March 30, 2011

April is NetGalley Month

I've been on NetGalley for a bit now, and if you don't know what NetGalley is, it's a place that lets publisher share ebook copies of books to bloggers, reviewers, librarians.  Let me tell you they have some awesome books! 

Emily over at Red House Books decided to make April

 NetGalley Month

with a challenge to read and review as many NetGalley books as you can.  This is the kick I need to get mine read, so I'm jumping in!!!!

Here's the books I plan to read:

I've requested a few others, so I might add to this.  My Nook is going to get a workout!!!

Rules to Enter according to Emily at Red House Books

Rules to enter:
*Make your own post declaring April NetGalley month linking back to this post


*Tweet the following:
@NetGalley April as been declared! I'm joining @WilowRedHouse for a chance to win some awesome prizes-will you join us?

*If you don't have a blog or Twitter - post it to Facebook with a link

*If you don't blog, tweet or FB but still want to join in - send me an email  at Wilow[at]yahoo[dot]com

AND THEN go to THIS LINK and sign up!
If you want to participate check out THIS POST over at Red House Books for the info

Waiting on Wednesday: Away by Teri Hall

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:
Away by Teri Hall
Release Date: September 15
I know this one is a looooooong ways off, but I really can't wait to find out what happens.  The first book book ends on such an open note and lately I've been thinking about what might happen next.  Plus one of my students read it and my daughter, and all three of us are just very anxious to see what happens next.  The Line (book 1) is pretty slow moving at first and just when you think the action is going to start - the book ends, so it's super frustrating but in a good way!
I read The Line in the middle of Christmas break, so I only wrote a mini review.  I'm going to try and convince the student who read it to write a fuller review because she's really excited about it and the sequel. 
Oh and isn't the cover pretty??? Love it :)
When Rachel crosses The Line she leaves behind everything she has ever known and enters a strange new world: Away. Life there is hard, and survival is never guaranteed. Bizarre, wild creatures roam the forests, and people—the same people she’s always been told are dangerous and untrustworthy—have gifts she’s never thought possible.

Rachel has to rely on Pathik, the boy she risked her own life for, to help her navigate the strange customs. He’s exasperating, but she thinks she can trust him, and she hopes he’ll lead her to answers about her father. As it turns out, he leads her to more than she bargained for, and Rachel finds herself on an adventure filled with life and death choices, dark conspiracies, and unthinkable sacrifice.

In a place with no technology, no electricity, no medicine, and very little hope, Rachel discovers that only one thing makes life worth living. If only it’s not too late.

March 29, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Moon Over Manifest

Tween Tuesday was started by GreenBeanTeenQueen and it highlights perfect for the tween set. 

Today I'm looking at:

Moon Over Manifest
by Clare Vanderpool

This is the 2011 Newberry winner, and I think it looks pretty good.  My daughter read it (age 11), and she liked it.  She said it was slow moving - a more thinking book, but in the end she liked it.  As with most Newberrys, this one isn't for all readers.  My daughter reads a ton - all kinds of books - so I knew she'd be ok with this one even it it was slow moving.  My more reluctant readers might have a harder time with it.

From Goodreads
Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.

March 28, 2011

Cover Crush: Delirium

I love book covers.  I really really do.  Even my students know how much I love them.  I'll share a new book and go on and on about the cover.  Or I'll search out a few students in the morning to show it to them.  They laugh at me but they get it.  They also get that a "bad" cover is - well just bad!

Currently I'm crushing on:

by Lauren Oliver

When I first saw this cover way back and bloggers started buzzing about,  I thought it was kind of boring.  But then I got a post card of it in with the ARC of Delirium I got (with a super bad cover).  All of a sudden I saw it - the face! How did I miss that before?  Did the early versions not have it??? Now I can't stop looking at it.  And the first time I saw it in person - WOW! It just holds my attention. If you ever see a woman in the bookstore just holding up this book and staring at it - that would be me! I have a copy of the ARC - without the cover - and I really really think I'm going to have to buy the book just to get this pretty pretty cover. 

Do you do that? Do you buy a book you already own just because you like the new cover better??

Oh and look at the French cover!

Cover Crush was inspired by the great bloggers of The Book Worms who started Cover Crazy.

March 24, 2011

7's Up - What Are You Reading?

I love sharing what my 7th graders are reading because I find it fun to see what actual teens (tweens) are reading - not just what I think they should be reading. 

They all have been reading The Outsiders since I've assigned it, but here's what else:

Tucket's Travels
Conspiracy 365 February
The Vampire's Assistant (he's loving it!)
Confetti Girl
Just Listen
The Melting of Maggie Bean
The Devouring
The Red Pyramid
Among the Hidden
Catching Fire
Cryer's Cross
Gregor the Overlander
Battle Dress
Gym Candy
Desires of the Dead
Vladimer Tod

What of these have you read???

March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Throne of Fire

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 Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles #2)
by Rick Riordan
Release Date: May 2011

Why I'm Waiting
My children and I just finished listening to The Red Pyramid, and we loved it. We are all excited to see where Sade and Carter go next.  I believe we'll be listening to that one as well!

From Goodreads
Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven't given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.
And now their most threatening enemy yet - the chaos snake Apophis - is rising. If they don't prevent him from breaking free in a few days' time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it's a typical week for the Kane family.
To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished.

First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly? 

March 22, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Audio Review THE RED PYRAMID

Tween Tuesday was started at GreenBeanTeenQueen. In it we highlight books that are awesome for the tween set.  Today I have an audio review.

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1)
Author: Rick Riordan

From Goodreads
Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
My Review
After hearing some mixed reviews about this book I went into a bit cautious.  My daughter really liked it, and she was excited at the thought of listening to it, so with that we popped the cd's in and started to listen. I'm glad we did! The Red Pyramid really works wells as an audio book because the two main characters, Sadie and Carter, are suppose to be speaking into a recorder telling the story. Yes that means that they switch off telling the story.  Usually I'm not thrilled with books like that, but they each brought a unique perspective, so it was cool to have both of them tell the story.

The Characters:  I loved Carter.  He was smart in so many ways, but not is so many others.  He had traveled the world with their father, so he knew so many facts and "book" learning, but when it came to some other more common sense things he wasn't always sure.  He was also a well defined character because he wasn't predictable.  When you thought he would know something we wouldn't or vice versa.  You'd think that after traveling the world he wouldn't be scared by much but he very much was! Many times he would be afraid to act, so Sadie would step in and take over.  Throughout the book it was fun to watch his confidence grow.

Sadie - at first I didn't really care for her much.  She was kind of abrasive and rude.  Listening to her chapters was hard for me at the beginning because I just wanted to step into "mom" mode and tell her to knock it off! Thankfully she grew just as much as Carter did and by the end she was the one who was planning the next step, seeing what might hurt and upset people, and stepping up into a strong role.  What was rude at the beginning settled into a great spunkiness that knew when to push and when to back off.

The Plot:  It was great but long.  As I think back over it though I can't think of any part that could've been left out.  It all needed to be there in order to create a full story.  While listening the plot stayed at a great pace.  Lots of action followed by some down time to regroup.  The action was overly described allowing it to pull the reader along instead of making them want to skip over it.  Only once did I tell my daughter that I would be skipping ahead right there! There were so many pieces that needed to come together, and sometimes when that happens the details start to be lost because there are too many to track.  I didn't find that happening.  I was able to follow and remember everything that needed to be. 

The Humor:  There is some great humor in the book.  Many times we'd all be laughing at what was happening.  Sadie and Carter were typical brother and sisters - joking back and forth and putting each other down.  And the minor characters were always good for a laugh especially Dough Boy.  Watch for the Element of Cheese reference several times.  It still cracks us all up!

The readers:  The two readers did an amazing job bringing all the characters alive.  We were in awe of their ability to do so many different voices.  I don't normally like female narrators, but this one was great.

Final Thoughts:
Me: Fun+action+great characters=great book
My Daughter: Very funny!
My Son: What they talked about was amazingly cool!
My 3 year old: I liked it.  It was long :)
Best stick with you image: When Carter realizes there is a god in his head.
Best for readers who: Like action and other Rick Riordan books
Best for ages: 10+ reading and any age listening
Similar authors: Brandon Mull


March 21, 2011

Cover Crush

I love covers.  Love love love them!  On Monday's I like to highlight a cover I'm currently crushing on.

This week I'm crushing on:

Die for Me (Revenants #1)
by Amy Plum

Why I'm crushing
It's just sooooo pretty.  The red is striking, and I'm in love with the dress.  It also reminds me a little of the Iron Queen covers - at least the scroll work.  Now that I think of it I'm seeing a lot of scroll work on books lately. 

From Goodreads
DIE FOR ME is the first of three books about Kate, a sixteen-year-old American who moves to Paris after the death of her parents. It introduces a new version of the undead with revenants, beings who are fated to sacrifice themselves over and over again to save others’ lives. Kate finds herself falling for Vincent, who she discovers is not the typical French teenager he appears: he is something else entirely.

DIE FOR ME presents a new supernatural mythology presented in a city where dreams are sometimes the same as reality

March 20, 2011

A Giveaway for City of Fallen Angels

I don't usually do posts about giveaways but this is one I think people will want to enter!

BloodyBookaholic is giving away a copy of CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS!!!! Go HERE to enter! It end April 5th.

March 17, 2011

Team OWL Review: The Girl Who Became a Beatle

This review is from a great Team Owl member who was super excited to find a book about music.  He says they are very hard to find!

Cover Image
Title: The Girl Who Became A Beatle Author: Greg Taylor

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!
When Regina Bloomsbury’s band, the Caverns, breaks up, she thinks it’s all over. And then she makes a wish—
“I wish I could be as famous as the Beatles.”
The Beatles are her music idols. The next day, she gets up to find that the Caverns are not just as famous as the Beatles, they have replaced them in history! Regina is living like a rock star, and loving it. There are talk shows, music videos, and live concerts with thousands of screaming fans. And Regina is the star of it all.
But fame is getting the better of Regina, and she has a decision to make. Does she want to replace the Beatles forever?
The Girl Who Became A Beatle is a wonderful book by author, Greg Taylor. I highly prefer this book to all music lovers, especially ones who like The Beatles. There aren’t many novels with pop-culture facts like this one. The story of the book is about this girl Regina and her band The Caverns. The Caverns are breaking up because 2 of the members are joining The Caverns’ rival band. So after a horrible day at school, Regina comes back home and wishes to be as famous as The Beatles. When Regina wakes up the next day, all her Beatles fan items are gone. They are all replaced with the same type of items just nothing to do with The Beatles. They all have something to do with The Caverns. Now no one has ever heard of The Beatles, and all The Beatles’ songs are now owned to the Caverns. In fact, they aren’t even written by Paul McCartney or John Lennon, They are written by… Regina! Can Regina and the Caverns survive all this fame and fortune? Or will paparazzi and crazy fans get scary? You will just have to wait and see.

What I Thought Of The Cover:

The cover of this book was great. It is taken of The Caverns in form of the ‘Meet The Beatles’ album,

Fact About The Book:

Did you know that before the book was titled ‘The Girl Who Became A Beatle’, it was titled ‘The Band Who Became The Beatles’.

Over All Thought Of The Book:

I think this is actually one of the best books I ever read. I am a big music lover myself and I would totally read this book again.
Here's the book trailer


March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Vespers Rising

Cover ImageThis 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:

Vespers Rising
39 Clues #11
Released April 5, 2011

I will admit I'm a little leery about this one because 39 Clues was suppose to end with the 10th book and now wow there is #11.  I hope it's good, and they haven't just pushed the series for the sake of a profit. 

I'm excited for this book because I have a ton of kids that love the 39 Clues books and tore through them.  Now they'll have more to keep reading and that's always good.

Book Summary
The Cahills thought they were the most powerful family the world had ever known. They thought they were the only ones who knew about Gideon Cahill and his Clues. The Cahills were wrong.
Powerful enemies — the Vespers — have been waiting in the shadows. Now it’s their time to rise and the world will never be the same. In Vespers Rising, a brand new 39 Clues novel, bestselling authors Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman and Jude Watson take on the hidden history of the Cahills and the Vespers, and the last, terrible legacy Grace Cahill leaves for Amy and Dan.

March 15, 2011

Author Interview: G.S. Wolff The Girlz of Galstanberry

Today I welcome G.S. Wolff author of a great looking new series for girls - the Girlz of Galstanberry.  You've got to check this series out because it looks fun, postive and perfect for the tween set.

Below the enterview be sure to check out the book trailer and link to the website. 

Welcome to The O.W.L. G.S. Wolff!

1.  Tell how you came up with the idea for The Galstanberry Girlz series.
Great question! I began writing, The Girlz of Galstanberry when I was a research fellow at the National Institute of Health in Washington D.C. It was an opportunity to just unwind after days of laboratory experiments with mice. Ewww!! I thought it would be fun to write about a prestigious boarding school similar to mine. However, I wanted Galstanberry to be completely different from the popular genre of "preppie" books on shelves and adapted into movies. My years at Wellesley College, an all women's institution, inspired me to give Galstanberry depth-history, purpose, sophistication. But, the uniqueness does NOT stop there! I wanted the characters to be realistic and relatable. Soooo, the five main girls-Lillian, Brandi, Fei, Tabitha, and Nisha-are modeled after close friends from middle school and Wellesley. Infact, three of the girls, Fei, Lillian, and Nisha, are named after close friends. My cousin Janet and her friends, who are as diverse as the characters, were my test group. They read the 5 diary entries of each character and fell-in-L-O-V-E!!! Janet's fave character is Fei because she's funky and independent. The rest, as they say, is history!

2.How long did it take you to write the first book - from start to finish including revisions?
It to took a total of 5 months to write and revise, The Girlz of Galstanberry, the first book in the Galstanberry series. My editor revised, I amended it, and then revised it about 1000th more times!! The whole process seemed like a stressful, but interesting literary eternity :-)

3. I love that you've included girls from all different backgrounds.  Why did you decide to do that?
The world is diverse! Tall, short, blonde, braids, outspoken and timid-every girl is unique in her own way.  I wanted to create a series that celebrates the unique and diverse voices of girls. However, diversity is not only ethnically, but also socio-economically and geographically. Each of these factors help to shape a girl's personality, her friends, and opinions on life. Therefore, The Girlz of Galstanberry is a celebration of girls' unique voices.

4. According to your bio you attended a private school.  How much of the series is based on your experience there?
The series is heavily based on my life, Kindergarten-12th grade, at Detroit Country Day, a prestigious private day and boarding school in Beverly Hills, Michigan. It was, and still is, replete with students from Fortune 500 companies and political families. For example, the Galstanberry blazer and tie is mirrored after my middle school uniform. The traditions I followed at Wellesley College, such as High Tea and HouseMothers, are also incorporated into Galstanberry, but with a twist!

5. (This one my students always want to know) When you were in school, were you a good student especially in English since now you are a writer?
In school, I was a great student. However, English wasn't my favorite or best subject. If I was permitted to write stories without being graded for proper grammatical structure (ugh!), then ALL was well with the world. But, when my precious stories were returned COVERED in red pen, my heart just sank into the abyss of disappointment. Now, I can combine a really great plot with good gramatical structure. All it takes is patience, and well, a good editor :-) So, the moral of the story is: Don't let red marks scare you! Because under them is a FAN-TASTIC piece of literary work! 

6.And because this is The O.W.L. WHOOOOOOOO are the authors you enjoy reading now and/or WHOOOOO has influenced you as a writer?
Hmm. My two favorite authors are: 1) Edith Wharton, particularly her book, The House of Mirth, and; 2) Isabelle Allende's famous book, The House of Spirits. I LOOOOVE these authors! Through reading their books at least once a year (seriously!), I have learned how to write vividly and passionately. These two authors can totally paint a picture with words.

7. Tell us about the Website!!Every time girls, teachers, parents, and librarians visit the site, they fall-in-love! The bright colors and super cool music (can you name the artist?) reflect the spirit of Galstanberry-fun, sophisticated, and unique! Girls can take the personality quiz to see which Galstanberry they are most like, or vote on the character that should be featured on the collectible bookmark that will accompany Book #2 (fall 2011 release). Additionally, people can watch the cute trailer or video excerpts from the special Galstanberry author event sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan. The website also contains links for the e-book, which can be downloaded from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The paperback, which can be autographed and gift wrapped for no extra charge, is only available for purchased on the website. So, what are you waiting for? Check it out,!

Here's the trailer.

March 13, 2011

Cover Love 7th Grade Style: Sweet Venom

I love book covers.  Love them.  But what I always find interesting is how differently my students see them than I do.  A while back the cover for Sweet Venom was released and people were going on about how pretty it was, so I thought I'd get my 7th graders' take. 

Now when I do this I don't tell them anything about the book.  I just get their thoughts on the cover alone.

Here's what they said:

Dark and depressing
Pale and ugly
Her braid looks like it's alive
Venom is sweet???
Creepy but cool
I like it
I would pick it up to read it

Over all they thought it was neat but kinda odd.  The end of her braid really caught their attention for some reason.

Just in case you don't know what this book is about here's the summary from Goodreads
Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain.

March 11, 2011

Author Visit Jonathan Friesen +GIVEAWAY!

A few weeks ago my school had the privilege of having Jonathan Friesen visit our school and speak to our students.  To put it simply - he was amazing! When I had an 8th grade boy tell me "He was awesome. He was really good.  He made me want to read his books. I won't but he made me want to." Now you have to understand that the student who said that is one of my biggest non-readers!

If you don't know Jonathan Friesen has Tourette Syndrome.  He spoke about his life with tourettes from the time he was young, through a really dark time for him through now.  The way he spoke pulled the kids and held them there.  I've never seen them so quiet and listen so intently.  He emphasized over and over that people want the answer to two questions and it's those two questions he explores in his books.  They are:

Do you see me?
Do you like what you see?

How people hear the answer to these questions affects every part of their lives.  He encouraged them all to see the people around them and help them hear a strong yes to those two questions.  A girl in his school answered yes to both of those questions for him and it changed his life - by just "seeing" him and saying who he was was good.  Every day now I hear those two sentences and I try to make sure that the people around me hear a yes to both.  It was something that I, as a teacher, needed to remember.

After his talk I was able to chat with him a bit and get some books signed.  I'm so glad our wonderful Media Specialist brought him in.  He truly affected the way I see the people around me.

Here are Jonathan's books (stay tuned below for a giveaway)

Jerk, California

This Schneider Family Book Award winner changed the face of Tourette's Syndrome for modern teens. Wrought with tension, romance, and hope, Jerk, California tells the story of Sam, who sets out on a cross-country quest to learn the truth about his family and his inherited Tourette's Syndrome, along the way finding both love and acceptance.

Jake King is a full-fledged adrenaline junkie. He'll jump off of a waterfall, ride his bike down the side of a mountain, rock climb without harnesses…anything to feel the rush. Besides his best friend and secret love of his life, the beautiful Salome Lee, getting his adrenaline pumping is the only thing that clears his head. So when he's offered a spot on a hotshot crew of firefighters who rappel into wildfires, it's the perfect opportunity. Never mind that the crew members call themselves the Immortals, and that they have a habit of dying young. Salome knows there's more to the crew's mortality rate than bad luck, and to save Jake, she puts their friendship—and their unspoken romance—on the line. But to Jake, firefighting is like breathing pure adrenaline. And if he doesn't stop soon, they could all get burned. . . .

The Last Martin
There's always a Martin. One Martin. Martin Boyle already has plenty to worry about. His germaphobic mother keeps him home from school if she hears so much as a sneeze, and his father is always off somewhere reenacting old war battles. Julia, the most beautiful girl in school, won't even speak to Martin, and the gym teacher is officially out to get him. Which is why Martin really doesn't need this curse hanging over his head. On a trip to the family cemetery, Martin wanders among the tombstones of his ancestors and discovers a disturbing pattern: when one Martin is born, the previous Martin dies. And---just his luck---Martin's aunt is about to give birth to a baby boy, who will, according to tradition, be named Martin. Martin must find a way to break the curse, but every clue seems to lead to a dead end. And time is running out.

I've got one SIGNED copy of Jerk California
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Must be US resident
Fill out THIS FORM
Ends March 25

March 10, 2011

Review: Once Dead, Twice Shy

Title: Once Dead Twice Shy
Author: Kim Harrison
From Goodreads
My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.
Madison's prom was killer—literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaper—yeah, that kind of reaper—intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earth—dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.
Well, if she believed in that stuff.

My Review
I read this book this past summer, and I'm only not getting around to writing the review.  I'm kinda glad I waited until now to write it because the book grew on me over time!

When I read it I really had a hard time with it at first.  I kept double checking that I wasn't reading the second book in the series because it seemed like there were things that happened that I should know but I didn't - things that would've been in a "first" book.  Once I got over that feeling though the story moved along.

I liked Madison.  I really did.  She seemed very realistic for the unrealistic situation she was in.  She was confused, angry, closed off at times, frustrated - everything you would expect! I liked that.  I liked that she didn't seem all confident and independent.  I could buy into what was happening because of Madison's attitude and how she reacted to everything around her.

As the plot went along I had points were I was confused and a bit annoyed with Madison (but again it seemed realistic). She did things that made me just shake my head.  I could see they were going to get her into trouble, but I kind've liked that she did them anyway.  Why did I like that - because she did what I would've been afraid to do.  You gotta like a girl like that.

The ending - ok I was confused about the whole fate thing.  I mean I got it, but not completely - again I believe just like how Madison felt!  I do know that I'm super curious to see how the whole thing plays out.

Final Thought:  Ok so I didn't love it but it really did grow on me
Best stick-with-you image: Her guardian angel - cute! :)
Best for readers who like: to just have fun with a book
Best for ages: 13+

I just saw the cover for the 3rd book.  LOVE IT!

March 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Plague

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:
Plague by Michael Grant

Why I'm Waiting
Ok I'll admit I'm not waiting on this one for myself personally.  I'm waiting on it for my students.  They LOVE this series, so they are super excited for the next one to come out.  I just need to get myself going and read the first one! I know! it's hard to believe I haven't read it yet. 

And an FYI
Barnes and Noble and Amazon both have the first book, Gone,  in ebook format for $1.99!  I already preordered mine.

From Goodreads
This is a blood-pumping, white-knuckle sci-fi thriller of epic proportions. The FAYZ goes from bad to worse...The darkness has been foiled once again and the resurrected Drake has been contained. But the streets of Perdido Beach are far from safe, with a growing army of mutants fighting against the humans for power in the town. In a small room of a house near the edge of town, Little Pete lies ill on a bed. In his fevered dreams, he continues his battle with the hidden evil that seeks to use his power to bring about anarchy and destruction.

And here's the trailer (don't watch if you aren't to this book yet because I believe it contains spoilers!)

March 8, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Review of Priscilla the Great and a Giveaway

Today for Tween Tuesday (started by GreenBeanTeenQueen) I have a review for a great new tween book.

Title: Priscilla the Great
Author: Sybil Nelson

From Goodreads
Meet Priscilla Sumner, an ordinary seventh grader with extraordinary gifts. As if middle school isn’t hard enough, not only does Priscilla have to fight pimples and bullies, but genetically enhanced assassins trying to kill her and her family. Armed with wit, strength, and a genius best friend, Priscilla must defeat the Selliwood Institute, an organization dead set on turning children into killing machines.

Add an older brother annoyingly obsessed with Christina Aguilera, mischievous baby twin brothers who could scare the sin off of Satan, and parents more puzzling than a Rubik’s cube in the Bermuda triangle and expect a smoking page-turner!

My Review
I absolutely adored this book! From the spunky and realistic main character Priscilla to the fantastic action it was just fun.

First let me talk about Priscilla.  It seems lately I've read so many middle grade books where the main character was nothing like the middle schoolers I know.  Everyday I'm around 800 5-8th grader, so I think I know what's typical.  Priscilla was typical.  Now what she's going through is not typical - at all - but how she responds it is so how a girl her age would react.  She's freaked out, won't tell anyone but her best friend and tries to find ways to use it to her advantage. All things I know a real girl would do.  I also liked how she felt about her mom being gone so much.  She was angry and bitter and let her mom know.  During one video call with her mom she lets her feelings be known and the tone that comes through was perfect.  It was the exact tone a 12 year old would use! Completely perfect. To top it off, Priscilla has a crush and how she handles this crush is what I see everyday all around my school.  It was the perfect middle school crush behavior.

A bit about the other characters - the dad cracked me up! He is so over-protective, to the point this its beyond normal.  At the start of the book he busts her door off its hinges just because he doesn't respond fast enough!  As the reader I knew something more had to be up - at least I hoped so otherwise I felt very sorry for Priscilla to deal with a dad that intense.  Her twin brothers were cute without being annoying.  I loved their booger wars.  Gross but fun.  The only character I wasn't completely sold on was Priscilla's mom.  I had a harder time than Priscilla letting go of her mom missing so much of her life.  Minor thing but still there.

As for the plot - well paced.  It starts out pretty quickly and instead of dwelling on and on about what is happening to Priscilla answers start coming.  I liked that because I get kind of annoyed when a character has questions and the story goes on and on with them in the dark.  This one moved along well, giving enough details to keep the reader's interest without giving away too much. I didn't find myself getting bored. 

The ending - I liked it, but if I had any complaint it would be that part.  I think there was just a bit too much after the huge high point.  I guess all that was told was important, but it did drag a bit too much.  It was also the one point that Priscilla actually got a tish unrealistic.  She did a few things that made her seem more like a 16 year old than a 7th grader.  I could easier over look it though since the rest of the book was so strong. 

Final thought: Fun.  Pure fun.
Best stick-with-you image: Booger wars!
Best for readers who: Like fun books with super powers
Best for ages: 11-14

For more fun with the book you MUST check out the website.  It's great!  Go HERE to see it.

I was lucky enough to get a bunch of swag to giveaway.  I'll have two winners.  Each will get a t-shirt and some various other swag. 

To enter
Tell what super power you'd like
Be a US resident
Leave your email
Ends Tuesday March 22nd

March 7, 2011

Books for Trade

Just a quick note - I've got several books I'm willing to trade.  If you look just to the right you'll see a link that will take you to the form that lists them.  Take a peak and if you see something you like, let me know what you have to trade.

Books I'm really wanting:

The Dark and Hollow Places
Claire de Lune
Darkness Becomes Her
Newer books or ARCs

Thanks for looking :)

CSN Stores Review

Once again CSN Stores impresses! I had originally gone looking for a leather briefcase for my husband, but as usual I ended up getting something I wanted :)

Our front entry needed a new floor rug, so I spent hours at CSN looking.  They had so many I didn't know what to pick.  Thankfully you could search my shape, and since I wanted a round one I could narrow it better. 

This is the one I ended up getting.  Isn't it great?!? I love it!

A close up

I will say that when it showed up at my door I was a little worried about how it arrived because it was in a plastic bag not a box.  That really surprised me.  I thought that was risky.  Well once I tried to open the plastic I realized that I shouldn't have worried.  The plastic was so thick I had to take a scissors to it!  The rug was well protected.

I also need to comment on another part of the shipping.  I got an email from CSN saying it was going to ship later than promised.  Honestly - I would've never known the shipping was later than they estimated if they hadn't emailed me.  It seemed to arrive really fast!

Once again a positive experience with CSN.  If you are looking for anything (I mean anything!) try there first!

March 6, 2011

There is No Try March 6 - No Excuses

Do Not :(

So this week basically stunk when it came to writing.  It was just one of those weeks where I couldn't pull it together.  I have bunches of excuses (my sister moved, I was crabby, school was busy, etc) but the honest truth is - I just didn't sit down and write.  There I said it.  It was all my fault.

I read lots from authors about what you need to do if you want to be a writer and what do I hear over and over and over and over and over:

You need to plan your butt in the chair and WRITE!

That's what I didn't do.  Every time I don't write a million excuses try to back myself up, but I think it's time to say it and say it every timeThere are no excuses for not writing.

      If I had time to:
  • Be on Facebook
  • Be on Twitter
  • Read
  • Watch TV
  • Shop on
  • Nap
  • Plan out my "perfect" writing room

Then I had time to write.  Especially in the place of watching tv or bumming around the Internet!!!! I mean really I'll be sitting there staring at the tv, and I'll be thinking that I should be writing, but I don't plant my butt in the chair and get going.  Am I lazy? I don't think so, I'm just avoiding.  Blogging this is partially to help me not avoid! I'm hoping that it will help me work through some of my avoidance issues :)

As for spending time planning out that perfect writing room - just another excuse to not be writing - but I do have lots of ideas for one :)!

So this week's goals
  1. No excuses!
  2. Tuesday writing 9-11.
  3. Sign up for: Children's and Young Adults Literature Conference at The Loft (gulp!)
So question:  what excuse do you use when you don't write (ie - what excuse do you need to get rid of!)?

March 5, 2011

R.A.K. Rocks!!! Check it out!

Ever since I've started blogging I've been amazed by the wonderful bloggers I've met.  Well R.A.K. or Random Acts of Kindness started over at Book Soulmates is just another example of that.  I've decided to participate this month.

Here's the basic just of it:
People sign up.  You check out someone's wishlist, pick a book and mail it to them.  Someone does the same for you :)

Here's the big details taken from the Book Soulmates post on it:

• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.

• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)

• Create a wishlist and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}

• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wishlist and contact that blogger for their address.

• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)

Lets's keep our International bloggers in mind and in our hearts.
Remember, there's always the Book Depository and they offer FREE shipping!

Easy peasy!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Vanessa at
Twerd413 [at] gmail DOT com
or through twitter: @booksoulmates

March 3, 2011

Author Interview: Kimberly Derting

I'm so excited that I was able to interview Kimber Derting who is part of the Dark Days of Supernatural Tour with HarperTeen. This tour highlights five fantastic authors with five awesome books.  I'm super excited because the tour is making a stop here at The O.W.L. and in my hometown, so I'll get to meet several of the authors in person!

Kimberly Derting's latest book, Desires of the Dead, was just released.  It is a sequel to The Body Finder (I'm currently reading The Body Finder and LOVING it!).  Here's a bit about it, if you haven't heard of it yet:
The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.
Desires of the DeadViolet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.
As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

Now on with the interview! Welcome, Kimberly Derting to The O.W.L.!
I like to ask authors questions that my students always want to know the answer to, so they are from them.

1.  Where did the idea for this series come from?

Oh boy, here we go….my husband loves this question!  He will jokingly (I think!) say that he is “the wind beneath my wings” or even my “co-author” all because he was the one who first said:  “What if there was a kid who could find dead bodies?”  Of course, what he conveniently forgets is that his idea was for a middle-grade boy adventure.  Oh, and that I’m the one who actually wrote the book!

2.  Have you always written? When you were younger did you write a lot?

When I was really young, I used to write stories about winged horses that lived in these elaborate cities in the clouds.  But it wasn’t until I took 7th grade journalism that I realized I wanted to be a writer.

And here we are, just a couple decades later. 

3.  How did you do in school? Was English your best subject?

Honestly, no.  I was good at English, but I wasn’t really a great student in high school.  I did best in classes that had real-world deadlines, like journalism and yearbook.  Other than that, I was really good at writing notes to my friends…or what kids today call “texting.”

4. How long did it take you to write this book (or any book)?  How much revision do you have to do?

Generally it takes me about 4 months to write a good solid first draft and get the stamp of approval from my agent.  And then there are several months of revising with my editor (which involves a lot of back-and-forth) until it’s in good enough shape for readers.  And thank goodness for agents and editors, that’s all I can say!

5.  What are some of your favorite authors now and when you were younger?

When I was younger I read Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), John Saul (who writes these really good ghost stories), Thomas Harris (the Hannibal Lector books), and anything by Stephen King.

Now, I love SO MANY authors:  Melissa Marr, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, Cassandra Clare, Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noel, Becca Fitzpatrick, Carrie Ryan…and probably a zillion others!!!

6.  And this one is because it's The OWL - Whooooo is your inspiration when it comes to writing and why?

Stephen King was a huge inspiration for becoming a writer.  When I was younger, I LOVED the way he would scare the heck out of me!

Thank you Kimberly for sharing your answers! Now for a few more goodies.

If you'd like to read a chapter in Desires of the Dead click HERE!

And here's the trailer if you haven't seen it yet.

March 2, 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross

Title: Cryer's Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Copy Obtained: Through Netgalley

From Goodreads
The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried
My Review
I've put off writing this review for a little while.  Here's why: I'm not sure what I thought of this book.  I definitely didn't hate it! But I also didn't love it.  I went into it ready to be creeped out because I had heard about how scary it was - making some people afraid to read it at night! That didn't happen for me.  Granted it takes a lot for a book to scare me - a lot, so I shouldn't be surprised that this one didn't.

Ok let me look at what I liked.  I loved the pace of it the story.  The way Lisa McMann writes is very brisk (the best word I can come up with).  She uses a lot of short sentences that pull the story along.  You don't get caught up long descriptions that can drag a story down - and this story is not the type that should be dragged down.  You need to feel the drive Kendall feels.  You need to step into the flow of where the events are taking her.  Doing that made the story much stronger. To go with the pace, the story does build to a pace that in going so fast that you want to grab Kendall and stop her, but there is no time or way to.  I will admit that the final act Kendall is compelled to do did get to me some, but because of the way McMann writes I couldn't stop reading.

I also liked that Kendall has OCD.  It was an interesting twist that I hadn't seen used before.  I liked how the people around her just accepted it - Jacian in particular.  He wasn't thrown by it at all.  I think that added to me liking him and buy into their relationship better. The best part about the OCD was that it made Kendall both strong and vulnerable at the same time.  You knew that after dealing with OCD her whole life that she had an inner strength, but at the same time it put her at risk.  It was interesting to see how it played out in the events of the story.  I honestly don't think the story would've been as good if Kendall didn't have OCD.

The last thing I want to comment on is the "secret" of the small down.  I thought there was a lot of build up to it, but after that it was almost forgotten.  It was bad, but it was moved away from so quickly that I almost felt let down.

Final Thought:  Good but it didn't scare me
Best stick-with-you image: Dirt - that's all I can say
Best for readers: who want to be scared and are by books
Best for ages: 13+

March 1, 2011

Tween Tuesday-Team OWL Review The Emerald Atlas

Today for Tween Tuesday (started by the awesome GreenBeanTeenQueen) I have a Team Owl review of a book that is making a big splash in the tween scene:

The Emerald Atlas
by John Stephens

From Goodreads

Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Until now.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
Team Owl Review
The Emerald Atlas was one of the best books ever and I’m so glad I got to review it, it was so funny and had so many parts that made me burst out laughing.  I just loved everything about the book, the plot was funny and it got me hooked on the first page till the end, it had everything I love in a book magic, make believe creatures, funny.  The characters were great, especially the three main characters Kate, Emma, and Michael, Kate is just seems like a great big sister to have and Emma seems mean and rude on the outside, but on the inside, well she’s still kinda mean, but she’s a sweat little girl who loves her family, and Michael who has an obsession with dwarfs and knows almost everything that you can know about dwarfs.  I just loved this book and I hope that there are more like it for me to read.
My Note
My daughter also read this book and LOVED it as well.  I think we'll be hearing more and more about this series.  I do have a concern about the cover though - I'm not sure it will appeal to my students.  I'll have to see.  I do like this one below better, but I believe it's the Germain cover.

If you haven't seen the trailer - take a look!