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the bookish mama has commented on (25) products.

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone (Princess Academy) by Shannon Hale
Princess Academy: Palace of Stone (Princess Academy)

the bookish mama, September 2, 2012

Wow. Simply wow. I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down once I started and I am so excited that the publishing date is finally here because now I can shout from the rooftops about how amazing this book is and people can buy it starting tomorrow!

It's been several years since I've read the first book, Princess Academy. I didn't think I would be able to remember everything when starting this book, but Hale does an exceptional job of catching her readers up and connecting the two books together seamlessly. I don't like it when authors over do it on the reminding readers of what happened in the previous book. I hate it when a TV show takes a commercial break and when you get back to the show, the actors just say the same exact lines over again. Hale does it naturally and effortlessly. I didn't feel like I was forgetting anything even though it's been such a long time.

Miri is such a wonderful character for young girls and boys. She is intelligent, brave and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in, but she's also vulnerable and is conflicted by the decision to continue her education at the cost of being away from her family. In Palace of Stone, we find Miri leaving her home at Mount Eskel to go to school at the Queen's Castle, but when she arrives there she discovers there is unrest in the kingdom.

Hale is such a masterful storyteller in the way she explores the complex issues of poverty, revolution, loyalty, friendship and love. She exposes the conflict that Miri feels regarding all these issues in such a honest, real way that I think will resonate with MG/YA readers and even adult ones. I enjoyed the journey with Miri as she tries to figure out what is the right thing to do. I honestly had no idea how the story was going to end, but I was pleasantly surprised with all the action! And the love triangle too!

I can't wait to put this book in the hands of my students this year because I know it will bring up such rich discussions and push them to really think about hard issues that don't often show up in the books that they read. It's also in the September Scholastic Book Order and you know I'm going to push it when I do my "spotlight on recommendations" when the orders go home. :)

Even though I was surprised that Palace of Stone was written as a sequel, because Princess Academy ended and wrapped up so nicely, it is the book that I didn't know I needed or wanted. I am so glad that Hale decided to finally write this because it is an amazing piece of literature. I will preface my next statement by saying that I am no expert in Newbery winners (because I've only read a dozen or so), but I think Palace of Stone should definitely be a contender for the Newbery this year (and not just an honor)! It is THAT good. Go get it, you won't regret it.
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Drama by Raina Telgemeier

the bookish mama, September 2, 2012

I simply adore Raina Telgemeier's work. It's one-of-a-kind and just draws you in even before the first page, the cover is gorgeous! I was first introduced to Telgemeier's work with the graphic novels she did for The Babysitters Club. I LOVED them. (Read my review: here) I didn't think anyone could do BSC justice as a graphic novel without making the characters too modern-looking (aka "hoochified" like how many of my other childhood characters have suffered from in their remakes - ex: Strawberry Shortcake). However, Telgemeier stayed true to the essence of each character and I just devoured all four books, as if I were 10 years old again. Therefore, I was SUPER excited to read Drama!

The artwork is beautiful and I was found myself savoring each page in order to absorb all the little details in each of the boxes. I even loved the colors! The characters are fun and loveable. I enjoyed that the main character, Callie, is not necessarily the lead of the play (like Rachel on GLEE), but a part of the stage crew. She's a creative young lady who uses her set designing talents to help out behind the scenes.

It definitely fits a middle grade/young-adult reader with all the DRAMA that goes on throughout the plot, including a love triangle (kind of a square, actually) and boy-girl relationships/friendships. I was surprised to see such a prominent theme of exploring sexuality. I tend to run on the conservative side and wasn't expecting that in a book for middle-graders, so in that sense it's a little more YA than MG. For the younger MG readers, I think I'd recommend parents to read it first before putting in the hands of 3rd or 4th graders in order to be prepared for possible discussions or questions about sexual orientation.

This book is perfect for the fans of GLEE since it both centers around performing arts.

Overall, I think it's a great piece of work from Telgemeier and will be a great graphic novel addition to a library!
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My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life by Teasi Cannon
My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life

the bookish mama, July 18, 2012

When I think about a dream vacation, I imagine being on a beach and being able to read to my heart's content. (I'm not much of a water person, but I like looking at it!) However, I am terrified to think about being out in the sun in a bikini or swimsuit, especially with my post-baby, a little more squishy, and a lot more wobbly body. That's why reading My Big Bottom Blessing was such a blessing to me this summer because God thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am!

I NEEDED this book this summer. Summertime means the temperature goes up and the clothes get smaller, which means that I need to show more skin if I want to stay cool and not be a sweaty mess all the time. I think one of the biggest things I wasn't expecting after having a baby was how much pregnancy, breastfeeding and being a new mom would change my body. I guess I was just hoping that it would go back to normal after some time, but I'm realizing that there will always be a soft pooch to my tummy because no matter how many crunches I do, it just ain't getting any tighter. Alongside all these changes has been the Enemy feeding me with endless, constant lies and frankly, I've been believing them.

What I loved about Cannon's book is that she told her story with truth and raw honesty. There was a section in the beginning about how she even dreaded going to family gatherings because she was the "fat cousin." This is one insecurity I have myself and it was so refreshing to see that I wasn't the only one who dreaded being the definitely-not-thin one at a big family reunion. Cannon spoke from the heart and poured our her soul onto these pages and I appreciate that because it made me realize that I am not alone. I am not the only one being pounded on daily by the lies of the Enemy and my own insecurities. I enjoyed reading about all the different voices in her head because they sound a lot like the ones I have my own head.

I devoured this book in a day and couldn't put it down once I got started. I think the only thing that was lacking was more practical steps towards believing that I am God's beautiful creation. I'm a girl that likes specific how-to's or things to do. I am proud to say that after reading this book that I am more apt to combat the negative voices in my head and fight back with the truth- I AM BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY I AM. :)

If you have similar insecurities like me and want some relief from the daily battles with the Enemy about your body, you should definitely check out My Big Bottom Blessing.
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The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

the bookish mama, July 16, 2012

I finally got my hands on this book after years of being curious about it this past fall because the movie was coming out and I fell head over heels in love with it. I inhaled it over the course of a night and just poured over ever single page because the illustrations are just so intricately and beautifully drawn! There are so many gorgeous little details and you can't help but just run your hands over the pages because everything looks so real! It is absolutely stunning.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a story told in mostly pictures with a few short paragraphs here and there. There are lots of inferring going on while reading this story and it was such a different, but incredibly enjoyable reading experience. The story itself is heartwarming and full of adventure.

My favorite illustrations were of the bookstore (of course). For those of you who don't know me very well, I am a tad bit obsessed with beautiful bookshelves. (Check out my "Bookshelf Monday" feature here and my beautiful bookshelves board on Pinterest.) I can't imagine how much time Selznick took to illustrate all the pages of this book because every page is chock-filled with details, right down to each spine of the books. I wanted to LIVE in this book.

In my opinion, being able to accurately draw the human body (especially the face) is one of the hardest things to do, but Selznick does it so effortlessly and it's a true ode to his talent as an artist. Even the details in the eyes are so expressive that you feel like you are looking into the character's soul.

Selznick is an amazing artist and writer. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is so deserving of the Caldecott Award. If you haven't had a chance to read this book, go get it NOW because you are seriously missing out!
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Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
Everything on a Waffle

the bookish mama, July 9, 2012

Everything on a Waffle is one of my favorite middle grade reads. I didn't expect to fall in love with the way I did when I first read it several years ago. It is definitely a great read for both young kids and adults as well.

Polly Horvath has a way of making what could have been a really sad story into a very light, touching story about a girl who never gives up hope that her parents (who are lost at sea) are still alive. Primrose has to live with her Uncle, a reluctant caretaker and an awful one at that. A series of accidents happen to her that seem ridiculous at times considering what she has already gone through, but you root for her. Despite all odds, you hold onto the hope in Primrose's heart along with her and find yourself believing in what she believes in - that her parents are still alive. Horvath holds you all the way to the very end before giving any answers.

I loved Miss Bowzer's character and wish I could eat at her restaurant, "The Girl on the Red Swing." I do enjoy waffles and might be even brave enough to try something other than butter and maple syrup on then especially if they're made by Miss Bowzer!

Food + books = wonderful recipe for an enjoyable read! I love that each chapter ends with a recipe that connects to something that happened in that chapter.

This is definitely one of my favorite books to share each year with my reading groups. The chapters are easy to read and I think this would make a wonderful read-aloud with lots of opportunities for rich discussions.
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