Monday, March 23, 2015

ARC Review: The Boys of Fire and Ash

The Boys of Fire and Ash
by Meaghan McIsaac

Review by Alexa V.

The Brothers of The Ikuuma Pit never knew their mothers, nor have they ever wanted to meet them, for they were abandoned at birth. Frequently, a baby would be left on the ground near one of the entrances of the Pit. The one who took him in and raised him would become the child’s Big Brother and the child would become his Little Brother. When one of the boys became old enough, they would leave on their Leaving Day, and whoever was their Little Brother, would take another child that was left and become his Big Brother.

Urgle is Cubby’s Big Brother and is supposed to be teaching him how to hunt and throw knives. However, he is not very skillful. Urgle is constantly being told how bad of a Big Brother he is, but when Cubby is taken away by monstrous predators, Urgle proves them wrong by going outside of the pit to find him, with two other brothers and one who has information on the outside.

Truthfully, this was one of my favorite books. I loved the plot, the characters, and the legends about the setting. However, the main character wasn’t my favorite because I wouldn’t agree with him at some points or he would get me frustrated. Apart from that, my favorite part was how the Ikuuma boys do not know anything about what’s outside of their Pit, so they had to learn things like what alcohol is or what buying things meant. Whenever they passed a woman or girl, they began freaking out, since they have always hated them for their abandonment, but also never remembered what one looked like. Also, there was a lot of tension and fighting throughout Urgle’s journey with multiple groups. They haven’t seen most of the weapons their opponents possesed. Find out more about Urgle's journey when you read The Boys of Fire. This book about family is for anyone to read, and I honestly can’t wait for more books by this author to be released. Look for The Boys of Fire and Ash to be published on May 12, 2015!

New to Our Shelves: The Crypt Thief

The Crypt Thief by Mark Pryor
Review by Sean Banko
The Crypt Thief by Mark Pryor is a fantastic novel about Hugo Marston, the chief of security at the U.S. Embassy in France. While Hugo isn’t technically supposed to be involved in French law enforcement, his fantastic ability as a profiler often gives him the edge in figuring out tricky cases and so when the U.S. is involved, Hugo is often present. This book is centered on a case that Hugo is working involving a nighttime grave… robber? Serial killer? Terrorist? They’re not too sure yet. All Hugo knows is that this man, who he calls the Scarab, has stolen the bones of a dancer and killed two people in the process, one of who was the US Ambassador’s son. Hugo’s task is to figure out who the killer is, and find him before he makes his next move. But there’s just one problem. Hugo has no fingerprints, and the man managed to enter the grave without being caught on a single camera. Pryor writes another brilliant novel in which the killer always one step ahead of the game. That is, until Hugo takes two steps ahead of it. Read and learn how Hugo will figure out who the Scarab really is, what he wants, and how to stop him before he gets it. Enthusiasts of Dan Brown’s books (but with less Illuminati) or anyone who likes serious mysteries/crimes will enjoyThe Crypt Thief after they’ve read Pryor’s first installment, The Bookseller. Be sure to take a look at Mark Pryor’s Hugo Marston novels if you haven’t already!

ARC Review: Make It Messy

Make It Messy
by Marcus Samuelsson

Review by Tyler T.

Marcus Samuelsson is a world renowned cook. He wasn't always been the person everybody knows. He had to start from the bottom and now he is at the top of the food world. He didn't grow up as the rich kid; he grew up in a very poor family. This story is the story of the before and how he got to the top and the people that were involved in his life.
   Marcus was born in Africa, but he was adopted and went to Sweden where he would live for the rest of his childhood. After he was a little older he started to play soccer with the dream to play professional soccer. When he left the county league he tried out for the team that is connected with Real Madrid, a professional soccer team. He made the team along with his friend. They were living the dream as young kids playing for a great team. His dreams began to shatter when he started to get older and all the other kids were starting to get taller than him. Suddenly, his name disappeared from the roster and he needed to find a plan B. Marcus enjoyed cooking and he thought he could find a future is cooking.
   His career as a chef began with stocking the fish to butchering to cooking to renown chef. Read his book to find out how an imperfect life can find some perfection. All it takes is a little bit of courage and you can succeed. Read Make It Messy by Marcus Samuelsson and it may change your perspective. It may give you that little bit of courage that may jump start career and you can make it messy.

Release Date: June 9, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Infinite Blog Tour: Interview with Lori M. Lee + Review + GIVEAWAY!

Our class is SO happy to be hosting Lori M. Lee on our blog!  Many of us were able to meet her via Skype in the fall.  She was so endearing that she quickly became one of our fave fantasy authors.  We have been awaiting the release of her new book and it's finally arrived. Yesterday was the exciting release day for THE INFINITE, her sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone and today we have Lori here with us!  We have lots for you to check out, so be sure to read book info + review + interview + giveaway.  It's ALL right here!!

About the book: The Infinite (Book #2)
The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.

Buy Now!

Caylee’s Book Review

I read Gates of Thread and Stone a few months ago and was ECSTATIC when I heard the The Infinite was coming out. The author sent me the link to the book so I got the chance to read it before it came out. It was an incredible moment!
Spoiler free!!!
The Infinite was absolutely amazing. I didn’t want to put it down! There were so many great things about this book. However, the characters were my favorite part. Everything about them was perfect. The way they act, the way they think, the way relationships form between each other. Kai, the main character has a new life and I feel like that was something really important. She is a strong figure, who readers can relate to and love. She has to adjust to some losses and changes in her life, while new dangers lurk outside the walls and await her. In addition, the role of her friends really helped make this book a page-turner. I enjoyed the addition of some new characters, while learning more about my favorites from Gates of Thread and Stone. **Avannnnn....sighhhhhh** Always looking out for her and supporting her, I thought the secondary characters were an important part of the book. In addition, the plot of the book was immaculate. It kept you hooked, it kept you excited, it made you feel like you were in the story yourself. Ninurta and Lanathrill are really interesting. Lee creates this whole fantasy world that you get sucked into and can’t help but love it.  Overall, I highly recommend reading this series because both books were absolutely thrilling and the author Lori M. Lee is crazy-talented (Keep reading for our chat with her!). If you enjoy the world of fantasy, magic, characters to love and lots of action, be sure to order The Infinite!

Need to read the first one? Gates of Thread and Stone(Book #1)

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.
In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

Buy Now!

Praise <3 for Gates of Thread and Stone:

“Lori M. Lee excels in building a world of intrigue, oppression, and magic amidst a Labyrinth setting as twisted and winding as the secrets hidden inside her characters’ hearts. Fans of strong heroines who don’t need a boy to hold their hands, action-packed fighting scenes, and whispers of steampunk and mythology, will find themselves wishing they, too, could manipulate the threads of time, if only to stay inside the story a little longer.”
A.G. Howard, New York Times bestselling author of the SPLINTERED series

“A fast-paced, heart-wrenching whirl of a story full of magic, immortals, and a romance that will leave readers gasping for more. I adored the tough, scrappy narrator and fell in love with the boy chasing after her heart. Lori M. Lee introduces us to a fantasy world unlike any other and gives us the first taste of an epic love story in the making. I can’t wait for more!” 
Mindee Arnett, THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR series and AVALON series

“Inventive, romantic, and gripping. I was hooked from the first page!”
Amy Tintera, REBOOT and REBEL

“A thrilling adventure in a vivid world, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE is the kind of book you want to read both fast and slow: fast to find out what happens next and slow to savor the journey. I couldn’t put it down.”
Sarah Beth Durst

“Lee has woven a captivating fantasy that will thread its way into your heart and pull you into a world of magic and intrigue.”
Christina Farley, GILDED and SILVERN

Welcome to our chat with Lori M. Lee!

1. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Read a lot. Books are a writer’s best tools for learning. They taught me characterization, pacing, dialogue, and how to structure a story arc. If a scene is particularly striking, slow down and take it apart. Figure out how the author was able to achieve it. Once you can answer that, you can do it in your own writing.

2. What is the most rewarding element of writing?

Prior to publication, it was being able to look back at everything I’d written, at the characters and worlds I’d created, and feel proud at what I’d accomplished and how much I’d improved as a writer. After publication, it’s knowing that there are readers who love my characters and the book as much as I do.

3. Was your journey to getting published difficult?

At the time, it felt long. But looking back on it, it was fairly quick. The first book I wrote didn’t pan out, which was heartbreaking, but the second one was picked up fairly quickly. Of course, it still took three years from when a publisher bought my book to when the book was released, but at least then, I knew it’d happen :)

4. If Kai could use her threads to travel into another fictional world, where would she choose to go?

What an awesome question! I think Kai would love Middle Earth. She has a restless spirit, so she’d enjoy traveling through the various lands and meeting new people. Also, she’d be fascinated (but wary) of the elves and their magic.

5. Will there be another book in the series?  Can you give us any hints?

I can’t say anything definitive yet, but please cross your fingers for me! :D

6. Top 3 TV shows you look forward to each week?

Game of Thrones, the Flash, and Constantine.

7. Pancakes or waffles?

Waffles topped with syrup, sliced strawberries, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. YUM.

8. What did you find most rewarding about writing The Infinite?

The Infinite is the first sequel I’ve ever written. I was terrified, because I didn’t know if I could do it! Sequels are strange and different beasts from first books. So the most rewarding thing about writing it is discovering that I could do it. I hope you enjoy my efforts :)

Thanks, Lori for answering our questions and we are DEFINTELY enjoying your writing!  Want to learn more about her?  

About the Author: Lori M. Lee

Lori is the author of young adult fantasy novels Gates of Thread and Stone and The Infinite. She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.

Author Links

As promised, here's the giveaway!!!

Win THE INFINITE swag pack with cover poster!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where has Lori been and where will she be tomorrow???

Click here for her full blog schedule!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Best Day Ever with Sooz and Sarah

Sooz and Sarah Spend a Day with Woodstown Writers!

by Bella B and Riley M

The first time Mrs.Kelly, our 8th grade teacher at Woodstown Middle School, mentioned that two authors were coming to our small town, we might have flipped just a little bit. We have 7,500 people in our entire town/township, and not a lot goes on. Sure, there has been big news. Maybe our school has switched to block scheduling, or there’s a dance coming up (true and true), but nothing to the extent of this. When we found out that  best selling authors Susan Dennard and Sarah J. Mass were coming Woodstown, everyone from the middle school, and even from the high school were so excited to meet and learn from two of their favorite authors. As soon as we found out that they were coming, everyone rushed to get their slip so they could learn from the authors, and when the time came, both of them were ready to answer them and have fun with us. Both of their series have definitely left their marks on many of us and will be two of the series that we will always remember and cherish!

Susan Dennard is Sarah J. Maas’ best friend and is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series and the Witchlands series (The Witchlands series is not yet released). She is an amazing author, and has misfits all over the world (Inside joke. Read the books!). Seriously though, read the books! You will fall in love with them. 

Sarah J. Maas is Susan Dennard’s best friend and is the author of the series Throne of Glass and Court of Thorns and Roses (Court of Thorns and Roses is not yet released). Her novels have many people’s jaws hanging open as they flip through the pages. She is a New York Times Bestselling author, with numerous comments of praise. Read, read, READ her novels!

Even from these brief descriptions, it is undeniable that this duo is a talented force to be reckoned with. A talented force that happened to be coming to our very own school!

Just imagine for a second that 30 helium balloons are popped in a small room. Do you have that picture in your mind? Without being popped of course, these crazy balloons were us. The very idea that we would be in the presence of these authors was astounding, let alone that we were going to be able to talk to them! We learned that they would sign our books and answer our questions and coach us on our writing and breathe the same air that we breathed. 


Our excitement was to be bottled up and accumulated throughout the many months we had to wait for their visit. It was always something in the future, a hazy, faraway figure in the distance. Someone would mention it and the entire class would eek! and drum their fingers on the desk. Letters were written and mailed, posters were made and hanged, and people were reading and rereading their books. The days dragged on and the calendar refused to have its days crossed out, but eventually the day was upon us. 

Everyone was well rested and pumped to see their idols. The school day was not a bother for them. There was anticipation and antsiness in the air as it was announced that they had arrived.

A few wanderers just couldn't wait to meet them!  
As soon as Susan and Sarah walked in we were ready to greet our literary idols!

First Stop: Q&A Session with LOTS of fans!

Some bolted out of their classrooms to go to the Q&A, an event that was one of the highlights of the day. It was there that a lot of students connected to the down-to-earth authors and got to know them as a person (not that they weren’t before…).
Relaxing with some coffee and answering all our questions

Students crowded into our media center to hear from them.

Susan and Sarah have been best friends for a long time. They share many interests, like writing, books, tv shows, ect... But one thing that they share that they are really passionate about, is that they want to help inspire new writers.

Next Stop: Writing Workshops (2 Sessions)

After the Q&A, students could attend a Writing Workshop, where the authors helped to shape the future writers of our generation. They joked about quitting their jobs because they were so impressed with us. That comment may or may not have made some a little emotional….including myself.


Writing Exercises: In the writers workshop, Susan and Sarah had many ways to help get the creativity for our writing flowing. They said that something that helped them get into their writing was to listen to music without words so that could describe how the character was feeling. They even played some music so we could get into our character's head.

Sharing with Partners: After writing some of our story, we shared about what we wrote. They showed us that not only music can help with your writing, but sharing it with a friend of a peer can help as well. Even though it might be scary to share, it helps a lot because if you're stuck on a part of your story, and don't know what to do next, that they can help figure out how to fix that part.

Feedback and more advice from Sarah and Susan: When we shared to the group what we wrote, Susan and Sarah were fully supportive and encouraged us to keep writing. They helped us when we had questions and gave us advice that came from their hearts.


Lunchtime Visit: Autograph Session Meet and Greet

The hour passed by too fast and we were getting our books signed with cute notes and AUTOGRAPHS! They signed LOTS of books. They even let us sign their own copies!

I swear, the entire time my heart was racing a mile a minute, as was the rest of my peers.

Interview by Communication/Concepts in Multimedia Students

(Stay Tuned for Video Interview!!)

Fan Art Contest: 

Winner Sam Midili with Autographed Fan Art
Sammie won a Throne of Glass Tote filled with books, swag and a Barnes and Noble gift card!!
(Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing, HarperCollins, and Tamar Rydzinski)

Congrats to all our Fan Art Participants!


 The day felt like it was only a few minutes, it flew by so fast. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. At the end of the day, hugs and tears were exchanged as they packed up their stuff and left, waving goodbye to many of us. No matter what, none of us will ever forget the incredible time we had and the authors that we were inspired by. But unfortunately, at the end of the day when the bell rang, we had to say goodbye to these two amazing authors. Even though we had to say goodbye, they had definitely left an impact on us and our writing. They might have had to leave, but we will definitely take the amazing time we had, and everything that we learned, and remember it forever.

Look how cute and fun they are!!

Stop by ANY time to visit us!!! The red carpet will always be rolled out for you!

Barnes and Noble Coffeehouse Event: 

Sarah and Sooz taught us that we need to keep sharing our writing.  Mrs. Kelly arranged for us to share some of our writing from the visit at our Barnes and Noble.  It was a BIT scary, but it felt great to share our writing while surrounded by LOTS of books AND our good friends!  We were even able to raise some money to buy more books for our classroom library so we can keep reading! Our online fundraisers runs until tomorrow!  Click here to shop Barnes and Noble.  Enter our code 11565066


 Want to see more pictures from our day? Click here
Check out newspaper coverage! 

Author Links

Susan Dennard

Sarah J. Maas

 Teacher Links

Jennifer Kelly

We couldn't help to add the cover reveal for Sarah's upcoming addition to her Throne of Glass Series!!!  Aelin/Celaena looks like she's going to be more fierce than ever!  September 1st.....PLEASE ARRIVE soon!! Click here to preorder.  Stay tuned for news on Sooz's new series.  We need the cover NOW!

Thanks Sooz and Sarah for all you do for us!!!