Category Archives: Just Cool

Shelf Elf’s Swap-er-ama: Day 1 – Once Was Lost

I realized two things this morning:

1) My book piles are getting seriously, dangerously out of control.
2) I still want more books.

So, I have hatched a brilliant plan to address both of these issues:

Everyday this week, I will offer up a book that I have read and enjoyed to swap with one lucky reader. I’m talking good books here folks.

I will link to my review, just to prove that it is, indeed, a book worth swapping for.

Then you, dear elf-y readers, will leave a comment, offering me a book in exchange.

You will receive extra special consideration if:

a) you link to a review you’ve written of the book you’re offering to trade
b) you can tempt me with one of the books on my Wish List of Happiness, although I am entirely happy to receive other fab suggestions for a trade!

The Wish List of Happiness
Newsgirl –  Liza Ketchum
Princess of the Midnight Ball –  Jessica Day George
Hold Still –  Nina LaCour
The Indigo Notebook – Laura Resau
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder – Julie Halpern
The Season – Sarah Maclean
Ash – Malinda Lo
Angus, thongs, and full-frontal snogging – Louise Rennison (been stuck on my TBR list for years!)
Something you think I just have to read

At the end of the week, I’ll get in touch with the winners, and we’ll arrange the swaps. I will also send every trader a tiny surprise something along with the books, just to say thanks for joining in on the Swap-er-ama.

So… let’s get going. The first title I offer for the Swap-er-ama is…

Sara Zarr’s Once Was Lost is one the best YA books of the year. Read my review here, and my interview with Sara here.

Then, drop off a comment with your name, your suggested swap title and your review link (if possible).

(Note #1: Open only to residents of the US and Canada, since the Elf’s penny supply for shipping is limited.
Note #2: Ms. Elf lives in Canada, so that’s where you’ll be mailing your book).

Winter Blog Blast Tour Final Day

Phew! Here we are after a week packed with absolutely fantastic author and illustrator interviews for WBBT 2009. A giant thank you to Nova Ren Suma, Beth Kephart and Laini Taylor for their stops here at Shelf Elf. You spoiled us by spilling lots of secrets and stories.

For a full round-up of who said what when and where, visit Colleen’s day-by-day listing here, at Chasing Ray.

Now don’t fret, you’ve still got six more outstanding interviews to enjoy today. Here’s the schedule:

Lisa Schroeder at Writing & Ruminating
Alan DeNiro at Shaken & Stirred
Joan Holub at Bildungsroman
Pam Bachorz at Mother Reader
Sheba Karim at Finding Wonderland
R.L. LaFevers at Hip Writer Mama

It’s been fun gang!

Winter Blog Blast Tour 2009



So it’s finally here, the week I’ve been anticipating for… well… weeks! The annual Winter Blog Blast Tour begins today. What is the WBBT you ask? Only a week packed with some of the best interviews you’ll read in the kidlitosphere, with a whole lot of outstanding authors at many of my favourite blogs. Each day this week I’ll be posting the schedule with links to all of the interviews. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I’ll be hosting Nova Ren Suma, Beth Kephart and Laini Taylor. Wow – that’s some trio! Here’s what’s on today for the first day of the tour:

Jim Ottaviani at Chasing Ray
Courtney Sheinmel at Bildungsroman
Derek Landy at Finding Wonderland
Mary E. Pearson at Miss Erin
Megan Whalen Turner at Hip Writer Mama
Frances Hardinge at Fuse Number 8

The Encyclopedia of Immaturity – Review & Giveaway


*Thanks for your stories of immaturity. The two winners of this giveaway have been contacted via email.*

Alright, I admit it. I was one of those adults who almost, almost, bought a copy of Klutz’s Encyclopedia of Immaturity, Volume 1. Actually, I almost bought it for my hubby for Christmas and then I had the good sense to realize that I’d probably regret it about, oh, 5 seconds after giving it to him. Still, now it would seem that the book gods have decided that I was destined to have The Encyclopedia of Immaturity, Volume 2. And what do you know? As soon as I unwrapped the courier box and pulled it out, my fella practically knocked me over to start checking it out it.

I’m happy to be able to give away both volume 1 and volume 2 to two lucky commenters. All you need to do is drop off a comment on this post, telling me the most immature thing you’ve wanted to do (or have done) recently. I’ll choose two winners by November 20th. Be sure to include your contact email info.

Now, a bit more about the book.

The cover: hilarious. I am loving the twist on two of the most unfun folks in 20th century American art. So perfect. The first volume was a doodled-upon version of the Mona Lisa, remember?


As the introduction notes, “growing up is a very big decision and not one that you should rush into without at least pausing for a moment to consider the implications.” Ah yes, the implications (writing report cards, washing the kitchen floor, ironing shirts, paying for someone to clean out your eaves… the list could be endless). This book is meant to counteract the “dark forces of maturity,” and I think most folks (ages 9-99) need that in order to stay sane. You will learn a whole bunch of strange and silly skills such as: “How to Make a Fauxhawk,” “How to Talk Like a Pirate,” “How to Catch Popcorn on Your Tongue” and “How to Play the Spoons.” (Note: not all are in good taste. Most are just plain fun or funny or a little bit gross. But, I’m thinking we could have done without “How to amputate your leg.” Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, but I’m not finding that one funny). The instructions for each of the crazy skills are fairly good, sometimes more precise than others, but these sorts of things are all about practice, right? I think kids will agree. In my opinion, the design of the pages could have a tad more pizazz overall (there’s a whole lot of white space on many of the pages). The photos of the kids make for the most engaging visuals.

Definitely good fun for middle schoolers and up, I’d say. Many of the tricks / jokes seem most likely to appeal to the ten and up crowd. I can think of a few boys who would get a real kick out of this – and drive their siblings and parents crazy in the process.

Here are two videos showing tricks from volume one and volume two:

Drop off your story of immature behaviour – real or only imagined – for your shot at getting both of these Klutz books.

Now I wanna read it: other folks’ reviews


I am waiting for my brain power to be restored, if this endless, endless cold/virus/infection thing ever passes. Meanwhile, I have been reading lots of lovely reviews. You should read them too:

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancy, reviewed by Reading Rants. The lines from the review that got me:

Friends, I can barely contain my morbid delight at having discovered this delightfully gruesome book! Yancy’s bloody tale, written in a delicious Victorian gothic style, is just gory and disturbing as the early Stephen King I devoured as a teen while still being a cracking good yarn between explicit scenes of dismemberment and disembowelment that leave nothing (and I mean NOTHING) to the imagination.

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing the Piano by Peggy Gifford, reviewed by Book Nut. The lines from the review that got me:

I love Moxy. I’m not ashamed of this because Moxy is awesome. Very few books make me laugh, chortle, snort, guffaw, and giggle. Moxy makes me do all of those. Perhaps that’s because my sense of humor is not very sophisticated — I mean why does this chapter crack me up every time: “Chapter 29: In Which We Learn What Was Inside The Envelope. Inside THE ENVELOPE was the note.” That’s it. Entire chapter. Cracks me up every time.

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner, reviewed by The Reading Zone. The lines from the review that got me:

I think girls especially will connect with Gianna.  She isn’t perfect but she is real.  Her imperfections reminded me of a lot of the students I teach every year.  She wants to do well in school but is easily distracted.  However, she is so smart- her interpretation of Robert Frost’s Birches is brilliant and spot-on.  But she doesn’t hand it in, because she thinks it’s not what the teacher wants to hear.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, reviewed at Educating Alice, by one of Monica’s 4th grade readers. The lines from the review that got me:

In addition, the book cover is beautiful and makes you feel like Calpurnia. At first when you look at it, it just looks like branches and trees. But if you look and observe it like Calpurnia, you can find many things; books, microscopes, jars, animals, and other kinds of creatures. It will feel like you are at the river with Calpurnia and her grandfather. You may feel like being Calpurnia in the story.

Sigh. Maybe when I’m feeling better and when Christmas comes, I’ll be able to read all of these.

10 000


Guess what? This month was my biggest month yet for hits to Shelf Elf. The only reason I mention it is that it feels kind of awesome that from a little wee baby blog with only 68 visitors in month number one, I hit 10 000 visits this month, just over two years later.

The Elf thanks those who visit often.

(Groovy numbers photo from stock.xchng)

Kirkus Reviews Book Video Awards

This is fun. The Kirkus Reviews Book Video Awards challenges young filmmakers to produce book trailers for three upcoming YA titles by Delacorte: Fallen by Lauren Kate, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn.

fallenmaze runnervery

(Great covers, no? Fallen is the perfect Halloween image I think. Love it). You can see the videos at Barnes and Noble, here. Then you can vote for your fav. The winner will be announced on November 10th.

Have you read any of these titles? The Maze Runner is on my TBR pile.

World Spinning

You know the kind of day when it’s 8:30pm and you’re just now realizing that you really haven’t done one single thing just for yourself, or taken even a second to contemplate a remotely whimsical thought?

That’s today.

You get me. I know you do.

(well… harumph).

I was just listening to a mix and I heard this song which I love but had forgotten about:

Even better with blue plasticine monster.

Now I am going to close down my computer and eat mini Oh Henry bars in the bathtub while reading this:


Take that world!

Owly Goodness

Hey, did you know one of my favourite, often-unmentioned Harry Potter characters is Pigwidgeon? I was just re-listening to HP 4 last weekend, and the scene when Pig shows up with a letter for Harry at the Dursleys made me remember him. J.K. says he’s a Scops owl. That means he is this cute:


May I ask why we did not see more of Pig in the films? Come on! When something is that high up on the adorable scale, a filmmaker ought to just make the most of it, I’d say.

Actually, come to think of it, I just love owls, period. And anything owly. Like these books:

Little Hoot, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, by Jill Tomlinson

Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen

The Owl and the Pussycat, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

And this bag:


Made by Lynda Lye (super talented artist gal – check out her blog) and it’s available at littleoddforest on etsy. Only don’t buy it, because I want it. Actually, there are zillions of owly things on etsy. That is scary.

(Adorable owl photo by Brian Scott)