February 28, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Okay for Now

Okay For Now
Gary D. Schmidt

I loved The WEdnesday Wars. Loved it! But when I read Okay For Now I fell in love with it as well.  I amazed me that Gary D. Schmidt was able to take this small character from The WEdnesday Wars and let me into his world so that I could see and understand him better.  It was pure magic for me.  Plus, as a teacher it also reminded me to remember that all my students come to school with backgrounds I may not know that affect their behavior and abilities.  Such a good book.

National Book Award Finalist "[A] stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one’s best self."—Booklist, starred review In this companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, Doug struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

February 26, 2014

I Am Grateful For: I Spy

I Spy
Walter Wick

Our family loves these books.  My boys spend hours looking and looking at them.  We'd be lost without them!

February 24, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Down a Dark Hall

Down a Dark Hall
Lois Duncan

I honestly could've said anything by Lois Duncan, but this is my favorite one.  I'm grateful for her books because they are what I read when I was in middle school.  They were creepy and fun (yes fun!).  What I like is that I've got kids reading them now!!

Kit Gordy sees Blackwood Hall towering over black iron gates, and she can't help thinking, This place is evil. The imposing mansion sends a shiver of fear through her. But Kit settles into a routine, trying to ignore the rumors that the highly exclusive boarding school is haunted.

Then her classmates begin to show extraordinary and unknown talents. The strange dreams, the voices, the lost letters to family and friends, all become overshadowed by the magic around them. 

When Kit and her friends realize that Blackwood isn't what it claims to be, it might be too late.

February 21, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Walk Two Moons

Walk Two Moons
Sharon Creech

I'm thankful for this one because it reminded me how completely wonderful middle grade books can be.  Sharon Creech wrote a beautiful story about a young girl dealing with a difficult time.  It was touching and powerful.  

"How about a story? Spin us a yarn."

Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. "I could tell you an extensively strange story," I warned.

"Oh, good!" Gram said. "Delicious!"

And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic. 

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe's outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold — the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.

February 19, 2014

I Am Grateful For: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan

Oh this one's simple - it introduced me to zombies and books with zombies! I'm forever grateful!!!!

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

February 17, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Before I Fall

Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver

I loved this book.  It's a great reminder to all of us that life is short and we should live it in a way that we are proud of in the end.

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. 

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

February 14, 2014

I Am Grateful For: The Shining

The Shining
Stephen King

I LOVE this book - that's it.  That's why I'm grateful for it - because I love it!

Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control. 

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? 

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel - and that too had begun to shine...

February 13, 2014

Cover Review! FERAL by Holly Schindler

We're very excited today to help with with cover review of Holly Schindler's 3rd YA book - FERAL.

The book will be the book will release with Harper Collins on August 26, 2014.

So here it is!!!!
Love it! It's so mysterious looking!

And we've also got the jacket copy as well:

It’s too late for you. You’re dead.

Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.

Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .

With an eerie setting and heart-stopping twists and turns, Holly Schindler weaves a gripping story that will make you question everything you think you know.

We love mysteries, and this sounds like a great one!

You can pre-order it here:

And add it to your Goodreads shelves: 

If you want to see what else Holly is up to, check out her website 

February 12, 2014

I Am Grateful For: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
Patrick Ness

I'm a breast cancer survivor and this book hit close to home. It so perfectly dealt with the feelings of everyone dealing with something like that.

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... 

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. 

It wants the truth.

February 10, 2014

I Am Grateful For: May B

May B
Caroline Starr Rose

This was the first book written in verse that I read.  It showed me how wonderful a book in verse can be.  I never knew how much of a story can be told in so few words.  Wonderful story!

I’ve known it since last night:

It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again.

February 7, 2014

I Am Grateful For: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea
Ellis Weiner

I'm grateful for this book because it's a great read aloud to my 5th graders! They laugh.  I laugh.  What could be better!!

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? ).

February 5, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Bomb

Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - The Word's Most Dangerous Weapon
Steve Sheinkin

One simple reason - this book showed me that nonfiction can be as good as fiction.  Something I never believed before this book.

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

February 3, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Breadcrumbs

Anna Ursu

I don't know if I can exactly explain why I'm thankful for this other than to say it's simply magical.  It's quiet and beautiful and thoughtful and perfect.  Read it.

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else. 

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbsis a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.