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1. Getting the Words Out (7)


A weekly post about writing and life in general

You may have noticed the lack of anything going on over here. Don't worry! It's a good thing. 

First, Thuy and I (and a few hundred thousand other people) went to Comic-Con in San Diego. It remains to be seen whether I will actually blog about all that. Stranger things have happened.

Second, we're moving! Yes, after 5 years on Blogger we will be moving to Squarespace. No need to update all your feeds etc. just yet. Soon, though! Everything at readnowsleeplater.com will actually remain the same; our new site will still be under the same name but look and feel very different.

Third, I have a bunch of web projects that I'm working on and will, hopefully, have up and running soon so I can tell you about them. But they are taking up all my time and energy at the moment so... I'd better hop to it!

If you really want to know what I've been reading and working on lately, head on over to my Instagram feed.

In the meantime, we have a couple of blog tour posts coming soon before we head over to the new blog. Stay tuned for those...

Anyone waiting for raffle prizes, hang in there. I am aiming to get to the post office on Saturday.


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2. Schneider Family Book Award 10th Anniversary Blog Tour & Giveaway


The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. We are happy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this award with some great blog posts and a giveaway!

For our post, we're featuring an activity for this year's winning picture book, A Splash of Red.

For more information about the Schneider Family Book Award: webpage | list of winners

Check out all of the links of the Schneider Family Book Award 10th Anniversary Blog Tour & Giveaway:

July 6, 2014 Nerdy Book Club

July 6, 2014 Kid Lit Frenzy

July 7, 2014 Nonfiction Detectives

July 9, 2014 Teach Mentor Texts

July 10, 2014 There’s a Book For That

July 11, 2014 Kathie Comments

July 12, 2014 Disability in Kidlit

July 14, 2014 Librarian in Cute Shoes

July 15, 2014 The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog

July 16, 2014 Read, Write, and Reflect

July 17, 2014 Read Now Sleep Later

July 18, 2014 Unleashing Readers

July 19, 2014 Great Kid Books

July 20, 2014 Maria’s Mélange



A Splash of Red: The Life & Art of Horace Pippin
Written by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

About the book

As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him. He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during W.W.I, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. 

Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint--and paint, and paint! Soon, people—including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth—started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries & museums across the country.

About the activity

I love to paint, and I love Horace Pippin's art. People will give you all kinds of excuses for how they are "bad" at art. Not Horace Pippin. If you read the book, you'll learn that not only did he make beautiful artwork despite injury to his dominant arm, he also made art without being able to afford fancy materials and supplies. I based this activity on both of those things. 

Materials:
  • Some paint and a palette (or other mark-making media)
  • A brush or brushes
  • A container of water
  • Paper or cardboard (or other surface that will accept your media)
  • A subject -- something you want to paint

For my project, I just picked supplies that I already have at home. I do actually have real watercolors and watercolor paper, but you can use any paints and painting surfaces you want. You don't even have to use paint, if you have pencils, pens, crayons, or other mark-making media. You also don't need special equipment--Horace Pippin didn't! As you can see, my palette was a paper plate. My container used to hold spaghetti sauce, but it's now filled with clean water. My brush is no big deal -- it's a well-worn watercolor brush*. You can use your fingers, or paper towels, or bits of sponges. Just make sure to clean up after yourself!

*If you are using a brush, make sure you take it out of the water right after you rinse it. Soaking it and leaving it standing in a jar of water will only damage the bristles! Rest your brush on the palette/paper plate/paper towel so the bristles don't get bent or pulled out.


Choose a subject:

For my subject, I picked some leaves and flowers from the garden. Make sure it's ok with your parent or whoever owns the subject matter you are taking! I also had this little wooden frog, though I ended up not adding it to the final composition. Oh, and my cats are in all of these photos, because they added an extra layer of difficulty to the project. I haven't painted them (yet). You might have some fruit, or a pair of shoes, or something else that interests you. Horace Pippin painted everyday things and sometimes things he imagined, too. So if you can't find any physical objects you want to paint, that's ok! Just dream something up.


Choose sides:

This is how I would normally set everything up, because I am left-handed. But for the purposes of this exercise, we are going to paint with our off-hands. Yes! Horace used his good hand to support his other hand, but especially if you have two good arms, it's actually quite difficult to stop your dominant hand from functioning normally. In this exercise, you switch hands, and you can use your dominant hand to stabilize your off-hand.


Practice:

Here I am, trying to draw the stem and leaves of this jasmine sprig with my right hand. There is also a zinnia blossom, and of course, my assistant, John Carter. As you can see, I didn't have a lot of control over the shapes I was making, but I made them anyway. Watercolor is pretty forgiving like that. I was very tempted to switch to my dominant hand, but I managed to remember not to hand over the brush whenever I reached for it with my left hand.


Here is my finished practice painting. As you can see, using my right hand I couldn't really control my movements. That frog, for example, looks nothing like the real thing! It looks more like a rock. The point of the practice is to experiment. I tried different ways of holding and moving the brush, different ways of mixing the paint, all without using my dominant hand. The other point of this practice is to help you let go of your expectations that your artwork will be perfect.

Focus:

For this exercise, you want to

  • use your non-dominant hand
  • express yourself
  • have fun

Don't worry about making your painting perfect or for how much you will sell your masterpiece--Horace Pippin's first paintings were priced at $5 and no one really wanted to buy them.

Go for it!


Here, I tried to make the zinnia petals by bouncing the rush rapidly off the paper.


It's ok if your paint spatters.


It's also ok if your cat tries to grab your paintbrush and makes you paint a big swoosh where you were trying to just paint a leaf or stem.


I tried to give my off-hand more control by stabilizing it with my other hand. It didn't really help.


Here is my finished painting. I showed a lot more than what I actually had in front of me. And there were quite a few abstract shapes as a result of the cats "helping" me paint.


Switch back:

I also tried painting with my dominant hand afterwards. What do you think? I like the off-hand one better, don't you?

I hope this off-hand painting exercise will give you more ideas about what disability means, and what it doesn't mean. What if you could only paint with your foot, or with the paintbrush in your mouth? Could you still express yourself creatively? Can you create something meaningful or beautiful? What other means could you use instead of painting?

- - -

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Schneider Family Book Award, we are providing readers with an opportunity to win a set of all three 2014 Schneider Family Book Award Winners. Participants must be 13 years or older and have a US or Canadian mailing address.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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3. The Mortal Instruments T-Shirt Giveaway (US - Ends 7/31)


Hi, everyone. I am back with another random giveaway. It's part of my quest to give away all of the great prizes I've been hoarding for you guys. I think I just have one more t-shirt giveaway and then it's on to books. Today I am giving away a new Mortal Instruments t-shirt. I got this at Comic-Con last year and it's a promo tie-in for the film. It's a women's size XL.  It's kind of in that baby doll style so it's sized pretty small. But it's an XL and I think it should fit a good range of sizes. This giveaway is for US residents only and ends on July 31, 2014. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




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4. July Events


Hello, summer! It's hard to believe that half the year is already behind us but summer is here and it's going strong. Lots of really cool events this July, including signings by Maggie Stiefvater and the Fierce Reads Tour. Alethea and I (Thuy) will be at Comic-Con in San Diego as well. If you see us, say hi, cause we'd love to meet you.

Saturday July 4, 2014 5pm
Ed Brubaker
reads and signs Velvet

Skylight Books
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
event page

Friday July 11, 2014 7pm
Mary E Pearson 
Kiss of Deception launch party
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
Ste 302
San Diego, California 92111-1040
Wednesday July 9, 2014 7pm
Bernie Su
Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
3rd Street Promenade
1201 3rd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
310-260-9110
event page

Saturday July 19, 2014 7pm
LA Sizzles
Cecil Castellucci, Catherina Linka, Livia Blackbourne, Amy Talkington
Once Upon a Time Bookstore
2207 Honolulu Ave
Montrose, California 91020

Saturday July 19, 2014 2pm
Chris Colfer
The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning

Barnes & Noble The Grove
The Grove at Farmers Market
189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-525-0270
event page

Wednesday July 23, 2014 7pm
Fierce Reads Summer Tour
Ann Aguirre, Anna Banks, Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer 
We are honored to welcome the Fierce Reads Summer Blockbuster Tour featuring Ann Aguirre (Horde), Anna Banks (Of Neptune), Leigh Bardugo (Ruin and Rising) and Marissa Meyer (Cress). Anthony Breznican (Brutal Youth) will be moderating this discussion!
Wednesday July 23, 2014 7:00 PM

The Grove at Farmers Market
189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-525-0270
event page

Thursday July 24, 2014 7pm
Deborah Harkness
The Book of Life 
Barnes & Noble The Grove
The Grove at Farmers Market
189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036, 323-525-0270
event page

Special Instructions
This event is wristbanded. Please check back soon for complete event guidelines.

July 24 - 27, 2014
San Diego Comic-Con
San Diego Convention Center
event page

Monday July 28, 2014 7pm
Maggie Stiefvater
Sinner

Barnes & Noble The Grove
The Grove at Farmers Market
189 The Grove Drive Suite K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-525-0270
event page

Special Instructions
This is a wristbanded signing. Please check back soon for complete event details.

Monday July 28, 2014 7pm
Deborah Harkness
The Book of Life 

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, California 91101

Tuesday July 29, 2014
Maggie Stiefvater 
Sinner
Once Upon a Time Bookstore
2207 Honolulu Ave
Montrose, California 91020





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5. Minion Blog Tour - Guest Post by John David Anderson - Giveaway (US ends 7/11)


Welcome to the Minion Blog Tour! [Insert your best evil laugh here.]

Today we have a guest post by author John David Anderson on his top 10 favorite minions. Read about the new book, which is the sequel to last year's Sidekicked, as well as enter to win a signed copy of the book. (US only, ends 7/11). You can also check out the cool trailer! Finally, make sure you visit all the other blog tour stops as they open up for more cool content and chances to win!



About the book:

John David Anderson returns to the world of superheroes he created in Sidekicked with an entirely new cast of characters in Minion, a funny and emotional companion to his first breakout tween novel—perfect for superhero fans who also love the work of bestselling authors Rick Riordan, Louis Sachar, and Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Michael Morn might be a villain, but he's really not a bad guy. When you live in New Liberty, known across the country as the City without a Super, there are only two kinds of people, after all: those who turn to crime and those who suffer. Michael and his adoptive father spend their days building boxes—special devices with mysterious abilities—which they sell to the mob at a price. They provide for each other, they look out for each other, and they'd never betray each other.

But then a Super comes to town, and Michael's world is thrown into disarray. The Comet could destroy everything Michael and his dad have built, the safe and secure life they've made for themselves. And now Michael and his father face a choice: to hold tight to their life or to let it unravel.



Take it away, Dave!




The Top Ten Minions

Guest Post by John David Anderson

Hey there, Read Now, Sleep Later fans. Alethea was kind enough to let me come crash her blog and share with you my personal list of top ten minions in celebration of the launch of my new novel COMPLETELY INCOINCIDENTLY titled Minion. Of course, our culture is swarming with bodacious villains, and it would be so simple to conjure up a list of ten baddies that I think have influenced my own writing, but coming up with ten minions whose work I admire is much more challenging. If you don’t see your favorite on the list (like those little banana-loving guys, or Henchmen 21 and 24), it’s not because they aren’t cool…it’s just because these lists always only go up to ten. So here goes.



10. Grover Dill: Technically a crummy little toady, Grover Dill exemplifies the need we have to attach ourselves to people we think are stronger than us. As Scott Farkus’s minion, Grover looks like some kind of strong arm thug for the little people mafia.


9. Oddjob: He wears a hat that can cut through steel and he can crush a golf ball in his hand. Plus he makes an excellent chauffeur and golf caddy. Did I mention the hat cuts through steel?



8. Lock, Shock, and Barrel: Minions can be delightfully mischievous, and these three have a playful exuberance that sugarcoats their ax-wielding, Mr. Bogeyman-feeding quest to pretty much kill Christmas.

7. Bellatrix Lestrange: The only female on the list (minions are a male-dominated group, it seems), she’s also, arguably, the most insane. If Voldemort is the pure evil ice-cream, Bellatrix is the crazy cookie crumble topping.

6. Kronk: He speaks squirrel. And, to be honest, he is the only thing I even remember about this movie. Small brain. Big heart. Excellent cook.

5. Waylan Smithers: Perhaps no minion is as loyal to his master as Smithers is to Mr. Burns. Though his conscience may occasionally get in the way, his devotion to the old man certainly borders on the obsessive.

4. Minion: A good evil sidekick is loyal, but he’s also willing to speak his mind (unlike nameless thugs who don’t even get speaking parts). Minion provides the extra heart and soul to Megamind’s often erratic, over-exuberant, Mick Jagger-esque villainy.

3. Count Rugen: The Princess Bride may ostensibly be about the power of twu wuv to conquer death, but for me it’s Inigo Montoya’s quest for the six-fingered man that ultimately gives the story its emotional climax. While Prince Humperdink is a schemer and a sleaze bucket, Rugen represents pure sadism at work. After all, “No one withstands... The Machine.”

2. The Witch King: he rides a dragon-type-thing. He has a cool spiked ball and chain swingy dealy. He grimaces menacingly without even having a face. And he can be killed by no man. When your main supervillain is basically just a big eyeball at the top of a tower, you need a hardcore right hand Nazgul to do your dirty work. Probably the coolest looking minion on my list.

1. Darth Vader: Probably at the top of several villain lists (and a hero in his own right), there is no question that, as the Emperor’s apprentice, Vader represents the most notorious and most iconic minion on the list. (Though he does kill his master in the end, which kind of negates his minion privileges.) Yes I liked him better before I met him as a teenager, but I would never say that to his face. My number one right-hand Sith Lord.

So there you have it. Of course the best minions, like many of the best villains they serve, are morally complex. Some even straddle the line between wannabe villain and antihero, causing us to root for them, even when they break the rules. Perhaps that just makes them antiheroes. Maybe that’s a top ten list for another day.

And if you didn’t see your name on the list, you might look into finding a new criminal mastermind to serve.

About the author:

John David Anderson writes novels for young people and then, occasionally, gets them published. Besides Minion, he is the author of Sidekicked and Standard Hero Behavior. He lives with his patient wife and brilliant twins in Indianapolis, Indiana, right next to a State park and a Walmart. He enjoys hiking, reading, chocolate, spending time with his family, playing the piano, chocolate, making board games, chocolate, not putting away his laundry, watching movies, and chocolate. 

Those aren't his real teeth.

Find Dave on Twitter, Facebook and his website, www.johndavidanderson.org.



Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to the US only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  3. One set of entries per household please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here.
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks, and good luck!



Walden Pond Press

Blog Tour Schedule

June 23 Maria’s Melange
June 24 The Library Fanatic
June 25 The Next Best Book
June 26 Jean Book Nerd
June 27 Book Egg
June 28 Word Spelunking Book Blog

June 30 Ms. Yingling Reads
July 1 The Book Monsters
July 2 The Book Monsters
July 3 Read Now, Sleep Later

July 6 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
July 7 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
July 8 Candace’s Book Blog
July 9 Middle Grade Mafioso
July10 Librarian’s Quest
July 11 Unleashing Readers
July 12 Mindjacked

July 14 This Kid Reviews Books
July 16 Charlotte’s Library
July 17 Literacy Toolbox
July 18 Small Review

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6. Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop - Intl ends 07/09


Welcome to the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop
July 2 - July 9, 2014

Hi everyone! Welcome to this week's giveaway hop. I'm happy to spotlight Sarah Zettel's American Fairy Trilogy. Please note that this will be posting a little bit early, so if you don't see giveaway hop posts yet on the other blogs (linky list at the end of this post), don't worry! Everyone's posts will go live sometime on July 2.

The publisher, Random House Children's Books, will send a winner a copy of Bad Luck Girl, the third book in the trilogy (US/Canada only), while I will provide a copy of one of the books, winner's choice (International). Please make sure you choose the correct Rafflecopter widget to enter!


About Bad Luck Girl:

Historical fiction fans will be drawn into a rich blend of historical fiction and fantasy in Sarah Zettel’s BAD LUCK GIRL (Random House Books for Young Readers/ Ages 12 up). The exciting conclusion to the American Fairy Trilogy, fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners will love the blend of fantasy and twentieth-century history in this stylish series.

After rescuing her parents from the Seelie king at Hearst Castle, Callie is caught up in the war between the fairies of the Midnight Throne and the Sunlit Kingdoms. By accident, she discovers that fairies aren't the only magical creatures in the world. There's also Halfers, misfits that are half fairy and half . . . other--half paper, half steel girder, half electric spark. As the war heats up, Callie's world falls apart. And even though she's the child of prophecy, she doubts she can save the Halfers, her people, her family, and Jack, let alone herself. Bad Luck Girl, they call Callie, and she's starting to believe them.

Extraordinary detailed research about 1930s America and Chicago's crime-ridden cityscape shines through in BAD LUCK GIRL. Die-hard historical fiction fans will be drawn into the fantasy realm and fantasy readers will find themselves caught up in the vivid history of this story.
Click on any of the book covers to open the Goodreads page for that book.


Giveaway Rules:

  1. For Bad Luck Girl: Open to US and Canada. For any 1 book in the American Fairy Trilogy by Sarah Zettel: Open internationally.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  3. One set of entries per household please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here.
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks, and good luck!

US/Canada:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Everyone not in US/Canada:

a Rafflecopter giveaway





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7. Drift Blog Tour and Giveaway - INTL ends 7/3

Hey everyone! Today I'm featuring a book from Lee & Low's Tu Books imprint, a debut novel by M.K. Hutchins. I actually only got the book in the mail a few days ago, so I haven't finished reading enough to write a review yet. But that doesn't mean I can't share some info about it with you!

I like what I've read so far, so I've also decided to offer a giveaway of the hardcover (open internationally, ends 7/3/2014). Make sure you get all the way down to the end of the post and use the Rafflecopter widget to enter the giveaway.

On to the book!


Drift by M.K. Hutchins
Publication date: 15 June 2014 by Lee & Low/Tu Books
ISBN 10/13: 1620141450 | 9781620141458
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

About the book:

Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Only those poor enough to need children to support themselves in old age condescend to the shame of marriage. Tenjat is poor as poor gets, but he has a plan.

In the center of the island rises a giant Tree, where the Handlers—those who defend and rule the island—live. Against his sister’s wishes, Tenjat joins the Handlers. He couldn’t have picked a more dangerous time. The Turtle is nearing a coral reef where it desperately needs to feed, but the naga will swarm just before they reach it. Even novices like Tenjat are needed for the battle.

Can Tenjat discover his sister’s secrets in time? Will the possibility of love derail all his plans for a richer, marriage-free life? Long-held secrets will at last be revealed in this breathtaking debut from M. K. Hutchins.

About the author:

M.K. Hutchins's short fiction appears in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show and Daily Science Fiction.  She studied archaeology at BYU, which gave her the opportunity to compile histories from Maya glyphs, excavate in Belize, and work as a faunal analyst. Drift is her debut novel.





Are you intrigued?




Blog Tour Schedule


June 19: John Scalzi’s Whatever BlogM.K. Hutchins on worldbuilding and cultural ecology here
June 20: Supernatural Snark – M.K. Hutchins on being inspired by Maya mythology here.
June 23: It’s All About Books – M.K. Hutchins’ top 5 most influential books here.
June 25: Read Now Sleep Later
June 26: The Brain Lair - Check back for the link!

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open internationally.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  3. One set of entries per household please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here.
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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8. Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop - US ends 6/30

Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop
June 21st to 30th

Hello again, book fans! Thanks to I am a Reader for another great giveaway hop. Make sure you hit the links at the end of the post (most bloggers will post their giveaway on Saturday, I'm just a little early) to enter to win more great books and prizes.

Today I'm giving away what is so far my favorite middle grade book of the year -- The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer! I haven't posted a review yet, since I chose it for my YABC (book club) pick and the first rule of book club is that you don't talk about the book before the meeting :) I will probably post a review on Amazon and link it since my clubmates don't really read my reviews there. But suffice to say for now that it's a phenomenal book, and I hope it wins many awards in the year to come! The giveaway is open to US only (ends 6/30) because I have to mail something breakable to the winner, but more on that later.


About the book


Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.

Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.


About the author

Tracy Holczer lives in Southern California with her husband, three daughters, and two rather fluffy dogs named Buster and Molly. She has a deep love for the mountains where she grew up so she writes them into her stories.

A 2014 ABA Indies Introduce New Voices pick, her debut middle grade, The Secret Hum of a Daisy, was written in praise of both nature and family, and all that can be found if you're willing to hunt for treasure. It will be also be published by Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany, fall 2015.
Find out more:
Follow @tracyholczer on Twitter
Blogging on the 30th of each month at http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com
Buy the book:
Autographed copies (note request on the order or they won't know it needs to be autographed!) available at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, CA

The Giveaway (US only, ends 6/30)

1 signed hardcover copy of The Secret Hum of a Daisy

1 answer jar (here is the one Tracy made for me! Answers not provided, haha :) You can read a little more about the answer jar here.


Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  3. One set of entries per household please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here.
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks, and good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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9. Trailer Tuesday (on a Wednesday)

Hi, everyone. I am a little late on Trailer Tuesday so you're getting trailers on Wednesday instead. There have been some fun trailers released in the last few weeks, so we hope you enjoy and let us know what you think of these in the comments below.



Delirium (Hulu) starring Emma Roberts will premiere this week on June 20. Who is going to tune in? I think I am one of the few people who has still not read Delirium, but this looks like it might be good. I like Emma Roberts enough and think she's make a good heroine. This trailer is pretty dramatic though so I may wait until I am in a drama mood (yes, I have a drama mood).




Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo was just released this week and this is the newest trailer for it. Again, very dramatic. Love this series though and can't wait to read the final book in the Grisha trilogy.




This is a new-ish trailer for Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater. Maggie is such an amazing artist and I love all of her trailers. She usually does the art and music for all of them and I am  just amazed. I really like the artwork in this one and the animation. I wish the book cover had her original art instead of what it actually is (sorry, not a fan). Excited to read Cole's story.




The Merciless by Danielle Vega - Well this just looks creepy.

Those are all of the trailers I have for you guys today. Do any of these excite you? What books or movies are you looking forward to this summer?




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10. Precious Blood T-Shirt Giveaway Ends (US - Ends 6/25)


Hi, everyone! I am still going through our giveaway boxes and I am finding lots of fun things to giveaway on the blog. Today we have cute lavender t-shirt that was a promo gift for Tonya Hurley's Precious Blood.  This shirt is new and unworn is a women's medium. Just a note that this is a baby-t type shirt and it's cut pretty small. I would say it's closer to a women's small. If this sounds like a prize you are interested in, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. Your first entry is free. This is for US residents only and will end midnight on June 25, 2014. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 



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11. Getting the Words Out (6) - YA and Other Things I'm Not Ashamed of

So Slate posted a piece today about why adults should be embarrassed to read YA. I won't link to it; you can Google it, if you like. It's b.s. anyway. I don't want to give them the page hits.

Listen, there's things we should be ashamed of, and things that we really shouldn't be ashamed of.

For example, I am not ashamed (anymore) of having this on constant repeat:


I'm not a Miley Cyrus fan, but I do love Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, and this rendition of "We Can't Stop" is just freaking flawless. I've listened to it probably a hundred times in the last two days (I ran for about an hour with this as the only song on repeat, which is probably why my data usage was so high, but I digress), what of it? It makes me happy, and it doesn't hurt anybody, so why should you care?

You know what I am embarrassed about? I'm embarrassed it took me two weeks to find out about the hundreds of Nigerian girls kidnapped from a school (during a test, if that wasn't stressful enough) and that they have been sold into slavery/captive marriages and the knowledge that I am totally powerless to do anything about it. 

You know what I'm not ashamed of? Ending sentences with prepositions, and punctuating incomplete clauses. The 15-year-old me would have been like OH HELL NO, whereas the 35-year-old me, who has taken linguistics classes, and writes a lot for both recreational and professional reasons, knows the rules and when to break them. Rule-breaking in this manner occasionally serves a purpose, whether it's rhetoric/stylistic, humorous, or otherwise. But being ashamed of reading children's/middle graders'/teenagers' books, or for that matter, feeling guilt over pleasure (which I believe was the point of the Slate article), serves no purpose at all. 

"Live long and prosper." Isn't that enough anymore?

More things I'm not ashamed of as an adult:
playing video games
watching cartoons
collecting action figures and toys
having crushes on celebrities
posting endless cat photos on Instagram
swearing a lot
I was molested when I was a child

Some things I am ashamed of as an adult:
I often can't do anything tangible to fix giant problems like oppression in Thailand
I associate with some people who are still sexist/racist/otherwise-prejudiced to a painful degree in this day and age
I'm 35 and I still don't have a driver's license (I can drive, just not legally yet)
I'm terrible at budgeting (though I was really good at it when I was 12 and had an allowance that was something like $1 per weekday)
I'm very disorganized (again, a skill set I seem to have let go since I hit puberty)

Look, I'm not angry. Everyone's entitled to their opinion; I just reserve the right to disagree. I'm sure we're just seeing the first of the angry rants and tweets about this. However, I also think the best of the backlash has already been written

Bottom line: read what you like and don't hurt nobody.

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12. Minnie in Paris - Giveaway (US only, ends 6/10) #MinnieinParis


Good morning, lovely readers! We have a great giveaway today from Disney Press.
MINNIE IN PARIS by Sheila Sweeny Higginson, Illustrated by Mike Wall is available now (in stores May 13, 2014) and you can enter to win the prize pack shown below! US addresses only, ends June 10, 2014.

About the book:

Fashion is Minnie's passion! And, as a result, she's been invited to show her bows on the runways of Paris!

At the airport, Minnie is so busy taking care of her nieces, Millie and Melody, that she accidentally switches suitcases with Penguini the magician--and finds that his suitcase is full of bunnies instead of bows! Minnie must round up the mischievous little bunnies, find Penguini, and make her bows in time for the show. Will she make it?

Readers are treated to a stunning tour of famous Parisian locations, from the Louvre to Tuilleries Gardens to the Eiffel tower, to a classic Parisian bistro—all in search of Penguini's bunnies.

This charming hardcover picture book comes with a code to access the Minnie in Paris eBook.

Scroll down to see the prizes, enter  and get a peek at some of the pages of Minnie in Paris!


Read your favorite stories with a Disney book bundle!

One (1) winner receives:
Minnie in Paris
Minnie’s Bow-Toons: Trouble Times Two
Jake and the Neverland Pirates: Follow That Sound
Sofia the First: The Royal Slumber Party

Sofia the First: The Enchanted Forest

Minnie in Paris is part of a new collection of books from Disney Publishing that includes digital content such as songs, eBooks, iPhones/iPads apps and more. Other titles in this collection include Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast, which includes a code to download the song “All You Desire,” Jake and the Neverland Pirates: Follow that Sound! which includes a code to download the Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shapes and Patterns app, Minnie: Trouble Times Two which includes a code to download the Minnie Bow Maker app and Sofia the First: The Royal Slumber Party which includes a code to download the Sofia the First: Story Theater app.






Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We and the publishers are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks :)
All entries are optional but you need to complete at least one to be entered! Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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13. June 2014 Events


Hi, everyone! Summer is almost here! I can tell by the warm weather and by all of the awesome author tours happening. June is a packed month and I cannot wait. I hope to go to a couple of the signings below. We will definitely be at Leigh Bardugo's Ruin & Rising release but I am also planning on going to the Summer Lovin' Tour in Glendale and ALA. I am really excited about all of these events and hope that you guys can make it to some of them. If you see us, don't be shy and say hi. :)

Tuesday June 3, 2014 7:30pm
Joanna Philbin, Leila Howland, Morgan Matson

Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach
2810 Artesia Boulevard
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
event page

Monday June 09, 2014 7:00 PM
Girls Gone Sci Fi

Jessica Brody, Jessica Khoury, Alexandra Monir, Gretchen McNeil, Lauren Miller
Barnes & Noble Montclair
Montclair Plaza
5183 Montclair Plaza Lane
Montclair, CA 91763, 909-399-1966
event page

Tuesday June 10, 2014 7:30pm
Girls Gone Sci Fi Tour
Jessica Brody, Jessica Khoury, Alexandra Monir, Gretchen McNeil, Lauren Miller
Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach
2810 Artesia Boulevard
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Tuesday June 10, 2014 700pm
Green van Eekhout
Launch Party for California Bones

Mysterious Galaxy San Diego
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, Ste 302
San Diego, CA 92111-1040
event page

Local author and friend of Mysterious Galaxy, Greg van Eekhout is the author of the middle-grade novels Kid vs. Squid and Boy at the End of the World and the mythological fantasy novel Norse Code, as well as about two-dozen short stories. His latest is California Bones, the first in a contemporary fantasy trilogy in which Daniel has ingested kraken spine that affords him magic layered deep within his bones. He and his equally gifted friends are on a quest to retrieve Daniel’s dead father’s sword, an object of untold power. Stop by and help us celebrate this much anticipated book launch with Greg. There will be pizza!

Thursday June 12, 2014 7:30pm
Catherine Linka
A Girl Called Fearless

Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach
Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach
2810 Artesia Boulevard
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
event page

Saturday June 14, 2014 2pm
Jillian Cantor
Searching for Sky

Mysterious Galaxy San Diego
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, Ste 302
San Diego, CA 92111-1040
event page

Saturday June 14, 2014 10:30am
Drew Daywalt 
The Day the Crayons Quit
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
event page

Monday June 16, 2014 7:30 pm 
Leigh Bardugo
RUIN AND RISING LAUNCH PARTY!!
The Last Bookstore
453 South Spring Street
Downtown Los Angeles, CA
*Champagne! Prizes! Kids & teens welcome!
Click here for details & to RSVP

Monday June 23, 2014 7pm
Summer Lovin' 2.0 Tour
CJ Floor, Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, Jody Casella
Mysterious Galaxy San Diego
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, Ste 302
San Diego, CA 92111-1040
event page

Summer Lovin’ and Summer Readin’ go hand in hand as MG hosts a quartet of Simon & Schuster Teen authors!

Tuesday June 24, 2014 7pm
Summer Lovin' 2.0 Tour
CJ Floor, Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, Jody Casella
Barnes & Noble Glendale Americana
The Americana at Brand
210 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210, 818-545-9146

Join us for our Summer Lovin' 2.0 Panel Event featuring: C.J. Flood, Suzanne Young, Deb Caletti, Sarah Ockler and Jody Casella. They will be discussing and signing their new books at this exciting, yearly celebration of Young Adult Authors.

June 26, 2014 - July 1, 2014
ALA Annual Conference 
Las Vegas, NV

Super excited to be going to ALA this year! I will be hanging out with lots of good book peeps,authors and pubs and I can't wait!

Save the date:
Tue July 15 at 7 pm - Bryan Lee O'Malley at Barnes & Noble at The Grove
Sat July 19 at 2 pm - Chris Colfer at Barnes & Noble at The Grove
Mon July 28 at 7pm - Maggie Stiefvater at Barnes & Noble at The Grove
Tue July 29 at 7pm - Maggie Stiefvater at Once Upon a Time in Montrose
 



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14. The Fault in Our Stars Soundtrack Giveaway (US - Ends 6/7)


Hello, friends! I am back this week with another random giveaway. Since The Fault in Our Stars movie is coming out soon, I though it would be fun to give away a copy of the soundtrack album. Looks to be a good one and includes tracks by Ed Sheeran, Birdy, Lykke Li and more. Usual contest rules apply. This is for US residents only and will end the day after the film's release. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



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15. The Winner's Curse - Review



Publication date: 4 March 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
ISBN 10/13: 0374384681 | 9780374384685
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Fantasy, Slavery, Ownership, Rebellion
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Source: ARC from Publisher



Kimberly's Review:

The General's Daughter, Kestrel, has every luxury. But even she surprises herself when she bids on a slave for her house. As their friendship grows and feelings deepen, Kestrel is surprised to find Ari, the slave, is maybe her closest friend. But she doesn't really know Ari, or what dangers he brings to her house.

I loved The Winner's Curse and I'm really upset I don't have book two in my lap, ready to go.
There's a lot of wonderfully dark topics explored, such as ownership, unrest and rebellion. Forbidden love, social expectations and female dependency. There are only two roads for Kestrel, to get married or to join the army. I enjoyed exploring Kestrel's social limitations. She is very smart, a good strategist, and loyal friend. But she is also a girl and the double standards that exist in today's society is mirrored in The Winner's Curse.

Ari is a complicated character. Working both sides, equal rebellion leader and traitor to his own cause, he is angry and hurt and vengeful. But he is also soft and as the book moves forward, Ari and Kestrel's relationship shapes into something real--friendship. And then maybe something more. I liked both of these characters for their fierce determination and their struggles in themselves. Because they're both fighting on opposite sides, but above all, their loyalties seem to be for each other.

And by the end, what wins out? How can you get past a girl who represents your home taken away, your life in ruins, your family gone? How can you see past a boy who captures you, betrays you, overthrows the very world you know?

Intriguing and utterly captivating, I loved The Winner's Curse. I read it every chance I got. I had to return my friend's copy to her but don't worry. I went out and bought my own.
 


Visit the author online at www.marierutkoski.comFacebook and follow her on Twitter @marierutkoski


Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here.

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16. Trailer Tuesday: Dangerous Creatures, City of Heavenly Fire, Tease & More!

Hello! I found a few fun trailers online this week and thought I'd share some of them with you. Hope you enjoy!



Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - I actually haven't read this series yet but fans of BC will probably enjoy this trailer for the spin off series. The voice over isn't too bad and that font is still gorgeous.



City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare - This is another series that I need to catch up on. I am probably at least 3 books behind now. Who is the creepy pale dude? Is that supposed to be Jace? Clearly I need a refresher on this series.



Tease by Sophie Jordan - This reminds me that I have book 1 of this series on my Kindle that I still need to read. This one is alright. I prefer stock images to actors in book trailers usually though I can't even tell if they are using the same couple in this....



Now & Forever by Susan Colasanti - Sorry, but this one is pretty cheesy to me.



Not a trailer but Epic Reads has a new mini web series out following the characters of Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. This is set up like a reality show. I wish Dorothy's costume was a little nicer instead of just using a box Halloween costume. There are more episodes on the Epic Reads Youtube channel if you like this episode.
 
And there you have a fresh slew of bookish trailers. :)




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17. Divergent Tote Bag Giveaway (US - ends 5/31)

Hi, everyone. I hope you're all enjoying the warm weather. I realized it's been a while since we had a random giveaway so I dug through my giveaway stores and found this really cool Divergent tote bag. I think I got it at Comic Con last year. It's new and never been used and you could win it. Giveaway is US only and will end at the end of the day on 5/31. You don't have to be a follower to enter but, if you like what you see we hope you'll come back.



Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

  9. a Rafflecopter giveaway
 


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18. Ontario Teen Book Fest Spotlight on John Corey Whaley


Thanks to Ontario Teen Book Fest bloggers What a Nerd Girl Says and Fangirl Feeels for inviting us on the OTBF Blog Tour!

Today we're shining the spotlight on John Corey Whaley, author of YA novels Where Things Come Back and Noggin. Check out his Q&A, enter the giveaway, and plan to see him in person at the Fest!


Details

This is a FREE and UNTICKETED event!

When: Saturday May 17th, 9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

The Ontario Teen Book Fest Website: http://www.ontariotbf.com

The event is sponsored by Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well.

Their website: http://www.mrsnelsons.com/

Confirmed authors

Katie Alender
Elana Arnold
Robin Benway
Livia Blackburne
Jessica Brody
Ava Dellaria
Katherine Ewell
Lauren Kate
Jessi Kirby
Catherine Linka
Lauren Miller
Mary Pearson
Lissa Price
Sarah Skilton
John Corey Whaley

About John Corey Whaley

John ‘Corey’ Whaley grew up in the small town of Springhill, Louisiana, where he learned to be sarcastic and to tell stories. He has a B.A. in English from Louisiana Tech University, as well as an M.A in Secondary English Education. He started writing stories about aliens and underwater civilizations when he was around ten or eleven, but now writes realistic YA fiction (which sometimes includes zombies…).

Q & A

RNSL: Noggin is your second novel. How was it more challenging to write than Where Things Come Back? How was it easier?

JCW: It was a lot more challenging in the sense that, as my editor says, I had been planning and "writing" WTCB in my head my whole life and, with Noggin, I had to start form scratch.  Unlike WTCB, it took a lot more trial and error and a whole lot of patience. Rewrites and revisions were my best friend.

RNSL: If you could pick another author to be your writing mentor, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

JCW: I'd probably pick Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., or Stephen King.  Vonnegut for tips on story and King for tips of productivity.

RNSL: What are you working on next?

JCW: No comment. ha.

RNSL: Is there one person or book who inspired you to write as a younger person?

JCW: As cliche as it sounds, The Catcher in the Rye was a huge inspiration for me from the time I was a teenager and up until I started writing.  I wanted to be able to speak to readers the way Salinger spoke to me when I was a kid, through Holden's story.  It was so personal, even though I was nothing like a private school kid from the East Coast.

RNSL: You didn't originally set out to write for young people--do you think you would switch to writing for a different audience some day (adults, small children)? Why or why not?

JCW: Even though it was never my full intention, it was one of the best accidents of my life.  Honestly, I have little to no desire to write for any other audience at this point. If an idea comes to me that involves a story NOT about young adults, then maybe I'll see what I can do.

Quick-fire questions!

RNSL: It's the middle of the night. You can't sleep! What do you do instead?

JCW: Eat. Watch TV. Surf the internet. All of the above.

RNSL: You find a secret door in the back of a closet--what do you hope is behind it?

JCW: Hmm...a refrigerator with an endless supply of leftover fried rice and iced coffee. Please and thank you.

RNSL: You're in a buffet that claims to serve everything you could ever want to eat. What's on your plate?

JCW: Pancakes. Tiramisu. Fried rice. Ice cream. Pizza.

RNSL: Describe your ideal writing cave in 10 words or less.

JCW: THERE ARE NO PEOPLE AND IT IS COLD.

RNSL: Is there a book out there that you read and then thought to yourself, "I wish I'd written that!"

JCW: GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by ANDREW SMITH

About Noggin

Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he's alive again.
Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he's still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she's not his girlfriend anymore? That's a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

Find out more about Corey here:

Blog Tour Schedule

May 2nd: Spotlight on Jessica Brody -- What A Nerd Girl Says
May 3rd: Spotlight on Elana K. Arnold -- Nite Lite Book Reviews
May 4th: Spotlight on Catherine Linka – Fangirl Feeels
May 5th: Spotlight on Livia Blackburne -- The Thousand Lives
May 6th: Spotlight on Lauren Kate -- She Reads She Blogs
May 7th: Spotlight on Katie Alender -- Movies, Shows and Books
May 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller -- A Bookish Escape
May 9th: Spotlight on Sarah Skilton -- Read Now Sleep Later
May 10th: Spotlight on Lissa Price -- Recently Acquired Obsessions
May 11th: Spotlight on Jessi Kirby -- What A Nerd Girl Says
May 12th: Spotlight on Katherine Ewell -- iFandoms Collide
May 13th: Spotlight on Mary Pearson -- The Windy Pages
May 14th: Spotlight on John Corey Whaley -- Read Now Sleep Later
May 15th: Spotlight on Robin Benway -- Adventures of a Book Junkie
May 16th: Spotlight on Ava Dellaira -- Fangirl Feeels

Giveaway
ends May 20, US only

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19. Trailer Tuesday: A Bevy of Movie Trailers

Hello! It's Tuesday again which means I am posting some new trailers. You may have seen some of these already. Last week the If I Say trailer was big news. I haven't read the book yet but I saw the trailer and think it looks promising. I am also a fan of Chloe Moretz so I am staying optimistic about this one.




Next up is the latest trailer for Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie.  I am still not really sure about this one except to say that Angelina Jolie looks pretty scary with those crazy cheekbones. I love a good fairy tale retelling though and am sure I will go see this.




How to Train Your Dragon 2 is finally coming out. I really liked the first one and have high hopes for the sequel. The dragons are so cute!




And last we have a scene from The Fault in Our Stars. This is one of my favorite scenes in the book and I really like this clip. It is still a bit weird though that these two play brother and sister and Divergent but are romantic interests in this. I'm sure I'll get over it when I watch the movie though.

 

That's all I have for you today. Are you guys excited about any of these movies? :)




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20. Pasadena Teen Book Festival Blog Tour - Spotlight on Tracy Holczer


I'm so excited to kick off the Pasadena Teen Book Festival blog tour! Make sure you read through for an interview with debut YA author Catherine Linka as well as a couple of giveaways and a renaming contest!

Event date: Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 12pm-4pm

Venue: Pasadena Public Library, 285 E Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91101




Tue March 25 - Read Now Sleep Later - Spotlight on Catherine Linka
Mon March 31 - The Windy Pages - Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil
Mon March 31 - The Windy Pages - Spotlight on Holly Goldberg Sloan
Wed April 2 - FangirlFeeels - Spotlight on Jesse Andrews
Fri April 4 - What a Nerd Girl Says - Spotlight on Andrew Smith
Mon April 7 - What a Nerd Girl Says - Spotlight on Margaret Stohl
Tue April 8 - Adventures of a Book Junkie - Spotlight on Amy Tintera
Thu April 10 - The Consummate Reader - Bridge to Books Guest Post
Fri April 11 - iFandoms Collide - Spotlight on Rachel Searles
Mon April 14 - Nite Lite Book Reviews - Spotlight on Sarah Skilton
Tue April 15 - Nite Lite Book Reviews - Spotlight on Allen Zadoff
Wed April 16 - The Reader's Antidote - Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross
Mon April 21 - iFandoms Collide - Spotlight on Carol Tanzman
Tue April 22 - The Book Twins - Spotlight on Carrie Arcos
Wed April 23 - Read Now Sleep Later - Spotlight on Tracy Holczer
Thu April 24 - Birth of a New Witch - Spotlight on Katherine Ewell
Fri April 25 - The Consummate Reader - Spotlight on Lissa Price
Date TBD - A Bookish Escape - Spotlight on Ann Redisch Stampler


About The Secret Hum of a Daisy


Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe itis her mother, showing her the way to her true home.

Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.

Spotlight on Tracy Holczer

RNSL: What inspired you to write The Secret Hum of a Daisy?

TH: So many things, really. Living life. Having loved and lost. Soup and all its meanings :) And like a good soup, it all came together in HUM.

RNSL: Grace comes from a very creative family: they make things, they write, they help things grow. Other than writing, what are your favorite creative pursuits?

TH: Really, writing is my only creative pursuit. I don’t even listen to the radio in the car. And any “art” I might produce is pretty much limited to unrecognizable stick figures. My kids never asked me to help with any creative project because, even at age five, they were much better than I could have been. Mothering is a creative pursuit, and I am a mother to three wonderful daughters.

RNSL: The Secret Hum of a Daisy is very much about relationships and emotions. Which relationship (i.e. mother/daughter, girlfriends, etc.) or emotion did you have the hardest time writing about?

TH: Being an only child, the hardest part for me was writing about friendship. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a loner or outcast (even though I’ve felt that way at times), but I definitely enjoy my solitude, as any good introvert will. I’ve been more successful at friendship as an adult than I ever was as a child because I did so much observing rather than connecting back then. I wasn’t around very many children until I was in school, and so they baffled me.

RNSL: There's a lot of poetry in your book. Have you always read and written poetry? Did you grow to love it just recently or did it start when you were a child?

TH: I have always written spectacularly bad poetry about love gone wrong. Example:

Yesterday’s rain had left me alone
Locked up inside of my room
Where I unfolded my memories.

December, 1983

Interestingly, I’m not a huge fan of all poetry. I love simple things, poetry included.

RNSL: I love the Spoons Souperie restaurant in your story. What's your favorite soup?

TH: My small but mighty Italian grandmother, who I outgrew when I was ten, was a great soup maker. She had soup for every occasion. Minestrone, Straccetti (which was what she called egg soup even though actual straccetti has nothing to do with eggs), Lentil, and my very most favorite, square soup.

What is square soup you might ask? Well, its soup with little squares in it. Sounds simple, but nothing was ever simple in Nonni’s kitchen. She’d boil the chicken for the stock (always) and hand roll the pasta for the squares. She cooked them Just So and they were the slightest bit chewy. Even I haven’t been able to replicate it, but I have my memories. No problem was ever too big for the healing properties of Nonni’s square soup.

You can find more about Tracy on her website, www.tracyholczer.com, and follow her on Twitter @tracyholczer

Giveaways


#1: ARC of A Girl Called Fearless
Winner may request personalization/autograph
Open to US residents only - ends 4/25/2014
Enter with Rafflecopter #1



#2: Choose from 1 of the books featured at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival
Winner may request personalization/autograph
Open to US residents only - ends 4/25/2014
Enter with Rafflecopter #2



#3: $50 Gift Card to Vroman's Bookstore
Open to attendees of the Pasadena Book Festival only! - ends 4/21/2014

To enter, suggest a new, unique/clever/fun name for the Pasadena Teen Book Festival. Examples of other cool names for teen book fests include (already taken, unfortunately) Teen Author Carnival, YALLFest, and YABFest. What should we call our event from now on? Email your top 3 best name suggestions to info@pasadenateenbookfest.com OR fill out this form! A panel of judges will choose the best name from all of the submissions. The winner will be announced at the Festival!

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21. Brave: One Perfect Day - Picture Book Review


Brave: One Perfect Day 
by Steve Purcell, illustrated by Matt Nolte
Publication date: 15 May 2012 by Disney Press
ISBN 10/13: 1423143612 | 9781423143611
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Category: Children's Picture Book
Keywords: Children's, picture book, princess, adventure
Format: Harcover
Source: Borrowed from library


Synopsis:

Featuring an original story about Princess Merida as well as illustrations by one of the artists working on the Pixar film, Brave, this jacketed picture book will appeal to little girls who want to know more about their favorite character.

Thuy's Review:

Merida is a princess. That means that she must act like a princess. She's not supposed to laugh too loud, roughhouse, or get messy. But, once in awhile, Merida gets a whole day to do whatever she wants. On these days, Merida takes off on her horse for an adventure in the Scottish wilds!

This is a very short, cute read. There isn't much of a story. It pretty much just follows Merida around during her day of adventure. I think it would be entertaining for very young children, especially if they've seen Brave and liked it. I love the illustrations in this. It looks like watercolors and I just love the movement and looseness that the medium affords. Merida's hair is awesome, and is just and wild and cool as it is in the movie.

While this was a cute book, it isn't one that I personally feel like I need to own. However, if your kids loved the movie, they might like this as well. It does have a subtle message at the end, about being yourself and being unique. I feel like that message is more of an afterthought than the main theme of the story though. The book is more about being curious and not being afraid to explore the world around you, which is also a good message. I'd recommend checking it out from the library first to see if this is something you want to own.
 


Visit the author online at samandmaxblog.blogspot.com.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

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22. Trailer Tuesday: Broken Hearts and The Fault in Our Stars Extended

Hello! I am back once again with some trailers to show you. Not much has come out since last week but I found a few goodies for you. Let's check them out.



Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn. At first I thought this book might have some kind of paranormal twist with the whole mistaken identity thing but, after reading the synopsis online, I don't think that's the case. Still, it looks like it could be a fun contemp read.




Fox just released an extended trailer for The Fault in Our Stars movie. It's still looking good and I plan on seeing this when it comes out.

Let us know what you guys think of these trailers in the comments!
 


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23. Moon at Nine Blog Tour - Giveaway ends 5/12



Welcome to Day 4 of the SECRETS OF MOON AT NINE BLOG TOUR, featuring Moon at Nine–a timely new YA novel from humanitarian and award-winning author Deborah Ellis. Each stop on the 2-week tour will feature revealing posts, a chance to win a copy of the novel, and a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway!

Secrets of a World Traveler
By Deborah Ellis

The first trip I did to do research for a book was back in the late l990s, when I went to Pakistan to meet folks in the Afghan refugee camps there. I was not at all prepared for the sort of deep poverty and pain that people were experiencing. Nor was I prepared for the incredible kindness and courage many people demonstrated.

Since that trip, I have been able to take many trips to different places to meet extraordinary people. I've been to Israel and Palestine (for the book Three Wishes); to Zambia and Malawi (for the novel The Heaven Shop and the book of interviews called Our Stories Our Songs, profiling kids affected by HIV/AIDS), Bolivia, to meet with kids in the cocaine industry; Jordan to learn from the refugees from the Iraq War; Russia to meet with Russian woman who had served with the Soviets in Afghanistan; India to meet with people affected by leprosy; American military bases to learn from military families what it is like to have a loved one serving overseas in harm's way; and, recently, I have been able to travel to many First Nations, Metis, Native American and Inuit communities to learn from the young people there what their lives are like at this point in history.

When I was thinking about writing Moon At Nine, I explored the possibility of going to Iran—something I still hope to do one day. The Iran of l988 is very different in many ways from the Iran of today. I did as much research as possible to make the book as real as I could make it.

Travelling to a place before writing about it has so many benefits—learning about the foods, the markets, the streets, the way the wind feels, the light as it is fading in the evenings. I know, though, that I could spend ages in a place outside my usual spot of Southern Ontario and miss many essential things about it. There are universal features to the human experience—how we feel joy, the experience of being lonely, our inner battles over what we want vs. what we are able to achieve—and these are experiences the writer relies on when crafting any story, no matter where that story takes place or in what period of history the characters live.


***

Enter below to win a copy of Moon at Nine! US/Canada only please. Complete the free entry to unlock more ways to win. Remember to scroll all the way down to enter the Grand Prize drawing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


***Stop by LiveToRead tomorrow for the next stop on the SECRETS OF MOON AT NINE BLOG TOUR and another chance to win!***

Secrets of Moon at Nine Blog Tour Schedule:

April 28thBuried in Books
April 30th: VVB32Reads
May 2nd: LiveToRead
May 7th: From A to Z
May 9th: Bookish




About Moon at Nine:

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be a homosexual in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?



About Deborah Ellis:

Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of nearly thirty books for children and young people, most of which explore themes of social justice and courage. A peace activist, feminist, and humanitarian, Deborah has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, the American Library Association’s Notable List and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. In 2010, she received the Ontario Library Association President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. Deborah lives in Ontario, Canada.




GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY

At each stop along the tour, readers will have a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway.

The Prize: One winner will receive (1) a set of 10 Deborah Ellis books, and (2) Pajama Press will make a $100 donation in their name to one of five charities: Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan, UNICEF Canada, Street Kids International, Leprosy Mission - Canada, or IBBY - Children in Crisis Fund. (You can learn more about these charities at stop #2 on the tour.)

The 10 books included in the prize pack are:
  • Moon at Nine
  • True Blue
  • Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
  • No Safe Place
  • My name is Parvana
  • Lunch With Lenin and Other Short Stories
  • A Company of Fools
  • Our Stories Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDS,
  • Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children speak
  • Annaleise Carr: How I Conquered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer (By Annaleise Carr with Deborah Ellis)

US/Canada only please. Enter using the rafflecopter below! Ends May 12th at 11:59 pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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24. Ontario Teen Book Fest Spotlight on Sarah Skilton


Thanks to Ontario Teen Book Fest bloggers What a Nerd Girl Says and Fangirl Feeels for inviting us on the OTBF Blog Tour!

Today we're shining the spotlight on Sarah Skilton, author of contemporary YA novels Bruised and High & Dry. Check out her Q&A, enter the giveaway, and plan to see her in person at the Fest!


Details

This is a FREE and UNTICKETED event!

When: Saturday May 17th, 9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

The Ontario Teen Book Fest Website: http://www.ontariotbf.com

The event is sponsored by Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well.

Their website: http://www.mrsnelsons.com/

Confirmed authors

Katie Alender
Elana Arnold
Robin Benway
Livia Blackburne
Jessica Brody
Ava Dellaria
Katherine Ewell
Lauren Kate
Jessi Kirby
Catherine Linka
Lauren Miller
Mary Pearson
Lissa Price
Sarah Skilton
John Corey Whaley

About Sarah Skilton

Sarah Skilton is the author of BRUISED, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and which The Horn Book called, “nuanced and honest.” Her second book, HIGH AND DRY, has been called “A dark, well-constructed mystery with a strong voice” by Kirkus. She lives in southern California with her magician husband and their young son.

Q & A

RNSL: What was the first step you took to becoming a writer? Has becoming a published author been a childhood dream come true or just a recent development for you?

SS: Becoming an author has definitely been a childhood dream come true for me. When I was in elementary school, I wrote letters to James Howe (Bunnicula) and Tad Williams (Tailchaser's Song) and both authors wrote back! That definitely helped inspire me. My sister and I also scripted and recorded "radio shows," including dramas, comedies, game shows, commercials, and talk shows. I've always loved telling stories and reading stories.

- - -

RNSL: Your second novel, High & Dry, has just hit the shelves. What do you like the most about releasing a book out into the world?

SS: It's exhilarating to see a book "in the wild" of brick-and-mortar bookstores, and to speak on panels with other authors because I love hearing about their experiences.

- - -


RNSL: My friend Kimberly @thewindypages recently tweeted: "High and Dry by @Sarah_Skilton is fun noir you don’t want to miss. Makes me want to read some [Raymond] Chandler or watch Brick”. Did either of these actually inspire the book?

SS: Yep! I was a big fan of Brick, and of the TV show Veronica Mars. I also read tons of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett stories and watched my favorite 1940s and 1950s films (such as In a Lonely Place starring Humphrey Bogart, based on the short story by Dorothy B. Hughes) to prepare for writing High and Dry.

- - -

RNSL: What are you working on next?

SS: I've written a third contemporary YA, and I'm also working on an adult book.

Quick-fire questions!

RNSL: It's the middle of the night. You can't sleep! What do you do instead?

SS: I actually sleep very well (confession: I go to bed extremely early!!) but when my son was born, sleep was a laughable concept. To unwind, I would watch episodes of Millionaire Matchmaker or Doomsday Preppers. I inexplicably found them comforting.

- - -

RNSL: You're in a buffet that claims to serve everything you could ever want to eat. What's on your plate?

SS: Nutella and bacon crepes stacked to the ceiling, with a side of strawberries and mangos.

- - -

RNSL: Is there a book out there that you read and then thought to yourself, "I wish I'd written that!"

SS: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

About High & Dry

Framed for a stranger’s near-fatal overdose at a party, blackmailed into finding a mysterious flash drive everyone in school seems anxious to suppress, and pressured by his shady best friend to throw an upcoming match, high school soccer player Charlie Dixon is juggling more than his share of drama. Add in a broken heart and the drinking he’s been doing to soothe it, and he’s near the breaking point.

In this fast-paced, layered mystery, Charlie spends a frantic week trying to clear his name, win back the girl of his dreams, and escape a past friendship that may be responsible for all his current problems. This book captures the tone and style of the best crime fiction while also telling a high-stakes story of peer pressure gone tragically awry.

Find out more about Sarah here:

Blog Tour Schedule

May 2nd: Spotlight on Jessica Brody -- What A Nerd Girl Says
May 3rd: Spotlight on Elana K. Arnold -- Nite Lite Book Reviews
May 4th: Spotlight on Catherine Linka – Fangirl Feeels
May 5th: Spotlight on Livia Blackburne -- The Thousand Lives
May 6th: Spotlight on Lauren Kate -- She Reads She Blogs
May 7th: Spotlight on Katie Alender -- Movies, Shows and Books
May 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller -- A Bookish Escape
May 9th: Spotlight on Sarah Skilton -- Read Now Sleep Later
May 10th: Spotlight on Lissa Price -- Recently Acquired Obsessions
May 11th: Spotlight on Jessi Kirby -- What A Nerd Girl Says
May 12th: Spotlight on Katherine Ewell -- iFandoms Collide
May 13th: Spotlight on Mary Pearson -- The Windy Pages
May 14th: Spotlight on John Corey Whaley -- Read Now Sleep Later
May 15th: Spotlight on Robin Benway -- Adventures of a Book Junkie
May 16th: Spotlight on Ava Dellaira -- Fangirl Feeels

Giveaway
ends May 20, US only

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25. The Secret Hum of a Daisy Blog Tour and Giveaway


Thanks to Tracy Holczer for including us on The Secret Hum of a Daisy Blog Tour! 

Blog Tour Schedule

May 9: AuthorOf


We have something a little different for you -- a guide to planning your own book club, literacy cafe, or party centered around her debut middle grade novel. I recently had the privilege of attending Tracy's launch party and her friend threw her a beautiful, daisy-filled one. Your own event might not be as star-studded (a ton of our friendly neighborhood YA and MG authors were there) but that doesn't mean it can't be just as fun! Read on for our ideas, info about the book and author, as well as a giveaway!




About The Secret Hum of a Daisy

After the sudden death of her mother, twelve-year-old Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met in a small town she's never heard of. A town Mama left years before--with Grace in her belly and a bus ticket in her pocket--and never looked back. It doesn't take long before Grace desperately wants to leave, too.

Until she finds the first crane.

A mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on, takes Grace on a journey to find home. And it might just be closer than she thinks.

The Literacy Cafe

My good friend Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy and I are in an adult YA book club that meets every month. Sure, we get together because we love discussing books, but we also get together because we love to hang out with friends and eat delicious food. Usually we theme the menu around the book we have read. You can do that with this book, too! You would be surprised how often food helps spark discussion and recall of what happened in the book. This is part of what makes a literacy cafe such an interesting event to host and to attend.

Alyson usually does literacy cafes at schools, and to help students engage with the books they are reading and discussing, they sometimes do a writing exercise or craft activity related to the book. This helps make it not just memorable, but also creative and fun. (Note: I was planning to have photos of all the examples I was going to give, but this week just got away from me! I will add them into the post when I can get around to it.)

For resources, I have linked to websites I think might be helpful in case you want to find out more, or actually want to make my suggestion happen for yourself. If I wrote out all of the info here, this would be a very long post! 

Menu

There are lots of foods mentioned in The Secret Hum of a Daisy. Part of Grace's search for home involves some basic needs: food and shelter. (This would be a great lead-in to a discussion of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.) Here are just a few:


  • Soup (p. 119) - The Spoons Souperie is the diner in the town where Grace's mother grew up. Grace meets and gets to know various people here. Their menu has the usual: corn chowder, matzo ball, and split pea, but you can serve your favorite soup. Mine is beef and cabbage, with lots of pepper! You could also make it a potluck and have everyone bring their own soup to share. Just make sure someone brings some fresh-baked, crusty bread for dipping.
  • Brownies (p. 146) Grace and her neighbor Jo have to bake brownies in the book, but they're not allowed to eat any! You can, though. Here is a basic recipe for brownies, but you can make them how you like: out of the box, with nuts or without, cakelike or fudgy. Blondies instead? I'm an edges kind of girl, myself. Once you know why they bake brownies in the book, you can talk about the choices Grace makes and how they lead up to brownies!
  • Chocolate Toast (p. 210) I know the other one already has chocolate, but someone makes this for Grace. It has something chocolatey (Nutella? Cookie Butter Swirl? It's up to you to choose) and slices of banana on top. This is definitely a "Live to Eat" moment rather than an "Eat to Live" one. While you eat it, you might want to discuss what your favorite comfort food is. Does it remind you of a certain place where you are from, or where you felt at home? Does it remind you of a person who used to make it for you? 
Activities

Poetry and writing figure quite centrally in the story. There are lots of different things you can do depending on the interests your students/guests/group members have.
  • Snippets Guessing Game - Have everyone bring in snippets of their favorite poetry to read out loud, and see if anyone else recognizes the poem or poet.
  • Unsent Letters - Not everyone might want to share this with the group, and that's ok. Bring pens or pencils, paper, and envelopes to the event and have everyone write a short letter to someone else that they have wanted to write, but couldn't write before now. They can choose to share the letter, or keep it to themselves. They can choose to send the letter -- though it won't be unsent anymore!
  • Answer Jars - Late in the story, someone shows Grace their answer jars -- Mason or canning jars filled with bits of words and phrases. When they can't decide on something, they reach into the jars for some answers. You can recycle jars or containers and use magazines or small pieces of paper to add your own answers. 
Art and sculpture also are pivotal to the story. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment, just found objects, scratch paper, and the usual materials (scissors, Mod Podge or Gorilla glue depending on what you're working on, writing/painting utensils).

  • Origami Cranes - The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a story about grief, but it is also about hope. Grace sees origami cranes as clues in a scavenger hunt like the ones her mom used to put together for her. You can learn to fold origami cranes with some patience and some perfectly square paper. While you're folding, discuss: where do you hope your cranes would lead you? (link to instructions
  • Found Objects - Grace's mom sculpts birds out of odds and ends. Maybe birds are not your thing, but what is? What's your power animal? Collect some bits and pieces, odds and ends, things that look interesting but maybe incomplete on their own. Get some Gorilla Glue if you're gluing smooth objects like plastic or metal and sculpt your penguin, bear, meerkat, or whatever you come up with.
  • Self-Portrait - Grace isn't just searching for home, she's searching for her identity. She's trying to define the people around her, and trying to define herself now that her mother is gone. There are some great self-portrait ideas in the book. Try composing a shadow box: what would you put inside? 
  • Another Self-Portrait - Alternatively, start with a sturdy cardboard or masonite surface, then draw an outline or silhouette of your head. Now brainstorm some words that describe you... write, letter, or paste them onto the back half of your head (um, the illustration of it, not your actual head). Now go back to your stash of found objects and compose your face out of items that might fit. Glue them on, then stand back and admire your handiwork. It doesn't have to be perfect, but hopefully it's thoughtful and expressive, which is sometimes the most we can get out of life :)


I hope you enjoyed my ideas for hosting a literacy cafe or book club meeting with The Secret Hum of a Daisy. If you've read the book and would like to share more ideas, please leave a comment. Don't post any spoilers, please! I left out some of my ideas since they might give away some later plot points in the story that are better discovered by the reader on their own.

If you do host one, please take photos and share them! I'm sure Tracy would love to see them, too.




About The Author

Tracy Holczer lives in Southern California with her husband, three daughters, and two rather fluffy dogs named Buster and Molly. She has a deep love for the mountains where she grew up so she writes them into her stories.

A 2014 ABA Indies Introduce New Voices pick, her debut middle grade, The Secret Hum of a Daisy, was written in praise of both nature and family, and all that can be found if you're willing to hunt for treasure. It will be also be published by Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany, fall 2015.

Find out more:
Follow @tracyholczer on Twitter
Blogging on the 30th of each month at http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com

Buy the book:
Autographed copies (note request on the order or they won't know it needs to be autographed!) available at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, CA

Giveaway
US only, ends May 20

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