#TopTenTuesday: Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2015

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in the TOP TEN TUESDAY FUN!

This week, we’re sharing the Top Ten Books We’re Looking Forward To in 2015. A few weeks back we shared sequels we’re looking forward to, so I’m not going to include all of those on this list, but I have to mention a few I’m REALLY EXCITED about.

These are a mixture of middle grade, young adult, and adult. It was difficult to narrow it down to ten, but we’ll be sharing our Top Ten Debut Authors for 2015 in the near future, so stay tuned.

fortuneA Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley: April, 2015

I discovered Susanna Kearsley’s beautiful historical fiction several years ago when one of her books was recommended to me by a friend. I’m so excited to see she has a new book coming out—and this one looks like it has plenty of adventure, intrigue, and romance!

courtA Court of Thorns and Roses: May, 2015

Sarah Maas has a new series releasing next year!! If you loved Throne of Glass, you probably have this on your radar, and I expect it’s going to end up on a lot of TTT lists today.

cage The Cage by Megan Shepherd: May, 2015

So Megan Shepherd has a new series releasing in 2015!! Don’t despair since The Madman’s Daughter trilogy is finishing. Something new is just around the cover. This has got a desert setting, a character named Cora, black widow spiders, and an “otherworldly zoo”!!

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Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver: March, 2015

Lauren Oliver is one of my favorites—ever since I read Before I Fall. What I’ve read so far about Vanishing Girls means I’ll be eagerly waiting for its release next year.

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The War That Saved My Life by

Kimberley Brubaker Bradley: January, 2015

She wrote the award-winning Jefferson’s Sons, and middle grade historical fiction is always going to be a genre I read a lot of—I won’t have to wait long for this one. It’s set during World War II and suggested for fans of Number the Stars.

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Rook by Sharon Cameron: April, 2015

How cool is that cover? Read the GoodReads blurb, and tell me you’re not interested!

blood and smokeConspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman: 

April 2015

Yep. You know the first book in this series is one of my faves for 2014, so I have to include this one on the list as well.

cold legacyA Cold Legacy: January, 2015

If you read my review of The Madman’s Daughter, you will know that I love this series. Set in Victorian era Scotland, this conclusion to the series is sure to be thrilling with its Frankenstein bent!

winner's crimeThe Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Curse #2): March, 2015

How many times have I said how much I LOVE The Winner’s Curse?? Need I say more?? Just look at that cover!

red queenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard: February, 2015

So here’s another high fantasy coming out from Harper in the new year, and I’m glad it’s going to be out in early 2015. From the GoodReads reviews, it sounds like a fantastic and gripping first book in a trilogy. Steph from Cuddlebuggery Book Blog said, “It’s like an X-Men dystopia stuck in a high fantasy world on crack.” Sounds good to me.

Are any of these on your list of Anticipated Reads for 2015?? There’s a lot of splendid-looking titles getting published in 2015. One challenge I have is that there are still many books I need to read from 2014…What’s one to do?!? So many books and so little time!

Happy December!

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The World of the “Possible”: The Fourteenth Goldfish (2014) by Jennifer L. Holm

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (2014)

Suggested age range: 10 and up (Random House Books for Kids, 208 pages)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: e-ARC from Net Galley

Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction

I received an e-ARC of this book from Net Galley & Random House Kids in exchange for an honest review.

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The Book: Ellie is eleven and in middle school. Transition is difficult in itself but throw in the sudden arrival of her grandfather at her home, and things are even more complicated. That’s because he’s thirteen years old! As a famous scientist, Melvin has successfully reversed the aging process through his discovery of a jellyfish compound, dubbed T. melvinus. So Ellie is essentially going to school with a teenager who has a 76 year old brain. Ellie and her friend Raj decide to help Melvin break into his lab in order to safeguard the compound, and if they accomplish this, perhaps the world will finally have its “fountain of youth.” What ensues is a humorous adventure in which Ellie discovers more about herself,  the changing nature of friendships, and the value of love from family and friends in the midst of growing up.

Spirituality in The Fourteenth Goldfish: The book’s ability to make the reader consider the realm of the “possibles” in the world of science is one of its highlights. I, for one, think that the relationship between spirituality and science is a relevant one. Especially when you get into quantum physics. I’ll save that for another post though. What I want to say is that some points and themes in the story leave gaps for spiritual ideas to poke through. For example, the cycle of life is important and the way that cycle runs is significant—if we have the power, should we be able to alter that? Should we play God? Such questions raise what could be heavy issues with readers.

Who Should Read This Book: Fans of When You Reach Me or A Tangle of Knots would get this title as a reading option from me (were you in my 6th grade classroom). The journey of a girl navigating the beginnings of middle school and also harboring a great secret (her grandfather who has discovered how to reverse aging is a teenager living in her home) is one that I think many readers of fantasy or science fiction would enjoy. I also think there are some cool events that could coincide with this text—jellyfish research and fountain of youth creations and even lunch at a Chinese restaurant where segments of dialogue could be read from the book in a reader’s theatre presentation. Don’t ignore the ‘possibles’ with this one!

The Final Word: Jennifer L. Holm is a three time Newbery honor winner, and this novel’s unique premise is reason alone to delve into the world of middle grade science fiction, if that’s not your normal cup of tea. If you found a fountain of youth, would you take advantage of it? If you could have your grandparent live with you, but as a teenager, would you say yes? You might never have to answer either of these questions in reality, but they’re amusing to think about. This story is charming, but it also gives science nerds something meatier to read as well. Readers that aren’t as interested in science might get a little bogged down at times, and there were a few points where I wanted more to happen faster, but all in all, I enjoyed the story and was satisfied with its conclusion. I’m especially drawn to middle grade novels that highlight enduring themes like this one: “Never ignore a possible.” Challenge accepted.

What did you think of The Fourteenth Goldfish? Are there other middle grade science fiction titles this reminds you of?

Sending out Dreams: Hope is a Ferris Wheel (2014) by Robin Herreira

Hopes if a Ferris Wheel (2014) by Robin Herrera

Suggested age range: 10 and up (Amulet Books, 272 pages)

Rating:  5/5 stars

Source: e-ARC from Net Galley

Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary Realism

Release Date: March 11th, 2014

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“ ‘Dreams are a letter,’ I said. ‘You will it with all your thoughts and feeings and wishes. But then you have to send it away, and you’re not sure when it will get back where it’s going or if you’ll get anything back at all. But you have to send it to find out.’”

The Book: Ten year old Star lives in a trailer park with her mother and older sister. The kids at school think she’s weird and make fun of her “layered” haircut. She wants to start a club, and when the Trailer Park club idea fails, she decides to start the Emily Dickinson Club. Through the club, Star gets to know more classmates—a boy who is continually in detention with her, as well as one who continually glares in her direction. Narrated from her perspective, Star’s story focuses on her hopes for meeting her father, the poetry she is inspired to write, and her navigation of relationships both at home and at school.

Spirituality in Hope is a Ferris Wheel: Poetry can engage our spirituality! At least, that has been my experience. Sometimes, our poetic expressions can reveal our authentic selves, and I think that we find out more about Star (and her heart’s desires) through the poetry she writes in the novel. The concept of “hope” in the book drew me to reflect on how hope can be a spiritual issue. One afternoon the members of the club begin discussing the definition of hope. I love Star’s explanation of hope as a ferris wheel because “you can be far away from something, really wanting it, and the wheel can bring you closer.” Sometimes our hope doesn’t make sense, but even in the midst of unknowing or confusion, hope represents a powerful source. The way the story engages with those ideas was refreshing!

Exploring this Book with Readers: We on the blog are huge fans of donuts—making them and eating them. It was a true delight to see all the references to donuts in this book, particularly Heavenly Donuts. Gloria, the family friend, uses the phrase “Heavenly Donuts!” frequently. Playing around with language and written expression are two topics that surface in the story. Readers might be invited to answer Star’s question: What is hope? We might also consider, what does Gloria’s phrase really mean and why does she use that one? You never know—talking about donuts could lead into all sorts of significant subjects…

The Final Word: I highly recommend this humorous and realistic read! Star is a spunky and cute character whose antics at school made me laugh often! Her persistence about creating a club at her school was inspiring. Even though she gets teased, and experiences challenges, especially relating to finding her father, Star just keeps going. In this way, her character embodies hope, and I think this novel would generate some fantastic discussion about life’s challenges, perseverance, and relationships.

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for a honest review!

Stay tuned for my interview with the author next week!

Review: Words with Wings (2013) by Nikki Grimes

Words with Wings (2013) by Nikki Grimes

Suggested age range: 10 and up

(WordSong, 96 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Source: Library

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“When class lets out, I hurry home, hungry for dinner and hoping to find more words with wings to dream and write about tomorrow.”

The Book: Gabby has been a daydreamer ever since she can remember. Her parents are divorcing, which means she and her mother are moving and Gabby will attend a new school. She doesn’t know anyone, and describes herself as a “Shy Girl Who Lives Inside her Head.” She misses her father, a daydreamer like Gabby. She appreciates her mother, but she often tells her to pay attention in school and stop daydreaming so much. This is a beautiful novel in verse about a young girl who sees “words with wings” and is navigating through the experience of a broken family and a new school. Grimes has created poetic verses that depict a bright and sensitive girl whose daydreams may just turn out to be more significant than she thinks.

Spirituality in Words with Wings: Difficult times can help a person to see how his/her inner spirituality is significant. Gabby’s daydreaming is definitely one aspect of her spirituality, for it fuels her wonder and awe at the world. Sometimes a moment of awe at the way the rain is falling is what nurtures our spirituality can draw us into a profound experience. Gabby has a creative mind, and she is drawn to another creative mind in her classroom—a boy who draws. Together they develop an important friendship that supports Gabby as she is adjusting to a new school. Because both Gabby and her friend are tapped into their creativity, they are able to connect meaningfully and express that creativity with one another. In other words, both feel “safe” with the other.

Exploring this Book with Readers: A slim novel, A slim novel, this would work well as a read aloud in an upper elementary or middle school classroom. At the same time, it would be perfect for individual or even pair reading. The chapters in a different font represent the daydreams that Gabby has throughout the book. Each “poem chapter” is titled and Grimes includes snapshots of Gabby’s earlier life when her parents were still together throughout the story. Young readers could relate to this book on multiple levels, including the experience of going through a divorce, moving to a new school, making friends, and most importantly, daydreaming! Many creative minds have trouble paying attention in class, and this book is lovely because it shows how a teacher reached out to Gabby, and valued her “daydreaming” gift. Grimes based the teacher in the book on one of her own teachers—I loved reading about this in the Acknowledgments section.

The Final Word: I started reading novels in verse more after I was chair of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award one month, and I am so happy I did! Novels in verse for children and young adults can be so profound, because they can tell a good story while at the same time illuminating the beauty of language and the way we can “play” with words. Words with Wings is a hopeful and heartwarming story that doesn’t sugarcoat divorce, but does illuminate how change is not always negative, and that difficult circumstances can strengthen character and reveal talents.

Top Ten Debuts Catherine is Excited for in 2014

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their wonderful blog if you haven’t yet. These are my anticipated reads for 2014, by debut authors. My list includes Middle Grade novels as well as Young Adult titles. Click on the title to find out more on GoodReads.

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Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

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All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

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Pointe by Brandy Colbert

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Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

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The Ninja Librarians by Jennifer Swann Downey

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What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren

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When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens

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The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

I am excited about these 2014 releases–are there any on this list you are anticipating? Other debut authors you can’t wait to meet?