Ashes & Shadows…Ilsa J. Bick Rocks This Post!

So, you may remember when I read Ilsa J. Bick‘s Ashes.

It freaked me out & kept me up at night.

I LOVED IT!
ASHES-5 Creepy Blings!
It also ended in a OMG! WHAT THE WHAT! cliffhanger! I totally love/hated how Ilsa rocked those last two pages!

Finally, finally, finally, Shadows is here! And, let me tell you, it is Ashes on overdrive! Just as amazing, way more awesome, and (if this is even possible) totally more disgusting and extreme. It rocks!
Shadows gets 5 Creepy Blings, too!

I am the happiest girl ever today to be able to present you with a post written by the AWESOME Ilsa J. Blick herself! WOOT!

Overview of characters Part 1 – For Books and Bling – Mandee
Need a quick refresher, of who’s who before you read SHADOWS? Well, you won’t get much in SHADOWS, but if you DO need to a memory-jog, read on.
If you haven’t read ASHES, shame on you. But don’t despair, you’ve got time.
In any event, BEWARE: spoilers ahead. Really, if you’ve not read ASHES, don’t go any further. Not only will you ruin the perfectly good time you might have had—because no synopsis can do justice to a novel—you will miss a lot of vital information that I can’t include.
Just saying.

Alex Adair: living with her aunt in Illinois after her mom, an ER doc, and dad, a cop, died in a helicopter crash three years ago. Suckier still, Alex carries a monster in her head: an inoperable brain tumor that’s stolen her sense of smell and many of her memories, especially those of her parents. After two years of failed chemotherapy, radiation, and experimental regimens, Alex has decided to call the shots for a change. As the novel opens, Alex has run off on what might well be a one-way backpacking trek through the Waucamaw Wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She intends to honor her parents’ last wishes and scatter their ashes from Mirror Point on Lake Superior. As it happens, she’s also got her dad’s service Glock, just in case she opts out of a return. After the Zap, Alex gets her sense of smell back in spades: a super-sense that also allows her to intuit emotions and, on one occasion, get a glimmer of what’s going on inside the mind of a wolf. Which is pretty funky. Much more to the point and like the dogs, she is able to detect the bloated roadkill stink of the Changed. Oh, and all of a sudden, every dog is her new best friend.

Ellie Cranford: sullen, uncooperative, a trifle whiny, a kid Alex has to keep herself from slapping silly. What can you say? The kid’s eight. Her dad’s KIA in Iraq; her mother split years back; and Ellie’s now being cared for by her grandfather, Jack, who might have the patience of a saint, but cut the kid a break. She hates camping, and it’s not like she hasn’t got good reason to be a little pissy anyway. Initially rescued by Alex and then Tom, Ellie is kidnapped by some very nasty adults who see her as a meal ticket.
Mina: Ellie’s dog, a Belgian Malinois, and formerly her dad’s MWD (military working dog). Mina also has the patience of a saint and packs a mean bite. The nasty adults take her, too.

Tom Eden: a young soldier and explosive ordinance specialist on leave from Afghanistan; a competent guy who complements Alex in a lot of ways. After Alex fends off a pack of wild dogs, Tom saves both Ellie and Alex by shooting his buddy, Jim, who’s gone through a major lifestyle change. Steady and calm, someone to whom Alex is instantly attracted, Tom also has a few secrets of his own. The biggest is just why he’s in the Waucamaw to begin with. Once they leave the (relative) safety of the Waucamaw—we’re talking wild dogs, booby traps, and kids who’ve suddenly decided that people make excellent Happy Meals—Tom is shot while trying to prevent the nasty adults from stealing Ellie.

Check out Ashes, if you haven’t. Get your hands on Shadows right away! And, of course, give the brillantly ewie Ilsa J. Bick some major creep out love!

A HUGE Books and Bling thank you filled with love for Ilsa. For both writing this post and creeping me out in a way that just makes me want MORE!
You totally rock!

Ilsa J. Bick rocked these books!

5 Blings! for both Ashes & Shadows!

5 Blings! for Ilsa J. Bick!

Today I am…joining a LGBT reading event!

Today I am…Joining a LGBT reading event.

The mega awesome Roof Beam Reader is hosting THE LITERARY OTHERS: AN LGBT READING EVENT in October. I’m totally participating!

I’m jumping in because equality is an issue that I am passionate about. Sometimes people ask me why LGBT rights are such a big issue to me when I am not LGBT myself. The short answer is this: I believe that love is love and I believe in always doing the kindest thing. Supporting equality, human rights, love, and kindness are always the right things to me. It is also a great reason to read two books that have been hanging on by TBR pile for a while now. I’m going to read:

  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. I just met him at the Decatur Book Festival (He is awesome!!) and I’ve been wanting to read this forever. So this is all win for me! I just started Every Day and I love it already!
  • Shine by Lauren Myracle: I’ve had Shine for a while now. I was going to go see her speak last year, but I was super sick that day. So, now I’m pulling it out again and going for it.  Again, all kinds of win here!!

Go check out the awesome Roof Beam Reader. I hope you join in, too!

YAY BOOKS!

Oh My Awesome Authors! DBF12 Rocked!

This weekend was the Decatur Book Festival. It is an amazing celebration of authors, books, and those who love them!

DBF12

I hung out there all weekend (yup, me outside for two days straight…that should tell you how great of an event it is!!). Schmoopy, Ash, from Smash Attack Reads, and I had a blast in Decatur. My girlfriends, the ever entertaining & super adorable Laura & Anne,  joined us on Saturday, too, YAY!
For me, it was fangirling and author staking at its best!

Here’s the quick rundown on my DBF experience:

Saturday morning we grabbed Ash and headed out. We walked around for a bit and then met up with Laura & Anne. I was super psyched to see Meg Cabot, David Levithan, Kenneth Oppel, & Neal Shusterman.

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Meg Cabot!

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David Levithan!

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Kenneth Oppel

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Neal Shusterman!

Sunday we were back for more! We hung out at J. Christopher’s for an author/blogger breakfast. I got to talk homemade yogurt with Susan Dennard. I’m so excited about the yogurt & I cannot wait to read her book!! Schmoopy pointed out (several times) that I’m the only book lover he knows that sits at a table full of authors & talks about yogurt. Haha!

I saw Tom Angleberger in the hotel lobby. I got the courage to go say hello. He really is the best. The. Best!! I adore his books & totally love his Star Wars humor! Meeting him was totally EPIC! I showed him the picture he emailed me for my students last year and he promised to draw me a new one at the signing. FANGIRL OVERLOAD!

We walked around a bit & found some great 3 for $5 books. Then we met some authors & illustrators in the booths. I grabbed several great books for my class and an awesome book called The Fart Fairy for my nephews. Their mom, my BFF Amy, is going to kill me, but I had to do it! Thankfully they live far enough away that she can’t really smack me!!

We headed back to the teen stage & got to see Barry Lyga. He wrote the super awesome Fanboy and Gothgirl (among other fantastic works) and the mega creepy, yet super brilliant book I Hunt Killers. I read on his blog that the first person to say, “Billy Dent Was Framed” would win a t-shirt. I was all over that! I wrote it on the back of my fan (it was sooooo hot that they were handing out fans!!) & ran over to the signing line. He made me yell it with conviction (get it, conviction…haha)! So fun! He even autographed my sign! Wicked Awesome!!

The brilliantly talented VLC Photos snapped a great pic of me & my new shirt:

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Billy Dent was Framed!

Barry was so much fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to hang out & talk about serial killers, right?!

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Barry Lyga!

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My signage!

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Getting autographed!

We got to see Maureen Johnson, too! She is hysterical! I love her books, adore her on Twitter, and she was even more freaking brilliant in person. Love!! That!! Woman!! She told us how she puts us in jars & takes really good care of us (we are a lot of work)! And she confirmed that she is, in fact, my spirit animal. Yay!

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She is so hysterical!

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Signing!

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Maureen Johnson!

The most epic part of DBF12 was Origami Yoda! He really is totally super fun. We may have been the only ones there without kids, but it didn’t bother me at all. I folded my very own Origami Yoda & waited in a long & rainy line to meet him. He drew a picture for my students, gave me some Fortune Wookiee tattoos for them, and (sit down for this one!) handed Schmoopy his phone when my camera wouldn’t work!! Then he tweeted the pic to my class Twitter. Talk about me getting rock star status with my students!! What an amazing guy!

YAY! Origami Yoda!!

Best. Day. EVER!!

YAY READING!!

Ilsa Bick…OMG! Cannot wait for Shadows!

Shadows: The sequel to Ashes

Ashes totally (TOTALLY) freaked me out! I mean, I had to stop reading it at night. It was awesome and scary and creepy…I loved it!

So, Shadows is coming out soon (9/25/12). I am lucky and I get to read it early (Yay!). I’m starting it tonight. YAY! I hope that it terrifies me and pulls me in like Ashes did. I’m betting it will!

Didn’t read Ashes? GO READ IT RIGHT NOW! For reals, it totally rocked my face off!!

Have you read Ashes? I’d love to know what you thought!

You’re Killing Me, Smalls! & 2 Thank Yous: AS King & my parents rock!

More Mandee Monday-You’re Killing Me,  Smalls!

So, a normal person would be excited when their favorite author announces a new book. A normal person would just pre-order it and wait excitedly. A normal person would check their blog from time to time and read updates and such.

There hasn’t been any normal in my life since,

well, never. 

I wanted to be a garbage man (yes, MAN) when I was 3. My mom let me get up early and watch the garbage men when they picked up our trash and I still remember peeking out the window and waving to them with a huge smile on my cute little face (I was pretty darn cute, I must say!) I was a puppy for several weeks (again, yes, WEEKS) when I was four. I barked, ate from a bowl, but thankfully used the potty like a person. (WHEW!). There was also a waitress phase. We turned the kitchen into The Hobit Hotel (my Mama started reading me Tolkien when I was 2). I took orders on my little notepad and brought out the food. It was hysterical. My dad, Popi, and I would then sit down and figure out the one thing that wasn’t on the table. We’d then wait until Mama sat down (finally) to eat to ask for it. She’d yell something about our legs being broken or how we’d be sorry when she was gone. Then she’d go get whatever we wanted and kiss us on the head.  I have at least a million more of these stories about my parents and how they totally rocked my little kid world and shaped me into someone who laughs and smiles and cares and really gives a darn about people.

Now back to my point: A normal person would be ecstatic at the news that their ultimate favorite author (YES, YOU, AS KING! YOU!!). And, don’t get me wrong, I totally am. But, I’m also a total brat-face and I can’t wait.

I. CANNOT. WAIT! 

There are so many awesome books out there that I am dying to read. There are new books, series finales (Lauren DeStefano’s SEVER immediately jumps to mind), and a my towering TBR piles.  I should really just hush and read and be happy. But, I can’t do that! I’m an only child. Waiting makes me go all Crazy Town Banana Pants! (Do you watch Community? If not, OMG-Go Freaking Watch It For Real Life!)

So, what’s my point here? Well, I have two. (possibly more, but I’m not a math person).

1. Thank you, AS King,  who I totally freaking love as an awesome author & totally fun person (BTW: not at all in a creepy stalker!) kind of way! You say what needs to be said. You are a survivor and I respect the hell out of you for your awesome stand against bullying. You shove it in the faces of people who need it shoved there (and other places I shall not name here). You find joy in things that matter. You just TOTALLY FREAKING ROCK! Mostly, though, You write these EPIC books that sink into my soul! They sit there and become part of me in a way that makes me stronger & better. You hit home with kids who don’t think anyone gets it. Then they read your books and feel like someone really does know what nobody else understands. Sometimes that is one of my students or a kid who I know really needs you. Sometimes it is someone in a book store or a library that I don’t know. Sometimes it is me. Really, your writing makes me hurl your books into people’s hands and scream, “READ THIS RIGHT NOW!!”  The Dust of 100 Dogs had me shoving the text in people’s hands! Please Ignore Vera Dietz shook my world. Everybody Sees the Ants, wow! Just wow!

I really super totally want to read Ask the Passengers immediately! I cannot wait for Reality Boy!

Simply put:

You’re Killing Me Smalls! 

2. Thank you, Mama & Popi! My parents are awesome. I’m lucky to have been raised by people who loved me & wanted me. I used to think Popi and I were kids together. I used to say, “Popi, remember when we were little and we . . .” My Mama says that we were loved more in one day than most people are loved in their whole lives. It’s true, too.  Maybe the dishes sat in the sink some nights, maybe we didn’t have a whole bunch of money. Who cares! I sure didn’t. They made me KNOW that I could do anything I wanted to do. They showed me what the real deal was, but made it fun, too! They read to me, let me be what & who I needed to be, picked up the shredded bits of my heart a zillion times when things totally sucked,&  they made me proud to be their kid! My Mama showed me what real love means when we cared for Popi as we slowly watched cancer take over his life. We were able to laugh then, too, in between times of nightmares and oceans of loss. They made me realize what I’m worth and taught me what marriage really means. Schmoopy and I can proudly base our marriage on those of our parents. My model for love is the truest example. There aren’t really words in English or any other language to explain these two amazing people.

 These two amazing people raised me with so much love & laughter & hope & peace.
I’m the luckiest kid ever!  

I do realize that to many this post seems to be about two totally different things. But it isn’t. The way I was raised and they way that AS King writes really do belong together. And I don’t really need for anyone but me to get that.

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

I loved Robopocalypse! LOVED IT! I know, I’ve mentioned that a few times, but it is freaking awesome.

Amped, Daniel H. Wilson’s latest, was just as freaking epic! It started at full speed & kept up the pace throughout. Tons of action, thought provoking issues, and classic Wilson style. Basically, tons of win from page one until the end.

I still need some time to process my thoughts (because I’m not an Amp), but it can tell you it hit close to my heart & will live in my thoughts for a long time.

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Shadow & Bone Rocks!

I’m reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. It is rocking my world.

So. Freaking. Amazing!

Poor orphan children, war, creepy evil volcra things, magic, mystical powers, wealth, opulence, secrets, and a mysteriously magical Darkling. Oh, there’s tons of drama, so much awesome drama! And I’m only half way through the book!

Leigh Bardugo is brilliant in an epic way! I can’t put the book down & I’m so pumped to know that it is the first book of a trilogy! So much win going on here!!

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Confessions of a Bad Blogger!

So, I’m going to admit it. I’ve been a bad blogger lately. No excuses. Really. I’m going to own this one 100%!

But, I haven’t just been lying around doing nothing all day & night. I’m not that horrible!

Here’s are a few pics of what I’ve been doing. Full update soon, for real life!

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Tonight I went to Georgia Center for the Book with my awesome friend Jessica to see Sam Bracken & Echo Garrett talk about the awesome book about Sam’s life called My Orange Duffel Bag. They were both AMAZING!
I’m going to write more about this book soon, but needed it to be on your book love list immediately. This is a life changer!

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We went to Yogurt Tap after (best frozen yogurt ever!). I had Nutella & Strawberry. It was amazing!

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I’ve also been doing all of this:

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Proud to be Nerdy!

Two Worlds Collide!

Today, my books and bling life and literacy teacher life get to collide again. I love when this happens!

I love reading. Even more that that, I love people who love reading!

So, when I had the chance to write a post for the awesome Nerdy Book Club, I was all in! These are my people! I feel so at home with the Nerdy Book Club. Though I try to visit a variety of blogs, this is the one I never miss!

Check it out here: http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/my-kids-hate-reading/

I hope you join all the Nerdy Book Club awesomeness! It really is great to be Nerdy!

Amped Bling! Daniel H. Wilson ROCKS!

Daniel H. Wilson is freaking awesome! 

I loved Robopocalypse! Totally loved it. It scared the heck out of me, but in an awesome way! I also loved How to Survive a Robot Uprising! I even used it with my 8th graders this year. They loved it, too! (I would have used Robopocalypse, but there were too many F-bombs for school!).

 

So, when I heard Daniel H. Wilson had a new book coming out, I pre-ordered it immediately! Got AMPED today and cannot wait to read it!

Amped Bling! Daniel H. Wilson

Ready for some awesome robot action? Check out these Daniel H. Wilson titles at your local indie book store or grab them from Amazon here: