Early Review: Shapeshifter's Secret (Heather Ostler)

Product Details
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 328
Publisher: Cedar Fort (June 12, 2012)
ISBN: 9787462110339
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Read it in 2 days

The Shapeshifter's Secret
Julia is finally discovering what–not who–she is.

Like any sixteen-year-old, Julia's used to dealing with problems. From her overprotective father to her absent mother to a teacher who definitely has it in for her. But everything changes when Julia's reactions become oddly vicious and angry---more animal than human. This action-packed adventure has it all: humor, romance, and a plot that will keep you guessing to the very last page.

Eh... Sometimes I read a book that I just can't connect with. I really wanted to like this book. I tried soooo hard. I even read the whole thing when I wanted to stop 3/4 of the way in. But I just couldn't get the warm fuzzies about this one.

First off, the characters fell really flat in my opinion. Totally predictable. I never felt like I learned anything about them throughout the book. They also never seemed "real"-- if you know what I mean. The only word I can think of is lackluster. That's how the characters felt to me. Julia was alright, but she didn't wow me. I even had a hard time believing the whole shapeshifter aspect of her life. (That really could have been thought out better.) The best friend was ok. She was supportive and attentive. I liked her well enough. But the "villains" of the books I just didn't get. There wasn't much attention given to them to help me understand why they were supposed to be so diabolical.

The plot also didn't wow me. I was promised a fast paced action-packed adventure, but that is not what I got. Yes, the plot moved quickly but it felt more like the cause of that was due to the jumpy nature of the story instead of the "action." There were many gaps and questions that I had during and after reading that were never answered. That's never a good feeling as a reader.

One positive that I can say about the book is that there is a nice little surprise towards the end concerning one of the characers. I was rather surprised by some events. You'll have to read to see how that one plays out. I also thought the author did a nice job with her descriptions.

Like I said, I really wanted to like this book but it just didn't work for me. I love the cover and the idea behind the book, but I know I won't be reading any other books in this series. They were not for me.


Cover reveal: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel (Jeff Kinney)

I'm really late posting this one (sigh). Forgive me.

If you enjoy The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, you will be happy to hear that there is yet another book hitting the bookstores this fall. Yippie! My son loves these books (and I do too). Plus, Jeff Kinney is one of the nicest, most humble people I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

DOAWK: The Third Wheel will release on November 13, 2012.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #7)

Cover Reveal: Mark of Athena: Lost Hero #3 (Rick Riordan)

The new cover for the 3rd book in the Lost Hero series! I love this series (maybe more than the Percy Jackson books). I really think Rick Riordan did a fabulous job incorporating Greek and Roman mythology in these books. This book arrives in stores October 2, 2012!

Armchair BEA Day 4: Beyond the Blog

Another year of Armchair BEA is coming to an end...  I think today's topic is one of my favorites so far because it gives us another opportunity to learn about the people behind the blogs.

Something new that most people in the blogging community don't know about me is that I've started running this year. It's something I've always want to "do" but never really saw myself being successful with. I live in Florida, after all. It's hot down here! I'm not much for running on treadmills because they make me feel like a lab rat.

Then last year a co-worker told me about an awesome 5k in our city called the Never Quit Beach Fest. I walked that 5k (of course) and had a blast. (The finishers' prize was pretty awesome too, I won't lie.) So, I made it a personal goal to be able to run the same race this year. I started "training" with my handy dandy ipod app and now I'm ready for race day June 9th. (I'm just not ready for that early morning wake up time.) I knew that running would have great health benefits, but I never guessed I would see the results so quickly. Since mid-February I've lost 20 pounds and tons of inches. I don't even measure anymore because it's insane. I'm literally sweating my butt off running in this Florida heat, and I'm not mad about it at all.

If you ever find yourself in North Florida near the summer, you should think about joining the Never Quit Beach Fest. The prizes are awesome! (Think jewelry ladies! Yeah, I am SO extrinsically motivated.)

So there it is... something "beyond the blog" about myself. It's not deep or profound, but it is one good reason why I don't blog as often as I would like. Wearing skinny jeans sans a muffin top has taken priority. =)

Armchair BEA day 3: Networking in Real Life

As an educator, one of my favorite things to do is attend conferences. I love that face-to-face interaction and the thrill of navigating large crowds of people to get the best seat in a session. I'm like a super ninja  salmon navigating upstream with supersonic speed. Short people can do that...

Last year I was able to attend IRA (International Reading Association) and a few other conferences. While the sessions are always great and informative, the exhibit halls entice me to spend long hours walking around in utter amazement. For a reader, an enormous room full of books and book related items is a dream come true. While I spend a great deal of time stalking the book vendors' shelves and making wish-lists, I also enjoy meeting the authors. The best authors always show up to teacher conferences! (I just wish I had clones so I could see them all!)

Last year I met:

Meg Cabot!

My oldest son's favorite author, Jeff Kinney!

My childhood favorite, R.L. Stine!

My favorite picture book character,
Llama Llama (in red pajamas)!

I enjoyed meeting these authors so much! They were all amazing. Jeff Kinney is the most humble and down to earth person I have ever met. R.L. Stine was super friendly and patient with the masses (even as we ambushed him at the Scholastic booth). Meg Cabot is adorable. And Llama Llama is just great! How could you not get excited about seeing him in person? He even gave me a shirt! I also met Jessica Day George and Heather Brewer, but my camera was being lame at that moment.

I think it's so important to get to meet the authors that we admire so much as readers because it gives us the opportunity to remember that they are real people. I think we often forget that there is a face and emotions attached to the name on a book cover. These authors (not just the ones mentioned here) are amazing, talented people.

On Sale Today...


Look what made its way to book stores this week!
Click on the images for more information about the books.
Arise (Hereafter #2) Dead Reckoning A Girl Named Digit
Messy A Midsummer's Nightmare Miracle
Monument 14 Stunning (Pretty Little Liars, #11) Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy, #1)
Shadows Cast By Stars
I'm excited about Arise because I enjoyed Hereafter, but I have to say that Messy has me giddy with anticipation. It's the sequel to Spoiled, which I LOVED. Review is here. I had no idea this would be a series! How fantastic!

Armchair BEA Day 2: Best of 2012

So far, 2012 has been a great year for books! While I know there are many awesome books I haven't read so far, there are a few that have become favorites.

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

I absolutely adored this quirky fractured fairytale. It has become one of my all-time favorite books, and I'm sure I will treasure the entire series as it is published. I have talked this book up to so many people! They probably thing I'm insane. If you haven't heard of it, I have a review here. But don't take my word for how amazing this book is. Go get yourself a copy pronto!

Allegiance (Legacy, #2)

I thought Allegiance was brilliant. The writing took my breath away. I couldn't believe that the author is so young! She's amazing... beautiful story, beautiful talent. (review)

I also really enjoyed these books:

New Girl     Drowning Instinct

Armchair BEA 2012 Introductions (day 1)

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First, let me start off by saying that I am very excited to be participating in Armchair BEA this year. Since this is the first day of the weeklong event, here are my answers to the interview questions:

Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Well, the answer the first part of that question, I am a middle school Language Arts teacher in Florida (and probably one of the only people in a coastal city that hates the beach). I’ve been married to my hubby for 10 years and have 2 boys. My house is a constant zoo and I’m turning 30 in a few months. There is a mid-life crisis in my near future, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

I started blogging in December of 2011 out of necessity. Seriously. My students know how easily I am distracted when they ask me about books (I eventually caught on to their tactics), so I started blogging out of a need for more teaching time. (I should go ahead and mention that I never talked books all day—even though that would have been awesome—because the state of Florida would have had a fit, but I did lose at least 5 minutes of every class and in between class period to book chats.) So, I started the blog during winter break for all the new books I was reading. It’s always been a goal to read every book I put on my classroom bookshelf so I know what the kids are reading, so the blogging made sense. I already wrote review blurbs for the books, I just went digital. When a student would ask “is this any good” or “what’s this about,” I would direct them to our classroom computers and the blog. That’s how The Flashlight Reader was born.

Since then, it’s become more than just a way to get kids to look for books. I really do enjoy the interaction with other bloggers and staying up on all the “events” in the book blogging world. My students think I am some supreme being of knowledge (and I rather like it). I still want my students to use the blog for their own purposes of selecting books to read, but it’s more than that too. I’m being all super ninja-like and sneaking in writing skills when I challenge them to comment or enter a writing contest that I host. I do love the comments because it shows my kiddos the various interactions people can have with books. That’s one of my greatest loves of reading: no two people will experience exactly the same thing from a book.  

What is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

Oh, hands down it has to be A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Chris Healey.  I love fairytale retellings, and this book is the best one yet. It’s quirky, funny, and an absolute blast to read. I am super excited to hear that there is talk of an animated movie version in the near future. It would be epic.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I am a domestic diva that should make Martha Stewart tremble in her slippers. You name it and I can do it (with a few exceptions). My favorite hobbies include sewing and painting.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

I would never be able to narrow this down to one character, so I’m going to go with my favorite “modern” author: Laurie Halse Anderson. I am a huge fan of her books (no surprise there), and I would just love to pick her brain. Many of her stories are based on real-life situations. I would love to know where she gets her ideas from and how she keeps her sanity when writing about such tough topics.

If Ms. Anderson was busy that night, I would say Neil Shusterman would be my next choice. I really want to know where the idea for Unwind came from… even if it might give me nightmares for life.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

I’m a big ol’ nerd for mermaids, so I’m going to go with an underwater location. I’m not picky; just give me a sparkly tail. I don’t think I would want to visit with Sarah Porter’s mermaids though; they are vicious (even though I love the books).

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