Moving, books and separation anxiety

September 9, 2014 1 comment
Baby 6 months

Our little girl at 6 months.

This year has been an eventful one so far. In February, my husband and I welcomed a little girl into our family. And in July, we put an offer on what will eventually become our dream home. Since closing on the house in mid-August, we’ve been running nonstop, trying to get the house to a livable state (the previous owners smoked in it for 30 years) so we can list our other house and move.

What does all this have to do with books? Well, a lot. First, it’s made it harder for me to find time to write reviews. Second, it means packing up all of the books in my house (more than 1,000 at last count). Third, it means cherry-picking a select few for my daughter to keep out until we can get her settled in.

House

Our new house.

Truth be told, I’m having a bit of separation anxiety from my books, most of which will remain boxed until next year when we move on to the renovation of our new basement, and I get a dedicated office once again.

What does that mean for Cracking the Cover? Well, to-be-reviewed books get priority status. They won’t be boxed away — except for the part where we actually move. I’m still reading and new reviews are on the way. Once we get settled in, I hope to return to a normal schedule. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.

As a side note, you might be wondering what books I’ve kept out for our little one. It’s a surprising mishmash that are recommended for varying ages, but our almost-7-month-old loves books. They’re even what motivated her to crawl! Here’s what we’ve been rotating through: Read more…

© 2014, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Categories: news, picture books

Author Mary Thompson explains why Evil Fairies Love Hair

August 14, 2014 No comments

Evil Fairies Love Hair“Hair is fun and gross and weird and loveable,” says author Mary Thompson. Luscious locks are at the center of her latest middle-grade novel, “Evil Fairies Love Hair.”

“[Hair is] known to have special power in various mythological traditions, but to be honest, the acknowledgement of that in the book came later. I just thought it was funny!”

“Evil Fairies Love Hair” follows Ali and her classmates as they raise flocks of fairies in exchange for a wish granted. It all sounds good in theory, but there are a lot of rules — stated and unstated. On top of that, the fairies only eat human hair and the flock starter can’t use their own or get help from anyone else. As Ali digs a little deeper, she learns the fairies have an ulterior motive that could change life as everyone knows it forever.

Mary says ideas for books literally pop into her head. “I know people want a better answer, but there is no plan,” she told Cracking the Cover. “There is no database of magical creatures and silly plotlines. I can’t explain how my brain works!”

In the case of “Evil Fairies Love Hair,” the title popped into Mary’s head while she was on the subway. “I knew love meant eat because there’s nothing better than eating gross food. But don’t worry, when you eat hair for magical reasons, it tastes like whatever food you love!”

Read more…

© 2014, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

‘Someone’s Sleepy’ gently reinforces bedtime routines

August 11, 2014 No comments

Someone's SleepySOMEONE’S SLEEPY,” by Deborah Lee Rose and Dan Andreasen, Abrams, May 7, 2013, Hardcover, $16.95 (ages 3-6)

Children love to look at other children. Toddlers yell “Baby” when they see one in the store. Infants examine each other’s faces. That’s why I recommend “Someone’s Sleepy,” by Deborah Lee Rose, for children under age 3 (the publisher’s suggested age).

In this rhyming picture book, a mother readies her child for bed. Their nighttime ritual includes bathtime, brushing teeth, hugs, and a storybook read aloud. Once tucked under the covers with stuffed animals, the child is lulled to sleep, watched over by her night-light and puppy friend.*

Dan Andreasen’s illustrations of a young girl are simple and easily recognizable. My almost-6-month-old daughter loves to stare at the girl’s button nose and smiling face. Rose’s rhythmic text is the perfect accompaniment. I enjoy reading this one aloud in a quiet voice, getting quieter and slower as we approach the end and bedtime. “Someone’s Sleepy” reinforces nighttime routines in a fun, gentle way.

Someone's Sleepy noresize

*Synopsis provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers

Editor’s note: The above post differs from Cracking the Cover’s regular review format. Learn more.

© 2014, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Despite flawed end, Elizabeth May’s ‘Falconer’ is a pleasant surprise

August 6, 2014 No comments

Falconer Elizabeth MayTHE FALCONER: BOOK 1,” by Elizabeth May,” Chronicle Books, May 6, 2014, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 14 and up)

Occasionally you come across a book that you don’t think you’ll like, but get drawn in anyway. That’s what happened to me with “The Falconer,” the first book in a planned trilogy by Elizabeth May.

Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she’s spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she’s a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated.*

Let’s face it, with as many books out about fairies (or faeries), magic and secret lives, it’s hard to set yourself apart. So when I came across “The Falconer,” I thought, “Beautiful cover, probably a rehash of someone else’s work.” I was wrong. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised.

Read more…

© 2014, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Categories: YA review, young adult

Michaela MacColl’s ‘Always Emily’ brings Bronte sisters to life

August 4, 2014 No comments

Always EmilyALWAYS EMILY,” by Michaela MacColl, Chronicle, April 8, 2014, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 12 and up)

I’ve worn out at least one copy of “Jane Eyre,” possibly two. There’s something about Charlotte Bronte’s gothic novel that has always stuck a chord with me. The same cannot be said for Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” I never could get into it. Perhaps it was Charlotte’s structure versus Emily’s seemingly wildness. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to Michaela MacColl’s “Always Emily,” in which those two character traits play a large role.

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle— before someone else gets killed.*

“Always Emily” brings the Bronte sisters to life. And truth be told, I like Emily as a person (at least how she’s depicted here) much better than Charlotte. That’s what’s so fun about this novel. MacColl has crafted the sisters based on what is historically known about them and then imagined them in the midst of a mystery. She even weaves in instances that could potentially be driving forces for their later novels.

Read more…

© 2014, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Categories: YA review, young adult