Monday, December 29, 2014

Books Fall Open

I just discovered this beautiful bookish poem thanks to Goodreads' 5 Inspiring Quotes to Wrap Up the Year and I had to share...

Books Fall Open
by David McCord

Books fall open, you fall in,
delighted where you've never been;
hear voices not once heard before,
reach world on world through door on door;
find unexpected keys to things locked up beyond imaginings.

What might you be, perhaps become,
because one book is somewhere?
Some wise delver into wisdom, wit,
and wherewithal has written it.
True books will venture, dare you out,
whisper secrets, maybe shout
across the gloom to you in need,
who hanker for a book to read.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, fellow bookworms! Once again, real life has gotten in the way of my blogging and I've been absent for a while. :(  But I wanted to be sure to stop by to say that I hope you all had a very happy holiday season, and to wish you all a very happy New Year!

Photo from Thoughts from Alice

Sunday, November 2, 2014

{ bon voYAge! } November 2014

What happened to October's { bon voYAge! }? I guess a better question is... what happened to my blog for the entire month of October?? I was quite busy and the month flew by before I realized I hadn't even posted. So sorry, fellow bookworms! I'm hoping to be more dedicated this month! So without further ado...

The destination for September 2014 was

Arizona, USA }

And here are the YA & MG books we found...

The destination for November 2014 is...

{ China }

Some examples of YA & MG books set in China:

Please send me links to your posts and reviews by Saturday, November 29 so I can add them to the next { bon voYAge! } post!

Want to play? Here's how it works...

{ } At the beginning of each month, I'll post the name of a destination: a city, state, region, province, country, etc.
{ } Throughout the month, you can:
       1. look for a YA or MG book (or books) set in that destination to share.
       2. read a YA or MG book (or books) set in that destination and write a review.
{ } You can post the books you found or the reviews you wrote any time during that month. Just send me a link so I can link back to your post!
{ } At the beginning of the next month, I'll share everyone's books and reviews. Then I'll post another destination and we can start again! :)

Want to check out the books we've already discovered? Browse all the locations that we've explored on the { bon voYAge! } tab above!

Have a location you'd like to explore? Let me know in the comments here or on the { bon voYAge! } tab above, or email me at pidginpea (at) yahoo (dot) com!

Want to put a { bon voYAge! } button on your blog? I'd love that! I made it using deviantART stock resources from SneakyTomato and artist00 and fonts from

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Release Round-Up: October 20-26, 2014

Young Adult

Beware the Wild
by Natalie C. Parker

Release date: October 21, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, romance

From Goodreads:
"It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.

Famous in Love
by Rebecca Serle

Release date: October 21, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 336
Publisher: Poppy
Suggested tags: young adult, romance, contemporary

First in the Famous in Love series. From Goodreads:
"When seventeen-year-old Paige Townsen gets plucked from obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling movie set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie's famous love triangle, Paige's crazy new life begins to resemble her character's.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is -- and who she wants -- while the whole world watches.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

Centaur Rising
by Jane Yolen

Release date: October 21, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 272
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

From Goodreads:
"One night during the Perseid meteor shower, Arianne thinks she sees a shooting star land in the fields surrounding her family’s horse farm. About a year later, one of their horses gives birth to a baby centaur. The family has enough attention already as Arianne’s six-year-old brother was born with birth defects caused by an experimental drug—the last thing they need is more scrutiny. But their clients soon start growing suspicious. Just how long is it possible to keep a secret? And what will happen if the world finds out?

At a time when so many novels are set in other worlds, Jane Yolen imagines what it would be like if a creature from another world came to ours in this thoughtfully written, imaginative novel,
Centaur Rising."

Jake and the Giant Hand
by Philippa Dowding

Release date: October 21, 2014
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 136
Publisher: Dundurn
Suggested tags: middle grade, mystery

From Goodreads:
"Why is Grandpa acting so weird? And why are there so many giant flies?

Jake spends every summer on his grandpa's farm. But this year, things are a little weird. First, there are huge flies everywhere. Second, Grandpa is acting kind of funny. And third, Jake's friend Kate keeps trying to scare him with creepy stories. Last year's tale about the swamp creature was bad enough, but this year's story about a hand that someone found in a farmer's field is even worse. And it wasn't just any hand either. It was a giant's hand!

It might just be the creepiest story of all. It can't be real. Can it?"

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pinterested in Books #11

You can check out my Pinterest, where I've got bookish boards as well as lots of other assorted collections. Feel free to share links to your own bookish pins and boards in the comments!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 163
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: October 28, 1977
Suggested tags: middle grade, realistic fiction, classics

From Goodreads:
"Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new kid, a new girl, boldly crosses over to the boys' side of the playground and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. It doesn't matter to Jess that Leslie dresses funny, or that her family has a lot of money—but no TV. Leslie has imagination. Together, she and Jess create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

I first read this book as assigned reading in fifth grade, and it's stuck with me ever since. Some details faded out in my mind over time - I remembered the main plot, but I couldn't remember the details about Terabithia... Did they really travel to a fantasy kingdom? Or was it all in their imagination? I consider it a sign of Paterson's talent that she made reading about their time in Terabithia so exceptional for me that as I grew up I could not remember if it was real or imagined.

Jess and Leslie do create Terabithia out of their imagination, but it becomes a real place for them and begins to take on a sense of realism in the book as well. But it seems that some people don't like that, as I discovered when I was looking for books to read to celebrate Banned Books Week and found Bridge to Terabithia on the list of banned and challenged books. According to the ALA website, it's been challenged for "occult/Satanism, offensive language." The website Banned Books Awareness expands upon this:
"At issue with censors are death being part of the plot..., Jess’ use of the word “lord” outside of prayer, offensive language, and claims that the book promotes secular humanism, new age religions, the occult, and Satanism. Some critics also proclaim that Leslie is not a good role model simply because she doesn’t attend church."
Oh no! Leslie doesn't go to church and Jess uses "lord" in a regional dialect! Hide the children! And, and, Leslie and Jess are *using their imaginations* to create a kingdom where they rule, which contains a sacred place where they send up generic prayers and positive wishes to no one in particular. Clearly, this is Satanism - this is secular humanism, new age religion, occult, and Satanism! Because children who use their imaginations to create beautiful places where they feel safe and happy and connect with nature obviously must be evil.

... What the what? I mean, seriously. This makes me really upset. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But for someone to declare that no one should be able to read this book, that it should be removed from libraries and schools, just because it contains things that they themselves don't agree with is madness. And those are my feelings for any other banned or challenged book too.

*dismounting soapbox*

In my opinion, Bridge to Terabithia is a truly beautiful book that covers a lot of issues with a gentle yet meaningful touch. For me, it speaks strongest about friendship and loss. Jess and Leslie's friendship develops in a way that many of my own middle school friendships did - uncertain at first, but then suddenly strong and perfect and natural. And then, the tragedy. (SPOILER - highlight to read: I don't remember feeling a sense of dread when I first read the book in fifth grade; I just remember all of a sudden it was announced that Leslie was dead. But rereading it now, I definitely felt some foreshadowing and suspense as Jess worries about crossing the rising river. It nearly broke my heart when he was invited out with his teacher and wanted to invite Leslie, but decided not to. Again, I didn't think of this when I was younger, but reading now, I felt the full weight of his guilt and regret right along with him when he finds out that Leslie has died while he's been out seeing things that she would have loved to have seen with him.)

I have a feeling middle grade readers and older readers might take away different things from this book, judging by how differently fifth-grade me and adult me experienced the book. But I think that's what makes it beautiful, and what makes it earn its place as a modern classic.

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!

{ I read this book to celebrate Banned Book Week 2014! }

{ Favorite quotes from Bridge to Terabithia }
" 'Ain't 'cha gonna run?' she asked.
'No,' he said, shoving the sheet away. 'I'm gonna fly.' "

" ' We need a place,' she said, 'just for us. It would be so secret that we would never tell anyone in the whole world about it.' ... She lowered her voice almost to a whisper. 'It might be a whole secret country,' she continued, 'and you and I would be the rulers of it.' "

She had tricked him. She had made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there---like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone.

For hadn't Leslie, even in Terabithia, tried to push back the walls of his mind and make him see beyond to the shining world---huge and terrible and beautiful and fragile? (Handle with care---everything---even the predators.)

{ More about Katherine Paterson }

Katherine Paterson's Goodreads profile
Katherine Paterson's website

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Release Round-Up: September 22-28, 2014

Young Adult

by Scott Westerfeld

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 608
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Suggested tags: young adult, realistic fiction, paranormal

From Goodreads:
"Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

Salt & Storm
by Kendall Kulper

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 416
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Suggested tags: young adult, historical fantasy, witches

From Goodreads:
"A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

The Fires of Calderon
by Lindsay Cummings

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 352
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

First in The Balance Keepers series. From Goodreads:
"The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson,
The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth."

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
by Julie Berry

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 368
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Suggested tags: middle grade, historical fiction, mystery

From Goodreads:
"There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings."

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week: