Book Review: Not If I Save You First

Not If I Save You First – Ally Carter – Scholastic Press – Published 27 March 2018




Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

My thoughts

With Not If I Save You First, Ally Carter delivers a novel that is full of humour, survivalist adventure, a touch of drama, and a few bedazzled hatchets. Not If I Save You First is a stand-alone, and perfect for readers who enjoy female protagonists who are more than capable of looking after themselves as they battle the dangers of remote Alaska and the evil of kidnappers.

Maddie doesn’t know why her father dragged her to the wilds of Alaska six years ago. She doesn’t know why her best-friend (at least he was six years ago, now she isn’t talking to him) Logan never, ever responded to her letters. And she doesn’t know why, when Logan suddenly appears at her home in Alaska and then manages to get himself kidnaped, she would bother to go and rescue him. But that’s what Maddie plans to do: rescue Logan, return to safety, survive.

Continue reading


Book Review: Out of Left Field

Out of Left Field – Kris Hui Lee – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 1 May 2018




There’s no playing it safe in love or baseball in this sparkling debut, perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Kasie West.

Marnie has never had a hard time fitting in with the guys. It would take a lot more than their goofy antics to keep her from joining them at the neighborhood sandlot to do what she loves best: play ball.

An added perk of hanging out at the sandlot? Spending time with Cody Kinski, their high school’s star pitcher and Marnie’s best friend. Sure, he can be stubborn and annoying. He also knows how to make her laugh and respects her skills on the field. And when he gets nailed in the arm by a bone-fracturing pitch, Marnie becomes the team’s best chance at making it to the playoffs. Except no one told the guys they’re supposed to be on her side.

With her own team against her, Marnie begins questioning her abilities. And when fate throws her a curveball, can she play without losing the game, Cody, and her belief in herself?

My thoughts

Out of Left Field is a lighthearted, sport-adoring, lots-of-fun novel that revels in the celebration of strong friendship, pushing the boundaries, and finding the courage to chase your dream. I highly enjoying reading Out of Left Field, and highly recommend it to readers who love playful, sport-centred YA contemporary.

Marnie loves playing baseball with her friends in the neighbourhood park. She loves baseball. But after an incident while pitching for the softball team, Marnie only plays for fun and not competitively. Until, when her best-friend, Cody, is injured, the opportunity arises for her to take his spot as the pitcher on the boy’s baseball team. Trying out for the position challenges Marnie’s faith in herself, her friendships with the other boys on the team, and her relationship (friendship that has the possibility to become so much more) with Cody.

Continue reading

Book Review: Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes – Jenn Bennett – Simon Pulse – Published 3 April 2018




Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

My thoughts

Starry Eyes – a tale of friendship, second chances, family breakdown, intense love, and learning to be spontaneous, trust yourself, and survive in the wilderness. Starry Eyes made me want to pack a backpack and hit a hiking trail. It is both fun and romantic.

Shocked when she discovers a family secret, Zorie is happy to escape by accepting an invitation to go glamping with some of her classmates. But she is not so happy to discover that Lennon – once her best friend turned something more and now her biggest enemy – has also been invited. When she and Lennon are separated from the others, the two of them must trek their way through the wilderness together.

Continue reading

Book Week 2018: Activity Ideas

Book Week 2018 – Activity Ideas

Are you ready to Find Your Treasure! Book Week is the perfect time for getting people engaged with their library. And this year’s theme offers plenty of ideas for activities.

Treasure Hunt

No surprise that a treasure hunt will head this list. But there are plenty of treasure hunts to choose from.

Continue reading

Book Review: Jacked Up

Jacked Up – Erica Sage – Sky Pony Press – Published 3 April 2018




It’s bad enough that Nick’s sister is dead and, in some bizarre attempt to force him to confront his grief, his parents are shipping him off to Jesus Camp. But he’s also being haunted by the ghost of Jack Kerouac—who’s surprisingly annoying, for a genius.

And if arguing with a dead beat poet weren’t enough to qualify Nick for antipsychotics, he’s pretty sure Eden Springs Church Camp is going to drive him insane. The campers ride donkeys into the desert campsite; a retired magician dressed as Jesus seems obsessed with converting him; and Nick’s practically shunned for uttering the words “Harry Potter.”

Worst of all is the PC Box, into which every camper is required to place a nightly prayer or confession. In hopes of getting Jack to stop nagging him about it, Nick scribbles down his darkest secret—a secret about his sister’s death—and drops it in the box.

But then the box is stolen, with Nick’s secret inside of it. When campers’ confessions start appearing around the camp, Nick is desperate to get the box back—before the world learns the truth about what he did. The truth he can’t even face, himself.

My thoughts

What a crazy book! Jacked Up is a uncontrollable snort laugher inducing, hypocrisy identifying, gut punching, grammar fixing, donkey jokes kind of crazy book. With all the finesse and humour of its authentic male narrator, Jacked Up is an upfront and honest novel that delves into the aftermath of suicide, grief, and guilt, in a way that is easy to read and lots of fun.

In the wake of his sister’s suicide, Nick’s parents are sending him to Bible Camp. Sure it is the last place on Earth that could help him, especially considering the soul-eating secrets he is hiding, Nick is reluctant at first. Arriving at the camp only increases his doubts – are these people serious with their Bible character dress-up selfie moments, donkey lotteries, and box of prayers and confessions? But when the PC box goes missing, containing Nick’s biggest secret, he will do anything to get it back.

I jumped into Jacked Up with little prior knowledge of its aspirations as a novel. And it totally surprised me. There were so many fun moments. Nick is an awesome narrator and totally realistic of a teenage boy. And the book doesn’t shy away from anything – coarse language, sexual references, innuendo, jokes of every description. Honestly, I’m not sure there is a teen boy (or maybe girl) alive who wouldn’t love to read this book. Unless you consider those who might be offended by it…. And let’s face it, there are many people who might be offended by the revealing of this teenage boy’s mind.

Continue reading

Book Review: Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season – Lauren K. Denton – Thomas Nelson – Published 3 April 2018




Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.

My thoughts

Storms can bring great destruction, but they can also bring a time for discovering what lasts, what holds together even through the harshest weather, and what comes out better for the rain. Hurricane Season is a book truly evocative of Southern summer and which captures the complications of family relationships, the desire to see dreams fulfilled, and the trials that test marriages and break hearts.

When Betsy receives a voice message from her sister, Jenna, asking if she can leave her two young girls with her while she attends a photography camp, Betsy knows it will test everything inside her. It will bring back the harsh memories of negative test results and the guest room that never became a nursery. It will strain further her relationship with her husband, something that was only now slowly returning to normal. But Betsy never says no to her sister and so two sweet, young girls descend on Betsy and Ty’s farm and home. For Jenna it is a time to finally follow her dreams of photography. For Betsy and Ty it is a time of facing the past’s hurt and faded dreams, while reconnecting as a couple. But as a hurricane looms, will this family survive everything the summer has in store for them?

Continue reading

New Book Releases March 2018

New Book Releases for March 2018

Some hot new release picks for March 2018. Click on covers for more information and reviews.


Young Adult Fiction

The Secrets We Bury – Stacie Ramey – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 1 March 2018

Dylan has run away from home. Run away from the grief that overpowers him, run from the guilt of the secrets he carries, run from the mother who wants to put him in a special school to control his outpouring of anger. His plan of escape is to hike the Appalachian Trail. But the trail will test Dylan in ways he couldn’t expect – from bugs and new food to bears. When Dylan happens upon a strange and intriguing girl who is apparently hiking alone and unprepared, Dylan is drawn to her in a way he has never experienced before. Dylan might be running away, but the trail just might be the place where he finds himself.

Young adult fiction: Contemporary, Adventure.

The Final Six – Alexandra Monir – Harper Teen – Published 6 March 2018

Leo has nothing left to live for. His family were killed in one of the massive natural disasters to hit Rome, and with no one to care for, he has given up all hope. Until, shockingly, Leo is drafted to the new world army. He is now one of twenty-four teenagers battling it out to become one of the Final Six. The chosen six will have the chance to escape Earth and forge a new settlement deep in space. When Naomi discovers she is to be one of the chosen twenty-four, she is heartbroken. There is no way she can leave her parents or her beloved brother. With no other choice, Naomi sets in place a plan to reveal the secrets that lie beneath the surface of this space program.

Young adult fiction – Science-fiction.

Continue reading

Book Week 2018: Display Ideas

Book Week 2018 – Display Ideas

The theme for Book Week 2018 is Find Your Treasure.

The theme offers plenty of inspiration for displays: pirates, Treasure Island, under the sea and treasure hunts.


Under the Sea Display

Looking for sunken treasure? Well, under the sea you go. I have always wanted to hang waves of blue fabric from the ceiling of the library, and this seems like the perfect opportunity. Coral made from pool noodles, seaweed made from plastic table cloths, and a range of sea creatures made by the students in the makerspace. And every library needs their own mermaid. Check out this under the sea party decor from Press Print Party. 

Continue reading

Book Review: Wishtree

Wishtree – Katherine Applegate – Charles Santoso (Illustrator) – Feiwel & Friends – Published 26 September 2017




Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

My thoughts

“Trees can’t tell jokes. But they can certainly tell stories.”

I was in love it this book before I even read it. I loved the concept: a story about a tree with a story to tell, a story of friendship and acceptance, a story about community, dreams and, of course, wishes. And reading Wishtree only made me fall more in love.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X.R. Pan – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – Published 20 March 2018




Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

My thoughts

Imaginative, and with lyrical writing, The Astonishing Color of After is perfect if you enjoy a touch of magical realism served alongside plenty of heartbreak. Addressing the impact of suicide and the devastation it brings to the surrounding family members and friends, The Astonishing Color of After tackles this sensitive topic with delicacy, magic, and a sincere forthrightness.

When Leigh’s mother dies by suicide, Leigh’s world is thrown into chaos. One thing of which she is sure: her mother has turned into a beautiful, red bird. And that bird wants her to travel to Taiwan. Meeting her grandparents for the first time, exploring the places her mother once visited, and trying to uncover the long-buried truths of her family, Leigh slowly starts to face her mother’s death and the events leading up to it.

Over the years I have called many a book ‘important’. And yet, The Astonishing Color of After is important with a capital I. The Astonishing Color of After tackles the topic of suicide and the aftermath of suicide in an upfront way, which is so very needed in today’s society. The author’s note only expands on the very clear level of care, understanding and personal experience that has gone into making this book as considered and profound as it is.

Continue reading