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1. …which leads to books!

Remember how I said cleaning leads to writing? Yep, I’ve been busy. And I’m still busy, because I’m not exactly done. But I thought you’d be interested in an update and some recent releases, along with the coming attractions …

First, you can get these now:

LOVE PROOF is now out in audio! I love the narration Maria Hunter Welles did for it. And I didn’t announce it at the time (see above, been busy), but there are also audio editions of THE GOOD LIE, DOGGIRL, and REPLAY. I know. It’s a lot. Take your pick and listen away!

Also, I have a new short story collection out. It’s called A FEW STRANGE MATTERS, and it is. A little odd. But sometimes my mind needs a break from longer works like novels, and when I let my mind wander, it wanders. The collection has some contemporary, some science fiction, a little fantasy, some paranormal, and a couple of strange stories from the teen world. You might have read a few of them here and there, but I guarantee there are some you’ve never seen. Possibly because I wrote them under a pen name that none of you knew about. So take a look–I’ll be interested in hearing what you all think!

Now, for the coming attractions:

YES, PARALLELOGRAM 4 WILL BE OUT THIS FALL. That’s all I can say, because I have made the mistake before of giving you a pub date which turns out not to be true. But I promise you will feel satisfied and fulfilled when you read this final book in the series. I’m still working very hard to pull all the pieces together. Thank you for your questions (“When? WHEN??”) and your patience. I hate waiting, too. I get it. It’ll be along very soon.

And to make you even happier about all the time I’ve been hiding out, I’ll also have ANOTHER NEW BOOK for you by December, I believe. It’s fantasy, it’s epic, and it involves a girl warrior. Yessssss …

That’s my report for now. I have to go back to writing. I owe you all some books.

Happy Fall! ~Robin

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2. MuseItUp Publishing Celebrates 4 Years with EBook Sale!

muse

 

Congratulations goes out to MuseItUp Publishing. They are currently celebrating their 4 year anniversary. During the month of October, select eBooks are 50 – 80% OFF! Here is a small sampling of the books on sale:

 

BEGGARCHARLIE200X300

Will Beggar Charlie and Hickory Dick be able to return to England after being lost in China? (80% OFF)

BLACKCATS200x300

Gemma Mayfield believes there is witchcraft going on at her middle school…can she unravel the truth about her teacher? (70% OFF)

DarinelDragonhunter_200x300

Friendship or love? To marry his love Princess Tuskja, Prince Darinel has to kill his best friend, Idunal, the dragon. (50% OFF)

Freaky Frank 200x300

It’s going to take a meeting of minds to bring Nasty Nate down. (50% OFF)

Ghostly Clues 200x300

Sarah Kay follows Grandma’s ghostly clues to discover the truth. (70% OFF)

Visit MuseItUp Publishing for further details athttps://museituppublishing.com/ 


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3. First Chapter Reveal: Escape Through the Wilderness by Gary Rodriguez

Escape Through the Wilderness coverTitle:  Escape Through the Wilderness
Author: Gary Rodrgiuez
Genre: Tween/Young Adult Christian Adventure
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing (June 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1-63268-201-7

Purchase at: https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781632682017 and at http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Through-Wilderness-Gary-Rodriguez/dp/163268201X/ 

About the book:

Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.

When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the director will not reassign her.

A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.

Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “Last Chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.

When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.

Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.

Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.

First Chapter Reveal: 

Saturday, 8:14 p.m.

This is  a  KGX  Channel  7  Breaking  News Report. I’m Valerie Parker.

Four teenagers have gone missing tonight from an adventure camp in Northern Idaho. Early reports say the teens and their river guide were involved in a rafting accident sometime this afternoon. Their names are being withheld pending notification of their parents. Rescue teams are being assembled, according to local authorities. The camp earns the title, “The safest camp in Idaho” every year. Tragically, after today all that has changed forever. Stay tuned to KGX Channel 7 for more details as they develop

Thursday, two days earlier

It was a warm August afternoon and Camp Arrowhead buzzed  with  activity. New teen campers had been streaming in since mid-morning.  Savannah Evans, who had arrived earlier in the day, was heading toward the message board to check out the day’s schedule when she noticed another car pull into the drop zone.

Curious, she waited to catch a glimpse of the new camper. But before she saw the passenger, a huge commotion exploded in the arriving vehicle.

An agitated woman who appeared to be the girl’s mother started yelling from inside of the car. “Come on, Jade! Hurry up and get out of the car; we’ve got a plane to catch!”

Savannah watched in shock as the distraught girl scurried out of the backseat as fast as she could. In tow were a backpack, two suitcases, and a purse slowly winding itself around the poor girl’s arm. In an instant the auto sped off, leaving a trail of dust and the young teen in a heap. There were no hugs or even attempts at a good-bye, only a heartless door slam and the vehicle peeling off at a high rate of speed.

Staggering under the weight of her load, the devastated girl fell to the ground and began sobbing.

Savi was stunned by the dramatic scene happening in front of her.

What was THAT all about?  Was that her mom? Savannah thought to herself.

Pretty rough no matter who it was!

She felt sorry for the distraught new arrival crying on the ground.

How embarrassed I’d feel if that was me, especially with everybody watching.” She thought.

“I should go and help her.”

She hurried over to the drop off area, bent down on one knee, and did her best to comfort the frazzled stranger.

“Can I help you with some of this stuff? It looks like a lot for one person to carry.”

Startled, the girl at first tried to shake off the unwelcome intruder. “Leave me alone—I don’t need any help,” she said in a harsh tone. “Who are you, anyway?”

“My name’s Savannah, but my friends call me Savi. I…I just thought you could use some help.”

Savi waited patiently for the girl to collect herself. Slowly she lifted her tear-stained face to see who had spoken to her so kindly. The sight of her face made Savannah inhale sharply.

“What? I look stupid, right? I already know that.” The girl said even more perturbed.

“No, not at all. I wasn’t thinking anything like that.

It’s just…you’re really pretty.”

In her sixteen years of living in Oxford, Mississippi she never saw a girl as beautiful as this one. Despite the tear tracks on her face and a pair of puffy eyes, she looked like a real life sized china doll. Her milky white complexion contrasted by her long shiny black hair was stunning. When you added in her soft delicate features, she was flawless. As close to perfect as a girl her age could look.

The girl finally realized that Savi was only trying to be friendly and helpful.

“Thanks for saying that, Savi, but I don’t feel very pretty right now…My name’s Jade Chang—Sorry I snapped at you—Do you mind if I call you Savi?”

“Not at all, I’d like that,” Savi replied with a smile.

“I feel like such a fool. I can’t believe my mother did that to me,” she said shaking her head.

“Well…you’re not going to have to deal with her for a while. Come on. Let’s go see what cabin you’re in… Maybe we’re in the same one.”

Jade stood up and with Savi’s help gathered up her belongings and headed for the camp office. As they walked, Savi looked down at Jade’s Coach purse,  Tumi suitcases, and North Face backpack. All this great stuff… but she still seems so unhappy.

During their walk to the office, Savi looked over at Jade and could see she was deep in thought and that her heart was heavy. So while carrying her suitcase with her right hand, she lifted her left and patted her gently on the back. Jade was touched by the kind gesture so she glanced over at Savi and gave her a friendly smile. Savi grinned back and felt hopeful that she might have already found a new friend at camp.

“Savi, I noticed you’re limping. Did you hurt your ankle?”

“Actually, I hurt it a few years ago,” she replied.  “Oh I didn’t mean to…”

“That’s okay, it’s no big deal.”

“No, really,” Jade said apologetically, “I’m sorry for being so nosey.”

“No worries,” Savi replied. “It’s not as if you asked me how much I weigh or something,” as she rolled her eyes and gave Jade a friendly nudge with her elbow.

Both girls laughed and continued walking toward the camp office. On the way, Savi said to Jade, “How ‘bout I tell you the story about my ankle later?” Then the two of them agreed to put off the subject for another time.

When they arrived at the office, they looked for the cabin assignments posted outside the door. Savi could tell Jade was already feeling a bit more comfortable and starting to relax.

“Jade over here…Those are the boys’ cabins…Here’s the girls’. I’m sure they’d be thrilled to see you, though,” Savi joked.

Embarrassed, Jade threw her head back and then made her way over to where Savi was standing in front of the girls’ cabin assignment board.

“You said, ‘Chang,’ right?” Savi asked, running her finger down the list of names.

“That’s right,” Jade replied.

“Here you are…Oh that stinks! We’re in different cabins,” Savi noted.“Want to go inside and see if they’ll move us to the same one?”

Jade looked over at her and paused a moment… “Umm, okay. That sounds great.”

The girls did their best to convince the camp director that they should be in the same cabin. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t budge. But he told them he’d keep in mind their desire to be together when planning future events. When they left the office, the girls decided to drop off Jade’s stuff at her cabin and grab a cool drink. After leaving the snack shack, they found a shady spot on a carved log bench.

“I promised I’d tell you about my ankle. I guess this is as good a time as any.”

“You know you don’t have to,” Jade replied.

“I know, but I want you to know how I got my limp.”

“I have to admit…I am a bit curious.”

“Well, when I was eight years old, the U.S. National Gymnastics Team came to Oxford, Mississippi to put on an exhibition at Ole Miss.”

“Ole Miss?” questioned Jade.

“Oh sorry, that’s short for University of Mississippi. Anyway, my dad took me to see the competition and that event changed my life.”

Jade shrugged. “How?”

“Watching the different routines was so cool. I instantly fell in love with gymnastics, particularly the balance beam. The girls were so graceful but strong at the same time. I dreamed of becoming one of them. For the next three years I trained on the beam and competed in a bunch of events. My goal was to make the U.S. National Team.”

Suddenly, Savi stopped. “I’m not boring you, am I?”

“No, not at all! I’m really interested. Keep going.”

“In just three years, I was ranked fourth in the nation in my age category. Everybody was so proud of me. But only the top three girls went to nationals. The final cuts were a few years ago in Nashville. I was tied for second place with this girl named Julie, with only one routine to go—I was freaking out! I knew my only hope of beating her and advancing was to do a flawless routine and stick my landing. Everything was going great until my final element, an aerial summersault. It was always my most challenging move. I was hoping I could pull it off. The summersault was perfect but as I landed on the beam…” Savi paused and looked down at her ankle. “My left foot hit the beam wrong and my ankle snapped like a dry branch.”

“Oh my gosh, that’s awful! I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah, me too. Because that ended my career in gymnastics and my dream of going to the Olympics.”

“They couldn’t fix it?” Jade asked.

“They tried, but it never healed quite right, so I’ve learned to live with it. I get around just fine, though.”

“I can see that—Wow! That’s quite a story. Thanks for telling it to me.”

“Well, now you know a little about me, but I know absolutely nothing about you. Next time we meet, it’s your turn.”

“That’s a deal.”

They both finished their drinks and stood up.

“I can’t believe how tall you are! You must be at least 5’7″.”

“Actually, I’m 5’8″,” Jade said proudly.

“I knew you were up there. I’ve always been on the short side. Only 5’2″. But you know what they say, ‘good things come in small packages.’” Jade smiled and nodded in agreement. Then they said good-bye, and headed toward their separate cabins.

Savi called over her shoulder, “I’ll look for you later!”

“Okay, later!” Jade yelled back.

Savi was on the way back to her cabin when she came upon three boys leaning against a big tree, joking around with each other. She caught one of the boy’s eyes and he watched her as she walked by toward the cabins. He immediately noticed her limp and nudged his friends. “Look at that one. I didn’t know this camp was open to special needs kids!” he said in a raised voice, most likely for her to hear. Again, the same boy blurted out, “I hope they don’t match me up on some activity with ‘lame girl.’”

Savi overheard the insult but pretended she didn’t. She also heard one of the boys standing with him say, “Nice one, Conner!”

By the time Savi reached her cabin, she was red-faced and fuming. Alone, sitting on her bed, she stared out the window at Conner. She watched as he and his friends amused themselves at the expense of others walking by.

Here we go again, she thought to herself. I thought I left those bullies back at school! Then, she rose to her feet and stepped outside of the cabin. With an animated face and a loud voice she yelled in the bully’s direction, “Hey, Conner! Your mom’s on the phone and says you forgot to pack your blankie and Batman underwear!”

Instantly, a roar of laughter erupted from those within earshot of her clever retort. This time it was Conner’s turn to feel the sting of humiliation. He slinked away to his cabin not to be seen again until the dinner bell.

Savi stood in front of her cabin triumphant, though she did feel somewhat ashamed for finding the taste of revenge so sweet. Suddenly, a familiar voice shouted from across the campground, “Savi, come look! We’re paired up together for tomorrow’s rafting trip! We’re in the same raft!”

She leaped for joy and joined Jade at the message board for an energetic high five.

“And guess what? There are boys in our raft. Two of them!” Jade proclaimed excitedly. “One’s named Rico Cruz and the other is some guy named Conner Swift.”

“What?” Savi yelled. “Conner…I just met that jerk! I’m not getting in a raft with him. No way!” Savi vowed.

“Oh, yes you are, little lady!”  Savi heard Camp Director Anderson say forcefully behind her. “All raft assignments are final. What’s done is done. There will be NO changes!” the director reiterated as he walked away.

Savi stood staring blankly at the message board.

What  could  be  worse  than  being  in  a  raft  with  Conner Swift! It wouldn’t be long before she’d find out.

 

View the trailer at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIafxxeApHoGary Rodriguez

Gary Rodriguez is president of LeaderMetrix Inc., a consulting company that specializes in senior-level executive coaching, organizational development and conflict resolution. He is the author of the new adventure novel Escape through the Wilderness scheduled for release in June 2014. 

His first book Purpose-Centered Public Speaking was an instant hit and recently republished by Tate Publishing. 

His extensive resume includes eighteen years as an executive in the radio business where he spent several years as one of the original managers of Infinity Broadcasting. He was twice nominated as medium market manager of the year by the Bobby Poe report, a national media publication. 

For over thirty-five years, Gary has spoken in public both nationally and internationally.  Gary’s resume includes a season in the U.S. Army where he was highly decorated as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Army’s history at age 18 years. He was also awarded the Silver Star (the nation’s third highest award for valor) while serving in Viet Nam. 

Visit the book’s website at http://ettw.tateauthor.com/ You can also find Gary at http://leadermetrix.com/ and http://www.leadermetrix.com/authorspeaker.  

 

Escape Through the Wilderness Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, October 6

First chapter reveal at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Tuesday, October 7

Author interview at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Wednesday, October 8

Spotlight and giveaway at Inside BJ’s Head

Thursday, October 9

Guest post at Cheryl’s Christian Book Connection

Friday, October 10

Book spotlight at The Writer’s Life

Monday, October 13

Video trailer reveal at Putting Words Down on Paper

Tuesday, October 14

Book review at My Devotional Thoughts

Wednesday, October 15

Guest post at Lori’s Reading Corner

Thursday, October 16

Video trailer reveal at Stands of Thought

Friday, October 17

First chapter reveal at Rebecca’s Writing Services

First chapter reveal at FictionZeal

Monday, October 20

Book review at By the Book

Tuesday, October 21

Book review Writing and other ways into the heart

Wednesday, October 22

Author interview at Blogcritics

Thursday, October 23

Author interview at Beyond the Books

Friday, October 24

Book spotlight and giveaway at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Monday, October 27

Book spotlight and giveaway at Maureen’s Musings

Tuesday, October 28

Book review/spotlight and giveaway at Mom Loves 2 Read

Wednesday, October 29

Author interview at As the Pages Turn

Thursday, October 30

First chapter reveal at Blooming with Books

Friday, October 31

Book spotlight and giveaway at Blooming with Books

 Escape banner 2


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4. Pre-order Hidden Monster by Amanda Strong

hidden

For seventeen-year-old Samantha Campbell, running back woods trails usually means freedom from her less-than-perfect life. That is, until the day a morning run turns into a living nightmare. When Samantha wakes up to find herself bound to a dirty, pinstriped mattress, she realizes she’s anything but free. With a masked abductor repeatedly injecting her arm with an unknown substance while holding her captive, Samantha tries in vain to find out what he wants, but he refuses to speak. Until the day he breaks his silence and his twisted words are worse than what she’d imagined. He promises her one day she will fall in love with him but the best part will be that she won’t know who he is… until it’s too late.

Finding herself freed from captivity, with her captor still at large, Samantha is on guard against everything and everyone around her. Unfortunately, walling up her heart proves difficult when eighteen-year-old Blake Knightley moves in next door. When Samantha starts experiencing strange changes within her, she realizes her captor may have left her more damaged than she originally thought. Now she must turn to Blake for help in order to unearth the truth behind the monster who started this all… or risk experiencing worse things than just falling in love.

Pre-order now for only $2.99 at Amazon!

amandaBorn in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia and now New Mexico home. Amanda has been spinning tales since she was a child. Her family still remembers finding young Amanda with her bright pink glasses, hiding in random corners of the house while scribbling away in one of her many spiral-bound notebooks. You could say that some things never change since Amanda is still writing today. Amanda began her writing career when she uploaded The Awakener, her first full-length novel, on Wattpad where it received over 430,000 reads in four weeks. She was blown away and humbled by the reader support and feedback she received. Because of The Awakener’s success as a non-published book, she was asked to talk on 1400 KSTAR about her story.

In September 2013 Amanda Strong signed with Clean Teen Publishing for publication of The Awakener. The Awakener is the first book in an all-new young adult paranormal romance series called: The Watchers of Men.

When Amanda isn’t writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.

Visit Amanda online at http://authoramandastrong.com/ of on Facebook or Twitter.


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5. Anywhere but Here – written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Anywhere but Here – written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi | Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts writes about #YAlit Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd KyiAnywhere But Here written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Young Adult Fiction published by Simon and Schuster









I feel compelled to share some aspects of my personal life before I write about Anywhere but Here. I was attending university and living with my folks when my mom died four days prior to surgery that had been scheduled to repair a heart valve. It was shocking and devastating and, without a doubt, the most difficult experience of my life.

Weeks later, my dad began dating. When I say ‘weeks,’ I mean less than three months later. While still grieving the sudden loss of my mom and feeling as though my life had been turned upside down, I was watching as my dad began a relationship with a woman he would eventually marry. Dad’s second marriage was an enduring one. To be honest, I am not sure which of his marriages was longer: he celebrated twenty-fifth wedding anniversaries twice.

Anywhere but Here is the story of a young man, still in high school, who is coping with the loss of his mom. Cole finds life in a small town stifling. He is eager to finish high school and make a break from his acquaintances, friends and family. He has ended a two year relationship with a girlfriend and finds her behavior and that of some classmates confusing. His family life is in ruins. Cole’s dad drinks heavily and meets an exotic dancer. Before long, she is pregnant and Cole’s dad explains that she will be moving into the family home along with her young daughter.

With the encouragement of a school guidance counselor, Cole considers enrolling in a post secondary cinematography program. As part of his application, his must create a short film. It is while filming that Cole examines his community and gains perspective.

Beautifully written, Anywhere but Here accurately depicts the turmoil and confusion that occur when one parent dies and the surviving parent enters into a new relationship – especially when the surviving child(ren) are young adults. I especially liked the authenticity of Cole’s voice and the relationships between Cole and his guidance counselor, his mom’s former nurse and his classmates. This is a novel that begs for a sequel and I very much look forward to reading it.

Anywhere But Here at Amazon.com

Anywhere But Here at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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6. Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3 | Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts guest contributor @1prncs writes about Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3 written by Catherine Egan
Young Adult fiction published by Coteau Books









Read our interview with Catherine Egan

The lengthy title of Catherine Egan’s third book, The Last Days of Tian Di: Bone, Fog, Ash, and Star, alludes to the depth and complexity that is wrapped up within the story. Like the characters of this book, I felt myself immersed in unfamiliar, amazing worlds, pulled back and forth between them by the common thread: Eliza. A story of friendship, loyalty, strength, and finding the truth, Egan isn’t afraid to make her characters suffer to reach reward. In fact, it is understood and stated that “there is loss and gain with every act”. I think what was most powerful, for me, was the way this book echos life. There are consequences to every action and we do the very best we can at the time, but then we must go from there, from the result of our decisions. It is a heavy burden on the main character’s shoulders, knowing that the choices she makes will lead to her own heavy heart. But I think it is an important message for readers, particularly the young adult ones who are, in some ways, facing a similar journey. At the age of sixteen, they are making choices that feel right at the time, but have long term consequences that need to be weighed and judged. Sometimes, life really is choosing the lesser of two evils and this is a lesson that Eliza faces constantly.

In this third book of her series, Catherine Egan pulls the reader in with intense action right from the start. When Eliza’s friend, Charlie, becomes the victim of an assassination attempt, just as she’s trying to tell him she has feelings for him that go beyond friendship, the reader is immediately hooked. Aside from the action, the magical realism, the vivid imagery that drops you right inside of the book, the characters are connectable.

I realized within the first chapter that I was drawn in because when the first major event happens, I literally gasped out loud. At that point I thought, wow, I already care about the characters and I can totally see the scene. As a writer and a reader, I know that this is not an easy combination to present on the page. From there, Egan takes us on a journey to save her friend that is met with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Like the title, the story seemed to always have one more tangent. Whether you’re thinking that they cannot possibly escape the next vicious attack or they are finally safe, the reader is constantly surprised. The term magical realism is an interesting one to me: if done poorly, you can distance yourself from the book because it’s fantasy and you know that everything is okay. If done properly, as Egan has done, you can forget that transforming, shape-shifting, and spell-binding aren’t a possibility. I saw the characters as regular teenagers– Eliza with too much responsibility on her young shoulders, Nell with the exam she desperately wanted to ace, and Charlie with the youthful irritation of someone stuck in a situation they cannot control.

Even in the magical, there is a sense of the real: the faeries’ overall disdain of humans, the faery mother who can’t abide by her son, Jalo helping a human because he’s in love with her, the oracle grandmother, saved by the ancients, who shares her knowledge in riddles, the fight for power between the Mancers, and each character trying to choose between good and evil, trying to find their way out of a situation that is bigger than themselves.Through it all, we are reminded, as are the characters, that best laid plans often go astray and the things we truly believe we want and need in life are not necessarily what we end up getting. Accepting that and moving forward anyway is not easy, but it can be done, as Eliza shows us.

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 3 at Amazon.com

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3 at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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7. The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick

red sheetWhat if you woke up one morning a totally different person? Even more intriguing–you think you were a major jerk, but you don’t know why. Oh, and then you have a strong desire to tie a red sheet around your neck and begin rescuing trapped kittens out of trees and helping old ladies across the street.

The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick is a fascinating young adult novel that creates a unique “what if?” scenario. Bryan Dennison wakes up one morning and he’s a totally different person. Once a superjock, self-centered bully, the new Bryan is respectful to his mother, neighborly, and working hard at school. He’s also attracted to Scott Beckett, the former victim of his bullying, even though he can’t remember much about his relationship with Scott prior to his sudden change. As Bryan struggles to put the pieces together of who he used to be, Scott is not interested in anything the new and improved Bryan has to offer.

I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before. It is superb. Kerick puts together an intriguing novel where the main character shares his story the way in which it unfolded in front of him. What happened to him is so powerful, he must share it. The reader is asking the same questions that Bryan is considering at each point in the story. What happened before his change? Why was Bryan such an obnoxious jerk? What caused him to change? Why can’t he remember the way he acted toward Scott Beckett?  And once everything is revealed, the reader might be more shocked than Bryan was.

My only nitpick is that there was too much swearing for my taste. It might be realistic, but I don’t care for it. The same story could be told with that aspect toned down and still have a great impact.

The Red Sheet is an excellent novel about bullying, being comfortable in your own skin, seeking forgiveness and being able to forgive. Its message is inspiring. Its plot unique. I think this is going to be a very popular book within its target market and beyond.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Mia Kerick’s Web Site:
http://miakerick.com/

Mia Kerick’s Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/mia.kerick

Mia Kerick’s Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6474518.Mia_Kerick?from_search=true

Mia Kerick’s YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a1Q093gJ1E

Mia Kerick’s Blog:
http://miakerick.com/blog/

The Red Sheet Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20619717-the-red-sheet

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

The Red Sheet blog tour site:
http://theredsheetblogtour.blogspot.com/

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Young Adult
Pages:
190
Release:
February 20, 2014
Publisher:
Harmony Ink Press
ISBN:
9781627987219


Amazon buy link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IJQS6KS?tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes and Noble buy link:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-sheet-mia-kerick/1118710756?ean=9781627987158

Dreamspinner Press buy link:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4725

All Romance buy link:

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theredsheet-1404989-149.html

 

miaMia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them

Chance to win a $25 Amazon.com gift card (or PayPal cash)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

red sheet banner


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8. Book Spotlight: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

I’ll be focusing on graphic novels this week. Hope you enjoy it.

seconds

The highly anticipated new standalone full-color graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley, author and artist of the hugely bestselling Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series

Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:

1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew

And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.

From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345529375
ISBN-13: 978-0345529374

PURCHASE HERE!


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9. Book Spotlight: The Watchers: Knight of Light by Deirdra Eden

watchersAll the training in Heaven couldn’t prepare me for the war on earth, nor for the love, loss, or loneliness humans feel. There are things worse than death, and every last one of them is hunting people like us. Even though we all feel human at times, we must remember, we are not them, we are their watchers.

In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.

The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Traditional Apocrypha, the Pearl of Great Price and the Kabbalah. The Watchers are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad.

Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s, The Watcher’s Series, is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.

Paperback: 205 pages
Publisher: Brigham Distributing (July 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0996015809
ISBN-13: 978-0996015806

 

Watch the intense new trailer!

Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Wattpad  Pinterest


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10. Book Spotlight: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Lil’ Diva wanted to read this one so badly, the librarian sped up getting their copy into the system so that she could borrow it. Have any of you read it?

stayJust listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 014241543X
ISBN-13: 978-0142415436

 

For interesting facts about the author, visit her website at http://gayleforman.com/


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11. Anthony Lane on Young Adult Fiction: a generalized and generally disturbing definition of the form

Generalized definitions of anything—or anyone—are provocative, sure. They get the readers' ire up. Which is to say they attract more readers. I am sure that Anthony Lane of The New Yorker (a terrific if mostly acerbic reviewer) knows that YA fiction comes in many hues and forms and flavors, and that it is fed by many ideals and many wild imaginations, many time periods, many themes, and a full array of characters and landscapes.

But here, in Lane's review of the movie "If I Stay," based on the Gayle Forman novel, he issues a standardizing decree.
Young-adult fiction: what a peculiar product it is, sold and consumed as avidly as the misery memoir and the self-help book, and borrowing sneakily from both. One can see the gap in the market. What are literate kids meant to do with themselves, or with their itchy brains, as they wander the no man's land between Narnia and Philip Roth? The ideal protagonist of the genre is at once victimized and possessed of decisive power—someone like Mia, the heroine of Gayle Forman's "If I Stay," which has clung grimly to the Times best-seller list, on and off, for twenty weeks. And the ideal subject is death, or, as we should probably call it, the big sleepover.
Oh, the blogs/articles/talks that will erupt from this. Oh. Or? Perhaps we who write young adult fiction that is not part misery memoir and not self-help book, not, indeed, any single one thing, grow weary of the castigating, the easy sarcasm, the sneak and overt attacks?

Let others stomp their feet and say what they will. We've got work to do.



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12. Interview with C.H. MacLean, Author of Two Empty Thrones

C.H. MacLean

To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

 With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.”  C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality. 

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

 C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

You can find, follow or chat with C.H. MacLean at the following on-line locations:

Website/Blog: www.chmaclean.com

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest 

Where did you grow up?

While I grew up in several places, including Hawaii and Colorado, I spent most of the time in coldest Minnesota.

When did you begin writing? 

I wrote all through school and afterward. But I didn’t think I was a writer, if that makes any sense. I only really believed in who I was after meeting the love of my life.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I sit down to write in the early morning and late afternoon, sometimes at night. But I get ideas and scribble things down at any random time. I think that is some of the best writing.

What is this book about? Two Empty Thrones 2

Haylwen thinks she can relax, but she hears the silence before the storm. The evil king of the magic users will break every rule to gain control of the One of prophecy. Even the dragons dare not interfere. Haylwen, trapped in the middle, is confronted by all of her fears and the choice of who she will be. Continuing the story from One is Come, Two Empty Thrones increases the intensity of the series and shows Haylwen’s growth as the stakes are raised. 

What inspired you to write it? 

Haylwen’s story exploded in my head, and sucked me in like a black hole. As a reader, this is the book I would love to read. Knowing readers will love it, I just had to share. The tale of this curly-haired girl who thinks she is less than normal when she is really powerful beyond her dreams inspires me still. 

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I don’t really have a favorite, as they are all interesting in different ways. While just a minor player, Tommy’s character resonates with me. His abilities and personality connect him to Haylwen on a karmic level, and his history makes Haylwen a life-saving inspiration for him. 

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Only mildly choppy, but it seemed like I had to tackle more than I expected.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started earlier, of course. As this is my second book, I know now what I didn’t know with the first, and am learning more to apply to the third.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, or Smashwords.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Write what you love, pour your heart out for the reader. Never forget that the readers are the reason you write.

What is up next for you? 

Fire Above, my third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in March of 2015. The third book in the Five in Circle series, We the Three, where the dragons explode and begin the world-remake, will be released shortly after that. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Ignore impossible realities. Hold to your dreams and you will find magic everywhere you look.

I’d also like to thank you for your interest in me and my book Two Empty Thrones!

 

Two Empty Thrones banner


0 Comments on Interview with C.H. MacLean, Author of Two Empty Thrones as of 9/5/2014 6:16:00 AM
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13. Interview with C.H. MacLean, Author of Two Empty Thrones

C.H. MacLean

To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

 With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.”  C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality. 

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

 C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

You can find, follow or chat with C.H. MacLean at the following on-line locations:

Website/Blog: www.chmaclean.com

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest 

Where did you grow up?

While I grew up in several places, including Hawaii and Colorado, I spent most of the time in coldest Minnesota.

When did you begin writing? 

I wrote all through school and afterward. But I didn’t think I was a writer, if that makes any sense. I only really believed in who I was after meeting the love of my life.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I sit down to write in the early morning and late afternoon, sometimes at night. But I get ideas and scribble things down at any random time. I think that is some of the best writing.

What is this book about? Two Empty Thrones 2

Haylwen thinks she can relax, but she hears the silence before the storm. The evil king of the magic users will break every rule to gain control of the One of prophecy. Even the dragons dare not interfere. Haylwen, trapped in the middle, is confronted by all of her fears and the choice of who she will be. Continuing the story from One is Come, Two Empty Thrones increases the intensity of the series and shows Haylwen’s growth as the stakes are raised. 

What inspired you to write it? 

Haylwen’s story exploded in my head, and sucked me in like a black hole. As a reader, this is the book I would love to read. Knowing readers will love it, I just had to share. The tale of this curly-haired girl who thinks she is less than normal when she is really powerful beyond her dreams inspires me still. 

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I don’t really have a favorite, as they are all interesting in different ways. While just a minor player, Tommy’s character resonates with me. His abilities and personality connect him to Haylwen on a karmic level, and his history makes Haylwen a life-saving inspiration for him. 

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Only mildly choppy, but it seemed like I had to tackle more than I expected.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started earlier, of course. As this is my second book, I know now what I didn’t know with the first, and am learning more to apply to the third.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, or Smashwords.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Write what you love, pour your heart out for the reader. Never forget that the readers are the reason you write.

What is up next for you? 

Fire Above, my third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in March of 2015. The third book in the Five in Circle series, We the Three, where the dragons explode and begin the world-remake, will be released shortly after that. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Ignore impossible realities. Hold to your dreams and you will find magic everywhere you look.

I’d also like to thank you for your interest in me and my book Two Empty Thrones!

 

Two Empty Thrones banner


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14. Publishing deleted scenes – risky, cringeworthy, helpful? Lari Don

Publishers want lots of ‘stuff’ from authors now. Not just the book, but lots of other stuff. Content, it’s called, for online things.


One of the bits of content I’ve given my publishers recently is a file of deleted scenes, from my new(ish) teen thriller Mind Blind.

It wasn’t hard for me to find half a dozen deleted scenes, because I delete lots from my manuscripts as I rewrite and redraft. It’s not unusual for me to reduce the length of a book by 20,000 words or more between first draft and final publication. Which sounds very inefficient – wouldn’t I be better just writing shorter books in the first place?

But I’m not a planner and plotter. I discover the story as I write, as I follow the characters on their journey, and that means diversions and doubling back. I never deliberately write anything that I know is irrelevant at the time, every word helps me find out about the characters, their reactions to problems and my own feelings about the story. But once I reach the end and get a sense of the main thrust of the story, it’s usually clear that I've regularly wandered off the narrative path, and that some scenes are now unnecessary. They may have been necessary to get me to the end, but they’re not necessary to get the reader to the end. So I'm ruthless in slashing them out. I reckon that if you can slice out a scene without it seriously affecting the rest of the story, it probably wasn’t that important.

And in a thriller like MindBlind, where it’s very important to keep the pace up and the pages turning, I also removed scenes or parts of scenes because they slowed the story down too much. (Here’s an example of one.)

And sometimes I cut a scene, not because it’s slowing the story down or because it’s an unnecessary diversion, but because I come up with a stronger idea once I know the story and characters better. However, the original scene is still part of the way I got to know the character, so it’s part of my history with them. Here’s an example of that – it’s the first scene I ever wrote about Ciaran Bain, the hero (anti-hero) of the book. It’s not in the book, but it’s still the place I first met him!

Of course, it’s misleading to suggest that all this slashing and slicing is my idea. Quite a lot of it is, but some of it is in response to gentle prompts from my wonderful editor.
a mountain of many Mind Blind manuscripts

So, I have no problem removing large chunks of my first draft or even my fourteenth draft, because as I’m writing, I know that I’m just discovering the story, not finding the perfect way of telling it first time around. And I know that it takes a lot of work to make that original mess of scribbled ideas into a book.

But having taken all this stuff out, why on earth would I want to show it to anyone? These deleted scenes have often been removed quite early in the process, so they’re not that polished (why would I polish them, once I’ve deleted them?) So it does feel quite weird and slightly uncomfortable, revealing these unfinished bits of my creative process to the public gaze.

Even if these are scenes that I took out for plot or pace reasons, rather than pieces of writing I don’t like, they are still parts of the story that didn’t make it into the book. So is it a bit of a risk to show less than perfect examples of your writing to the world? And why on earth do it?

The first reason is the pragmatic one of feeding the voracious social media monster. (This is not a particularly good reason.)

But I wonder if a much better reason is that realising how much an author cuts from their early drafts can be useful, especially for young writers. It’s a very practical way to show that published writers don’t get it right all the time, that our first drafts are just the start of the process and that we have to work at them, slash at them, perhaps radically change them, to get them into shape. Deleted scenes are perhaps the online version of showing manuscripts covered in lots of scribbles and scorings out to groups of kids at author visits. ‘Look, I don’t get it right first time, so you don’t have to either. Just write, and see what happens!’

So, while I was wincing and cringing this week as yet another deleted scene appeared on Tumblr, I wondered:
How much do other writers delete?
Are other writers happy to let the world see the bits they sliced out?
And do readers learn anything about the writing process from deleted scenes?


Lari Don is the award-winning author of 21 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. 

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15. New Books!

I treated myself to a new book right before going on vacation. I’ve wanted to read the series for a while, but only bought the first book because I got such a deal on it. I really have too many books here to justify buying more.

pretty

 

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

 

While we were away, this one arrived in the mail. I’ll be reviewing this book for the author.

little author

Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

 

Hope you had a great week.


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16. Marvel versus DC Comics -- Thoughts on Writing Characters Post Guardians of the Galaxy

We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy on opening night. I was skeptical, I admit it. A talking raccoon with a gun? Not usually my cup of Earl Gray, what can I tell you.

But.


It was actually irreverent, charming, engrossing, funny, and unexpectedly warm. In short, it was better than great.

Trying to explain the reason for that greatness to someone who hadn't seen the film left me a little bit perplexed though. Because if Marvel can make a film starring a talking, gun-toting raccoon, surely someone can make a decent film with a woman lead? (Cough, Wonder Woman, cough. I'm looking at you D.C.)

Which brings me to another point. As good as this movie was -- and it is going to be shown at my house frequently, trust me -- what I loved most about it was that the female character actually got to drive the bus. This isn't Gamora's movie, don't get me wrong. Zoe Saldana plays just one piece in an ensemble cast, but that piece is the one who proves the motivation and the heart for the team to do what it must (see how non-spoilerly I made that?) to overcome the bad guy. And frankly, without her, the team's involvement with the bad guy would basically have been summed up in a few words: get the thing bad-guy wants, then run like hell.

What else did I love about Gamora? She's sexy, sure, but despite a couple of almost-moments with Star-Lord (as played by Chris Pratt), she doesn't succumb to insta-love. The tension is building and you can see it coming, maybe, but Marvel didn't cheese up the script by including a gratuitous romantic sub-plot that was just too fast to work. Instead, they focused on pulling together a bunch of loners and making them into a team.

That's warm. That's human--even if only one of the characters involved was actually homo-sapiens. (Or half, anyway.)

And that brings me to my topic of the day. It seems to me that there are two schools of approach emerging vis a vis comic book adaptations.

Marvel has a repertoire of films that stars characters who seem to think all is more-or-less okay in their world, and then get dragged into something that's clearly not okay. How they deal with their changed situation forms the underpinnings of the story and creates the extra layer of warmth that connects us to them.

Recent Marvel Films include:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • X-Men, Days of Future Past (2014)
  • The Amazing Spider Man 2 (2014)
  • Captain America - Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • The Wolverine (2013)
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)

DC on the other hand includes:

  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • The Green Lantern (2011)
  • Jonah Hex (2010)
I keep trying to put my finger on what's missing in the DC films for me. I think it comes down to humor. There's a certain amount of wallowing in darkness that the DC films dive into that Marvel leavens with just enough humor to keep the characters from getting broody.

Don't get me wrong: I write dark. My characters (duh, they're cursed, right?) have some pretty crappy lots in life. But even if they feel sorry for themselves, they don't like feeling sorry for themselves. And from now on, I'm going to refer to that as a Marvelous way to handle character.

So what do you think? Do you see a difference in how the two studios portray character? Handle characters ARCs? Bring human into their scripts?

And now for some winners : ) 

The winner of the Pick 3 Arcs #1 is:

Patricia Lopez

She can pick three of the following: BZRK, The Walled City, Sinner, Ghost House, of Scars and Stardust, Lament, I'll Give You the Sun, Unmarked, Lux, White Hot Kiss, Falling into Place, Scintillate.

The winner of the Pick 3 Arcs or Books #2 is:

Rebecca Greer

Pick Any Three: Unmade, Perfected, Beauty of the Broken, Til Death, Unravel Me, Compulsion, Shatter Me, The Raven Boys, Diamond Boy, Allies and Assassins, The Walled City, Black Ice

The winners of the two ECHOES OF US ARCs  by Kat Zhang are:

Anne VanLoon

Heather Ratlin

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17. Guest Book Review: In the Shadow of the Volcano by Wendy Leighton-Porter

shadow

Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2013)
ASIN: B00CDUXKUC
Rating: Five stars
Age group: 9+

The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Volcano-Shadows-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00CDUXKUC

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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18. Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

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Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 22, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763676209
ISBN-13: 978-0763676209
Genre: Dystopian
Suggested reading Age: Grade 9+

Three stars

Seventeen-year-old Seth drowns; in fact his action is deliberate. He wants to escape the horror of his existence. Racked with guilt over the fate of his younger brother, an event he feels is his entire fault, he doesn’t have much to live for. Then he wakes up, back in his old home in England, and things start becoming very weird indeed. He is wrapped in silvery bandages, and his old street is deserted. The whole place is uninhabited and overgrown. He seems to be the only person left alive in the world. He must now forage and scrounge for clothing, food and water. He wonders if this is hell. His dreams don’t help because his previous life comes back to him in huge, unwelcome chunks of memory. Then he meets two other people, with their own unique and strange tales to tell.

Despite the fantastic beginning, with a description that pulled me right into the ocean with Seth, I struggled to finish this book. Parts of it were incredibly exciting and then would grind to a halt with unnecessary introspective and philosophical meanderings on the part of the main character, meanderings which became boring and one had the urge to say, “Oh, just get on with it!” The plus side: an utterly riveting and plausible story premise that comes much later on (just when you are wondering what on earth this is all about and is he dead or not, and if everyone else is dead, then where are the bodies?); really wonderful descriptions that have the reader in the grip of the moment; action and tension to add to the positively bleak and hopeless situation; events that come out of nowhere that have a cinematographic and surreal feel to them; the depth of emotion Seth feels for the loss of his younger brother and his friends. In fact, Seth’s guilt is so palpable that one is consumed with curiosity to learn the truth. The two characters that join him are so different, so lost as well, and so eager to hide the circumstances of their lives/deaths. One feels the pain of the characters as they reveal the humiliating and tragic burdens they each carry.

What I did not enjoy: the flashbacks were sometimes jarring and intrusive, until I accepted them as part of the story-telling process; the fact that this world, while it began as an interesting construct, did not have enough to sustain the story and/or the last three inhabitants. I found the ending abrupt and it short-changes the reader in a way. There were many loose ends in the unfolding of this tale that I feel the author might have tried to answer. The characters were confused and, as a result, the reader becomes confused. It is as if the author didn’t bother to work things out to the last detail, which is possibly not the case, but feels that way. The reference to same sex love/relationships was dealt with sensitively and delicately, in an almost tender way. However, this might surprise readers who are not prepared for it, especially if the reader is younger than the protagonist’s age of 17. Ultimately, the characters’ thoughts on what constitutes life and death, and the option of living in a constructed world, avoiding the reality of a life too sad/tragic/hopeless to contemplate should give readers food for thought. However, I have no doubt that the intended audience of older teens and YA readers will love this book.

http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-This-Patrick-Ness/dp/0763676209/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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19. The Prince of Venice Beach: Blake Nelson

Book: The Prince of Venice Beach
Author: Blake Nelson
Pages: 240
Age Range: 12 and up

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson is about a 17-year-old runaway called Cali who lives in Venice Beach, CA. He sleeps in a treehouse behind the home of a generous local woman named Hope, has an assortment of quirky and interesting friends, and spends much of his time playing pick-up basketball. After helping a couple of private investigators to find missing kids, Cali decides that he wants to become a private investigator. However, when the case of a missing rich girl named Reese Abernathy lands in his lap, he finds his life becoming far more complicated than he would have expected. 

Cali is an engaging protagonist who should appeal to teen readers. He has a lot of autonomy (Hope is not a parental figure in any way). He knows how to take care of himself, and he tries to do the right thing. But he's a street kid, and he definitely runs into trouble sometimes, too. He's also remarkably uneducated compared with your maintstream YA protagonist (he's not even sure if Austria is a country). He's different, and that makes him interesting. 

Although The Prince of Venice Beach does involve a mystery, and has some action scenes (fights, chases), it's also quite relationship-driven. There's Cali's friendship with a young friend of Hope's, his complex relationship with Reese, and his protective attempts to help a new homeless girl on the scene. And it's a bit of a coming-of-age story for Cali, too, as he decides what he wants to do with his life, and even starts to take a course towards his GED. I found it a nice mix, and a quick read. I read it in a single sitting, and thought that Nelson's prose flowed well. 

Here's Cali musing on a runaway that he's looking for:

"He'd probably enjoyed his new freedom for the first couple days. Away from authority, from teachers and parents. But then the freedom gets to you. And the isolation. No family. No friends. Not even a dog. How many times can you go to McDonald's and eat cheeseburgers by yourself? How many days can you spend on the beach? How many nights can you sleep in your car? Not as many as you think." (Chapter Three)

The Prince of Venice Beach isn't entirely realistic, of course, but it does offer a YA-appropriate version of a private eye novel. Cali would, I think, admire Veronica Mars, were he ever to run across her. It has a unique premise and strong main character, a well-defined setting, and a fair bit of action. Recommended for teens (boys and girls) and escapist-leaning adults. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids) 
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Source of Book: Advance digital review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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20. From the Family Bookshelf – July

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We’re still on vacation right now, but that means we’ve had a chance to get some reading done. Both girls signed up for the library’s summer reading program. The Lil’ Diva has already surpassed her goal. The Lil’ Princess is making her way to her goal.

Since our arrival, the Lil’ Diva has read Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick. The Lil’ Princess brought Half Upon a Time by James Riley with her from home, but she’s been tied up reading the recently released Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell. We bought it this week at Downtown Books in Manteo.

Dad has actually gotten some reading in too. He’s still slowly reading Under the Dome: A Novel by Stephen King. He’s also reading The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman.

As for me, I’ve been trying to catch up on my massive TBR pile. Before we left, I had read Four Corners or A Book That Will Tickle Your Intellectual Nipple by Cary Smith and Breath of Spring by Charlotte Hubbard. Since we got here, I’ve managed to read A Nation Under Judgment by Richard Capriola and Corrie ten Boom by Kaylena Radcliff, part of the Torchlighters Series. I’m in the middle of Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey by Valerie Estelle Frankel.

That’s it for this issue of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’re enjoying your week.


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21. Hong Kong for beginners

 

From the outside Hong Kong is a shimmering enclave of mirrored high-rise towers, a former British outpost and a gateway to China – the ultimate fusion of East and West. But beyond the swanky shopping malls and five-star hotels, the city is a heady mix of contradictions – of urban cacophony and tranquil country parks, of staggering wealth and grinding poverty, a city that worships money but still respects tradition, an exotic place that has been inspiring writers for decades.

Countefeit Love by Julie FisonAmong the many books to put Hong Kong at centre stage are James Clavell’s Asian sagas: Tai-Pan and Noble House and John le Carré’s thriller The Honourable Schoolboy. Travel writer Jan Morris explored the city’s complex past and future in Hong Kong, a manual for Hong Kong newbies. Other celebrated novels set in the city include Han Suyin’s post-war love story – A Many-Splendoured Thing, John Lancaster’s epic, Fragrant Harbour, and Janice Y K Lee’s sumptuous historical novel, The Piano Teacher.

My new title for young adults is one of the latest novels to use Hong Kong’s vibrant skyline as its backdrop. Counterfeit Love is a thoroughly contemporary tale of a young television reporter who is trying to make a name for herself in Hong Kong. Lucy Yang’s skills and character are tested as she tries to get to the bottom of a big story. And when the gorgeous, but mysterious, Byron Lloyd starts turning up in unexpected places, she wonders if her perfect man is a sinister part of the story she’s chasing.

Counterfeit Love is a cocktail of ambition, intrigue and romance, and was inspired by my years as a news reporter with a Hong Kong television station. The story is definitely not autobiographical, but in writing it, I drew on my knowledge of Hong Kong, my experience in a newsroom and my memories of starting out in a city that was totally alien to me.

Noble HouseI spent five crazy years in Hong Kong and still vividly recall so much about it – the chaotic newsroom, the crowded MTR, the smell of frying garlic and the pong of fermented bean curd, the white-knuckle ride into the old Kai Tak airport, junk trips to the outlying islands and the sampan ride home at the end of a long night in the office. In my neighbourhood, old Hakka ladies shelled prawns in the sun, while young professionals belted out love songs on their karaoke machines. I had a colleague who often rode home from a night club on the roof of a taxi, just because he could, and a British friend who circled the Hongkong Bank anti clockwise twice every morning before going to work – on the advice of a feng shui master. He still endured his share of bad luck, but was never game to change the habit in case his fortune worsened.

Hong Kong was many things to me, but it was never boring!

Thanks for joining me for my first Boomerang Books Blog post. I will be returning regularly with more bookish news. In the meantime you can visit my website here or you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Happy reading,

Julie.

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22. In the After: Demitria Lunetta

Book: In the After
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Pages: 464
Age Range: 13 and up

In the After is the first of a two-book series by Demitria Lunetta (the second book was just released, though I haven't read it yet). In the After is set in the wake of a world-wide apocalypse caused by an invasion of predatory, man-eating creatures. 17-year-old Amy has lived for three years in hiding, alone except for the company of Baby, a young girl she rescued from a grocery store. Amy and Baby live in silence, for fear of drawing Them. They use sign language to speak, and have never even heard one another's voices.

They actually have things pretty good, all things considered. Amy's mother held an important government position, and their house is surrounded by an electric fence that keeps the monsters out. Her dad was an environmentalist who kept their home as off the grid as possible. Amy and Baby have electricity and water. But they do have to venture out among the creatures to scavenge for food. An encounter with other survivors on one of their trips starts a process that changes Amy and Baby's lives forever. 

In the After is a compelling read, one that will keep the reader guessing. The first part of the book takes place in and around Amy and Baby's home in Chicago. Without giving too much away, I'll say that the second part of the book takes place elsewhere, among other people. This is where Lunetta's storytelling really starts making the reader think. In brief, italicized scenes, Amy is in a mental ward. The rest of the story is told in intermittent flashbacks, as a mentally foggy Amy tries to pieces together how she got there. Because of Amy's fragile state, the reader isn't always sure how to interpret the flashbacks, which makes the story even more thought-provoking. 

The characters apart from Amy are distinct, though not always highly nuanced. Basically, we get to know Amy very well, and the other characters not so well. But Amy is great. Here are a few snippets, to give you a feel for her voice:

"I only go out at night.

I walk along the empty street and pause, my muscles tense and ready. The breeze rustles the overgrown grass and I tilt my head slightly. I'm listening for them." (Page 1)

"So much of who I used to be was about being good in school and having friends who were also good in school. We were, to put it simply, arrogant little know-it-alls. But I miss that." (Page 78)

"The arts were probably pointless now that everyone was focused on survival. I thought back to all my time alone, reading, as the world crumbled around me. It was the only thing that gave me solace and hope." (Page 191)

In addition to keeping the reader wondering about plot points, Lunetta is good at creating atmosphere. She makes the reader feel the creepiness of walking down a dark street where silent monsters might be a only few feet, and the helplessness of being trapped in a mental ward. 

In the After grabs the reader from the first page, and doesn't let go. Recommend for fans of YA dystopias, particularly of the alien invasion variety. Particularly recommended for those who enjoyed Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave. Readers who have read many dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories will notice certain universal themes, but I don't think this takes away enjoyment of the story. I think that In the After is a book that will especially appeal to adult readers, actually, though I would expect teens to enjoy it, too. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: HarperTeen (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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23. #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

It’s no surprise I’m a huge Patrick Ness fan. In the past I’ve written about how inspiring his work is as well as the time when I was actually able to meet him in person. I’ve also reviewed quite a few of his books:

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and the Answer
Monsters of Men
A Monster Calls

I’ve also interviewed the narrator for the audiobooks, Nick Podehl, whom is a personal favorite of mine. The way that Nick narrates The Knife of Never Letting Go will turn any non-audiobook fan into a audiobook listener for life. He’s brilliant!

Chaos Walking paperback

So when the publisher, Candlewick Press, reached out to me to offer a giveaway featuring the newly designed paperback covers for The Chaos Walking series I couldn’t resist. Not only do I love the redesign, but it also reminds me a bit of the UK edition that I love. Also, they’ve added additional content to each book! Each paperback includes a short story that was only previously available in eBook format. Candlewick has really done an excellent job with this new edition and I’m thrilled to have a full set to giveaway to one There’s A Book reader!

Giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Candlewick Press I have ONE FULL SET of this new edition of The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness which also includes a bonus short story within each book! Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US and Canadian residents only.

Ad1_PatrickNess

Find the new paperback edition of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 0763676187 / 9780763676186

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

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Original article: #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

©2014 There's A Book. All Rights Reserved.

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24. Competition Winner Is Announced

The competition to WIN a copy of Betrothed and Allegiance by Wanda Wiltshire as well as a handmade bookmark made by the author recently closed.  Fans and would be fans of the Betrothed series had some moving entries and pledges to very worthy causes. Wanda and I discussed each of the entries before declaring Ashlee […]

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25. It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader: Kelly Jensen

Book: It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader
Author: Kelly Jensen
Pages: 278
Age Range: Adult (reference title for librarians and others who do reader's advisory for teens)

I'm not quite the target audience for It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader, but I've been following Kelly Jensen's blog for years, and I have a lot of respect for her knowledge of and advocacy for young adult fiction. So when she had a contest on her blog to win a copy of It Happens, I decided to enter. And I won! So now I'm here to tell you a bit about the book. 

It Happens is a reference title for anyone who provides reader's advisory to teens, and wants to do better at recommending contemporary realistic fiction. As a blogger/reviewer, I do some of what Kelly calls "passive reader's advisory" (recommending titles, and discussing what interests a particular book might fall under). I can imagine doing more active reader's advisory (where you discuss a teen's interest with them and recommend specific titles) when my daughter and her friends are teenagers. In the meantime, I do a little of that with my nieces, friends who read YA, etc.

Anyway, this book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to get the right books into the hands of teens, particularly librarians and teachers. It Happens is both a primer on HOW to get the right book into the right hands and a resource with suggestions for exactly what those books might be. In Part 1, Kelly defines realistic contemporary young adult fiction, discusses why this genre is both important and under-publicized, and provides some general resources (book awards, etc.) for discovering titles. She also proposes methods for evaluating and categorizing YA titles, and concludes with a detailed chapter on reader's advisory skills. 

Here is Kelly's definition of contemporary YA, from the end of Chapter 1:

"Contemporary YA features young adult protagonists set in today's world incorporating today's issues, paralleling and intertwining with the values that every teen - and every reader - thinks about: family, friendship, growing up, loss, faith, the future, and many, many more." (Page 8)

She starts each chapter with a quote (some short, some long) from an author or a librarian or other gatekeeper. I found these quotations inspirational in many cases. Like this, from Lisa Schroeder:

"... But perhaps after closing the pages of a well-done contemporary YA novel, a teen will think: If she can make it through, I can, too." (Page 9)

That's why we're here, right? To find the books that can make a real different for kids. I also personally, as a member of the children's book blogging community, enjoyed seeing quotes from people whose blogs I've been reading for years, like Liz Burns and Sarah Gross. [Though I think it would have been helpful for readers less familiar with the community had at least the names of these people's blogs been included.] 

As a reviewer, I found that Chapter 4, on methods for evaluating fiction, resonated, even though (or perhaps because) some of the topics were things that I have been thinking about for a long time. Here's what Kelly has to say about critical evaluation:

"Critical evaluation highlights the elements of a text that work well and those that don't work quite so well. All books have their strengths and their weaknesses, and while critical evaluation sounds like a way to tease out and emphasize only the parts that don't work, that's not the case. Exploring what does and does not work at the same time offers a thorough means for understanding not just the book at hand, but fiction more widely. (Page 27)

All in all, I enjoyed the first part of the book, and learned a bit about book genres and reader's advisory. But for me, where It Happens really shines is in Part 2. In this section, Kelly provides fifteen book "annotations" for each of ten separate topics, thus profiling 150 books in detail. Her selections are all relatively current titles (from the past 10 years), and do not include the obvious, huge print run titles, which people already know about. 

Each annotation includes a cover image, a brief summary of the book, a link to the book's trailer, if available, and a list of "Appeal Factors" (e.g. "female main character", "moving", "deafness", etc.). The appeal factors are very useful (and an index of the factors is available at the end of the book). Kelly goes beyond the genres to get into real specifics, like books set in particular locations, books with people of color or non-traditional families, books about filmmaking or fishing, etc.  

Below that, Kelly also includes a brief section on "Read Alikes" for each book. These Read Alikes were what impressed me the most about It Happens. Rather than just including a list of similar books, Kelly discusses just what it is about this book that might appeal to readers who liked some other title. And then she'll also discuss other books that might make a good follow-on read, and WHY. These references, these connections between the books, really showcase Kelly's deep knowledge of the field. I didn't read every annotation in detail, but I found the Read Alikes fascinating. 

At the end of each chapter/topic, Kelly includes another list of related titles. Then, at the end of the book, she provides several chapters dedicated to books that are good conversations starters around specific issues like bullying and sexual assault. She discusses four or five books in detail for each topic. She gets into exactly what types of discussions a parent or teacher might launch based on having read each book. As the parent of a four year old girl, I'm hoping for an update of this section in about 8-10 years. But I'll keep this edition handy in any case. 

I do wish that It Happens was available as a digital text. It would be lovely to be able to click through to read more about the additional titles listed at the end of each section, or to click on an "Appeal Factor" listed at the end of a book profile and immediately bring up all of the other books listed under that same appeal factor. But it's nice to have It Happens in printed form as a reference to keep on my bookshelf, too. 

The very last chapter of It Happens is a call for readers of the book to advocate for contemporary YA fiction as a genre: to read extensively, and work hard to promote strong titles and get them into readers' hands. For example, Kelly suggests nominating strong contemporary YA titles for the YALSA and Cybils awards. [I, of course, especially appreciated several Cybils references throughout the book.] This is a positive note on which to leave readers, giving them strong next steps to take.  

I will also admit that I found parts of the book a bit physically difficult to read. It Happens is an oversize paperback, and while the format works well for the chapters with book descriptions, it's not quite a comfortable fit to put the book on your lap and read the first section straight through. Also, this section includes quite a few text boxes, set aside from the main text. Some of the text boxes were excerpts of the main text, while others were supplemental. I found this a bit confusing. Visually, the text boxes keep the oversized book from appearing too dense in the non-booklist sections, but functionally, I thought that the ones that didn't provide new information would have been better left out. But that's the most critical thing I have to say in my evaluation of the book. 

All in all, I think that It Happens is a useful resource for anyone who evaluates young adult fiction, including blogging reviewers like me. For those are true gatekeepers, out there in the trenches getting books into the hands of teens, it is essential. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: VOYA Press (@VOYAMagazine)
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Source of Book: Won from the author in a raffle

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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