November 30, 2009

New Book Mondays Nov 30

Every Monday I highlight books being published this week. I try, whenever possible, to focus on one young adult and one middle grade book. I also briefy share what "new" book I've started reading this week.

What I Wore to Save the World by Maryrose Wood

This one sounds like it's gonna be good.  I hadn't heard much about this series until I started blogging.  Glad I found them!

From Goodreads
Third in the fabulous series that started with Why I Let My Hair Grow Out

Senior year's coming up fast and Morgan still has no clue about college, or a career-the whole rest of-her-life thing is basically a blank. Maybe it's because she spent her junior year obsessing about Colin, the hot Irish guy she fell for last summer (that was right around the same time she discovered she's a half- goddess from the days of Irish lore... you had to be there). She even saved Colin from a nasty enchantment, but he doesn't know that. Colin doesn't believe in magic, not even a little.

But then a mysterious message reunites her with Colin, who turns out to be caught up in the biggest faery-made disaster ever. We're talking the end of reality-not just reality TV. To save the world, she's going to have to tell Colin the truth about her half-goddess mojo. But if he doesn't believe in magic, how will he ever believe in her?

My "new" read this week is Powerless by Matthew Cody

It's about a kid that moves to a town where he discovers that several of the kids have superpowers.  The problem - their powers are being taken away from them.  So far it has been really good.  Watch for a review. 

November 29, 2009

2010 Debut Author Challenge

Kristi over at The Story Siren is hosting this great challenge for 2010.  I usually don't do challanges, but I've already planned to read a bunch of 2010 debut authors, so I figured - why not join up!  If you want to know more about the challenge check out the 2010 Challenge post on The Story Siren.  I'm aiming for reading 12 books by 2010 debut authors, but I could add more.  Here is my list:

The Dark Days of Hamburger Haplin by Josh Berks
The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
The Line by Teri Hall
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
The Mark by Jen Nadol
Dirty Little Secrets by Cynthia Jaynes Omololu
The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland
Everlasting by Angie Frazier
Sea by Heidi R. Kling

Wish me luck!

In my Mail Box and Shopping Bag Nov 28

This is a weekly meme inspired by Kristi at The Story Siren and Alea at Pop Culture Junkie. In it we share what books arrived at our house via mail, bookstore or library. I got several books this week. Here the we go!

Here's my books this week:

Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Mamba Point by Kurtis Scaletta
My Life in Pink & Green by Lisa Greenwald

The Line by Teri Hall
I could not be more excited to have a copy of this book! Teri Hall herself offered me a copy after reading a commnent I made on another blog.  Thank you Teri!!

Fun stuff from Book Blather for Pay It Forward (watch for my Pay It Forward post!)
Fun Swag from Sea by Heidi R. Kling

And my owl of the week are these cute cards I bought at Borders.  Once again a big thanks to my sister for for finding them :)

November 28, 2009

Winner of Mudville!

The contest of Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta ended on Friday.  The winner is:


I have sent her an email.  She has 72 hours to get back to more.  Thanks everyone for playing! It was fun seeing your favorite teams.  If you haven't yet - remember to enter my 75 Followers Giveaway!

November 26, 2009

Books to Be Thankful For - According to 7th Graders

I asked my 7th graders to tell what book they were thankful for and why.  Here's what they had to say:

Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNash -  because it lead me to read more.
Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan - because it was never boring.  Everything they do was exciting
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan - because it is entertaining and has lots of action
Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - because I understand it.  Most other book I don't understand
Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini - because it got me reading more and made my summer
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass - because it got me reading again.  And it made me want to be a character in the book.  I could relate to what was happening.
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick - because it teaches you a lot about how lucky you are
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown - because it was the 1st book I remember reading by myself
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault - because my mom and dad read it to me
Scat by Carl Hiaasen - because it made me keep reading
The Ugly Series by Scott Westerfeld - because I didn't like reading until 5th grade and the teacher told me about them
The Cay by Theodore Tayler - because it makes you think about what is really important
Jack's Run by Roland Smith - because it's always moving, never boring.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney - becuase it was the first I finished

So - what book(s) are you thankful for??
Me you ask?

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt - because it's the first book in a long time that I've felt ALL my students should read.  You can see my review on it here.
Can You See What I See - because my nonreading 2nd grader will read them.
Dear Diary Series  - because they have taught my daughter a lot

November 25, 2009

Review: The Wednesday Wars

Title: The Wednesday Wars
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
Publisher: Clarion Books

From Goodreads
Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn't like Holling—he's sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

My Review

I loved this book. Completely and fully loved it. My children and I listened to it on our way to and from school. At one point it would have us laughing out loud, and the next minute it almost (ok did) make us cry. The main character Holling Hoodhood is such a likable character. He's so real and genuine - a kid you'd like to have next door. What I really love about Holling is the growth we saw in him throughout the course of the story. During the story he has many ups and downs (and they are crazy ups and downs!), but each teaches him a little more about who he is and how he fits into the world around him. And in the end, he really became the person he was meant to be.

Putting on my teacher's hat for a second here: It is the first book in a loooooooong time where I feel 125% that my students, ALL my students, need to read it. Not only will they relate to Holling, even though it takes place in the late 1960's, but they'll learn a ton in the process. It touches on such topics as the Viatnam War, Bobby Kennedy, The Beatles, Martin Luther King Jr. and some of the players for the Yankees. It also looks at bullying, the Jewish faith, learning that our parents aren't always who we think they are and our relationships with our siblings. And the best part - it covers Shakespeare! Yes I said Shakespeare. But here's the cool part - it's a 7th grader's take on Shakespeare not a teacher's (well that's in there too). To give you a taste, Holling thinks Romeo was an idiot and that Shakespeare's idea of a comedy is all wrong. Now his teacher helps him see Shakespeare more indepth, but what a great way to introduce him plays to the reader. I hope that I can teach this book in the future.

Bottom line: Read it. Just read it.

Best for ages: 12+ (although my kids are 8 and 10 and loved listening to it!)

This is an alternate cover. I like the original, but my students liked this one better.

Author Visit: Kurtis Scaletta

On Monday I had the privilege of welcoming Kurtis Scaletta author of Mudville into my my classroom.  The kids were excited.  The week before I had read the prologue of the book to them and told them his next book included a black mamba.  They were even more excited after that.  Before he came I had them write questions on an index card, so they were prepared ahead of time.  You can see a picture below of the stack they came up with!

What I think they liked the most was that he asked them for help with his writing.  He put the word VERISIMILITUDE on the Smartboard and explained to them what it means (do you know???).  It means making something seem real even if it's not real or even possible.  Like Harry Potter - it's not real and it's not possible, but it seems real.  What he needed from them was what it was like being a 7th grader right now in 2009.  He needed to know this from them so when he wrote about characters that were in the 7th grade he could create verisimilitude. 

After that he talked about the publishing process even showing them drafts of his story.  He passed around the draft with copy edits.  I loved that they got to see even published authors made grammar and typing mistakes! I think the sheer length of the story typed out was super impressive to them.  We also learned about his new book coming out in 2010 named Mamba Point.  The story is about a boy who moves to Africa and befriends a very poisonous snake. When they found out this boy keeps the black mamba in his laundry hampter, their mouths dropped open.  Throughout this all, he answered any questions they had.  I knew the kids were interested because they came up with lots of interesting things to ask.

I give a huge shout out to Kurtis Scaletta for being brave enough to face 90 7th graders (ok 30 at a time) on a two day week right before Thanksgiving break! And I'm so glad you gave my students the opputunity to see more of the writing and publishing process.  Thank you!

Remember I'm giving away a copy of Mudville.  The cut off was suppose to be today, but I've extended it to Friday the 27th at midnight.  Go here to enter!

                                                                      The Stack O' Questions


November 24, 2009

Review: Invisible Lines by Mary Amato

Title: Invisible Lines
Author: Mary Amato
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Book recieved from publisher for review

From Goodreads:
For Trevor Musgrove, life isn't always bright and cheerful. His family just moved to Hedley Gardens, a tough housing project its residents call "Deadly Gardens." He goes to school with rich kids who have everything, while he has to work to afford soccer cleats. It doesn't help that the best athlete in school, Xander Pierce, happens to have it out for him. Mistakenly enrolled in an advanced science class taught by an odd but engaging teacher, Trevor is thrown headfirst into the world of natural science. Through all this, he will learn that life can spring up in the darkest places-- maybe even in Deadly Gardens.

My Review
When I first started reading this book I almost had to stop.  Not because the writing was bad, but because the book starts out with a really sad event, and I didn't know if I wanted to read a book about such sad lives.  But I made myself keep reading.  I'm glad I did or I would've missed all the hope this story carries.  Trevor is a main character that you can root for because he doesn't give up.  He always has the hope and belief things will work out. There were times when I was like "Trevor, come on bud it's just not gonna happen", but he never took an answer he didn't like.  He worked as hard as he could to make it what he wanted it to be. Although his ability to have hope was strained at times, it was always there. Several roadblocks are thrown up in front of him, he plowed on. I had to admire that! He kept me reading because I wanted to see him succeed. You will too.

After seeing the science teacher I work with wearing a t-shirt with mushrooms and their scientific names, I passed the book on to him.  Trevor is placed in an advanced science class where the instructor has them searching for and learning about mushrooms. For this class he has to keep a field journal.  That teacher and journal help Trevor go beyond what might normally be expected of him.  After I told the science teacher I work with about this, he was really excited to read it.  I think he'll like it.

Final Thought:  A great book for middle schoolers about never believing people when they tell you your dreams aren't possible. 

Best for ages: 11-14 There are a few parts of the book that might be too serious for the younger kids.

November 23, 2009

New Book Monday Nov 23

Every Monday I highlight books being published this week. I try, whenever possible, to focus on one young adult and one middle grade book. I also briefy share what "new" book I've started reading this week.

My current read: I'm not reading it, but I'm listening to it while working out - Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.  I tried reading this book when it first came out and just couldn't get into it.  I thought maybe listening would be better.  So far so good.  I know plenty of kids that have read, and loved, this series.  What I really love are the new covers they have.  The old ones were boring.  See:

                The old one is on the left and the new one on the right.

I think with Thanksgiving not many books are coming out this week, but I did find a few to share. 

Title: The Fourth Apprentice (Warriors: Omen of the Star Series Book #1)
Author: Erin Hunter
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: November 24

These books - there are multiple different series within this premise - have been very popular within the middle grades.  What I like about them is that there are so many, so if one of my students likes a book from it they have plenty more to go to next.  That is always a postive!

From Goodreads:
       Four warrior Clans have shared the land around the lake as equals for many moons. But a prophecy foretells that three ThunderClan cats will hold the power of the stars in their paws. Jayfeather and Lionblaze know that they are two of the cats in the prophecy. Now the brothers must wait for a sign from StarClan to discover the identity of the third cat.

      Meanwhile, Dovekit and Ivykit—kin of the great leader Firestar—are poised to become ThunderClan apprentices. Soon one sister will have an ominous dream—and will begin to realize that she possesses mystical skills unmatched by any other cat.
     In the midst of a cruel season that threatens the lives of all four warrior Clans, bonds will be forged, promises made, and three young cats will start to unravel the secrets that bind them together.

Title: The Seven Rays
Author: Jessica Bendinger
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Released: November 23 BUT I think it's already out

This book looks interesting.  I haven't heard much about it, so I'll be on the lookout for reviews.

From Goodreads:
You are more than you think you are.

THAT IS THE ANONYMOUS MESSAGE that Beth Michaels receives right before she starts seeing things. Not just a slept-through my-alarm-clock, late-for-homeroom, haven't had-my-caffeine-fix kind of seeing things. It all starts with some dots, annoying pink dots that pop up on and over her mom and her best friend's face. But then things get out of control and Beth is seeing people's pasts, their fears, their secrets, their desires. The images are coming at Beth in hi-def streaming video and she can't stop it. Everyone thinks she's crazy and she's pretty sure she agrees with them. But crazy doesn't explain the gold envelopes that have started arriving, containing seeing keys and mysterious tarot cards. To Beth, it all seems too weird to be true. You are more than you think you are? But here's the thing: What if she is?

November 22, 2009

In My Mailbox or Shopping Bag Nov 22

This is a weekly meme inspired by Kristi at The Story Siren and Alea at Pop Culture Junkie. In it we share what books arrived at our house via mail, bookstore or library. I got several books this week. Here the we go!

Remember to click on the title to be taken to the Goodreads page about the book.


Fade by Lisa McMann
Intertwined by Gena Showalter

Going Bovine (CANNOT waitt to read this!) by Libba Bray
Flawed Dogs by Berkeley Breathed (this looks soooo cute)

Fun stuff

Pin from Hunger Games - bought at Borders
Bookmarks for a few books

And lastly my owls of the week.  Etsy is horrible for my owl need.  Found these cute bookplates there.  I only got ten, so I'll have to decide where they'll go.

November 20, 2009

Friday's For the Guys: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

Every Friday I highlight books and authors that are ones boys might really enjoy. I'm not saying girls wouldn't read these books, but they are clearly "guy" books. This Friday I'm highlighting:

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer

OK FAIR WARNING! I'M GONNA GUSH FOR A MINUTE! I completely love this series! Yes LOVE it.  When I read the first book I was like "Hey this is pretty good." then the second I was "whoa!" and the third: I was about ready to park outside the bookstore then and there so I could get the fourth as soon as possible. Plain and simple - this is a great series. (and I love it if you haven't guessed)

You know what I like? Vlad.  Vlad is real and like-able.  He's not perfect or cool or in control.  He's picked on and messes up.  He doesn't always think, but you know he's just trying to do the best he can.  When the series begins Vlad is an 8th grader and struggling with all the things 8th graders struggle with AND all the issues with being a vampire.  I know middle schoolers, and they have enough to deal with without also having to hide being a vampire.  You really feel for him.

As the series goes along you get to see Vlad grow and mature. He gains confidence in who he is and in his ability to cope with the extra difficulties in his life.  That doesn't mean he has it all figured out - he doesn't.  He still has plenty of self doubt that leaves him scared and uncertain much of the time.  But by the end of the 3rd book, you know he's on the right path and are cheering him on.  I cannot wait to see what more there is in store for him for the last two books.  I know Vlad will be ready and able to handle whatever is thrown his way.

Why boys will like it - a great male character that they can relate too.  He's not unrealistically popular or perfect.  He struggles with all things teenagers struggle with.  They'll also like the humor between Vlad and his best friend Henry.  Plus it's got a lot of action and suspense. 

To learn more about the series and the author Heather Brewer check out her website here

pssssst - if you missed it I LOVE THIS SERIES!!

November 19, 2009

A Zombie Here a Zombie There

Besides angels popping up in otherworldly books, zombies seem to be crawling out of graves all over our books, movies, tvs and even clothing.  I have been telling my 7th graders that zombies are becoming the new vampire.  I prove this point by showing them everything zombie I've been seeing.  If you doubt this, let me show you some of the zombie items out there.

When searching Amazon for zombies this is what comes up:

49,000+ Books
900+ Toys and Games
1200+ Clothes and Accessories
600+ Movies

Never Slow Dance With a Zombie by E. Van Lowe
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay
Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead by David P. Murphey

And my favorite:
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies by Michael P. Spradlin. This book takes 12 Christmas songs and rewrites them zombie style!

Best Toy:
Bag O' Zombies.  Remember the bag of soldiers you could buy? Well how about adding to it with a bag of zombies!

And of course you need the I Love Zombies coffee mug!

So are ya with me?  Are zombies taking over?  Where have you seen a zombie lurking around?

Cover Thoughts: Linger

Each week I ask my 7th graders to give me their thoughts about a book cover. Do they like it? Find it boring? Love it? HATE IT? And also why. They have strong opinions, and those opinions DO affect whether they find any interest in that book.

Well this cover sure created a buzz! But unfortunately it wasn't good buzz.  Sorry cover creators for Linger, but according to my 7th graders - you got it wrong. Here's what was said:

Needs something to pop like color
Same as the first so it's just ok
Kinda plain (plain was used a lot)
Too much like Shiver so it's getting really boring
Boring (3 times)
Plain and like the first one
Too green (a few times - they really didn't like the green)

So as you can see they weren't impressed by it.  This suprised me, but it shouldn't have because 7th graders are very unpredictable.  Now, they understood that it should look like the first book because it is part of a series, but for some reason the way they went with this one wasn't what they wanted.  They said "the blue was better" and "I liked how the leaves were hearts on the first one." From what I could get, a lot of it was the green.  There was just too much of it.

Now the GOOD NEWS - not liking the cover didn't affect whether they would buy the book or not. "It's a sequel to Shiver!!!" was all I heard, and it was usually followed by a squeal and jumping up and down.  One said it was the best news she had heard all day.  To those girls the cover didn't matter - the story did.  Now only if that were true all of the time!

November 18, 2009

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

Title: Need
By: Carrie Jones
Published: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

Otherworldly Creature: Pixies

From Goodreads:
     Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal.

     Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

I read this book last school year after I had read Twilight and was looking for something more.  I thought "pixies" hmmmmmm this could be cool.  It ended up being a really quick fun read.  I went into it expecting it to be a light and entertaining, nothing more, and it delivered that.  The action starts pretty quick and doesn't let up much.  If I remember correctly the whole book takes place in less than a week.  I also enjoyed the different take on pixies.  The ones in this book don't resemble Tinkerbell!  I only had a few complaints about the story.  Sometimes Zara did things that were pretty, well, dumb.  It made her seemed a bit impulsive and not as smart as she was.  Also, the ending seemed overly simple - like it couldn't be that easy.  I'm guessing that since there is a sequel the characters will learn it wasn't as easy as they thought either!

Bottom Line: Read it for fun because that what it is.  I liked it enough to want to read the sequel.

Best for ages: 13 (at least)+

Coming January 5th the sequel Captive.  Some blogs have been having contests for this book.  I would so love to win it!!!! Here's what Goodreads has to say about it:

     Zara and her friends knew they hadn't solved the pixie problem for good. Far from it. The king's needs grow deeper every day he's stuck in captivity, while his control over his people gets weaker. It's made him vulnerable. And now there's a new king in town.

     A turf war is imminent, since the new pixie king, Astley, is moving in quickly. Nick nearly killed him in the woods on day one, but Zara came to his rescue. Astley swears that he and Zara are destined to be together, that he's one of the good guys. Nick isn't buying it, though Zara isn't as sure -- despite herself, she wants to trust the new king. But it's a lot more than her relationship with Nick
that is at stake. It's her life -- and his.

See I knew it couldn't be that easy :)

What Ya Readin'? Nov 18

In What ya Readin' Wednesday I share what my students are reading. This allows me to focus on what's really going on in the reading life of 7th graders. Hint hint - any publisher or authors reading, this is what 7th graders are REALLY reading not what I, the teacher, WANT them to read :) Let's get started on this week's addition! We'll do this Otherworldly style!

Breathe by Cliff McNish (ghosts - I reviewed this book a bit ago. Check it out here.)
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (shouldn't you know)
Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda (mythical creatures of all sorts)
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (werewolves)
Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (zombies)
Everlost by Neil Shusterman (type of ghosts - people who have died)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy by Willian Boniface (what I'm reading aloud to my students.  It has superheros with super powers)

Out of that list I found two books with new covers - or at least new to me.  The first on is for Breathe. I love this new cover so much better.  Much more creepy.

<-------------Old on the left

New on the right------------>

And this one for The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I hadn't seen it before.  I'm not sure what I think of it.

November 17, 2009

A Book Contest Just in Time for the Holidays

Every year I want books for Christmas. Every year I get at least one. Really, in my opinion, why wouldn't you want a book as a gift? I'm a reading geek I know! Well Eleni over at LaFemme Readers is having a contest for just such a gift. She's really in the holiday mood and has decided to share it with all of her followers. For the contest she will pick two winners, and they will get a book of their own choice! What a happy holiday gift :)

You want to enter you say? Well go to this post and read all the details for yourself. You have until Dec 20th to enter.  Good luck Maybe the best person win :)

Review: Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman

Title: Ghost in the Machine

By: Patrick Carman
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Otherworld Creature: Ghosts

From Goodreads:
Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek...and Ryan and Sarah are trying to find out why. Ryan writes down everything in his journal, and Sarah records everything on her videocam. The two move deeper into the mystery they've uncovered, determined to discover the secrets buried in Skeleton Creek, in the conclusion to Patrick Carman's thrilling series.

In this groundbreaking format, the story is broken into two parts -- Ryan's text in the book, and Sarah's videos on a special website, with links and passwords given throughout the book.

As the description says, you read and watch videos.  I downloaded the videos onto my Ipod Touch from iTunes (they are under podcasts), so when it came time to watch a video I was set to go.  I had read the first book, Skeleton Creek, and the ending of that book demanded that I read this one too! It didn't disappoint. If anything I enjoyed this one even more than the first. I found the book and videos much more creepy than before.  There were many times my heart was pounding as I watched Sara go into places I wanted to yell at her to get out of!  One time I literally jumped! Ryan's journal didn't lack in creepiness either.  He experiences several odd events that, if they happened to me, I would've found it hard to go back into my bedroom.  The story wraps up nicely (if not a little predictably) but for a good fun read - it is perfect.

Bottom Line: a great fun book for middle schools with just a dash of creepiness.

Best for ages: 12-14 (maybe 10 if they don't scare easily)

Last month I featured Patrick Carman.  To see that post go here.

November 16, 2009

New Book Monday Otherworldly Style

Every Monday I highlight books being published this week. I try, whenever possible, to focus on one young adult and one middle grade book. I also briefy share what "new" book I've started reading this week. This week only one book really fits my otherworldly theme this week.

Shadowland (The Immortals Book 3)
By Alyson Noel
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: November 17

I haven't read this series yet, but I just won the first book, Evermore, from a give-away on Goodreads.  It sounds pretty interesting. 

Otherworldly Creature: In the first book the main character develops otherworldly characteristics after her family dies. 

From Goodreads:
At the start of this breathtaking novel, Damen and Ever travel to Summerland in search of an antidote to reverse a powerful poison. But instead of the cure they seek, they find something far more sinister: the truth about their existence and the fate lying in wait of an immortal’s soul.

Now, with Damen fighting to save them from the Shadowland, Ever turns to magick, hoping to break Damen’s curse. Along the way Ever encounters the mysterious Jude, finding herself drawn to him in a way that will test her love for Damen like never before . . .

This week I'll be starting the book Spellbinder by Helen Stringer.  It's about a young girl that can see ghosts and then all of a sudden they all disappear.  She knows something isn't right, so sets out to find out what happened.  Click here to be taken to the Goodread page on it.

Review: The Illustrated Guide to Mythical Creature Illustrations by David West, Text by Anita Ganeri

From Goodreads: 

With stunning CGI artwork—the kind used by Hollywood’s top special-effects experts—noted illustrator David West creates a visually stunning universe, the likes of which you’ve never seen—a universe in which a Cockatrice’s glance can turn a person to stone and the trumpet of the Manticore lures unsuspecting travelers to their fateful doom!

I wish you could see this inside of this book.  The illustrations are amazing.  Full of detail and color that makes some of these creatures almost leap off the page.  With all the creatures appearing in YA and MG lit these days, this book allows the reader to learn more about them.  It's divided into 9 chapters covering such categories as shape-shifters, flying creatures and half human half beasts along with many more.  Each creature is beautifully drawn with a well written description along side.  You can learn such things as where this creature came from, the legend behind it, whether it is dangerous and where it might be found. 

This isn't a book you'd sit down and read cover to cover.  Instead you flip through it again and again finding new creatures each time.  My 8 year old son loves this book spending a lot of time looking at each page, often excitedly showing them to me.  My students at school were taken in my the illustrations as well.  They told me it was a really cool book and said it was fun to read especially with all the books out right now.  I couldn't agree with them more.

Bottom Line:  Beautifully drawn book that will delight all who love "otherworldly" creatures. 

Best for ages: 8+

Book provided by publisher

November 15, 2009

"Otherworldlies" Week in Honor of the New Moon movie

This week The O.W.L. will be focusing on all things otherworldly in honor of the New Moon movie being released on Friday - well really midnight on Thursday for those die hard fans.  Below is a schedule of events for the week.

Monday: Review of The Illustrated Guide to Mythical Creatures and new otherworldly books debuting this week.
Tuesday: Ghosts and zombies. Review of Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman. And a look at all things zombies.
Wednesday: Pixies with a review of Need by Carrie Jones and a preview of the sequel Captive
Thursday: Angels with Hush, Hush and Fallen
Friday: Zombies - Vampires for the boys with a look at the Vladimer Tod series by Heather Brewer

Hope you visit often and share your thoughts on all things otherworldly!

In My Mail Box or Shopping Bag Nov 15

This is a weekly meme inspired by Kristi at The Story Siren. In it we share what books arrived at our house via mail, bookstore or library. I bought several books this week. Here they are. 

Remember to click on the title to go to the Goodreads page on it.

Barnes and Noble was having a great sale on Sarah Dessen books, since I realized how lacking I was in good teenage realistic books I grabbed up a few.  I got:

I also got from Barnes and Noble:

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

And from The Book Deposity I got:

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurly
I have to tell you a story about this book.  For every book I put in my classroom library I put my name on the edge of the book, and on the inside cover I put the book's lexile and number of points it is for these tests they take.  I couldn't do it on this book.  I love the look and feel of this book, and I just couldn't write in it! I got the "you're weird" look from the kids but I didn't care :)  I'll figure out some other way to mark it without ruining it.  Silly I know!

And my owl this week is a cute little book-like note pad with owl on the cover and when you open it.  It looks a lot bigger in the picture than it really is.  Again I have my sister to thank for this one :)

November 14, 2009

7th Grade Saturday E-Readers

Since 7th graders are surrounded by technology through cell phones, ipods, computers and all things internet I thought I'd get their take on e-readers and whether they think they would like them.  Here are the results.

For an E-Reader:  Most students felt they'd like them.  This doesn't suprise me since much of their other communication is done through some form of technology.  Some of the reasons they gave is that they would be lighter, they are touch screen, they are cool, easier to read and they are fun.  I wonder if they'd feel that way if all of their textbooks were on one e-reader?  There is some talk about usuing e-readers for textbooks.  That way students wouldn't have to lug around big books.  I think many would love that.  Personally though as a teacher I'd worry about the wear and tear e-readers would get from daily use by a middle schooler.  Now for college - that would be awesome!

OH and I forgot! - They thought e-readers would be more green!  Can totally tell what they've been hearing in the media.

Against an E-Reader:  pretty simple arguement here.  They felt it would be hard to read a book on a screen, that it would make their eyes hurt or give them headaches.  That was pretty much the whole of their negatives.  There was a big discussion about them NOT being back lit so they would not be bright like a computer. They thought this would meant e-readers wouldn't hurt their eyes as much as reading on a computer screen. 

I'm still up in the air about this one.  I LOVE the feel of books, and I'm not sure I can give that up for an e-reader.  I was thinking about asking for the Nook for Christmas, but now I'm leaning more towards a netbook so I could work on my book when out and about with my kids.  Hmmmmmmmm guesss we'll have to keep thinking about this one. 

November 13, 2009

Friday's For the the Guys - Midnighters Series

Every Friday I highlight books and authors that are ones boys might really enjoy. I'm not saying girls wouldn't read these books, but they are clearly "guy" books. This Friday I'm highlighting:

The Midnighter Series by Scott Westerfeld

I read this series last spring and through the summer.  It was AWESOME.  I really only knew Scott Westerfeld from the Uglies series.  I loved that series.  Now I had had the first book The Secret Hour sitting in my classroom library for awhile, but never really paid much attention to it.  It was like all of a sudden I realized it was by Scott Westerfeld, so I should read it.  It was completely different from the Uglies series, but in fantastic ways.  The premise of the series is that every night at midnight the world freezes for one hour.  5 teenagers don't tho - they get an extra hour each day.  But during this hour creatures called darklings are also allowed to roam.  These teenagers end up battling the darklings. 

What's great is that it has much of what boys want in reading - yes action but also a great well designed plot that keeps growing and changing, wonderful characters (both stronge males and females),  a tish of romance that's not the whole story and a story that keeps you guessing the whole while.

I recently read a guest post at Fantastic Book Review where Krissi Dallas talked about interviewing boys about what they like in books, so I'm trying to remember that when picking books for this post.  If you like to read that post check it out here.

November 12, 2009

Cover Thoughts (Nov 12)

Each week I ask my 7th graders to give me their thoughts about a book cover. Do they like it? Find it boring? Love it? HATE IT? And also why. They have strong opinions, and those opinions DO affect whether they find any interest in that book.

This week's Cover is:

Several kids said it definately caught their attention
They thought it looked scary

The colors all blend together - nothing stands out (many said this)
Several couldn't tell what it was a picture of
Kinda boring

Over-All Feel
They seemed to like it and were interested in finding out what the book was about. If they saw it as scary looking they were definately interested in looking at it closer.  The funny thing - Neil Gaiman's name is really big, but I think only 2-3 students had heard of him before until I told them he wrote Coraline! So putting his name so large on the cover was wasted on them.

Ok this is kinda funny.  I read this book this summer, so I looked at the cover a lot.  It wasn't until I put this in front of my students that I saw it.  There is a profile of a face within the cover. I assume it's suppose to be the main character.  Do you see it? Look closely.  The right edge of the stone creates the profile within the mist.  Once we all saw that the cover got waaaaay more interesting!