Tuesday, March 20, 2018

TTT: Spring Has Sprung On Mt. TBR

Considering that March 20th is the official first day of Spring, it makes sense that today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is:  Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List.  These seasonal lists are my favorite as I always get tons of great reading recommendations from my fellow bloggers.  Not that I actually need any more books on ole Mt. TBR ... 

If you want to play along (and you really should), head on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few simple instructions, create your own list, and spend some happy hours clicking all over the book blogosphere.  It's a great way to discover new blogs to love, revisit favorites, build up your TBR pile, and have a good ole time talking books.  What could be more fun? 

Alright, here we go with my Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List:   

1.  Dread Nation by Justina Ireland—This zombie/alternate history YA novel is one of my most anticipated releases of 2018.  I was lucky enough to win an ARC of the book from the fabulous and always generous Mindy McGinnis.  It showed up yesterday and I can't wait to dig in!  If you don't read McGinnis' blog or follow her on social media, you really should.  The YA writer is always hosting low-entry giveaways for great books.

2.  The Lost Family by Jenna Blum (available June 5, 2018)—Although Blum's newest doesn't come out until summer, there's an ARC on its way to me as we speak.  I loved the author's previous two novels and can't wait to read her newest, which concerns an Auschwitz survivor's battle to banish the ghosts of his past.

3.  Valley Girls by Sarah Nicole Lemon (available May 8, 2018)—This YA novel about a teen who is sent to live with her park ranger sister at Yosemite and the adventures she has when she falls in with a group of rock climbers, sounds interesting.

4.  Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman—Out today, this one is about a teen's desire to escape the grim life for which she feels destined.  It sounds gritty and compelling.  

5.  Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt (available May 1, 2018)—This YA novel about a girl whose bookish crushes start coming to life just sounds fun.

6.  Beyond the Green by Sharlee Glenn (available October 2, 2018)—Although this MG novel doesn't come out until Fall, I'm really, really looking forward to reading it.  It's about a girl whose big Mormon family fosters a baby from the Ute tribe—and what happens when the child's birth mother decides she wants her back.  

7.  The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati—I find the Gilded Age a fascinating time period, so I bought this family saga recently because it sounds intriguing.

8.  A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander—I've been trying to find lighter novels that satisfy my constant craving for mysteries without giving me nightmares.  I think this series is going to fit the bill nicely.  I just finished the first, Meet Your Baker, and am looking forward to this one, the second.

9.  Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson—After loving Almost Sisters, I've been wanting to read more of this author's heartfelt Southern novels.

10.  The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White (available March 27, 2018)—White's books are similar in setting and theme to Joshilyn Jackson's, but they're more gentle and less R-rated.  This one, about a divorce√© whose new start in Georgia isn't going so well, sounds interesting.    

What do you think?  Do we have any books in common?  Have you read any of these?  What did you think of them?  What will you be reading this Spring?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I'll gladly return the favor.      

Happy TTT!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Cyrano de Bergerac-ish Romance a Swoony Tale About Never Judging a Book By Its Cover

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Although she's yet to be swept up in a whirlwind romance with the Mr. Darcy of her fondest dreams, Greta Elliott still lives a life that's pretty darn idyllic.  The 24-year-old loves her job as an assistant librarian at the old library where she's worked since she was a teen.  She adores Will Marshall, her thoughtful, generous BFF.  And, despite her mother's constant wheedling, the woman is always there when Greta needs her.  

When Greta meets a gorgeous man in the poetry section, she thinks her life is finally complete.  Mackay "Mac" Sanders might be a lowly coffee shop manager, but he's got the face of a cover model and the soul of a poet.  His romantic texts make her heart thrum.  So what if he's less eloquent in person?  Who cares if his conversational skills are a bit ... lacking?  The guy can kiss and craft text-poems that rival the Bard's.  Mac's so pretty to look at that Greta can overlook a few character flaws.  Can't she?

It's only when Greta's world starts to crumble that she realizes it's Will and not Mac who's keeping her afloat.  Is is possible there's more there than just an old friendship?  She's always found Will's heart attractive.  His over-sized body?  Not so much.  Can she finally learn to look past her best friend's physical imperfections or will she lose her chance at true love forever?  For a librarian, Greta's still got a whole lot to learn about judging a book by its cover ...

I've enjoyed Becca Wilhite's previous two novels, so I've been anxious to read her newest, Check Me Out.  The fact that it features a library setting and the cutest bookish cover art ever?  Icing on the cake, baby.  Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed this contemporary romance about learning to appreciate someone for their inner gifts in spite of what they look like on the outside.  Given the novel's premise, there's no way its heroine could come off as anything but superficial and Greta definitely does.  While she proves herself capable in many ways, she's still self-centered and immature.  Kind, self-deprecating Will lacks a backbone but is otherwise a perfect, non-traditional hero.  While he's much easier to like than Greta, their love story remains swoony and sweet.  It's predictable, of course, but Wilhite does throw in a compelling subplot that adds a little more depth and interest to the tale.  On the whole, I ended up liking this fun, upbeat novel.  If you fancy light, clean romances that are engaging and enjoyable, definitely check this one out (pun intended).

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other girl-swoons-for-hot-egomaniac-boy-only-to-realize-he's-a-jerk-and-her-ordinary-but-awesome-BFF-is-the-one-she-really-loves stories, although no specific titles are coming to mind.  Also reminds me of novels by Melanie Jacobson and Jenny Proctor)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Check Me Out from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Friday, March 16, 2018

MG Memory Novel Unexpectedly Unsettling and Thought-Provoking

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Irritated with their parents, who can't even visit the county fair without making a scene, Benji and Kelly Lewis sneak off to explore the event by themselves.  When bullies drive the twins apart, 12-year-old Benji takes refuge inside a circus tent at the edge of the fairgrounds.  A sign identifies it as The Memory Emporium, a place where memories are bought and sold.  The proprietor, a strange old man named Louis, offers Benji a taste of his wares.  Benji's awestruck by the experience, which plants him in a vivid, exhilarating memory of parachuting out of a WWII fighter plane.  In exchange, all he has to give up is a tiny, inconsequential memory of his own.

The more Benji thinks about The Memory Emporium, the more he realizes that Louis holds the key to solving the problem of his parents' impending divorce.  When Benji begs the old man to teach him to be a memory thief, Benji receives just enough instruction to start messing with people's memories.  And to create a giant mess for himself and everyone he loves.  Can he fix what he's done before his mistakes become permanent?  Or will he be stuck forever with a family that doesn't remember him?
I'm not gonna lie.  

Despite its intriguing premise, I didn't hold out a lot of hope for The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore.  I was pleasantly surprised, then, to discover that it's an atmospheric, imaginative novel that's unexpectedly thought-provoking.  Yes, the story has a lot more potential than its execution indicates, but overall, it tells an intriguing tale.  The characters aren't anything special, the prose is more tell-y than show-y, and I didn't feel a lot of emotion between the characters.  Still, I ended up liking this unsettling little tale about the importance of remembering—and learning from—everything that happens to us, both the good and the bad.      

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of The Knowing series [The Forgetting; The Knowing] by Sharon Cameron)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Memory Thief from the generous folks at Adaptive Books.  Thank you!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Series Review: Mark of the Thief Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Do you have certain time periods or places that you avoid in your reading?  Settings that, for whatever reason, just don't really appeal to you?  I for sure do.  Ancient Rome being one of them, I was naturally reluctant to give Jennifer A. Nielsen's middle grade Mark of the Thief series a go.  If it hadn't been for a book award gig I'm involved in, I probably would not have bothered.  In an effort to do a thorough judging job, however, I read not just the latest and greatest book in the trilogy, but also the first two.  And you know what?  Overall, I enjoyed them.

The first installment, Mark of the Thief, introduces Nicolas "Nic" Cava, a slave who works in the mines south of Rome.  With his fevered desire for freedom, he's never been a favorite of the cruel overseer.  Thus, Nic is chosen to risk his life by entering a cursed cavern in search of a vast treasure rumored to belong to Julius Caesar.  What he discovers is wealth beyond his wildest imagination.  Despite a warning not to remove anything, Nic takes a bulla—an amulet that's been infused with the power of the gods.  With its magic thrumming through his veins, Nic finally has the power to free himself as well as his mother and sister.

Escape won't be that easy, however.  The bulla's powers are so unimaginably strong that every Roman wants them for himself.  With a rebellion brewing in the city, the amulet could be used to save Rome—or destroy it.  With traitors and villains on both sides, Nic doesn't know who to trust.  He only knows he must keep the bulla out of the wrong hands.  The more destruction he causes while trying to harness the object's power, however, the more Nic wonders if his hands are the most wrong of all ...  

With lots of action to keep readers immersed, Mark of the Thief offers an exciting story that moves along at a fast clip.  Plot twists are fairly predictable as are the characters, who definitely need more development.  Still, Nic is an admirable hero whose loyalty, honor, and compassion keep him root-worthy.  While I didn't love the novel, I liked it enough to want to know what would happen in the next book.


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Nic Calva is no longer a slave, but he's still very much trapped.  With the power of the gods running through his veins, he's become a pawn in the war over Rome.  The Praetors, a secretive group determined to possess Nic's magical amulet, won't leave him alone.  With his mother in their possession, Nic can't afford to ignore their threats.  Finally, he makes them an offer they can't refuse—Nic will enter a chariot race, competing against the area's best riders and using no magic.  If he wins, the Praetors release his mother and let Nic go free.  If he loses, he will give up the powerful amulet so tenaciously sought after by the Praetors.  With very little experience driving a chariot, Nic has everything to lose.  Even with loyal friends by his side, it's a race that can't be won, especially since he insists on playing fair, a vow his competitors certainly won't honor.  Does Nic have even a sliver of a chance?  Or will he lose everything on a foolish gamble he never should have taken?

As in its predecessor, Rise of the Wolf races along with plenty of life-or-death action and adventure to keep readers turning pages.  With non-stop derring-do, this installment is by far my favorite of the three.  It still lacks in character development, but the story kept me enraptured.  I cared about the race's outcome, even though I knew how it would end.  By the end of the book, I wanted more and was more than ready to see what would happen in the series finale.


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Rome's major players are salivating over three mystical objects—Julius Caesar's bulla, the Malice of Mars, and the Jupiter Stone.  With only certain people able to harness the items' power, Nic continues to be a pawn, pulled this way and that by a host of dangerous enemies.  Not all of which are human.  Exhausted by the constant battle that has become his life, Nic wants only to end it.  He'll do what he must to save the Empire, keep those he loves safe, and secure his own freedom.  Even if it means sacrificing his own life.  
After binge-reading the first two books in the series, I wanted to know what would happen in Wrath of the Storm, the final installment.  Despite the story having lots of action, though, I found myself growing bored as the tale just seemed redundant with the same ole capture, escape, threats to loved ones, surrender patterns.  With nothing really original happening, I just wanted to get to the end.  Would I have felt this way if I hadn't read the series so fast?  Maybe not.  Still.  
Overall, I liked this trilogy more than I thought I would, but I didn't love it.  It boasts lots of action, which will keep readers engrossed.  While the characters are engaging enough, they definitely need more development as, in the end, they remain pretty clich√© and personality-less.  None of them experiences much growth.  The story also felt repetitious toward the end, which made it seem dull when it should have been most exciting.  In the end, I enjoyed the trilogy, but didn't find it overly rave-worthy. 


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Wrath of the Storm from the generous folks at Scholastic.  Thank you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Southern Family Secrets Novel Engrossing, Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When you come from a line of strong women who've been scandalizing your small Mississippi town for the last 45 years, your reputation is pretty much doomed from the start.  It doesn't matter that 15-year-old Mosey earns stellar grades and stays away from boys.  She's a Slocumb, which means she'll end up barefoot and pregnant before she has a chance to graduate high school.  Just like her mother, just like her grandmother.  No one expects anything less.  Except Mosey, who refuses to follow the future-less path fate has laid out before her.

Still, everyone knows big trouble comes calling for the Slocumb women every fifteen years.  This year is no exception.  While digging a swimming pool on their property, a worker unearths a rusted treasure box with a tiny skeleton inside.  Mosey's as shocked by the discovery as her grandmother is, but the revelation causes Mosey's mother to utter the first intelligible word she's said since her recent stroke—mine.  Struggling to make sense of that startling proclamation, Mosey begs her grandmother for answers.  Ginny "Big" Slocumb doesn't have them—at least not all of them—but she'll die before she lets the scandal destroy her family.  Big will do anything, risk everything, to protect Mosey and her stroke-ravaged mother.  Even if it means covering up a shocking secret from the past.  

I love me a lush multi-generational novel brimming with family secrets and Southern charm.  I've recently discovered Joshilyn Jackson, whose novels deliver just that.  Although I didn't enjoy A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty nearly as much as The Almost Sisters, I still found it engrossing.  Centered around three headstrong, intriguing women, the story pulled me in and made me care about what happened to this dysfunctional, yet devoted family.  The mystery at its core kept the novel interesting, even if the Big Reveal didn't feel all that surprising.  While A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty definitely gets sad and depressing—way more so than you'd expect judging by the book's light, frothy cover—it's a compelling read that kept me turning pages.  It's not my favorite Jackson novel, but overall I enjoyed it.  

(Readalikes:  The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson.  Also reminds me of novels by Anne Rivers Siddons and Karen White, although White's books are gentler—more in the PG-13 range—but with less personality than those by Jackson and Siddons.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, sexual content, violence, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Mutant Bunny Island Enjoyable in All Its Goofy Glory

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If 10-year-old Perry Owens had his druthers, he'd spend all day every day reading comic books and gorging on junk food.  Who needs nature?  Or friends?  Or an ordinary, mundane life in the real world where nothing exciting ever happens?  Perry would rather imagine himself inside Ocean Blasterzoids, his favorite comic series.  There's always something thrilling going on there.

When Perry finds a distress note inside the newest comic Uncle Zeke has sent in the mail, he's startled.  The message doesn't say much, but it's pretty obvious that the man needs someone with Perry's unique skill set to help him.  Traveling alone to Bunny Island, he soon realizes that something is very, very wrong in America's 37th Favorite Vacation Destination.  Not only is Zeke missing, but his island home is covered in ... bunnies.  Impossibly adorable, the cute little rabbits can almost distract one completely from the fact that a lot of strange things are going on.  Almost.  Perry vows to figure out what has happened to his uncle no matter what it takes.  Can a comic book couch potato step up and become the kind of hero he's always imagined himself to be?  Or will the overwhelming cuteness overload be the death of him—and everyone else on Bunny Island?

I'm not generally a fan of silly tales like Mutant Bunny Island by Obert Skye, so I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this zany mystery.  It's wacky and campy and kooky and, overall, a lot of fun.  A quick read with lots of engaging comic book-style illustrations (by Eduardo Vieira), Mutant Bunny Island will appeal to reluctant readers who dig graphic novels and fast-paced, easy-to-read adventure stories.  I'm not sure I'll be seeking out more Obert Skye books (although his newest, Wizard for Hire, looks good), but I didn't end up hating this one like I thought I would.  In fact, I quite liked it in all its goofy glory.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I have no idea.  Suggestions?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for some scary scenes

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Mutant Bunny Island from the generous folks at HarperCollins.  Thank you!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

MG Heist Novel Boasts Plenty of Humor and Heart

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

No matter what you might hear on the street, Jeremy Wilderson is not a thief.  He's a retrieval specialist—Scottsville Middle School's one and only.  Did a teacher confiscate your cell phone?  An upperclassman steal your lunch money?  A rival student disappear your homework?  No matter how tough the job, Jeremy's the man to recover your lost item.  He won't even charge you for it (although he'll accept chocolate cake as a thank you); he's in the business for fame, not fortune.  
Jeremy's never been caught while on the job, not even by Becca Mills, a Nancy Drew wannabe who'd like nothing more than to see him get detention for life.  When one of Jeremy's heists goes horribly wrong, however, he'll have to beg Becca for help.  The janitor's pass key, which opens everyone's locker, has landed in the hands of an aspiring criminal mastermind who wants Jeremy's glory for his own.  If Jeremy and Becca can't stop him, every student at their school will have important items stolen—and they'll all be blaming their friendly neighborhood retrieval specialist.  With both his reputation and his future on the line, Jeremy has to use every trick he can think of (plus everything Becca's got up her sleeve) to catch a thief.  Before Jeremy loses everything that matters to him.

Under Locker and Key—a debut novel by Allison K. Hymas—is the first installment in a new middle grade series starring the intrepid Jeremy Wilderson.  It features a fun, exciting adventure that will grab readers' attention and not let it go.  With plenty of action, humor, and heart, the tale should especially appeal to boys and reluctant readers.  Jeremy's antics definitely get far-fetched, but that's part of the tale's allure.  Character development is not this novel's strength, true.  Still, overall, Under Locker and Key is an enjoyable story that will hook kids' interest and keep them engaged until the last page.  

(Readalikes:  other books in the Jeremy Wilderson series, including Arts and Thefts)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a copy of Under Locker and Key from the generous folks at Simon & Schuster.  Thank you!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Warm, Funny Mustaches An Uplifting Novel About Kindness, Compassion, and Comedy

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Sixth grade can be super awkward.  Between trying to catch the cute boy's eye, attempting to convince the queen bee you're cool enough to hang out with her, and struggling to be yourself but not standing out too much, well, it's tough.  Thank goodness for Maddie Bridger's stick-on mustaches.  Pop one of those babies on and the discomfort melts away, replaced by hysterical fits of laughter.  There's nothing the 12-year-old likes more than making someone giggle—and it's a well-known fact that everything is funnier with a mustache.

Everything except cancer.  There's nothing humorous about the tumor lodged in Maddie's brain.  The mass is causing her body to contort in weird ways.  It's making her parents sad.  And it's getting in the way of all the things Maddie wants to do—perform as Juliet in the upcoming class play, invent fun games with her friends, and make it out of junior high alive.  Terrified of the silent monster growing inside her, Maddie uses her vivid imagination as a refuge.  When reality intrudes, however, she'll have to rely on courage, compassion, and, yes, comedy to make it through.  Is it possible that a mustache can make even cancer a little bit funnier?

Mustaches for Maddie, the newest offering from Chad Morris and Shelly Brown, is a middle grade novel based on the authors' daughter's experience battling a brain tumor.  Despite its heavy subject matter, the book tells a sweet, uplifting story that's more stirring than scary.  While Maddie seems a little immature for a 12-year-old girl, she's a likable heroine who's quirky, brave, and caring.  Disease novels often get cheesy or saccharine; this one is touching without being at all syrupy.  I've met Morris and Brown, even been in their home, and what strikes me about Mustaches for Maddie is that it exudes the genuine warmth that radiates from these kind, down-to-earth authors.  I thoroughly enjoyed their book about kindness, compassion, and community and hope that everyone who reads it will wholeheartedly embrace its important message.

(Readalikes:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio; also reminds me of All Better Now by Emily Wing Smith)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

although the cancer theme might be scary to younger children

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Mustaches for Maddie from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain.  Thank you!

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

First Mystery in Intriguing Trilogy a Clever, Confounding Delight

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ellingham Academy has never been a typical school.  Opened in 1936 by an eccentric millionaire who delighted in puzzles and games, the institution features trapdoors, dank catacombs, hidden rooms, and other surprises even its founder didn't know about.  Perched atop a craggy mountain in Vermont, its isolated campus wouldn't appeal to most teens.  An average adolescent would be put off not just by the school's remote location, but also by its haunted history.  Not long after the school opened, a villain dubbed "Truly Devious" struck, kidnapping the founder's wife and 3-year-old daughter.  Despite a paid ransom, only Irene Ellingham's corpse was returned.  While the body of a murdered student was also discovered, the fate of little Alice Ellingham remains unknown, the case long gone cold.  Even 80 some years later, it's enough to spook an ordinary kid.  Which Ellingham students certainly are not.  Still.
While the unsolved crimes—ancient though they may be—might make some students uneasy, Stephanie "Stevie" Bell cannot wait to get to Ellingham Academy.  A true crime aficionado, the 16-year-old is itching to have a go at the school's unsolved mysteries.  With unparalleled access to campus, she has everything she needs to find out what happened to Alice.  And she intends to do just that.

When "Truly Devious" strikes once again at Ellingham, however, Stevie's shaken to her core.  Turns out, murder isn't nearly as glamorous in real life as it seems in the movies.  Still, she knows she must put her detecting skills to use.  With two cases—one cold and one horrifyingly fresh—she has her work cut out for her.  

I'm a big fan of Maureen Johnson's Shades of London series, so when I heard she was penning a new series, I couldn't wait to check it out.  Truly Devious, the first installment in a planned trilogy, introduces the intriguing setting, its twisty mysteries, and a whole host of colorful characters.  There's a lot going on in this novel, it's true, but the story never feels cluttered, confusing, or dull.  On the contrary, it's engaging, funny, and—since you're never quite sure what exactly is going on—suspenseful.  Because Truly Devious is the first book, naturally it ends without answers to every question.  Still, it's a satisfying tale that will leave you salivating for its sequel.  If you can't tell, I loved this one.  My 16-year-old daughter didn't even wait until I finished the book to start devouring it herself.  She adored it as well.  Now we just have to wait patiently for A WHOLE YEAR before Book 2 comes out.  Argh.

(Readalikes:  Although there's no magic at Ellingham Academy, Truly Devious does feel a little Harry Potter-ish)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, depictions of underage drinking, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Truly Devious from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Colorful, Engaging Graphic Memoir an Empowering Read for Kids

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Graphic—meaning illustrated, not explicit—memoirs are all the rage at my daughter's elementary school.  She's not a big reader, but she does get really into these comic book-ish volumes, as do hordes of her classmates.  A raging Raina Telgemeier fan, she's already devoured that author's middle grade offerings, so she decided to give The Dumbest Idea Ever! by cartoonist Jimmy Gownley a try.  So into the book was my girl that I had to tell her—repeatedly—to put it down so that she could eat dinner, do her homework, and go to sleep at a decent hour.  While I didn't find myself quite as enraptured by it, I still very much enjoyed Gownley's story about how he found his true calling in life.

Gownley's tale starts in junior high with him trying to convince the nuns at his Catholic school that his beloved comic books are legitimate reading material.  Largely unsuccessful, he nonetheless continues with his own quest to become a comic book writer/artist.  He'd rather draw than do almost anything else, but he can't seem to come up with an original story idea that everyone likes.  In the meantime, he's struggling with his grades, his friends, and getting girls to notice him.  When a friend suggests a radical idea that just might change everything, Gownley decides to take a chance.  As he experiences the ups and downs of pursuing a dream not everyone understands, he comes to understand the power of perseverance and of being true to oneself in the face of doubt, rejection, and fear.

The Dumbest Idea Ever! offers a funny, engaging story with colorful illustrations that make it come alive.  It's an encouraging, empowering tale that teaches valuable lessons about not giving up in spite of repeated failures and staying humble in spite of success.  Misunderstood artists and reluctant readers will especially appreciate this book, but really, it's the kind of read anyone can pick up and enjoy.  My 9-year-old gives it two thumbs way up! 

(Readalikes:  I'm guessing Gownley's Amelia Rules! series is similar, although I haven't read it.  I'm also reminded of books by Rainia Telgemeier; Real Friends by Shannon Hale; and Janet Tashjian's [fictional] Cartoonist series)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed a copy of The Dumbest Idea Ever! from my daughter's elementary school library as part of my volunteer work with the school's reading program.
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