December 29, 2010

Out With a Bang Read-a-thon


So I did sign up for this read-a-thon knowing I wanted to end the year with some great books.  It starts today and goes through the 31st. 

Here are my planned reads:

Finish Hunted (House of the Night)
Mockingjay (so I can stop covering my ears at work with people talk about it!)
You're So Undead to Me (for fun!)
The Kneebone Boy (because it looks great AND I need a MG book to end the year)

Wish me luck :)

December 26, 2010

Book Blogger Holiday Swap Gift!


I'm very behind on this, but I wanted to share what I got from the Book Blogger Holiday Swap! 
 I was super super excited about it!

Cute cute owl bookmarks
Cute owl notebook
Monsters of Men - I couldn't believe I go this book because I was just saying that I needed to get it!!!!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


December 22, 2010

Two Winners and a Holiday Break

Good Wednesday everyone! I have two winners to announce:

For The Lost Saint and nail polish:

Mandy (twinmom101)


For Keeper

Holly (Lily's Bookshelf)

I'll be emailing you both today.  You have 72 hours to respond!



A Holiday Break

Also, as of today The O.W.L. is on holiday break until the first week of January. 
Have a fantastic holiday season!!!!!

December 21, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Come Fall

Tween Tuesday was started by GreenBeanTeenQueen.  In it we share books that would be great for the tween set, ages 9-12.

This Tuesday I'm Highlighting:

Come Fall
by A.C.E Bauer

This book looks fantastic, and I love that it takes from Shakespeare.  Anytime middle grade readers can see how Shakespeare is apart of a lot of what they read is a bonus!  I hope to pick this one up soon.  And psst, isn't the cover interesting!

From Goodreads
Lu Zimmer's best friend moved away last summer. Salman Page is the new kid in school. Blos Pease takes everything literally. Three kids who are on the fringe of the middle school social order find each other and warily begin to bond, but suddenly things start going wrong. Salman becomes the object of the school bully's torment, and Lu's pregnant mother has some unexpected complications. Is something conspiring against them?

In fact, through no fault of their own, Salman and Lu have become pawns in a game of jealous one-upmanship between Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of Faery, with the mischievous Puck trying to keep the peace.

Taken from Titania's mention of a foundling in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, A. C. E. Bauer spins an original tale about magical intervention in the least magical of settings: a public middle school.

December 20, 2010

Monday Cover Merriment: Payback Time

I love book covers. LOVE them - some more than others of course. I love hearing what others have to say about them.
On Mondays I merrily share some of the good ones I've seen, find out what version of a cover you like better or express my disappointment in a cover that could've, in my opinion, been better.



I love this cover because I know the boys I teach will pick this one up, and if they pick it up they may read it!

From Goodreads
Through the eyes of a distinctly non-athletic protagonist—a fat high school journalist named Mitch—veteran sports novelist Deuker reveals the surprising truth behind a mysterious football player named Angel.  When Angel shows up Lincoln High, he seems to have no past—or at least not one he is willing to discuss.  Though Mitch gets a glimpse of Angel's incredible talent off the field, Angel rarely allows himself to shine on the field.  Is he an undercover cop, wonders Mitch?  Or an ineligible player?  In pursuit of a killer story, Mitch decides to find out just who this player is and what he's done.  In the end, the truth surprises everyone.

December 16, 2010

Review: Heist Society

Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Hyperion

From Goodreads
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.



Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.


For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history-or at least her family's (very crooked) history.
My Review
This was a fun book.  This summer I read some of the Gallagher Girl series, so it was neat to see a different book by the same author.  I think girls that like that series will like this book as well!  What I really enjoyed was that the main character wasn't perfect, in fact she was a law breaker! I did worry that this might give younger girls the wrong idea about what is ok, but the reasons by Kat was doing what she was were good and understandable.  Ally Carter did a great job setting a reason for Kat's law breaking, so I don't think it gives the wrong idea. It was also fun to see a group of "kids" try to figure out how to pull such a heist. 

What I also liked was how much the story kept me guessing.  I really didn't know who to trust all the time - Hale at the top of that list! First I would trust him, then I wouldn't, and then trust him again.  I had to find out how he turned out.  What also kept me guessing what how they were going to pull this whole thing off.  The whole idea seemed so impossible! The plan isn't revealed until the actual heist goes into action, so as they were planning I was just getting more and more curious.  When I saw how their plan worked I was in awe of how Ally Carter mapped everything out so well.  There were parts I never saw coming.

There were a couple of things that did bother me in the book.  It took at bit at the beginning to figure out who was who and what their roles were.  The character of Hale really confused me at first because I thought he was part of her family.  Also, and I know I know it's a work of fiction, I did find it a bit unbelievable that these kids could just travel around alone as much as they did.  They seemed to be able to go where they wanted when they wanted without worry about money or supervision.  It seemed a bit unrealistic to me.  But I could put that aside and just enjoy the story.

Final thought: Bad girl but good story!
Best stick with you image:  Can't say or I'll spoil the book!
Best for readers who: Like the Gallagher Girl series and books with some mystery
Best for ages: 12+

December 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

This is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I'm excited about OR already published book's I've seen that I'm really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren't sharing so that more books are shared.

This Week I'm Waiting On:
 
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu
by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
 
Finding books that hit the diversity of the students I teach can be difficult, so I was super super excited to see this one because it sounds great! What I like is that the main character is a minority BUT she's going through things all students can relate to to some degree.  How many of my students have thought their plans would work out perfectly only to see them changed by events they cannot control?? Can't wait to read this one!
 
Book Summary
In this humorous and heartfelt debut about a split cultural identity, nothing goes according to plan for sixth-grader Lucy Wu.
 
Lucy Wu, aspiring basketball star and interior designer, is on the verge of having the best year of her life. She's ready to rule the school as a sixth grader and take over the bedroom she has always shared with her sister. In an instant, though, her plans are shattered when she finds out that Yi Po, her beloved grandmother's sister, is coming to visit for several months -- and is staying in Lucy's room. Lucy's vision of a perfect year begins to crumble, and in its place come an unwelcome roommate, foiled birthday plans, and Chinese school with the awful Talent Chang.
 
Her plans are ruined -- or are they? Like the Chinese saying goes: Events that appear to be good or bad luck often turn out to be quite the opposite, and Lucy finds that while she may not get the "perfect" year she had in mind, she can create something even better.
 
Wendy Wan-Long Shang has crafted an original and engaging story about learning who you are in the most unexpected ways.

December 13, 2010

Guest Post/Mini Interview Kathi Appelt for Keeper

I'm super excited to welcome Kathi Appelt author of Keeper and The Underneath (which in case you didn't know won the Newbery Honor!).  She's currently on a blog tour promoting Keeper.  I seriously could not be more excited to have her on The O.W.L.! As a promoter of middle grade lit, having an author that has won a Newbery Honor visit is like meeting the president! Really!!!

She was kind enough to answer several questions I had for her.  But first if you don't know what Keeper is about, here's the summary:
To ten-year-old Keeper, this moon is her chance to fix all that has gone wrong...and so much has gone wrong. But she knows who can make things right again: Meggie Marie, her mermaid mother who swam away when Keeper was just three. A blue moon calls the mermaids to gather at the sandbar, and that's exactly where she is headed -- in a small boat, in the middle of the night, with only her dog, BD (Best Dog), and a seagull named Captain.

When the riptide pulls at the boat, tugging her away from the shore and deep into the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico, panic sets in, and the fairy tales that lured her out there go tumbling into the waves. Maybe the blue moon isn't magic and maybe the sandbar won't sparkle with mermaids and maybe -- Oh, no..."Maybe" is just too difficult to bear. Kathi Appelt follows up to her New York Times bestseller, The Underneath, with a tale that will pull right at your very core -- stronger than moon currents -- capturing the crash and echo of the waves and the dark magic of the ocean.
Now sit back and get ready to learn who Kathi Appelt is and why she writes what she does - Oh and what it was like to find out she had won the Newbery Honor.
Q.  How was it finding out you won the Newbery Honor? Anything about that whole experience and how it affected or didn’t affect your writing.

      I will always chalk up that early-morning phone call from Rose Trevino, the chairman of the committee, as one of the highlights of my entire life.  I remember answering the phone and seeing “Denver Convention Center” on the caller ID and feeling my knees soften.  There was a sofa right next to me, but I was afraid I’d miss it and all I could do was just sit down on the floor and hope like everything that I didn’t shake to pieces before I even said “hello.” 
          I remember the entire committee getting on speakerphone on the other end and calling out, “Congratulations!” and I could barely even speak.  I said something like, “I feel like a princess.”  And I did.  I felt that way, even though I was sitting on the floor in my studio, in my jammies, and wondering if I would ever be able to stand up again.  After I hung the phone up, I had to sit there on the floor for a moment before I could get my knees to cooperate. 
          All those years of working, of reading, of teaching writing, of talking to kids, seemed to crystallize in that one single minute.  And I felt overwhelmingly lucky and grateful too. 
          I wish it, a similar phone call, for all of my author friends, to have that one shining moment (okay, I borrowed that from the NCAA, but I think it’s apt).  It was an amazing moment. 
          And I have to add that getting the call for the National Book Awards felt the same way—like there was glitter in the air.

          Did it affect my writing?  I don’t know.  When I got both of those calls, I was well into Keeper, with a looming deadline hanging over me, so I didn’t have much time to think about it honestly.  But I will say that the experience of it made me keenly aware of the responsibility that all of us who write for kids have, to do our very best.  My agent, Holly McGhee, has a motto:  “The world owes you nothing.  You owe the world your best work.” 
          I think this particularly applies to children.   They deserve our best work.  I have that motto taped up on my desk to remind me about what it is I’m supposed to be doing. 

Q.  Why do you write for middle grade kids as opposed to other ages?

       It’s funny that so many people think that The Underneath was my first book.  The truth is that it was my first novel, but not my first book.  I actually do write for other ages, from babies (Hushabye, Baby Blue; Bubba and Beau; Brand New Baby Blues) to young adults (Poems from Homeroom; My Father’s Summers; Kissing Tennessee).
          I can’t say that I have a preference for middle graders over any of the others, but what I can say about middle graders is that they may be the most generous of all readers.  They’re more likely to stick with a story.  They’re not highly critical.  And they’re more open to a wide variety of genres.  I don’t have scientific evidence to support those claims, only my experience of years of reading to kids. 
          It also seems like those middle graders are really invested in read-alouds.  I love it when a teacher reads one of my books out loud to a class full of kids.  No one seems to enjoy that activity more than those middle graders.  I’m just saying.

Q.  Keeper (as well as The Underneath) are such unique stories - where do they come from?  What was the starting point of the idea through to the end?

      Both Keeper and The Underneath originally arose from incidents in my own life.  With all of my books, regardless of whether they’re a rhyming picture book, or a young adult novel, I find “touchstones” in my own history that have some heat to them.  With The Underneath, it was a couple of things.  One was an experience years ago when my family was camping in deep East Texas and my older son, eight at the time, rescued a little kitten that had been abandoned in the park where we were staying.  He turned the baby cat over to the park ranger who assured him that he would find a good home for the little guy.  But before Jacob (my son) turned the cat over, he held onto him all day long.  I have a photograph of Jacob holding onto that baby cat, and it sat on my desk for years.
          So, I kept thinking about that kitten in the woods.  And then I recalled a dog that my family had when I was growing up, a rather large hound-type dog that my mother found at the shelter.  One day, a small calico cat wandered into our garage and started eating out of the dog’s food bowl.  It seemed like a bad idea on the part of the cat, but instead the dog, whose name was Sam, took to the little cat and they became good friends.  A month later the calico cat had a batch of kittens and Sam became the hound-dog papa, just like my character Ranger. 
          Between my son and the dog and the calico cat, I found I had something to say about who makes up a family.
          Eventually, the character I had created based upon my son was taken out, and the story was turned over completely to the animals.  My hope is that I can find a way to return to that boy someday.  We’ll see.
          With Keeper, I think the same issue of who makes up a family is still at the root of the story, but in this case it began with my experience of growing up along the Texas coast.  My grandmother lived on Galveston Island and so I spent a lot of time there.  She also had a dog—BD.  And one stormy night a seagull blew into her kitchen window.  She rescued it, brought it into the house, bandaged its damaged wing, and soon enough the dog and the gull became buddies.
          So, like the other dog with the calico cat, this story was based upon a true incident.  Such good dogs, yes? 
          I also had a deep desire to write about mermaids.  I think that anyone who has lived along the seashore has considered mermaids here and there.  It’s impossible to stand in the water and not ponder the mysteries of the sea.  And of course, over the years, a whole variety of sea creatures have shown up in stories and legends.  One of the most interesting parts of my research about mermaids was to discover that basically every culture, even desert cultures, have merfolk of some sort in their mythos.  Find a body of water, even a tiny oasis, and it’s highly likely you’ll find a merperson.  In fact, one of the very first incidences ever recorded of a mermaid was in the Nile in ancient Egypt. 
          Each book required draft after draft after draft.  I counted up the drafts for The Underneath and stopped at 30.  Same thing with Keeper.  So I am a dogged reviser.  But it seems to me that writing a novel is sometimes like peeling an onion.  Each go around reveals something else, and more often than not, it’s something that comes directly from my life. 
          It took me a while to realize, for example, that I had named Ranger after that park ranger who assured my son that the little kitten he had rescued would be all right.  Likewise, it took me some time to figure out that Signe in Keeper was related to my own teen mom. 
          And this is what writing a story offers up, I think, the wonder of mixing life with a little magic.  It’s what makes it all worthwhile. 

***********************************************

LOVED to hear all that she had to say! 

Be sure to stop by GreenBeanTeenQueen for the next leg of the tour!

Now if you would like a copy of Keeper, I have an extra copy up for grabs! 

Fill out the form
US only
+1 for meaningful comment on post
Ends Dec 20

December 11, 2010

Remember When: Chasing Vermeer


In Remember When I revisit awesome books from the past.  These may be books I read when I was in school or just a few years back.  Either way they are books that need to be remembered and revisited.  I hope more of you think about doing a Remember When and spread these fantastic books around!
This Week I'm Remembering:
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Why I'm Remembering It
I read this book to my students several years ago not knowing for sure how they would react to it.  I decided to read it to them because it's a great mystery (of which there are NOT enough of), and I knew not many would pick it up on their own.  They LOVED it! The mystery kept them wanting to hear more.  What they really loved were the pictures included throughout the book.  I made overheads of them and put them up during those pages.  You should've heard the discussions and arguments about what was in the pictures.  If you don't know, the pictures might contain clues.  I also put them in a binder so they could look at them.  Many would explore them on their down time.  And the best part - they didn't have the mystery figured out half way through.  They were still guessing right up to the end.  How great was that?! It was just an overall fun read.
To add: my daughter read the book and then needed to read the next two books The Wright 3 and The Calder Game She loved them. 
Side note:  Blue Balliet has a new book out The Danger Box.  It looks fantastic!!
About Chasing Vermeer from Goodreads
A puzzling art theft is solved by two sixth-grade sleuths in a first-rate first novel by Blue Balliett, illustrated by Series of Unfortunate Events artist Brett Helquist. Cut from similar cloth to The Da Vinci Code while harkening back to E. L. Konigsburg and Agatha Christie, Balliett's book follows young Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay as they piece together separate, seemingly disconnected events to locate The Lady Writing, a Vermeer painting that gets stolen en route to Chicago's Art Institute. Going on the theory that there are no coincidences, the two wonder about the link between their teacher's statements, Petra's dreams, a book Petra finds in the library, and other clues that set the reader guessing as to their significance as well. But after they learn of the culprit's aim to correct untruths about Vermeer's life and art -- which spurs them into full-throttle detective work -- the pieces all come together in a brilliant ending sure to make readers cheer, "Ah ha!" Infused with intrigue and Helquist's clever illustrations that include coded messages, Balliett's novel is a dynamic can't-miss that will get those brain cells firing as it satiates your appetite for intelligent, modern-day mystery.

If you want to do a Remember When that would be great! I'd love to see more "old" book highlighted.  Feel free to take the pic and link back to this post. 

December 10, 2010

Book Review: Rot & Ruin

Title: Rot & Ruin
Author: Jonathan Maberry

From Goodread
In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
My Review
I loved this book! Ok all my students know that  love zombie books (they also know I have dreams about zombies!), so deciding to read this book was a no brainer (hee hee - zombie joke) I'm use to the typical zombie book that is focused on the life of zombies, being chased by zombies, and dealing with zombies in the world.  This one dealt with that, but really that wasn't what it was about. It was about so much more.

At it's core I think this book was about the love of family and how fear keeps us from doing things.  Benny and Tom have a very tense relationship filled with anger and misunderstanding.  It isn't until he starts to see what Tom does that their relationship changes.  Watching Benny grow and mature and learn was amazing.  I loved seeing who he became.  And what I really liked was that this just happen to take place in the midst of zombies!  The zombies weren't the focus; Benny's future was.  Not the typical conflict in a zombie book about someone,s future (will the zombie get them), but more what kind of man will he be.  Will he learn from Tom or stay on the path he is?  That question is the one that kept me reading.

Also within this world of zombie was also the theme of fear and what it does to us.  Over and over the book looks at people frozen by fear unable to move forward and change the situation they are in.  Benny and his friend Nix see what could be done to reclaim the world from the zombies, but they see that people are too scared to try.  They see that fear can keep us someplace we don't want to be, that sometimes we'd rather just live in denial.  Along with that is the idea of compassion within fear.  How do remain compassionate when fear driving everything you do? This is a theme that could've been in any story, but Maberry chose to use zombies.  It was a great backdrop for looking at this theme. 

Now don't get me wrong - there is also plenty of zombie attacks and fights.  They were tense and had me holding my breath a lot.  The book is filled with episode like that.  It just adds to the understanding of how fearful these people are and why. 

Final Thought:  Not your typical zombie book and that's a good thing
Best Stick-with-you Image:  The valley with thousands of zombies
Best for readers who: Like action but also a great theme
Best for ages: 13+

December 8, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Warped

This is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I'm excited about OR already published book's I've seen that I'm really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren't sharing so that more books are shared.

This Week I'm Waiting On:

Warped
by Maurissa Guibord

I like the sound of this one.  It sounds like it's got some mystery, and I like that.  It also sounds different from what has come out lately, so I like that too!

From Goodreads
Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

December 7, 2010

Interview: Kate Messner Author of Sugar and Ice

I've very thrilled to have Kate Messner join us today on The O.W.L.  Kate is a fantastic author for the middle grades.  Today we are celebrating the release of her new book Sugar and Ice

Before we get to the interview, here is a bit about the book:

SUGAR AND ICE   
Junior Library Guild Selection 
Winter 2010-2011 Kids IndieNext List   
An Amazon.com Best Book for December
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802720811
For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family's farm. But all that changes when Russian skating coach Andrei Grosheva offers Claire a scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire realizes that her sweet dream come true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she find the strength to stand up to the people who want to see her fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

I was able to ask Kate some questions the my students always have for authors.  And to be honest, as the teacher, I have these same questions!

The O.W.L. is excited to welcome Kate Messner!


1.  How much time a day do you spend writing?  How do you fit it into your busy schedule?

On a regular day, I spend about two hours writing, and that generally happens from 9-11pm after my teaching and mom responsibilities are done for the day.  I also write during what I call “stolen times,” like in the bleachers at my daughter’s skating practice.

2.  How much do you revise?  From start to finish how long did your latest book take you?

I revise a lot. When I visit schools, I always confess to kids that I’m not a great writer…I’m just really good at revising, because that’s where the good stuff really happens.  Usually, my books go through anywhere from 10-20 drafts before they’re on a bookstore or library shelf, ready to read.  SUGAR AND ICE took about 18 months from start to finish, including many rounds of revision.

3.  What kind of student were you?  Was English your favorite subject and did you always write?

I was a strong student, though I sometimes questioned my teachers more than they would have liked. English was indeed my favorite subject, and I’ve loved writing since second grade.  There was a period of time when I was writing only for school and then for my journalism job, though, and it wasn’t until I started writing stories again that I realized how much I’d missed it.

4.  How much say do you have in the cover of your books (my students are always curious about this one!).

Umm…not much.  That’s pretty typical of authors and publishers, too. Once the book is sold to the publisher, a whole team of people takes over, and that’s actually a good thing because they know more about marketing the book to readers than I do.  My editors do generally share the proposed cover once it’s designed, though, to see what my thoughts are, and I appreciate that. 

On the cover of SUGAR AND ICE, which I love, there were a couple changes from first to final version.  I’d sent a note asking for that steam coming out of the sugar house in the background, so my North Country readers would recognize that telltale sign of sugaring time. Joe Cepeda, the artist who did the painting for the cover, added that little detail for the final cover, and it made me so happy!

5.  And because it's the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing?  WHOOOO do you look up to so to speak?

I have so many writerly role models, it’s tough to name just a few.  Growing up, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume were my favorite authors, and their work is still an inspiration.  I’m also inspired by many of the great kids’ writers I’ve had a chance to meet, including Cynthia Lord, Linda Urban, Wendy Mass, Lisa Yee, Danette Haworth, Deborah Wiles, Sharon Draper, Rebecca Stead, and many more.  If you want to write for kids, there are so many great examples out there to learn from, and I love learning from other writers. In fact, I wrote a teacher-resource book about teaching kids how to revise their writing that will be out with Stenhouse this spring. It’s called REAL REVISION: AUTHORS’ STRATEGIES TO SHARE WITH STUDENT WRITERS, and it features interviews with more than forty kids’ authors about their revision processes as well as a lot of behind-the-scenes revision stories from SUGAR AND ICE. 


Thank you so much for joining us today on the blog.  Now if you want a SIGNED copy of SUGAR AND ICE check out the info below!

Want a personalized, signed copy of SUGAR AND ICE?
The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid is hosting a SUGAR AND ICE launch party from 3-5 pm on Saturday, 
December 11th, so please consider this your invitation if you live in the area! If you can’t make it but would still like a signed, personalized copy, just give the bookstore a call at (518) 523-2950 by December 10th. They’ll take your order, have Kate sign your book after the event, and ship it out to you in plenty of time for the holidays.  

December 6, 2010

Monday Cover Merriment: Princess of the Midnight Ball

I love book covers. LOVE them - some more than others of course. I love hearing what others have to say about them.
On Mondays I merrily share some of the good ones I've seen, find out what version of a cover you like better or express my disappointment in a cover that could've, in my opinion, been better. As always, click on the image to see its Goodreads page.

Today I'm in love with:


I sooooo love this dress.  Pretty pretty pretty.

From Goodreads
Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew.

December 4, 2010

Remember When: House of the Scorpion


In Remember When I revisit awesome books from the past.  These may be books I read when I was in school or just a few years back.  Either way they are books that need to be remembered and revisited.  I hope more of you think about doing a Remember When and spread these fantastic books around!




This Week I'm Remembering:

The House of the Scorpion
by Nancy Farmer

 I read this book several years ago and LOVED it.  I wish more people would read it.  The concept is pretty interesting - the idea of cloning people and why Matteo was cloned.  The sentence that got me in the summary before I read it was that he was "harvested" and grown in a cow! How could that not get your attention?  Although the story is long it held my interest because it has action, mystery, and suspense.  And or me, it had me cheering for Matteo.  I so wanted him to be free and find happiness.  I remember it being very difficult to watch him go through what he did as he found out he truth behind his life.  But it was also fantastic watching him grow stronger and go after what he wanted.  Ever since reading it, I've hoped for a sequel but there has never been a sign of one. 

If you want another opinion of the book, Melissa from One Librarian's Book Reviews just posted a review of this book.  Check out her review of The House of the Scorpion.
From Goodreads
At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón's bodyguard, "How old am I?...I know I don't have a birthday like humans, but I was born."
"You were harvested," Tam Lin reminds him. "You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her."
To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium -- a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico -- Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

December 3, 2010

Review: The Dead Boys

This edition of For the Guys is a Review!


Title: The Dead Boys
Author: Royce Buckingham
Released: Sept 2010

From Goodreads
In the desert town of Richland, Washington, there stands a giant sycamore tree. Horribly mutated by nuclear waste, it feeds on the life energy of boys that it snags with its living roots. And when Teddy Matthews moves to town, the tree trains its sights on its next victim.
My Review
Oh my goodness what a book!  I started reading it on Sunday evening and didn't stop until I was done.  At first I found it super creepy.  When I was little I was very easily scared by noises outside my window, so one of the first scenes with him in bed at night had me curled up in the the corner of my couch eyes wide heart pounding! Ok I did calm down after that but as Teddy met the different boys I kept wanting to yell at him to run, run away fast! I think the worse came when headed out in the middle of the night.  I would've stayed home and shook in my bed, but Teddy was very brave and wanted to figure out what had happened.

Beyond all the creepy and scariness, I really liked Teddy the main character.  Like I said, he was brave but he was also smart as he tried to figure out how to undo what had been done.  He thought on his feet, went forward when he could've gone back and cared about more than himself.  How could you not like a character like that!

In the end I really enjoyed the story.  From page one it grabbed me and took off.  I loved how quickly the action started - if you don't like reading it would be great for you! It was exciting and scary and it held my attention the whole time (remember I read it in one sitting!)  I will admit a few times I got confused but I think it was more because I was reading so fast since I really needed to know what was going to happen.  The story wrapped up well, and I was satisfied with the outcome. 

Final Thought:  My heart still pounds a little faster when I think of the story
Best stick-with-you image: The black widow spider and.... well read it to find out
Best for readers: who are ok with being scared
Best for ages: 11+

December 2, 2010

Review: The Lost Saint + a GIVEAWAY!

Title: The Lost Saint
Author: Bree Despain
Release Date: Dec. 28

From Goodreads
Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with the werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process.
Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot, a newcomer to town. But as the two grow closer, Grace’s relationship with Daniel is put in danger — in more ways than one.
Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her — not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.
Today we have a guest review from one of my students.  She took BOTH books home over Thanksgiving and read them! Do you think she like the series.  Here's her thoughts on The Lost Saint.

Her Thougts
I really liked this second book of the Dark Divine series.  I loved how Bree created characters and scenes that just pulled me through the pages from start to finish.  I like how the main character, Grace, is adjusting to her ‘situation’ with the help of Daniel.  I also liked how she made it so funny that you just had to laugh out loud.  Then other parts that made your mouth hang open.  I thought that the author did a great job of keeping you on your toes throughout the whole book.  So you never know what’s going to happen or who you should really trust.  I think that it is the perfect sequel to the Dark Divine. 

Didn't she do a great job saying how much she liked it without giving anything away??? That's super hard to too! 
I complete agree with her. Some of you may remember that I liked The Dark Divine but didn't love it.  I will admit that I liked this one better!  The story seemd stronger to me.  It had been my year for liking the sequel better.  hmmmmm

Well now for your chance to find out what you think of it.  I have an ARC of The Lost Saint to give away as well as a bottle of pretty blue nail polish that matches that on the cover! 

To Enter please fill out the form
+1 for Tweeting giveaway
Must be a US resident.
Ends Friday Dec 10
Must respond to winnig email within 72 hours



December 1, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday Entice

This is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I'm excited about OR already published book's I've seen that I'm really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren't sharing so that more books are shared.


This week I'm waiting on:

Entice
by Carrie Jones
Released: December 14

I don't think I'm waiting on this one as much as my sister! She's really excited for it to come out.

From Goodreads
Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that's not quite how things have worked out.

For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he's been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it's taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?

And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there's that other small problem: Zara's been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn't just turned. She's Astley's queen.


November 30, 2010

Tween Tuesday - The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes

Tween Tuesday was started over at Green Bean Teen Queen as away to hightlight awesome books for the 9-12 year old set. AKA Tweens. Any book highlighted on Tween Tuesday does count for the In the Middle Reading Challenge.
This week I'm highlighting:

The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes
by Kelly Easton

This just sounds like a fun wonderful read full of dreams and becoming who you are.  I love middle grade books about that!
Besides isn't the cover great!

From Goodreads
Everyone has a destiny. Sometimes it takes an adventure to find it.
Liberty Aimes has spent all of her ten years captive in her parents' crooked house on Gooch Street. Her spry father, Mal Aimes, is a crook who sells insurance, while her overweight mother sits at home in front of the TV, demanding that Liberty cook nonstop. Liberty’s only knowledge of the outside world comes from the secret stash of children’s books and fairy tales she discovers beneath the floorboards. One day, Liberty enters her father’s forbidden basement laboratory. There she discovers a world of talking animals and magic potions. With the aid of one such potion, Liberty escapes into the world in search of her destiny.

November 29, 2010

Monday Cover Merriment

I love book covers, and I love sharing them. 
My cover of the week is:

The Chestnut King (100 Cupboards #3)

For some reason I'm completely drawn this cover.  I think it's the golden hues.  I don't think very many books have this coloring. 
The way the room is destroyed also interests me because I'm wondering what happened.

November 26, 2010

Holiday Gift Suggestions

Since the offical start to the holiday shopping season is today I thought I'd share my suggestions for some great books to buy for people on your list. I'm not going to go crazy and give you a huge list, instead I'll just give you my top choice(s) for a few catigories.

Best For MG Boys
The Scorch Trials - needed for all the boys who read The Maze Runner.  And if they haven't read The Maze Runner give both!
Conspiracy 365 January - action packed book that has 12 books out in the series!

Best for MG Girls
It's Raining Cupcakes - my daughter (age 11) read it, loved it and bakes tons of cupcakes now
Sister's Grimm The Fairytale Detectives-fantastic series full of adventure and fun

Best for YA Girls
Shiver and Linger - so many of my girls love this series
Gallagher Girl Series - So many of my girls tear through this series.  Fun, action, some romance. 

Best of YA Boys
Thirteen Days to Midnight - what would you do if you knew you couldn't be be hurt?
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers - well anything by Walter Dean Myers

Best Series for Those Who Liked to be Spooked
The Devouring and Soustice! I found the second book better (scarier) than the first.  I need to read Fearscape yet.

Best for Zombie Lovers
The Forest of Hands Teeth along with The Dead Tossed Waves.  Love love love this series and again I liked the second book better.

Best for Readers Who Like to Laugh
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda - cute, funny but also a great message

Best YA for Adult Readers
Before I Fall.  I cannot say how much I loved this book!

Best MG for Adult Readers
When You Reach Me -  I adored it beyond reason :)

So those are just some suggestions I have.  Hope you maybe found something for the reader on your list.

November 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The False Princess

This is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I'm excited about OR already published book's I've seen that I'm really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren't sharing so that more books are shared.

This week I'm waiting on: 
The False Princess
by Eilis O'Neal
I think this story sounds really good and pretty unique.  Has anyone read it yet??

From Goodreads
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia knows her role in life. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess–a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.

While struggling with her new peasant life, Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins–long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control. Returning to the city to seek answers, she instead uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history forever.

November 23, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Ook and Gluk

Title: Ook and Gluk
Author: Dav Pilkey

About the Book
In this all-new graphic novel, George Beard and Harold Hutchins present the sensational saga of two silly caveboys named Ook and Gluk. Ook and Gluk have a pretty awesome life growing up together in Caveland, Ohio, in 500,001 BC—even though they’re always getting in trouble with their nasty leader, Big Chief Goppernopper. But Ook and Gluk’s idyllic life takes a turn for the terrible when an evil corporation from the future invades their quiet, prehistoric town. When Ook, Gluk, and their little dinosaur pal, Lily, are pulled through a time portal to the year 2222 AD, they discover that the world of the future is even worse than the devastated one they came from. Fortunately, they find a friend in Master Wong, a martial arts instructor who trains them in the ways of kung fu, so that they may one day return home and make things right again. And, like the other Captain Underpants books, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future features the world’s cheesiest animation technology, “Flip-O-Rama,” in every chapter.

Check out the trailer too!





My Thoughts
As a mother of a "nonreader" 9 year old boy I'm always on the look out for something he'll want to read.  He loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, so when I saw this one was a graphic novel I thought it might be a great fit.  Personally I giggled my way through the story.  Once again I was reading it while my students were working on an assignment.  I burst out laughing at this scene with billboards being blasted in half.  Of course they all wanted to know what was going on and see for themselves.  Many of them read the Captain Underpants books, so they knew the kind of humor the book had.  That was the scene I showed to my son, and he took off with he book!  What I liked is that it told a story.  So many parents worry that graphic novels are inferior books because they have so many pictures - that they are "just" comic books.  I didn't find that with this book.  The story was entertaining, the language wasn't simple and reading skills like inferring are practiced by using the pictures to grasp the whole story.

My one concern - the main characters are cavemen, so to keep with that they used many misspelled words.  My son has issues with spelling, so I worry that would confuse him. It's a minor concern but one still.

Final thought: Funny, fun book with a cute story

Now if you want your own copy plus more check out this great giveaway from Scholastic!

Give the gift of reading to your child this holiday season! Scholastic books make the perfect stocking stuffer for any child on your list.

We have a HUGE prize pack filled with the most popular children’s books in the marketplace to offer one lucky reader!
Titles include
CAPTAIN SKY BLUE,
IT’S CHRISTMAS DAVID,
OOK and GLUK 
TONY BALONEY,
ODIOUS OGRE 
 I SPY CHRISTMAS A CHRISTMAS TREE!


Isn't this a fantastic giveaway pack!

Go to the Scholastic Store to find even more great books!

To enter fill out the form. 
Ends Tuesday Dec 7th midnight CST
Must be a US resident

FILL OUT THIS FORM!