Ghosts- By Raina Telgemeier

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cat is not happy about moving to the northern shores of California and leaving her friends behind. But she will endure if it means her little sister Maya will breathe a bit easier. Maya has cystic fibrosis and the salty air will help her lungs. When the girls meet their new neighbor, he tells them a secret about their new town. It is full of ghosts! While Maya is determined to meet one, Cat is not so sure. As Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) approaches, Cat will have to face her fears and be there for her sister. A charming tale with a lovely story about tradition.

What I loved:

Out of all of Raina Telgemeier’s books, this is my favorite. I love the setting and the tone of the book. She deals with the topic of death in a wonderful and refreshing way that highlights beautiful traditions and the love of family. She also, did a great job explaining the Day of the Dead and the traditions surrounding this sacred day in a way that younger readers can understand.

The illustrations are fun with just a hint of moodiness. I really like her work and the bright colors that she uses in her books. This one is a bit more muted to fit with the chill of northern California. The Day of the Dead characters are bright and friendly. I appreciate that she choose not to scare readers with gruesome ghosts.

I also liked that she included facts about the Day of the Dead and how she came to write this book.

What was okay:

I have to confess.. I really liked this one! I know a lot of other readers like her other books because they are more realistic. I can see a few readers who aren’t fans of the paranormal maybe shy away from this at first. However, her popularity as an author will make up for any hesitation.

Final thoughts:

Again, I enjoyed this book. I think it is a fun fall read that will be very popular at the library! Fans of Telgemeier will enjoy this new tale that takes a small step away from reality to explain death and tradition in a gentle way. Grab a warm blanket and a mug of tea and enjoy!

View all my reviews

April Reading Challenge- Get Graphic

For this month’s reading challenge I wanted to do something fun. I have this monster pile of Graphic Novels and comic books that I am dying to read and April is pretty booked with programming at the library. I don’t really have the time for those big thick novels, but I do know I can get through most of my comic books and graphics. Are you with me?

This is one of my favorite genres to promote. I love doing graphic novel readers advisory with kids and teens. Not only do I get to promote a good story, I get to promote the fantastic artwork. If you haven’t jumped into the graphic pool you are missing out. There is a graphic novel for nearly everyone. From traditional superhero stories, to every day life, fantasy, science fiction, and even graphics about classic books like Shakespeare. Plus, the artwork is a treat and it requires a more attention to detail than a traditional book.

The goal I am setting is to catch up on my comic book subscriptions (aka- huge Star Wars binge) and read some of the newer graphics that keep catching my eye in the teen department. I don’t have a set number for this round so it’s more of a read at your own pace challenge. But, I was encouraged by my dear husband to actually deal with all my comic book boxes that are littering the living room. Challenge accepted!

As always you can Tweet to me if you like: @MsVal313

I would love to hear about what you are reading both good and bad!


February Favorites and completing book challenges..

yes we crab

I was invited to a book challenge at work called “Yes we crab.” The goal is to read a select number of books and then work on your blogging habits during the month of February. I decided to try and read 20 books and blog once a week. Needless to say, I didn’t make it. Thankfully this is a low key challenge and nobody is going to come and get me for not finishing. I am happy to say that I did read 10 books and I blogged twice. It was a bit more challenging because I chose lengthy YA chapter books to complete. Usually I am pretty hard on myself with book challenges but this time I am actually pretty proud that I got though half of what I wanted to complete. February was a busy month at work and in my personal life so reading 10 books was pretty awesome!

Most of the time I avoid book challenges. They tend to make me anxious and feel like a bit of a failure when I don’t finish them. Plus, in 2015 I was stuck in the worst book slump ever. I had picked up a few books that were just terrible. After that nothing was appealing and I was burned out.  Completing a book challenge sounded like torture.


However, “Yes we crab” was a simple enough challenge without the usual guilt trip. This month I am doing my own personal book challenge and calling it the “Clean sweep.” I have stacks of galley books and a huge TBR pile that keeps staring at me from my crowded shelves. I hope that I can clean up at least 15 of them before the month of March ends. Feel free to join. I don’t have any fancy hashtags but you are welcome to tweet me about what you are reading from your own piles. @MsVal313

Here is what I read in February.

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Full list:

The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary: (4.5 stars) If you are a fan of the Studio Ghibli films then this is the book for you. It is charming and full of adventure. I really liked this one! (Full review coming soon)

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins: (3.5 stars) This book is filled with action and lots of romance. Perfect for those teen readers that love to gush over handsome boys and daring deeds. While the romance was not my favorite (so not a romance reader), I did love the action. Aerity is a strong female character that I actually liked despite her brush with insta-love.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by  Sarvenaz Tash: (4.5 stars) A geeky love story that unfolds at New York City Comic Con. Follow 4 teens as they profess their love for artists, authors, and each other in this fun coming of age story.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: (3 stars) The words in this book are rich and enthralling like the tapestry they describe. Blending Greek mythology and takes from India, the author takes you on a twisted tale full of colorful characters and plotting demons.

The Red Wing by Jonathan Hickman: (2 stars) This one was just weird. Too much story and not enough book. Very heavy handed on the message of “leave the world a better place.” This easily could have been a longer series. Very disappointed that it’s just one book.


Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Nathan Fairbairn: (3.5 stars) This one was pretty fun. I enjoyed reading an adult graphic novel. Lots of humor, plenty of adulting, and the graphics are fab.

Trail of the Dead (Killer of Enemies #2) by Joseph Bruchac: (3 stars) This book took me a few weeks. It was not as good as the first in the series and I kept putting it down. I did love the story of Coyote and the additional Native American mythology. That part of the story was very well done.

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen: (2 stars) This one frustrated me! The characters read way younger than they really are and there are too many themes for such a short book. I don’t know who I would recommend this too because it is complicated mess.

The Isolator, Vol. 1 (The Isolator #1) by Reki Kawahara: (3 stars)  This was my first trip into the “light novel” world. It wasn’t horrible and the story was fairly good. Not a series that I would likely continue but one that I would recommend to my anime fans.

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh: (5 stars) The Wrath and the Dawn was my absolute favorite read of 2015. I have been anxiously awaiting the final book after a heart wrenching cliffhanger!
This book was everything I wanted it to be. The story is rich and complex just like the first with humor, thrills, daring deeds, strong female characters, and a lush romance. I love what Renee Ahdieh has done with story of “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.” The ending was almost perfect.

Best wishes on your March reading list!! Feel free to join the “Clean Sweep!”




Oddly Normal- A book review



Oh the trials of Middle School where being oddly normal can get you into all sorts of trouble. Speaking of normal… Oddly is anything but. Her mother is the Wicked Witch and her father the most normal bland guy around. She is stuck somewhere in between with green hair and pointed ears.  On the day of her birthday she makes a horrible wish that her parents (who seem to have little time for her) would just disappear. Unfortunately for her the wish comes true. Enter a crazy Aunt with a bizarre spell that whisks her off to the land Fignation. Will she finally fit in? Will she find her parents? And what’s up with the wolf twins?

The good: 

A solid start to a promising new series by Otis Frampton. I really liked the story and my word.. middle school sucks no matter what dimension you happen to live in! I can see the appeal for pre-teens and I think they will really identify with the story.  Hopefully not too much because poor Oddly gets the short stick in this story.

The okay: 

The story spends quite a bit of time dealing with her not fitting in. There are also some cryptic parts that I hope will make sense in the next book. A.K.A. weird tentacled teacher with no sense of humor..

Final thoughts:

It ends on a cliff hanger and I am looking forward to the next book. I hope the next has a bit more of a back story to the town and its quirky residents. In addition, the colors and design are very appealing! Readers who like a bit of supernatural with a girl lead might want to check this one out.

** Thank you to Diamond Book Distributors for the preview copy on Netgalley.

Cleopatra in SPACE- Book Review

Once upon a time there was a YA librarian who freaked out over a box of Scholastic galleys and stole a few before her supervisor could finish unpacking them. She then promptly ran over to the nearest chair and began pouring over the awesome, soon to be published titles with selfish glee. This may or may not have happened last week. There may have been squealing.. or not. You weren’t there.

So what was worth squealing over you may ask? Only the newest edition of Cleopatra in a Space and Star Wars Jedi Academy! Both are quite fantastic and I am so excited for our patrons to get their hands on them. Today I am going to review the second edition of “Cleopatra in Space” by Mike Maihack.

The Story:

Last year I was able to snag a galley of his first book and fell in love with the characters. Cleo is a spunky heroine who gets transported from ancient Egypt and flung far into the future. An ancient prophecy says that she is destined to save the galaxy from the evil Xaius Octavian. During the first story she proves herself by recovering an ancient sword with mysterious powers.

Cleopatra in Space #2: The Thief and the Sword

By: Mike Maihack

Publisher: Scholastic

Publishing Date: April 28th, 2015

Just when Cleo was getting the hang of school and being the savior of the galaxy, a mysterious thief steals the Sword of Kabechet. She is forbidden by her teachers to go after the thief for fear that her life will be forfeit. So, what is a teenage future Queen to do? Add a school dance, popularity, friendship challenges, and a scary twist to the already impossible prophecy, and you have the right mix for a great story.

I really enjoyed catching up with Cleo. There is lots of action, a fun new character, and a glimpse of the evil Xaius Octavian. More of the prophecy comes to light and Cleo is going to need all the help she can get from her friends and her teacher (who is also a cat). Plus, there is an epic cliff hanger at the end that made me want to read the third book right away. Seriously… when will it be out?

I am very impressed by this latest edition and I know my patrons will love it. I am bummed that the galley was not in full color because the artwork is awesome! Maihack is a talented writer and illustrator and has created a wonderful series for girls and boys. I can’t wait to get this at our library.

*Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy.


Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice (Book review)

Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice

By: Mike Maihack

Publisher: Scholastic

Publishing Date: April 29th, 2014


What happens when you take a well known Egyptian Ruler and blast her off into the distant future? You get an epic new Graphic Novel series from the creative mind of Mike Maihack.

Cleopatra (the teen version) is thrown into the future after touching a mysterious tablet. When she arrives in the future she discovers a world that is in danger from the Xerx, an interstellar conquering horde led by the malevolent Xaius Octavian. He wants to destroy all of the knowledge and history in the Universe. It’s up to spunky Cleo to save the day! But first she has to finish her algebra homework.

Target Practice is the first in what looks to be a very promising new series. Most of the first book is spent building up the world where she now lives and giving some history to the other characters. The last few chapters have lots of action as Cleo attempts her first mission to prove her worth. Readers will laugh over her complaints about school, get caught up in the whirlwind action, and sympathize with the drama of high school. Cleo is a great new kick butt girl character that graphic readers will soon love. Did I mention there are talking cats?!!

A promising addition to any school or public library collection. I know I am adding it to ours!!

Check out the Author’s website for a giveaway: Contest Link

Graphic Round-up- Ordinary People change the world

Each month I want to feature a new graphic novel for Children or Teens. My hope is to share titles that would be great for the library (either School or Public) and for personal use. I am always open for suggestions and I love to do reviews. If you know of a great series that every library should own please share in the comments below.

I really love graphic novels and comics. I think they are a great options for all kinds of readers. They are slowly gaining in popularity since geek is the new sheikh. Comics for kids have notoriously been lacking for many years in many areas. Thankfully, I am starting to see a wide variety in the publishing world. My favorites have been the History, Science and Biography graphics for kids. They are a great way to get across sometimes boring material in a new and memorable way.

Today’s graphics are a new series by the author Brad Meltzer. Fed up with the poor examples set by celebrities, he has created a series that celebrates ordinary people. These books showcase popular Historical figures in a whole new way.. as kids! The first two are about Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart and were released this month. Before I review, I encourage you to check out the New York Daily News article: Brad Meltzer creates heroes for children

Abraham Lincoln only went to school for one year and still managed to be one of the most celebrated Presidents in American History. Through out the story Mr. Lincoln tells his story of overcoming ordinary obstacles that lead to great things as he becomes an adult. The story of how he stood up to bullies who were victimizing a turtle and then later himself, is a wonderful way to show that even  great people have hard moments. I really loved how it showed his humanity and gave kids tangible examples that they can use in real life. It’s truly heroic that he freed the slaves but that is something that takes a while for a child to grasp. They can understand what is means to be picked on. I also loved that he mentions that he will be on a Penny someday!

The illustrations are perfect for the story and the age of the readers. It is not so much a history book and more of an encouragement to be the best that you can be.. even on ordinary days.

Ages: 5-8 years (target) I recommend all ages!

Amelia Earhart was a little girl who never took “NO” for an answer. When someone told her that proper ladies don’t behave that way she ignored them and tried harder. Because of her daring and perseverance she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. This is a very inspiring book for girls and women that encourages you to pursue your dreams despite what others might say. This was my favorite so far. I loved seeing her as a little girl and watching her start her flying lessons. The fact that she wasn’t perfect from the beginning is something that lots of kids and adults can relate to. Plus her flight outfit is really charming!

Ages:  5-8 years (target) I recommend all ages!

The next books in the series will be about Rosa Parks and Albert Einstein. Rosa Parks will be released in June. I highly recommend both of these for Librarians, Parents and Teachers. They are so full of optimism and encouragement. It is a great way to show real heroes vs. pop divas.