October 29, 2010

Friday's for the Guys - Dying to Meet You

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 week I'm highlighting:

Dying to Meet You
by Kate Klise and Sarah M. Klise

This sounds like a super fun book! I love that it's not written completely in prose form.  Sometimes boys (yes and girls) need a book that has changes in the text so that it doesn't become to boring.  A book that uses things like tombstones to tell the story will have a better chance at holding a reader's interest. 
I also like that it will be part of a series, so a reader can keep going if they enjoyed it.
 This book was in our book orders, and I'll be making sure to highlight it when I hand them out!

From Goodreads
Ignatius B. Grumply moves into the Victorian mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road hoping to find some peace and quiet so he can crack a wicked case of writer's block. But 43 Old Cemetery Road is already occupied by eleven-year-old Seymour, his cat Shadow, and an irritable ghost named Olive. It's hard to say who is more outraged. But a grumpy old ghost just might inspire this grumpy old man--and the abandoned kid? Well, let's just say his last name's Hope.
Sisters Kate and M. Sarah Klise, the creators of the award-winning Regarding the . . . series, offer up this debut volume in a clever new series told in letters, drawings, newspaper articles, a work-in-progress manuscript, and even an occasional tombstone engraving.

October 28, 2010

Kidlit Con Wrap-Up.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Kidlit Con! I was very excited since it would be my first convention for blogging.  If you aren't sure what Kidlit Con is check out THIS POST t to get the basics. 
(NOTE: Blogger would't let me upload pics, so I'll do another post Saturday for the pics!)

Let me give you kind of a run down of what I heard and learned. 

Friday Night was a reception for all the attendees.  We got to mill about and meet some people.  I'm pretty shy so I didn't meet many people.  I did however bump into Steven Brezenoff author of The Absolute Value of -1. And when I bumped him I caused him to spill some of his drink! Thankfully just a little and just onto his hand.  Way to start the conference uh? After the reception we go to listen to panel from the Merry Sisters of Fate. This included Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver), Tessa Yovanoff (The Replacement) and Tessa Gratton (Blood Magic).  They are critique partners, and they shared what that was like.  It was really fun to hear how they work together and help each other grow as a writer.  One thing they decided to do was write a short story every week or a year! They said it really helped them grow as writers! Not sure if I could do that. They were great to listen to, and I'd love to find some critique partners like them!

Afterwards they signed books.  I not only got a book signed for myself by Brenna Yovanoff but one for the student who wrote the guest review on it. 

Saturday Morning
The morning started with various pastries and thankfully lots of coffee! Maggie Stiefvater was the keynote speaker for the morning and she talked about what she has learned about blogging.  She was as funny as ever to listen to, and I took away a few key points.  The main thing that stuck with me was was that blogging should be a conversation and that means replying to people who post on your blog.  I will trying to do more of that! The other thing was that we can open up our lives to our followers but remember where to draw the line.  I've always done this when it comes to my children, but I've not taken more steps to make sure I'm being "safe" on my blog.  It's something to step back and think about. 

Session One
The first session I went to was on blogging the backlist. This was interesting and gave me things to think about.  Sometimes I do feel like I'm reviewing books that everyone else is reviewing as well.  Taking at look at "older" books that I've loved would add to my blog, share my excitement and maybe let you learn a bit more about me.  There are a few books I've loved forever that I will be featuring.  This session really gave me food for thought and a new way to step up my blogging.  I also learned about the Betsy-Tacy books and actually won one :)

Session Two
This session focused mainly on blog tours. It was interesting to hear about blog tours from and author's perspective.  I've always wondered how it was for them.  First they talked about good interview questions and ones that aren't as good.  Good ones are basically ones that show you taken the time to get to know a bit about the author and/or book before you send the questions. Questions that really allow them to share about their book are good too. I'll be keeping this in mind when I write interview questions. 

The super cool part of this panel was when Swati Avasthi and  Jacqueline Houtman presented.  Avasthi(Split) talked about making your tour unique.  Her blog tour for Split tied with a fundraiser for an organization that works with domestic violence.  She donated $1 for every comment she got.  It was very cool! Houtman (The Reinvention of Edison Thomas) talked about reaching out to blogs that have nothing to do with reviewing as a way to reach other readers.  Her book involves a ton of science, so she visited science blogs.  I got her book known in other places.  She also shared the super cute cupcake cake she had at her release party.  It was the periodic table made out of cupcakes!

Publishing Panel
After lunch there was a panel of publishers talking about working with publishers as a blogger.  It was interesting to hear their side, but since I don't worry too much about getting review copies I wasn't super focused.  The main thing I took away from it is to be professional and if you can get your contact information right away in your bio, so they don't have to dig for it. 

Session 3
This was my favorite because it was about blogging middle grade books and how it differs from blogging YA books.  The presenters were from the AWESOME middle grade blog From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. They talked a lot about how their blog came to be and how blogging for MG differs from YA blogging.  The biggest thing I took away from it is that when you blog for MG you are really blogging for their "gatekeepers" - teachers, parents, media specialists.  When you blog for YA you blog for the actually reader.  That was something I had not thought about before.  I'm thinking about how I can format my blog to make sure that's what I'm doing.

Session 4
Author Visits in the Multimedia Age was the focus here.  It was a lot about how author visits have changed with all the technology especially through the use of Skype.  I've never used Skype, but it did give me some ideas about when I could use it.

After that we needed go home.  Between all the sessions, sharing, talking and author stalking my brain as full! I'm sooo glad I attended! I met great people and learned ton! Next year Kidlit Con will be in Seattle and in 2012 in New York! I'll have to see if I can go!

October 27, 2010


I've got some winners to announce! First for my birthday giveaway
 I loved seeing all the books you thought everyone should read! I was happy that I had read many of them already, and I added some great ones to my list!

Remember this is what the winners win:

First prize winner will win $15 gift card to either Barnes and Noble, Amazon or Borders plus two books from the list.
Second prize will win 2 books from the list.
Third Prize will win 1 book from the list.

Go to THIS POST to see the list!

First Place: Ree at Literary Obsession
Second Place: Supremevision at Vision Supreme
Third Place: Katieb at Mundie Moms

I've also got the winner for The Tilting House:

Karen (email starts with son..)

I'll be emailing everyone today but if you won feel free to email me at
themgowl at gmail.com

October 26, 2010

Tween Tuesday - Leo and the Lesser Lion

Tween Tuesday was started at GreenBeanTeenQueen. In it we share books best for the tween set - ages 9-12. 

This week I'm sharing:

Leo and the Lesser Lion
by Sandra Forrester

This book looks pretty serious, but it also looks like one that could fill your heart.  Hope and sadness all together.  It's not one I think all tweens would be interested it, but it's on that some will really like.

From Goodreads
A heartwarming family story set during the Depression that reads like a classic.

Everyone's been down on their luck since the Depression hit. But as long as Mary Bayliss Pettigrew has her beloved older brother, Leo, to pull pranks with, even the hardest times can be fun. Then one day, there’s a terrible accident, and when Bayliss wakes up afterward, she must face the heartbreaking prospect of life without Leo.

And that’s when her parents break the news: they’re going to be fostering two homeless little girls, and Bayliss can’t bear the thought of anyone taking Leo’s place. But opening her heart to these weary travelers might just be the key to rebuilding her grieving family.

October 25, 2010

Cover of the Week

I was just at KidLit Con (watch for post about it on Wednesday!) and met Janet Fox the author of Faithful.  She was awesome! While talking I said I loved the cover of Faithful, and she showed me the cover for her new book Forgiven.  I couldn't take my eyes off it it's so pretty.  It had to become my cover of the week!

Here it is:

Isn't it gorgeous?! I just love it. 

Here's the link to Janet Fox's post about the cover and about Forgiven.

October 22, 2010


Friday's for the Guys: Book Review Thirteen Days to Midnight

Title: Thirteen Day to Midnight
Author: Patick Carman
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads
When Jacob’s foster father whispers, “You are indestructible” seconds before dying in a car crash that should’ve killed them both, Jacob never imagines he could possess a real superpower. To test it Jacob and his friends start indulging comic book-like fantasies. Later, they commit to use this amazing power of indestructibility to do good in the world and save others from death. But how do they decide who to save? And what happens when they blur the lines of life and death, right and wrong, and good and evil? Thirteen Days to Midnight is a nail-biting tale of dark intrigue, powerful romance, friendship and adventure.
My Review
This is a book that will definitely appeal to boys.  What boy wouldn't love the idea of being indestructible?? And what teenager wouldn't test fate if they were put in this situation? When I share this book with my students they all love the idea! The boys pretty much cheer! What I like about the story though, is that it doesn't just stick to that part of the story.  Carman could've easily written a story about teenagers running with this power and having no consequences, but he didn't stop there.  Instead he explored the idea of what happens when you cheat death in this way.  That exploration is what held my interest.  If it wasn't part of the book, I wouldn't have read much beyond the first few "deaths".  There wouldn't have been much point to keep reading.  Instead Jacob begins to question what they are doing, and Carman makes the reader question as well.

My concern, though, is whether the target audience will want to explore that aspect or if they'll just want more examples of how they cheat death.  I'm also concerned that they may miss some of the more subtle aspects of the book such as Jacob's relationship with his foster father - the one that passed this power to him.  I also wonder if they'll fully understand the consequences of what they are doing and why it's wrong.  I know I had to read carefully!  I worry it may be missed by some readers who went into it for the initial concept.  I hope they'll get it all because I think it's a great idea for kids to question and think about.  I just don't know if they will. I also plan on making sure that kids that read his book understand it is more a young adult book especially with how the whole situation has to end.  I found that part a little hard to read!

On quick thought on the character of Oh.  I did find her kind of annoying.  At first she was fine but she became more and more pushy as the story went along, and that made me like her less and less.  I had hoped the ending would redeem her some for me - it did but only to a point.

Final thought: Carries beyond the simple concept into a larger debate
Best stick-with-you image: Oh at end in the basement
Best for readers who: Can stick with a book that isn't 100% what they thought it would be
Best for readers ages: 12+

October 21, 2010

October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Pegasus

This is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I'm excited about OR already published book's I've seen that I'm really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren't sharing so that more books are shared.

This week I'm waiting on:

Pegasus by Robin Mckinley
Release Date: November 2, 2010

I'm not usually one for books with lots of mythology involved (Percy Jackson series aside), but something about this one has caught my attention and made me interested.  I think it's the idea of such a strong friendship that everything will be risked for it.  I'll be checking it out when it comes out in November.

From Goodreads
A gorgeously-written fantasy about the friendship between a princess and her pegasus.
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.
But it’s different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close—so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo—and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

October 19, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Book Review The Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Tween Tuesday was started at GreenBeanTeenQueen.  This week I have a review for you.

Title: The Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Publisher: Scholastic

From Goodreads
In the first book in the GUARDIANS... series, the reader is introduced to Soren, a barn owl and the centerpiece of the series. When Soren is pushed from his family's nest by his older brother, he is rescued from certain death on the forest floor by agents from a mysterious school for orphaned owls, St. Aggie's. When Soren arrives at St. Aggie's, he suspects there is more to the school than meets the eye. He and his new friend, the clever and scrappy Gylfie, find out that St. Aggie's is actually a training camp where the school's leader can groom young owls to help achieve her goal.
My Review
This was a very cute, fun book that should hook fans of animal and action books.  After seeing the preview for the movie, I decided it was time for me to read at least the first book.  Besides, it's a book about owls! I wouldn't say I was overly excited about the story, but it was cute and fun.  I really really liked Soren because he was such a brave owl that, although scared, fought to do the right thing.  How could you not like a story with such a likable main character! I also loved what a true friend Soren is.  He gave his word to help  Gylfie, and he never once went back on it.  I don't know if I've seen such a strong example of friendship in a book I've read in a long time.  It was great to see!

Now the story is not without it's weaknesses.  I found the whole idea of meaning moon-winked a little goofy (and it even seemed goofy in the movie), but it worked within the idea of the plot.  I also found their nurse-maid snake a tish creepy, but I did love the humor that came out of the whole not eating snakes bit.  It made me giggle! St. Aggie's seemed very scary at first, but the longer Soren was there, the less it seemed so.  As Soren and Gylfie got away with more things it started to seem a bit unrealistic if the place was as tough as it was portrayed at the start.  How could they do all that if it was so strict?

Now all of these things are pretty minor when you look at t he story as a whole.  And really, I think picking it apart that much is not really keeping with the purpose of the book.  The book is meant to be a story of unexpected heroes - not deep world changing literature! I'd rather leave it a sweet heroic tale that reminds us of the hero that is within each of us.  Soren never thought he could be a hero, and he was.  Don't we all need that message?

Final thought: Heroic owls and strong friends equals a good story
Best stick-with-you image: Soren's first pellet
Best for readers who: Like stories with talking animals
Best for readers ages: 8-12

October 18, 2010

Cover and Owl of the Week

This weeks wowza cover is:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. 
 I just think it's simple yet stricking.  Everytime I see it my eye is drawn to it.

Owl of the Week:
These cute owl fabric bookmarks at the Etsy store Nancym4.
You should check out all the other cute items in her store!

October 15, 2010

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go and SIGNED copy Giveaway!

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness

From Goodreads
Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.
My Review
I had heard about this book a long, long time again.  It was one of the first books that I found through blogging, but for some reason I never got around to reading it until just lately. I went into the book with high expectations after everything I had heard about the series.  That isn't always the best way to go into a book.  At first I wasn't sure what I thought.  I was confused about what was happening - the "noise" of hearing everything that was thought was part of it.  When Todd lets the thought rush over him, I felt lost in the story, but I think that also helped me feel how it might be like to hear this mass of thoughts all the time.  I was also lost because the history of Todd's village wasn't completely explained, things were said as if I should just know what it was about - what the history was.  BUT I really do thing some of this was done to mirror what Todd was feeling.  At the start of the book, everything Todd thought he knew was completely thrown out and he was left confused, uncertain and questioning - exactly how I felt!  Thankfully about the time I felt like giving up because answers weren't coming - the came! And like Todd  began to make sense of everything. In the end I really did enjoy this book, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

 I to talk about the amount of running in this book.  Todd and the girl run and run and run and run! I really started to feel tired after reading it.  You can feel the exhaustion they must have felt.  When I meet Patrick Ness I commented on this.  He is a runner and that may be how that constant running got into the book.  Now mixed within this constant running, there is fear because Todd doesn't know what to do, who do believe and why he is being chased.  This tension builds along with all the running - building and building until it all comes to a head at the end.  Thankfully I had been warned that the ending was dramatic and I'd want the next book right away.  That was no a lie! Wow cliffhanger! I was literally left crying out "NO!!!".

Final Thought: If you're confused at the beginning, give it time, things will become clearer as you're pulled deeper and deeper in the the story.
Best stick-with-you image: The running and running and running!
Best for readers who are: Ok with a certain amount of confusion and unknown
Best for age: 12+

I had the great opportunity to meeting Patrick Ness a few weeks back.  He was awesome and once again we got to just chat.  I love that! 

I picked up an extra copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go and had him sign it. 
This signed copy is up for grabs! 

To Enter:
 Just leave a comment with your email. 
Ends Friday October 29
Must be a US resident
No P.O. Box addresses

Pics from the signing

October 14, 2010

7's Up: Cover Thoughts -The Books of Elsewhere

 I love asking my 7th graders their thoughts on book covers because often times they have such a different opinion than me! I showed them the cover for The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere #1.

I asked if they liked the cover and if they thought it would get them to pick the book up and look at it.

Here's what they said:
Overall it was a no to the cover.

Reasons they didn't like it:
Too girly
Too little kiddish
Too creepy
Too scary
Too boring looking
It wasn't bubbly like Sprite
Looks boring

Reasons why they liked it:
It looked creepy
It look mysteries
It was cool
It looks interesting
I want to know what's happening
I want to see where she is going

My favorite comment was that it looked like a book about Harry Potter's sister :)
I also liked the student that said it look "creppy" instead of creepy!

Ok and here's something really really really funny.  I've loved this cover forever mainly because I think it sounds like a great middle grade book.  BUT I finally saw the cover for what it really shows! My mind always saw the girl as climbing out of a window.  It wasn't until I looked at it with my students that I finally saw she's actually climbing out of a picture frame into the forest! Ok, ok so I wasn't paying attention to detail.  I love the cover even more now!
This book is at our book fair.  I WILL be buying it!

October 13, 2010

CSN Bookshelf Review

A while back I posted that I would be getting something from the great store CSN.  It took me forever to pick something to order because they have such great stuff! I did look at a dining room table because our chairs are in need of help.  I found these Cottage Style Side Chairs and really liked them! Then I looked at a new pet bed for my dog Griffin.  The Paus Berber Ball Dog bed was my favorite, and I know Griff would love it! But in the end it was my den that needed the most help.  It's where I house all  my books and all my blogging materials.  But still it took me forever to decide which bookshelf I wanted.  I finally narrowed it down to the Nexxt Talma Vertical Bookcase.

Once again the shipping from CSN was amazing.  It shipped before the date they said it would.  I love when that happens. 

Here's the box that arrived.

I opened that and found anther box!

I opened that and found ANOTHER box! :)

All these boxes insured that the bookcase was well protected.  The second box was surrounded by a lot of bubble wrap keeping the inside box safe and in place.

I opened the final box to find that the careful wrapping had started there.  Each piece was well wrapped and protected to keep it from chipping or scratching.

Taking out the instructions, I found only pictures with no words to explain what to do.  I usually cringe at instructions like that, but these looked pretty simple.  It was the same two steps repeated several time.  I started in and hit my first snag.  The pictures were small, so I had a hard time figure out what screws I used for a certain step.  I had to count the times I did that step to see if I used the pack of 4, 28 or 6.  That did frustrate me a bit.  Once I figured that out though, the assembly was simple.  I did get a bit tired getting all the screws in, but that was more being lazy!

I got it done and put it in the room and started to fill the shelves.  It works perfect for what I wanted and needed.  I wanted it to be the place I kept all the books I needed to read and review.  The second shelf was perfect for that! The larger bottom shelves hold my shipping supplies and a box of swag for giveaways. I couldn't be happier with how it works!

Final thought: CSN once again did a great job! Fast shipping, well packaged and nice product.

October 12, 2010

Book Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel

Title: Radiance
Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: Square Fish

From Goodreads:
Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley...
My Review
I'm having a hard time writing this review, because I don't know exactly what to say about it. I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it.  It was just ok.  I'm trying to pinpoint what I didn't really enjoy about and I think I have it narrowed down to it being too surface level - to quick - too lacking in explanations.  It seemed like things were just said, and  I was suppose to know what it meant without a good explanation.  An example would be when Riley talks about spending too much in Summerland.  It's never really explained what that is - well it is to a degree but you have to kind of put the pieces together.  I was frustrated, and I know this would frustrate some of my students.  Then it seemed that things were brought up but then dropped or the importance of them wasn't fully explained.  An example would be Riley seeing how she bothered her sister when she was alive.  Riley learned something about herself, but I didn't fully know why it was important that she learned it or how it was going to help her in the place she was in now.  I wanted to know more.  I wanted to know why it was important that she learned that about herself and her life, but I feel like it never told me why! The last thing that bother me was how easily things seemed to happen.  I won't go into examples because I don't want to spoil anything but things were done very quickly and this seemed to take a lot of the tension out of the story.  It just kind've flowed along with a bump here and there but nothing to really make me catch my breath and read quicker.

What I did like about the book was the character of Riley.  She reminded me of a lot of 12 year olds I know.  She was sassy, thought she knew it all, wouldn't take advice and was over-confident! Much of that was very realistic for that age.  I also liked her spunk and refusal to give up.  Her reasons for not giving up were perfect or her age too - she didn't want to hear "I told you so" from anyone.  She stuck with it just to prove people wrong.  That's a great character.   I also loved that I did see a change in her throughout the course of the story.  She stayed spunky, but she also learned to look beyond herself and see better what others were going through. I really liked her refusal to let go of hope!

Final thought: I wanted some more "below the surface" details.  The story seemed to stay just on the surface.  Maybe work better for intended age group than it did for this adult!
Best stick-with-you image: The bubble of hope
Best for readers who: Like a quick read and aren't frustrated by some vague details
Best for ages: 10-13

October 11, 2010

Owl of the Week

Hey all I've been missing my Owl of the Week, so I thought I'd try to go back to it :)  Here is a fun one, and a chance for you to make your Nook more fun (if you have one like I do). 

I love my Nook - look for a special review of it on Saturday - but I hate the screensavers that come with it BOR-ING! I was in Barnes and Noble and they had this great skull and crossbones on a display one.  The guy behind the counter shared Nook-Look. 

I'm so excited because now I can have fun screensavers!!!
Well of course I had to  look for an owl one and, yup, they had one :D. 
 Here it is:

I highly suggest that if you own a Nook you check out Nook-Look!

October 8, 2010

Guest Post: Tom Llewellyn Author of The Tilting House + Giveaway!

I long while back I use to do a monthly featured titled: Whoooooo's That Author.  Today marks the return of that feature! Once a month I will feature a great middle grade author and give away his/her book.

Today I have the honor of welcoming Tom Llewellyn author of The Titling House.  I featured his book a bit back on a post about books I'd love to read.  It looks just fantastic.  And if Tom's self questioning interview is any indication of the quality of the book, it will be fantastic.  For Tom's guest post he is basically interviewing himself! I laughed when I read it, I hope you will too!

Tom Llewellyn interviews Tom Llewellyn
Before we get to the interesting questions, I suppose you want to shill your novel, The Tilting House.
I’m not above a little shilling. So let’s get a quick summary out of the way. Brothers Josh and Aaron Peshik are about to discover that their new home with the tilting floors hides many mysteries. When the boys and their neighbor Lola discover the hidden diary of F.T. Tilton, the brilliant but deranged inventor who built the house, they learn a dark secret that may mean disaster for the Peshik family. Can the kids solve the riddles of the tilting house before time runs out?

That sounds exactly like what’s written on the flap of the dust jacket.

It is. And if you liked that, here’s some more plagiarism from Random House’s marketing department: Mad science, mischief, and mishaps combine in the suspenseful and imaginative tale.

Can’t you take a moment to describe the book in your own words?

No. I’m too busy editing my next novel, Letter Off Dead. It comes out next September from Tricycle Press, the same children’s and young adult imprint of Random House that published The Tilting House.

You really do like to shill, don’t you?

Yes, I’m shameless.

Let’s get to the more interesting questions: You could have written a romance, a biography or a book about kitties. Why did you choose to write a mystery/adventure?

When I was a kid, I always longed for a book with plenty of adventure, plenty of surprises and a mystery meaty enough to sink my teeth into. So that’s what I tried to write. I think I succeeded.
My hope is that there are plenty of readers out there who are longing for the same kind of book. And so far, so good. The first printing has sold out already. I’m not talking numbers like The Hunger Game, but it’s doing pretty well.

Any changes for the second printing?

A few tiny typos magically disappeared. And some nice reviews appear on the back cover now.

I suppose you want to share one. But only one, OK?

OK. Publisher’s Weekly said, "Llewellyn's debut is inventive, gripping, and shot through with macabre details." I like that one. And I like the word “macabre.” It means creepy. I wanted at least parts of the book to come across as creepy.

You’ve got a fair amount of laughs in the book. Do you think of it as a humor novel?

I don’t. I tried to always treat both the characters and the plot with a lot of respect. I mean that I always wanted the characters to act true to themselves in the situations I put them in. Josh and Aaron are both natural smart alecks. Mr. Daga is smelly and burps a lot (he’s a rat, so it’s OK) and the dad is naturally grumpy (like me, I suppose). When you place those characters in a house where the walls disappear every now and then, some funny moments are sure to arise.

I liked the setting of the book. What was the inspiration?

I live in the inspiration. The setting is based on my own home, which was built in Tacoma, Washington in 1898. In The Tilting House, the floors of the home tilt precisely three degrees (which means that one end of an average couch would be about six inches lower than the other end). In my house, the floors tilt, too, although not nearly that much. But marbles and pencils do tend to gather in downhill corners. Of course, in my house, walls don’t disappear, pocketknives don’t grow to the size of machetes, and rats don’t talk. At least I hope they don’t. I’m pretty sure we don’t have any rats.

The main character is Josh, who seems about 12 or 13 years old. But their grandpa also plays a key part. Do you think young readers will be interested in such an old character?

I think they will if he’s interesting. In too many books, the adults are portrayed as nitwits. Grandpa is definitely not a nitwit. He’s a bit nutty. And he has a wooden leg, so that makes him automatically interesting, don’t you think? There’s even a chapter where he tells the story of losing his leg. What kid doesn’t like a good amputation story?

When you’re not shamelessly promoting The Tilting House, what are you doing?

Did I mention Letter Off Dead?

Yes, but you can mention it again if you have to.

I have to. The book doesn’t come out until next September, but I need to turn in a final draft on October 11. Yikes!
I’m really excited about the book, though. It’s about a boy named Trevor who is just starting junior high school. His dad died years earlier, but Trevor decides to start writing letters to his dead father, as a kind of diary. But two weeks later, his dead father starts writing back.

That’s weird.
Yes. It is. Weird is good.

Learn more about The Tilting House and Tom Llewellyn at http://www.thetiltinghouse.com/

Now for the giveaway! To enter to win a copy of The Tilting House FILL OUT THE FORM!

+1 if you tell me IN THE COMMENTS of a house you know that had an odd quirk!
End Friday Oct 15th
US Only

October 7, 2010

Book Review: The Magnificent 12: The Call +WINNER!

Title: The Magnificent 12: The Call
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens

From Goodread
Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.
And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means. An evil force is on its way, and it’s up to Mack to track down eleven other twelve-year-olds in order to stop it. He must travel across the world to battle the wicked Pale Queen’s dangerous daughter, Ereskigal—also known as Risky. But Risky sounds a little scary, and Mack doesn’t want to be a hero. Will he answer the call?
My Review
What a fun book!  Here's why.  Mack is awesome! He's this perfect combination of stupid bravery and sheer terror.  He's human, and he's not your typical hero. The book starts, "David MacAvoy - whose friends called him Mack - was not an unlikely her.  He was an impossible hero." How could you not like a hero described that way?  To top it off he has tons of phobias, many of which come into play during the course of the book.  I also love that through all his heroic scenes he's often screaming out of fear.  Isn't that something we'd all do - scream in fear but also react? It made him so much more relateable. 

I also loved, loved, loved the humor in the book.  I was reading it during silent reading in class one day and the kids were laughing at me because I was giggling and making faces as I read.  Not every book gets me doing this.  The best parts of the humor come from Mack's "replacement" Golem.  He's keeping a journal for Mack, and his entries made me laugh every time.  I'd almost like to see a book told from Golem's view point of view.  Another funny character was Stefan, the school bully.  His lack of smarts made him pretty funny, but I also liked that he didn't turn out to be what I expected him to be! I love when characters surprise me.

The action in the story was great. My students that needs books with tons of action will defiantly enjoy this book.  It jumps from one dangerous situation to another - from avoiding bullies to avoiding death! It rarely slows down.  I've got a lot of books with good action, but I think the action in this one tied to the humor push it to the top of my suggestion list.

What I really like is how great this book will be for my reluctant readers.  The action and humor will be good draws, but the style of the writing will also be great for my reluctant and struggling readers.  Michael Grant keeps the writing simple with short sentences that move the action along, even within the more difficult chapters set in the past, all readers will have very little problem following the story. 

My one small complaint - it's very clear that this is the first book in a series. It sets up a lot of what is yet to come and why the events are happening now.  All things we need to know, but it doesn't carry the story much farther.  I would've maybe liked a bit more indepthness of the current story, but I get why it was written the way it was.

Final Thought: Great story that I can't wait to get my students reading.  They'll love the humor as well as the action.
Best stick-with-you image: Golem making a stomach :)
Best for readers: who love action and laughing
Best for ages: 8-13

Now to announce the winner of a copy of this book!:

This winner is:

Erick W!
Congrats! I'll be emailing you and you'll have 48 hours to respond :)


October 6, 2010

Book Review: Passing Strange by Daniel Waters

Title: Passing Strange
Author: Daniel Waters
Publiser: Simon and Schuster

From Goodreads
Karen DeSonne always passed as a normal (if pale) teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school. Passing cost her the love of her life. And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing—this time, as alive. Karen DeSonne just happens to be an extremely human-like zombie. Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of antizombie regulations that have forced them into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” that destroyed their non-life was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the unthinkable: becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is—because the consequences would be worse than death.
My Review
I will admit that it took me a bit to get the flow of this latest addition to the Generation Dead series.  This book is told from Karen's view point, so I had to get use to not hearing from Phoebe and Adam as much - actually hardly at all! If you really liked those characters be prepared to not see much of them.  Their characters have a big role, but you still don't see much of them.  Also, be prepared to see a lot of Pete.  He was not my favorite characters (understandably it hope!) in the last books, so it was kind of hard to have to hear so much about him now.  I got use to it, especially as I saw what Karen was trying to do to him.

For me this chapter in the book saw it taking a big turn. It became less about zombies and zombie rights, although they are still a part of the story, and became more about looking at how we deal with the choices we've made in life.  Karen, while dating Pete to bring him down, has to face the loss of her first love.  The choices she made surrounding that part of her life still haunt her.  We see just how painful her struggles are putting aside any notion that zombies are unfeeling "monsters". Throughout the book we also see how Karen's family is dealing, or not dealing with her death and return.  I felt so much for Karen and her family - especially her dad.  You could really feel their pain.  To me this was a change from the previous books that seemed to deal more with the kids as zombies just trying to be "normal" teen.  It made the series less fluff and more substantial. 

The end gives some wonderful closure to Karen's story, so I was very satisfied with that.  But! it left a huge door open for the story of Pete! I was completely left questioning after his last scene.  I have suspicions, questions, ideas, shock, confusion, and total intrigue when it comes to his character now! At the start of the book I wondered if I'd want to read more of the Generation Dead series, but because of Pete (yes Pete of all people!) I know I'll be looking for the next book.

Final thought: Took a turn, a good one, from a fluffy zombie book.
Best stick-with-you image: Under the lake-super cool
Best for readers who: are a bit older - definitely YA and not MG
Best for ages: 14+

I do have to share the other cover for this book.  I received the UK edition, but this is the US one.  I'm not sure which one I like best.  You???

October 4, 2010

Guest Book Review: The Replacement

Today I have a special guest reviewer - one of my students Lisa! She recently read The Replacement said yes when I asked her to write a review of it.


Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razorbill

From Goodreads
Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.
A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?
Her Review
First of all, I have to say that The Replacement was a fantastic book that kept me guessing about what would happen! And, it has a very shiny cover, and come on, who doesn't like shiny things?

The characters in this book seem to be well developed, especially the main character, Mackie Doyle. Throughout the story, as he learns about himself, you get to learn with him. You don't know anything about who he really is until he finds out about it himself. It's a nice touch that made me feel like I was apart of the story. Honestly, I loved all the characters equally. How the author wrote the story helped you appreciate them all, even the evil ones.

I loved the plot, it kept me wanting to read, even if it was late at night. Of course since I have school, I had to force myself from staying up until midnight or later. But overall, I only have one little complaint about it. I feel like I have to reread it so I can read about Mackie's character more, because it took awhile to get to each part where you learn about who Mackie really is. It felt like every 5 chapters you learned something new. But, it got lost in the jumble of other things going on.

I really do love this book and recommend it to anyone. :)

My Thoughts
I pretty much echo what Lisa says! I enjoyed the book, but I sometimes feel like I need to reread it get more of the story!
Best Stick-with-you image: The "underground" scenes
Best for readers who like: A bit of "oddness" in their stories :)
Best for ages: 12+

October 3, 2010

I Got to See Suzanne Collins!

On Saturday I was lucky enough to see two authors - Patrict Ness and Suzanne Collins.  I'll be posting about Patrick Ness later this week along with a giveaway! But for now it's all about Suzanne.

The signing started at 2, but we got there at 1, and I'm glad we did.  The Red Balloon (a great indie bookstore) isn't very big, so it filled up soon as you can see by the picture.

My daughter tired while waiting.

Right at two Suzanne came out.  She joked with us a bit and then did two readings, one from Catching Fire and one from Mockingjay.  It was super cool to hear how she read the voice of Katniss.  She explained that see read Katniss as she hears her in her mind, with a slight Appalachian accent. I'd never thought of Katniss that way!  Funny side note too.  She read the word Panama and I had been pronouncing it differently than she did.  I find stuff like that interesting.

After her reading we were able to get into line based on the number we received when buying a book.  My daughter and I were 107 and 108.  The line moved really fast! I was happy to see you could get a quick snapshot with her.  I got one, and so did my daughter who had her Gregor the Overlander book stamped instead of a Hunger Games books (although she's read them).  She was stamping them because apparently she had something wrong with her hand. 

Over-all it was really funny to go and see her.  It was my first signing of a big author.  The others I've been to have allowed me to chat some, so this was different.  I think the best part was seeing all the people that loved The Hunger Games.  They were of all ages! It did my English teacher's heart good to see that many people giving love to a book!

October 1, 2010

Interview: Vordak the Incomprehensible

This past Tuesday I shared with you my review of How to Grow Up and Rule the World by Vordak the Incomprehensible.  Not only was I lucky enough be able to review his book, but I was also given the honor of interviewing him! After the interview though, you'll see that I am not destined to rule the world any time soon.

Thank you Vordak for taking the time to answer some of my questions.  It was an honor to get to know you better. 

And without wasting anymore time, here's a bit more about Vordak straight from the evil one's mouth!

1. You don't talk much about school in your book. How does one handle school when trying to rule the world?

Well, what one does is use his or her school time as an opportunity to hone their evil world-conquering skills. For example (and here I am giving you the inconceivable gift of an actual bombastic book excerpt!):

VORDAK THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE’S Three Ways to Ruin a Field Trip to the Zoo
1. Sneak onto the bus early and superglue all the windows shut. Then make sure that Arnie “the Armpit” Kradmeister, who showers only on national holidays, sits directly in front of the heater.

2. Beg your teacher to perform her very best baby seal impression. Then use your handheld matter transmitter to immediately teleport her into the polar bear exhibit.

3. Relocate the sign for the petting zoo to a more “interesting” location.

2. You say you've retired. What are you doing in your extra time now? Also - how do you feel about retiring when you never did rule the world?

I’ve taken up gardening.

As far as never ruling the world, I am buoyed by the fact that none of my failures was in any way my own fault. Each and every attempt was foiled by circumstances that were completely beyond my control. Usually it was Commander Virtue who would gum up the works – including the time he destroyed my Earth Core Superheating Beam by literally throwing chewing gum into it.

3. I came up with my own evil name using the method explained in your book. What are your thoughts on it? It is Kamoz The Unrelenting.

My initial thought is that, according to my Inconceivably Evil Evil Name Generator, your first name should have SIX letters! No more, no less. Perhaps you should rename yourself Kamoz the Incapable of Following Directions.

4. You say evil people who want to rule the world should only wear black. I love the color pink. Are you sure there is no way I can rule the world and wear pink?

Name me one individual, human-style person who has ever Ruled the World while wearing…pink. The closest I can come up with is Liberace…and he didn’t really come all that close now, did he?

5. You have a very long cape. Do you ever trip on it when trying to rule the world?

Well, of course I don’t trip over it. Unfortunately, as a world-class Supervillain, I employ a number of, let’s just say “sub-MENSA” level minions and such.

6. And for the final question I ask all my guests: Since you're visiting The O.W.L. today can you tell me whoooooooooooo you admire?

You’re kidding, right?