April 27, 2018

Blog Tour: Hooper by Geoff Herbach - Guest Post +GIVEAWAY

Very excited today to be a part of the blog tour for Hooper hosted by JeanBookNerd (check the link for more info)!

I have so many boys who enjoy Geoff Herbach's books, so I knew it was something I wanted to share! 

And even more excited because I have a guest post as well! 


From Geoff Herbach, the critically acclaimed author of the Stupid Fast series, comes a compelling new YA novel about basketball, prejudice, privilege, and family, perfect for fans of Jordan Sonnenblick, Andrew Smith, and Matt de la Peña.

For Adam Reed, basketball is a passport. Adam’s basketball skills have taken him from an orphanage in Poland to a loving adoptive mother in Minnesota. When he’s tapped to play on a select AAU team along with some of the best players in the state, it just confirms that basketball is his ticket to the good life: to new friendships, to the girl of his dreams, to a better future.

But life is more complicated off the court. When an incident with the police threatens to break apart the bonds Adam’s finally formed after a lifetime of struggle, he must make an impossible choice between his new family and the sport that’s given him everything

Geoff Herbach is the author of the award-winning Stupid Fast YA series as well as Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders. His books have been given the 2011 Cybils Award for best YA novel, the Minnesota Book Award, selected for the Junior Library Guild, listed among the year’s best by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and many state library associations. In the past, he wrote the literary novel, The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg, produced radio comedy shows and toured rock clubs telling weird stories. Geoff teaches creative writing at Minnesota State, Mankato. He lives in a log cabin with a tall wife.

WEBSITE: https://www.geoffherbach.com/
TWITTER: @geoffherbach
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1234979.Geoff_Herbach
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/geoff.herbach
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/geoffherbach/

I asked: This book seems timely with what is going on in our world - talk about how current events possibly influenced the story.

I was starting to write the book when Donald Trump moved into the spotlight. I was already working with race issues, a rural kid playing basketball with black kids and gaining an understanding of why they felt vulnerable in our world. The message of the book gained a lot of its energy when I started thinking about how the same politics that made these kids feel afraid for their lives and livelihoods was at play in discussions about immigration.

My dad was born Jewish in Antwerp, Belgium in January of 1940. A few months later, my grandparents took my dad and literally ran for their lives. At one point they were questioned by the S.S., and my father watched by Nazis. The vilification of human beings fleeing war and devastation hit me hard. My family (the grandpa on my mother’s side, too), came to this country to flee horror. My family was not vilified. My family was embraced by this country. My grandmother found her life’s work here. My father thrived. Most of those in my family who didn’t leave Europe were murdered.

That national leaders could possibly use victims of incredible horror to gain political advantage makes me sick and so sad. That African American children legitimately fear for their lives and livelihoods based on their interactions with our police and legal system makes me sick and so sad. Sport is something that puts me at ease and it transcends race and class boundaries. I guess all of this came together in the making of Hooper. I certainly was reacting to current events and trying to show how the rotten parts of our political culture impacts sweet, excellent kid

Super interesting to hear about this!!! Thanks so much for sharing! 

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

1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of HOOPER by Geoff Herbach

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April 26, 2018

2018 Audie Awards Finalists

I love audiobooks!  I listen to them in the car as much as I can.  They make my car trips bearable.  If I try to listen to the radio I find myself switch stations over and over, but with an audiobook, I hit play and go!  

So because of that, I was super interested to learn what middle grade and young adult books are finalists for the Audie Awards!

Here they are!

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, written and narrated by Pablo Cartaya, published by Listening Library

Patina by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Heather Alicia Simms, published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Refugee by Alan Gratz, narrated by Michael Goldstrom, Kyla Garcia, and Assaf Cohen, published by Scholastic Audio

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, narrated by Kivlighan de Montebello, Brittany Pressley, Michael Crouch, Graham Halstead, Jason Culp, and a Full Cast, published by Listening Library
Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors, narrated by Johnny Heller and Maxwell Glick, published by HarperAudio

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy, published by Listening Library

Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork, narrated by Roxana Ortega and Christian Barillas, published by Scholastic Audio

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin, published by HarperAudio

Solo by Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess, narrated by Kwame Alexander, music by Randy Preston, published by Blink

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins, narrated by Sneha Mathan, Shivali Bhammer, Priya Ayyar, and others, published by Listening Library

Have you listened to any of these??? I haven't, but now they are on my list to listen to!!!!!

April 25, 2018

Audio Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Black Ice
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Narrator: Jenna Lamia

Brit Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there…and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

There were parts of this book that I really liked, but there were also parts I really wasn't thrilled with.  

First what I liked: I did like the mystery in the story. Who is Mason? Can he be trusted?  Is he really bad or is there more to his story?  That part was interesting to me.  It really was what kept me reading.  And for once I also liked that I thought I had parts of the story figured out.  Usually, I hate that! But it kept me reading because I really wanted to know if I was right!  I also liked the change in Britt.  At first, I did not like her very much at all!  But I did like seeing her grow and change as the story went along.  I wouldn't say she became a character I really loved by the end, but I did like her a whole lot better! 

What I wasn't thrilled with: I pretty much hated Britt's friend!  She was so mean to Britt (but I was also mad at Britt for being ok with it!).  She was just a brat! I didn't like that they were friends when the relationship seemed toxic to me.  I also didn't like Britt's relationship with Calvin.  She was so hung up on him, and I wanted to shake her and say he wasn't worth it!  Actually what I didn't like about the book basically boiled down to the type of person Britt was at the start.  She was shallow and let people walk all over her AND she made very immature decisions.  Now she did change from that quite a bit but it was a long time coming!  I also didn't like that she was in a very dangerous situation and yet was thinking about her capture as good looking etc.  It didn't seem realistic to me! 

Did I end up liking the book?  Pretty much.  It was ok but I didn't love it at all.  

Thoughts on the library: I don't think I'd put this in my middle school media center.  It was bit mature and since I didn't love it I think I could find something else to spend the money on.
Thoughts on the audiobook: The narrator did a good job.  Her voice was easy to listen to and she did a good job differentiating the characters' voices.  
Final Thoughts: Ended up liking it better than I thought I would, but still not fantastic. 

April 23, 2018

Maud Hart Lovelace Winner Announced!

Yesterday MYRA (MN Youth Reading Awards) announced the winners of the Maud Hart Lovelace award.  I love this award because it's based on kids' favorites.  
They read.  They vote! 

The announcement we held at The Red Balloon bookstore.  My son came with and we got our picture taken!

And here are the winners! 

(Division 1 is grades 3-5 and Division 2 is grades 6-8)

My students were in love with The War that Saved My Life and Beneath.  And of course, we loved Turn Left at the Cow because of its Minnesota connection.  

They also announced the nominees for next year.  Here they are:

What have you read of these??? I know I've got some reading to do now! 

Images are taken from MYRA

April 10, 2018

Children's Book Review Turns 10! +GIVEAWAY

I was introduced to Children's Book Review awhile back and really enjoying visiting the site.  They always have information I need and can use!  As a media specialist, they are very helpful when I'm looking to add books to the media center.  

They are celebrating 10 years of growing readers!  
To celebrate they have an amazing giveaway!

First about Children's Book Review

The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association For Library Service To Children) Great Web Sites For Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literature and literacy. TCBR publishes reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. TCBR also produces author and illustrator interviews and shares literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers and librarians to grow readers. Bianca Schulze is the founder of TCBR and the bestselling author of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up (Walter Foster Jr. 2016), an Amazon “Best Book of the Month” in October 2016. 

OFFICIAL LINK https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com

The Children’s Book Review 10th Anniversary Giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a special prize pack that will help a lucky reader create a fun kids reading nook—including a framed TCBR original print created by children’s author & illustrator Alexandra MacVean.

One (1) winner receives:

A framed and matted TCBR original “Growing Readers” print. Frame size: 12.25 X 12.25
A Black Stripe Teepee from Crate and Kids
A copy of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up, autographed by Bianca Schulze
A $20 Target gift card

Value: $291.95

Giveaway open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.

Prizes provided by The Children’s Book Review

Here's what the print looks like!  Isn't it cute?!?
Alexandra MacVean was commissioned to create a commemorative illustration that honors 10 years of The Children’s Book Review’s mission of growing readers. She is a professional award-winning, freelance children’s illustrator who creates vibrant, whimsical illustrations for children’s books, greeting cards, and more. Her desire is to touch the lives of adults and children alike, bringing some sort of hope, peace and love along the way. The 6″ x 6″ print is surrounded by white mat and a thin white frame that looks great in any space.

About the book included

Written by Bianca Schulze
Illustrated by Shaw Nielsen

Publisher’s Synopsis: 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up provides a comprehensive list of kid-friendly books for children to read before they grow up. This must-read review list acts as an interactive journal where kids can document the books they read, why they like them, and how they rate them. Divided into sections by subject, from fairy tales and fantasy to sports and nonfiction, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up celebrates the importance of reading and encourages family participation to develop lifelong readers. The perfect reference guide for book lovers of all ages, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up helps both kids and parents decide which books to read next!

Ages 5-11 | Walter Foster Jr. | October 10, 2016 | 978-1633221697

AVAILABLE HERE: http://amzn.to/2cEPtJT

To Enter:

Per FCC Disclosure post materials and giveaway provided by Children's Book Review

April 9, 2018

The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix Blast! +GIVEAWAY

Very excited today to be a part of the Nerd Blast for The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix!!!

I love Margaret Peterson Haddix, so I was very excited at the chance to promote her latest book! 
To find out more check out the information at Jean BookNerd.


From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes a haunting novel about friendship and what it really means to be a family in the face of lies and betrayal.

Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.

But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.

Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves together two completely separate lives in this engaging novel that explores what it really means to be a family—and what to do when it’s all falling apart.


Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing, and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.

She has since written more than 40 books for kids and teens, including Running Out of Time; Double Identity; Uprising; The Always War; the Shadow Children series; the Missing series; the Children of Exile series; the Under Their Skin duology; and The Palace Chronicles. She also wrote Into the Gauntlet, the tenth book in the 39 Clues series. Her books have been honored with New York Times bestseller status, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award; American Library Association Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers notations; and numerous state reader’s choice awards. They have also been translated into more than twenty different languages.

Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio. They are the parents of two grown kids.


WEBSITE: http://haddixbooks.com/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14617.Margaret_Peterson_Haddix
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Margaret-Peterson-Haddix/99257275229
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/haddixbooks

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

5 Winners will receive a  Copy of THE SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

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April 5, 2018

Guest Post: Ralph Hardy Author of Argos +GIVEAWAY!!

Welcome to Day #4 of The Argos Blog Tour!

To celebrate the paperback release of Argos: The Story of Odysseus as Told by His Loyal Dog on March 27th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Ralph Hardy and 5 chances to win a copy of the book!

My Favorite Middle School Novels
by Ralph Hardy

Growing up in a small town in eastern North Carolina I struggled to find books to read, particularly in the summer when school was out. There were no bookstores in my town, and even if there were, my father was raising five kids on his own after my mother died, so there wasn't any money for books. Moreover, my brother and I spent the weekends in the country with my childless aunt and uncle, and there was no library for miles around.  But there was a general store on the country road that led to my aunt's house, and we stopped there every Friday afternoon and bought comic books, and later, cheap paperbacks, particularly those written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. As a result, Tarzan of the Apes became one of my favorite middle-school books. 

Tarzan of the Apes

First published in 1912, Tarzan of the Apes was one of the first of many cheap paperbacks my brother and I read during those long, hot summers in North Carolina. Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs--who used to be a pencil sharpener salesman!—Tarzan transported my brother and me to a continent far beyond my wildest imagination. Killer apes, savage leopards, and conniving British colonialists—none were a match for Tarzan. We were so enthralled by the novels, and later, the TV show and movies, that my father hung a long rope from the branch of a tall tree on my uncle’s property, and my brother and I swung on it for hours and hours until our hands were calloused and our arms grew strong. Once my father said he’d give us five dollars if we could climb the rope hand-over-hand to the top. Five dollars back then was equivalent to forty dollars today, and he thought he’d made a safe bet. Two weeks later, when he came to pick us up from my uncle’s house I called him over to the tree and climbed hand-over-hand all the way up.  I don’t even remember if he paid me, but I’ll never forget the look on his face.

Old Yeller

Spending as much time as we did in the country, I gravitated toward books with rural settings. We had a dog that just appeared at my aunt’s house one day and stayed, and for a few months, a pet raccoon until he escaped from his pen. They’re pretty clever.  So Old Yeller entranced me like very few books ever did. Written by Fred Gipson, illustrated by Carl Burger and published in 1956, Old Yeller tells the story of young Travis Coates, who has to help take care of his family’s ranch while his father is away on a cattle drive. Named for his dirty yellow coat and his strange way of barking, Old Yeller saves Travis and his family many times from the dangers that life on the frontier brings. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that I tried to elicit the same emotions that Old Yeller brought me in my depiction of the relationship between Telemachos and Argos in my own novel.  Wait. What’s this strange wet stuff on my face?

My Side of the Mountain

I think I read My Side of the Mountain by Jean George at least twenty times. I checked it out of our school library week after week, and I'm sure I deprived a lot of other potential readers the joys of experiencing that great novel. Sorry about that.  The story is quite simple: fifteen-year-old Sam Gribley is tired of living in his cramped New York city apartment with his many siblings and runs away to his great grandfather’s abandoned farm to live in the wilderness there. Along the way he has to live off the land, tames a falcon and weasel, and eventually learns how to build stronger relations with the people he loves.  Back then though, I didn’t care about the moral; for me it was just and adventure story and an escape from my own life at home. My own family had begun to change at the time I was reading the novel. My father had remarried and now I had two stepsiblings with whom I didn’t get along at first.  Even worse, I was no longer spending much time in the country with my beloved aunt and uncle. My Side of the Mountain probably kept me from running away from home until our family figured out how to get along, although I still think it would have been pretty cool to have a pet falcon.

So these were my favorite middle school novels. I often wonder if I were growing up today with all the distractions provided by cable television, smart phones and video games if I would have found these classics. Would a librarian have steered me to them? Would I have found them in an old country store? A garage sale? I can only hope so.


Blog Tour Schedule:

April 2nd — BookhoundsYA
April 3rd — Book Briefs
April 4th — Word Spelunking
April 5thThe OWL
April 6th — Crossroad Reviews
Follow Ralph: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series will love this reimagining of Homer’s The Odyssey told from the point of view of Odysseus’s loyal dog, Argos.

Now available in paperback, this rousing story of devotion and determination is an original take on one of the most beloved myths of all time.

For twenty years, the great hero Odysseus struggles to return to home on Ithaka. He defeats monsters. He outsmarts the Cyclops. He battles the gods. He does whatever it takes to reunite with his family.

And what of that family—his devoted wife, Penelope; his young son, Telemachos; his dog, Argos? For those twenty years, they wait, unsure whether they will ever see Odysseus again. But Argos has found a way to track his master.

Any animal who sets foot or wing on Ithaka brings him news of Odysseus’s epic voyage. These tales bring hope that one day his master will return. Meanwhile, Argos the loyal dog watches over his master’s family and protects them from the dangers that surround a throne without its king.

About the Author: Ralph Hardy graduated from the University of North Carolina and received an MFA from Columbia College, Chicago. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife and two children. He is also the author of Lefty and The Cheetah Diaries.


One (1) winner will receive a finished copy of Argos
US only