Book Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill



Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Delacorte
0385741790 (ISBN13: 9780385741798)

From Goodreads:

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

My thoughts…

Being Sloane Jacobs is a really cute contemporary YA fiction book! The whole “parent trap” switcharoo works and isn’t cheesy at all. While definitely geared towards fans of Elizabeth Eulberg, Jennifer E. Smith, and Sarah Dessen, it works because the main characters are well written and the two contrasting camp worlds – hockey and figure skating – are interesting and not glossed over. The two uber mean girls, Ivy and Melody, who are out to get their new arch enemies, make for some pretty interesting (and mostly hilarious) situations for Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon to deal with and the two hot hockey players they get involved with are more than just reader eye candy.

While running away from their family drama and own insecurities, both girls learn a lot about themselves, which is my favorite part of the book and I think middle and high school readers will really like this one.

Bottom Line…

Being Sloane Jacobs would be a great addition to a classroom library. It’s funny, endearing and has a great message for girls to find their passion and not being afraid to own it.

Book Review: Aesop’s Secret by Claudia White

aesops secret


Hardcover, 128 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by MP Publishing
ISBN 1849822301 (ISBN13: 9781849822305)

From Goodreads:

Melinda and Felix Hutton are just an ordinary pair of siblings, until their parents confess that they have all inherited the talent of metamorphosis, a revelation that begins to unravel the children’s world. Ten-year-old Melinda embraces her Athenite heritage, but her efforts often end up leaving her freckled face attached to feathered body with a twitching rat’s tail. Her older brother Felix doesn’t greet this new reality as something to celebrate. Wishing he were normal, Felix resents becoming parts of the myths and fables he’s read. But there’s a threat rising just as the children are learning of their talents, and a powerful enemy will use every trick and tool he has to keep the family from letting slip the secret of their gifts. With only the help of Melinda’s pet rabbit Aesop, who has begun acting awfully strange lately, Felix and Melinda determinedly fight back against the suffocating grasp of those who want to drive the Huttons and their kind back underground.

My thoughts…

The first thing that grabs your attention about this book is its cover. No, really! Talk about unique and interesting! I wasn’t sure what to expect with this little book, and was very pleasantly sucked into the storyline of Melinda, Felix and their family’s unique abilities. It has somewhat of a Chronicles of Narnia vibe and is a little reminiscent of the beginning of The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (without the wardrobe, obviously). When Melinda and her brother Felix are told that their family has the unique ability to morph into animals and they are called Athenites their worlds are turned upside down. How would they respond to this revelation? I loved how carefree and fun loving Melinda embraces her new found magic and tries to perfect changing into animals, while Felix, the more serious and analytical of the two siblings, wants nothing to do with his family’s legacy. Felix escapes to France to study abroad, but things are not as they seem in his new surroundings. The best part to me was to see the two siblings come together in the end and work together to try and save their family against an evil power hungry villain, who reminded me a lot of a sneaky Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events. The story flows well and kept me entertained.

Bottom Line…

Middle Grade readers will be intrigued by the cover of Aesop’s Secrets, and hooked by its storyline. A mix of magic, a little science, and great cast of characters makes this a nice little book. I could see it be used as a successful read aloud too!

Disclaimer – I was sent this book by the author. I was not compensated for this review.

Book Review: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan


From Goodreads:

In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

My thoughts…

Out of the 83 books I have read in 2013, Counting by 7s is my favorite so far. I am in LOVE with this story. Willow Chance is a character that will stick with you long after you are finished with the last page. Her questions and quirks will fill your heart and her honesty and sincerity will make it full.

I love that Willow spends her days working in her backyard garden, reading strictly factual information, and writing in her observation journals. These are not typical hobbies of a twelve year old and readers will quickly find out that Willow is different. Her amazing adoptive parents are very supportive of their genius daughter and try and help her navigate confusing things like what to wear to school and how to make friends. I think that kids will identify and sympathize with Willow. Throughout the course of the story, young readers will learn that different is ok. Different is cool.

Willow Chance’s name is definitely a misnomer – her scientific way of looking at life leaves nothing to chance and she loves rules, logic and science. When the unthinkable happens, Willow is forced to realize that there are some things in life that have no explanation and are beyond our control.

This book is fantastic to pair with others that have the “Choose Kind” message. I think it will make a great read aloud and lead to excellent classroom discussion about topics such as kindness, adoption, grieving, unique families, and friendship. I plan to read this book to my 6th grade classes after we finish Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. These two books actually have a lot in common and will go great together.

Bottom Line…

Readers of ALL ages will love Willow Chance and the cast of characters that impact her life in ways that she could never have predicted in one of her journals. If you’re looking for the next Wonder, you’ve found something even better in Counting By 7s.

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell



Confession: This was my first book review for this blog, but it was posted somewhere else and kind of hidden. Now that I kind of (?) have this blogging thing figured out, I am posting it here, so readers can actually see it. Thanks for being patient.

About the book:

Lincoln O’Neill works the late shift at a newspaper, but his job is far from the front lines of reporting. Lincoln is the paper’s newest Internet security officer and has been hired to monitor his coworkers’ emails. Every night, in what might be the easiest job in existence, he looks through the flagged email folder and starts reading. For what, he’s not exactly sure, so Lincoln just follows his Y2K paranoid boss Greg’s orders. Two names seem to keep popping up in the flagged folder – Jennifer and Beth.

These two friends know that their employers monitor their computers, but their work days still consists of gossipy emails about the office and talking about their own personal lives. Jennifer is married with a husband who wants to start a family like yesterday, and Beth fills in Jennifer with details of her relationship with her brooding rocker boyfriend, Mitch. Lincoln knows he should report Jennifer and Beth for the personal emails, but he doesn’t. Instead he keeps reading.

Meanwhile, Lincoln’s own life is seemingly on pause. He is still getting over a bad breakup from college (which was two master degrees ago) and has been avoiding life ever since. He lives with his mom who may be the original “helicopter parent” and sometimes goes to his weekly D&D game to socialize with quite a cast of characters. Through the process of reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails and ultimately getting tangled in their lives, Lincoln learns about loss, love and more importantly, living.

My Thoughts:

I liked this book A LOT. The premise of a twenty eight year old guy reading the email of two female best friends made me laugh over and over. I think about the texts my friends and I send back and forth throughout the day… who knew there was the potential for a novel right in front of me? Seriously though, Lincoln, Beth and Jennifer’s story is fantastic – if Friends would have been an hour long dramedy taking place in a Midwestern newspaper office with less self absorbed characters and voiceovers of funny and sometimes gut wrenching emails, that’s what this book would be. Author Rainbow Rowell is pretty much a master at writing dialogue and character interaction (See Eleanor & Park). About midway I found myself rooting for all of the characters – even Justin, Doris, the Y2K kids, and most importantly, in true love.

I think a YA audience and older readers would like this book. It’s definitely a GREAT book club book for summer.

Now that I’ve read both Eleanor & Park and Attachments I am very eager to read Rowell’s Fangirl. It looks really, really good and I know that Rowell’s readers will continue to be impressed with her work.

Have you read Attachments? What did you think?

Book Review: The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle


The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
Amulet Books, Expected Publication Date: 8/20/13
Hardcover, 366 Pages


For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now… not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them…

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

My thoughts…

When I pick up a Lauren Myracle book, I know two things. Lauren Myracle knows teenagers and Lauren Myracle can write teenagers. I will never forget when I finished Shine and just sat in stunned silence for ten minutes thinking, “WOW. WOW. WOW.” I had a fangirl moment the next day, tweeted Lauren, thanked her for writing Shine and told her how important Shine is for teenagers, and well everyone, really. She is a very gracious person, and whenever someone asks what three authors would I like to have dinner with, she is on that list. (What? You haven’t thought about this?) I was very excited when I got approved to read The Infinite Moment of Us last month and although it is a very different book from Shine, I appreciated its themes of first love and growing up.

I thought the teenage voices in this book were dead on and readers will easily identify with Wren, Charlie and their friends. Wren’s parents want the best for their daughter. The very best. An example? They go a bit overboard with a car deal for graduation that comes with strings attached. Not surprisingly, their perfect dreams for their perfect daughter are blown away when Wren reveals a change of plans. But is it really what she wants? Does she even know what she wants? Aren’t these questions we’ve all asked ourselves time and time again? It’s an understatement that Wren is constantly battling between pleasing those around her and finding her wings to fly from home.

Lauren Myracle includes a letter to readers in the front of her book that tells readers it is not about sex, but definitely has sex in it. Here’s more from the letter: “So, yeah, sex is part of the mix, and I trust you that you, and teen readers can handle it… I hope it will remind you of love, and captures something genuine of love”. Several readers on Goodreads tagged this title as New Adult instead of Young Adult. While I’m still trying to figure out what New Adult is exactly, I would recommend you read this book before you put it in your classroom library, and as always, know your readers.

Bottom Line – this is a well written coming of age story from an author that gets it.

Happy Reading!

Lesley ♥