Our Favorite Reads of 2013

December 31st, 2013 by

You may have noticed various “Best of 2013” lists floating around the internets. Well, since it’s New Year’s Eve today, we’re going to jump on the bandwagon with our own list — but with a twist!

Unlike movies that are only in theaters for a limited time or songs that get played less and less on the radio, good books are a joy to discover even years after they’re originally published. So, we’re re-capping both our favorite books that came out in 2013 and also the best books that were published in the past but  were still new to us in 2013!

mister-max-book-of-lost-thingsKaren’s Favorite Book Published in 2013:
Mister Max #1: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt

This book is so delicious it deserves a review all its own — coming soon to a Kidsmomo near you! 🙂 For now, I’ll just say that this book somehow manages to find exactly the right balance between comforting and suspenseful, which must not have been easy for the author to do! Pick up this book and read about Max’s adventures after his parents go missing, and you’ll see what I mean.

okay-for-nowKaren’s Favorite Book She Discovered in 2013:
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

This book also deserves its own full review, but I’m not sure I’m going to write one — because I don’t even think I can capture just how amazing this book is. It’s really truly that goodThe story is about Doug and how he deals with: a) moving to a town he hates, b) living with a father who’s lost his way and brother with a bad reputation, and c) rescuing famous illustrations of birds that have been taken out of their original book and sold. I know, that sounds kind of like, “Wha?!” Like I said, it’s hard to convey just how funny and real and moving and AWESOME this book is. Just take my word for it and READ IT! (And also read The Wednesday Warswhich is kind of like its prequel — you don’t need to read it first in order to understand Okay for Now, but it’s just also really really good!)

Jessica-Darlings-It-List_Megan-McCaffertyNancy’s Favorite Book Published in 2013:
Jessica Darling’s It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection by Megan McCafferty

This was one of my most anticipated books of 2013 because I was already a fan of the author, and it did not (totally not) disappoint! Yes, you read that right. Reading about Jessica Darling and her real and faux-friends made me  miss junior high a little and laugh out loud a lot — the book is just plain flat out funny. Not convinced yet? Check out my original review!

the-secret-zoo_bryan-chickNancy’s Favorite Book She Discovered in 2013:
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

The Secret Zoo has been on my to-read list ever since Karen recommended it in our “Animal House” Podcast — and I admit at the time of this recommendation I am only half-way through. So I’m going to cut this short so I can get back to it! But here’s what I’ve got so far: a group of kids, adventure, zoo, talking animals, adventure, should we be suspicious that the author’s last name is “Chick”?, other animals, mystery, yay! there are four more books in this series, ack! there are four more books in this series, okay gotta go.

Our Honorable Mentions:

What were YOUR favorite books of 2013? Tell us in the Comments!

— Happy New Year from Nancy and Karen!

Jessica Darling’s It List #1 – Book Review

October 16th, 2013 by

Jessica-Darlings-It-List_Megan-McCafferty“I guess if I had to describe myself, I’d say I’m very witty, medium pretty, and a little bit zitty. I’m not the worst off but there’s definitely room for improvement.” — Jessica Darling

The second after I read Jessica’s description of herself, I decided I would have wanted to be her friend in junior high — actually, I want to be her friend now!

When I first started junior high (ages and ages ago), I would have loved getting a step-by-step guide to popularity, prettiness, and perfection. Who wouldn’t?

In Megan McCafferty’s new book, Jessica Darling totally thinks it will be helpful when her practically-perfect-in-every-way older sister, Bethany, bequeaths to her the IT list: The Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection. But as you can see from the actual title of the book, Bethany’s guide (transcribed below) is totally not guaranteed and leaves a lot up for interpretation:

1. Wear something different every day.
2. Make the CHEER TEAM!!!
3. Pick your boyfriend wisely.
4. Stick with the IT clique.

Now, I don’t want to spoil the book too much, but finding out how Jessica manages each of these four instructions is totally worth the read. For instance, she does try out for the CHEER TEAM!!! and technically makes the CHEER TEAM!!!… but in secret. Especially after her tryouts end with her falling flat on her face.

So, what else besides failed acrobatics is in store for Jessica at Pineville Junior High? Well, there’s her two new friends, Sara and Manda, who act like best friends but sometimes seem like worst enemies. Jessica’s elementary school BFF, Bridget, hasn’t quite realized that she’s become pretty and popular overnight and has a serious beef with their school’s seagull mascot (that looks like a chicken). There’s ‘Smart Aleck,’ a boy in her Industrial Arts (aka wood shop) class, who Jessica thinks is terminally bizarre and totally messes with her head. And Jessica hasn’t quite figured out Hope, Sara and Manda’s friend — but Hope seems to have Manda and Sara figured out perfectly.

If you’ve ever walked through the halls of school and thought, a) “Does everyone have it figured out but me?” and/or b) “Is everyone absolutely nuts but me?”, then this is the book for you. And I can’t wait to see how Jessica figures it out — or doesn’t figure it out — in the sequel, Jessica Darling’s IT LIST #2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends!

Bonus: This book is actually a prequel to a teen series, so if you’re old enough (13+!), check out the original Jessica Darling book, Sloppy Firsts.

— Nancy

icon_nancyNancy also tried out for the CHEER TEAM!!! in high school and it was a disaster of similar proportions. Don’t ask.

More about Nancy »

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

July 6th, 2012 by

[Note from Kidsmomo: This book is recommended for ages 12 and up. If you want to give your parents more info on this book, send them here.]

Submitted by Maggie, Age 10 from Georgia

Rating: ★★★★½

Sloppy Firsts is an exciting, witty book about Jessica Darling, a teenager who’s life is anything but normal. Written from Jessica’s perspective, she describes how to deal with high school from everything from boys to grades. When her best friend Hope moves away she tries to find stand- in’s for her beloved friend she stumbles across Marcus Flutie a compelling bad boy who turned his whole life around. She doesn’t know what to do. Told with charm and passion Jessica learns exactly how to deal.