Mr. Samuel’s Penny: A (Rapid Fire) Review

Mr. Samuel's Penny by Treva Hall MelvinWhen 14-year-old Elizabeth Landers arrives in the small town of Ahoskie, North Carolina, she fully expects to have a boring vacation. Things turn out very differently that summer in 1972 almost as soon as Elizabeth and her sister arrive.

A grisly car accident catches the town’s attention and Elizabeth is at the scene when the bodies of Mr. Samuel and his young daughter are recovered. Mr. Samuel is clutching an unusual 1909 wheat penny in his hand—a penny that is stolen from the sheriff’s office.

Already interested in pennies herself and haunted by the crime scene, the protagonist decides to use part of her summer trying to find the penny for Mr. Samuel’s widow.

Melvin walks the line between adult nostalgia and the authentic voice of a teen throughout this novel that is set to start a new series. Unfortunately, the narrative never seems entirely comfortable with either tone.

Numerous biblical analogies and references to Christianity lend a decidedly non-secular tone to the entire novel. Elizabeth is still an approachable narrator, who will find her fans in certain readers.

*A slightly different version of this review appeared in an issue issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen in various sites online*

The Wrath and the Dawn: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“One hundred lives for the one you took. One life to one dawn. Should you fail but a single morn, I shall take from you your dreams. I shall take from you your city. And I shall take from you these lives, a thousandfold.”


“All our lives are forfeit. It it just a matter of when.”

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehKhalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night. Every bride is executed with the dawn. The Caliph offers no explanations, making it easy for his people to believe he is a cold-hearted monster.

Shahrzad shocks everyone she cares about when she volunteers to marry the Caliph, rendering her life forfeit. But Shahrzad plans to survive the dawn. In fact she plans to live long enough to exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and so many other girls.

The longer she survives in the palace, the more Shahrzad realizes the boy-king is hiding something behind his cold exterior and his closely guarded secrets. Shahrzad volunteered to marry Khalid out of hatred but as she grows closer to to him, it is soon obvious that love is what keeps her in the palace.

Separately Shahrzad and Khalid are both formidable. United together, they may have the strength to save their country and each other in The Wrath and the Dawn (2015) by Renee Ahdieh.

The Wrath and the Dawn is Ahdieh’s first novel. It is also the first book in a series which will continue with The Rose and the Dagger (expected publication 2016).

In this loose retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, Ahdieh transcends her source material to create a story that is both original and captivating. Instead of focusing on the stories told each evening, The Wrath and the Dawn expertly expands the framing story found within A Thousand and One Nights to imagine a world where a king executes countless brides and one girl is bold enough to think she can stop him.

As much as The Wrath and the Dawn is a romance of the slow burn variety, it is also very much a story of equals. Shazi and Khalid are perfectly matched protagonists with obvious magnetism even as they warily question each other’s intentions. They are also both incredibly strong characters, often to the point of being arrogant or foolhardy.

The way Shazi and Khalid interact highlights how the best partnerships, the strongest relationships, stem from mutual respect as well as understanding. The push and pull between these two also serves to underscore how nothing is clear-cut in this story where often there are no “good” choices–only necessary ones.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a debut filled with writing that brings the world of Khorasan vividly to life. Elements of fantasy, romance and historical fiction all come together here to create a lush, expansive story with complex characters to match. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, Clariel by Garth Nix, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Wolfie the Bunny: A Picture Book Review

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHoraWhen a baby wolf is left on the doorstep of the Bunny family, Dot has some serious concerns. Much to Dot’s dismay she is alone in her fears as Mama and Papa soon adopt the abandoned wolf. Dot remains worried about Wolfie as he grows and becomes much more likely to eat them all up. Worse, Wolfie really loves Dot–so much so that he spends all of his time following Dot around and even drooling on her!

Dot is certain Wolfie could not be more annoying until she and Wolfie go to the local co-op The Carrot Patch to get more food for the family. Dot is sure this moment will be when Wolfie chooses to make his move and eat her. Instead, when a mean (big) bear shows up, it’s Wolfie who is in peril. And Dot who is left to do the rescuing in Wolfie the Bunny (2015) by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora.

Ame Dyckman returns with another delightful story in this picture book about a wolf in rabbit’s clothing. Wolfie the Bunny is a riotous story that leaves readers wondering if Dot’s fears really are warranted until the last moment when readers (and Dot) realize that being family means being there for each other no matter what.

OHora brings an extra dimension to the story as he moves Wolfie and company from what could have been a natural setting into the wilds of Brooklyn. His signature style and bold colors in each acrylic painting guarantee that these illustrations will stand up to close scrutiny as well as being viewed from a distance.

Bold text and a variety of font faces work to add further interest to each page as each page spread comes together seamlessly to create an engrossing read.

Wolfie the Bunny is a story about new babies, sibling rivalry and unconditional love (and maybe carrots) that is brimming over with humor and enthusiastic energy. Ideal for any story time scenario.

You can also read my interview with Ame and Zachariah!

Author and Illustrator Interview: Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora on Wolfie the Bunny

Ame DyckmanWolfie the Bunny is the delightful story of a baby wolf in bunny’s clothing and the way unconditional love for siblings can sometimes sneak up on a person (or a bunny in this case). Today write Ame Dyckman and illustrator Zachariah OHora are here to talk about the creative process behind this great picture book.

Scroll to the bottom for details about a very special Wolfie the Bunny giveaway too!

Miss Print: What was the inspiration for Wolfie the Bunny?

Ame Dyckman: WOLFIE was inspired by my daughter (“The Kid” of my Twitter stories), who was an ADORABLE toddler—EXCEPT when she was tired. Then she transformed into a tiny growling beast Husband Guy and I called The Wolf Baby. (We said it QUIETLY. So she wouldn’t hear and destroy us.) And that made me ask myself, “What if a REAL wolf baby went to live with a family of non-wolves? And what kind of non-wolves family would be funniest?” I’d always wanted to write a wolf-and-bunny story, and knew then this was the one.

Miss Print: The illustrations for Wolfie the Bunny could have gone in several directions. You chose to set Wolfie and his family in Brooklyn. What inspired that decision?

Zachariah OHora (ZO): At the same time I was sketching out Wolfie the Bunny, I was working on my next book “My Cousin Momo” (Dial, out June 2, 2015) that takes place in a very woodsy atmosphere. I wanted to do something that was the opposite of that. I also feel like far too many picture books have a suburban backdrop. When I realized that “The Carrot Patch” even sounds like a health food store, it all clicked when I thought about the Park Slope Co-op in my old neighborhood. And to be truthful, I like painting city scenes!

Miss Print: Ame, was there any part of Wolfie the Bunny that you were particularly excited to see once illustrated?

Ame: ALL OF IT! I was over-the-moon to see EVERYTHING–Zach’s first character sketches to the final endpapers and each bit in between! But my favorite spread is Wolfie’s first night with his new Bunny family, for the lines:

Wolfie slept through the night.
Dot did not.

Zach’s art for this spread is GENIUS! The humor, the sweet contented expression on Wolfie’s face, Dot’s oh-so-genuine kid perception of shadows being scarier than reality–this spread is SO much fun, SO well-done, and has sparked SO many great discussions from readers little to big!

WOLFIE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHTMiss Print: Zachariah, what was your favorite scene to illustrate in this book?

Zachariah: Ame’s text is so funny there are many parts of  the story I couldn’t wait to illustrate. One of the most fun was actually a last minute addition, and that was the spread where Dot and Wolfie are heading to the Carrot Patch and are greeted by the friendly but slow proprietor. And when I say slow, I mean, he’s a sloth. We’ve joked that if there was ever a sequel the sloth would still be sweeping and he would just be at the other end of the page.

MP: Can you both tell us what your creative process looked like for this book?

Ame: It was LONG-TERM percolation! I’d carried my wolf-adopted-by-bunnies idea around in my little pea brain for two whole years before I finally heard Dot Bunny say, “HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!” She piped up during a Mandatory Family Housecleaning Day when I was carrying a mountain of laundry upstairs. I told The Horde (Husband Guy, The Kid, and The Cat) I was folding towels. But really, I was typing. The first draft of what was then called WOLFIE AND DOT was finished an hour and a half later. The Horde was a bit grumpy I’d ditched on my part of our chores–until I read WOLFIE to them. They agreed they couldn’t have ignored Dot, either. She’s one PERSISTENT bunny!

Zachariah: First it was dialing in what Wolfie was going to look like. I draw lots of bunnies so I pretty much knew what Dot would look like. I put her in a red hoodie as a nod that this story was kind of an inverted/modern take on Little Red Riding Hood. Or at least it seemed that way to me. Initially I wanted to really exaggerate how toothy and wolf-like Wolfie was to further the joke that the parents were clueless. But he was a little too scary and maybe a little gangster. Bethany Strout (the editor) and Saho Fujii (the designer) were very good about reeling me in. Somewhere along the way I had the idea that if Wolfie was scary looking, he could be softened by the ridiculous act of putting him in bunny jammies. That helped but it was still overkill so I worked on a younger, cuter version of Wolfie which became the model for both the baby and toddler (but much bigger) version in the book. All the art is acrylic paint on paper.

Miss Print: Can you tell us anything about your next project?

Ame: I get to work with Zachariah OHora again! HORRIBLE BEAR!, our funny name-calling tale of accidents, tantrums, and apologies comes out next Spring from our fabulous WOLFIE THE BUNNY team at Little, Brown! I’m SO EXCITED for everybody to see Zach’s hysterical HORRIBLE BEAR! art! If you thought Dot Bunny’s scowl was a riot, you’ll adore his little redheaded girl shouting at poor befuddled Bear!

Zachariah: I’m finishing up a second book that Ame wrote called “Horrible Bear!” and it’s a fun and funny story too. I’m hoping that it’s one of many that we work on together! I’m also working on a book that takes place in my childhood library way up in Manchester, NH. It’s got monsters, waffles and a boy who has a brother that is also a bear.

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

Ame: Read as many books in your genre as you can, connect with your local SCBWI chapter (or come to Jersey! We adopt!) if you write kidlit, reward every little success with ice cream, get yourself a good Writing/Illustrating Buddy (quit grinnin’, Adam!) and DON’T EVER GIVE UP! (Or I’ll sic a persistent bunny on ya!) GOOD LUCK, EVERYBODY!

Zachariah: Do what you love. I’ve always loved kids books and drawing little cute animals, but it was years into my illustrating career before I let myself make that stuff for clients. But when I did, my career became a career. If you don’t love what you are doing, it’s not real and it’s not going to be good.

Get out in the world and research things. Experience things. The internet is great for reference but getting out in the world is far more inspiring and it’s there you will find your voice.

Thank you to Ame and Zach for this great interview!

You can also read my review of Wolfie the Bunny here on the blog.

You can find out more about Ame and her books here:

You can find out more about Zachariah and his books here:


Thanks to Ame I am giving away a signed copy of Wolfie the Bunny and a swag bag complete with bookmark, sticker, button, and squishy carrot.

Giveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.

Giveaway will run from midnight May 18, 2015 through May 22. Winner will be notified May 23. If I don’t hear back from the winner by May 24 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.


I’m running the giveaway through a Rafflecopter giveaway. Details on how to enter can be found by clicking “enter” above!

Week in Review: May 17


This week on the blog you can check out:

This week went by pretty quickly. On Monday I helped Ingrid with a Toddler Spring Fling at work. I think the kids had a good time. Then the rest of the week flew by! I also did some book talks for school librarians (they should be posting next month on here) and one of the librarians checked out one of my books which I am calling a win.

Nicole and I have been hardcore planning for BEA and I’m getting pretty excited about it.

I also had a nice chats with some people on twitter about blog interaction and comments (if you ever want to talk about either please let me know, I am ready!) which I always find fascinating. That partly led to me reconnecting with a lot of people on Twitter which was excellent.

Blog-wise I’m pretty excited about this week too. I got to review one of my most anticipated 2015 titles Hold Me Like a Breath which I am actually getting even more excited about the more I talk about it. I also had a great time interviewing Tiffany about the book so another win!

But one of the zany views from my commute this week:

By the time this posts I will also hopefully have new glasses for the first time in FOUR LONG YEARS. I am inordinately excited about the prospect.

This week I read The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and The Devil You Know by Trish Doller. Loved the first and totally re-evaluating my feelings about ancient historical fiction based solely on that title. I’m not sure about The Devil You Know. It was fun and it sizzled and it was smart but it was also a bit predictable. I think I am coming down in favor of liking it because it was kind of subversive but it might not be one I need to own.

No new book acquisitions but if you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my May Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

Taylor Swift Book Tag

I was tagged for this post months and months ago by Gail from Ticket to Anywhere. (You can see Gail’s post on her blog.) Thank you for tagging me Gail! Sorry it took me so so long!

Some explanation (as provided by Gail): Created by The Book Life, the Taylor Swift Book Tag is a fun way to pair book titles to famous Taylor Swift songs through a handful of questions. Some of which are part of the original tag and some that were added by Danielle at Love at First Page and Nova from Out of Time.

And my answers:

  • We Are Never Ever, Ever Getting Back Together (a book/series you were pretty sure you loved but then wanted to break up with): This one is easy. Much as I loved Cassandra Clare’s books in the moment, I have since outgrown them. It wasn’t you TMI and TID, it was me!
    Clockwork Angel coverClockwork Prince coverCity of Bones coverCity of Ashes coverCity of Glass cover
  • Red (a book with a red cover): Completely red covers are harder to find than you would think! The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
  • The Best Day (a book that makes you feel nostalgic): The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando
  • Love Story (a book with forbidden love): This one is more taboo than forbidden but I’m still so mixed up about what I want for these characters so whatever. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
  • I Knew You Were Trouble (a book with a bad character you couldn’t help but love): This is a tie between Vicious by V. E. Schwab and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
    Vicious by V. E. SchwabBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Innocent (a book that someone ruined the ending for): I ruin a lot of endings for myself because I skim ahead and I purposely looked to see how The Fault in Our Stars and Allegiant would end before I read them. That said, I can’t think of any where the ending was not ruined through my own conscious pursuit of spoilers.
  • Everything Has Changed (a book with a character who goes through extensive character development): Winterspell by Claire Legrand Winterspell by Claire Legrand
  • You Belong With Me (my most anticipated book release): The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Forever and Always (my favorite book couple): Any couple from the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers
    Grave Mercy coverDark Triumph by Robin LaFeversMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
  • Begin Again (a series that deserves a second chance): I walked away from Holly Black’s Curse Worker series before I read the final one. I’m wondering if that was a mistake.
  • Wonderland (a book that features your favorite fictional world): Too many! But currently Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Last Kiss (a series that you’re not ready to let go, even though it ended): Pivot Point and Split Second by Kasie West. Loved them both and would love to see more although it was the just-right ending.
    Pivot Point by Kasie WestSplit Second by Kasie West
  • Clean (a series where you’re glad it’s over): The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Loved the series right to the conclusion–it was the perfect ending to a great series.
    The Darkest MindsNever Fade by Alexandra BrackenIn the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
  • Wildest Dreams (your favorite fictional guy–it’s preferred but he doesn’t have to be a bad boy): Alan Ryves from The Demon’s Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan. There is no other correct answer.
    The Demon's Lexicon coverThe Demon's Covenant coverThe Demon's Surrender cover
  • Enchanted (a book you found by chance that you ended up loving): I am Princess X by Cherie Priest. An arc fell into my lap when I had heard nothing about it and it wound up becoming a favorite. I am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  • All You Had to Do Was Stay (a book you didn’t finish that you wish you had given another chance): I walk away from books without remorse.
  • Come Back, Be Here (a book I would not want to lend out for fear of missing it too much): Definitely my set of the Birthright series by Gabrielle Zevin–those books are very special to me.
    All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle ZevinBecause It Is My Blood by Gabrielle ZevinIn the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Teardrops on My Guitar (a book that made me cry a lot): I still can’t believe how much I teared up while reading My True Love Gave to Me! My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
  • Shake it Off (a book I love so much that I just shake off the haters): Susan Juby’s Alice trilogy (the haters here being whoever let it go out of print)
    Alice, I Think coverMiss Smithers coverAlice MacLeod, Realist at Last cover
  • Blank Space (my favorite autographed book): I am very lucky in that I have a lot of wonderful signed books. But two of my most special ones are Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. Partly because they are both arcs, partly because I loved them, but especially because I got them signed while having dinner with the author (and my mentor in librarianship) at the Plaza!
    Seraphina coverShadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
  • Today was a Fairy Tale (my favorite retelling): There could be many answers but my immediate one will always be Wildwood Dancing by Juliet MarillierWildwood Dancing cover

I’m tagging:

  1. Nicole the Book Bandit
  2. Andi @ Just a Broke Bookworm
  3. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives
  4. Veronica the Talking (Blogging) Bookworm
  5. Nicole @ Nicole’s Novel Reads
  6. Kelly @ Live, Love, Read
  7. You!

Exquisite Corpse: A (Blog Tour) Review

ExquisiteCorpse BlogTourBanner
Exquisite Corpse by Penelope BagieuZoe isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life except that she doesn’t want it to involve her lousy boyfriend and her totally unsatisfying job as a merchandise exhibitor at trade shows.

Zoe is frustrated by everything and everyone. At least until she meets the eccentric Thomas Rocher. Zoe doesn’t recognize him as a literary genius and (supposedly) deceased author.

Turns out dead authors can still get pretty great book deals–especially Thomas since his ex-wife Agathe is also his agent.

Zoe has a lot to learn about publishing but she also might teach Thomas and Agathe a thing or two in Exquisite Corpse (2015) by Pénélope Bagieu.

Exquisite Corpse was originally published in Bagieu’s native France in 2010. Now it is happily available in English translation.

Bagieu combines humorous scenes and snappy dialog in this laugh-out-loud comic adventure. Although many of Zoe’s problems are decidedly adult (lousy job, a boyfriend who wants sex while Zoe is busy fuming), her lack of direction and uncertainty about her future will feel universal to many readers.

With detailed characters and a plot ripe for follow-up, readers will also wonder Exquisite Corpse might only be the first act for Zoe, Thomas and Agathe.

Exquisite Corpse is filled with brightly colored panels and Bagieu’s clean-lined, sleek artwork that perfectly highlights the interplay between what is written and drawn on each page. Laugh-out-loud twists and a surprise ending make this graphic novel an enjoyable quick read sure to brighten a dull lunch hour or commute.

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*