It's My Birthday! And a Simple Giveaway



Happy Tuesday everyone!
It's a great day because it's my birthday!!

Now I will admit this one has been harder to swallow than my last few.  I am now 45.  Yes that is a 4 and a 5 put side-by-side.
Normally birthdays don't bother me for many reasons, but this one has.

Why?
A lot of it has to do with my writing and the question:
Am I too old at 45 to write YA????

I've been wrestling with it.
Thankfully in the last few days I've come to terms with it. 
I'm just going to write the stories that come to me and let the rest sort itself out!

And then I reminded myself of why I should celebrate each and every day I'm here.
13 years ago I battled and beat breast cancer.
7 years ago I had open heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.
Both of those could've make reaching 45 impossible for me, and I don't want to forget that!
So now I focus on:
 watching my kids grow up
laughing with my wonderful husband
enjoying coffee, wine, a good book and simple things

As for the writing at 45 question - I'm just going to be grateful that each day I can still put pencil to paper and write!

To celebrate I thought I'd put some books up for grabs.  Nothing too exciting.

Giveaway
3 Winners
Each gets to pick a book from those pictured below.
Must be at least 13
Must be a US resident


Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Snap Shot Monday

This is the book I'm currently reading. It's a retelling of The Nutcracker!

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October Graphic Novel Celebration!

As I was checking out some blog I came across a post at Nerdy Book Club about celebrating graphic novels during the month of October.  

This really caught my interest because I know how much my middle grade students love graphic novels.  And lately when I help out in the media center it seems like the Big Nate books are exploding in popularity.  

After reading the post about the celebration of graphic novels I decided to participate! 

The month is being hosted by:
Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn of A Year of Reading
Alyson Beecher of KidLit Frenzy
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan of Assessment in Perspective


Here's a bit about it taken from Nerdy Book Club:

What Is It? 
Each Thursday in October each of us will be blogging about graphic novels and the authors of graphic novels.  We will read and post about graphic novels so we can share titles and ideas.  On November 1, 2015 at 8:00 EST, we will culminate this celebration with a Twitter Chat featuring Terry Thompson the author of Adventures in Graphica: Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Comprehension, 2-6.

Here’s how you can participate:
  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. Join the #GNCelebration Google Community 
  3. Read Graphic Novels:  All you need to do is read and/or reread some graphic novels.  Choose some you want to blog about.
  4. Write Your  Post:  Each Thursday in October, write a post about graphic novels, a graphic novel series or a graphic novel author.  In your post, please include the age range recommendations for your books and share why you love them so other readers can match books to their students.  If you want to share ideas of how you use these texts instructionally, go for it!
  5. Share Your Post: Each Thursday in October post your blog and link it to the#GNCelebration Google Community(https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/117918938245141547958)
  6. No Blog?:  If you don’t have a blog, it is really easy to just post directly into the Google Community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #GNCelebration hashtag.    
  7. Comment:  Each Thursday, take some time to read posts from other participants and please comment on at least three.

You can read Nerdy Book Club's Top Ten Reasons to join as well!!


I can't wait to get started! There have been some graphic novels I've really wanted to read!

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SWAPOWEEN!!!


Hey all I've decided to participate in Swapoween - a Halloween swap hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! When I saw this swap I knew I had to participate.  

Here's what's involved:

YOUR SWAP OBJECTIVE:

Get to know your partner and send them a fantastic Halloween-themed package with goodies that meet their style/preferences/favorite things about the holiday.

YOUR PACKAGE MUST:

Include at least 5 Halloween-related items
Cost $20-$30, before shipping (to ensure relative value)

If you want to know more check out their post on SWAPOWEEN!


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WoW: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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

Today I'm waiting on - OK to be honest my daughter is waiting on this one.  She read Fangirl and loved it, so she really wants to read this one.  


Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.


Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.



Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
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You Just Don't Understand! Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

For YJDU I like to remind you of a great book that I just don't feel people get how good it is.

Today I'm sharing:

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.


I read this book awhile ago.  I didn't review it on the blog (it was when I wasn't sure I was going to keep blogging) so instead I reviewed it on Goodreads.  

I LOVED this book.  If you haven't read it you should.  I just recently got the sequel and will be diving into it next.  

Here's my review from Goodreads:

I'm going to keep this short - I LOVED it. Super fun (and funny at points). I've read the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins and really liked them, so I was excited to see she had a new book out. Glad I picked it up and read it. My favorite part - the main character Harper. I just loved her. From her precise dress and refusal to swear she was fantastic. I loved how stubborn she was, and how through this all she was always smart and in charge. She was just great! But what I liked was that there was still a depth to her. She could've come across as this girl that did nothing but care about outward appearances and making sure everything was perfect. Harper went beyond that especially when looking at what her family went through when her sister died. And in a way that I could totally buy into, she completely accepts what happened and pushes forward in the way she thinks is best.

The pace of the book was great. Not too slow or fast. I never felt like the book was dragging or that it skipped steps. I pretty much tore through the book in about 2 days!

Lastly David Stark - liked him a lot although I had trouble picturing some of the outfits he is supposed to be wearing. That's just be tho - if I can't see that combination in real life I have troubling seeing it in my mind! His reaction to the whole situation was great as well.

Overall great book! Can't wait for the sequel. Too bad it's not out until next April!
 



Here's the sequel:


and soon book #3:




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SnapShot Reading

To keep blogging simple I like to just share a picture of what book I'm currently reading.

Today's snapshot is:


Nil by Lynne Matson

So far I'm enjoying it!



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Double Review: Sanctum and Catacomb by Madeleine Roux

Today I'm reviewing the last two books in the Asylum series.  I reviewed Asylum earlier if you want to check that one out.

Sanctum
Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they'd love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it's here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.

Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined.
 





Catacomb
Sometimes the past is better off buried.

Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they are apparently being followed.. And Dan starts receiving phone messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween.

As the strange occurrences escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence, but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister connection with a notorious killer from the past. Now, Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.



I'm going to review both books together - just thought it would be easier.  Now if you look back to my review of Asylum you'll see I wasn't overly excited about it.  That would make you wonder why I read the next two.  I'll be honest - I hoped they would hit the spooky factor I was looking for!!! Did that happen?

Sanctum actually had some creepy aspects that held my interest quite well! In this book they do a lot of creeping around old empty houses where Dan sees some ghosts and those parts were well done! Plus (without giving away too much) there was a group of people after the three of them, and I found that part really creepy! Sanctum also had some nice plot twists and some real cringe worthy moments that made it, in my mind, a stronger book than Asylum.  There were also some times that I felt a lot of tension, and I was worried about the characters! That made this a stronger book in my mind.  

Asylum also brought together some of the pieces that Dan was questioning in the first book.  A fuller picture of the Warden emerged, and it was nice to see those pieces fit together.  

My only kinda beef with the book was the whole idea of them being there as perspective students.  It just didn't seem realistic enough in terms of any college actually letting something happen that way.  But I was able to set that aside and enjoy the story.  

Now Catacomb.  This book frustrated me.  I kept trying to find connection between it and the Asylum from the first and second book.  It wasn't until almost 2/3 of the way through the book that I truly understood this book had turned away from that whole story and was now focusing on a different story about Dan's parents.  I thought there would be some huge connection between them (and I kept looking for it!) and Brookline but instead it was a completely new story.  I just found that super frustrating.  Had I really understood that going in I think I might have enjoyed it better because Catacomb had some nice twists and a few "ewwwww" parts.  I just can't say I enjoyed it because of my confusion.  

I did like some of the answers that Dan got about his past - that part was nice.  And I did feel like it ended nicely with no lose ends left open but yet not so neatly that it felt unrealistic.  

Over-all the series was ok.  I liked the second book the best, and I think I would've felt better about the series as a whole if I had known the last book connected the personal life of Dan not the events of the first two books.  



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Books & Bloggers Swap - Showing Off the Goodies!


For the first time I participated in a swap hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps.  
This one caught my attention because it involved books!
You swapped three different books :)

I was paired up with Shieka from Doctor's Notes.

Here is what she sent me:


Nil by Lynne Matson
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
The Uninvited by Cat Winters

Plus she sent my some masking stickers!  I love these to use in my planner!!!!!

I can't wait to dive into all three of these!!!
The question will be which one first?!



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Release Day Blitz: The Pirate Code (Hook's Revenge) +GIVEAWAY



I am so excited that THE PIRATE CODE by Heidi Schulz releases today, and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!
This is a series that I know my middle school students will love! 

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful series by Heidi Schulz, be sure to check out all the details below. 

This blitz also includes a giveaway for copies of both HOOK’S REVENGE books! US only. 
So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


About The Book:

Title: THE PIRATE CODE: HOOK'S REVENGE Book 2
Author: Heidi Schulz
Pub. Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Fresh off a fearsome encounter with the Neverland crocodile, Jocelyn Hook decides the most practical plan is to hunt down her father's famous fortune. After all, she'll need the gold to fund her adventuring in the future. (And luckily, Hook left her the map.)

But the map proves to be a bit harder to crack than Jocelyn had hoped, and she's convinced that the horrible Peter Pan might be the only one with the answers. Of course, he doesn't really feel like helping her, so Jocelyn takes the only reasonable course of action left to her: she kidnaps his mother. Evie, though, is absolutely thrilled to be taken prisoner, so Jocelyn's daring ploy doesn't have quite the effect she'd planned for.

Along with the problem of her all-too-willing captive, Jocelyn must also contend with Captain Krueger, whose general policy is that no deed is too dastardly when it comes to stealing Hook's treasure. And with the ever-shifting Whens of the Neverland working against her as well, Jocelyn, Evie, Roger, and the rest of the Hook's Revenge crew have their work cut out for them.

In this rambunctious showdown between characters new and old, Jocelyn puts her own brand of pirating to the test in a quest to save her future and those she loves.


About the Author:
Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband, co-captaining a crew made of their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, HOOK’S REVENGE, published by Disney•Hyperion, was a Bank Street Best book, among the New York Public Library’s Top 100 Titles for Children in 2014, and an OCTE Oregon Spirit Honor Book. A sequel, HOOK’S REVENGE: THE PIRATE CODE, will follow in September 2015. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, in Spring 2016.

Connect with the author:


Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive both HOOKS’S REVENGE Books. US Only.
Ends on September 25th at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Stacking the Shelves Book Fairy Style!

Stacking the Shelves was started by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews.

I have a book fairy.  She is fantastic.  She had me visit her and go through all her ARCs and wouldn't let me leave until I had a box full! She works for Penguin Random House, so they are all ARCs from books just out or coming out 2016. 
It was like Christmas!
She made my day! 

Here's what I went home with.


Dragons vs. Drones by Wesley King
Soar by Joan Bauer

The Trilogy of Two by Juman Malouf
Crossing the Line by Meghan Rogers


American Ace by Marilyn Nelson
The Green Bicycle Hifaa al Mansour


Pilfer Academy by Lauren Magaziner
The Toymaker's Apprentice by Sherri L. Smith


The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove
Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg


Me & Miranda Mullaly by Jake Gerhardt


Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick


The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
Pieces of Why by K.L. Going


The Truth Commission (audio book) by Susan Juby


There was one more but my daughter nabbed it. I can't find the name of it, and she's sleeping :)
It's a nonfiction book with short pieces about women in history! Love it! 

Where do I start??
Any suggestions???

Thank you to Penguin Random House!


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Book Spotlight: Black Chalk


Occasionally I like to just highlight a book - shine the spotlight on it - that I've seen that looks interesting.

Today I'm sharing:

Black Chalk
by Christopher J. Yates

This book just look intriguing! I don't think it's YA at all, so it's rare for me to even pay it notice.  But the description just grabs me and makes me want to read it!
I have a gift card at Amazon so it might be in my future!

A compulsively readable psychological thriller set in New York and at Oxford University in which a group of six students play an elaborate game of dares and consequences with tragic result

It was only ever meant to be a game played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University; a game of consequences, silly forfeits, and childish dares. But then the game changed: The stakes grew higher and the dares more personal and more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results. Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round. Who knows better than your best friends what would break you? A gripping psychological thriller partly inspired by the author's own time at Oxford University, Black Chalk is perfect for fans of the high tension and expert pacing of The Secret History and The Bellwether Revivals. Christopher J. Yates' background in puzzle writing and setting can clearly be seen in the plotting of this clever, tricky book that will keep you guessing to the very end.
 


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Review: Silver Dolphin Publishers - Nonfiction Books

A while back Silver Dolphin Books contacted me asking if I wanted to review some of their nonfiction children's books.  I have an 8 year son, Samuel, who loves nonfiction.  He keeps telling me it's his "thing".  I knew that he could help me review them as someone the books are created for!

Here's some pictures of what they sent me:



I gave the dinosaur, Earth and Grades 2-3 set to my son, and he jumped right in!

He loved the dinosaurs book because of the stickers and went through and added a bunch of them.  I liked it because it was filled with facts and it gave him something hands-on to do while reading it.  He's a very squirmy kid, so he needs that.


The "Everything You Need to Know" were fun for him because it was nothing but facts.  He loves learning facts about different topics.  I know he explored this one a lot because the next day he was asking me about different topics and how to pronounce them.

And the Earth one was a hit too! I found him digging through the pages to show me different things he had learned.  He wanted me to know about them too!

Over-all these books were a hit with him!  If you have any kids in your life that like nonfiction books I suggest you look into these!


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Book Subscription Box - OwlCrate for August

As I've indicated in the past I've signed up for a few of the book subscription boxes.  Ok more like 4 :)

Today I'm sharing the August OwlCrate box.  

OwlCrate as gotten a lot of coverage and positive reviews, so I was super excited to get in on this one! And besides it has OWL in the title!!!

This month's theme was MYSTERY.

Here's what I found when I opened the box.

The book is: Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
This was the first I saw of this book but I LOVE the sound of it!

Then to go with the theme there was:
 A cute Sherlock Holmes notebook that will go in my purse for quick notes
Adorable Holmes nail stickers
A picture quote from Harriet the Spy - this will go up in my office!
The best tho was a key chain with a quote from a Nancy Drew book.  I LOVE love LOVE it!!!!

Close - Ups

I loved getting this box.  It's just a nice little treat for myself!
For sure I'll continue to get OwlCrate!!!

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Queen of Shadows Release Day Blitz! +GIVEAWAY



I am so excited to help promote 
QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas 
It releases today and I get to help share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!

I will be honest - I haven't read this series....yet!!! I have the first book, and I'm all set to dive in.  It sounds fantastic, and I've heard such great things about it!!!!!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful series by Sarah J. Maas, be sure to check out all the details below.


This blitz also includes a giveaway for a set of the first 3 books in the series (in paperback format). US only. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About The book:

Title: QUEEN OF SHADOWS
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Pub. Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 656

Sarah J. Maas's New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this sweeping fourth volume.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.


Read Chapters 1-5 of QUEEN OF SHADOWS HERE!



About Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling Throne of Glass series–Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire, and the series’ prequel, The Assassin’s Blade–as well as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses. She wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in twenty-three languages. Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, will release worldwide on September 1st, 2015.
A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies. 

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | Instagram| Goodreads


Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive the first 3 books (in paperback) in the THRONE OF GLASS Series. US Only.
Ends on September 11th at Midnight EST!

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