March 30, 2015

Snap Shot Monday: Game of Thrones

In an effort to keep blogging easier I started Snap Shot Monday.  On Monday I just share a snap shot of the book I'm currently reading.

Snap Shot:
Game of Thrones! Man is this book huge!

I'm reading this for the We Won't Be Intimidated Reading Challenge I'm hosting.  If there is a book you're afraid to read - I challenge you to read it!
Check out the post about this challenge HERE.

March 27, 2015

New Great Website to Help Kids (and Parents) Read +GIVEAWAY

As an English teacher I'm constantly trying to find ways to get kids reading and ways to help parents get their kids reading.
Recently I was introduced to the website:

Brightly is co-founded by Amanda Close and Christine McNamara, book lovers and moms who in the course of their book-publishing careers discovered that parents craved more lifestyle content dedicated to reading and children. As parents who love to read, they want to share that passion with their children and bond over books. As busy moms, they’ve also experienced the challenges that get in the way of developing this connection. They hope to help other parents navigate through the quarter of a million children’s books out there to find the right book for the right kid at the right time.

I checked it out and was really pleased with what I found. 
Many times a website will only address young readers - like age 10 and below.  That isn't the case here.  This website looks at readers and books from ages 0+! 
Yes that means there are YA books!

What I also liked was that it had quick easy to read articles that parents could turn to and get help keeping their kids reading. As a parent myself I know that I need to read something that gives me ideas and tips in a quick manner!

One of the featured articles right now is: Graphic Language: How to Read Comic Books With Your Kids
It's a great quick read that can help parents see how reading in that genre can grow readers.

Over all it's just a wonderful site - one I'll be sharing with all the English teacher I work with as well as parents! Let's put it this way - if you have readers in your family, if you're a reader or you are around kids reading - you should really check it out!

After I checked out the website on my own (because of a cool giveaway they're having to celebrate the launch of the site) I was contacted by them asking me if I knew about the site and what they were about.  When I said I already had and loved it, they offered up a giveaway for my readers!

A tote bag
The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein 
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 

Must be at least 13 and a US resident
Here is their privacy policy if you choose to sign up for their newsletter.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 26, 2015

The Book That Won't Intimidate Me! My Challenge Post.

Yesterday I shared with you the reading challenge that Sara from Winged Reviews, and I came up with.  We're challenging ourselves and YOU to read a book that intimidates you.  This is my intro post declaring what book I'm going to read!

As an English teacher you would think that no book scares me.  I mean I've read Shakespeare, Dante, Chaucer, Bronte etc.  But there are still books I won't pick to read because I honestly think it will be too difficult for me!

The book that's intimidating me the most right now is (ok there's two!):

Game of Thrones
by  George R. R. Martin

Yes this book scares me!  
Ok first of all it's not what I typically read.  When I read I usually read contemporary or dystopia AND it's YA.  I'm not good at anything that even hints at high fantasy.  And this book just makes me think high fantasy.  Ok I know it's high fantasy - there's no use fooling myself.  I just get really intimidated by a book where I'm going to have to look at a map or some other visual just to keep it all straight.  And I know that's the case with this book! There are so many characters, so many places - and it's ALL different from the world I know. That scares me so much when wondering if I can make it through a book!
I'm a baby about this I know :)
Now I've seen season one of the show and loved it, so that will help I hope, but I'm still scared of it!
So I'm challenging myself to read this one!

by Sarah J. Maas

This is pretty much the same reasons as I stated above but magnified because it also seems like it got a Renascence or old English feel.  So that adds another layer of something I'll need to learn and understand!

So during the month of April I will read ONE of these two for sure and review it.  Hopefully I'll read both!

What books intimidate you?? 
Maybe it's for reasons like mine or just because they are long or scary and scary scares you! 
Maybe it's because you never finish something contemporary, so you're afraid to start it.  
Maybe it's a book EVERYONE loves, but you really don't think you will!
 Or Is it that classic assigned in high school that you never did read??
Any reason it intimidates you!

See the intro to the We Won't be Intimidated Reading Challenge to join up!

March 25, 2015

The: We Won't Be Intimidated Reading Challenge! Join Up!!!

One night I was on Twitter and Sara from Winged Reviews and Andi from Andi ABCs were talking about books they haven't read because they intimidate them.  I jumped in to the conversation because I too have felt that way! Even as an English teacher I'm intimidated by some books!! They just plain scare me. 

This got me thinking - maybe we should have a challenge that addresses this! I proposed the idea to Sara, and she was all for it!

So here I am to introduce a month long challenge.  We call it the:

If you are up for this challenge you would pick a book that intimidates you in some way, read and review it. 

  • You must read and review at least one book that intimidates you in some way.
  • You must write an intro post declaring your intent to participate.  In this post you need to name the book(s) and why it intimidates you! Please make sure to link back to us and use the image!
  • Link up your reviews so we can all see how it went.
  • Enter the giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter (to come later) with a link to your review(s)
  • The challenge will run the whole month of April, and as long as you do all of the above you can join at any time during the month
Prizes will be given at after the challenge month has been completed!! But please, don’t let this be the main reason you participate. Please try to challenge yourself to read at least one book that scares you. 

Link up your intent to participate posts below.  The Rafflecopter for the giveaway will come later!

March 24, 2015

OWL Notes: How I Read

Hi everyone.  I've been looking for something to do for posts where I'm not reviewing a book, but I'm still either featuring a book I've heard about it or just talking about books.

With that I came up with OWL Notes!

This will just be my time to share something book related.  

Today I just have to spill about my reading habits.  I read about some bloggers who read like 5 books a week.  I'm lucky if I read one! And I'm notorious for starting a book, reading a bit, putting it down and picking up another book! I'll have bits and pieces of 3-4 books going at once. Sometimes I'll get back to the whole book, but sometimes I won't!  I'm just not a hugely consistent reader. 

Even when I do get totally hooked on a book, it may be the only fully book I read for another week.  It's just my reading habits.  Sometimes I wish they were different, and I could just pick up a book, read and read, finish it and move on.  But with everything going on in my life, and the way I am - that just doesn't happen.  The books that really matter to me get read.  That's the important part!

What about you?  Wanna share your reading habits at all??

March 23, 2015

Snap Shot Monday: Throne of Glass

In an effort to keep some of my blogging simple, on Mondays I just take a quick snap shot of the book I'm currently reading, just finished or will be starting soon.

Today's Snap Shot:

Throne of Glass by Sarah. J. Maas

Watch later this week for WHY I'm reading this one!!!

March 18, 2015

Cover Crush: The Heart of Betrayal

I love book covers! LOVE them.  To a point I think I almost have a crush on some covers.

Today I'm Crushing On:

It's just so pretty! And when you look deeply at it you can see all the detail in the buildings and landscape. Plus the pop of red with the dress if perfect!

March 17, 2015

Snap Shot Monday (on Tuesday): The Walls Around Us

On Mondays I just take a quick picture of the book I'm currently reading, will read next, or just finished. It's my way to keep blogging simple!

Snap Shot

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Loving it!

March 12, 2015

Blog Tour: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman REVIEW +GIVEAWAY

I'm very excited to be participating in the blog tour for Shadow Scaled by Rachel Hartman.  
This is the sequel to Seraphina.  

About the Book

In her Morris Award-winning and New York Times bestselling debut, Rachel Hartman took our breath away with an utterly original alternative-medieval world full of dragons, Seraphina. This novel took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and appeared on numerous “Best of” the year lists. Now Random House Children’s Books is proud to announce the release of SHADOW SCALE. At last, Rachel’s eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—with an epic battle between humans and dragons. 

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together 
they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways. 

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

About Rachel
As a child, Rachel Harman played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of her award-winning debut novel, Seraphina. Born in Kentucky, Rachel has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada. 

To learn more, please visit and follow her on Twitter @_rachelhartman.

(well actually my daughter's)

I agreed to be a part of the blog tour when Random House Children's Books asked because of my daughter.  She loved Seraphina, and after reading it she got several of her friends to read it as well.  So I knew if I asked her to read it and give me her thoughts she would jump at the chance.  So this review is her thoughts.

To put it in the simplest words - she loved it.  But I guess I should expand on that a bit.  First she talked about the world building.  My daughter is an avid reader, so she knows when world building is good and when it's lacking.  She thought the world Rachel Hartman created was perfect.  She talked about how detailed it was.  There is a small village, and she that it was really cool how detailed the world of that village was.

Next she said what she really liked was that there was romance in it BUT (and she is not a romance girl) she was really happy that is was just a part of the story not the whole story.  That's a huge plus for her.  It was there, but it didn't take over the story.

Then I bugged her about the actual story - how did it compare to the first book, how did the story progress?  She said was just as good as the first book if not a little bit better.  She thought this because the first book had to have a lot of background building where this one didn't need as much since you knew it already and the story could just happen.  

Lastly I asked her about the ending and how she felt about it.  She said the ending was good, and that she thinks there isn't another one.  I asked why and she said because there was an epilogue and usually that means it's over.  She found the ending satisfying - of course there were things she had questions about or would've liked different, but she understood why it was the way it was.

Over-all she really liked the book!

Random House has offered up two copies of Shadow Scale!
You must be at least 13 and a US resident
Fill out the Rafflecopter

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March 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Return to the Dark House

This post is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm waiting on:

Return to the Dark House By Laurie Faria Stolarz
Release Date: July 21

Ok so I read Welcome to the Dark House and wasn't blown away at the time.
 BUT now that I see the sequel I'm like "I HAVE to read this!!!!" 
I think that's mainly because I NEED to know what happened!!!!

March 10, 2015

Cover Crush: The Last of the Spririts

I love book covers! It seems like I almost develop a crush on them.

Today I'm Crushing On:
The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley

Ok the colors in this cover are fantastic.  Plus the fact they are in a cemetery just gives it the creep factor.  Then I see it's based on A Christmas Carol - all that just makes it filled with win!

March 9, 2015

Children's Book Review: Mix it Up by Herve Tullet

Sometimes Chronicle books sends me children's picture books for review.  My youngest is 7, so we're a bit beyond that at my house.  I have a friend at work with two little boys, so often times I'll pass them on to her.  

I passed along Mix it Up, and she shared with me how much her youngest loves it.

He is almost two years old - and he loves this book! He loves how you "press" the parts of the book - or swirl, slide etc, and on the next page all the colors look like they've been changed.  She said he brings it to her and wants to read it over and over.  It is a super cute book, and I could see how little kids would love it, because they would think they are helping the paint move around the book.  It almost makes me wish I had a little one to read it with.  Well maybe not :)

About the book
Accept HervĂ© Tullet's irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist's simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader's imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors, and once again displays his unique genius and vision in a work that is a glorious and richly satisfying companion to Press Here.

March 7, 2015

Stacking the Shelves

This is a fun meme were people share the books they got this week. I won't participate too often mainly because, for the time being, I'm challenging myself to only read books I own.

I do, though, still get books in the mail for review.  And that's what happened this week.
Stacking the Shelves was started by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews.

For Review

Loudness by Nick Courage (Thanks Star Pony Press)
Teddy Mars: Almost a World's Record Breaker by Molly B. Burnham (thanks Harper Collins Children)
Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions by Sheila Grau (thanks Amulet Books!)

Thanks Candlewick Press!!
Stink is Turning 10!

Found it at Costco.  Signed!

Book Love by Penny Kittle
This one is for work :)

And I won these a bit ago.  I'm keeping some and passing some along to the Little Libraries around town.

March 6, 2015

First Line Friday!

I thought I'd start and end my week with simple posts. Monday is Snap Shot Monday showing the cover. And we'll end the week with First Line Friday.

In this I'll just share the first line in any book near me. It could be the book I'm currently reading, a book I've finished or a book I haven't read before. 

I've never read a Stink or Judy Moody book, so I'm reading this one:

The First Line:
Bump! Thwump! "Ghost!" Judy yelped, bolting away from a crash on the roof.

What a fun way to start the story and hook younger readers in!

March 5, 2015

Book Review: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Title: The Cemetery Boys
Author: Heather Brewer

When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.

I loved Heather Brewer's Vladimir Tod books - a ton. So when I saw this book I was super excited about it! And she didn't disappoint.

This book starts out with a great prologue that really grabbed my attention.  And it was that prologue that I kept going back to throughout the whole book.  I NEEDED to know how it came to that scene and what the outcome of it would be.  There was no way I could stop reading until I knew!

Beyond wanting to know how it came to that point that's in the prologue, there was enough other mystery in the book that kept me interested.  The whole story around Stephen's mother had my curiosity.  I wondered exactly what happened with her - and then when I found out I was super curious to know more, and why and what would happen with her.  
Then I wanted to know more about Stephen's dad and the town he grew up in.  I mean I knew his father got out of the town of Spencer - but he grew up there and it seems that no one leaves, so how was he able to and what keeps others there.  AND I wanted to know if any of that had to do with what was happening with Stephen and the kids he is meeting in Spencer.  I just wanted to know how - if at all - it fit together!

Now let me talk about the characters - I really like Stephen.  He was a real teenage boy.  
The way he spoke and thought was very realistic.  I could see him as one of the kids at our high school.  That helped me care about him more, and in turn care about the story more! I also liked the characters of Cara and Devon.  Devon creeped me out, and I'm not sure how Stephen even wanted to be around him.  I would NOT want to come upon him on a dark street alone!!  Cara was cool.  I liked how she was - she dressed the way she wanted - and did what she wanted.  I liked that!

The ending was great with some nice twists and turns leading up to it!  I did go "What?!?" at one point because I couldn't believe it!  At the end I felt satisfied, but yet I'd be ok with more as well.  From what I understand it's a stand alone book, but I do think the ending was done in a way that it could have more, but doesn't have to.

Final thought - fun, mysterious, question creating read!

March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday and Crushing on the Cover: Everything, Everything

This post is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm waiting on:

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Release Date: Sept 2015 (too long!)

Can I just say that I'm crushing on this cover big time.  I absolutely love it! The color, the items almost hidden within the flowers.  It's just fantastic!

March 3, 2015

Blog Tour: Jack at the Helm by Lisa Doan - Review and GIVEAWAY

Today I'm part of the blog tour for Jack at the Helm by Lisa Doan.  This is the 3rd book in The Brenson Schemes.
Check out the guest post by Lisa Doan! You can find it HERE.

About the Book
Jack's parents have bought a farmhouse in Nepal. It'll be the site of a new religion--their latest get-rich-quick scheme. Sure, the Berensons don't know quite how to get to the place. But once they arrive, their plan is sure to work.

This is a really cute quick fun read.  It is the 3rd book in the series, and I haven't read the first two, but that was not a problem.  There were a few background things I had to figure out like Jack's kinda girlfriend and his best friend, but it wasn't hard to figure them out! The one thing I didn't have to figure out was how unreliable and un-parent-like his parents were! Yes the blurb from the book points this out, but even if it didn't it was clear from the start that Jack was the mature one in the family!  I think it's fun for kids when they see that role reversal because it's what they always dream of! Although I don't think they dream of parents that lost their child over and over in different countries of the world! I felt for Jack! This poor child has been through the wringer and just wants a "normal" life but that just isn't in the cards for him.

The plot of this book wasn't deep, but it was fun and fast paced and perfect for kids who need that in order to be drawn in to a story and stay with it.  I was able to read it in an afternoon, and never once did I feel bored.  And yes the events are outlandish and crazy and unbelievable, but that's what kept it fun!  And it kept it funny! Jack gets out of once scrape after another, and you just have to laugh at how they all happen and when and then how he gets out of them! Well played!

Lastly - It's great to see a new series for boys on the lower end of the middle grade range. These can be hard to find sometimes.  I plan on sharing the series with my school's media specialist, so she can get them in the school library. 

Blog Tour: Jack at the Helm by Lisa Doan - GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY

Blue Slip Media asked me if I wanted to be a part of the blog tour for Jack at the Helm by Lisa Doan. It looked like a great middle grade series, so I said yes for sure!  

Later today you'll see my review of Jack at the Helm, but right now I have a guest post from Lisa.

About Lisa Doan

Lisa Doan is the author of The Berenson Schemes series – Jack the CastawayJack and the Wild Life and Jack at the Helm. She received a master’s degree in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her extensive travel in Africa and Asia and eight years spent living in the Caribbean were the basis for the series’ international settings. She has hatched her share of harebrained schemes, including backpacking alone from Morocco to Kenya, hitchhiking across the Sahara with Nigerian car dealers, sauntering off on an ill-advised, one-person walking safari, and opening a restaurant with no actual restaurant experience. Her occupations have included master scuba diving instructor, New York City headhunter, owner-chef of a “sort of Chinese-like” restaurant, television show set medic, and deputy prothonotary of a county court. Visit the author and download free, CCSS-aligned curriculum guides at

About the Berenson Scheme Series

Jack the Castaway
In their latest get-rich-quick scheme, the Berensons move to the Caribbean and invent a new sport. While Jack learns to drive the boat, his parents attempt to ‘drift-snorkel’ in a strong current. Sadly, Jack is set adrift in the Caribbean Sea. 

Jack and the Wildlife
The Berensons arrive in Kenya for their latest get-rich-quick scheme, building a Maasai warrior camp for tourists. Sadly, Jack stranded in the Masai Mara.

Jack at the Helm
The Berensons travel to a remote region of Nepal to launch their latest get-rich-quick scheme – gathering disciples for a religion they invented. (They expect it will take the world by storm.) Sadly, on an overnight trip to their new international headquarters in the town of Shangrilala, Jack is lost. Again.

Welcome to The O.W.L.!
Today Lisa is talking about Taking Risks

How cautious is too cautious?

I’m going throw out a four letter word here—RISK. Risk is what The Berenson Schemes series is really about. Throughout the madcap adventures spanning the globe, risk-averse Jack gains confidence and learns to take action when he can’t be entirely certain of the end result. By the end of book three, Jack at the Helm, Jack is better prepared to meet life’s challenges. Temperamentally, he’s still the same careful Jack, but he’s grown into his best version of Jack.

I wanted to explore the world of the risk-averse child because it’s easier than ever to be risk-averse. We’ve built safety systems into everything, and this cannot go unnoticed by children. I suspect that an observant and temperamentally cautious child concludes that danger lurks around every corner. They notice that when they are careful, they receive praise. They notice that adults are laser-focused on managing that other child, the high-risk-taking child—the “do now, think later” child. (You know the one—that young person who sets himself on fire for a YouTube video and then is surprised at the burns.) The cautious child intuitively understands that safety has become a moral high ground. And so perhaps the cautious child redoubles his or her efforts and plays it ultra-safe. Is that good? Is that what we were going for?

What a hard question, because even if we acknowledge that a particular child is highly risk-averse, and acknowledge that maybe that’s not good, we are left with the ponderous and irrefutable facts that sit on the other side of that. Which are—sure, this child may be hiding from life a little bit, but this child is going to make it to adulthood. This child will not set himself on fire, or fall off a trampoline or forget to put on a bicycle helmet. This child will stay alive.

I can’t argue with that. I didn’t try to come to a conclusion about what would be the right level of risk-taking, but I wanted to ask the question. If we owe it to high-risk-taking children to reel them in, do we owe it to risk-averse children to reel them out? Do we have a duty to push them out into the world, to take some chances, even if they might get hurt? And what are the ramifications if we don’t? What do you think?

Thank you for these thoughts Lisa! I know I always struggle with this when it comes to my kids!!!


One lucky winner will win all three Berenson Schemes books: 


(U.S. addresses only
Must be at least 13) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 1, 2015

Do You Love Middle Grade Books??

I wanted to take a moment to share a month long celebration of middle grade books that is starting today!

Word Spelunking is hosting the 4th annual March MG Madness

She's got a ton of authors/giveaways/features/guest posts for the entire month all looking at fantastic middle grade books.

You MUST check it out.  I know I will be!