxsutawney Phil, but I’m already starting to think about spring and summer.  The book I’d like to share with you for Waiting on Wednesday, Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae, sounds like it’s going to be a fun summerish read.

Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Raelocal art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

Okay so I admit, this one has potential to be a really cute or a really silly read. I hope it’s a really cute one because I love books about traveling in Europe and when Wish You Were Italian is released in May this year, I’ll probably be in the mood for a light summer romance.  :)

So, what books are you waiting for this week?

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Not Just a Pretty Cover: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Hi!

During the last few weeks of summer before school started I was totally in the mood for a good contemporary beach read. I shopped my shelves and picked up My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, which I’d been eyeing for months.

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrickperch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Can we just acknowledge how lovely this cover is? It just has the exact look you want from a summer read…at least in my mind!

But My Life Next Door isn’t just a pretty cover, it is a well-developed contemporary romance with some serious sides. However, the story doesn’t feel heavy or overly weighty, but instead still maintains it’s summery feel despite the harder issues.

One thing I noticed about this book right away was the grace that it shows to different types or sizes of families. Throughout the novel we see Samantha’s small and reserved family sharply contrasted with Jase’s large and rambunctious one. We see snapshots into the inner workings of both, and what I appreciate the most is that there is no “better” or “worse” between the two. Through Samantha and Jase’s romance (squeeeee!) we see that there are positive and negative aspects to both small and large families and that each has its own unique form of dynamics, some parts healthy and some not.

Now, I mentioned the romance between Samantha and Jase. YES YES YES YES YES! This relationship is just so sweet you can’t help but read My Life Next Door and swoon a little. There is that perfect mix of excitement and uncertainty that usually accompanies first love. And Jase…he is the stuff that teen (or not-so-teen) crushes are made of!

Even the not-so-likeable characters and the not-so-romantic parts of the story are so well-rounded that you are able to understand the reasoning behind the actions being taken, even if you still don’t like them and they make you really angry!

So, even though I know it’s not summer anymore, but if you’re longing for the feel of the warm summer weather you may want to check out My Life Next Door because it will not disappoint!

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (June 14, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 394 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA (I’d say 8th grade and up)

Buy the Book: My Life Next Door

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Living

Hi there!The Living by Matt de la Pena

Let’s celebrate Wednesday by talking about an upcoming new release! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine and I love participating in it every week!

This week’s spotlight book is The Living by Matt de la Pena.

Shy took the summer job to make some money. In a few months on a luxury cruise liner, he’ll rake in the tips and be able to help his mom and sister out with the bills. And how bad can it be? Bikinis, free food, maybe even a girl or two—every cruise has different passengers, after all.

But everything changes when the Big One hits. Shy’s only weeks out at sea when an earthquake more massive than ever before recorded hits California, and his life is forever changed. The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it’s a fight to survive for those left living.

Doesn’t this sound like a cool survival, adventure story?! What an intriguing premise; summer dreams turn into a fight for your life against the forces of nature?! Very exciting!

The Living will be released on November 12, which is actually the day before my birthday!

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Sound

Welcome back BookTasty friends!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week I am showcasing The Sound, and upcoming summer release by Sarah Alderson.

When aspiring music journalist Ren Kingston takes a job nannying for a wealthy family on the exclusive island of Nantucket, playground The Sound by Sarah Aldersonfor Boston’s elite, she’s hoping for a low-key summer reading books and blogging about bands. Boys are firmly off the agenda.

What she doesn’t count on is falling in with a bunch of party-loving private school kids who are hiding some dark secrets, falling (possibly) in love with the local bad boy, and falling out with a dangerous serial killer.

I saw this one on featured on another blog recently, and I was hooked! I want to read this book really bad. I love books set in high-class  summer vacation spots like Nantucket. There is something so mysterious about places like that already, then adding a serial killer?! YES!

But I am a little confused. Everywhere I check online says this book is a UK release (slated to come out on August 1) with no details on a US release.  Does anyone have any insight towards this? Will it be in bookstores here on the same date?

Are you waiting for The Sound today too?

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Quick Pic: Summer Lounging

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One of the first things we did upon moving to Columbia a week ago was to join a gym. It’s a must for us. My old gym membership had expired about two months before we moved so it had been a while since I took a group exercise class. Well, I did a BodyPump class yesterday and boy did my muscles take a beating! I am so sore! It’s that kind of sore where you don’t sit in seats, you fall into them. So, I’ve been doing pretty much nothing but lounging all day today, which includes reading The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. It’s a quick read so far!

Yay for sore muscles giving me an excuse to sit on my butt and do nothing but enjoy a good book!

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Summertime

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Hello and Happy First Day of Summer!

As an educator, I simply adore summer. Summer means rest. Summer means fun. Summer means spending time with your husband or friends at 1 in the afternoon because you’re not at work. And last but not least summer means relaxing with a good book!

Today I’m sipping a cuppa tea, munching on Nilla wafers and reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson!

What does summer mean to you?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer TBR List

Hiya!

Have you all been enjoying summer so far?

As an educator it is my responsibility to supremely enjoy my summer vacation.

Part of this enjoyment is reading. So, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) is focused on Books on My Summer TBR (To Be Read) List. Now, I’ve already posted my Reading Queue for June, so you may see some of the same books on today’s list. But that’s okay right?!

In no particular order here are the books in my TBR stack this summer. I can’t wait to devour them in all in true BookTasty fashion!

Silence by Becca FitzpatrickSilence by Becca Fitzgerald (already started)

Legend by Marie LuLegend by Marie Lu

One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly HuntOne for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt

Wonder by RJ PalacioWonder by R.J. Palacio

The False Prince by Jennifer A NielsenThe False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonThe Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Lock and Key by Sarah DessenLock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Real Mermaids Dont Wear Toerings by Helene BoudreauReal Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerScarlet by Marissa Meyer (already started)

Have you read any of these? Which should I make top priority?  What books are you hoping to read this summer?