February 28, 2011

I HEART Lois Duncan Wrap-up and Down a Dark Hall Review

Well it's the last day of February, so that means the last day of I HEART Lois Duncan month.  I hope you were exposed to some of the great books she has written, and maybe you'll pick one up to read now!

I've had fun sharing her work with you.  And she has sooooo much more that I didn't highlight.  You know the movie Hotel for Dogs?  Um, she wrote the book! How cool is that to see how she has grown and changed throughout the course of her writing career.  That completely amazes me.  Please check out her website HERE and see all that she has done and continues to do.

Now for the final review.  My favorite book by her is Down a Dark Hall.  I tempted fate and reread it.  I'm always worried when I reread favorite books because what if they didn't stand the test of time.  I'm glad to say that this one did!

In case you don't know what it's about
Kit Gordy sees Blackwood Hall towering over black iron gates, and she can't help thinking, This place is evil. The imposing mansion sends a shiver of fear through her. But Kit settles into a routine, trying to ignore the rumors that the highly exclusive boarding school is haunted.
Then her classmates begin to show extraordinary and unknown talents. The strange dreams, the voices, the lost letters to family and friends, all become overshadowed by the magic around them.
When Kit and her friends realize that Blackwood isn't what it claims to be, it might be too late.
Why I Liked it at 14
Ok I admit, when I was that age I wanted to go to a private school.  And the look of that private school was just like that school that Kit went to.  And to top it off her "dorm" room was the best.  A canopy bed in red velvet! The best.  Ok, ok I liked it for more than that.  I remember it just totally creeping me out.  The idea of being stuck at Blackwood and not being able to leave and stop what was happening was just so frightening!

Why I Liked it Now
I still found it creepy, but in a new way.  As a mom the thought of my daughter going through that alone scared me in a whole new way.  Plus the isolation Kit felt really hit harder for me.  As the story went along I so clearer now alone she was.  The other girls slowly faded into their own worlds, and she was left to cope on her own.  I also appreciated more how the story was crafted.  Although things happened quickly, there was a believability to them because of the setting.  This house cut off from anything else, no phones - just allowed the events in the story to feel real and possible. Reading it now I was able to see the skill Duncan had crafting this story - pulling the reader in, scaring them but not going to far.  I was impressed.

Final thought: Even after 26 years I still HEART Lois Duncan!
Best-stick-with-you image:  The horrible painting
Best for readers who: like a bit of a scare
Best for readers: 12+

Now don't forget to enter the give away for two Lois Duncan books of your choice.  You must fill out THIS FORM.  Extra entries for commenting on any I HEART Lois Duncan post.

Thanks everyone for joining in!

February 27, 2011

There is No Try Feb 27

Just Do!!!!

So this week I had success! Goals met.  And the best part - I have finished my first read through of the rough draft making notes and minor changes! This is huge for me.  Now I just need to type in those notes and changes and reprint out so I can rearrange and start more major revisions.  I'm so very excited to be moving on to this next step.  I was the revision queen when I wrote papers in college, so I LOVE true full revision.  I love digging in and seeing how I can tighten the writing and make it better.  I know I'm weird, but I really do enjoy it!

So my goals for this week:

Get notes and corrections done for around half of the rough draft.

Do or Do Not.  There is No Try!

February 25, 2011

For the Guys: Guest Review - Brain Jack

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 have a student review for:

Brain Jack
by Brian Falkner

Here is his review
 Sam, a hacker, hacks into the Teleimerica and orders 2 pairs of "Neruo Headsets" and shuts down the entire system.  He gets into a cyber place of the White House and rings the virtual door bell and it ends right there.  He wakes up and the door bell rings and it was the police to arrest him for hacking.  He goes to a jail for kids under the age of 18.  He plans a way out and his friend Kiwi helps him escape the daring prison.  He gets picked up by a taxi and a CDD agent picks him up and gives him a deal to work with the Government.  Sam accepts and they go to a building and show him the main area for the CDD.  CCD stands for Cyber Defence Division.  He gets teamed up with a guy and they work together to team up and destroy the Neuro as it tries to take peoples mind and turn it against everyone who doesn't got one and turn them into one.  Will Sam make it with help along the way? 

This book was a very good book and a great read aloud i say to to a family or a class.  I would recommend this book to friends and family!  The things that I liked about this book was that it was about hacking, a major war, on the run experience, and scary in some ways.  This book was not bad but the only dumb part was did his friends live? Did his mom live?  What happened after this war?  What happened to his CDD Department team?

In other words this book was very good!  Again i would read this book again!  I would give this a book 4.5 out of 5!

         Thanks, for letting me review this book for you!

February 24, 2011

I HEART Lois Duncan Guest Review: Twisted Window

Today I have a guest review from Cheryl Mahoney, who blogs at Tales of the Marvelous.

Title: Twisted Window
Author: Lois Duncan

Here is Her Review
It’s challenging to give a description of The Twisted Window by Lois Duncan, because anything I say feels like I’m giving things away.  Duncan is a master at the careful reveal, the drawn-out suspense, and the sudden twist.  I don’t think that skill is ever more evident than in this book, which is one reason I wanted to review it for Jill’s Lois Duncan month.  In keeping with its name, it’s riddled with twists and unexpected turns in the story, and you can never be sure that what you think is happening is really what’s going on.

To give you a little hint of the plot: it begins when Tracy realizes that a boy is staring at her across the high school cafeteria.  He introduces himself as Brad, a new student, but she quickly comes to suspect that he’s not what he seems to be.  Brad reveals that he’s come to town looking for a girl, and he wants Tracy to help him find her. 

And that’s really all I can bear to tell you!  Except that, in true Duncan fashion, the stakes keep rising higher and higher, the tension rises right along with those stakes, and the countless twists will keep you guessing until the last chapter.

Duncan has some of the most masterful twists I’ve ever seen.  I’d love to give you an example, but I hate to give any of them away.  So let me give you a similar twist: say a character was introduced but not described.  Something she says leads you to assume she’s middle-aged.  Five chapters later, a new detail reveals that she’s really only twenty.  That doesn’t happen, but similar things do.  Duncan never lies to the reader—she just very carefully leads you off in the wrong direction.  I reread the book for this review, so I could see the twists coming and fully appreciate how neatly she set them all up—and the book’s still good even when you know what’s coming.

One thing I found strange the first time I read The Twisted Window was how little the window actually comes into it.  There is a window, one which has a warp in the glass, but it’s a small piece of the book.  On this read, and thinking about it from an older perspective, I think I was taking the title too literally.  It’s not a glass window that’s twisted—it’s the window the reader has into the world, and the window the characters are looking at life through.  And believe me, those two metaphorical windows…are twisted.  In an appropriate for young adult readers sort of way, I mean.  :)

A brilliant page-turner of a book.  Highly recommended.

Don't forget to enter the I HEART Lois Duncan Month giveaway.  Go HERE to find out how!

February 23, 2011

How I Get Cheap Bookmarks for My Students

I have to share this because I know I have teachers and librarians that read the blog. So here goes - I'm a dork.  I completely admit that!  And here is just one example. 

My students are always asking for bookmarks.  I can't afford to buy the official bookmarks they sell in packs of like 25.  Well one year I was standing in the Valentine's aisle looking at the stuff on clearance.  I looked at the boxes of Valentines on 75% off and had a light bulb moment.  They would make perfect (and cheap) bookmarks.  I snatched up several boxes and put them out the next day.  My students loved them.  Now they could have a Spiderman or Harry Potter bookmark.  You should see them dig through the box they are in looking for one they like. 

So now every Valentine's Day I snatch up several boxes.  This year I bought 15!  But I did the math and I got 500 book marks for like $6!  Here's a pic of most of the ones I bought.

Call me crazy but it works :)

February 22, 2011

Student Review: Leap Day by Wendy Mass

Title: Leap Day
Author: Wendy Mass

From Goodreads
Soon-to-be-sixteen Josie Taylor was born on Leap Day, February 29, and now it's her "fourth" birthday. Like any average teenager, sometimes she wonders what other people are thinking, but today it's the reader who gets to find out, by "leaping" into the minds and viewpoints of Josie and everyone around her. Birthday surprises, school play auditions, her driver's test, a scavenger hunt, and the all-important sweet-sixteen initiation at the lake -- these are the things that define Josie Taylor today. But what define her tomorrow and in the days to come are the people who touch her life at every moment. A fascinating, at times astonishing, new novel, Leap Day is full of everyday imaginations and truths in the life and future of one "everygirl" teenager.
Student Review
I was so glad my one of my friends told me about this book.  I never noticed it before, but I LOVED it! It would be more for girls who like books that are realistic fiction.  I love that it is easy to understand and easy to relate to. It is about a 16 year old girl Josie. Who is born on a leap day and is going through the day of her 16th birthday, her friends are doing something special for her party and she doesn’t know anything about it! She has a rather protective older brother but she doesn’t think he is very protective.
Dislikes- nothing really it was a really good book!
Main characters- Josie, Megan, Ron, Katy,

My notes
This is one book by Wendy Mass I haven't read yet, but I will soon.  I have loved all the books I've read by her, and from what I understand this one is great too (my student reviewer definitely agreed!). 

A word of warning - from what I understand this book is laid out kind of different, so it takes a bit to get use to.  But once you've got it down it really adds to the story.

February 21, 2011

Monday Cover Merriment: Dresses

I love book covers, and I love sharing them. 

Lately I've noticed a bunch of books with beautiful dresses on the covers.  I thought I'd put some of them together so show how pretty they all are. 
My favorite is the red and white dress on the Envy book.  Just gorgeous!

February 20, 2011

There is No Try - Revisions are a Beast!

Ok so my very first update on my writing goals.  I met most of them.  Yoda says do or do not. I did not.  I had three goals:
  1. write once on Tuesday for at least an hour
  2. write once on Thursday for at least an hour
  3. Clean out my writing bag
I wrote for an hour - TODAY! and I did clean out my writing bag.  It was soooo hard to get myself to sit down and write.  I've thought a lot about why that was.  I think it boils down to the fact that I'm not writing right now I'm revising.  Now I love revising, but on a 60,000 word novel it's a bit overwhelming especially when I've never done it before! And since I hadn't revised in a long while I felt even more intimidated by the thought.  Finally I forced myself, and one I did I took off again! You know how some things seem super worse in your mind than when you finally do them?  That was getting back to Maya and Markus my main characters and telling their story. Hopefully now I'll get back into the swing much more. 

Question for any of you that write:
Do you dive in or do you plot out?  And if you dive in how do you revise it?????

I'm a diver.  I have a general idea, but I let the plot flow.  And when I feel compelled to write a certain scene I write it even if it's out of order.  The problem is - I have to go back and get those scenes into the correct spot.  I'm really struggling with that now.  How I'm dealing with it is just take a first read through from beginning to end making notes and minor changes about what I see needs to be done.  Then I'll reprint out so scenes don't overlap on the page.  From there I'll staple together scenes so I can arrange them into what I want.  Make sense?????? Any suggestions would be great.  I know, I know writing in order from the start would help, but I'm not that kind of writer.  Never will be!

Thanks for reading my ramblings about writing!

Next week goals:
  1. Revise Tuesday for at least an hour.
  2. Revise Saturday morning for at least an hour

Do or Do Not. There is No Try!

February 18, 2011

Friday's for the Guys: I HEART Duncan Version

Every Friday I like to take a look at books and/or authors that would be awesome for boys to read.  During I HEART Lois Duncan month I want to comment on how these books would work for boys.

I will admit that most of them have female leads, so they would be more geared towards girls.  As a middle school girl I loved that! But there are 3 books that boys might enjoy.  They don't have only boy main characters, but they have a more ensemble cast with boys that play a main role.  These three are ones that I do suggest to boys.

The lives of five captives hang in the balance while their families gather the ransom. Two brothers, their family frantic to find their sons. A loner whose uncle doesn't even know he's missing. An Army brat whose family will never be able to raise enough money. And a cheerleader who can't count on her stepdad, but feels sure her father will come through.

Killing Mr. Griffin

They only meant to scare him.
Mr. Griffin is the strictest teacher at Del Norte High, with a penchant for endless projects and humiliating his students. Even straight-A student Susan can't believe how mean he is to the charismatic Mark Kinney. So when her crush asks Susan to help a group of students teach a lesson of their own, she goes along. After all, it's a harmless prank, right?
But things don't go according to plan. When one "accident" leads to another, people begin to die. Susan and her friends must face the awful truth: one of them is a killer.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (yes the movie was based on it but VERY loosely!)
Four teen-agers who have desperately tried to conceal their responsibility for a hit-and-run accident are pursued by a mystery figure seeking revenge.

February 17, 2011

Book with Love Blog Hop Winner

The winner of Shade is:

Lindsay C. who said her favorite Valentine's candy is Reeses Hearts.  I'm right with her on that one!!!

I'll be emailing her.  She has 48 to reply or I pick a new winner. 

Thanks everyone who entered and became followers! I <3 U all!!!!!!!!

I HEART Lois Duncan Guest Review: Locked in Time

Today for I HEART Lois Duncan month I have a guest review from Jana at Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading (one of my favorite blogs!)  She loves Lois Duncan like I do and agreed to a review on Locked in Time. Here's her review!

Locked in Time

4 creme filled Whoopie Pies!

Cover Love: Honestly, there are so many covers out there that I cannot say. I did not like the cover of the version I read, but I can't really rate that since that might not be the one you read!

Why I Wanted to Read This Book:It's I Heart Lois Duncan month! And she was one of my favorite authors when I was in middle school. I didn't remember reading this one when I was younger, but now that I have finished it, I do recall that I had read it!

Here's the synopsis:
It doesn't occur to Nore to take the dream-warning seriously. Her new stepmother and stepbrother seem nice. But why does Nore feel so uneasy around them? Maybe she should have listened . . .

I Kept Reading Because: It was every bit as good as I expected it to be. Lois Duncan is a great author!

Romance?: A little hint of one.

What I Liked (& Didn't):You know how some books that you loved as a youth do not stand up to the test of time? I cannot even bring myself to read The Vampire Diaries because I know how crushed I will feel when I realize they were stupid and poorly written (I read them in college, back when nobody was reading YA and I kind of had to hide them from people). I read a Nancy Drew book last year and couldn't help thinking that it was not good.
But, Lois Duncan's books, the books I devoured in middle and high school, are still as awesome today as they were back then.

First of all, Nore has a wisdom in her that is seldom seen in today's YA heroines.  She doesn't spend pages discussing things with her friends (granted she is isolated without friends (or cell phones or computers)) but she is ready to believe the weird and she faces it head on.

It is so quick moving, just a smidge over 200 pages, but there doesn't need to be more!  It is refreshing to have a YA thriller/with a supernatural bent that is not over 400 pages. 

Lois Duncan can write.  Her descriptions are wonderful.  To read a book set in Louisiana, in the summer, when I am in Montana in the dead of winter was wonderful!  I felt the heat.

To Sum Up:Lois Duncan stands the test of time!  I loved this book and am going to give a few others of hers a try this year.  I love directing readers in my school to her books and so far, none of them have been disappointed.
Lois Duncan is updating her books for a new generation. 

Read her Good Reads post about the problem with cell phones in her books!

February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dark and Hollow Places

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:
The Dark and Hallow Places
by Carrie Ryan
Release Date: March 22

Why I'm Waiting
I'm a zombie nut.  I love zombie books.  This series is really what got me started.  I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and fell in love with it.  Then really really loved The Dead-Tossed Waves.  Now I just need to know how it all comes to a conclusion! I have a student who is waiting for this one as well - I think even more than me!

From Goodreads
There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.  

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

February 15, 2011

Guest Student Review: TTYL

Title: TTYL
Author: Lauren Myracle
From Goodreads
An epistolary novel for the 21st century, this sharp, funny, and true-to-life breakout hit about friendship is told entirely in instant messages. And Internet-savvy teens have fallen in love with flirty Angela (SnowAngel), moody Maddie (mad maddie), and good girl Zoe (zoegirl) and their frank perceptions about a tumultuous tenth-grade semester.

Guest Review
I love TTYL, it is a really good girl book if you like high school drama you will love this book. Some parts of the book were confusing but you get back on track really fast so that is good. I loved all the girls in the book. One thing with this book you will want to know is that it is over IMing I think that is really cool I love that part of the book. All girl that are like me and LOVE drama should read this book. I hope you love it like I did.

Note from me:
This book is written in an "on-line" chat format with tons of chat slang etc.  I'm not sure I could follow it, but my students don't have a problem.  Also - a few of my girls have just fallen in love with this series more than I've seen in the past.

February 14, 2011

Book with Love Hop

Welcome to my stop on the Valentine's Day Books with Love Hop!
Once Upon a Twilight

We all love books, so what better Valentine's day gift that lots and lots of book giveaways!!!
This hop is being hosted by Good Choice Reading

I'm giving away a copy of:

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

To enter:

Leave a comment telling your favorite candy for Valentine's Day
Leave your email so I can contact you.
Must be 13
Must be a US resident
Ends Feb 16 at 11:59 pm CST

Now be sure to go to all the other blogs and enter their giveaways too! (Please ignore the "add your link" to the list.  I can't get it to go away!)

February 13, 2011

New Weekly Feature: There is No Try

It's finally time I put it out there.  I write.  I always wrote when I was younger.  Short stories, poems, plays.  All kinds of stuff.  Then I had kids - three of them - and my writing stopped.  About 18 months ago I started again.  During that time I have written the first draft of two different novels - both YA.  I was doing great, but lately it has ground to a halt, and I'm not spending much time with either.  I've decided that Sundays, on the blog, will be for me to talk about my writing, set goals for the week and have to explain myself if I didn't accomplish those goals.  I figure it might be a good way to hold myself accountable. 


So with that - here are this weeks goals:
  1. Spend two 1 hour blocks of time revising.  The first will be Monday night from AT LEAST 9:30-10:30. The second time will be Thursday night at Starbucks from AT LEAST 7:30-8:30.  (I've got to get out of the house at least once a week to write or I won't!)
  2. Clean out my writing bag to just the necessities. I have it jammed with so  much unneeded stuff that I can't find what I'm looking for and then this becomes a reason to not write!
I'm going to end without saying anything using the word TRY.  As Yoda said.  "Do or Do Not. There is no try."! The following video shows what I mean :)


February 10, 2011

Student Guest Review: Unearthly

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand

Book Summary
Clara has known she was part–angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago. But now she is finally getting visions of what her Purpose—a rite of passage for every part–angel—is to be, and it happens to involve a gorgeous guy. Of course, there is the raging forest fire surrounding them, too. When Clara’s Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, Clara finds the boy of her visions, Christian, but complicating her mission are her growing feelings for another guy, Tucker. As the day in her visions draws closer, Clara discovers that her Purpose may play into a larger struggle between angels and Black Wings—fallen angels who spread sadness and misery wherever they go. But when the fire erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?
From debut novelist Cynthia Hand comes a riveting tale full of supernatural powers, forbidden romance, and the choice between fulfilling your destiny or following your heart.

Student Guest Review
I really liked Unearthly. The world of angels this book introduces you to is different from what I’ve read in other books, but still really good.  And this book was so funny; I was laughing through the whole book. I was laughing even more when these complete Twilight moments came along.  However, it bugged me how the main character is in the dark most of the time, so you, the reader, are too.  But the story does have a fast pace and keeps you on your toes, so that when things come to light, you are, “Whoa! Didn’t see that coming.”  It’s a wonderful book to start off the series; I can hardly wait to read the next one.
If you want to read an excerpt of Unearthly go HERE.
Unearthly is part of Harper Collins Dark Days of Supernatural Tour.  Check out the trailer for the tour.

Here's the booktailer for Unearthly

And lastly - Goodreads is showing this as the paperback cover.  I think it's pretty!

February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Demonglass

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.
Title: Demonglass
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: March 1
Why I'm Waiting
I read Hex Hall and LOVED it!  I mean I really loved it - way more than I thought I would.  The ending left with so many new questions that I have to find out what happens next. Oh and the other reason - I just adore this cover :)
From Goodreads (contains spoilers if you haven't read Hex Hall)
That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

February 8, 2011

Tween Tuesday - Audio Review: Dandelion Fire

From Goodreads
Henry York never dreamed his time in Kansas would open a door to adventure—much less a hundred doors. But a visit to his aunt and uncle’s farm took an amazing turn when cupboard doors, hidden behind Henry’s bedroom wall, revealed themselves to be portals to other worlds. Now, with his time at the farm drawing to a close, Henry makes a bold decision—he must go through the cupboards to find the truth about where he’s from and who his parents are. Following that trail will take him from one world to another, and ultimately into direct conflict with the evil of Endor.
My Review (with help from my daughter)
Over the last few weeks my daughter (11), son (9) and I (nope not gonna share my age), listened to Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson.  Both my daughter and I had read the first book, so we knew the background and were curious about what the next step would be.  I'll tell you this - it wasn't a good start.  Both her and I were ready to quit listening several times at the start.  Here's why:
  • nothing was happening
  • it's told 3rd person omniscent so it went from person to person and we'd almost forget what was going on with the other person
  • lots and lots of description!
What happened is we'd say "just one more day then we are done".  After that day we'd say it again.  Then the tide turned and we couldn't listen fast enough!  Here's what got better:
  • the author stayed with each character longer so the story gelled better
  • the action pictued up
  • twists and turns in the plot kept up gasping
It got lots and lots better.  I'd have to force myself to shut off the car, so we could go into school!  Henry is such a likable young man.  He grew throughout this book and by the end had really become a strong determined young man.  But really the character I saw the most change in was Henry's cousin Henrietta.  At the start of the book she was a bossy, sneaky, almost selfish little girl.  Almost a complete 180 by the end - thankfully! She carried a huge chunk of the story, so if she hadn't changed it would've been hard to follow her. 

The other thing we liked was the humor scattered within some very tense situations.  We'd find ourselves bursting outloud laughing several times.  It was a nice break from all the suspense. 

I do have to comment on the description.  There is a TON of it in the story.  Towards the end it was really beginning to wear on me.  Henry would be in the middle of a very very tense scene.  I'd be holding my breath and then it would go into what I could only assume were paragraphs of description! I was almost yelling at the narrator to skip it!  I do think if we hadn't been listening to it, all the description might have turned me off.  I worry that it would turn a lot of middle grade readers off. 

The narrator:  Loved him! He did a great job with all parts of the story - especially the voices. 

Final thought:  Twists, turns, changes, challenges and laughs.
Best stick-with-you image:  Calling sandwiches "gamblers" :)
Best for readers who: Can push through descirption to stay with the action
Best for ages: 11+ (although my 9 yr old enjoyed listening to it)

Tween Tuesday was started over at GreenbeanTeenQueen


February 7, 2011

I HEART Lois Duncan the Covers

I love book covers.  LOVE them! Today I'm taking my cover love to my love for Lois Duncan books.  I'll look at the old covers I remember and compare them with the new ones.

CORRECTED! NEW COVERS ON THE LEFT! Ok so I messed up and said right first!
Daughter's of Eve

                 NEW                                                                                                              OLD

I love the old one - yes it's "old" looking but I think it captures the spookiness of the book just a tish better than the new cover.  I mean the blood dripping down the candle - perfect!

Summer of Fear

Although the old one looks very dated I do think it captures what happens in the book better.  The new one shows nothing.  I don't think it would grab a possible new reader's attention very well.

Down a Dark Hall

No contest - new cover is waaaaaay better.  Skeleton hands are just cheesy.

Killing Mr. Griffin

 Um - aren't they basically the same??? I call a tie!

Ok I could go on and on with covers, but I'll just feature these! 
(remember every comment gets you an entry in the giveaway! You have to fill out THE FORM at THIS POST first tho!)

February 4, 2011

Friday's for the Guys: The Mysterious Benedict Society

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:

The Mysterious Benedict 
by Trenton Lee Stewart

Why It Would Be Good for Boys
I haven't read this series, but my daughter has.  I asked her if she thought it would be good for boys and she said in her best "no duh" voice "Well it's told from a boy's point of view." So I guess in her mind that makes good for boys.  I have other reasons I thought it might be.  I like that it's not a sports book or a Percy Jackson/Harry Potter wanna-be.  It's different from the stereotypical boys' book, and I think it can hook in a whole different group of boys.  I like that "brain power" is important in the book.  I think it's something that needs to be used more in boys' books. 

From Goodreads (about the first book)
Young readers who have worked their way through Lemony Snicket may well find their next obsession in The Mysterious Benedict Society, a dandy YA debut by novelist Trenton Lee Stewart. This engaging tale has all the elements tweens find intriguing: gifted kids, a dangerous mission, and a secret society where nothing is as it seems. Stewart throws plenty of challenges -- physical, mental, and moral -- in the path of his young protagonists, and readers will have fun solving the riddles and unraveling the clues in this smart, unconventional mystery. Complex, unpredictable, and deeply respectful of children's innate intelligence, The Mysterious Benedict Society is highly recommended for thoughtful preteens. P.S. We loved it, too.

Here are two other covers.  I like them both better.  Wish they were the US ones!

February 3, 2011

Guest Review: Rot & Ruin

Today I have a 7th grade perspective on the book Rot & Ruin.  I read and reviewed it a while back.  You can find my review HERE, but now for what a 7th grader thought of it.

Benny Imura couldn't hold a job, so he took up killing.
In the zombie-infested world Benny has grown up in, teenagers must work once they turn fifteen, or they'll lose their food rations. Benny isn't interested in taking on the family business, but he reluctantly agrees to train as a zombie killer with his boring big brother, Tom. He expects a dull job, whacking zombies for cash. What he discovers is a vocation that will teach him what it really means to be human.  As his worldview is challenged again and again by the lessons he learns from Tom, Benny is forced to confront another horrifying reality: Sometimes the most terrible monsters are humans.
I was honestly not going to pick this book up off the shelf, but I am so glad that I did! My main concern for reading this book was that it would be too bloody and gory. However, the author, Jonathan Maberry did a good job of making sure you knew what was going on without getting into the blood and gore too much.  There was just enough of that to keep the book interesting. The real focus of the book was Benny, the main character, and his brother, Tom's relationship.

There are a couple things that I didn't like about the book, though. The beginning of the book was kind of confusing and a little bit on the slower side. Later on in the book everything falls into place nicely, though. Also, at the end of the book, it seemed like the author stretched out the events a little bit too much. Other than those two things, I loved everything about Rot and Ruin!

FINAL THOUGHT: Awesome book, awesome plot.
BEST STICK-WITH-YOU IMAGE: I can't say or it'll spoil the book!
BEST FOR READERS WHO:  Can deal with and appreciate some blood and gore.

February 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: No Passengers Beyond This Point

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:
No Passengers Beyond This Point
by Gennifer Choldenko
Release Date: Feb 8, 2011
I loved Al Capone Does My Shirts.  It was one of the first middle grade books I read that had a character with autism.  It handles that topic as well as the difficulties of being the sibling of someone with autism.  My students just did lit circles, and this was one of the book choices.  I'm super excited to see another book by her.

From Goodreads
An unexpected reality-bender from a Newbery Honor author.

Three siblings—India, Finn, and Mouse—have less than forty-eight hours to pack up all their belongings and fly, without Mom, to their Uncle Red's in Colorado, after they lose their house to foreclosure. But when they land, a mysterious driver meets them at the airport, and he's never heard of Uncle Red. Like Dorothy in Oz, they find themselves in a place they've never heard of, with no idea of how to get home, and time is running out.

In a total departure, Gennifer Choldenko tells a story of adventure and survival, set in a fantastical place with rules all its own

February 1, 2011

Welcome to I Heart Lois Duncan Month!

When I was in middle school (or somewhere around there), I read this book that had me hanging on the edge of my seat.  It was unlike anything I had ever read before.  I never knew stories like that were out there.  That book: Daughters of Eve.  I then hunted down and read every other book by the author, Lois Duncan, that I could.  They included:

Time and time again she drew me into a world that held me breathless and amazed.  I read and reread them.  They were magic for me.  Well at KidLit Con this past October I attended a session on blogging the backlist and books/authors we just loved.  Lois Duncan immediately came to mind, and I knew I had to take time to celebrate her work.

Here's what to expect over the month:
Reviews by me of her books
Guest reviews by some great other bloggers
A Lois Duncan Giveaway
A look at what she's writing now

The Giveaway

We'll kick the month off right now with the giveaway.  If you love Lois Duncan and want to reread some books or if you've never read a book by her - this is your chance.  I'll be giving away 2 Lois Duncan Books of the winners choice.

+1 for tweeting contest
IF YOU FILL OUT THE FORM +1 for replying to any I HEART LOIS DUNCAN posts
US only
No P.O. Box
End Feb 28th 10 pm EST