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1. The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza: Review Haiku

I wish I could have
any faith that Joey will
be okay. RAAAAGE. Sigh.

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos. FSG, 2014, 176 pages.

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2. The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

This novel opens on October 27, 1942.  Helmuth Hübener, 17, has been imprisoned on death row in Plotzensee Prison, Berlin, charged with high treason against the Third Reich.  He had hoped the court would show lenicency because of his age, but that hope was now gone.  Sentenced to death, Helmuth recalls, in a series of flashbacks, the events in his life that led him to this day.

As a young child living in Hamburg, Helmuth hears his grandparents talk about their dislike of the Nazis and their leader, Adolf Hitler and Opa's predictions that Hitler wants war.  But Helmuth likes playing with his toy soldiers and thinks maybe he will be a soldier when he is old enough to fight.

But when Hitler seizes power in 1933, Helmuth sees everything around him change.  Teachers and schoolmates show their support for the new chancellor and begin harassing the Jewish students, Germans are told to boycott Jewish stores, enforced by SS and SA destroying their businesses.  Un-German books and movies are forbidden, and Helmuth is afraid that means Karl May's beloved stories about America's wild west, until his brother Gerhard tells him they are Hitler's favorites, too.

In 1935, Helmuth's mother begins seeing a Nazi named Hugo Hübener.  Hugo changes everything in their home and after the two marry, moves the family away from Opa and Oma.

In 1938, at age 12, Helmuth begins a new school, where he is immediately labelled a troublemaker by his teacher, a Nazi.  He is punished by having to write an essay with the title "Adolf Hitler: Savior of the Fatherland."  Helmuth knows he must bite the bullet and write the essay his teacher expects and in the end, even his teacher has to admit that he is a talented writer.  Helmuth is also required to join the Jungvolk, the younger version of the Hitler Youth.

When his older brother Gerhard is inducted into the army in 1939, he is sent to Paris for training.  Once the war begins, Helmuth suspects that the Reich's radio is not giving the German people the truth about what is going on.  When Gerhard returns from France, he bring a new forbidden short wave radio back with him., but hides it and tells Helmuth to leave it alone.  At first, Helmuth resists the temptation to listen to it, but after a while he can't resist any longer and each night, sets up the radio to hear the BBC broadcasts done in German.  And just as he suspected, the German people are indeed being lied to about German successes in the war.

Helmuth, who is a devout Mormon and who practices his faith throughout, convinces his two best friends from church, Rudi Wobbe and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, to help him create leaflets transcribing the BBC broadcasts to be distributed all over Hamburg.

Helmuth, Rudi and Karl are turned into the Gestapo by a supposed friend, put on trial and sentenced. Helmuth is the only one sentenced to death for high treason.  He had promised Rudi and Karl he would  take full responsibility, so they were only sentenced to imprisonment for a few years (which were shortened more when Germany lost the war).

It is through the flashbacks, that Bartoletti skillfully shows us Helmuth's development from a child who enthusiastically  supports the Nazis to an adolescent who critically questions what he sees going on around him to a courageous young man willing to risk death in order to tell people the truth about Hitler and the Nazis.  It makes for a very powerful story.

The Boy Who Dared is historical fiction based on a true story and is one of the reasons why Helmuth's story is so compelling.  I think that it is important for today's readers to understand that not everyone in Germany supported Hitler and his politics, but so many chose to remain silence about their feelings, like Helmuth's mother who told him that silence is how people get on sometimes. (pg 95)  In fact, we never really know how Helmuth's mother really feels.  She married a Nazi, but her family was basically against Hitler.

At the back of the novel, there are photographs of Helmuth, his friends and family, as well as an extensive, not to be skipped over Author's Note explaining how Bartoletti researched the novel and the people she interviewed.

Helmuth was the youngest resister of the Third Reich to be executed.  His story really makes you stop
Helmuth, age 16
and think about whether or not you might have had the kind of courage of your convictions that Helmuth had.  Did his actions impact anyone who knew him or read the leaflets he wrote?  Except for his stepfather, Hugo, who did become a changed man after Helmuth's execution,we will never know, but hopefully Helmuth's story will inspire others to find courage within themselves to speak out against injustice and lies regardless.

If you are moved by The Boy Who Dared, and would like to know more about what life was like for young people like Helmeth during the Third Reich, then be sure to look at Susan Campbell Bartoletti's excellent nonfiction book Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow. 

Scholastic offers an extensive lesson plan/discussion guide for readers of The Boy Who Dared which you can find HERE 

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was purchased for my personal library

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3. TURNING PAGES: EUPHEMIA FAN: SPY GIRL by Cassandra Neyenesch

I received this book courtesy of Full Fathom Five Digital and while normally I prefer digital books which have paper counterparts, I made an exception this time, for Reasons. FFF Digital is an imprint of Full Fathom Five, the content creation... Read the rest of this post

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4. The Port Chicago 50: Review Haiku

A infuriating story,
masterfully told.
Justice not served.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook, 2014, 208 pages.

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5. Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood: Review Haiku

For Armistice Day,
a look at a truly pointless,
horrible war.

Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood: A World War I Tale (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales) by Nathan Hale. Abrams, 2014, 128 pages.

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6. MMGM Links (11/10/14)

In the middle of the EVERBLAZE tour (if you're in Houston, come see me tonight at Blue Willow Bookshop at 5:00pm! And if you're in Dallas or Phoenix area, check my EVENTS PAGE for where to catch me) so my brain is a bit jet-lagged and loopy.

But here's the MMGM links--sorry if there's mistakes (and please don't email me with corrections, I won't be able to fix them)

- The Bookworm blog is back with a feature on um...EVERBLAZE (wow, already??? FAST reader!) Click HERE to see what they think.  
- R-Cubed is ALSO featuring EVERBLAZE--and she has a GIVEAWAY (thank you so much--and seriously, how do you guys read so quick!!!) Click HERE for details. 
- Suzanne Warr is spotlighting two of the WARRIORS manga. Click HERE to see why. 
- The Reading Nook is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--FACES OF THE DEAD. Click HERE for details. 
- Andrea Mack has chills for ICE DOGS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Mark Baker is rooting for NICK AND TESLA'S SUPER-CYBORG GADGET GLOVE. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--AT YOUR SERVICE. Click HERE for details. 
- Dorine White is letting her10-year-old gush about THE LONG HAUL. Click HERE for his feature.
- Greg Pattridge is cooked for POACHED. Click HERE to read his review.  
- Sue Heavenrich is focused on THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. Click HERE to see why 
- Katie Fitzgerald is cheering for MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- FT Bradley is caught up in TIME SQUARE: THE SHIFT. Click HERE to see her feature.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  




If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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7. Monday Mishmash: 11/10/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:

1. The Attic of Sand and Secrets by Medeia Sharif  I'm reading this right now!
THE ATTIC OF SAND AND SECRETS 
by Medeia Sharif

Vendor links will be updated on Medeia’s site.

Middle Grade Historical and Fantasy, Featherweight Press, November 2014

Lily, a learning disabled girl, attempts to unravel the mystery of her abducted mother using supernatural clues from an ancient stranger, even when it means posing a danger to herself.

Learning-disabled Lily desires to prove herself, although her mind freezes when presented with big problems - such as her mother's abduction. With a French father and Egyptian mother, Lily worries that her mother hid her ethnicity from her French in-laws. However, there's something deeper going on. Lily finds a way into an attic that's normally locked and encounters a mysterious, moonlit Egyptian night world. There she finds Khadijah, an ancient stranger who guides her to finding clues about her mother's whereabouts. Lily becomes a sleuth in both the real world and magical desert, endangering herself as she gets closer to the kidnapper.

Find Medeia – Multi-published YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Revisions  This week I'm revising one of my manuscripts I put aside for a while. It's always fun to go back and read a first draft I've stepped away from.

3. Some Fine Day by Kat Ross  Kat Ross has a new release and a giveaway for you.
What if everything you've been taught is a lie?

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.

She knows that the only species to thrive there is the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.

Most of all, she knows there's no place where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.

Turns out Jansin was wrong. On all counts…


Enter here to win a Kindle Paperwhite pre-loaded with Some Fine Day, plus other awesome YA audiobook giveaways!

4.  Reading/Reviewing  I'm reading a bunch of books that I need to review. It's nice to have to find time to read. Usually reading gets pushed aside for other things, but when I promise to review, I can't do that. ;)

5. Promo  My crazy month of events every week (some weeks more than one event) is over, but I do still have a signing set up for this month and two school visits coming up. This week I'll be trying to book another signing for the holidays.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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8. Half a World Away: Review Haiku

I wanted to love this,
but last-minute twist felt
unsupported, weak.

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata. Atheneum, 2014, 240 pages.

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9. Comics Squad: Recess: Review Haiku

All my (and my kids')
favorites in one handy volume?
Yes please. More please.

Comics Squad: Recess! edited by Jennifer L. Holm et al. Random House, 2014, 144 pages.

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10. MMGM Links (11/3/14)

AHHHHHHHH, EVERBLAZE'S LAUNCH WEEK IS FINALLY HERE!!!

I kinda can't believe it.

So if you're in SoCal, I hope you'll join us tonight for the Launch Party. Here's all the details, in case you missed it:



And TOMORROW is when EVERBLAZE officially releases. That's also when I leave for the 10-Day tour--it you're in Colorado, Utah, Texas, or Arizona, see my EVENTS PAGE for where to catch me. So please bear with me during the next couple of weeks, launch time is both exciting and SUPER DUPER hectic.

I will still do my best to keep up with MMGM, though. And here are this week's links:

- The Bookworm blog joins the MMGM fun with a feature on THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS. Click HERE for their spoiler-free review. 
- The B.O.B. is spinning a tale about A WHOLE NOTHER STORY. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Suzanne Warr is dishing about BONE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is reveling for REVEALED. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--THE PAPER COWBOY. Click HERE for details. 
- Dorine White is seeing through the EYES OF THE ENEMY, plus a spotlight on book 2. Click HERE for both features.
- Greg Pattridge is rooting for URBAN OUTLAWS. Click HERE to read his review.  
- Lucy at Booksylvania is spreading the word about ODETTE'S SECRETS. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Katie Fitzgerald is cheering for a PACK OF DORKS. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

0 Comments on MMGM Links (11/3/14) as of 11/3/2014 4:42:00 AM
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11. Classic MG Discussion: Animorphs

Hello, friends! This glorious day is finally upon us. Today is the day The Midnight Garden discusses Animorphs! We hope you were able to join us in reading Books 1-3. It’s such a lovely sci-fi series full of action, aliens, a diverse truly bad ass cast of kid characters, and spades emotional depth. All three of us ended up loving them; we hope you did as well! Let’s dive in! General Thoughts Layla: This was delightful and I wish I’d been reading these alongside Goosebumps when I was a baby! There’s so much reading I missed out on! On the bright side, I’m sure my loss was the family dog’s gain; she probably wouldn’t have appreciated my attempts to acquire her DNA. Wendy: I never read these either, but man oh man, would I have been all over them as a kid. As I was reading book one, I realized... Read more »

The post Classic MG Discussion: Animorphs appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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12. Middle Grade Contemporary - Star of the Team by Beverly Stowe McClure

I first met Beverly when I embarked on my writing career in 2007 and we have remained connected ever since. Not only do I enjoy Beverly's style of storytelling I have enjoyed and continue enjoy our personal connection. It is my hope some day to meet in person. For now I will have to rely on cyberspace and email exchanges to stay connected. 

Congratulations Beverly on your latest MG novel! Without further ado, I'm proud to share the book and bio information for Star of the Team and Beverly Stowe….

Applause, applause…



STAR OF THE TEAM
MG contemporary

Blurb:

A girl.
A dream.
An accident.
A dream shattered.

Eleven-year-old Kate Taylor dreams of being the star of her basketball team, Angels. When Kate’s tooth is knocked out at one of the games and her mother, who is also her coach, says she can’t play until the tooth the dentist replants heals, Kate’s dreams are in jeopardy. Add Emily, the new girl at school who claims she’s the best, and Kate faces a challenge to prove that she is the star.

Will Kate succeed? Or will Emily ruin Kate’s plans?

Links:

Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/18r6ox4

Bev’s Bio:

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

For twenty-two years Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

Bev, it's a pleasure hosting you today! Doing the Snoopy dance in celebrating your latest accomplishment!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author


Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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13. Always Abigail: Review Haiku

Classic middle-grade
about mean girls, nice girls, and
doing the right thing.

Always Abigail by Nancy J. Cavanaugh. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2014, 320 pages.

0 Comments on Always Abigail: Review Haiku as of 10/29/2014 7:13:00 AM
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14. MMGM Links (10/27/14)

Well, we are now 8 days from the release of EVERBLAZE (7 days from the launch party!!)

THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE! 

:)

I've compiled all the recent updates into one handy post you can find HERE. And thank you all for bearing with me--and sharing my excitement--during these crazy days!


Okay, onto the MMGM links:

- Jess at the Reading Nook is gushing about THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH--with a giveaway! Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Reader Noir has chills for NIGHTMARES. Click HERE to see their review.  
- Mark Baker has a double feature this week. Click HERE to see what he thought of THE MYSTERY OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN. And click HERE to see his review of THE MYSTERY OF THE GHOSTLY GALLEON.  
- Katie Fitzgerald is cheering for RAIN REIGN. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Suzanne Warr is haunted by THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson has found magic in ABRACADABRA, TUT. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--a hardcover copy of COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS. Click HERE for details. 
- Sue Heavenrich is rooting for FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY, along with an author interview. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Amara Jabber thinks everyone must BEWARE OF THE HAUNTED TOILET. Click HERE to see why. 
- Dorine White has a very special tribute to the students at Marysville Pilchuck high school, where her daughter actually attends. Not middle grade related, per se, but definitely worth a read. Click HERE for more.
- Greg Pattridge is digging WRITTEN IN STONE. Click HERE to read his review.  
- Jenny Enzor is featuring THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM--1963. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

0 Comments on MMGM Links (10/27/14) as of 10/27/2014 8:37:00 AM
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15. Review: Gracefully Grayson

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Grayson Sender is twelve years old.

Grayson is lonely, even surrounded by classmates, even at home, living with cousins, an aunt and uncle.

Grayson is lonely in part because of Grayson's parents death years ago, leading to Grayson being the odd child out at home.

Grayson is lonely because Grayson cannot connect with others because Grayson is hiding the most important part of who Grayson is.

In Gracefully Grayson, Grayson gradually gains trust and friends until Grayson can reveal the truth: that Grayson is a girl inside. Grayson is a transgender girl.

The Good: I'll be honest Grayson broke my heart, because of how lonely she is. Of how unable to connect with those around her.

At school, Grayson tries out for the play and takes her first step towards her true self by asking to play the part of a girl. One of the happy-tear moments I had was -- spoilers -- when the cast welcomed Grayson, became her friend, treated her like they'd treat anyone else.

Then there were the sad-tears of those who bullied Grayson, and of Grayson's aunt who believes that Grayson is in part causing the problems by not continuing to hide her truth.

And I cried at all the things Grayson did, in hiding. Doodling pictures of girls, but doing it in such a way that people wouldn't know. "If you draw a a triangle with a circle resting on the top point, nobody will be able to tell that it's a girl in a dress. To add hair, draw kind of a semicircle on top. If you do this, you'll be safe, because it looks like you're just doodling shapes."

Loving glitter pens and being prepared with lies to explain why she has the purple and pink ones.

Wearing a sweatband to pretend it's a hairband.

Pretending basketball pants and a t-shirt are somehow a gown, with the wide pants a full skirt.

And how important it is to Grayson, to anyone, to have their own truth by the truth others see. That it's harmful, the years and the lies of pretending to be something other than who she is.

At the end of Gracefully Grayson, someone tells Grayson that "I know it may feel like there are people who are against you, but I want you to remember that most people in the world are good. Look for the people who extend a hand to you. And when they do take it." This, in a nutshell, sums up the book. There are people against Grayson, for various reasons. But there are just as many good people in Grayson's world.

And the question left to the reader is this: is the reader one of the good ones? Does the reader extend a hand to those around them?

I'm making this one of my Favorite Books of 2014, because it is such a beautiful book and Grayson is such an endearing twelve year old.

Links: author interview at Diversity in YA; Bookfabulous Review; Robert Bittner Review at Gay YA;



Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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16. Curse of the Granville Fortune Release Day Scavenger Hunt!


Let the hunt begin!

Curse of the Granville Fortune officially releases into the world today! This middle grade fantasy adventure involves a race to a treasure, so there's a scavenger hunt to celebrate.

But first, check out the cover and blurb:



Find the fortune, break the curse!

The hunt is on for an ancient treasure tied to nine-year-old J.B.'s family history. He's been having visions that make him sweaty, lightheaded, and certain he’s turning into some kind of freak—or worse, going insane. But things are worse than he imagined. The visions stem from a family curse. An ancient ancestor was accused of stealing the massive Granville fortune, and now J.B.’s entire family will suffer.

To break the curse, J.B. must find and return the Granville’s stolen property. But he's not the only one searching for the treasure. As he sets out on his journey through a dark and foreboding forest, he'll battle his worst fears and fight terrifying creatures along the way. And when he meets two others who share the missing pieces of his visions and suffer from the same curse, the three soon realize they need to work together to break the curse before it's too late.

Order it on Amazon or B&N.

Now for the scavenger hunt. Below is a list of bloggers helping out with the hunt. Visit each of their pages and collect a letter that is "hidden" in their post in either a different color or a larger font size. See what I did there? Hmm, is that the first letter clue? ;) If you go through the list in order, the word will spell itself out for you. If you don't go in order, you'll have to unscramble the word. Either way is fine and totally up to you. Then enter the word on the rafflecopter form for bonus entries. You don't have to find the word to enter the giveaway, but the word will earn you the most entries.

What's up for grabs?

SWAG from ALL of my books!

Yes, that's right. There's a drawstring bag, coins, buttons, a mood ring, a heart bracelet, a flame pendant, trading cards, a key, and bookmarks! All this loot could be yours!

Here are the stops for the scavenger hunt (in order):

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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17. MMGM Links (10/20/14)

Since we are so incredibly close to the release of EVERBLAZE, plan on me (shamelessly) starting these posts with a few updates.

First: the EVERBLAZE pre-order giveaway is in full swing, so if you missed the post--and you want to get your free swaggish goodies--make sure you go HERE.

I've also announced another of my EVERBLAZE tour stops (Salt Lake City--WOOOO!). You can find details about all my upcoming events HERE.

Phew--okay, that wasn't so bad, right? And now, onto the MMGM links:

- Suzanne Warr is highlighting LUG: Dawn of the IceAge. Click HERE to see why.
- Rcubed is gushing about TURTLE IN PARADISE. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Michelle Mason has a special series recommendation on THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE. Click HERE to see why
- Sue Heavenrich is convinced that THERE WILL BE BEARS. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Amara Jabber has chills for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. Click HERE to see her review. 
- Dorine White is GIVING AWAY books 1-4 of The Code Buster's Club. Click HERE for details.
- Greg Pattridge thinks SMASHER is simply smashing. Click HERE to read his review.  
- Susan Uhlig has two middle grade recommendations for you, A SNICKER OF MAGIC, and THREE TIMES LUCKY. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Andrea Mack is dishing about WHO WHAT WEAR: The Allegra Biscotti Collection #2.  Click HERE to see her feature.  
- Susan Olson is cheering TUT, TUT. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

0 Comments on MMGM Links (10/20/14) as of 10/20/2014 7:47:00 AM
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18. Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus: Review Haiku

I don't even want
to think about how bad this
pickle guy must smell.

Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger. Amulet/Abrams, 2014, 224 pages.

0 Comments on Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus: Review Haiku as of 10/20/2014 6:24:00 AM
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19. Monday Mishmash: 10/6/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Into the Fire is a Cybils Awards Nominee!  So, I found out Into the Fire was nominated for the Cybils in the YA Speculative Fiction Category. Yeah, I'm a little excited. :) See the nominees here.
  2. Curse of the Granville Fortune Blog Tour  I can't believe the release of Curse of the Granville Fortune (MG fantasy) is just around the corner. The 21st will be here soon, so I'm finalizing my blog tour posts this week.
  3. Another Book Drafted  Last week I finished drafting a new book and I'm sort of in love with it.
  4. My Husband's Birthday  It's my husband's birthday today!
  5. FREE Monthly Newsletter  My FREE monthly newsletter may have gone out yesterday, a day early. I may have accidentally only set the time to post instead of the day to post. ;) Didn't get one? Stay on top of my giveaways, book news, and writing tips by signing up for my newsletter here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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20. MMGM Links (10/6/14)

Managed to put together the MMGM links again (now if only I could hit my word count requirement for the day and go to bed... *glances at clock* *sighs*).

Also, if you missed it, I've announced the Official EVERBLAZE Launch Party details, so if you're in SoCal, make sure you check HERE to mark your calendars. And don't worry, I still have all kinds of fun things coming, including the rest of my tour info, as well as the pre-order giveaway, the launch of the soon-to-be-newly updated keeperofthelostcities.com, and more!

So keep checking back regularly, and in the meantime, here's some awesome middle grade recs floating around the blogosphere from the other MMGMers.

- The B.O.B. has chills for GIANTS AND ICE. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Sue Heavenrich is hearing a WHISTLE IN THE DARK. Click HERE to see why. 
- Amara Jabber is dishing about WAIT TILL HELEN COMES. Click HERE to see her review. 
- Suzanne Warr is sharing some of the incredible insights she gained from the Dave Wolverton/Farland seminar she attended. Click HERE to check that out. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is seeing stars for ALL FOUR STARS--and GIVING AWAY a copy.  Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Greg Pattridge is in love with THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA. Click HERE to read his review.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

0 Comments on MMGM Links (10/6/14) as of 10/6/2014 6:33:00 AM
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21. Alvin Ho #6: Review Haiku

I don't understand
how Alvin's parents didn't
EFFING MURDER HIM.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Schwartz & Wade, 2014, 176 pages.

0 Comments on Alvin Ho #6: Review Haiku as of 10/13/2014 6:10:00 AM
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22. MMGM Links (10/13/14)

We are getting SO CLOSE to the Launch of EVERBLAZE, so make sure you're checking my blog regularly for all the updates.

I've announced three of my upcoming tour stops, as well as the So Cal Launch party. You can find that information HERE. And there's so much more to come. More tour stops. A new KEEPER website. And tomorrow I'll be launching the pre-order giveaway!

But in the meantime, here's the MMGM links:

- The B.O.B. is sharing a peek at what it's like to go to one of Rick Riordan's BoO tour stops. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Jenny Enzor is going out of her mind for OUT OF MY MIND. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Mark Baker is showcasing SPACE CASE. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Sue Heavenrich wants you to know that ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER. Click HERE to see why.   
- Jess at the Reading Nook is finding A MILLION WAYS HOME. Click HERE to see her feature. 
- Susan Olson is gushing about SACAGAWEA'S STRENGTH (BLAST FROM THE PAST). Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Amara Jabber was caught by THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND. Click HERE to see her review. 
- Suzanne Warr is seeing new heights for ROOFTOPPERS. Click HERE to see why.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is revieing--and GIVING AWAY--DASH.  Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Dorine White is cheering for CLAUDE ON THE SLOPES. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Greg Pattridge is swooning over THE BLOSSOMING UNIVERSE OF VIOLET DIAMOND. Click HERE to read his review.  
- Susan Uhlig has two middle grade recommendations for you. Click HERE to see what they are.  
- Kim Aippersbach has chills for THE BONESHAKER. Click HERE to see her feature.  
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

0 Comments on MMGM Links (10/13/14) as of 10/13/2014 8:09:00 AM
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23. Gracefully Grayson: Review Haiku

Sensitively done;
a testament to the power
of great theatre.

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. Hyperion, 2014, 256 pages.

0 Comments on Gracefully Grayson: Review Haiku as of 10/15/2014 7:25:00 AM
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24. Top Secret Files of History: Spies, Secret Missions, & Hidden Facts from World War II by Stephanie Bearce

World War II is like an iceberg - the parts of it that we read about in history books or even learn in the classroom are really just the tip of the iceberg.  Below the surface, hidden from sight, are all kinds of secrets, deceptions and subterfuge that helped win the war.  So, what are some of them?

Well, Stpehanie Bearce has culled some of the more interesting aspects of wartime secrets and put them together in this small, but very interesting book.  Young readers will learn not only how one became a spy for England, training in the grand estates around the country requisitioned for that purpose, but they will read about the Ghost Army that fought the war with rubber trucks, tanks, planes and weapons.  Rubber?  That's right.  And that's not all they did.

Kids will how read about how an Australian journalist turned spy called The White Mouse became a bane of Nazi existence because of her ability to give them the slip while working with the French resistance.   Or how one man, Christopher Hutton, invented the silk map, making life so much easier for Allied pilots and parachutists, because their maps were now so lightweight and indestructible.  Hutton went on to invent other useful things for soldiers, including a special Monopoly game that could be sent to POWs and contained escape equipment.

There is lots of interesting information about secret missions, like, exactly what Julia Child was cooking up during the war.  Or the secret city that really didn't exist but did exist, and designed to fool the Japanese.  And readers will learn all about Rat Bombs, Bat Bombs and Doodlebugs.

But my personal favorite was the section on Code Talkers.  I've always liked codes and ciphers, especially the Enigma (one of these days I am hoping to post instructions for making a simplified Enigma out of a Pringles container).   And I, like many of you, have heard of the Navajo Code Talkers, but never really understood how the coding worked.  Bearce gives a short history about this special group of men, and how they devised their code, and includes a simplified dictionary for solving her Code Talker's Challenge.

In fact, in each of the five sections that the book is divided into there are corresponding projects that kids can do or things they can make, such as a simple spy obstacle course or a fingerprint kit, or even a book safe.

Scattered throughout each chapter are sidebars of even more interesting information or facts that will intrigue readers, such as how Ian Fleming came up with the name Jame Bond for his famous agent 007.  And at the back, you will find Bibliography and a list of websites where readers can get additional information on all the topics covered.

Spies, Secret Missions & Hidden Facts from World War II is sure to please budding history buffs and anyone else who just likes a secret.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the publisher

A 5 copy giveaway of Spies, Secret Missions & Hidden Facts from World War II is going on over at Goodreads until October 28, 2014, so head on over there if this sounds like a book you would like to own.

0 Comments on Top Secret Files of History: Spies, Secret Missions, & Hidden Facts from World War II by Stephanie Bearce as of 10/18/2014 11:38:00 AM
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25. Monday Mishmash 10/20/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Curse of the Granville Fortune Releases Tomorrow!  I can't believe tomorrow is the big day! My middle grade fantasy will be available 10/21.
  2. Out of the Ashes on Goodreads  You can now add Out of the Ashes, book two in the Birth of the Phoenix Series, on Goodreads.
  3. #IntotheFireChallenge  Halloween will be here before you know it, so get your review of Into the Fire up on Amazon to be entered for a chance to become a phoenix in the third book in the Birth of the Phoenix Series. You could also win signed copies of all three books in the series.
  4. Beth Fred's Writing Class  My friend Beth Fred is teaching another class through Colorado Romance Writer. It's called The Art of Blurb Writing. Sign up here.
  5. Witches Three Tour  I signed at Books-A-Million in Exton, PA last Saturday along with Jennifer Murgia and Molly Cochran. Jen and I will be signing at BAM in the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, PA this Saturday from 1-3pm. Come see us if you're in the area.
Here are some fun pictures from last Saturday.


That's it for me. What's on your mind today?



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