Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
by Chris Grabenstein

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 304
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date: June 25, 2013
Suggested tags: middle grade, mystery

From Goodreads:
"Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

In this cross between
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience."

{ I was kindly provided an ARC for free by the author. }

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and The Westing Game, all of which are favorites of mine. It blends some of the adventure and mystery and puzzle-solving of those books, but it's still very much its own story. Now Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is right up there on my favorites list too!

The story moves fast, but everything is developed well: we get to know Kyle and his family and friends, we're introduced to the library and the contest, and then we get right into the action. I'm one of those kids that always loved libraries, so I couldn't help picturing myself in Kyle's place, running around collecting clues and solving puzzles in this amazing library. I loved following along and discovering each room with Kyle and his teammates. Eager readers who are library lovers will no doubt really enjoy this book, but reluctant readers should get a kick out of it too; it's funny, it's exciting, and it turns a stay in a library into a completely awesome adventure.

Mr. Lemoncello himself was a great character, definitely pulling from Willy Wonka and a bit of Dumbledore also. He's goofy yet wise, and book lovers will no doubt love Mr. Lemoncello's subtle literary references. Although personally I liked Dr. Zinchenko even better - a celebrity librarian, how awesome is that! And I loved that she was the one that took Mr. Lemoncello's fantastic ideas and helped turn them into a carefully orchestrated reality.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a great middle-grade book, but it definitely holds appeal for readers of any age that enjoy solving puzzles and playing games. I read the book, then turned right around and read it again to try to see if I could find any more clues or solve anything else on my own. And then there was a message at the end of the book that there's a *mysterious final puzzle* that's in the book but not in the story... the adventure continues! What a fun, fantastic book. I'm definitely a new fan of Mr. Grabenstein's!

Final verdict: I'm obsessed with it! I thought this book was amazing! It's now officially one of my favorite books! I immediately bought a copy for myself because I will be rereading it again and again! I shall be shouting about it from the rooftops for days and I am currently recommending it to everyone I come in contact with!

{ More about Chris Grabenstein }

Chris Grabenstein's website
Chris Grabenstein's Goodreads profile
Mr. Lemoncello's final puzzle!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Waiting On" Wednesdays: September 25, 2013

"Waiting On" Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday, you share upcoming releases that you're eagerly anticipating.

The Inventor's Secret
by Andrea Cremer

Expected release date: April 22, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition
Pages: 336
Publisher: Philomel
Suggested tags: young adult, steampunk

First in The Inventor's Secret series. From Goodreads:
"New from Andrea Cremer, the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade novels, comes an action-packed alternate-history steampunk adventure.

In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery. Perfect for fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners, Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and Phillip Reeve's Mortal Instruments."

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Release Round-Up: September 23-29, 2013

Young Adult

Not a Drop to Drink
by Mindy McGinnis

Release date: September 24, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 320
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia

From Goodreads:
"Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Where the Stars Still Shine
by Trish Doller

Release date: September 24, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 308
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Suggested tags: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo

Release date: September 24, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 336
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy, graphic novel

From Goodreads:
"It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell."

The Wolf Princess
by Cathryn Constable

Release date: September 24, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 320
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Suggested tags: middle grade, mystery

From Goodreads:
"A captivating, atmospheric mystery set in the crystalline winterland of Russia.

Abandoned in a blinding blizzard in the wintry wilds of Russia, Sophie Smith fears for her life. But just like in a fairy tale, a princess comes to her rescue: the beautiful, exotic Anna Volkonskaya. Over a river of ice in a horse-drawn sleigh, she brings Sophie and her friends to a magnificent, if weathered, winter palace.

At first, Sophie is enchanted by Princess Anna's stories of long-ago royalty, of white wolves and gray diamonds. But when the princess takes a particular interest in her, Sophie grows concerned. What is her place in the sinister mystery that surrounds her? Even as the wind and wolves howl outside, is she more in danger now, a prisoner of the palace, than she ever was lost in the snow?

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week: