April 28, 2015

An Ember in the Ashes Release Day! +GIVEAWAY

I am so excited that AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir releases today and that I get to share the news, along with a special introduction from Sabaa herself!
I've got an ARC of the book, and it's on the "read it now!" list. 

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Sabaa Tahir, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed copies of the book and some of those awesome sword letter openers we’ve seen around courtesy of Sabaa, Penguin Teen, and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

A letter from Sabaa Tahir.

Dear Readers,

Today, my “baby” AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is finally out in the world! From inception to pub date, this journey took eight years. And what a journey it was: writing, rewriting, revising, editing, querying, submitting; Meeting other debuts, bloggers, booksellers and librarians, and hearing their thoughts on EMBER. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the radness.

And now, the book is here! I am so excited to see it in the hands of readers. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. To celebrate release day, I’m giving away two signed, first-edition hardcovers of the book. Details below!

All my best,


Author: Sabaa Tahir
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 464
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Check out the book trailer!

About Sabaa:
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a signed hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. US Only.

3 winners will receive a hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and a Sword Letter Opener! US Only.

Ends on May 9th at Midnight EST!

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April 27, 2015

Patrick Carman School Visit +GIVEAWAY

A few weeks back Patrick Carman visited our school. 

I'm very good friends with our media specialist, and she asked if I would help out by getting Patrick where he needed to be throughout the day.  I was able to rearrange my schedule and help out most of the day! It was so fun.  
We chatted about writing, reading, traveling and what it's like doing school visits.  

If you haven meet Patrick Carman I suggest you do if given the chance.  He's laid back, nice, funny AND writes great books!

Some pictures of the day. These are from when he visited the public library that evening.  I was too busy working to take pics during the day! 
 Great turn out to see him!

Patrick and Me

Patrick and our Media Specialist Sandi

I've highlighted a few times on the blog

I also had him sign several books for me including two for a giveaway!

To enter
Must be at least 13
Must have a US address

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April 22, 2015

Cover Crush: Skyscraping

I love book covers! Love them!
I've been known to drag my sister in to the bookstore just to show her a book.
I honestly think I get a crush on some book covers.

Today I'm Crushing On:

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen

Isn't it the coolest cover????? It just grabs me.  At first I'm like - YIKES! but then I'm just wanting to know what the book is about.
And I think the story sounds great - very relevant.  

April 20, 2015

Gabby Duran and the Unsittables - Book Review +Giveaway

Today I'm here with Disney Publishing to share a new middle grade book!

Title: Gabby Duran and the Unsittables
Author: Elise Allen & Daryle Conners
Release Date: May 12th
Obtained:  Review copy and Giveaway provided by Disney Publishing

About the Book
Case File: The First Unsittable

Summary: The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task...until now.

After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It's a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby's audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye. 

Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?

When I was teaching 5th grade I was always looking for cute, fun books to hand to them to read - books I knew they would find fun but contain nothing I really had to worry about.  I found that in Gabby Duran!

This is just a cute book.  I think any middle school girl (or guy!) that has babysat or who has a tough younger sibling will be able to relate.  You see Gabby is called in to babysit those kids that other kids run screaming from!  Anyone who has ever babysat knows those types of kids. I know I had my share of those kids when I babysat! And if they haven't babysat for other families with tough kids to sit for - they may have seen it in their younger brothers and sisters!  What's neat though, is that these are tough "kids" to babysit for, but they aren't mean kids. They don't set out to be disrespectful or rude. They are just high energy!  I thought that was great. 

Next - I liked Gabby's family.  They are quirky, fun and loving towards each other.  Even though Gabby and her sister are so different, Gabby is nice and understanding towards her sister.  In so many books, you'd see the sisters fighting and nagging at each other.  These sisters aren't perfect, but at their core they treat each other respectfully.  There is more to Gabby's sister, that starts to come out - but I'll let you see that in the book.  I really like how it's handled though!

I found the plot kind of zany and outlandish, but it works! It's one of those stories that makes it really easy to set aside reality and just buy into the story and the events.  I laughed a little, held my breath some and kept being pulled along but fun characters and lots of twists and turns! 

My final take on this book is that it's fun and funny.  Some of the things that happen are goofy and crazy, but it just made the book light-hearted and enjoyable to read.  The pace is fast and the pages flew by.  I think younger middle grade kids would agree!

Here's a bit about the authors

Emmy-nominated writer and New York Times best-selling author Elise Allen made a name for herself with her acclaimed young adult novel Populazzi (Harcourt), and the Jim Henson's Enchanted Sisters chapter books (Bloomsbury).  In television, she has written for talent ranging from Bill Cosby to Kermit the Frog, and is currently writing for the new Disney Junior show The Lion Guard. Her dog may or may not secretly be from another planet.

Daryle Conners is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and video game designer. She writes joke and riddle books and has designed many game titles for the PC and iPhone/iPad including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Scene It? Harry Potter, Hot Wheels Slot Car Racers, and Scene It? Twilight Saga. Her non-fiction books include Lunchtime LOLZ, Nintendo DS Hot Tips, ROFLs,Video Game Secrets and Monster High Jokes, all for Scholastic. Daryle lives in Seattle, where she still babysits from time to time.

To Learn More About the Book

Learn more at the Official Site
Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter
Follow Elise Allen & Daryle Conners on Twitter

Must be at least 13 and have a US Mailing Address
Prize Provided by Disney Hyperion

OUT OF THIS WORLD prize pack
One (1) winner receives:
A copy of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables
Branded Tumbler and UFO light-up flyer.

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April 16, 2015

Book Review: G-Man Super Journal Awesome Origins by Chris Giarrusso

Title: G-Man Super Journal: Awesome Origins
Author: Chris Giarrusso

When Michael G (yes, "G" is his whole last name, and that's why everyone calls him G-Man) has to keep a journal in Mrs. Rosario's class at school, naturally he writes about his ambition to have superpowers and join the superheroes of his city (like Captain Thunderman) in the fight for justice. After all, his friend Billy Demon just got an awesome winged flying suit and superpowers of his own, and now he's the most popular kid in school! Mikey would just love to have superpowers too, but how will he get them? And if he does get them, what will he do with them?

This was a quick fun read that I think will definitely appeal to middle schoolers - especially those that like the Wimpy Kid or James Patterson books.  First just the look of it will appeal to them.  It's filled with drawings, and it looks like a journal.  For those readers that aren't thrilled with reading, this will take away any intimidation factor.  

As for the plot.  Mikey (the main character) just wants superhero powers.  Some of his friends have started to develop them or have cool gear that gives them superhero-like powers.  This is something so many kids can relate to.  What kid (ok and grownups) doesn't want superpowers?!?  I know I do! What I loved was that this was a completely possible thing.  He could get them at any time! He doesn't have to get bit by a toxic spider or be the victim of some scientific experiment.  They could just show up! Or - they might not.  And that thought is upsetting to Mikey.  What happens as he tries to make this dream happen is fun and fast-paced.

The book had some great laughs.  There is a whole scene where Mikey's brother blames everything on him.  And I mean everything even when there is no chance it could've ever been Mikey's fault.  It made me chuckle It was far-fetched but as a kid so believable as well! I remember my sister trying to blame me for things! Then there is the whole event with Mikey getting detention and no one believing him about why! That too gets so far-fetched that it become hysterical!  Loved that it made me laugh.  

Over-all it was a fun quick read that I would easily recommend to the middle schools I taught.  A few places seemed rushed and overly simple, but honestly kids won't care, they'll just enjoy.

April 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: A Curious Tale of the In-Between

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

Today I'm waiting on:
A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: September 1

I just think it looks like a good book!

April 13, 2015

Books In the Wild: I Want This One!

I was at Barnes and Noble last weekend and saw this book:

I really really want it! 
I'm not one to usually read memoirs, but this one sounds fantastic.  
Have you seen or heard of it?

April 9, 2015

Book Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma +GIVEAWAY

Title: The Walls Around Us
Author: Nova Ren Suma

“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

I need to start by saying I absolutely loved this book.  I really did.  The main support I have for that is the simple fact that I finished it last week, and it's still swimming around in my mind.  I can't stop thinking about it.  

This is one of those books that is put together like a puzzle, and one that makes me wonder how anyone's brain can work in a way to put it together and write it! Even though I did have parts figured out I never had the complete picture until it was all revealed.  I only knew bits and pieces, and to see how those bits and pieces fit together was amazing.

I think one part of the writing I really liked was that the story was told by two different girls. Now that's not overly original, but what was original that one of the girls  - Amber - wasn't part of the main story.  She was more an observer.  I loved she provided this almost outsider view.  She wasn't there when the main story happened, but she witnessed the whole second half of it.  It just provided a new unique perspective that I personally hadn't seen before.  It kept me so hooked and engrossed in the story.  I wanted to know how the part of the story Amber knew fit with the part of the story Violet knew.  

The last thing I'll touch on is the ending.  I can't say too much or I risk giving things away, but the ending was not at all what I expected.  AND I had to reread it a few times to make sure what was happening was what I though!  At first I was like - I have to be reading this wrong!  You gotta love an ending like that!

Over-all a great book.  I encourage you to give it a try!!!

I'm giving away my hardcover copy of the book.
Must be at least 13 and a US resident
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April 8, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday and Crushing on the Cover! The Rules

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

Today I'm waiting on:
The Rules by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Release Date: June 23

And once again I'm crushing on this cover.  The isolation in it, the tag across the middle - it just all screams creepy!!!

April 2, 2015

OWL Notes

Owl Notes is when I just want to share something reading/book related.  I might talk about reading habits, a new book I'm interested in, a movie based on a book.  Anything book related that I'm thinking about.  It's not reviews or author guest posts.  It's just something I feel like sharing!

I look around at books a lot.  I get newsletters about books, I wander Barnes and Noble, and I dig around on Amazon.
Recently in one newsletter I learned about the book:

About the book:

A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!

Darren hasn't had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:

1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.

Now I haven't read it, but I love the sound of it, and I love the idea of the entire novel being told in lists.  I like that because, as a writer, I'm always looking at different ways to tell me stories.  
The thought of telling the whole story this way just intrigues me! How do you help the reader care about the main character in just lists?  
How do you convey emotion?  
How does the plot play out?????
I'll be looking for this book!

So, anyways I just thought I'd share it. 

Here's the book trailer:

And if you go to the author's website you can learn more AND read and excerpt. 

April 1, 2015

WoW: Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between

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

Today I'm waiting on:

Release Date: September

I just love her books.  They are sweet and positive and just nice reads.  

But I'm also crushing on that cover! Love the pink! Just love it.  I love all the covers to her books, but I think this one is the best.