March 31, 2017

Book Blitz: The Courage Test by James Preller. Book Excerpt +GIVEAWAY

Today I'm glad to be a part of the Book Nerd blast for 

The Courage Test by James Preller


Will has no choice. His father drags him along on a wilderness adventure in the footsteps of legendary explorers Lewis and Clark--whether he likes it or not. All the while, Will senses that something about this trip isn't quite right.

Along the journey, Will meets fascinating strangers and experiences new thrills, including mountain cliffs, whitewater rapids, and a heart-hammering bear encounter.

It is a journey into the soul of America's past, and the meaning of family in the future. In the end, Will must face his own, life-changing test of courage.

A father-and-son journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail--from Fort Mandan to the shining sea--offers readers a genre-bending blend of American history, thrilling action, and personal discovery.


"Preller stirs doses of American history into a first-rate road trip that does traditional double-duty as plot device and coming-of-age metaphor. Will is initially baffled and furious at being abruptly forced to accompany his divorced father, a history professor, on a long journey retracing much of the trail of Lewis and Clark. ...Will survives a meeting with a bear and a spill into dangerous rapids—tests of courage that will help him weather the bad news that awaits him at home." --Booklist

"The lively narrative is interspersed with Will’s entries for a school writing assignment, which contain lots of facts about the original journey, as well as postcards to his mother. Despite the emotional heft, there is plenty of action, including white-water rafting and a close encounter with a bear. A middle grade winner to hand to fans of history, adventure, and family drama."--School Library Journal


James Preller (born 1961) is the children's book author of the Jigsaw Jones Mysteries, which are published by Scholastic Corporation. He grew up in Wantagh, New York and went to college in Oneonta, New York. After graduating from college in 1983, James Preller was employed as a waiter for one year before being hired as a copywriter by Scholastic Corporation, where he was introduced (through their books) to many noatable children's authors. This inspired James Preller to try writing his own books. James Preller published his first book, entitled MAXX TRAX: Avalanche Rescue, in 1986. Since that time, James Preller has written a variety of books, and has written under a number of pen names, including Mitzy Kafka, James Patrick, and Izzy Bonkers. James Preller lives in Delmar, New York with his wife Lisa and their three children.

To find out more about the book including an excerpt check out the official blast link:

3 Winners will receive a Copy of The Courage Test by James Preller  

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

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March 30, 2017

Spurt by Christ Miles Blog Tour: Top Ten List and +GIVEAWAY

Today I welcome Chris Miles to The O.W.L. to promote his new book Spurt and share a Top Ten Guest post! 


Balls and all!

Jack Sprigley isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no bloomer: an eighth grader, and puberty is still a total no-show. Worse yet, he hasn’t heard from his friends all winter vacation. He assumes they’ve finally dumped him and his child-like body—until he finds out it’s much worse than that. His friends are now so far ahead of him that they’ve started dating. Jack is out of luck. But then he comes up with a plan to catch up and win his friends back. And his plan is perfect: he just has to fake puberty.

Praise for SPURT

“Hilarious, addictive, brilliantly-warped... like Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen crossed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid” -- Stuart Gibbs, New York Times bestselling author of the Spy School series

“Funny, heartfelt, and likely to appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys on the cusp of puberty” --School Library Journal

“A refreshing take on body image, acceptance and the need to fit in. The novel’s moments of profundity are subtle yet powerful, and masterfully balanced with humour. Spurt is appealingly naughty.” --Books+Publishing


Chris Miles has written several books for young readers in Australia. His short fiction and other writings have appeared in publications throughout Australia. He works as a website designer and developer, and in his spare time he indulges his love of Doctor Who, LEGO®, Dungeons & Dragons, and anchovies. He is a dog person (though not literally).

I was able to ask Chris to create a Top Ten List for this post.  I asked:
What are the Top Ten ways you procrastinate when writing!

Here's what he said:

  1. Doing the laundry
  2. Doing the dishes
  3. Eating cereal (and therefore making more dishes, see number 2)
  4. Reading books and articles about writing instead of actually writing
  5. Tweaking the settings on my word processor
  6. Obsessing over finding the right names for things
  7. Making wish lists of LEGO® sets I want to buy
  8. Taking photos of my dog
  9. Googling for reviews of my book
  10. Composing emails to Google asking why there aren’t more reviews of my book (see number 9)

I LOVE #7 and I know many of my students would too!!!  Thanks for sharing these Chris! 

I'm going to keep this short since this post is getting a little long!
Very cute, real, funny book.  This is a topic that not many books out there take on! At first I was a little leery, but in the end it was all good.  I liked Jack a lot.  He was real, likable and believable.  That was important because you had to buy into him if you were going to run with the rest of the book!  
I will admit I'm curious how kids the age of the characters in the book will react to it.  The cover alone will catch their attention, but I'm curious what they'll think of it beyond that.  If they decide to read it, I think they'll enjoy it! 

In short - Give Spurt a try! I think you'll like it! 

5 Winners will receive a Copy of Spurt by Chris Miles

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

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March 29, 2017

Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull Blog Tour!

I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for DRAGONWATCH by Brandon Mull. 

 How could I not be - it's another story in the Fablehaven series!!!!
 LOVE the Fablehaven series.  I got so many students hooked on it, so the fact that there is another book for them to read is absolutely perfect! 

About the Book
In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens, but prisons and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies....

In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

Going back to the world of Fablehaven was like going home.  Seth! Kendra! The Sanctuary! It was like going back to visit and old friend.  But  - a visit that takes a turn for the worse! Of course it does - it wouldn't be Fablehaven if it didn't.  

Here's what I loved:
  • So much of what you remember about the characters is still there.  Seth is still Seth.
  • All those dragons!
  • The action.  This is a book that will pull the reader in and keep them there.
  • How it ties to the previous books.  It's seamless.  Sometimes a later book can feel like an add-on.  This one didn't. 
  • The ending - satisfying!
  • It brought back a world I loved.

In short - if you loved the series, read it!  If you haven't read the series.  Read the series!!

March 28, 2017

The Glittering Court Paperback Release Day Blitz! +GIVEAWAY

Today the paperback of The Glittering Court is released into the world!!


Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…


RICHELLE MEAD is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Vampire Academy series and its spin-off series, Bloodlines. Originally from Michigan, she now lives in Seattle, Washington.


Enter for a chance to win one (1) of ten (10) copies of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead (ARV: $10.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 28, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 5, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 7, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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March 22, 2017

Need! Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

I loved the book Dumplin', so when I saw this new book by Julie Murphy I knew it was something I had to look into.  And after reading the description it's one I know I need! If it's even half as good as Dumplin' it will be fantastic!

Release Date: May 9th (so long to wait!)

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. One of only two out lesbians in her small town and standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the responsible adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, her responsibilities weigh more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. 

As Ramona falls more in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift as well, and she must decide if knowing who she is is more important than figuring out who she might become.

March 21, 2017

Blog Tour: Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan. Guest Post +GIVEAWAY!

Today I'm excited to be a part of the blog tour for Piper Perish!  

Even more fun - I've got a great Top 10 List from the author to share.  

About Piper Perish
Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out ofHouston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper's dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she's never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper's sister's tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper's art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power when it means giving up so much?

Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this dynamic, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she's missing any one of these things?

About the Author

Cagan is a writer and dramaturge who has run social media and content for events like the LA Times Festival of Books and The Taste. She has several published plays in Smith and Kraus anthologies, two award-winning comic books, and various essays. Her work is also included in a One on One anthology from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, as well as 25 10-Minute Plays for Teens. She and her husband, who wrote the screenplay for the popular 2015 movie THE DUFF, live in Los Angeles.

Just a brief review!
I really enjoyed this book.  Mainly because the main character loves art, and that just reminded me so much of my daughter.  She's not like Piper in wanting to make art her life, but she does love it.  
I found Piper's conflicts very believable in the world of high school.  Sometimes I'll read a YA book and wonder if the author even knows high schoolers, but I didn't feel that way here.  These characters, with all their flaws, goodness, annoyances, immaturity and crisis were very much real.  Spending time in a high school I've seen every one of them!  And, although it might bother some, I appreciated that not everyone was so nicey-nice.  They were real - getting angry, saying what they feel, showing the reader that sometimes we just get angry even when we're trying so hard not to - and that's ok.  

In short:  I enjoyed the book, and I think many high school age kids would relate.  

Now a fun Top 10 List!!!

Piper’s Playlist
What would Piper be listening to these days? Well, I’m pretty sure Piper likes to get hyped up and energized by her music, and doesn’t want too many sad songs in her collection, unless she’s really feeling blue. Here’s a few that I know would get her in the mood to paint, dance, and generally motivate her. 


I LOVE IT by Icona Pop
DANCING WITH MYSELF covered by The Donnas 
SEASHORE by The Regrettes 
ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES by The Velvet Underground
DREAMING by Blondie

I may have to check some of these songs out!!! 


As part of the blog tour I'm giving away:

Give away a copy of Piper Perish + a cool  tote bag, pencil and bookmark! 

Must be:
US Resident
At least 13

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March 13, 2017

Book Blast: Guys Read: Heroes and Villains +GIVEAWAY

Very excited to participate in the blast for the new Guys Read book: Heroes and Villains.  

I've had so many middle school boys LOVE these books!


Heroes and Villains, the seventh volume in Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read Library of Great Reading, is chock-full of adventure featuring an array of characters—with and without capes.

Featuring ten all-new, original stories that run the gamut from fantasy to comics to contemporary adventure to nonfiction, and featuring eleven of the most acclaimed, exciting writers for kids working today, this collection is the perfect book for you, whether you use your powers for good—or evil.

Authors include Laurie Halse Anderson, Cathy Camper and Raúl Gonzalez, Sharon Creech, Jack Gantos, Christopher Healy, Deborah Hopkinson, Ingrid Law, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Lemony Snicket, and Eugene Yelchin, with illustrations by Jeff Stokely.



Jon Scieszka is the National Ambassador for Children's Literature emeritus and the bestselling author of more than twenty-five books for kids, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse, Robot Zot!, and the Time Warp Trio series. Jon founded Guys Read to encourage a passion for reading among young boys, with the philosophy that boys love to read most when they are reading things they love. A former elementary school teacher, Jon lives in Brooklyn with his family. For more great books, more great facts, and more about your favorite authors, head over to You'll be glad you did.

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

5 Winners will receive a Copy of Guys Read: Heroes & Villains Edited by Jon Scieszka

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March 11, 2017

Blog Tour: You Can't Hide by Dan Poblocki. Top Ten List +GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the official blog tour for You Can't Hide by Dan Poblocki! 

Very excited to host today's spot. His books are also a go-to when a student wants a "scary" book.

First about the book

Shadow House will find you . . .

Poppy, Marcus, Dash, Dylan, and Azumi are all trapped within Shadow House, a sinister estate where past and present intertwine. As they fight to find a way out, the kids think the ghosts of the house are the greatest danger they face. Little do the kids know it's the secrets they're each hiding that will prove even more lethal.

They're going to have to come face to face with their fears if they stand any hope of escaping the house alive. Is there anyone or anything in the house they can trust? Or is all hope disappearing, too. . .

Enter Shadow House . . . if you dare.

BONUS: Step inside Shadow House with the free app for your tablet or phone! Each image in the book reveals a haunting in the app, where the choices you make determine your fate.

Praise for YOU CAN'T HIDE

"Shadow House has everything I love—strange characters, magic and the supernatural, endless danger and adventure—and a mystery I dare any reader to try to solve". -- R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps

"Ghostly... grotesque... eerie..." -- Booklist

"Poblocki's return, full of mystery, monsters and ghosts, is sure to satisfy his fans. Old-school, John Saul-style horror." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Fun and creepy in all the good ways." -- VOYA

A Junior Library Guild selection


Photo Credit: Nic DeStefano

Dan Poblocki is an American author of mystery and horror novels for young people. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island. During his pre-teen years, his family moved to Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Dan currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with two scaredy cats. 

Dan graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in theater. Subsequently, he toured the United States playing ultra-challenging roles such as Ichabod Crane in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Shoemaker in The Shoemaker and the Elves to packed houses filled with literally thousands of screaming children. (He hopes they weren’t screaming in fear.)

Dan ended his promising acting career to focus on other endeavors. While exploring various artistic options, he held a number of jobs in New York City including: a floral groomer, an audience-wrangler for a popular game show, a computer analyst, a chemotherapy-unit assistant, and a traveling bathing suit sales-dude. 

That’s right. A traveling bathing suit sales-dude.

Dan now writes full time. He's probably working on something new this very minute!

I'll give you my thoughts about the book in just a second but first I have to share what I think is actually a better endorsement of the book.  I had the book at school, so I thought I'd share it with some of my students (3rd-5th grade).  First they loved the cover and grabbed it out of my hands!  Then, after reading the summary, wanted to know when I was adding it to the library.  Several have kept asking about it.  To me that tells way more about the appeal of the book than anything I could say!  So I'll keep my thoughts short.

I really enjoyed the book.  I'm a fan of creepy, so as long as it delivers that I'm happy.  And this book as great creep factor.  Enough that an upper elementary student would get the shivers, but not so much that they hid under the covers shaking.  It took some nice twists and turns catching me a bit off guard.  And - the cast of characters was good.  There wasn't any that truly annoyed me which can be the death of any book in my mind!

In short: Great book for the elementary/middle school kid looking for a creepy read!

And now I'm excited to share a Top Ten List Dan put together for my stop!  

Top 10 Ideal Places to Write About!

10.  Dark basements  
9.  Libraries 
8.  Sleepy Hudson Valley Towns 
7.  Sleepy New England Towns 
6.  Lighthouses with secret passages 
5.  Haunted Islands 
4.  Haunted Caves 
3.  Abandoned Psychiatric Hospitals 
2.  Ghost-towns 
1.  Sprawling, Gothic mansions  

I totally agree with #3!!! I so want to explore one!

To see more tour stops check out the official tour page:

7 Winners will receive a Copy of You Can't Hide (Shadow House #2) by Dan Poblocki

Giveaway is open internationally. 
 Must be 13+ to Enter
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March 10, 2017

Have You Seen the Cover for Warcross????????

The cover for Marie Lu's new book Warcross was released yesterday, and it is gorgeous!!!!

Check it out:

I love it!!! So pretty and unique.  


From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

It was released on EW along with the first chapter!
Check it out:

March 8, 2017

Picture Book Review: Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm by Jonathan London +GIVEAWAY!

Title: Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
Author: Jonathan London
Illustrator: Andrew Joyner

This book is so cute! Just stinking cute.  One thing I've really gotten into since reading to kindergartners and first graders is illustrations.  I love to make them really notice the different types of illustrations there are.  This one has wonderful retro-feeling illustrations.  It almost remind me of a Little Golden Book! This type of illustrating just makes the book stand out, and it allows the story to shine right along with the pictures.  I don't like when the pictures take over.
And about the story - love it.  I just love how they work out every situation to make it work for both of them.  And I love how optimistic it seems.  You expect it to be more arguing or fussing about whether things will work, but there isn't.  Instead they just figure out a way to work it out.  It's a great model for kids as they are learning to work out issues on their own.

Sooooo in short......
Very fun, sweet, kind book with perfect illustrations!

About the Author

Jonathan London is the author of more than one hundred children’s books, including the bestselling Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Many of his books explore nature, among them Flamingo Sunset, illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, and Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica, illustrated by Julie Olson. He is currently writing a middle-grade series, which started with Desolation Canyon, illustrated by his son Sean London. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more online at

About the Illustrator

Andrew Joyner is an illustrator, author, and cartoonist based in South Australia. He has illustrated a number of picture books, and he wrote and illustrated a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. He has also illustrated for newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Rolling Stone magazine, among others. Learn more online at

There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable activity sheets:

Two Lion has offered up a copy of Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm

Must be at least 13
Must be a US resident

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