August 1, 2015

The OWL Turns 6!!!

I'm in complete shock that I've been blogging for 6 years!

I never knew when I started this blog - kind've on a whim  - that 6 years later I'd still be here.

I know that I've said several times that I'm stopping only to come back.  There is something about the blogging community and the sharing of books that keeps pulling me back.  

I have gotten to a point that I blog how I want when I want.  
I don't feel guilty or bad if I don't post for a week or two.  
I only get a tish jealous when another blog gets a great book to review.  
I don't feel the need to jump on every book hype, giveaway or meme.  
I blog my way :)

Here's a bit of walk down memory lane:

My first review was for Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
My first ARC was Hush Hush
My first giveaway
My first author signing - Maggie Stiefvater

What a long ride it has been!

And of course to celebrate - a giveaway.
Must live where The Book Depository delivers for free
Must be at least 13

Enter to win one book $20 or less from The Book Depository

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 30, 2015

Book Review: Choosing Courage by Peter Collier

Title: Choosing Courage
Author: Peter Collier

What turns an ordinary person into a hero? What happens in the blink of an eye on a battlefield (or in any dangerous situation) to bring out true courage? The men and women who have been recognized by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation know the answers to these questions deep in their hearts. We learn of Jack Lucas, a 13-year-old who kept his real age a secret so he could fight in World War II—where he deliberately fell on a grenade to save his buddies during the Iwo Jima invasion—and Clint Romesha, who almost single-handedly prevented a remote U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan from being taken over by the Taliban. Also included are civilians who have been honored by the Foundation for outstanding acts of bravery in crisis situations: for example, Jencie Fagan, a gym teacher who put herself in danger to disarm a troubled eighth grader before he could turn a gun on his classmates. Adding depth and context are illuminating sidebars throughout and essays on the combat experience and its aftermath: topics such as overcoming fear; a mother mourning her son; and “surviving hell” as a prisoner of war. Back matter includes a glossary and an index.

I was contacted to see if I wanted to review this book.  I'm not usually one to jump at reading nonfiction, but this one caught my attention.  

The book is divided into sections mostly by different wars - WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  But the last section is "Heroism in Civilian Life".  I liked that last part because it showed how you can be courageous in your life not just if you are a soldier.  

I learned a lot by reading this book.  The thing I learned that hit me the most was how much we didn't honor minorities very well during WWI and WWII.  Many of the stories were about minorities that showed amazing acts of courage, but weren't recognized for it because of their skin color or religion.  It wasn't until later that they received recognition.  It does make me wonder how much that happens now.

My favorite story was about a man named Desmond Doss.  He was drafted but was a conscientious objector.  Instead of carrying a weapon he became a medic.  He was bullied and ridiculed by the men in his unit even though he put himself into harms way just like them.  Slowly his unit saw how much he risked for them.  When he was hurt he lost the Bible he carried with him.  His unit went and searched the battle field for it so they could get it back to him.  That made me tear up! I liked this story because it showed courage in so many ways.  His courage to do what he believed in.  But also the courage of the men in his unit to admit they were wrong and change their beliefs.  Wonderful story.

This is a book I'll be sharing with the teachers in my school.  We talk about courage a lot, and this will be a great resource to use to share stories from.  I'm glad I was introduced to it. 

July 28, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbit

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

My teasers are from:

"Then, with  final ear-splitting crash, an enormous hole appeared and the huge bulk of a great white whale came to the surface." pg 116

"Poor young nose-picking Mabel Jones.  She had never asked to be a pirate." pg 252

Doesn't it sound like a fun book?!?!

July 27, 2015

Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Title: Brown Girl Dreaming
Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

I really enjoyed this book.  I had the ARC sitting on my shelf for awhile and knew that it had won awards and received a lot of praise, but I just hadn't read it yet.  So when it was on the list for the media specialist class I was taking I was happy because I knew now I would read it! 

This is a piece of nonfiction about Woodson's life.  It starts from the day she was born and the argument about what to name her.  From there we see her grow up first living in the North, then the South with her grandparents and then back to the North again.  

The language in this book is amazing.  It's told in verse, and what she captures in the few words of some of the poems is filled with imagery and detail.  I'm always amazed on how verse can capture a full scene and place me in it with such few words! There is a scene in the book where they are taking their bath and redoing their hair and hair ribbons.  I could see it all!  As a teacher this is the type of writing I show my students, so they see what is possible.  

What is also fantastic about this book is watching her grow up in a very turbulent and active time in our country.  I loved hearing about from first a young girl really almost unaware to the voice of someone older who sees what is happening and is struggling with it.  And what added was that not only is Woodson struggling with the larger picture of what was happening in the country - she is also struggling with who she is within her own family.  That is a theme that kids can relate to - how do I fit.  

In the end it was fascinating to see how Woodson grew from a young girl into someone who found her voice and how to use it.  Very well done.  

July 23, 2015

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Title:  Gregor the Overlander
Author: Suzanne Collins

When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it -- until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.

So yes this book has been our for awhile.  And yes I should've read it a long while ago.  And yes my daughter has told me for years I should read it.  And yes I'm glad I finally did!

I picked up this book, finally, a bit over a week ago and started reading.  My son is in soccer and swimming lessons, so I've had a lot of sitting time to read (yes I'm the bad mom that reads instead of watches intently every second). I couldn't believe how quickly I was moving through the story.  It was such a fast read!

Here's what I liked:
  • I loved Gregor.  He's sweet and brave and smart and he treats his little sister so well!
  • It made me care about a cockroach! I mean how great must the book and writing be if I actually care about a cockroach!
  • It's fast paced - no dragging things out
  • I loved the Underworld.  It was well created and described but I want to know more about it!
  • It has heart.  From Gregor's little sister Boots to the whole story about his father - it had heart and caring. 
  • It ended in a NON-cliffhanger! Yes there are more books in the series but I could stop here and not feel like I was left with a ton of unknowns.
Ok I think that about sums it up.  If you like something with action and nice well-rounded characters I suggest you pick it up.

July 21, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Gregor the Overlander

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

My Teaser is From:

"As Gregor broke free of the roaches and ran for his sister, a shadow passed over him.  He looked up and to his horror saw a golden bat diving straight down at Boots." page 25

"A delegation of roaches appeared and bowed low.  The humans got to their knees and bowed back, so Gregor did the same." page 149

This series has been out for a long time, but I hadn't read it yet.  
I'm really enjoying it!