ARC Review: My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin

My Seventh-Grade Life in TightsAuthor: Brooks Benjamin

Genre: Middle grade, contemporary, humor

Publisher: Delacorte

Publication Date: April 12, 2016

293 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights made me feel like this.

happy baby gif

It’s a joyous, fun, light-hearted, sweet book. Dillon’s voice is absolute perfection; he really felt like a middle schooler that just wanted to be a dancer with everything he had. I loved all of the characters in this book, and I was rooting for them the whole time. The book is witty and full of life and humor. It’s diverse with a cast of interesting and wonderful characters. The kids are just that…kids. I think all of them felt like kids I could meet at my library, and I really appreciated that. The voices felt genuine and real.

I just want to talk for days about how much I love this book, but I’m just going to give you two more GIFs that I felt represent the way this book made me feel.

Also check out my super awesome M7GLiT tights that Brooks sent me! I’m obsessed with them. They are so comfortable. Check out this tweet from Brooks for your chance to win a pair!

The bottom line: M7GLiT is a really enjoyable, clever, funny book about being who you are and not letting anyone tell you otherwise. It’s full of so much life and you’ll just want to hug the book the entire time.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Waiting on Wednesday: My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

My Seventh-Grade Life in TightsPublisher: Delacorte/Random House

Author: Brooks Benjamin

Release date: April 12, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

LIVE IT.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

WORK IT.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

BRING IT.

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor.

Why I’m excited: A book all about following your dreams no matter what. About fighting for what you want. I can’t wait to meet Dillon and check out his moves. Plus, the “Dizzee Freekz”? I mean, could there be a cooler name? 🙂 Then add on top of that the fact that Brooks is just wonderful and I’m seriously looking forward to this book.

Blog Tour | Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan by Sheila Agnew & Giveaway

Hi, guys! Today I’m super excited to be hosting Sheila Agnew, author of Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan for an interview and guest post as part of the Evie Brooks Blog Tour. Check out my interview with Sheila and her guest post about her love of travel and then enter to win a hardback copy of the book (US only – sorry!!). But first:

ABOUT THE BOOK

Pajama Press / March 3, 2014 / 219 pages

Evie Brooks is Marooned in ManhattanAfter Evie Brooks’ mother dies, her American uncle Scott, whom Evie barely remembers, arrives in Dublin. Much to Evie’s dismay, she’ll have to go and live with Scott in New York City.

Having never owned a pet more substantial than a goldfish, Evie is intrigued by her uncle’s NYC veterinary practice. Scott engages Evie as an assistant in the clinic. Thus begins a series of light-hearted adventures with lovable animals and their sometimes lovable owners.

At the end of the summer, Evie has to make the choice of whether or not to return to live in Ireland with her godmother, Janet…

INTERVIEW

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Funny. Serious. Compassionate.

Describe your book (or the series) in 3 words.
Funny. Serious. Compassionate.

What is the best memory from your journey to becoming an author?During a school visit a boy told me that he wanted to be a writer but that his teacher said that he wasn’t good at English. I told him how Roald Dahl’s teacher said that his writing efforts reminded him of “a camel.” The boy asked, “Did the camel have one hump or two?” I thought that was hilarious and I think that he definitely has the imagination to be a writer!

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I get an idea for one scene and I just run with it. I don’t normally outline except I had to do an outline for the second Evie book under my contract. So I sat down one Sunday and wrote an outline of about twenty pages detailing every chapter. The publishers were basically like, umm, thanks but we didn’t need anything like this much detail. I never looked at the outline again. I should pull it up someday and see if the book as written actually resembled the outline.

As I know you’ve traveled extensively, what’s your favorite place in the world?
Ireland. It took Dorothy a whole book to realize that there’s no place like home.

Have you ever worked in a veterinary clinic? What made you choose that as Uncle Scott’s profession?
No. But I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with animals especially horses. I just love the presence and smell and feel of horses. It gives me that “all’s well with the world” feeling. And I got my dog, Ben, ten years ago. I just threw him straight into the Evie books exactly as he is. He’s the only non-fictional character.  I knew straight away that Scott had to be a vet because I wanted the animals to help Evie deal with the loss of her mother. Animals have so much to teach us. And there’s a lot of scope for humor!

Who’s your favorite fictional character?
That’s a really tough one. When I was a child, I loved the book, “I am David” by Anne Holm. It is about a twelve-year-old boy who escapes from a concentration camp and travels through Europe looking for his mother. I still think that David is one of the most beautiful souls ever written. But I think I’d prefer to have dinner with Oscar Wilde’s characters.

TRAVEL AND ME

As a seven-year-old, I was already a highly experienced traveller because I’d gone all the way to Narnia and back six times. C.S. Lewis’s chronicles of Narnia will always remain irreplaceable in my affections. One of the great joys of reading is the ability to travel not just everywhere in this world, but to other worlds as well. I think that readers are born travellers (and time travellers too.)

My writing has been greatly influenced by my travel experiences. Sometimes I’ve found a detail or a character for a story, and other times, the story itself. My books were conceived in far-flung lands . . . and much closer to home. About five years ago, I went to live in an isolated cabin in the woods in Connecticut for a couple of months. One afternoon while I was reading out on the deck, my dog, who had been sleeping inside, flung himself through a hole in the mosquito screen, barking so furiously at something behind me that white foam dripped from his mouth. I turned around. A few feet away stood an enormous black bear. I will never forget my prehistoric, cave girl fear in that moment; a deep primal fear of being eaten alive.

I have no idea how long I stood there, staring at the bear staring at me. At some point, I got it together, grabbed my dog, rushed us both inside and locked the door. Then I remembered that the other door to the cabin was open. I ran around like a lunatic and locked that door as well. Through the window, I watched the bear, now on all fours, circling the cabin. I grabbed my iPad, and googled, “Bear outside cabin, what should I do???”

Google told me to call my local police station. I reached a rather apathetic member of the force called Mary.

“There’s nothing we can do,” she said.

“There must be something you can do,” I wailed. “I can’t stay here for the rest of my life waiting for the bear to look elsewhere for a snack.”

“Oh,” she said in an interested tone, “is the bear attacking you right now because if he is, I can send a patrol car.”

Was Mary insane or was she being sarcastic? I wondered. I still don’t know. What I do know is that I made the episode a chapter in the second Evie book, Evie Brooks in Central Park Showdown. I barely had to change a thing.

One of my favorite places in the world is Argentina. From the second I arrived at the airport in Buenos Aries in 2011, I felt a strong sense of being at home. It’s funny how we often travel to try to find a place that feels like home. I spent almost as much time in Chile as I did in Argentina. And yet, while I appreciated Chile and its people very much, it wasn’t the same feeling. Even if I lived in Chile for a thousand years, we would never be in love. Whereas, for me and Buenos Aires, I guess it was love at first landing.

I’m very grateful for my experiences in South and Central America and in The Dominican Republic. Without those, I doubt if I would have had the confidence to write my YA thriller, The Exclusion Wars, which is narrated by Mateo, a fourteen-year-old Latino in hiding in New York in the year 2025.

SheilaHeadshotTravel hasn’t always lived up to my expectations. Between college and law school, I spent a few months working in Grand Cayman. I had responded to an advert for a job in “the British West Indies.” I thought that sounded so exotic and glamorous and mysterious. To my disappointment, Grand Cayman was none of those things. But I did have fun and enjoyed making new friends.

I think that we have to try and take as many travel chances as we can. Sometimes that means reading in a genre outside our comfort zones, a new potential world to explore. Maybe we will fall in love, maybe not. But it’s nearly always very interesting!

Thanks very much for having me on your blog.  Please visit me on the Web any time. http://sheila-agnew.com

THE GIVEAWAY

Click on the link below to be taken to Rafflecopter and enter the giveaway. It will run from December 9 – December 22 at midnight. US only. One winner will receive a copy of Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan by Sheila Agnew.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAYEvieBrooksGraphic

Check out the other stops on the tour:
Review, interview, and giveaway at Geo Librarian
Guest post at The Roarbots

ARC Review: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

The Nest by Kenneth OppelAuthor:  Kenneth Oppel
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: MG, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Horror

Publication Date: October 6, 2015

256 pages, hardcover (247 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Shout out to my love Kimberly from Little Shop of Stories who knew I’d love The Nest and let me have her ARC. She wasn’t wrong.

It’s really hard to tell you what The Nest is about, because, well…it’s strange. Steve, whose family has been struggling to cope with his sickly new-born brother, finds his dreams suddenly invaded by angels who offer to “fix” his brother. But Steve realizes that his angel is actually a wasp queen. All he has to do is say yes to her and his problems will be fixed, but that’s such a difficult and powerful word.

The best words, to me, that describe The Nest are these: strange, haunting, lovely, sad, dry, unique, creepy, quick. The entire time you’re reading, you have this eerie feeling like something bad is about to happen, and it’s really well-done. You’re never really sure what’s real or not until the end. Plus, the queen is seriously frightening. She pulls you in and makes you want to like her even though you know she’s evil.

It’s a great book for its intended audience too. It touches on some real life issues that MG readers will face – anxiety, OCD, family dynamics, being brave even when it’s absolutely terrifying to do so. But I also appreciate the fact that I am 25 and I still enjoyed it and even related to several parts of it. I felt that Steve, an anxious kid who just wants to be normal, but what does normal even mean?

The bottom line: The Nest is unlike any other book I’ve read. It’s strange, but in the best way. It gets pretty creepy at times, and it’s a seriously fast read – I read it in just a couple of hours.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

ARC Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefanoAuthor:  Lauren DeStefano
Genre: MG, fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
240 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Bloomsbury USA Childrens for letting me read this!

A Curious Tale of the In-Between is Lauren DeStefano’s first middle grade book, and I certainly hope it won’t be the last. This book is absolutely wonderful, enchanting, and full of life – despite the fact that Pram can see ghosts. I was drawn into Pram’s world from page one and read this one quickly over the course of two days (only because I had to work). It reads quickly and will keep you completely captivated the whole time.

Pram (short for Pragmatic – what a great name) is special – she can see ghosts. She was born dead and brought back to life so she hovers somewhere in that in-between place, which gives Pram her ability. She is anything but ordinary, which you can see as you read the book. She’s smart and curious but practical (hence the name). I want to follow her on more journeys – give me more Pram! Pram’s friends, Felix – a ghost – and Clarence – not a ghost, are just as wonderful. I wanted to reach into the book and hug Felix with everything I had. All of the friendships in this one were sweet and supportive.

Honestly, the best part of The Curious Tale of the In-Between is the fact that it’s…well, it’s dark. It’s not your average MG book. It has some really tough topics brought up (suicide, depression, death) and Pram and her friends are put into some harsh situations. But DeStefano realizes that kids can deal with these things and she doesn’t try to lighten it up or beat around the bush. It was refreshing to read, and I know a lot of kids reading this book will appreciate (and even need) that. The real world can be scary and sad, and DeStefano doesn’t shy away from those harsh realities.

The bottom line: Lauren DeStefano’s first MG book, A Curious Tale of the In-Between, is a dark, lyrical, enchanting novel full of ghosts, mediums, life, death, and pragmatic girls. A wonderful coming-of-age story. Bring on book 2!

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Book Review: Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, I was able to read this book. It is a delightfully light, funny, and enjoyable read. When the book begins, the mother of a young boy and his little sister leaves for a trip. The family runs out of milk, so the father sets out to the corner shop to buy some. He is gone for a rather long time, and when he gets back he tells them that he was on his way home when he was abducted by aliens who wanted to redecorate the planet. He manages to escape, but meets a bunch of pirates, and so on and so forth until he finally makes it back home.

Fortunately, the Milk aliens

Fortunately, the story was completely engrossing and lovely. It is a whimsical tale of pirates, vampires, dinosaurs who are professors and world-renown for their time travel, piranhas, aliens, and more. The story is funny, creative, and full of adventure.

Fortunately, the Milk Piranhas

Fortunately, Skottie Young is a wonderful illustrator and brought this story to life. The illustrations complement the silliness and craziness of this story perfectly. Everything feels a little over the top, much like the story does. Young’s illustrations make the story the father weaves feel as entertaining and as wild as the father’s story itself. So much fun! Also, I don’t know if it was just me, but the kids’ dad kind of looks like the Fourth Doctor. It can’t just be me, right?

Fortunately, the Milk Dad Fortunately, the Milk Dad smirk

Fortunately, I can buy a copy of this book for myself (I checked it out from the library).

Fortunately, the Milk Dad and Professor StegFortunately, the Milk Cover
Publication info:

Fortunately, the Milk

Written by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Skottie Young

Published by HarperCollins; September 2013

114 pages (hardcover)