Monday Memories: Code Name Verity

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. Just please link back if you decide to join!


Today for my first Monday Memories I’m talking about Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.


My entire experience with Code Name Verity was totally backwards. Like many people I heard a lot of buzz before publication but it never got too high on my radar.

I met Elizabeth Wein before I knew much of anything about the book. She and her publicist from Disney Hyperion came into Books of Wonder during one of my shifts at the register so that Ms. Wein could sign some stock. Both she and her publicist were incredibly nice and I was charmed by Elizabeth Wein’s down-to-earth personality and struck by her jewelry. She had on an airplane pendant and a typewriter key bracelet which, given the setting and plot of her book, seemed incredibly appropriate.

The day after she signed stock, I used my employee discount to buy a copy. The book then proceeded to sit on my shelves until January 2013 when I was unemployed, job-hunting, and doing very little beyond reading and applying to jobs.

Everything about this book was brilliant and after finishing the story I was charmed to see that Wein had signed it with a ballpoint pen (and underlined a key line on page 68). Months later the book still stayed with me. Even now I’m still thinking about the plot and the writing.

After reading I would go on to review the book on the blog, interview Elizabeth about it, and meet her at BEA ( as well as talk to her on twitter). I don’t think any of that would have been possible before the social media. And it all started with a chance encounter that I’ve never told anyone about until today.

To join, click the Inlinkz frog below to link up. Then see what everyone else has to say :)

Week in Review: September 7



This week on the blog you can check out:

**If you want to join in my weekly feature Monday Memories, it starts tomorrow. Nicole and I have been hashing this out for a while and we are VERY Excited!**

This week was a little frustrating for work things but I took some time to refocus and I’m feeling better now. I can only do what is in my control and I do that well. Everything else I am trying to remember to let roll off my back.

In non-work things the week was pretty good. Busy because I worked yesterday but good. I got a couple of postcards in the mail. I got letters from two friends. I also received some much awaited books.

From Amazon’s Vine program I received The Accidental Highwayman (reading now, very fun) and My True Love Gave to Me (no words for how excited I am!). From Scholastic I received a very long-awaited, very much wanted arc of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Then as a total surprise from Gail I received a beautiful hardcover of Something Real–thank you again Gail!

Nicole and I are planning our next synchronized reading which should be starting any day now (not sure when we’re posting–I’m scheduled so far ahead now that I have to really reorganize things). AND Monday Memories starts tomorrow. I’m so excited!


Miss Print’s Re-Prints: September 2007 Edition, Vol. 1

missprintreprintMiss Print’s Re-Prints is a weekly feature that will post on Saturday. Each week I’ll highlight reviews I wrote during a previous month in this blog’s run.

Currently I am Re-Printing 2007 posts.

September 2007: Volume 1
(also known as the month I apparently had no idea what post scheduling meant and posted multiple times per day . . . . what?)

  • War for the Oaks coverSeptember 2, 2007: War for the Oaks by Emma Bull–“There is something kind of awesome about a book that can combine rock music with something as fantastical as faeries. Bull does it wonderfully. Each chapter title is a song. Music excerpts abound throughout . . . ” (I always forget how much I like this book!)



  • A Mango-Shaped Space coverSeptember 3, 2007: A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass–“At the end of the day, more than being about dealing with a disability (I’m not even sure I like calling synesthesia a disability) A Mango-Shaped Space is about accepting who you are and coping with the harder parts of life.”




  • Peeps coverSeptember 3, 2007: Peeps by Scott Westerfeld–“Let me also say that you will never look at rats, or cats, the same way after reading this novel. There is something about a cat with a vampiric parasite that is just so much more appealing than a normal one.”




  • Cures for Heartbreak by Margo RabbSeptember 5, 2007: Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb–“Rabb’s simple language and conversational tone make the story and characters come alive on the page. Mia’s loss is palpable throughout her narration.” (I like to think of this book as TFIOS before anyone cared who John Green was.)





September Reading Tracker

Here is where I’ll be tracking what I read during September. You can also see how I did in August when I amazingly read every book I planned to read!

  1. The Screaming Staircase by Johnathan Stroud
  2. Half Bad by Sally Green
  3. The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
  4. Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst
  5. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
  6. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

September 4: I finished The Screaming Staircase at the tale end of August and into September 1st. It was amazingly good and I am sorry it took so long to get to it but also thrilled that it was worth the wait. After that I tried Half Bad which I had to give up on because it was so gritty and vicious that it actually made my queasy to read it. Now I am onto The Accidental Highwayman.

Open Road Summer: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Open Road Summer by Emery LordReagan knows she is better than her past behavior would indicate. She knows she deserves more than her bad-news ex-boyfriend and more than her bad girl reputation. What Reagon doesn’t know is how to get beyond all of those things once and for all.

Reagan’s best friend, Lilah Montgomery is having problems of her own including nursing a broken heart and headlining her first major tour. With her star on the rise, Lilah will have to navigate the world of country music stardom and the murky waters of celebrity news and minor scandal.

Even with so much baggage, Reagan is thrilled to be joining the tour for a girls only summer of bonding and healing.

The only problem is Matt Finch–himself a former teen star–is also part of the tour as an opener. With his clean-cut good looks and enough snark to match Reagan barb for barb, Reagan knows her promise to stay drama-(and boy)-free all summer is in for trouble.

It takes a cross-country tour but over the course of one unforgettable summer Reagan will learn that mistakes aren’t forever,  even if friends are, and home doesn’t always have to be somewhere to leave in Open Road Summer (2014) by Emery Lord.

Open Road Summer is Lord’s first novel.

Believe the hype about this book. Lord has crafted a novel that is equal parts escapism and realism. While readers are treated to the luxe world of celebrity musicians, Open Road Summer also highlights the tough realities of living (and growing up) in the public eye.

Reagan is a prickly, multifaceted narrator with a lot of heart and a lot of personality. The fact that she is a self-proclaimed bad girl who wants a change is utterly refreshing. This story constantly challenges the usual tropes and binary structures found in similar stories to create a plot and a cast of characters that are unique and completely engaging.

Tour stops across the country add a vivid backdrop to this delectable story of a girl trying to find her way.

Possible Pairings: Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy, Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter, Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Little Elliot, Big City: A Picture Book Review

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike CuratoElliot is a little elephant living in the big city. Amidst all of the hustle and bustle, Elliot finds a lot of things to enjoy–even with the unique challenges of being a small elephant in a big a city. Elliot especially loves cupcakes! Unfortunately, being so small, it isn’t easy to reach the counter and buy his special treat. When Elliot meets a white mouse who is even smaller than himself, Elliot realizes that new friends can be even sweeter than a tasty cupcake in Little Elliot, Big City (2014) by Mike Curato.

Little Elliot, Big City is Curato’s first picture book.

This delightful story of unlikely friends is visually stunning with beautiful illustrations of bustling New York City streets and even a picture of the iconic Flatiron building. Vintage cars and soft tones make this a quiet read that hearkens back to simpler times.

Elliot is a delightfully quirky and capable main character who is a real problem solver (at one point he uses a broom to get ice cream out of his freezer!). Curato’s sure drawing style and large illustrations bring Elliot to life and add a lovely dose of pathos to Elliot’s meeting with mouse. Readers will cheer when together Elliot and Mouse finally get their cupcake.

Curato’s deceptively simple text and intricate illustrations make Little Elliot, Big City a delight and definitely mark Curato as a picture book talent to watch.

You can also see the adorable book trailer for Little Elliot, Big City here:

Author Interview: Mike Curato


Mike Curato_Author Photo credit Ruth ChanMike Curato is here today as part of the Little Elliot, Big City blog tour to talk about one of my favorite 2014 picture books. After the interview you can also comment on this post to enter a giveaway for some awesome Little Elliot goodies! (You can jump to the end to enter now but please come back to read!) For more details about Mike Curato be sure to stop by his website: You can also find out more about Little Elliot at

Miss Print (MP): You wrote and illustrated Little Elliot, Big City. Can you tell us about what your creative process for this picture book looked like? Do you start with the text or the artwork?

MC: The first two books both spawned from images. In fact, there was art before there was a story, and there were doodles of Elliot before there was art. I often jump back and forth between the two modes of writer and illustrator.

MP: In addition to a very special elephant, Little Elliot, Big City features some beautiful illustrations of New York City (including my mom’s favorite building the Flatiron Building!). Did you always know this story would take place in New York?

MC: Oh yes. I grew up outside of New York City, and I’ve always been enamored with its old grandeur. When I started working on finished art of Elliot years ago, it quickly became the backdrop. There was no question.

MP: Working off the last question: The cars and people in your illustrations make it pretty clear that your book is not set in present day New York. How did you decide what period to use as the backdrop for this story?

MC: I love the aesthetic and romance of the late ‘30s/early ‘40s: the cars, the buildings, the clothes. It’s also a time before TV and smartphones and internet. Things were slower, but I think more intentional.

MP: What was your favorite part of this story to illustrate? Which part was the hardest?

MC: I think my favorite piece is the one of Elliot staring in the bakery window, though I thoroughly enjoyed drawing (and researching) all the cupcakes throughout the book. The hardest was probably the scene of Elliot in the crowded subway. Also, Mouse’s trash can was quite time consuming with all of that garbage and twisted wire.

MP: What medium do you prefer to work with for your illustrations? How do you decide where to start with each illustration?

MC: Each piece is hand-drawn in pencil, scanned, and colored in Photoshop. I always start with very simple sketches with just enough information to communicate what is going on in the image. Once I narrow in on a composition that works, I gather my reference, and then it’s off to the races.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project?

MC: I actually just finished the second book in the series, Little Elliot, Big Family, which comes out next Fall! It expands on Elliot’s friendship with Mouse, and has even more New York City scenes.

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

MC: Create what makes you happy. Create what you think is missing from the world that could make it better.

Thank you again to Mike for taking the time to chat with me!

Now here are the giveaway details:

Thanks to Mary Van Akin at Macmillan Kids, you can win a copy of Little Elliot, Big City, a coveted Little Elliot tote and some adorable Little Elliot stickers!

Giveaway is US only and open to any readers aged 13 or older. Giveaway will run from today to September 5. (Winner will be notified on September 6. If I don’t hear from the winner by September 7, I will pick another winner.)

Comment below telling me your favorite kind of cupcake to enter!


You can also check out the other tour stops for even more Little Elliot fun:

Tuesday, August 26: Librarian in Cute Shoes | @utalaniz

Wednesday, August 27: Teach Mentor Texts | @mentortexts

Thursday, August 28 : Read. Write. Reflect. | @katsok

Friday, August 29: Kit Lit Frenzy | @alybee930

Saturday, August 30: Daddy Mojo | @daddymojo

Sunday, August 31: The Trifecta: Sharp Reads | @colbysharp / Connect. Read. | @mrschureads / Nerdy Book Club | @nerdybookclub

Monday, September 1: Miss Print | @miss_print