Monday, February 18, 2019

Review: The Windfall App by Teresa Richards

The Windfall AppThe Windfall App by Teresa Richards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marina Berghman is a classical piano prodigy with parents who’ve had her life mapped out since she was in diapers. But their plan leaves no room for her secret love of alternative rock, or Sean, the edgy guitarist who recently moved to town.

When Marina buys a lottery ticket on her eighteenth birthday via the new Windfall app, she expects it to be nothing more than a rite of passage. But she wins—the grand prize of five thousand dollars a day, for life. Suddenly given the means to break free from a life she never felt in control of, she’s quick to cut her family ties and turn her back on everything she knows.

But her lottery win was no lucky break. Her prize comes with strings attached, and Marina soon finds herself at the center of someone else’s life or death game. When she discovers evidence linking her dad to the intrigue, she turns to Sean for help. But he’s harboring secrets of his own. Now Marina must sort out who to trust and who’s pulling the strings, before her prize turns into a noose.

This book is a page-turner! I started to realize pretty quickly that all was not right with this lottery. While it's fun to read about how logical Marina spends her winnings, the underlying dread is what propels this story forward. Whether it's someone following Marina home one night or the flirty yet slightly creepy anonymous texts she gets, these were the little things that kept me from being able to put the book down.

The romance in the book is sweet and well-written. I also really loved the setting. San Francisco figures so prominently in the book that it made me want to visit. And Marina's best friend Darya is such a great character that I wish there was a spin-off novel that starred her! If you're looking for a fast-paced book with all the elements of a great YA, this is a perfect choice.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Review: What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

What the Woods KeepWhat the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hayden has just turned eighteen, and she's living on her own for the first time, when she gets a call about the will her mother left. Though her mother is technically missing, not dead.

My mother remains elusive, in the periphery of my vision—there and not-there, dead and alive, like Schrödinger’s theoretical cat, its state altering the moment I focus on it. It’s been a decade since I last heard Mom’s voice …”

The dreams of her wearing full body armor and riding a horse while leading an army through the fog and ravaged cities, crying We’ll rise again have returned, and what’s with the white ravens that keep appearing in her dreams and real life? Hayden has a lot of questions.

It’s suggested that she keep mum about the will and not mention anything to her father, which may not be difficult considering he’s a physicist with his head buried always in his work. Even though he’d lost his tenure, due to outrageous claims about Nibelungs and multi-dimensional pathways and string theory.

Thank goodness, for her roommate, Del Chauvet, French-Senegalese Brooklynite, and her constant determination to give her a makeover or find her a date, especially since the last one left Hayden stranded. But Del has something special planned for her 18th birthday.

Memories and whispers in a foreign tongue, and Hayden’s mother watching from behind the dark trees surrounding her childhood home wearing a sad smile, as if she knows what’s coming. Hayden’s therapist, Dr. Erich reminds Hayden that those memories are long gone. But Hayden needs answers.

Hiding the will from her father, Hayden and Del leave their Brooklyn apartment to visit her childhood home in Promise, Colorado, and search for the gifts her mother left with the cryptic message:
She needs to listen with her blood. My second condition is that Hayden uses my gifts to destroy my darkest secret—my hidden treasure, my heaviest burden.

When Hayden struggles to understand she interprets things using theoretical physics, and the author does this beautifully at the start of each chapter with musings of the metaphysical, the forces of gravity, and Murphy’s Law and how they relate to Hayden’s life.

My kind of genre-mash-up, that twists urban fantasy and science fiction with the creepy factor that comes with a dark woodland mystery along with a gripping pace and self-sacrificing friendships. Quite unlike anything I’ve read before. I’d probably recommend this book for mature YA readers.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Celebrating Make This! by Ella Schwartz

Happy Book Birthday
Ella Schwartz!

Create your maker space with this fun and instructive book, chock-full of hands-on activities and cool experiments to get kids thinking and tinkering.

This book is designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and supports all kinds of kid creators: those who prefer guided instruction, those who prefer to dream up and design objects on their own, and everyone in between. With thoughtful text and bright illustrations, kids get the tools and the know-how to tackle all kinds of exciting projects: building a kaleidoscope, designing a fidget spinner, planting a rain forest, creating a musical instrument, and more. Unconventional scenarios inspired by real National Geographic explorers give kids a chance to think outside the box and apply their maker skills to real life. Chapters are divided up by scientific principle, such as simple machines, energy, and forces. In each chapter, kids can start by following step-by-step activities, or get creative by tackling an open-ended challenge. Helpful sidebars explain the science behind what's happening every step of the way.

Make This! is perfect for curious and STEM-loving kids, families looking for a fun way to play together, and anyone else who's ready to get creative and start tinkering!

Your Kidliterati friends are so happy for you, Ella.

Get your copy today:

Monday, February 4, 2019

Review: Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood

Love Like SkyLove Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

@disneyhyperion #partner - I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Georgie and her little sister Peach’s parents got divorced and each parent has started building new lives for themselves while trying their best to keep things inclusive and sensitive to their girls. On one of their visits with their biological Dad, Georgie does something daring and a little selfish after which everyone's lives change for better or worse.

Love Like Sky reads like you're talking to your best friend or a confidante. The author's writing takes you deep into the characters minds and hearts, and doesn't let you go even after you've read the last sentence.

This is such an intricate and complicated story. Blended families that stemmed from one or multiple divorces remain in the realm of impossible for me. But I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Georgie and her family and friends. I enjoyed seeing that when everyone does their best, things can work out (mostly). I enjoyed seeing how tremendously hard it can be to navigate feelings of not belonging or wanting to belong without letting said feelings cloud one's judgement.
People's actions sometimes are misguided because of how much they love and care for someone but usually that love is the magic that keeps families together (blended or not).
Love Like Sky is about family, love, and how much better life is when we surround ourselves with people who care about us and support us. Some kids wish for their parents to part ways, other kids want their parents to stay together no matter what. Learning to deal with the feelings of disappointment when things don't go the way they were supposed to is a huge challenge. I'm grateful Love Like Sky exists to provide some support to kids out there going through similar life challenges.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Cover Reveal: REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB by Kim Harrington

Today we're thrilled to share the cover of Kim Harrington's upcoming middle grade novel, REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB, coming from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in October, 2019!

First, let's learn a little bit about this exciting new story:

Riley Dunne loves being a member--and leader--of the Red Club. It's more than a group of girls supporting each other through Aunt Flo's ups and downs; it's a Hawking Middle School tradition. The club's secret locker has an emergency stash of supplies, and the girls are always willing to lend an ear, a shoulder, or an old pair of sweatpants.

But when the school administration shuts down the Red Club because of complaints, the girls are stunned. Using skills she cultivated as her school paper's top investigative reporter (okay, only investigative reporter), Riley digs for the truth about who shut the club down and why.

If that weren't enough, she also must deal with her best friend, who is acting super weird as of late; a new and ridiculous dress code; and trying to make sure the group remains focused on fighting back, rather than fighting with one another.

With humor, heart, and lots of period power, Riley and her friends rely on surprising allies--and their own strength--as they work to save their club and stand up for what they know is right.

Before we get to the awesome cover, here is a special message from the author about the cover design:

Many times, authors will have a vision in their head of what their cover should look like. But with REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB, my mind was blank. How was it possible to convey in one image that this book had humor, heart, girl power, and, um…lots of talk about periods? I wouldn’t even know where to start. And that’s why I’m a writer and not a designer. Thankfully, Aladdin’s Tiara Iandiorio is brilliant. She designed the perfect cover for this book. It blew me away. The bright red. Riley’s strong pose. The fists with pens. The calendar. And, of course, the tampons. 😊 I am delighted with this cover. And I can’t wait for readers to meet Riley and her friends!

A secret stash of monthly supplies, humor, heart, and girl power? Sounds wonderful to us! Without further ado, here's the cover reveal:






What do you think? We love the bright red color and Riley's triumphant pose. Congratulations to Kim on a gorgeous cover! We can't wait to see inside!

 Kim Harrington is the author of Clarity, Perception, The Dead and Buried, and Forget Me for teens and the Sleuth or Dare and Gamer Squad series for kids. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and son. When not writing, she's most likely reading, watching one of her favorite TV shows, or fantasizing about her next vacation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Congrats to Jeff Chen on Ultraball: Lunar Blitz

The Kidliterati are excited to celebrate Jeff Chen's middle grade debut. 

Welcome to the game. 

Welcome to Ultraball: Lunar Blitz.

We wanted to learn more about Ultraball so we sat down with Jeff with for an exclusive interview.

What was it like writing your book on the moon?

The low gravity was disorienting at first, but you get used to just about anything. Except pooping. Man, I tell you what, it's no fun hooking up a waste recycler to your butt ... okay, I'll stop.

What's it like to play Ultraball in an Ultrabot suit?

Imagine being Superman. Except that you don't have to worry about kryptonite. And you catch speeding bullets instead of outracing them. So all in all, I'd give it a thumbs-up. I mean, it's nothing compared to the deep satisfaction of using a normal Earth toilet. There's that entire Earthfall thing, though.

How has Earthfall affected you?
The total destruction of Earth in a global nuclear war was a pretty big downer. But all the whining! Wah wah wah, the oceans are irradiated! Boo hoo, nuclear winter for millennia! The United Moon Colonies are on their own now!

Suck it up, people. Life on the moon ain't so bad. Except for the nasty hardtack bars. And the crumbling infrastructure. Not to mention the dwindling water supply.

Okay, maybe it's bad.

Do you think the Taiko Miners really have a shot at winning the Ultrabowl, after three straight defeats at the hands of the North Pole Neutrons? They kind of have your number, don't they?

Thanks for bringing up all those agonizing memories.

What's the first thing you'll do if you finally win an Ultrabowl?

I'm going to Disneyland! Oh, wait. There's that entire Earthfall thing.

Is there something seriously wrong with you? I mean, I wouldn't use the word "deranged," but ...

My poor wife and kids will probably want to weigh in here.

How many copies of Ultraball: Lunar Blitz should I buy? 100 or 1000?
If nothing else, HarperCollins prints on high-quality paper. Y'know, in case you have problems after using your waste recycler.

Congrats, Jeff!

Get your own copy of Ultraball: Lunar Blitz.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort. On her way to the palace for her nuptials her caravan gets attacked and she narrowly escapes death. In her quest to oust her assassins Mariko discovers a horrible side to the politics of the world as she knows it.

This immersive and engrossing read will grab your attention from the first chapter. You will find yourself rooting for so many of the characters because they all have their personal goals and motives that often times will cross paths.

I love how the author layered the stakes in the story in perfect tandem with the main characters' growths.

Fair warning that if you enjoy this book it will leave you with a hangover, so make sure to have the second book handy so you can dive in immediately.

This is a young adult novel I know will listen to again in a near future.


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