August 31, 2015

Review: Dream Mandalas Adult Coloring Book

I don't know if you've seen the explosion of adult coloring books, but it has gotten crazy! 
I'd say it's a silly craze, but honestly I've always found coloring to be very calming, so I get why people are into them!

So I was approached Ulysses Press to review a coloring book they published I was very interested.  

They sent me:

Dream Mandalas
30 Hand-drawn Designs for Mindful Relaxation
by Artist Wendy Piersall

A bit about the book:

Relax and de-stress from your busy life by coloring this collection of whimsical mandalas that incorporate mystical imagery into the patterns.

Coloring a mandala is an ancient way to attain focus, clarity, and peace. Now, Coloring Dream Mandalas adds the beauty of the dream world—including dreamcatchers, sacred geometry, angels and fantastical creatures—to these intricate designs for page after page of coloring book bliss.

With roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, mandalas are spiritual symbols that represent the universe. Coloring these hypnotically beautiful, mystical shapes is a meditative and enjoyable way to relax. A fun way to achieve a state of mindfulness, this book fosters creativity, reduces stress, and allows readers to embrace their inner child by focusing on the simple but engaging task of coloring in the detailed designs.

What a very cool coloring book!! Even just looking at the pictures without color they are amazing.  I do have to admit that at first some of the intimidated me for coloring - so many little areas.  But actually that wasn't an issue! Coloring in the smaller areas actually made me focus on that and nothing else so anything I might have been stressing over went away for a bit!

One other thought - I can't believe these are hand-drawn.  I stink at drawing so the thought of someone drawing these pictures to color just amazes me!!!

If you haven't checked any adult coloring books out I suggest you!!

August 29, 2015

Uppercase Book Subscription August Box

I've gotten caught up in the fun of subscription boxes and signed up for a few (ok 4).  

Doing I want to share what I got in my Uppercase box for the month of August!

Here's how it was packaged before opening it:

And all the goodies! 

I've seen the book Rebel Mechanics around, but hadn't bought it.  It's not my typical read - so I'm glad it was put into my hand because I might not have gotten it otherwise.  It looks fantastic!!

I also LOVED the bookmark because it matches the cover 100%.  How cute is that?!?!

And the necklace - it is the cutest thing! My daughter saw it and nabbed it right away.  I have a feeling I'll never see it again.

Here are some close-ups.  

It was a fun box to get!  I'll stay with Uppercase for awhile :)

August 28, 2015

FYI Friday: Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes

On Fridays I like to share with you a book or two that I feel you need to know about (aka be informed about).

Today it's:

Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes
Author: Rick Riordan
Illustrator: John Rocco

This is the second book like this from Rick Riordan.  I also reviewed PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

The two books are very similar.  This difference is that this time Percy is looking at the heroes.  And once again it is written with Percy telling the stories.  Because of that you'll find humorous thoughts inserted and a more casual style to the stories.  But again - the stories aren't shortened or anything.  The whole Greek stories are there!

Each story is enhanced by the amazing artwork of John Rocco.
The artwork is amazing!!!

If you are a Percy Jackson fan this is a must-have!

About the Book

Who cut off Medusa's head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I've had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I'm going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan's legions of devoted fans--and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you've got arrows in your quiver. We're going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we'll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let's do this.

August 27, 2015

Book Review: Hidden by Loic Dauvillier

Title: Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust
Author: Loic Dauvillier
Illustrator: Marc Lizano
Color by: Greg Salsedo
Translator: Alexis Siegel

In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.

Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. With words by Loïc Dauvillier and art by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, this picture book-style comic for young readers is a touching read.

There are many books about the Holocaust during World War 2.  Because of that I wondered what this book - let alone a graphic novel - could tell that other books hadn't already done.  What I found was a book that told a story I hadn't heard before in a format that captured all the emotion and affects in a way that stuck with me after closing the book. If you don't think a graphic novel can be powerful I ask you to look at this book.  The illustrations of Dounia and her mother convey in very simple lines the sadness, hurt and fear they felt.  One drawing in particular of Dounia's mother after returning from the concentration camp speaks a million words.  You know she suffered greatly without having to have it written out in sentences and paragraphs.  

As a teacher I could see using this book as a way to introduce the topic of the Holocaust to my students.  Many times what is out there is too graphic for a younger audience.  This book (although it's a graphic novel!) isn't graphic in it's account of what happened.  It doesn't hide it - but it doesn't feel the need to show it in full detail. Instead it focuses on the love of this family and how it held hope.  Sharing this book would allow for a discussion to start without having to dive right away into the specifics of what happened.  I will be sharing the book with the English and history teachers I work with.  

Final Thought: This is a moving, simple account of a Jewish family during World War 2 that manages to convey emotions in just a few words written beside perfectly drawn pictures.  

August 24, 2015

Some Great Book Lists to Share! +GIVEAWAY

Awhile back I highlighted a new website - Brightly.  It's a fantastic site that shares many ideas and ways to get kids reading. 
 You can read that post HERE.  

Today I wanted to share a few book lists they have on the site right now and a GIVEAWAY!

This list is fantastic!  
If I was back in the classroom I'd be sharing so many on this list.  

The ones I'm excited about most are:

Juba!: A Novel
by Walter Dean Myers

This final novel from the late Walter Dean Myers tells the true story of William Henry Lane, a young African-American dancer in nineteenth-century New York. Against all odds, Lane (nicknamed “Master Luba”) became world famous for his dancing prowess and is still considered to be one of the grandfathers of modern tap, jazz, and step dancing. [10/13/2015]

These Shallow Graves
by Jennifer Donnelly

Another tale set in turn-of-the-century Victorian New York, this engrossing mystery from bestselling author Donnelly introduces us to Jo Montfort, the young scion of a wealthy newspaper family, who dreams of becoming a journalist — just like her hero, Nellie Bly. But after her father is killed in a mysterious accident, she uses her investigative talents to explore New York’s dark underbelly in hopes of solving his murder. [10/17/2015]

So many good tween books!!!

My favorite here is:

Friends for Life
by Andrew Norriss

I love a good ghost story, but this one isn’t quite what you think it is. Forget scary, haunting, mournful ghosts. Just because Jessica is dead doesn’t mean she can’t be a good friend. She just needs someone to realize she’s there. That’s where Francis comes in.

If you haven't checked out the website yet these two book lists are a great place to start.  
I follow them on Facebook and always find good information about getting kids to read!

Brightly has offered up a giveaway for my readers!
It is a tote bag with books featured from these lists!

To Enter fill out the Rafflecopter.
Must be at least 13
Must have US address

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If you take the option to subscribe to Brightly through your email - please note their PRIVACY POLICY. 

All book images and descriptions taken from Brightly.

August 21, 2015

Book Bits: ILLUMINAE - New Content to Share

If you haven't heard about Illuminae you MUST check it out! I've already got it on pre-order!

Here's some about it.

ILLUMINAE (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | On sale | $18.99)

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But pursuit by battleship is the least of their worries. Their fleet’s artificial intelligence—which should be protecting them—may actually be an enemy. And a plague is slowly ravaging the fleet with terrifying consequences. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking in search of the truth, she realizes that there’s only one boy who can help her bring everything to light . . . and of course, it’s her ex-boyfriend, Ezra.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—ILLUMINAE is a ground-breaking, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that will draw teen and adult readers of James Dashner, Rick Yancey, and Veronica Roth yet stands on its own with Kaufman and Kristoff’s unique storytelling.

Every month around the 20th they release new content about the book to share.  
Today I have a new video to share.

Visit to watch more videos and see all the content.   

There you can:
See Ezra and Kady profiles
Explore the ships
Meet the Authors
Start Reading – book page and excerpt

In addition, just announced Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s ILLUMINAE tour in November, check it out: 

More praise for the book:

“…a stylistically mesmerizing tale, where story and art are interchangeable, and words act as pictures.
The more experimental sections may require extra effort on readers’ parts, but the result is worth it.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Ambitious, heartbreaking, and out-of-this-world awesome.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“An exuberant mix of space opera, romance, zombies, hackers, and political thrills, told with eccentric aplomb. 
ILLUMINAE is both the weirdest and most heartfelt thing you'll read this year.”
—Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies and Zeroes

August 20, 2015

Cover Reveal - Facing Fortune +GIVEAWAY

Facing Fortune (Guardians of Terath, Book #2)
By: Zen DiPietro

Here's the cover!

Isn't it pretty!!!!

Facing Fortune
Guardians of Terath #2
Author: Zen DiPietro

Release Date: October 2015
Parallel Worlds Press

A new manahi. A new military. A famous bard who suddenly resurfaces after a decade of hiding.

A lot of changes have taken place on Terath, and an ecological crisis has raised tensions to the breaking point. Kassimeigh and Arc must work with Luc and the scientists in the Capital to determine whether the discovery is a threat to the planet. Each discovery unspools more questions, as they question the nature of mana and what it means to Terath.

At the same time, they must try to calm an increasingly nervous population. Will and Izzy offer their help in that regard, but the newly-formed Guard has never been called into action before.

Meanwhile, Kassimeigh must deal with a shocking change in her own circumstances, which forces her to rethink her place in the world

Life, death, mana, and chaos rival one another for supremacy. How can Kassimeigh help protect the world when she has no idea where she belongs in it?

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, a fantasy/sci-fi writer, a dancer, and a mom of two. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. Particular loves include badass heroines, Star Trek, British accents, baba ganoush, and the smell of Band-Aids. Writing reviews, author interviews, and fun stuff at Very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

1 Winner will get a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

3 Winners will get an eBook of SEEKING SORROW, book 1 in the Guardians of Terath Series

Must be 13 + To Enter | Open Internationally | Sweeps/Giveaway accounts are not eligible. | See Terms & Conditions in Raffelcopter form for more information
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August 19, 2015

WoW: Dark Days (Dead City #3) by James Ponti

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

Today I'm waiting on:

Molly’s up against the undead—and the fate of Manhattan is in her hands—in the third and final book of the Dead City trilogy, which Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins says “breathes new life into the zombie genre.”

Molly and the Omegas fight to contain the storm unleashed by Operation Blue Moon. As they do, Molly’s personal life is thrown into turmoil when she discovers that one of her closest friends has joined the ranks of the undead, a development that threatens the Omegas as well as Molly’s relationship with her mother.

As Molly and her friends fight the Dead Squad (a special NYPD task force made up entirely of zombies), they discover that the world’s largest gold reserve is kept in a vault eighty feet below the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They find a photograph of the vault’s construction in the 1920s and realize that the construction crew was led by none other than the leader of the undead, Marek Blackwell. Could this explain the source of all his money? And if so, what is he planning to do with it? Is he rebuilding Dead City…or is he building an undead army?

I loved the first two books. 
Read my review of the first book Dead City and the 2nd book Blue Moon.

August 18, 2015

Books & Bloggers Swap!

I have decided to participate in a book swap!

It's the Books & Bloggers swap hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps.

For this swap:

Your package must include: 
  • A book from your partner's wishlist.
  • A book you have read and loved.
  • A book you haven't read, but think looks interesting. (Can also be on their wishlist.)
  • *Optional* Other book-related goodies.  

I thought this sounded like an awesome swap!

If you want more information check out the sign-up post HERE.

August 17, 2015

SnapShot Reading: Nightfall

To keep blogging simple I like to just snap a picture of my current read and share.

Today I'm reading: Nightfall

First Line: Marin walked into the wind and felt it gently push back.  

August 16, 2015

I Keep Changing!

Yes if you didn't notice I changed the graphics on my blog again!!!!! 

I just can't stop myself! I see new owl - love it and have to change it!

I'll try really hard to not change anything again for a loooooooooooong while!

Thanks for not getting crabby at me :)

August 15, 2015

Book Blast: Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross +GIVEAWAY

I'm very excited today to participate in the book blast for Kiki and Jacques!!

I don't know if you are aware of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement on Twitter, but it was created to promote the need for more diverse books in YA and MG.  
I know it's something I'm lacking in my reading, so when I was given the chance by MMSAI Tours to promote this book I jumped at it!


Kiki and Jacques
Author: Susan Ross
Pages: 128
Reading Level: Middle Grade

Release Date: October 15, 2015
Publisher:  Holiday House

A local boy and a refugee girl from Somalia overcome cultural challenges in a small Maine town.

Twelve-year-old Jacques meets Kiki, a Somali girl with a mysterious scar. Jacques expects to be captain of the soccer team, by Kiki’s brother, Mohamed, becomes his new rival. Kiki is also a talented player and wishes her family would let her join the girls team. A dangerous older boy implicated Jacques in a blot to rob the Army Navy Store, but Mohamed is mistakenly arrested. The boys on the soccer team shun Mohamed, and Jacques must decide if he will step forward.


“Jacques and Kiki are intriguing chracters, strong and empathetic. Despite problems of culture, they find their way to friendship in a story that is beautifully crafted. A stunning debut novel.”
-Patricia Reilly Giff, Two-time Winner of the Newberry Honor (Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods)

Susan Ross grew up in Lweiston-Auburn, Maine, and adored spending time at her family’s cottage on the Maine coast. She attended Brown University and NYU School of Law.

After practicing law, Susan taught legal writing in Brooklyn and in Budapest, and creative writing to kids in Connecticut. She led “art smart” for many years in her three children’s elementary school classes and assisted with weekly writing workshops at their international school in London. Susan loves hanging out in a classroom and teaching kids about writing and literature!

KiKi and Jacques was inspired by the large influx of New Mainers from Somalia to Susan’s hometown in Maine. It is her debut middle grade novel.
Currently Susan lived with her husband and teenaged daughter in Connecticut. She teaches writing at Westpoint Writers Workshop and is a trustee at the local library.


One Winner will get a $15.00 B&N Gift Card + a Copy of KIKI AND JACQUES

Must be 13+ To Enter | Open To US Only

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August 14, 2015

Book Review: Charlie and the Grandmothers by Katy Towell

Title: Charlie and the Grandmothers
Author: Katy Towell

When fearful twelve-year-old Charlie and his bolder younger sister are sent to visit a grandmother they never knew they had, they discover a dark secret.

A visit to Grandmother's house has never been so scary…

Twelve-year-old Charlie Ougght knows something is fishy when he and his little sister Georgie are sent away to spend time with a grandmother they've never met. Grandmother Pearl and her sister Grandmother Opal seem harmless enough, but Charlie soon uncovers a dastardly plot-the grandmothers are acting as minions for an ancient queen desperate to rule the world. Can Charlie and Georgie find a way to save themselves and the other children held captive in the Queen's lair before it's too late?

Sometimes it's hard for a child to be brave.  So many things can scare them.  My 8 year old is having trouble going to bed lately because he's worried about having bad dreams.  That is Charlie in this book.  He is scared of everything - even refusing to sleep.  But what is very cool - and would be for kids reading - is watching how he learns to be brave despite all his fears.  As odd things begin happening and then even scarier events happen, Charlie knows he needs to push forward and help save himself and his sister.  I think any kid reading this would take away from it that they could be brave too!

A bit more just about the story.  It reminded me a bit of an old-fashioned Grimm's fairy-tale. Nasty things happening to children who have to save themselves.  Grandmothers that can't be trusted - like the little old lady in Hansel and Gretel.  A wicked queen - like in many fairy-tales.  It really did have that feel! So if you are a fan of that definitely check this book out!

I do have to take minute to share a note of caution.  If you have a child that is easily scared this might not be the book for them - which is hard because it shows bravery in the face of fear! But there are just a few things that might be too much for some readers.  I know that because of the issues my 8 year old is having with sleeping and dreams this book wouldn't be for him because it would just feed that fear.  So just be aware before suggesting it! I know many kids that would love it because they like that scary aspect!

Final thought - old fashioned fairy-tale that shows even those most scared and find themselves brave.  

Book received in exchange for an honest review.

August 4, 2015

Book Review: The Great Depression for Kids by Cheryl Mullenback

Title: The Great Depression for Kids (with 21 Activities)
Author: Cheryl Mullenbach

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live during the Great Depression? Perhaps you think of the stock market crash of 1929, unemployed workers standing in breadlines, and dust storms swirling on the Great Plains. But the 1930s were also a time when neighbors helped neighbors, librarians delivered books on horseback, and an army of young men rebuilt the nation’s forests, roads, and parks. The Great Depression for Kids provides a balanced and realistic picture of an era rife with suffering but also deep-rooted with hope and generosity. Beginning with a full chapter on the 1920s, the book provides important background knowledge to help set the stage for an in-depth look at the decline of the economy and attempts at recovery over the next decade. Twenty-one hands-on activities invite young history buffs to understand and experience this important era in American history. Kids can recreate Depression glassware; simulate a windstorm; learn how to research, buy, and sell stocks; design a paper block quilt; play “round ball”; and much more. 

A while back I was offered the book World War 1 for Kids, so when I was offered this book in the series I wanted to see how it compared.  I had a history teacher help me review the WWI book, but with it being summer I wasn't able to do that this time!  So this is just from me as an English teacher.  

I liked the book.  I thought there was definitely stuff in it that teachers could use.  It starts before The Great Depression so kids get an understanding of what led up to what happened in the country.  I thought that was very important to do, because it gave a more complete understanding to the topic.  That well rounded coverage of the topic continues throughout the book.  There were chapters on urban life, rural life, the New Deal and growing up.  Each one provides a different perspective of life in America during this time.  The only thing I would've like a little more of was the stories of minority groups.  The book definitely touches on this, but I would've liked more.  

One of my favorite sections was on ways they still managed to find fun during this time.  It showed that even in difficult times we still search to find a reason to laugh or smile.  I think that would be good for kids to see and understand.  Plus it would really give them a good perspective when compared to their lives now.  

The activities throughout the book were good.  Like the teacher who reviewed the WWI book said, some would be very difficult to do with a group of students in a classroom.  They might be something you use to differentiate for students who are ready for a challenge.  

I will be passing this book on to the history teachers in my building to use when they teach The Great Depression.  I believe they will find parts they can use for sure.

Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.  

August 1, 2015

The OWL Turns 6!!!

I'm in complete shock that I've been blogging for 6 years!

I never knew when I started this blog - kind've on a whim  - that 6 years later I'd still be here.

I know that I've said several times that I'm stopping only to come back.  There is something about the blogging community and the sharing of books that keeps pulling me back.  

I have gotten to a point that I blog how I want when I want.  
I don't feel guilty or bad if I don't post for a week or two.  
I only get a tish jealous when another blog gets a great book to review.  
I don't feel the need to jump on every book hype, giveaway or meme.  
I blog my way :)

Here's a bit of walk down memory lane:

My first review was for Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
My first ARC was Hush Hush
My first giveaway
My first author signing - Maggie Stiefvater

What a long ride it has been!

And of course to celebrate - a giveaway.
Must live where The Book Depository delivers for free
Must be at least 13

Enter to win one book $20 or less from The Book Depository

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