Sunday, September 29, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

I'm so excited to help out with the cover reveal of Killer Instinct, S.E. Green's debut young adult novel! The book sounds fantastic and the cover is no different...super creepy (in a psychological way of course)! I already know a lot of readers who are going to want to read this book, myself included. Check out the book, the cover reveal video, and enter to win an Autographed Collector's Poster below.

Title: Killer Instinct
Author: S.E. Green Website Twitter Facebook
Release Date: Spring 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

She’s not evil, but she has certain. . . urges.
Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.


Because she might be one herself. 

Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.

And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return. . . in parts.

When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim. . . 


                                                       a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 27, 2013

REVIEW: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black Website Twitter Facebook
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 256
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

First Thoughts: A cute story about friendship and growing up, albeit not as scary as I imagined. Definitely a great middle grade read although it doesn’t have the universal appeal I hoped for.

As a reader, I’m ashamed to say that this is my first Holly Black book (gasp!), although The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is sneaking up to the top of TBR list. It’s also one of the few middle grade books I’ve read in the last few years. I figured creepy cover, acclaimed author, and lots of hype - why not read it? Ultimately, I think this is a cute book, which probably isn’t a good thing since it’s supposed to be kind of creepy.

This is definitely a middle-grade book; I wanted it to be a bit more scary and eerie. The story starts out quite creepy. I mean just the concept of porcelain dolls alone gives me the heebie-jeebies. I used to get these dolls for Christmas when I was younger (don’t think I asked for them), and I can vividly remember one with green eyes that sat on the top of my shelf. Those piercing, possessed green eyes followed me wherever I went. But, after the Queen’s introduction, the creepiness waned. I needed more of the ghost and paranormal side of the story, and that’s saying a lot since I am the biggest baby ever! I did, however, really enjoy the adventure story that the kids themselves imagined - pirates, the Queen, world domination - I almost wish Black wrote that story too.

Although the scary side of the story lacked (again, middle grade audience), I loved the friendship between the three main characters. The book is a great depiction of the awkwardness EVERYONE experiences during middle school, and it is clear that these characters are searching for their identities. They are stuck between being kids and on the edge of becoming teenagers. I also liked how Black addressed the role of gender stereotypes. I see kids like Zach everyday (in fact, he reminded me a lot of my nephew). He still wants to play with his action figures, he still wants to believe in imaginary worlds, and he still wants to just be a kid. He doesn’t want to grow up, play sports, and do what a boy is “supposed” to do. Because of that, he tugged on my heart strings. We shouldn’t force kids to grow up; heck I still want to play with toys and believe in the imagined.

Doll Bones reminded me why I don’t read a lot of middle grade books - I don’t have anyone to recommend them to. Although I told my students about it (they saw the super-creepy cover and were intrigued), I can’t see any of them picking it up. There are just too many good, scary young adult novels out there for my horror fans. Now, if any of you are middle grade teachers or parents of tweens, add this book to your recommendation list; I think younger readers will eat this story up!

Final Thoughts: Creepy cover, cute story, beautiful friendships - in the end, this is simply a good middle grade story.

Who Should Read It? Add this to the list for middle grade readers - it has friendship, identity-searching and just enough creepiness to keep tweens on the edges of their seats. There’s not enough scary to give anyone nightmares, unless of course they have porcelain dolls in their rooms. It’s just a cute, quick read based on the difficulties of growing up.

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? (#IMWAYR) is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys with a kid/YA-lit spin hosted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Past Reads: I did not get nearly as much reading done as I would have liked this week - isn’t that always the case?! I took a mini-reading hiatus because I keep finishing books but not writing about them. I told myself “NO reading” until I wrote the four reviews that piled up. Well, I finished those four reviews, so reading hiatus over...phew! 

The one book I did finish this week - LOVED. If you haven’t already read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, do it! Move it right up to the top of your TBR list. It features one of the swooniest (is that word?), swoon-worthy boys of all time - Noah. Oh, Noah… Of course it ended, I needed more, and so The Evolution of Mara Dyer is now tops on my TBR list. I’m already sad that I have to wait until next year to get the conclusion of the trilogy (no idea it was a trilogy going in but am so glad it is because again...Noah).

Current Reads: I changed my reading path a bit this week; I’m not sure why I ever make a prioritized list, because it always ends up changing. Instead of continuing my young adult list, I jumped into an adult nonfiction read: Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff. Kelly Gallagher (English teacher rockstar) tweeted this title out, likening it to Unbroken, one of the best books I’ve EVER read. I immediately checked my library’s website, the book was available, so here we are. I’m only a few chapters in, but so far so good. It’s a lot of background information upfront but it’s written in an engaging way - I never knew so much about war planes and Greenland. I’m skeptical that this can live up to Unbroken, so we’ll see. Now that the reading hiatus is over, I’m jumping back in.

Here’s the goodreads summary of the book: Two harrowing crashes . . . A vanished rescue plane . . . A desperate fight for life in a frozen, hostile land . . . The quest to solve a seventy-year-old mystery

The author of the smash New York Times bestseller Lost in Shangri-Ladelivers a gripping true story of endurance, bravery, ingenuity, and honor set in the vast Arctic wilderness of World War II and today.

On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane on a routine flight slammed into the Greenland ice cap. Four days later, a B-17 on the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on the B-17 survived. The U.S. military launched a second daring rescue operation, but the Grumman Duck amphibious plane sent to find the men flew into a severe storm and vanished.

In this thrilling adventure, Mitchell Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing disasters and the fate of the survivors and their would-be saviors. Frozen in Time places us at the center of a group of valiant airmen fighting to stay alive through 148 days of a brutal Arctic winter by sheltering from subzero temperatures and vicious blizzards in the tail section of the broken B-17 until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen attempts to bring them to safety.

But that is only part of the story that unfolds in Frozen in Time. In present-day Greenland, Zuckoff joins the U.S. Coast Guard and North South Polar—a company led by the indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza, who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight—on a dangerous expedition to recover the remains of the lost plane’s crew.

Drawing on intensive research and Zuckoff ’s firsthand account of the dramatic 2012 expedition, Frozen in Time is a breathtaking blend of mystery, adventure, heroism, and survival. It is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and their families—and a tribute to the important, perilous, and often-overlooked work of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Future Reads: I’m thinking Frozen in Time might take me a bit longer than usual, so I probably won’t even make it to another book this week. If I do, here are my options: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, Embrace by Jessica Shirvington The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin and One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Any suggestions as to where I should start?


What are you reading? What have you just finished? What are your top recommendations? Leave me a comment as I'm always looking for books to add to my To-Be-Read list!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

REVIEW: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West Website Twitter Facebook
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Pages: 352
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

First Thoughts: LOVED this book! I woke up the next morning, after finishing the book, and was so sad I didn’t have more to read - I wanted more of the characters. YAY sequel!

What a wonderful surprise this book is! I read a few “parallel world” stories this summer and they just didn’t do it for me; I didn’t mind the books, but I wasn’t turning the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen next. Pivot Point on the other hand? WOW! I couldn’t put this book down. I found myself extending independent reading time in class (whoops) because I got so caught up in the story and the characters; I raced home after school to sit on the back porch and read some more. My only regret? I wish I didn’t finish it so quickly, because it left me wanting more.

First of all, I love paranormal worlds; there, I’ve said it - I’ve revealed a secret reading pleasure of mine. I think that’s what made this book different than the other “parallel world” books I’ve read. Although it seems illogical, the explanation of Addie’s ability to see two different life paths through her paranormal ability, made much more sense to me than just a random colliding of worlds. Plus, Kasie West’s world-building in this book is fantastic! The paranormal and normal worlds fit seamlessly together, and it actually had me questioning the possible existence of these “abilities” in our society. I love the way Addie’s two stories/lives become more intertwined as the book goes on - as a reader, I loved noticing the connections and picking up on the small details and clues left throughout the story.

Not only is the story fantastic, but so are the big ideas woven throughout. It really makes you think about the repercussions of our actions; can we ever really change our fate or are we destined to do what we are going to do? And, if we do change our own fate, how does that affect everyone around us? As someone who likes EVERYTHING planned out, this book really made me stop and think about the effects of even the small decisions we make on a day-to-day basis.

And, lastly, what I love most about this book - the characters (surprise, surprise)! Addie as the main character - perfect (down-to-earth, witty, and loves books - doesn’t get much better than that)! Her best friend Laila - spot-on complement to Addie! Duke and Trevor, the boys - can’t help but love them both (although I was Team Trevor from the very beginning)! West wrote these characters so perfectly, that as a reader, you want Addie to choose both paths. That’s one of the things that makes this book so great - you don’t know how you want it to end, and when it does end, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Are you happy? Are you sad? As a reader, you don’t know how to feel, but in the end, you know it’s right.

Final Thoughts: A book that had me putting aside school work, tuning out my husband’s (loud) band practice, and staying up late into the night to finish. An all-around great read (hard to believe this is West’s first novel)! This is a sequel I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Who Should Read It? Fans of realistic fiction and paranormal worlds alike will enjoy this story. It has love, comedy, friendship, and two very swoon-worthy boys (seriously girls, Trevor and Duke will be at the top of your fictional crush list). The story moves quickly, it’s hard to put-down, and it will make you think and question until the very end. This is going to be a top recommendation for years to come!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is: Top Ten (or Eleven) Books On My Fall TBR List

As all readers, my TBR list is sometimes overwhelming. No matter how much I read, it just continues to grow. The biggest problem with this is that there are just so many good books to read. I’ve narrowed down my list to the ten I am MOST excited about this fall. Some are upcoming releases, and some have been out for awhile, I just haven’t stumbled upon them yet:


1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (release date - October 22) - aaahhhh!!! Only 35 days left! I am beyond excited for this book. That is all. Beyond excited. Although, at the same time, it’s a little bittersweet to have the end of one of my favorite series so close in sight.

2. Champion by Marie Lu (release date - November 5) - another series end that I am eagerly anticipating. I have my fingers crossed that everything ends happily for Day and June, but based on some of Marie Lu’s tweets, I’m getting nervous. Please end well, please end well!

3. Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles (release date - October 1) - I think I’m most excited about this book because of the excitement my students have; some of them are keeping a countdown to release day (and the day I inevitably buy it for our classroom library and watch the girls fight over who gets it first!). Simone is always a go-to recommendation; I’m sure this will be no different.

4. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (release date - September 24) - I already know this book is going to make me cry. I already know it’s going to be heart-wrenching, beautiful and it’s going to touch my soul. I only hope I don’t cry too much, because red, puffy eyes are really not my look.


5. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - this is kind of cheating because I actually started this book yesterday (oh well). I’ve heard nothing but great things about this book (seriously rave reviews), and after the first chapter, I’m already hooked!

6. Wonder by R.J. Palacio - I am SERIOUSLY late to the party on this one! I already know this is a book that I will recommend over and over again to my students (possible read aloud?). Now, all I have to do is read it. I’m excited to finally “Choose Kind”.

7. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau - dystopia? Count me in. After a self-imposed dystopian hiatus, I’m ready to jump back in. This seems like the perfect book for the job!

         The Chaos of Stars

8. Just One Day by Gayle Forman - the blurb says “Shakespeare, travel, and love.” Is there any question why this is on my TBR list? Plus, I love Gayle Forman’s writing; If I Stay still haunts me (in a good way).

9. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - I don’t know a lot about this book, other than I’ve seen reviews all over the place. I read Holly Black’s Doll Bones and I’m excited to give one of her YA titles a try. This book seems creepy and romantic at the same time - intriguing!

10. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan - like Wonder, this is a middle grade book, but I still think it will resonate with me and my students. My heart already feels for Willow and I don’t even know her yet. I hope this one lives up to the emotional hype I’ve been reading about it.

11. The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White - yep, I'm cheating; I needed 11 choices. I loved Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series, and this book features allusions to mythology - I am totally in!