October 3, 2015

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves was started by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews.

This is a fun meme were people share the books they got this week. 

For Review
My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt (sooooooooooooooooooo excited for this one!)
Husky by Justin Sayre
Took by Mary Downing Hahn (started this one and LOVING it)
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier
The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Here's another picture of The Marvels.  I won it!! And it came with a puzzle of the cover!

And was my birthday.  
I got two cute notebooks! I love notebooks :)
I also got some money, so I need to decide if that means more books or something else!

October 2, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: The Stratford Zoo: Midnight Review Presents Macbeth by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo

This should've gone up Thursday but I already had posts I had promised to post!

This month I'm participating in a celebration of graphic novels.
My students love graphic novels, and I always feel like I should be reading more, so I can recommend more.
This month long celebration will help me do just that!

The month is being hosted by:
Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn of A Year of Reading
Alyson Beecher of KidLit Frenzy
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan of Assessment in Perspective

Each Thursday I'll post a review of a graphic novel.

Today it's:

The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo... until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails, in The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth. 

I had to read this for a class I took this summer.  I wasn't sure what to think of it when I saw it was on the reading list, but I figured hey it's Shakespeare and I'm an English teacher so I'm sure it will be fun.  And it was! It was such a fun and silly retelling of Macbeth!  I mean the King keeps eating characters! Made me giggle.  If I was teaching Macbeth I would definitely use this to introduce the story.  Kids would find it funny, and then we could use it to talk about what the play is about and some of the themes they will see.

Since this celebration is looking at graphic novels I thought I'd comment on that aspect of the book. The graphics in this are fantastic - very bright and colorful with lots of details.  Now some people might not agree it's a graphic novel, and it's not the purest form of the genre, but I can't call it a picture book.  It's more like an introduction to the graphic novel format.  It would be a good starter book for someone who hasn't read a graphic novel before.  

The only hesitation I have - I'm not sure kids would pick it up to read on their own.  I think if it was book-talked and shared or read to them they would love it.  I'm just not sure it's one they'd run to on their own.  

Final thought - Fun book with great illustrations! 

October 1, 2015

Blog Tour: Book Review of The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven

So very excited to be a part of the blog tour for this book!!!
The Fablehaven series has been a favorite in my family and with my students for a long time!

Title: The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven
Author: Brandon Mull
Illustrated by: Brandon Dorman
Book acquired: From publisher in exchange for an honest review

This guidebook to the Fablehaven magical preserve is filled with everything a new Caretaker might need to know in order to survive. There are entries detailing important information about artifacts large and small, a complete bestiary of creatures (from fairies to trolls to satyrs), a guide to identifying demons, dragons, and wizards as well as valuable insights into the other magical preserves.

Immerse yourself into the secret knowledge that has been handed down through the generations by reading the updates and notes written in the margins by the former Caretakers of Fablehaven, including Grandpa Sorenson, Kendra, and Seth. Fully-illustrated, this unique encyclopedia has gathered the world of Fablehaven into one volume.

Scattered throughout the book are colorful fairies that also mark some of the characters, artifacts, and creatures that will be featured in the upcoming sequel series, Dragonwatch.

Ok this is a cool book.  As I said above, the Fablehaven series has been a popular one both at my house and with the students I taught.  The idea of a sanctuary for all the mythical creatures we know about is such a cool concept.  And then to see them all there and interacting and people taking care of them.  It was just a fun concept carried out wonderfully.  So when I was introduced to this book I knew I had to check it out.  I will be honest and tell you that I don't typically read these types of books - the "extra" books for a series.  My daughter loves them and has many for different series she has loved, but they've never truly been my thing.  But I loved all the creatures in the series, and I wanted to know more, so my curiosity was raised!  I wasn't disappointed.  It was so fun to read about the characteristics of some of the different creature and how to care for them.  I mean you get a bit of that from reading the series, but this gives you so much more.  Even some minor characters were explained so the landscape of the sanctuary became richer.

Part of me really wishes I had read this book first because I'm curious how it would've changed my reading of the story.  It would've been kinda cool to be learning everything, but also having this handbook to add to it.  

So in short - I enjoyed this.  It was fun to read.  And what is cool too is that you can skip around and read about this part and that part.  Kids would love that as well.

Take a look at this one or share with anyone you know who loves Fablehaven.  

Release Day Celebration Blitz for: This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup +GIVEAWAY

I'm very happy today to be a part of the release day celebration for this book.  
I think it looks fantastic! And I think it will speak to a group of young adults that need to see a story like this.

PS: I LOVE the cover so there's that too :)

Author: Jennifer Walkup

Release Date: October 1st, 2015
Publisher:  Luminis Books

Sometimes Hope is the Most Extraordinary Gift of All.

High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around. 

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future. 

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her. 

Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health--not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all. 


Award-winning author Jennifer Walkup is most often found writing, reading, and spending time with her husband and young sons. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also works as an editor and creative writing instructor, and is an advocate for Epilepsy awareness. This Ordinary Life is her second novel.

To hear about Jennifer's upcoming books, sign up for her newsletter here: 


1 Winner will get a hardcover of Jennifer’s first book SECOND VERSE + a swag pack

1 Winner will get a swag pack.

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September 29, 2015

It's My Birthday! And a Simple Giveaway

Happy Tuesday everyone!
It's a great day because it's my birthday!!

Now I will admit this one has been harder to swallow than my last few.  I am now 45.  Yes that is a 4 and a 5 put side-by-side.
Normally birthdays don't bother me for many reasons, but this one has.

A lot of it has to do with my writing and the question:
Am I too old at 45 to write YA????

I've been wrestling with it.
Thankfully in the last few days I've come to terms with it. 
I'm just going to write the stories that come to me and let the rest sort itself out!

And then I reminded myself of why I should celebrate each and every day I'm here.
13 years ago I battled and beat breast cancer.
7 years ago I had open heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.
Both of those could've make reaching 45 impossible for me, and I don't want to forget that!
So now I focus on:
 watching my kids grow up
laughing with my wonderful husband
enjoying coffee, wine, a good book and simple things

As for the writing at 45 question - I'm just going to be grateful that each day I can still put pencil to paper and write!

To celebrate I thought I'd put some books up for grabs.  Nothing too exciting.

3 Winners
Each gets to pick a book from those pictured below.
Must be at least 13
Must be a US resident

Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.

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September 28, 2015

Snap Shot Monday

This is the book I'm currently reading. It's a retelling of The Nutcracker!