Monday, September 30, 2013

State of the Stack (September 30, 2013)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


My Physical Review Pile

These are sorted in alphabetical order by author.


Despite appearances, this is an improvement. I went from three shelves last month to only two this month. The bottom four books are just too tall for the bookcase. I am gradually reading from the bunch of books I got at ALA.

My Kindle Review Pile

This are listed in order by publication date.
The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane (Sept. 24)
A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway (Oct. 29)
The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins (Oct. 29)
The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa (Oct. 29)
Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach (Nov. 1)
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Nov. 5)
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (Nov. 26)
Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder (Dec. 31)
Alienated by Melissa Landers (Feb. 2, 2014)

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton
  2. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
  3. Death Never Sleeps by E. J. Simon
  4. Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt
  5. Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
  6. She Can Scream by Melinda Leigh
  7. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
  8. The Impersonator by Mary Miley
  9. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  10. The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
  11. Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster (Oct. 23 Blog Tour)
  12. The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School by Fowler DeWitt
  13. Declan's Cross by Carla Neggers
  14. Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
  15. Teardrop by Lauren Kate (Oct. 17)
  16. Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody (Oct. 3)
  17. The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank (Nov. 14)
  18. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (Oct. 2)
  19. Captive by A. D. Robertson (Oct. 10)
  20. Fire Storm by Andrew Lane (Oct. 5)
  21. Beauty's Daughter by Carolyn Meyer (Oct. 10)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date received and date published are listed in parentheses.
  1. The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa (8/26; October 29)
  2. The Russian Endgame by Allan Topol (8/26: September 10)
  3. The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank (8/29; November 19)
  4. The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane (8/29; September 24)
  5. Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster (9/4; September 24)
  6. Extracted by Sherry Ficklin (9/4; November 12)
  7. Alienated by Melissa Landers (9/15; Feb. 4, 2014)
  8. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (9/17; November 5)
  9. Captive by A. D. Robertson (9/19; October 22)
  10. The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins (9/24; October 29)
  11. The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles (9/25; Jan. 1, 2014)
  12. A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway (9/26; Oct. 29)
  13. Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach (9/26; Nov. 1)
  14. Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder (9/26: Dec. 31)
  15. Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (9/29; Nov. 26)
  16. The Widow File by S. G. Redling (9/29; Jan. 1, 2014)
  17. Foreplay: The Ivy Chronicles by Sophie Jordan (9/29; Nov. 5)
Next Month's Plan

Both blog calendars are full for October. It looks like another month when everything I read will be from my review stack.

Here are the print ones coming up next month.
There are also five books on my Kindle that I hope to read by the end of the month.

Those are my plans. Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stacking the YA Shelves ( Sept. 29, 2013)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

I added four books to my stack this week:
It seems like it has been quite a while since Robin McKinley has had a new book. I am very eager to read Shadows even though the only thing I know about it is that it was written by Robin McKinley.

I haven't been waiting as long for Sarah Rees Brennan's Untold. I am still very eager to read the second book in this series and have been waiting impatiently since I finished Unspoken.
Tamora Pierce is another author who just doesn't write fast enough. I can't wait to read Battle Magic.

I also received one book for review this week. I got The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. 

What did you add to your stack? Leave me a link.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book Review: The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School by Fowler DeWitt

The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School
Author: Fowler DeWitt
Publication: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 3, 2013)

Description: Something strange is happening to the sixth grade—and it’s up to student scientist Wilmer Dooley to crack the case in this fast-paced novel full of humor and mystery.
If there’s one important thing Wilmer Dooley’s dad always says, it’s this: “Where are my car keys?”

Okay, maybe not that. He also says: “Observe!”

Wilmer has always known that the greatest science comes from the keenest observations. So when he observes his classmates looking a little green…and orange...and chartreuse-fuchsia polka-dotted...he knows that it’s up to him to find the cause of this mysterious illness—and the cure.

But with his arch nemesis, Claudius Dill, hot on his heels; the eagle-eyed biology teacher, Mrs. Padgett, determined to thwart his plans; and a host of fluorescent classmates bouncing off the walls at increasingly dangerous speeds, can Wilmer prove he has what it takes to save the sixth grade from a colorful demise before it’s too late?

My Thoughts: From the entertaining journal entries that begin each chapter to the "exotic" recipes that Wilmer Dooley's mother feeds his family, this story is filled with humor. Wilmer is a sixth grader crushing on Roxie and determined to win the sixth grade science prize to make his inventor father proud of him. He spends his time observing his classmates and thus is the first to notice that something unusual is going on with his classmates. 

Wilmer observes that his fellow students are becoming more hyperactive and are turning some very interesting colors. Roxie is turning hot pink! Wilmer is also doing a research project on diseases in the Middle Ages and learning about the Black Plague. He is starting to wonder if some new plague is happening. It seems like the kind of project that could win the science fair.

Wilmer has some rivals though. His prime rival is Claudius Dill who also really wants to win the science fair but his technique is to suck up to the head judge who also happens to be biology teacher Mrs. Padgett who has taken a dislike to Wilmer. Claudius wants to be an evil genius and make lots of money. He is trying to get the attention of his father who is busy being the World's Most Famous Doctor and who is always traveling to conferences around the world.

Wilmer is a likable kid who seems like a realistic sixth grader. All of the adult characters in the book are caricatures though. From the absent-minded father to the ineffectual principal to the teacher with a vendetta toward Wilmer to Claudius's father who can't seem to remember his name, none of the adults are particularly admirable. 

I thought the story was amusing and entertaining and could be popular with my middle graders.

Favorite Quote:
My plans to win Roxie's affections with poetry came to an abrupt end when I couldn't find a rhyme for "lower intestine."
I received this book for review from a publicist at Big Honcho Media. You can buy your copy here

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Memes: The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School by Fowler DeWitt

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School by Fowler DeWitt. I got this middle grade title from Chelsy at Big Honcho Media. I received a finished copy of this September 3 release.

Here is the description that convinced me to add it to my stack:
Something strange is happening to the sixth grade—and it’s up to student scientist Wilmer Dooley to crack the case in this fast-paced novel full of humor and mystery.If there’s one important thing Wilmer Dooley’s dad always says, it’s this: “Where are my car keys?”

Okay, maybe not that. He also says: “Observe!”

Wilmer has always known that the greatest science comes from the keenest observations. So when he observes his classmates looking a little green…and orange...and chartreuse-fuchsia polka-dotted...he knows that it’s up to him to find the cause of this mysterious illness—and the cure.

But with his arch nemesis, Claudius Dill, hot on his heels; the eagle-eyed biology teacher, Mrs. Padgett, determined to thwart his plans; and a host of fluorescent classmates bouncing off the walls at increasingly dangerous speeds, can Wilmer prove he has what it takes to save the sixth grade from a colorful demise before it’s too late?
Beginning:
Dear Journal,

Black widow spiders are horrible creatures. 
Friday 56:
The science medal might change your life, Wilmer—just like it changed mine. Observe! Investigate! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ARC Review: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Unbreakable (The Legion)
Author: Kami Garcia
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 1, 2013)

Description: Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in this action-packed paranormal thriller, the first book in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia. 

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.


When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.


My Thoughts: I enjoyed this first book in a new paranormal series by Kami Garcia. The main character is Kennedy Waters whose world is shaken up when she finds her mother dead and learns that she was killed by a ghost. She soon meets four other young people - Jared and Lukas Lockhart, Priest, and Aleta - who also lost people close to them at the same time Kennedy's mother was killed.

She first meets Jared and Lukas when they break into her house and save her life from the same revenge spirit that took her mother's life. They introduce her to a world of demons, spirits, and a society that is determined to battle them. They, along with Aleta and Priest, and the current members of the Legion and tell Kennedy that she is too.

While the other four knew about the Legion and were trained to be the successors in this generation, Kennedy had never heard of it. This lack of knowledge causes her to make dangerous mistakes and to doubt that she really has a place among the others. Since she has already been abandoned by her father and lost her mother so suddenly, Kennedy has real issues with abandonment and with feeling any sort of belonging.

This story has the group trying to reassemble an "ocular device" which they hope can be used to destroy the demon who is controlling the spirits who, besides killing the previous members of the Legion, are causing outbreaks of violence in the human world. In order to collect all the pieces, they have to travel to five haunted sites and battle the ghosts who are guarding the pieces. The descriptions of the various ghosts and haunted places were chilling.

I can't wait to find out what happens next for Kennedy, Jared, Lukas, Priest and Aleta. This isn't a standalone novel. There are many questions left to be answered regarding the relationships among the team and the battle with the demon. 

Favorite Quote:
Halfway across the parking lot, a hand closed around my wrist. I spun around. Hared stared back at me, desperate and lost. "I didn't mean to grab you."

I wanted to tell him it was okay—that I needed someone to hold me unitl the pain melted away.

Someone who wouldn't let go.
I got this ARC at ALA. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia was one of the ARCs I got at ALA this past June. I am gradually working my way through that massive stack. Here is the description of this October 1 release:
I never believed in ghosts.
Until one tried to kill me.


When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, she doesn't realize that paranormal forces are responsible--not until mysterious identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into her room and destroy a deadly spirit sent to kill her.

Kennedy learns that her mother's death was no accident, and now she has to take her place in the Legion of the Black Dove--a secret society whose five members were all murdered on the same night, leaving the Legion in the hands of the next generation: a misfit group with unique skills.

As the new members race to find the only weapon capable of destroying the demon, they use their individual talents to battle paranormal entities and earn their rightful place in the Legion--except for Kennedy.

If she is truly the missing piece of the puzzle, can she stay alive long enough to find out--without losing her heart in the process?

Protect Yourself.
What you can't see CAN hurt you.
Teaser:
Nothing scared me more than the dark. I liked to see what was coming, and darkness was a place where things could hide. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

In the Media Center (Week 3)

Elementary Media Center
In the Media Center is going to be a new regularly appearing post from me. I plan to talk about what my students and I did the past week during their media classes. I am a K-12 media specialist who spends half days at the Elementary building and half days at the Middle School/High School building in our district of approximately 1300 students.

This semester I am starting my days at the Elementary building and seeing fifth graders and third graders on a four day rotation (50 minute classes) and traditional first and second graders on an alternate day rotation (25 minute classes). Our elementary school has a fixed schedule where all students in a grade level attend "specials" (art, media, music, and phy. ed.) at the same time so that their teachers have a common preparation time.

Fifth Grade

This week the other three classes worked on Fetch! I shared the worksheet with them through Google Drive. They had to make a copy and share it with me. A number of the kids are having trouble with the concept of sharing asking if they needed to share it again after they finished their work. They were also worried about saving their work. I reassured them that Google was saving their work for them but I am not sure if the concept of sharing is getting through.

The skill they were working on by completing this worksheet was searching with keywords. It is hard for many of them to decide what the important words in a question are. So many just want to type the whole question in the search box. I also pointed out some of the URLs as we began to think about what sources were credible.

At the end of the week we began a new assignment. This one was also a worksheet on keywords that I shared with the students. I think that more of them understand the concept of sharing after practicing it last time but I am not sure that the concept of keywords is really sinking in.

Third Grade

We finished taking pictures of the students with their favorite book this week the first three days. Each student had a chance to take a picture. We also talked about keeping the Media Center neat because my assistant had told me that the third graders had made a mess during their checkout times the previous Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday and Friday the classes used Motivator at Big Huge Labs and created reading posters. They had a lot of fun choosing their slogan, choosing fonts, and choosing colors for their poster. This project gave them a chance to navigate the computer to find their files and to save them again when they were finished.

The third graders are getting to be pros at finding their way around the computer but I had to do a refresher because few of them remembered how to work our new Follett Destiny library catalog. There are so many new things for third graders between Study Island, Accelerated Reader and the catalog and they all require usernames and passwords! I did try to make the AR and library usernames and passwords the same, but I don't set up Study Island.

Second Grade

The first genre we are going to look at is nonfiction. I chose that one because so many of my elementary students choose nonfiction books to check out. The book I read to them was The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton and Tony Persiani. It was a 2010 Honor Book for the Robert F. Sibert Medal which is given for the most distinguished informational book. Luckily, a number of the students had day-glo colored shirts and shoes on today.

On Wednesday, I read Alpha Betti by Carlene Morten to this group. We talked about putting things in alphabetical order.

On Thursday and Friday we were doing math in the lab. I divided the students into groups and took them to Arcademic Skills Builders where we all played Jet Ski Addition. The kids really enjoy competing to see who can be quickest with their math facts. There were lots of cheers from the winners when their jet skis crossed the finish line first. There were also lots of groans when the computer won.

First Grade

Our Monday-Tuesday stories this week were A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka and Blackout by John Rocco. We enjoyed reading the pictures in Daisy's story and we enjoyed exploring an area not familiar to us when we saw what happened during a black out in a big city. My rural and suburban kids liked finding things we had in common.

The Wednesday books were Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo and David Small. The kids were intrigued by the holes in the pages and were eager to see what happened when we turned the page. Many of them wanted a penguin of their own after we finished One Cool Friend.

On Thursday and Friday we went to the computer lab where the students played letter and number games at ABCya. Of course, before we could play, we had to navigate our computers to the folder where this website was stored. There are a number of steps but most students are getting comfortable with the process.

That was last week in the Media Center.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stacking the YA Shelves (Sept. 22, 2013)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

This week I added four books to my stack.
I have been waiting for United We Spy by Ally Carter. I can't wait to see how the Gallagher Girls series ends. 

Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger was a Kindle Daily Deal this week. 

After saying that I planned to stay away from NetGalley until my review stack was less tall than I am, I caved and had to go get these two upcoming titles.
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a contemporary mystery and Alienated by Melissa Landers is a science fiction contemporary. 

What did you add to your stack this week? Leave me a link. I'd love to see what you got too.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ARC Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publication: Delacorte Press (September 24, 2013)

Description: Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.


My Thoughts: STEELHEART was an action-packed science fiction adventure that pitted ordinary humans against the Epics who were in control of the city and government. David was eight years old when he watched Steelheart murder his father and huge numbers of other people too. For ten years he lived for revenge collecting information on the Epics and especially studying Steelheart who controlled the city of Newcago.

The Reckoners are a group of humans who study the Epics and assassinate them. When the group comes to Newcago, David is determined to join. It takes a while before the group is willing to let him in. The group consists of the Prof who plans the assassinations and leads the group, Tia who does the research and computer hacking, Cody who adds some humor with his outrageous stories of his Scottish heritage, Abraham who believes that not all Epics are bad, and Megan who doesn't want to go after Steelheart and who is object of David's crush. Once he is in the group, he learns that they are just human and not the heroes he had imagined. He also learns that all choices have costs and sometimes the cost is greater than expected.

David convinces the group to go after Steelheart but, before they have any chance of victory, they have to figure out what Steelheart's weakness is. If they can't find it, they can't win. 

I liked David's single mindedness and I liked his self-deprecating humor. I could understand why he chose to live his life the way he did. I liked the way he fit into the group of Reckoners.

This was an exciting story that will appeal to readers who like fast-paced action and science fiction. I look forward to reading FIREFIGHT in 2014 when the action continues.

Favorite Quote:
Sparks, I was liking her more and more. And though she hadn't been particularly affectionate toward me lately, she wasn't openly hostile and cold any longer. That left me room to work some seductive magic. I wished I knew some. 
I got two copies of this ARC - one at ALA and one from Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Memes: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. I got two copies of this ARC. I received the first one at ALA and the second through the Amazon Vine program. Here is the description of this September 24 release:
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
Beginning:
I've seen Steelheart bleed.
Friday 56:
"Nobody else fights," I called after them. "Nobody else even tries! You're the only ones left. If even you're scared of men like Steelheart, then how can anyone ever think any differently."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ARC Review: The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

The Real Boy
Author: Anne Ursu
Publication: Walden Pond Press (September 24, 2013)

Description: The Real Boy, Anne Ursu’s follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle-grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is an unforgettable story of magic, faith, and friendship.

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
But now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the forest will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

My Thoughts: THE REAL BOY was a magical story with a wonderful main character. Oscar is an orphan who was taken from his orphanage and installed as magician's hand. He is the one who gathers the herbs and other greenery to make the tinctures, potions, and ingredients that the magician sells. He is content living in his workroom in the basement with only cats for his friends. He loves spending time, when he is supposed to be sleeping, reading the books about plants from his master's library.

Oscar doesn't deal well with people. He gets confused because they don't say what they mean and he can't interpret facial expressions at all. When his master goes off to the continent on business and the apprentice is killed in the forest, Oscar is left to mind the shop and deal with customers. Luckily, the Healer's apprentice Callie befriends him and begins to teach him how to deal with people.

When the Healer also leaves town, Callie is on her own too. This is so not the time for sickness to come to the children of the Shining City. But the sickness does come and both Callie and Oscar need to scramble and use all their talents to try to heal the children. 

This book has magic and friendship and tough decisions. And it has two really likable characters in Oscar and Callie. Readers will be glad to get to know them. 

Favorite Quote:
There is a way the truth hits you, both hard and gentle at the same time. It punches you in the stomach while it puts its loving arm around your shoulder. Yes, I am terrible to behold, the truth says. But you suspected it all along, didn't you? And isn't it better, now that you know? Now, at least, it all makes sense.
I received this ARC for review. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Out of Sight, Out of Time
Author: Ally Carter
Publication: Hyperion Book CH; 5 edition (January 8, 2013)

Description: The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan—an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers that months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.

Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.

My Thoughts: Cammie wakes up in a strange location and soon learns that she has lost 4 months. She remembers leaving school in early June and finds that it is now October 1. Her first call is to her mother and she is soon back at Gallagher Academy where things have changed. Her friends don't quite know how to deal with her. As one says, they can be angry with her for leaving now that she is back. Also, she fears that Zach, her almost boyfriend, has become her best friend Bex's boyfriend. 

Cammie is determined to remember what happened during her lost summer. She, along with her mother, aunt, friends and Zach, begins retracing her steps. They begin at Joe Solomon's hidden cabin and the search takes them to Rome and Scotland too. Each step of the way yields some clues to her summer and to the fate of her father and why the Circle of Cavan is looking for her. 

The story was exciting. The writing was fast-paced. The characters were well drawn and well-rounded. This is a compelling series and I can hardly wait for the conclusion in UNITED WE SPY.

Favorite Quote:
"Don't mind Agent Townsend, girls," Abby told us. "He's a glass-half-empty kind of spy."

"Also known as the good kind," he countered. Abby huffed. 
I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my teaser comes from The Real Boy by Anne Ursu. I was sent a copy of this book to review by a publicist who played on our Minnesota connection. Since I had wanted to read something by Anne Ursu for a while, I accepted.

Here is the description of this September 24 middle grade release:
The Real Boy, Anne Ursu’s follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle-grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is an unforgettable story of magic, faith, and friendship.

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the forest will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.
Teaser:
The apprentice's name was Wolf, because sometimes the universe is an unsubtle place. And even now Oscar sometimes found himself expecting an actual wolf to appear in place of the boy, as if the boy were just a lie they were all telling themselves.

Monday, September 16, 2013

In the Media Center (Week 2)

Elementary Media Center
In the Media Center is going to be a new regularly appearing post from me. I plan to talk about what my students and I did the past week during their media classes. I am a K-12 media specialist who spends half days at the Elementary building and half days at the Middle School/High School building in our district of approximately 1300 students.

This semester I am starting my days at the Elementary building and seeing fifth graders and third graders on a four day rotation (50 minute classes) and traditional first and second graders on an alternate day rotation (25 minute classes). Our elementary school has a fixed schedule where all students in a grade level attend "specials" (art, media, music, and phy. ed.) at the same time so that their teachers have a common preparation time.

Fifth Grade:

This week the fifth graders practiced logging on to the computers and to Google Apps for Education using their own usernames and passwords. They also checked their email to find out what the new assignment would be. While problem solving for the few kids who couldn't log on for one reason or the other, the kids chose "cool" backgrounds for their emails. We also set up signature files.

The main focus of this class was learning to use the new Follett Destiny Library Catalog. The students needed to log on using...wait for it!...their same usernames and passwords. Then we learned how to search, check what we have out, make lists, and place holds.

The last class of the week started a new round of lessons when I shared a document with them via Google Drive. They had to make a copy and share it back to me. The document was all about choosing keywords. They worked with a partner to answer the questions and to analyze how they got their results. I got the lesson from Common Sense Media which has some nice lessons on a variety of topics relating to digital citizenship.

Third Grade:

Third graders again practiced logging on to the computers. We also learned how to use Follett Destiny this week. They learned what their user names and passwords were. Then we practiced searching and learned how to search by AR level. Third graders needed reminders to insert the decimal point in their levels and we had to talk about the difference between 2.1 and 21. They also learned how to make a list but I am saving teaching them how to place a hold on a book until later in the semester.

Our new round of lessons began on Friday with the students getting ready to make a reading poster. We will be using Motivator at Big Huge Labs to complete the poster. Today we paired up and took pictures of each other holding our favorite books. Each student had a chance to use the digital cameras. After the pictures were taken, students were excited to have some "free choice" time in the computer lab to play educational games.

Second Graders:

Our Monday-Tuesday story this week was Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes by Jackie Mims Hopkins which kicked off our study of genres of books. They had just been talking about the Realistic Fiction genre in their classrooms which made a nice tie-in. Our Wednesday story was Alpha Betti by Carlene Morten which let us practice our alphabetizing skills too.

In the lab this week, we learned how to use Arcademic Skill Builders to play math games. We also learned how to create a game so that we would just be able to play with our friends. There was a lot of noise and excitement as the students raced to see who knew their math facts the fastest.

First Grade:

Our Monday-Tuesday stories this week were This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen and Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue which kicked off our Caldecott unit. We will be reading Caldecotts from newest to oldest for our stories this semester.

On Wednesday, I shared Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo. We looked at some of the pictures in Creepy Carrots but will read the whole book later.

In the lab this week, we learned how to find our folder of games and went to ABCya to play word and number games this week.

And that is how the second week went in the Elementary Media Center.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Stacking the YA Shelves (September 15, 2013)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

This week I added five books to my Kindle.
The Hollow by Jessica Verday was a Kindle Daily Deal this week. I had a copy but donated it to my HS media center unread because my stack was getting too high. Now, if I can find the time, it is handy and on my Kindle.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell has been getting so much buzz that I decided I had to add it to my stack. It helped that it was on sale for $4.99 last week.
The Transfer: A Divergent Story by Veronica Roth also found a place on my Kindle this week. So did a copy of Divergent. I have already read the hardcover and donated it to my HS Media Center. Now I have a copy for my Kindle too.
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock was also a daily deal this week. I have been meaning to read this book for a while. 

What did you add to your stack this week?