September 29, 2011

My Birthday!

Today is my birthday! I am 41 years old.  Yup 41.  My daughter says I'm old.  And I guess from the perspective of a 12 year old I am old.  But from my perspective I'm not old at all.  Actually just the other day I was wondering when I'll begin to feel, and act, like a 40 year old - an adult! I'm thinking that I never will!!!  My brother-in-law told me to act how I wanted and not worry about my age.  I said that sounded like a plan - I'll act how I want and let my age figure itself out. I hope you all do the same!

I thought about what to do to celebrate my birthday here on the blog.
 -Send everyone cupcakes? Yummy but no.  
-Invite you all for a party? Fun but pricey for you! 
-Tell you all to send me a present? Great for me - not so much for you!

Have a giveaway as a party favor for actually celebrating with me by reading this post even though it didn't say giveaway in the title? YES!!!!!


One book of your choice from The Book Depository up to $20!!

To Enter:
Open to ALL my followers as long as Book Depository ships to you.
Must be at least 13
Any money left after $20 will not be given
Enter using THIS FORM

+1 extra entry 
Share IN THE COMMENTS how old you feel! Not your real age - just how old you feel!
 I feel about 16 most days :) 
For those of you still teenagers - you may actually feel your age and that's ok!

September 28, 2011

W.o.W. Liesl and Po

This post 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.

I'm Waiting On:

Liesl and Po
by Lauren Oliver

I Lauren Oliver, so I'm very curious to see what she'll do with a MG book.  Many YA authors have been publishing MG, and I'm excited for that because it can bridge the gap between the two for my middle school readers!  This one just looks great and something my students will want to pick up!

Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable

Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

September 27, 2011

Book Review +Giveaway: AMULET Book Four: The Last Council!

Title: The Last Council (Amulet #4)
AuthorKazu Kibuishi
Publisher: Scholastic
Ages: 9-12


Kazu Kibuishi's thrilling, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series continues!

Emily and her friends think they’ll find the help they need in Cielis, but something isn’t right.  Streets that were once busy are deserted, and the townspeople who are left live in fear.  Emily is soon escorted to the Academy, where she’s expected to compete for a spot on the Guardian Coucil, a group of the most powerful Stonekeepers.  But as the number of competitors gets smaller and smaller, an awful secret is slowly uncovered – a secret that, if left buried, means the certain destruction of everything Emily fights for.

My Review
I haven't read many graphic novels, but after reading The Last Council I understand their appeal to some of my middle school readers.

This was a wonderfully fast paced novel that kept me reading and wondering how the main characters would get  out of the situation they were in.  Once they got out of one, they were right into another.  As a reader you aren't given much time to pause! And for kids who don't like reading much - that type of plot is perfect!  Beyond the pace, the story itself was great.  The story took some pretty good turns in this book setting up a huge battle yet to come.  I could tell that Emily grew as a character because she, in the end, knew what she needed to do.  There was also a nice twist that I didn't see coming at all.  I think readers of the series will be surprised at some of the things that happen.  That keeps the story fresh and interesting!

Because this is a graphic novel I want to take a second to comment on the graphics of the story.  If you look below you'll see a page of the book.  This is just a small taste of how great the graphics were.  Some people think reading a graphic novel is too easy for kids or like reading a picture book.  After reading this book I disagree.  There was information within the pictures that the reader has to notice and interpret.  If you don't, maybe just skip over the pictures, you'll miss some of the story.  You must look and infer, so you know the full story!  And besides why would you want to skip the graphics! They were amazing - so rich and full of color.  Loved them!

For the Guys?  YES! Even though Emily is more of the main character it's not "girly".  The action is great.  The story is complex.  Boys will like it!

Final Thought: It has sold me on graphic novels.  I'll be reading the whole series!
Best stick-with- you image:  The Groul.  Scary!
Best for readers who: Like fast paced stories that take some twists and turns
Best for ages: 9-12   

Here's a look at the inside of the book:

And of course you'll need to check out the websites!

And the trailer!

Now the Giveaway!
Up for grabs are 2 copies of The Last Council!

To Enter:
Must be a US resident
Must be at least 13
Must fill out THIS FORM
Ends in one week: Oct 4 midnight CST

September 26, 2011

Cover Crush (lost): Cryer's Cross

I love book covers.  I really really do!  I've been known to drag my sister across Barnes and Noble just to show her a cover.  Or to find students just to show them a cover.  I truly do crush on covers!

Today though I have to talk about a cover I did crush on, and now I'm sad because they've just ruined it.  

That cover is:

Cryer's Cross  

I loved this cover! It was so different from anything else there, and it just screamed creepy! I know too, that it got a ton of my students to pick it up and take a look at it.  Both boys and girls.

Now they are changing it for the paperback to this:

Saddness.  To me it just doesn't fit the book.  Where is the creepiness?  Where is the appeal to both boys and girls?  Sigh.  Thankfully I have the hardcover for my classroom.

I have to share this version of the cover as well though:

 I believe it's the German cover.  LOVE it!  Creepy!!!!!!

Sorry to go negative on a Cover Crush Monday, but it was one time I just had to share my sadness :(

September 25, 2011

Heather Brewer Book Signing +GIVEAWAY

Just this past Thursday I was extremely lucky to attend a book signing by Heather Brewer. I have loved the Vladimir Tod books forever, so having the chance to meet her was amazing! She was promoting her new book series - a spin off from the Vlad books title The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill. It follows the story of Joss a character out of the Vlad series. I'm super excited to hear more about Joss's life. What's really neat is that Heather said that Joss's books take place during the summer between the Vlad books (the Vlad books follow the school year).

That's pretty cool! But the coolest part of the signing was just listening to Heather talk. She was amazing. She really shared a lot about her life from the fact she was bullied all the way through school - everything from being kicked, punched, hit, pinched and spit on - to what it took to finally get published. It was very inspiring to hear all that she went through and see where she is now. I've been to a lot of author signings, but her's was the best I've been too just because of the message she gave. If you ever get a chance to see her I say go!

Sidenote: one of my former students came to the signing too, and it was so fun to see how excited she was to meet Heather.  And then to watch Heather chat with her was fantastic!  I know it was a great experience for her!

Here's a few pics 

Heather just talking to us 

Signing books

Me with her (and I have no clue what I was doing to look so goofy in this pic!) 

Now for a giveaway!!! I bought a copy of The Slayer Chronicles - First Kill and had Heather sign it. It's up for grabs!! 

To enter: 
Must be a US resident (sorry international followers!) 
Must be at least 13 
No PO Boxes
Fill out THIS FORM
Ends in one week Oct 2nd midnight

September 24, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme where bloggers share what books they got in their mailbox, from the library or bought.  I got some good ones this week.


Paperback Swap

For Review
Dreamland (audio book)

In my mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren each week.

September 23, 2011


I have a few winners to announce!


Ashley H. (info has been sent to publisher)

Map of Me 
(info has been sent)

Kayla B.
Maria (pronounced Mariah)
Debrah M.

Congrats everyone!  I'll have a few new giveaways coming up soon!

September 22, 2011

Book Review: Hades (Halo #2)

Title: Hades (Halo #2)
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends


Heaven Help Her.

Bethany Church is an angel sent to Earth to keep dark forces at bay. Falling in love was never part of her mission, but the bond between Beth and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier Woods, is undeniably strong. But even Xavier’s love, and the care of her archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can’t keep Beth from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell. There, the demon Jake Thorn bargains for Beth’s release back to Earth. But what he asks of her will destroy her, and quite possibly, her loved ones, as well.

My Review
I'm not sure how to start this review because of what of thought of the book.  I'll say it plainly - I wasn't thrilled with it.  I read the first book and wasn't really excited about it either, but I went into this one hoping it would get better.  It didn't.  I don't want to go on an on about it so I'll just touch on some things that I didn't like.  First the relationship between Bethany and Xavier - it was so serious, overly so I thought - especially the ending.  They are suppose to be high school students so it seemed unrealistic.  I also didn't like how Bethany devoted all her time to him - not really doing anything else with friends etc.  That bothered me because I wasn't sure what it would tell young readers.

Briefly about them being angels and their mission. Bethany, Gabriel and Ivy are suppose to be in that place to help change it, but I didn't see much of that happening especially from Bethany.   The whole reason why they were on Earth seemed weak and almost a side note. I talked about them getting more people to volunteer and go to church, but I still didn't get the whole reason.  And I kept thinking - why that town that seems pretty tame.  Why not some place like with more crime, abuse etc?

In the story Bethany ends up in Hades with Jake Thorn.  When she gets down there the story began to lag without much happening for quite a bit.  I wanted more action and less about her missing her family.  And I was thinking the whole time - she's an angel!  Her brother and sister are angels! they should be able to do more! Instead they just seemed to stand around for a long while. Along with that, the description of the people in Hades bothered me.  Many were tattooed, wore dark clothing and had piercing.  To me it felt like it was saying that people dressed like this were "bad".  I teach students that dress like that and have that image! They are great kids.  I struggled with that. 

Ok Ok let me talk about one part that was ok:  the plot - it was slow moving at points but I did like that it really jumped into it right away.  From the very beginning the tension started.  Now it did stall for a while during the middle while Bethany was stuck in Hades.  But as the fight began to release her the action did pick up again.  Over-all the plot was good.  It was more action and less Bethany adjusting like it was in Halo.   That was good.  And how the whole situation was resolved was interestingly done and did hold my interest.  

And I'll address your thought right now- yes I'm a 40 year old reading this not a teen.  I do have a different perspective!  I know that every girl I have in school that has read Halo has loved it.  One girl just now was sooooooo excited that I had the sequel, and she snatched it right away.  That tells me that, for teens, the writing is good and they don't see what I do.  I guess that makes it good for them!

For the Guys?  NOPE! They would not the focus on Bethany and her emotions.

Final Thought:  Sorry but it wasn't for me
Best stick-with-you image: The descriptions of Hades as a setting (not the people) - unique world
Best for readers who: Like a love story with some suspense/tension built in
Best for ages: 12+

September 21, 2011

WOW: Gil Marsh

This post 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.

I'm Waiting On:

Gil Marsh
by A.C.E. Bauer
Released: February 2012

Ok I realize this one is a long ways out, but this one looks amazing! And I'm super excited that the main character is a boy.  YA with a main character that's a boy!  What really got me was that when I first started to read the summary I was thinking it just had to be about steroids and sports, so when I saw it was about cancer and mourning the loss of someone I was more excited because it wasn't a sports book!  We need sports books, but we need books with male leads that aren't about sports too!

September 20, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Floors by Patrick Carman

Tuesday are the day I make sure to focus on the tween set - you know those kids between the ages of 9 and 12.  I like so highlight or review great books and authors for tweens.  

Today I'm highlighting a book I plan on reading really soon, and one that I had no clue was coming out!!

by Patrick Carman

Why didn't anyone tell me Patrick Carman had a book for tweens coming out???? I've enjoyed the books I've read by him as have my students.  So when I was walking through Barnes and Noble and saw this book on the "New" shelf I was very excited!  I almost bought it, but honestly I'm on a book buying ban.  I can't spend on books right now.  This book sounds so fun.  I can totally see kids enjoying it.  And to top that - I could see it as a book I could hand to boys too!

Has anyone read this yet??


Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel.
The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets. Leo should know most of them - he is the maintenance man's son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when a series of cryptic boxes are left for him . . . boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances. Leo had better be quick on his feet, because the fate of the building he loves is at stake . . . and so is Leo's own future!
Tween Tuesday was started over at the awesome blog GreenBeanTeenQueen! 

September 19, 2011

Cover Crush: Faery Tales and Nightmares

I soooo love book covers. Honestly I've been known to drag my sister through the bookstore to show her a cover I like or hunt down certain students to show them.  It really is like I have a crush.  So once a week I like to highlight these covers.

This Week I'm Crushing On:

Faery Tales and Nightmares
Melissa Marr

I'm crushing on it because it's just plain hauntingly pretty. The gown is pretty, but why is she in a seemingly rotting out building??  When I add the title to it I really wonder.  How are faery tales and nightmares together? I thought faery tales were suppose to be sweet! This cover makes them seem creepy and sad!

September 18, 2011

Winner of All These Things I've Done!

I have a winner to announce!  Congrats.

All These Things I've Done

Tiffany D.

I've got all your address, so I'll be passing in on to the proper people to get your book out to you!
Congrats again and thanks for entering!

Don't forget to enter the two giveaways still happening.
Dreamland Go HERE to see how to enter.
Map of Me - Go HERE to enter.

September 16, 2011

BBAW: What is Essential?

Today for the wrap up of BBAW here's what we've been asked to share:

The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you believe are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.

I don't know if I'm writing exactly what they are looking for, but I'm answering it this way anyways!

Essential Tried and True Practices

1.  Always be honest in your reviews.  Always!  You let your followers down when you aren't honest.  I know this can be hard when it seems like everyone else loves a book you didn't like!

2.  Let your passion for reading come through (aka your personality).  This is some ting I need to remind myself of every time I blog!  I'll start writing a review and it will sound all formal - not like me at all.  But, at the same time, I also have to remind myself of this when I am writing in my own "voice" and I think I should sound more formal.  I decided a while back to be myself in my blog.  People will like it or not.  That's life.  I'd rather be myself and lose followers than be someone I'm not and have tons of followers!

3.  Whenever possible schedule your blogs in advance! It saves times! I do mine on Sunday for the week.  Makes my week so much easier.

Trends or Tools I've Recently Adopted or Want To

1. I get an email when I get a reply to a post on the blog.  LOVE IT because it allows me to reply back more!

2. I've started using Google Calendar for posts that HAVE to be done.  I have it on my phone so an alarms goes off a few days before.  That way I make sure posts are getting done on time.

3.  A trend I've seen a few bloggers do is short reviews.  Mini reviews a lot call them.  I like them! I want to see those become a bit more of a trend or ok to do.  I don't need long in-depth reviews.  

Just my thoughts on blogging :)

September 15, 2011

Alyson Noel's Dreamland Trailer +GIVEAWAY

Dreamland, the third installment in Alyson Noel's Riley Bloom series is now out! 
 I have several girls that love this series and are very excited to see the third book.

 Here's a bit about Dreamland:
 Riley's finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer's dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it's her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who's been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.

Alyson Noël continues the bestselling story of Riley Bloom as she learns how dreams are made and tries to make contact with her sister, Ever.

Now check out the trailer

For more info check out these links:

Macmillan page for Alyson Noël: 

I'm excited to be able to offer a copy of Dreamland!

To enter:
Fill out THE FORM
Must be at least 13
US or Canadian Resident Only
Ends Sept 20th

BBAW: How Has Blogging Changed What You Read

Today for BBAW we're looking at how being a blogger and following blogs has changed how I read. Has it opened up new authors or genres? The way I read? How I read?  

It's changed my reading life in a lot of ways!

  • I know all the MG/YA books coming out before they hit the shelves so BN isn't a surprise anymore!
  • I've discovered that authors published by smaller publishers write awesome books.
  • I have a longer list of books to read and SOMETIMES reading feels like work :(
  • I know books like: Entwined, Ruby Red, Rot & Ruin, and Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze that I would've never known before!
  • When reading a book I do always think about how I'll review it.
  • I use book trailers in my classroom to promote a book and get kids interested
  • I crave signed books :)
  • I know what swag is!

But the biggest way I've changed - I listen to audio books!  Really! I would've never listened to audio books if it hadn't been for blogging.  I just never gave them much thought.  For one thing the price was always a factor. But after reading reviews on them and listening to other blogger rave about them I decided to give them a try.  And now I love them!  I learned how to get them through my library and so price isn't an issue anymore.  They are my new passion for getting reluctant readers to read.  I don't think they should ever replace "traditional" reading, but I see the potential they hold.  I owe all the bloggers that showed me the light.  Thank you!!!!!

Has blogging changed you either being a blogger or reading blogs?  

September 14, 2011

I'm In Shock. The O.W.L. Won Best Kidlit Blog!

Complete and utter shock here because The O.W.L. won
 Best Kidlit Blog for BBAW! 
 I am both honored and humbled.  To know that "strangesr" take time to check out what I have to share is humbling.  You see I started this blog because of my students.  My passion is to get them reading, and this blog is a tool for doing that. I never thought it would something other people would be interested in.  But to have other people read it and feel it's worthwhile is such wonderful icing on the cake.  
And that maybe my babbling about books is helping another teacher or parent get kids reading are candles in that icing.  And, lastly, that maybe it's helping a middle schooler I've never met find a book to read - well that's lighting those candles.  It's more than I ever dreamed of when I started I want The O.W.L. 

Thank you all!!!  The O.W.L. would be a pretty lonely place without my followers!!!!  Thanks for reading. 
 I'm truly humbled that you take time to see what I have to say.  

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

BBAW: Being Part of the Community

Today for BBAW we're looking at how to become part of the book blogging community through all the time constraints on our lives.

I know this can be a tough one!  I follow so many blogs, and I feel bad that I don't get to comments as much as  I'd like. But here's a few things I do to keep myself feeling like I'm still participating in the book blogging community beyond just creating posts on my own blog.

1. I have found that being on Twitter has really helped me stay part of the community.  I'm lucky and have a smart phone, so I use Twitter on there.  The app I have allows me to quickly see what's happening and reply to anyone who has Tweeted to me. I know this way isn't for everyone, but it has helped me stay connected.

2. Pick one weekly feature and make that the one for sure every week you're going to make comments on.  For some people this is always the IMM posts.  They commit to commenting on them each week.  For me I like to do Tween Tuesday just because it focuses on the MG books.  It's up to you what feature, or meme, to pick but if you pick one then you know you're being part of the community that way.

3. If you have a blog and don't get emails when someone comments on your posts - get them!!! I just started this.  So as not to clutter up my inbox I created an email just for them.  I took my blog email and just added "comments" to the end for this new email.  What's nice about this is that I can reply back one of two ways.  I can either reply right on the post, or if I'm short of time I can reply to them through email right there.  It's been nice because I feel like I'm having a conversation more.  I don't reply to every one, but I reply more than I use to!

4. Use Google Reader!!!!! If you don't know how - learn! It makes going through the blogs you follow so much easier.  I go through and star the ones I want to go back and reply to.  Super easy!

Those are just three ways I try to stay a part of the community.  I will admit it takes time!  Again because I have a smart phone I can do a lot on down time when waiting for the kids etc.  Best advice though - just jump in and have fun.  If following, replying, Tweeting feelings like work - STOP being a part of this community should be fun not work!!! :)

September 13, 2011

Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Title:  The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Aladdin
Copy Obtained: For Blog Tour

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.

Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.

In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.

But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.

My Review I've read Lisa McMann's Wake series and enjoyed it, so when I saw she had a book coming out for the middle grades I knew I had to check it out! What I found was a book full of creativity, magic and heart.

The tag at the top of the book cover quoted from Kirkus is: "The Hunger Games Meets Harry Potter." Ok those are big shoes to fill! What I liked about The Unwanteds was that it filled those shoes but in very much its own way. It's not a knock off of those two books at all. It's its own story fully and completely. What I think I enjoyed the most was the use of creativity as a way to use magic. Alex (the main character) is gifted in art, so he uses art within his magic, like he paints himself invisible. Another girl Meghan has a talent for music, so she plays certain instruments that cast spells on people. I found a completely unique concept. Maybe it's been done before, but it felt like such a new idea. I think for those kids who prefer arts (drama, music, art) compared to athletics will really like that it makes those talents powerful. The emphasis on using this magic to make your opponent or enemy immobile - not kill them - was also great. The story was still filled with tension, but less dark. I liked that especially in a MG book.

The world of The Unwanteds was fantastic. I think that was the strength of this book. I completely bought into Artime and how it was described. I could really see it all and how it worked together. It came alive to me, and I forgot it wasn't a real place or even a place that could be possible. Actually there are things in the story I wish I had! Each room has this blackboard that relays messages from friends, makes announcements and general helps you run your life. I'd love to have one! And I'd love for all my students to have one! Another cool thing it does - you can order food from the kitchen from it, and it's sent up! Want!!!! It was details like that, that made the world more alive and real. I worried, like the people who lived there, that their world would be destroyed. It seemed like such a happy and positive place that I didn't want to see it harmed - just like how the characters of the story felt. Now that's a well created world!

The characters were great. I liked Alex a lot. He seemed like a very typical 13 year old boy. When his friends start to use their magic on him he reaction how many kids his age would act - he basically pouts and hides from them! I could completely see that happening. I will admit there were times that Alex's typical behavior frustrated me because I knew he was making a mistake! I saw where his actions were going to take him, and all I could to was watch it play out hoping it would end ok. To go with Alex, I liked the tension that was created by having his twin Aaron be a Wanted and left in the city of Quill. With them being twins, you knew it would be hard for Alex to forget about Aaron and let him go. I was curious to see what would happen because of this. Would he contact Aaron? What would Aaron do if he did? I kept reading to find out the answers. The rest of the characters were good although maybe a tish 2 dimensional at times. The focus was on Alex, so sometimes the rest of the characters really faded to the back. I did, however, really like Lani and understood her anger the most.

Lastly - I showed this book to my students to share what I was currently reading. I told them a bit about it and by the end of the day I had at least 5 kids ask if I had another copy. They were very interested in it. One student went out that night and bought it. He told me he loved it and couldn't put it down. I agree!

For the Guys? For sure!!!!! The main character is a boy, so that's a plus. It also has some great action and moves at a good pace. I also like that Alex is a great model for boys and one they can relate to.

Final Thought: It's not The Hunger Games.  It's not Harry Potter.  It is it's own magnificent self!
Best Stick-With-You Image: Scatter clips.  I want some :)
Best for Reader Who: Like books with magic and creativity - and kids who prefer the arts to athletics
Best for Ages: 9+

September 12, 2011

Welcome to Book Blogger Appreciation Week!!!

Welcome everyone to Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  

This is the week each year where we celebrate the book blogging community - and what a great community it is!

Throughout the week you'll be seeing different posts sharing some of our thoughts, celebrations, goals on blogging.  Today we're looking at the community of blogging and sharing with our readers some of the great bloggers that have made blogging a unique experience for us.

I have a few to share!

Ms. Martin Teaches Media: Ms. Martin is a fellow MN blogger that I love!  Every time I go to her blog I'm reminded of the basic reason why I'm blogging - to read and review books so others can find great books to read.  That's what she does! If you are looking for a clear, concise review of MG or YA books, you need to check out her blog.  Her love for reading comes through each review, and the sheer number of books she reviews is testament to the fact that reading is important to her.

Reading Vacation: I sometimes feel like a fraud reviewing MG books because I'm definitely not the right age for them!  Malina at Reading Vacation is! But she way more than that.  To me she is the face of the middle school reader - the age I teach, so following her blog and reading her reviews gives me insight into what they are thinking and that helps me get them reading more.  But beyond that, she's just an amazing blogger!  She is taking the blogging community to a new level with her just announced Young Bloggers feature.  If you want to see the true diversity in YA/MG blogging plus meet a girl that kicks my butt when it comes to the amount of reading she does you have to check her out!!!!!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy:  If you don't know Juju or her blog you must go!  She is the nicest, sweetest blogger around.  I aspire to be like her in the amount of comments she makes on the blogs of others AND how she replies to the comments on her own blog.  She is a shining example of community in the blogger world.  To top it off, she has a great blog.  I really like her Wee-views where she gives short reviews on a book.  Thanks Juju for all you do!

Those are just three of the many bloggers that influence me daily.  Do you have any you would like to share?

September 11, 2011

MINI Book Review: Hexbound

Title: Hexbound
Author: Chloe Neill
Copy Obtained: Bought

From Goodreads
Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia’s School for Girls, but she’s already learned that magic can be your best friend…or your worst enemy.

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Turns out, even a little magic can turn you to the dark side. That’s why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities, on top of avoiding the snobs who think they run her school, nursing a crush on a cute sophomore with a big, werewolf-y secret, and fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago’s nastiest nightlife—including the tainted magic users known as Reapers.

Then Lily’s invited to a private meeting with Sebastian. He’s hot, powerful, and offering to help her harness the magic flowing in her veins in a way no one else can. He’s also a Reaper. Lily can’t hide her suspicions. But she’ll soon find out that the line between good and evil isn’t always clear....

My Review
Ok, so I read this book a while ago, and I'm just writing the review now so this is going to be short.

I enjoyed this book.  I picked up right where Firespell left off.  Lily is now helping patrol the tunnels below the school/city and keep people safe.  Right off the book jumps into the action/mystery as we find out weird things are happening that nobody as seen before.  I definitely liked that it wasn't a slow start, instead pulling me right back into the story.

Lily begins to understand and learn some things about her past, her parents and the world she now finds herself in.  But throughout the whole book it seemed like just as she'd figure one thing out, 12 more questions would arise! Frustrating for me the reader, but way more for Lily!  Plus she still doesn't know who she can and cannot trust.  Sebastian is a huge question!  I liked the way their relationship played out in this installment.  It was tense and uncertain and to a degree frustrating.  Definitely kept me reading.  Trying to figure out what was happening in the tunnels was the other part that kept me reading.  I wanted to know what was going on and why.
In the end it was an enjoyable read.  I'll continue with the series for sure.  I just hope the next book has many more answers! I can't remember if this is only a trilogy or not

If you haven't seen the cover for the next book in the series, Charmspell,  here it is.  It's due out: January 2012


September 10, 2011

IMM, Owl of the Week, New Pages +Winner

First a WINNER! The winner of Hades (Halo #2) is Sablelexi.  She's been contacted.  Congrats!

Well for In My Mailbox I only have one book! And honestly that is not a bad thing!  I have so many books to read, that it's good that I didn't collect more.  

The book it got - and my aunt sent it to me because she remembered me saying I wanted to read it -  is:

This is the only "adult" book I've wanted to read in a long time.  
In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren each week.  Thanks Kristi!

A few New Things on the Blog

Check out my navigation bar.  
If you click on "REVIEWS" you'll find and alphabetized list of my reviews.  
And if you click on "THE GUYS" you'll find an alphabetized list of "guy" books I've reviewed or featured and guy authors that I've interviewed or have done guest posts.  I hope it becomes a resource for helping the guys in your life find some books to read.  

Owl of the Week 

I found this cute tote on Etsy at Sweet Tempered.  Look at the owls - they are winking just like the new owls on my blog!!!!  Really tempted to get this!  I need a new school bag. Hmmmmmmmm.  If you want to see the whole listing click HERE.  And then check out all the listings at Sweet Tempered.  She's got some cute stuff.  There are some cupcake bags that my daughter might need for Christmas.

September 9, 2011

Book Review: Dust & Decay

On Fridays I like step back and make sure that I am addressing boy readers.  It's so easy to review and highlight books for girls, but I also teach boys, so I need to make sure to find books for them! Today I have a book review of an awesome book.

Title: Dust & Decay
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Book Obtained: Won

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them. 
Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive? 
In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.
My Review
I don't know if you know how much I loved Rot & Ruin the first book in this series, but I LOVED it!  I shared it over and over with my students last year I think they got sick of hearing it.  But every student that I got to read it agreed with me.  One girl even told me "that is a books that more people should read".  So when I saw the second book coming out I was soooooooooo unbelievably excited.  Then I won a copy! Life was good.

So - did the sequel hold up to the original??? Yes.  Yes it did!  I've always said this book is the best non-zombie zombie book out there.  That it is about so much more than just running away from zombies.  This book continues that.  Oh yes of course there are zombies (more on this later), but it's about so much more.  About figuring out who you are and how you belong.  About learning to accept mistakes and moving forward from them.  About learning how to accept help.  It's all that set within the midst of a world given over to zombies. And for Benny and his friends in this book set within a struggle between them and people who have nothing but horrible intentions.  

Benny grew so much in this book - even more than the first book.  He became more of man.  Oh and wow the change in Chong! Talking about really becoming more of who you should be.  But the biggest change - Lilah The Lost Girl.  She went from mostly a myth in the first book to a full fleshed out person in this book.  She had been living alone broken off from everyone, but now is faced with how to deal with people around her that care about her.  Her reality is completely shaken up, and she doesn't know how to handle it.  Watching her struggle through this was better than any of the zombie battles.  Maberry did such a fantastic job looking not only how Lilah dealt with the world dissolving into chaos, but the different ways that people in general do.  

Ok about those zombies - this book, in comparison to the first book,  had more zombie battles that were definitely more intense.  I found myself cringing more.  Now this all makes sense because they are not out in the rot and ruin instead of being "safe" in the town. This change was also good, because it brought a newness to this part of the story - it didn't feel like the same old stuff recycled from book 1.  What's even scarier was some of the changes being seen in these zombies.  No answers about them, but just the beginning of a hint that much more is to come that they may or may not be prepared for.  It will be very interesting to see how they play out in the next (last???) book.  If I thought I had things figure out I was wrong - and I think the characters might be feeling that way too!

For the Guys?  YES!!!!! Great action.  Great intensity.  Love interest but in a way they could relate to.  Awesome food from Benny's situation that many boys could relate to as well.

Final Thought: Well done. Very well done!
Best stick-with-you image: When Benny opens the door the first night in the rot and ruin.  SCARY!
Best for readers:  Who like thinking with their zombies
Best for ages: 12+ for sure.  Younger kids might have a hard time with some of the graphic scenes.