September 28, 2012

Blog Fest 2012 - My GIVEAWAY!


Hey all! Today - and the next few days - is Blog Fest.  

What is Blog Fest??

BlogFest is a blog run of sorts. A list of participating blogs will be provided on September 28, each offering a fantastic giveaway for readers to enter. Each blog will link to another, pulling readers through the fantastic party we'll have set up for them!

This is hosted by A Journey of Books.  Follow the link to see more!!!!!

I'm keeping mine simple since I'm short on time.

You have the choice of 3 books:

Liesel and Po

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mytery and a Very Strange Adventure

The Shadows: Books of Elsewhere (SIGNED!!)

To Enter:
Must be a US resident
Must be as least 13

Be sure to check out the next few blog participating!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 26, 2012

Blog Tour: Shelter and Seconds Away +GIVEAWAY

Very excited to be part of the blog tour for Harlan Coben's Mickey Bolitar series!  

The main reason I'm excited about these books is because I knew they'd be great "guy" books.  After reading them this thought was completely confirmed!

First about the two books

Shelter (Book #1)

The stunning young adult debut from international bestseller Harlan Coben is now in paperback!

Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools. Fortunately, he's met a great girl, Ashley, and it seems like things might finally be improving. But then Ashley vanishes. Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that Ashley isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

Seconds Away (Book #2)
When tragedy strikes close to home, Mickey Bolitar and his loyal new friends—sharp-witted Ema and the adorkably charming Spoon—find themselves at the center of a terrifying mystery involving the shooting of their friend Rachel. Now, not only does Mickey have to continue his quest to uncover the truth about the Abeona Shelter, the Butcher of Lodz and the mysterious death of his father, he needs to figure out who shot Rachel—no matter what it takes.

Mickey has always been ready to sacrifice everything to help the people he loves. But with danger just seconds away, how can he protect them when he’s not even sure who—or what—he’s protecting them from?

Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of numerous adult novels, and the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award, and Anthony Award – the first author to receive all three. His books are published in forty languages with over 47 million copies in print worldwide – and have been #1 Bestsellers in over a dozen countries. He lives in New Jersey.

Official Links

And you need to see the trailer!

Ok, ok now my review!

I'm going to keep this brief for a few reasons - mostly because this post is getting long! and I find that in books like this I have to be so careful to not giveaway things!!!

Did I like the books??? Yes! I have always been a mystery buff.  Before I read nothing by YA and MG I read all of Jonathan Kellerman's, Patricia Cornwell's and James Patterson books.  They are all mystery-type writers.  There were others I read as well, but those were the three big ones.  I just love getting caught up in trying to figure out how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together and who I can trust or not trust.  It's just fun, and my brain get completely wrapped up in it.  BUT the one thing I hate more than anything is when the answers are too obvious.  Guess what! That didn't happen with these books.  I was definitely kept guessing not only about things in Mickey's own life, but in the current mystery in the book.  My interest was held to until the very last word! And I'm not exaggerating when I say to the VERY LAST WORD!

Ok I also like Mickey.  He's a great guy.  I like that he's confident but not cocky.  Smart but not just book smart.  Kind but not a push over.  And my kind - I mean truly kind.  He's the type of kid that if I had in my classroom I'd say his parents taught him well.  And since the story centers around Mickey it's extremely important he's likable!  Beyond that the cast of characters that surround him are great.  Love Ema and want to know more about her! I think she has much more of a story than is being shown.  Rachel isn't just your basic popular pretty girl.  And Spoon,  Spoon is just fun!

Final thought:  If you love a good mystery pick up this series.  You won't be disappointed.  Just a great entertaining read.

For the Guys? WITHOUT A DOUBT!

Ok, Ok now the giveaway!

Penguin has offered up:

1 winner will receive:
·Mickey Bolitar tote bag
·Copy of Seconds Away
·Copy of Shelter

To enter:
You must be a US resident
You must be at least 13
Ends Wed Oct 3 midnight

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 25, 2012

Ivy & Bean Week 7: What's the Big Idea?

As you know here on The O.W.L. I highlight books at all ranges of middle school readers (and in my middle school that's grades 5-8), because of this I was super excited to be asked to participate in the countdown to International Ivy & Bean Day on October 13th!

These 9  weeks are going to be fun!!!!

Each week I'll be highlighting a different Ivy & Bean book plus hosting a giveaway! Then on week 9 - all the previous winners will get a chance at a super awesome prize!

Before I get into all those details I want to first talk about this week's book:

It's the Science Fair, and the second grade is all over it! Some kids are making man-eating robots. Some kids are holding their breath for a very, very long time. Some kids are doing interesting things with vacuum cleaners. The theme, obviously, is global warming. But what should Ivy and Bean do? Something involving explosions? Or ropes? Something with ice cubes? Or maybe...maybe something different.

Ah the science fair! I never got a chance to do the science fair.  My older sister did.  One time she did an experiment testing what froze the fastest.  She tested different things like juice, milk, water and so on.  I have no clue what her final outcome was, but I remember being kinda jealous that I never got to do anything like that.  I have a feeling, though, and Ivy and Bean have some pretty crazy ideas for their project!

To learn more about Ivy & Bean check out the websites below.

And check out what other bloggers participating are doing!

And of course if you want to buy the book you can click HERE!  
(you'll be taken to my favorite children's bookstore The Red Balloon)

Now for the giveaway!

I messed up the giveaways early on, so I'm taking some of these later weeks and giving them to those winners, so there won't be a giveaway until next week! 

Remember the winners from each previous week are entered for the grand prize.  And what is the grand prize you ask???

A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows

1 set of Ivy and Bean Paper Dolls
1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory
1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers
AND – a super-secret really cool prize still being worked on (stay tuned!)

September 24, 2012

Uncontrollable is Out Today!

Yay! Uncontrollable is out today!

Uncontrollable is the second book in "The Nature of Grace" series by S.R. JohannesUntraceable, the first book in the series, has won and been nominated for several awards including Winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award (YA), 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (YA Nominee), and a finalist in The Kindle Book Review's "Best Indie Book of 2012 (YA)".

Kirkus reviewed Untraceable as "A thrilling story is a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance.  The action flows like a brisk mountain stream interspersed with rapids, holding suspense to last page."

If you like a page turner, you will love this series!

Head over to Mundie Moms for a Big Uncontrollable Launch Party with tons of prizes and then over to SR Johannes blog for even more.

To continue on with the blog tour, check out the line up! Where SR talks about anything from marketing to writing to her books to personal interviews and giveaways.

Book Summary

As 16-year-old Grace recovers from tragedy, her science class is chosen by Agent Sweeney at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help with research on the new "Red Wolf Reintroduction Program". 

While she’s excited about helping with the conservation of the endangered wolves, Grace knows this means being outdoors in the worst winter recorded, in a place she no longer feels comfortable. It also means working closely with Wyn (her ex) and his annoying girlfriend (Skyler), a girl whose idea of getting close to nature is picking silk plants and growing fake plants. 

After a couple of wolves show up dead, Grace almost quits. However, when a fellow project team member goes missing, Grace continues the assignment under a renewed suspicion that someone might be sabotaging the conservation program. She quietly begins to hunt for clues. 

Little does she know, she is being hunted too. 

On Sale Now! 

Uncontrollable is on sale in paperback and ebook at all major
booksellers including Amazon, iBooks/Apple (coming soon), Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

If you haven't read Untraceable, you can get it in paperback and ebook at all major booksellers including AmazonAppleSmashwordsand Barnes and Noble.

Author Bio

S.R. Johannes is the author of award-winning and Amazon bestselling Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and new tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. She has also published short novelettes as well as a teen romance anthology with 16 other authors titled, In His Eyes.  Uncontrollable, the sequel to Untraceable, is scheduled for September 2012.

S.R. Johannes is a winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult) and was also recently nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult). Untraceable was also recently named a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review's Indie Book of the Year (YA)

After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. 


Follow S.R. online on her websiteTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest

You can also sign up for her newsletter to keep up on author or book news.

September 22, 2012

Guest Post: Ellis Weiner - The Templeton Twins Have an Idea +Giveaway

Today I am so very very excited to welcome Ellis Weiner author of The Templeton Twins Have an Idea!!!

First about the book

Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let's say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins-adults-named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn't it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn't? )

I have to begin by telling you about the book.  A few weeks back I started reading The Templeton Twins.  10 pages into the book I knew I HAD to read it aloud to my 5th and 6th graders.  Now this was after I had decided I just didn't have time to read aloud to the students right now.  But within 10 pages I knew I had to make the time, because I knew they would love it as much as I did.  Why did I love it?  Well the narrator for one! I'm not usually one to like books where the narrator addresses the reader, but this narrator is so hysterical that I very quickly got over that.  But what really got me are the "Questions for Review" at the end of every chapter.  As an English teacher I assign questions at the end of the stories, so to see how funny these are really hooked me.  And I knew my students who always have to answer those questions would find them just as funny.

So how has it gone as a read aloud?  Well judging by the number of laughs that happen as I'm reading I'd say it's going very very well :)

Now enough of me talking! Let's hear from the author sharing his thoughts on writing a series.  

Welcome Ellis!

Here is something I worry about, if only a little. It probably plagues every creator of a series, whether in books, on television, or even in movies: How much—if at all—should the characters develop emotionally from story to story?

There are excellent examples to support any answer, from “not at all” to “realistically, especially when they’re children and their aging brings significant changes in them as people.”

At the extreme end of “not at all” we have the James Bond movies, in which a single character persists over nearly fifty years of history, and is embodied over that time by half a dozen different actors, and still remains essentially the same age and with the same personality. And no one (least of all me) complains.

In literature we have such characters as Bertie Wooster, in P.G. Wodehouse’s immortal Jeeves novels. Bertie’s narrative voice develops a little (for the better), but he remains the young lout he started as. For that matter, we have Jeeves himself, who is likewise immutable.

But they’re all adults, for whom the passing of a year or two can reasonably expect to yield nothing in the way of obvious personal development. What about kids?

Again, the demands and constraints of a series, even in children’s literature, often results characters about which nothing changes. Older examples (i.e., the only ones I can think of) include Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, and the Hardy Boys. This may or may not hold true for characters in more contemporary series I haven’t read but have merely heard of, such as The Boxcar Kids or The Babysitters’ Club.

Why are there series in which no characters age, mature, or change? Probably because, first, no one (read: no reader) wants them to. The multiple-book series, especially one “written” by a decades-long series of changing ghostwriters, provides the very definition of “formula.” The very predictability of their plots and constancy of their protagonists are, I expect, comforting to young readers. Kids read such series, not for character development, but for brute plot. It is tempting to say, therefore, that these stories are essentially “intellectual.” What matters is not the emotional development of the protagonists, but the basic machinations of the mystery or the adventure. Such series are the childhood equivalent of the adult genres of western, mystery, and romance.

Then puberty arrives, the MG becomes a YA, and everything changes. The emotional life of the characters comprises half the story (as it does of their readers), and the protagonists’ affective lives become as urgently relevant to the reader as anything involving villains and danger.

But that’s for later, when romance, ambition, peer pressure, and all those other adult concerns start to become important to the readers of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and so on.

If it sounds like I’m in the process of talking myself into the decision not to develop the characters of Abigail and John Templeton, I probably am. For now, at least, I want their stories to be like their father’s inventions: fun mechanisms that provide intellectual challenges in their conception and give pleasure when they get going.

Of course, it is possible that, after a number of books, I’ll start to wonder if maybe one or both of the Twins should start to “like” someone of the opposite sex.

But not yet. Even if the readers could handle it, I’m not sure The Narrator could.

This is one of the reasons I could never think of writing a book in a series!  Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

Now about this narrator...........he's quite the guy.  And he definately has as a personality.  If you'd like to interact with him be sure to pester him on Tumblr!

Plus right now you can read a chapter excerpt and you must watch the trailer!!
The Templeton Twins

The Trailer


I have a signed copy of the book!

To Enter:
Must be a US or Canada resident
Must be at least 13
Must leave a comment with a way to contact you!
Ends Saturday Sept 29 midnight

September 20, 2012

I Was Chosen to be a First Round Cybils Judge!!!!

So very excited, and nervous, and excited, and in awe, and nervous! 
 I've been chosen as a first round Cybils judge for Middle Grade Fiction!  
I was a 2nd round judge in the same category a few years back and stood in awe of the first round judges.  There is so much to read!  Well now it's my turn to step up!

I can't wait to get started!!!!

Here is my fellow judges:
Kyle Kimmel
The Boy Reader
Karen Yingling
Ms. Yingling Reads
Ali Breidenstein
Literary Lunchbox
Art Spencer
Book Voyages 

And if you don't know what the Cybils are you need to check out their site!

September 19, 2012

Up Close and Personal

I was wandering around Barnes and Noble on Saturday, and I saw a few books in the wild that I hadn't seen yet or that I hadn't heard of but caught my attention.  
It was the first time I was Up Close and Personal with them :)

I thought I'd share what I found!

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry
Reeling from the tragic events of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.

But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. They are hunted by fierce animals escaped from zoos and circuses. They must raid zombie-infested towns for food and medical supplies. They discover the very real truth in the old saying: In the Rot & Ruin…everything wants to kill you.

And what is happening to the zombies? Swarms of them are coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. These zoms are different. Faster, smarter, infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

In Flesh & Bone, Benny Imura, Nix Riley, Lou Chong and Lilah the Lost Girl are pitted against dangers greater than anything they've ever faced. To survive, each of them must rise to become the warriors Tom trained them to be.

I Swear by Lane Davis
Who’s to blame when bullying leads to suicide? A gripping exploration of crucial importance seeks answers in and out of the courtroom.

After years of abuse from her classmates, and thinking she had no other options, Leslie took her own life. Now her abusers are dealing with the fallout. In the eyes of the accused girls, they are not to blame: Leslie chose to take her life. She chose to be the coward they always knew she was.

As criminal proceedings examine the systematic cyber bullying and harassment that occurred, the girls vow to keep their stories straight and make Leslie seem weak. But as the events leading up to her death unfold, it becomes clear that although Leslie took her own life, her bullies took everything else.

Told in alternating perspectives and through well-paced flashbacks, this timely novel sheds light on both the victims of bullying and the consequences bullies face.

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle 
A romantic time travel story that's ideal for fans of novels by Meg Cabot and Donna Jo Napoli--and, of course, Shakespeare.Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school's staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide. 

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she'd like to meetShakespeare, Miranda thinks he's a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen's really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright. 

Miranda isn't convinced she's the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it's her only chance of getting back to the present and her "real" life. What Miranda doesn't bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Is it possible to start afresh when you’re thoroughly weighted down?Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail Walker and Kristen Gorzca. Between chubby and slim, between teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies—and becomes officially unpopular. Embracing her new status, Abby heads to an abandoned lot across the street and crosses an unfamiliar stream that leads her to a boy who’s as different as they come.

Anders is homeschooled, and while he’s worried that Abby’s former friends are out to get her, he’s even more worried about his dad, a war veteran home from Iraq who is dangerously disillusioned with life. But if his dad can finish his poem about the expedition of Lewis and Clark, if he can effectively imagine what it is to experience freshness and innocence, maybe he will be okay. As Abby dives into the unexpected role as research assistant, she just as unexpectedly discovers that by helping someone else find hope in the world, there is plenty there for herself, as well.

Homesick by Kate Klise
Benny’s parents are splitting up. His mom leaves home after a fight about a mysterious splinter that is rumored to be part of an important relic. Benny’s dad has always liked clutter, but now, he begins hoarding everything from pizza boxes to old motorcycle parts.

As his house grows more cluttered and his father grows more distant, Benny tries to sort out whether he can change anything at all. Meanwhile, a local teacher enters their quiet Missouri town in America’s Most Charming Small Town contest, and the pressure is on to clean up the area, especially Benny’s ramshackle of a house, before the out-of-town guests arrive.

The Unwanteds: Island of Silence by Lisa McMann
The battle is over. The magical barrier between the dreary land of Quill and the fantastical world of Artimé is gone. Now residents of both places are free to mingle, but tensions are high. The artistic warriors of Artimé struggle to forgive those in Quill who condemned them to death, while the Quillens attempt to recover from the shock of Artime’s existence, the loss of their leader, and the total collapse of their safe, orderly world.

14-year-old Alex Stowe has recovered from his physical wounds since his death-defying role in Artime’s victory, but his confidence is shattered. He battles self-doubt after Artimé’s beloved mage, Mr. Today, makes a stunning request, which is further complicated by the mysterious arrival of two silent, orange-eyed teenagers.

Meanwhile in Quill, Aaron is devastated by his fall from grace and seething with anger toward his twin brother Alex. Spurred by rage, Aaron recruits a team of Restorers and devises a masterful plan of revenge that will return him to power…if no one gets in his way.

September 18, 2012

Ivy & Bean Week 6

As you know here on The O.W.L. I highlight books at all ranges of middle school readers (and in my middle school that's grades 5-8), because of this I was super excited to be asked to participate in the countdown to International Ivy & Bean Day on October 13th!

These 9  weeks are going to be fun!!!!

Each week I'll be highlighting a different Ivy & Bean book plus hosting a giveaway! Then on week 9 - all the previous winners will get a chance at a super awesome prize!

Before I get into all those details I want to first talk about this week's book:
Finally! After begging their parents for ballet lessons, Ivy and Bean finally get what they want...well, not exactly. Much to their surprise, it turns out ballet lessons do not include karate chops and roundhouse kicks to the villain's heart. The girls have no interest in learning how to dance gracefully, but they promised their parents they would finish the entire ballet course! When it comes time for Ivy and Bean to participate in the ocean-themed class recital, the girls must figure out a way to get out of it without breaking their promises.

When my daughter was little -like 5 and 6 - she took dance.  I was so excited because she'd get cute little dance costumes and tiny little ballet shoes.  And she got both of those.  But what no one told me about was having to do her hair! For one recital she had to have the curlers all over her head to create the Shirley Temple curls.  She looked adorable BUT what a pain!  Thankfully she was a patient little girl and sat quietly the whole time I had to put them in.  The next year she had to wear a bun.  No biggie right? Well she had SHORT hair.  So that meant we had to use a fake poof to create the bun.  I got it to work, but getting it to work was....well work! After that she was done and went on to soccer where hair didn't matter :)

To learn more about Ivy & Bean check out the websites below.

And check out what other bloggers participating are doing!

And of course if you want to buy the book you can click HERE!  
(you'll be taken to my favorite children's bookstore The Red Balloon)

Now for the giveaway!

I messed up the giveaways early on, so I'm taking some of these later weeks and giving them to those winners! They'll all be entered in the grand prize giveaway!

Remember the winners from each previous week are entered for the grand prize.  And what is the grand prize you ask???

A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows

1 set of Ivy and Bean Paper Dolls
1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory
1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers
AND – a super-secret really cool prize still being worked on (stay tuned!)