June 29, 2016

HoW: 100 Days

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

I see this post as a way to share what I'm waiting on but also a way to highlight a book I think looks good! So yes it's WoW but it's also HoW (Highlighting on Wednesday)

Today I'm Waiting On:

100 Days by Nicole McInnes
Release Date: August 23

Wow does this one sound good!!!! Unique concept! Very interested!

Agnes doesn't know it, but she only has one hundred days left to live. When she was just a baby, she was diagnosed with Progeria, a rare disease that causes her body to age at roughly ten times the normal rate. Now nearly sixteen years old, Agnes has already exceeded her life expectancy.

Moira has been Agnes’s best friend and protector since they were in elementary school. Due to her disorder, Agnes is still physically small, but Moira is big. Too big for her own liking. So big that people call her names. With her goth makeup and all-black clothes, Moira acts like she doesn’t care. But she does.

Boone was friends with both girls in the past, but that was a long time ago—before he did the thing that turned Agnes and Moira against him, before his dad died, before his mom got too sad to leave the house.

An unexpected event brings Agnes and Moira back together with Boone, but when romantic feelings start to develop, the trio’s friendship is put to the test.

June 28, 2016

Loving Your Name - Review of Thunder Boy Jr. By Sherman Alexie

Title: Thunder Boy Jr
Author: Sherman Alexie
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name...a name that is sure to light up the sky.

National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie's lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales's striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son. 

This is a very cute book about wanting to be yourself and now what everyone else decides you are.  It's something people of all ages struggle with not just  young children! But the struggle of Thunder Boy Jr. is one kids will be able to relate to.  And when he announces to the reader "I hate my name!".  I bet many kids will nod and agree.  As much as we love the names we give our kids - they don't always agree with us.  I have a nickname for my youngest son, and there are times he hates when I use it mainly because it's something I came up with that he doesn't understand. 

The illustrations in the book are fantastic! I like how the colors are full and rich but yet muted and soft.  They help convey the story by matching the fullness of Thunder Boy Jr's father and the soft simple way his frustration with his name is handled.  In the end it was fun to see Thunder Boy Jr excited and happy about the name he now has.  The reader is right there with him.

Finally - a wonderful book about the names we are given and the names we want.  

June 27, 2016

Review: Curse of the the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale

Title: Curse of the Were-Hyena (A Monstertown Mystery)
Author: Bruce Hale

What do you do when your favorite teacher starts turning into a were-hyena? 

a) Flee in terror? 
b) Try to cure him? 
c) Bring him carrion snacks? 

Mr. Chu, the coolest teacher ever, has developed some very unusual habits, like laughing hysterically for no reason, sniffing people's homework, and chasing chickens. When best friends Carlos and Benny decide to find out what's happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And it looks like just the beginning of the weirdness that has arrived in the town of Monterrosa. . . . This first entry in a silly, sassy, and suspenseful new series will leave readers howling with laughter.

This is a fast paced, silly, fun book that will make readers giggle as they watch Carlos and Benny try and save their teacher.  I know I found myself giggling a few times - especially when they brought a chicken into the classroom!  As a teacher I can only imagine the craziness that would cause!  Fun!

I really liked Carlos and Benny.  They way they talked and went about their planning seemed very realistic (well as realistic as it could be with a were-hyena).  I could completely imagine them as 4th graders in any school.  At times they were really serious, but then they'd get side-tracked my something else.  Very typical! And the plans they came up with would, of course, seem good to a 4th grade, but would leave any grown-up shaking their head.  I liked that! I think kids would too because it would be something they could buy in to.  
There were a couple of things I wondered if they needed to be in the book.  One was the talk of dead bodies being chewed on.  I just didn't know if it was needed and for some younger kids it might be a bit much for them.  It was nothing that would make me shy away from the book, but something to be aware of when suggesting it.  

Finally - A fun start to what looks like the start of a fun new mystery series.  

June 24, 2016

What Would Your Talent Be? BOOK REVIEW: A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff +GIVEAWAY

Title: A Clatter of Jars
Author: Lisa Graff

In this companion to A Tangle of Knots, it's summertime and everyone is heading off to camp. For Talented kids, the place to be is Camp Atropos, where they can sing songs by the campfire, practice for the Talent show, and take some nice long dips in the lake. But what the kids don't know is that they've been gathered for a reason--one that the camp's director wants to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, a Talent jar that has been dropped to the bottom of the lake has sprung a leak, and strange things have begun to happen. Dozens of seemingly empty jars have been washing up on the shoreline, Talents have been swapped, and memories have been ripped from one camper's head and placed into another. And no one knows why.

This is the first I've read by Lisa Graff even though I've seen her books around a lot.  A Clatter of Jars was a great introduction to her books! I loved the idea of everyone having some sort of talent - and that the talents were in all shapes and sizes.  Wouldn't that be fun?! I'd want a talent that allowed me to always get the exact amount of sleep I needed!

This book is written from the point of view of several different characters.  I have to admit it took me a few chapters to get use to that.  But once I just paid attention to the name at the start of the chapter I was good to go.  I actually liked that it was written this way because it allowed me to understand what was going on with many different characters.  I made the story feel more well rounded for me.  

The main character really does seem to be Lily because it comes back to her a lot.  Also her brother and step-sister are also at camp.  I don't want to give things away, but truly her whole family is part of the story.  I liked Lily because she such a typical kid.  She kept doing things thinking they would help, but of course they didn't because she didn't think them through.  I felt for her so many times!

Although Lily seemed to me more of the main character, my favorite story-line involved Renny and Miles.  They are brothers at the camp.  At first Renny is very frustrated with everything, but at the story goes along he really grows.  I enjoyed watching the change that happened with him and with his relationship with him brother.  Truly my favorite part of the book.

I will admit I had to work a bit to keep everyone straight in the story - well mostly the parts of the story with the grown-ups.  There was a lot going on there and I struggled a bit to keep it straight.  I do think it would've helped if I had read the companion book - A Tangle of Knots - first because it covered that more.  I'll need to go read it now I guess :)

Finally:  Nice story about not jumping to conclusions, letting things work themselves out and trusting who you are.

I'm having a giveaway for 4 Lisa Graff books on my other blog Finding Magic.  You can find that giveaway HERE

June 23, 2016


I'm having a giveaway for 4 Lisa Graff books on my other blog (that I'm trying to switch to more!) Finding Magic.  

Please check it out at the link below!

Finding Magic Lisa Graff Giveaway

And maybe if you're so inclined you could follow there too :)

June 20, 2016

Blog Tour: On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen +GIVEAWAY

Welcome to Day #1 of the On Bird Hill Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall (5/10/16), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Jane, Bob, and Brian Sockin (CEO and Publisher of Cornell Lab Publishing Group), plus 10 chances to win a copy of On Bird Hill and a window bird feeder!

Q&A with Jane Yolen
1. Many of your books feature bird themes. What inspired your interest in this topic?
I didn't start writing bird-themed books. I was born and grew up in New York City where it seemed the only birds on offer were pigeons, or as we kids of the time called them, "flying rats." Of course I now know differently and there are many kinds of birds (and bird stories) in the city. I am thinking Pale Male, a brilliant book about a hawk that lived and had a series of mates and lots of children in nesting sites on NYC buildings and in the Manhattan parks.

But then I met a handsome, dashing, brilliant young man named David Stemple who would become my handsome, dashing brilliant husband.

He had grown up in the mountains of West Virginia, and boy! did he know the woods, and, birds. He taught me, and eventually our three children how to identify birds, how to call birds, how to record them. (I am the least able in the family, but I try!!!)  David had a long relationship with Cornell's Library of Natural Sounds. And when he was dying, as a gift to him, they wired the room where he lay in a hospital bed to an outdoor microphone under our deck so he could be surrounded by bird song the last three months of his life! He had become a bird recordist and expert in bird dialects the last fifteen years, and he was also the prototype for Pa in my Caldecott-winning book, Owl Moon. There is now a family-funded scholarship in his name at Cornell to help young indigenous scholars. 

So when I was contacted by Cornell to do a book for their new line of children's books about birds, of course I jumped at the chance. On Bird Hill, illustrated by by the marvelous Bob Marstall, an illustrator friend of mine for 35 years, is the first of (at least) three books I am doing for them. The second will be out next year -- On Duck Pond, also being illustrated by Bob. And the third of our collaborations, On Gull Beach has already been written.

2. Why do you think experiencing nature is important for children?
We are, by being human, part of the world of nature. NOT to know it, not to learn how to walk softly through it, smell it, feel the feathers and fur of it, the wash of its oceans, the morning and night of it --is to become less than human. The best time to start is when you are small. It's not rocket science, folks. Unless you consider us on spaceship earth, and then it is!

3. What are the unique challenges of writing a picture book?
Getting down a story that is essentially a tone poem in as few words as possible. But, of course, not just any words -- the best words. That's one of the greatest challenges for a writer. Add to that, you know that what you write can and will change a child's life. Quite a burden and a mitzvah, Yiddish for a truly good deed.

4. What is your favorite bird?
Hands down -- the owl. All owls. But perhaps (in no special order) Great Horned, Snowy Owl, and Great Grey Owl -- all of which I have seen up close and personal in the wild. But there are lots others I love: quail, cardinal, the cuckoo for its song, all the raptors, the Northeast feeder birds. I could go on....

Stop by The Book Monsters tomorrow for Day #2 of the tour!

Blog Tour Schedule:
June 20th – The O.W.L.
June 21st — The Book Monsters
June 23rd  — MamaPapaBarn
June 24th — Rockin' Book Reviews 
June 27th — Kristi's Book Nook
June 28th — Books My Kids Read
June 29th — Word Spelunking
June 30th — Cracking the Cover
July 1st — Can You Read Me a Story?

Loosely based on the old cumulative nursery rhyme/song “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” a nursery rhyme first published as a song in 1912. But in this version, it’s a boy and his dog who find the bird in a nest on a hill in a strange valley. Following in the footsteps of Jane’s highly acclaimed Owl Moon, winner of the prestigious Caldecott Award, On Bird Hill is a beautiful picture book with an enchanting story, fancifully illustrated by renowned artist Bob Marstall. On Bird Hill is sure to attract interest from millions of readers and fans of Jane’s popular classics.
About the Author: 
Jane Yolen has authored more than 350 books, including the Caldecott-winning Owl Moon, which every budding young ornithologist owns, You Nest Here With Me, which is a popular new favorite, and the New York Times bestselling series How Do Dinosaurs. Jane Yolen’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and are popular around the world. Janes husband, David Stemple, was both a well known bird recordist and a professor of computer science and he taught the entire family how to identify birds. Many of Jane’s books are about wildlife subjects, especially the winged kind. Jane lives in Easthampton, MA. Visit her online at janeyolen.com.

About the Illustrator: 
Bob Marstall is the illustrator of nine nonfiction children’s books, including the The Lady and the Spider, which sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies and was a Reading Rainbow selection. Bob has also been honored with an ALA Notable; an IRA Teachers’ Choice; a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children; and three John Burroughs selections.

In addition, two of Bob’s books are included in the New York Times Parent’s Guide’s “1001 Best Books of the Twentieth Century.” Bob Lives in Easthamton, MA. Visit him online at bobmarstall.com.

About the Cornell Lab: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet. birds.cornell.edu


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of On Bird Hill and a Window Bird Feeder ($28.99) to get up close and personal with the birds in your backyard! Great for blends, peanuts and safflower, this durable feeder attaches right to your window pane with suction cups, allowing you to see every bird detail. It's easy to fill and easy to clean.
  • US only
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June 16, 2016

Sad News - Author Lois Duncan has Passed Away

Last night I was on Twitter and saw the news about Lois Duncan.  It saddened me greatly.  She was one of my favorite authors when I was younger.  

The first book I read by her was Daughter's of Eve.  I remember thinking WOW! I didn't know there could be books like that (darker books) written for kids my age.  I loved it! 

 From there I went on to read all her books.  My two favorites remain Down a Dark Hall and Daughter's of Eve. I loved DaDH first because it was a boarding school but second because of the creep factor! And I loved DoE because it was the first book I read that had girls that were being evil, and I'd never really seen that before! 

 I think it's because of her I went on to read John Saul, Stephen King and all the other creepy books I continue to read! 
My wish was to meet her in person because I wanted to tell her what an affect her writing had on me.  

Through my years blogging I featured Duncan a lot.  I even did a whole month of her!
Here are some links:

If you haven't read anything by her I highly suggest you do! She is one of the pillars of YA/MG! 

June 15, 2016

HoW: Every Hidden Thing

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

I see this post as a way to share what I'm waiting on but also a way to highlight a book I think looks good! So yes it's WoW but it's also HoW (Highlighting on Wednesday)

Today I'm Waiting On:

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Release Date: October 11

This sounds fun and neat and I love that it's a take off of Romeo and Juliet.  Plus I grew up in North Dakota near the Badlands, so I love that.  Although I know they are referring to the South Dakota Badlands.

Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth-century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt, it’s the “rex,” the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.

But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. And if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.

As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. Their flourishing romance is one that will never be allowed. And with both eyeing the same prize, it’s a romance that seems destined for failure. As their attraction deepens, danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light and forcing Samuel and Rachel to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry, and with it a new life together, or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

June 9, 2016

June 9th Pre-Order Event +GIVEAWAY!!

Pick up JUNE 9TH for only $1.99 and be entered to win a goodie bag full of prizes!
June 9th
Untouch Me #1
Author: Emha Goliesh
Publisher: INCLUDAS Publishing
Release Date: 9/29/16
Love at first sight? Not for studious college freshman Lacey Shyver. She knows everyone just pretends and acts nice to her face; no one could ever actually want her. It’s the same story every time, but no more false hope and shattered promises. She’s not going to trust anyone anymore — especially not flirtatious drummer Blake Nivey, the one person in her group project she can’t stand. She keeps staring, keeps complaining, keeps judging. She knows he’s just a charmer and a player, yet the more time they spend together, the deeper their connection becomes. Every time their eyes lock, his soul sucks her in. His touch alone unleashes a miracle she never thought she’d be able to feel. But Lacey struggles to understand if he’s acting overly friendly and nice or if these sensual feelings of connection and intimacy are actually love. And what does it all mean when he leaves to follow his dreams? Are their paths destined to cross again, or divert, only to remain alive through memories?
Add To Goodreads
PRE-ORDER NOW FOR $1.99!B&N | iBooks |
About The Author
Shy and introverted, I never felt like I fit in, even though everyone saw me as a “social butterfly.” I moved around a lot in California, left people and met new ones, but nothing felt like home. Ever. Expect for writing. I grew up loving to write in small journals, under a desk, in a secret place. A place known to me and only me. I built a relationship with words in order to escape the reality that wrote about me—documents filled with all of my flaws and weaknesses. The reality that I didn’t understand at a young age and wanted to hide away from because my writing was something I could control. I could live in a secret place where every dream, fear, joy, and risk could be mine and only mine. My home. My safety. My love.  http://juneninthbook.com/
Pre- Order JUNE 9TH and be entered to win $25.00 Starbucks gift card + a tote bag filled with everything you need for summer reading!Must be 13+ To enter, open to US residents only.
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June 8, 2016

HoW: Flying - a New Carrie Jones Book!!!

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

I see this post as a way to share what I'm waiting on but also a way to highlight a book I think looks good! So yes it's WoW but it's also HoW (Highlighting on Wednesday)

Today I'm Waiting On:

Flying by Carrie Jones
Release Date: July 19th

Ok I loved the Need series ways more than you know, and I've been waiting for more books by Carrie Jones.  When I saw this I was very excited! I think it looks fun!!!

People have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She's used to being coddled, being an only child, but it's hard to imagine anything could ever happen in her small-town, normal life. As her mother's babying gets more stifling than ever, she's looking forward to cheering at the big game and getting out of the house for a while.

But that night, Mana's life goes haywire.

First, the hot guy she's been crushing on at school randomly flips out and starts spitting acid during the game. Then they get into a knockdown, drag-out fight in the locker room, during which Mana finds herself leaping around like a kangaroo on steroids. As a flyer on the cheerleading squad, she's always been a good jumper, but this is a bit much. By the time she gets home and finds her house trashed and an alien in the garage, Mana starts to wonder if her mother had her reasons for being overprotective.

It turns out, Mana's frumpy, timid mom is actually an alien hunter, and now she's missing--taking a piece of technology with her that everyone wants their hands on, both human and alien. Now her supposed partner, a guy that Mana has never met or heard of (and who seems way too young and way too arrogant to be hunting aliens), has shown up, ordering Mana to come with him. Now, on her own for the first time, Mana will have to find a way to save her mother--and maybe the world--and hope she's up to the challenge.

June 7, 2016

Ghosts - Yes! Suspense - Yes! Review: Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

Title: Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
Author: Katie Alender

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.

And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.

So lately I've been reading suspenseful/scary books.  I LOVE books like that and have ready many throughout the years.  So it's pretty easy for a book of this genre to disappoint me.  This was not the case for Dead Girls! I really enjoyed it.  

Now at first I wasn't so  sure.  I was like - seriously how is this book ever going to build on what has happened! I honestly couldn't see it and thought the book had took a huge wrong turn in my opinion.  I was quickly  proven wrong! Yes I'm being vague, but I don't want to spoil it for you! 

What I will talk about are the ghost girls.  I really liked them! Each one was unique and brought something new to the story.  My favorite was Eliza.  She became so strong and confident.  I loved watching that.  Some of the side character ghosts like the twins were cool.  They added to the story in a way I didn't see coming.  

I also liked Delia's sister Jamie.  At first I thought she was a brat, but I came to see that she really wasn't and she was probably the strongest and bravest person in the family.  90% of what she did I could've never done! 

Probably the only part of the story that lacked a little for me was the mystery behind the ghosts.  It came together really well, but I do think that could've been a bit stronger.  

Over-all:  Fun ghost story that strongly held my attention!

June 2, 2016

Why I Enjoyed The Dead House by Dawn KurtagichI

Title: The Dead House
Author: Dawn Kurtagich

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . . 

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

1. I loved how it was written - instead of straight forward narrative it was (as the summary says) written in diary entries, notes, recordings etc.  I liked that because it gave the whole story a different feel.  I was constantly wondering what was left out - what wasn't found and shared.  It was like have most of the pieces of a puzzle - enough to see the picture - but seeing some details were missing.  I guess that could be frustrating, but I found it super intriguing.

2.  I liked Kaitlyn.  Ok I didn't at times, but mostly I felt for her! She thought she knew what was happening, but as the story goes along she feels less and less certain. It made me feel for her.  

3.  The ending.  Again this could be VERY frustrating BUT I loved how it has kept me thinking even after I finished the book.  I keep thinking - well maybe this or maybe that.  Love that!

4.  It kept surprising me! Something would happen, and I'd be like WOW REALLY!? When a book can do that it has more for sure! 

Last thought:  Super enjoyed it! Kept picking it right back up when I'd put it down! 

June 1, 2016

Let's Chat - Social Media

During my Let's Chat posts I try to get readers commenting on a topic.  

Today's topic is other sources of social media and how I use (or not use them).  

I'm wondering about your use of them too!

Twitter:  I'm on there a ton (@justkeepreading), but I don't chat a lot.  Sometimes I will, but there is so much going on there that sometimes I feel like I'm shouting into the void! I've started to use lists a little to narrow down what I see on the screen.  Do you use them?? How active are you on Twitter?

Tumblr:  Tried it and just could NOT get it.  My daughter loves it! I just found myself getting lost on on it.  Do you use it?

Instagram:  I'm on it and do enjoy it! (jilltheowl) I love and am amazed by all the book pictures that people set up so beautifully! I just lay the book on my hardwood floor and call it creative.  But most of the time I don't do that either! I finally found an app that lets me repost Instagram posts.  Giveaways always want you to do that, and I didn't know how.  Do you have an app you use for that? I use Regrann.  Sometimes I think about going to Instagram only.

SnapChat:  My daughter got me started on this one.  I don't follow any authors etc.  I just use it with my daughter and her friends.  But I am curious if anyone uses it for book/reading stuff?? 

Periscope:  NEVER USED IT! You??? 

Goodreads:  I use Goodreads a ton but only to track my books.  I have lots of friends, but I really don't interact with anyone there.  Sorry if you're friends with me there! I just don't. How do you use it? 

Facebook:  I don't use it to promote books at all.  I follow some authors and publishers, but Facebook is mostly just for my personal life and family.  

I can't think of anymore.  Of all these besides Blogger I like Twitter the best.  I learn a lot on Twitter about different authors and what is going on in the publishing world.  I don't add a lot, but I do a ton of reading from Twitter.  
My second favorite is Instagram just because the pictures are so pretty! 

So tell me - what of these or others do you use?  
How do you use them?
What do you like the best?

Let's Chat!