July 30, 2018

Book Blast: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker +GIVEAWAY

Very excited today to be a part of the Nerd Blast for Emma in the Night!  

This book sounds fantastic!!!!

To see more spots on the blast and learn more check out the post at JeanBookNerd.

About the Book

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Find at:
Barnes and Noble
The Book Depository


"Twisty...a thriller that keeps readers guessing." —The New York Times

"In this searing psychological thriller...Walker's portrayal of the ways in which a narcissistic, self-involved mother can affect her children deepens the plot as it builds to a shocking finale." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A tense thriller explores the bond between sisters and family dynamics that give new meaning to the term 'dysfunctional'...This thriller aims right for the heart and never lets go." —Kirkus, Starred Review

"Both twisted and twisty, this smart psychological thriller sets a new standard for unreliable narrators." —Booklist, Starred Review



Wendy Walker is a former family law attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten. Her second thriller, Emma In The Night, will be released August 8, 2017.

Wendy earned her J. D., magna cum laude, at the Georgetown University Law Center where she was awarded the American Jurisprudence award for her performance in Contracts and Advanced Criminal Procedure. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University and attended The London School of Economics and Political Science as part of her undergraduate studies.

Prior to her legal career, Wendy was a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., in the mergers and acquisitions group. She has also volunteered at the ACLU, Connecticut Legal Services and Figure Skating in Harlem where she served on the Board of Directors for over twelve years.

Wendy is currently writing her third thriller while managing a busy household.

WEBSITE: https://www.wendywalkerbooks.com/
TWITTER: @Wendy_Walker
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3111135.Wendy_Walker
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/WendyWalkerAuthor/
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wendygwalker/

2 Winners will receive a Signed Copy of EMMA IN THE NIGHT by Wendy Walker.

July 27, 2018

Book Review: Hello Universe by Erin Kelly Entrada

Title: Hello Universe
Author: Erin Kelly Entrada
Copy Obtained: Bought

Book summary from Goodreads
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends -- at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

Short Version: I have mixed feelings.  In the end, I liked it better than I thought I would as I was reading it.  

Long Version: So as I was reading this book I was really up in the air about how much I liked it or not.  The characters, for me, were a bit hard to buy into.  I'm around middle school students all day long, so I feel I have a pretty good idea what typical middle schoolers are like.  The characters in this book didn't always strike me as kids I would see walking the halls of my school.  The biggest would be Kaori.  I know some students don't fit the stereotype, but they actually almost fall into a different stereotype.  She really went outside this, so I had a hard time buying into her being the age she was supposed to be.  

That aside! - I did really like Valencia.  She was great!  She was confident, kind and pretty typical.  I also felt that Virgil was pretty typical, and liked him too.  I felt for him when Chet bullying him.  That felt real to me, so my heart hurt for Virgil.  I also liked how the relationship because Chet and Virgil ended.  It was realistic.  I didn't become the everyone-loves-each-other event, and I liked that! About Chet - I wanted to shake his dad! Wow! It helped us understand Chet more.  

Now, in the end, I liked the book because I liked how much Virgil and Valencia grew! How they changed was good.  It was interesting because Virgil's growth comes out in the smallest way once he gets home, but I think that was realistic.  That's what a kid that age would do! It made sense to me! So, like I said, I wasn't sure as I was reading if I'd end up being able to say I really liked this book BUT I can say that I did. 

Best stick-with-you image: Chet with the snake! You'll have to read it for yourself. 

Best for readers who: Feel picked up and alone.  

Library Thoughts: Yes I will have it.  I'm hoping word-of-mouth will help it gain traction. And of course, since it's a Newbery I want to include it.  

July 25, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Swing by Kwame Alexander

There are some books I just can't wait for.  

Here's where I share! 

Due Out: October 2nd

Things usually do not go as planned for seventeen-year-old Noah. He and his best friend Walt (aka Swing) have been cut from the high school baseball team for the third year in a row, and it looks like Noah’s love interest since fifth grade, Sam, will never take it past the “best friend” zone. Noah would love to retire his bat and accept the status quo, but Walt has got big plans for them both, which include making the best baseball comeback ever, getting the girl, and finally finding cool.

To go from lovelorn to ladies’ men, Walt introduces Noah to a relationship guru—his Dairy Queen-employed cousin, Floyd—and the always informative Woohoo Woman Podcast. Noah is reluctant, but decides fate may be intervening when he discovers more than just his mom’s birthday gift at the Thrift Shop. Inside the vintage Keepall is a gold mine of love letters from the 1950s. Walt is sure these letters and the podcasts are just what Noah needs to communicate his true feelings to Sam. To Noah, the letters are more: an initiation to the curious rhythms of love and jazz, as well as a way for him and Walt to embrace their own kind of cool. While Walt is hitting balls out of the park and catching the eye of the baseball coach, Noah composes anonymous love letters to Sam in an attempt to write his way into her heart. But as things are looking up, way up, for Noah and Walt, the letters set off a chain of events that change everything Noah knows to be true about love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.

Why I'm waiting:
Basically - It's Kwami Alexander! Of course I want to read it! 

July 23, 2018

Nonfiction Review: The Ultimate Book of Sharks by Brian Skerry

Title: The Ultimate Book of Sharks
Author: Brian Skerry
Copy Obtained: From publisher in exchange for an honest review

About the Book From Goodreads

Dive into the wild world of sharks! Get up close to learn the truth behind these fantastic, ferocious fish with famed National Geographic photographer and explorer Brian Skerry.

Join this amazing underwater adventure to track the sharks of the world, from the teeniest dogfish to the everfeared great white. This ultimate book features every species of shark on the planet, with awesome photos, fascinating facts, the latest science, and firsthand stories of real-life encounters with these incredible creatures. Learn how sharks live, how they eat, the challenges they face, and whether or not you are actually on the menu!

Short Version: Sharks! Big pictures and lots of facts about sharks! Love it! 

Why I'd recommend it: I'm looking for more high-interest nonfiction for my media center, so I was super interested in this one.  I would easily recommend this one to my nonfiction readers because the pictures would grab them right away! Full color, close up and detailed.  That would get them interested right away.  But I'd also recommend it because the facts with each shark are great.  Sometimes nonfiction books are pretty dry with their facts.  This one isn't like that, so I know that kids would actually read and not just look at the pictures.  I'd also recommend it because it has all kinds of sharts - not JUST the well-known ones.  I also like books that introduce students to something new.  

I have to say the shark that fascinated me the most was the Frilled Shark.  It's the one I'd show kids to get them interested.  Super weird looking! Here's a picture on one:


Side-note:  With Shark Week this week I wish I was in school because I'd love to do a display with this book included! 

Best for readers who: Love nonfiction and need a visual push to read. And of course for any future marine biologist.  

Library Thoughts: YES! This would be one I would get because I know that my non-readers would at least pick it up to look at because sharks are high interest.  

And look at this - a trailer for the book! Even better!!!

July 19, 2018

Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Copy Obtained: Purchased

Book Summary from Goodreads
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? 

As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually used his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator?

Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth-floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator. 

Short Version: Who knew so much could happen in one elevator ride down??

Long Version: I honestly need to reread this because I loved it but I know I missed a ton! The language is so rich that it deserved a 2nd and even 3rd reading.  Again I'm impressed by a novel in verse's ability to capture so much in a limited amount of words.  The hurt Will fills is so palatable.  I want to just hug him and tell him it will be ok, but the honest truth is - I don't know if it will be for him.  He has faced so much death in his life as you learn in that elevator.  There is nothing to say he won't face more and more.  

What this book showed me the most though was a world I know nothing about.  Will's world is not a world I live in.  The thoughts and reactions he has are not ones I would have.  I needed to see and experience his world.  I needed to see a reality beyond my own.  Without seeing it, I can't truly understand boys like Will.  I feel now like I have a better understanding of why he felt like he did and why he reacted like he did.  I don't claim to know how he feels, but I do get it better.  That alone was good to take away from reading this book. 

Best stick-with-you image: The playground when he was eight.  Wow. 

Best for readers who: Feel like the world doesn't always understand them.  

Library Thoughts: Yes!  10000 times yes.  It's an important book as both a mirror and window for my students.  For most of my students it will be a window - a window they need to look through.  

July 18, 2018

Women on Wednesdays: Who Is/Was Series

A few Wednesdays a month I like to feature books that show the strength and diversity of women.  These may be works of fiction or nonfiction.

Today those books are:

Who is/was book series

I read these four books about different women. I've had several students read and love this series, so I thought it was time to try some. I really like them. Yes, they are simplified, but they are also factual. They introduce kids to some historical figures in a way that engages and teaches them. If the reader is really interested after reading this book they can go on to read more about them. I just love that I've seen this series hook so many kids into reading nonfiction and biographies. That is just awesome. And I love that they have so many different people. These four are just a small sampling of the book available!

Check out the website for the series! You can find it HERE.

Plus there is a show on Netflix based on the books! 

July 12, 2018

Cover Crush: The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan

I love book covers! I love walking around Barnes and Noble just looking at all the different covers.  A good cover will make me pull the book off the shelf!  

It's almost like I have a crush on them :)

Today I'm crushin' on:

About the Book:
No one wants me to tell you about the disappearance of Sloane Sullivan.

Not the lawyers or the cops. Not her friends or family. Not even the boy who loved her more than anyone. And most certainly not the United States Marshals Service. You know, the people who run the witness protection program or, as it’s officially called, the Witness Security Program? Yeah, the WITSEC folks definitely don’t want me talking to you.

But I don’t care. I have to tell someone.

If I don’t, you’ll never know how completely wrong things can go. How a single decision can change everything. How, when it really comes down to it, you can’t trust anyone. Not even yourself. You have to understand, so it won’t happen to you next. Because you never know when the person sitting next to you isn’t who they claim to be...and because there are worse things than disappearing. 

Why I'm crushin':
I'm not sure - something about this just caught me - I think it's the picture within a picture.  And it's something with the eyes.  They grab you! 

July 11, 2018

WoW: A Room Away From the Wolves

There are some books I just can't wait for.  Here's where I share! 

Due Out: September 4th
Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.

Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets. There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave . . .

Why I'm waiting:
I've enjoyed so many books by Nova Ren Suma that I know this one will be great too! 

July 6, 2018

Blog Tour Book Review: Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty +GIVEAWAY

Today I'm excited to be part of the blog tour for Willa of the Wood! 

I've seen this one a while ago, and knew it was something I needed to check out! 

Thanks to RockStar Tours for hosting the tour.  You can find out more about them HERE.  

Author: Robert Beatty
Pub. Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 384
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks, TBD

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Beatty comes a spooky, thrilling new series set in the magical world of Serafina. 

Move without a sound. Steal without a trace. 

Willa, a young nightspirit of the Great Smoky Mountains, is her clan's best thief. She creeps into the homes of day-folk in the cover of darkness and takes what they won't miss. It's dangerous work — the day-folk kill whatever they do not understand. But when Willa's curiosity leaves her hurt and stranded in a day-folk man's home, everything she thought she knew about her people — and their greatest enemy — is forever changed.

About Robert: 
Robert Beatty is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Serafina Series published by Disney-Hyperion, a spooky mystery-thriller about a brave and unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.

Serafina and the Black Cloak was a #1 New York Times bestseller, has been on the list for more than 45 weeks, and won the prestigious 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. The second book in the series, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, became a #1 New York Times bestseller in the first week of its launch and earned a “Starred Review” from Kirkus Reviews, which said, “Even better than its predecessor, a sequel that delivers nonstop thrills from beginning to end.” Enjoyed by both young readers and adults, the books are being taught in over a thousand classrooms nationwide. The third book in the Serafina series comes out in July 2017. Robert Beatty has been awarded an additional four-book deal with Disney-Hyperion.

Robert Beatty lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters, who help create and refine his stories. He loves to explore Biltmore Estate and the darkened forest trails where his novels take place. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, Robert was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative Magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year.

So I'll be perfectly honest - I have not read the Seraphina books.  I've had tons of kids read them and really like them, and they are on my TBR pile for sure! So when I had the chance to review this book set in the same world, I knew I had to be a part of the tour, and I'm glad I did.  I can see why students like books written by this author.  This book started out jumping right into the action!  I was holding my breath from almost page one! I continued to hold it for quite a while.  The book continued like that.  It had scenes that were filled with tension and action followed by scenes with emotion and character development.  Loved that!

I loved the plot of the story as well.  I love when characters have to question that they thought was the truth and then struggle through learning what they can and should believe now.  Willa does this.  Watching her wrestle thought this was great.  And I made me really like Willa!  And about Willa - LOVED her.  She was smart and brave and impulsive.  At times I loved everything she did, and at times I wanted to shake her.  It made her real - even though she clearly wasn't! 

The world building was great.  I will say it took me a bit to understand and learn the world of Willa's, but I've always struggled with that when reading fantasy.  It takes me awhile to let go of my understanding of the real world and go into the world of a fantasy book.  Once I understood the world better I was fully engulfed in it.  

Final Thought:  Really enjoyed it and really liked Willa.  Pushed Seraphina to the upper end of my TBR!
Library Thoughts: I will for sure be adding it to my middle school library! 

3 winners will win a finished copy of WILLA OF THE WOOD 
US Only.

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
7/2/2018- jrsbookreviews- Review
7/3/2018- YA Books Central- Interview
7/4/2018- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
7/6/2018- The OWL- Review

Week Two:
7/9/2018- A Dream Within A Dream- Excerpt
7/10/2018- A Backwards Story- Interview
7/11/2018- Novel Novice- Guest Post
7/12/2018- Don't Judge, Read- Review
7/13/2018- Two points of interest- Review