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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: book recommendations, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 272
1. Great MG nonfiction book, whether or not you're a baseball fan: BASEBALLOGY by Kevin Sylvester

At the Ontario Library Association Super Conference, the OLA Best Bets Committee said that Kevin Sylvester's middle grade non-fiction book BASEBALLOGY: SUPERCOOL FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW (Annick Press) was a fascinating read, whether or not you're a fan of baseball. "...This book pulls you in as it shares a wealth of historical facts, scientific explanations, and general information on anything and everything baseball. Sylvester delivers non-fiction material in his signature compelling, storytelling style."

I confess I'm not a huge baseball fan, but the rave review during the presentation has convinced me that I need to check this book out!

More info about BASEBALLOGY on the Annick Press site.

More info about Kevin Sylvester and his books.

Side note: to those who heard my keynote at the SCBWI-Florida Regional Conference, Kevin is also the MINRS author I mentioned, who advises that you need to be ready when lightning does strike.

The OLA Best Bets lists were just announced yesterday. Full lists should be online at the Ontario Library Association website soon. I was super-honoured that Where Are My Books? was chosen for their Top Ten Picture Books list!

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2. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for January

Our favorite books this month celebrate the differences that make us great, inspire us to believe and dream, reinforce the power of friendship (real or imaginary!), and take us on an epic journey with two supervillains.

Which of our five favorites will you read this month?

For Pre-K – K (ages 3-6)

happy in our skin children's picture book diversityHappy in Our Skin  By: Fran Manushkin

For families of all stripes comes a sweet celebration of what makes us unique—and what holds us together. Fran Manushkin’s rollicking text and Lauren Tobia’s delicious illustrations paint a breezy and irresistible picture of the human family—and how wonderful it is to be just who you are.

 

For Grades 1-2 (ages 6-8)

Dream Drum Girl Children's picture book diverse kids book on music

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music  By: Margarita Engle

Girls cannot be drummers.

Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

 

For Grades 3-4 (ages 8-10)

Crenshaw kid's Book on HomelessnessCrenshaw By: Katherine Applegate

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

 

 

For Grades 5-6 (ages 10-12)

Bayou Magic Book

Bayou Magic By: Jewell Parker Rhodes

A magical coming-of-age story from Coretta Scott King honor author Jewell Parker Rhodes, rich with Southern folklore, friendship, family, fireflies and mermaids, plus an environmental twist.

 

 

 

 

For 7th Grade & up (Ages 13+):

nimona_noelle_stevensonNimona By: Noelle Stevenson

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

 

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for January appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. The Rest of the Best MG & YA Books of 2015

Those end-of-the-year “best of” book lists can be rough. When you try to come up with only ten or fifteen titles, chances are some very worthy books aren’t going to be included, especially some of those published earlier in the year. It also seems like the same titles are always being mentioned; no doubt those books are great, but let’s share the love a little, yeah? Here then, from PubCrawlers and friends, are our picks for the best middle grade and young adult books of 2015 that you probably won’t find on any other lists. These are terrific choices for last-minute gifts for the readers in your life! In no particular order:

INFANDOUS by Elana K. Arnold. This is a gorgeous, lyrical coming-of-age contemporary (and I don’t often read contemporary!) YA novel set in LA. —recommended by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong, Thomas Dunne, 2016)

THE STORYSPINNER by Becky Wallace. This book is an easy to slip into YA fantasy, laced with magic and romance, and with a creative MC who I rooted for throughout the entire book. —recommended by Stephanie Garber (Caraval, Flatiron/Macmillan, 2016)

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ZEBULON FINCH by Daniel Kraus. It was marketed as YA but probably holds more appeal to adults. It follows the extraordinarily long life of Zebulon Finch, who’s murdered as a teenager, but comes back to life and can’t die. I don’t know if you can call a book like this a Bildungsroman, but it has the feel of one. The writing is spectacular, and Kraus somehow manages to make this really horrible character sympathetic and likable. —recommended by Rachel Seigel

CONSPIRACY OF BLOOD AND SMOKE by Anne Blankman. The sequel to PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, it’s amazing historical fiction set in Germany during the rise of the Nazis, and it’s a dang good story. —recommended by Julie Eshbaugh (Ivory and Bone, HarperCollins, 2016)

THIS MONSTROUS THING by MacKenzie Lee is a steampunk retelling of Frankenstein from the perspective of a teenaged mechanic who repairs human “clockwork” parts. A fascinating look at what it means to be human. —recommended by Stacey Lee (Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, G.P. Putnam’s Sons for Young Readers, 2016)

ZEROBOXER by Fonda Lee is a science fiction thriller set in a world where zero-gravity boxing can elevate one’s standing in society. Absorbing and fast-paced! —recommended by Stacey Lee

CITY OF THIRST by Carrie Ryan and JP Davis. The sequel to MAP TO EVERYWHERE, this fun adventure series is on par with Harry Potter–it has the most imaginative world I’ve ever been immersed in, and the characters are brilliantly written, funny, brave, and just wonderful. It’s not just a huge hit with me–it’s also my nephew’s favorite book! Definitely dive into this story! —recommended by Beth Revis (Across the Universe, The Body Electric, Paper Hearts)

THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH by Courtney C. Stevens, which is the wrenching and poignant story of a car crash survivor whose mental and physical scars have isolated her from everyone she knows and loves.  Court has this gift of being able to look the worst parts of life unflinchingly in the face and somehow still see hope, along with the capacity for healing and change. Lies is one of those books that makes me sniffle and then smile within the space of a few pages. —recommended by Bethany Hagen (Landry Park, Jubilee Manor)

FIRES OF INVENTION by J. Scott Savage. It is about a couple of kids who defy the “no inventing” rule in their underground city and build a steam-powered dragon huge enough to ride. I don’t think I’ve ever read a steampunk with this much heart. It was well written, chock full of action, had great characters and fascinating conflicts and plenty of mysteries to keep you dying to find out what happens next. And did I mention a STEAM-POWERED DRAGON?! —recommended by Peggy Eddleman (Sky Jumpers)

FIG by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz. Beautifully written, moving story and complex characters. —recommended by Elisa Ludwig (Pretty Crooked, Pretty Sly, Pretty Wanted, Coin Heist)

UPDRAFT by Fran Wilde. It’s rare to encounter such an original and fascinating setting as this city with its living bone towers, winged citizens, and frightening sky monsters. Wilde has built a world with a detailed, believable history and society, and layered the story with intrigue, action, and compelling characters—rich with themes of tradition, progress, ambition, and class struggles that will resonate with readers. —recommended by E.C. Myers (Fair Coin, Quantum Coin, The Silence of Six)

infandous
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4. Book-combo holiday gift idea: THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE by Kat Yeh

Rereading my friend Kat Yeh's debut middle grade book THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE makes me think how great a holiday gift this book would be. Twinkie Pie is my favorite kind of book: a wonderful voice, characters I care about and an unexpected but thoroughly satisfying ending. See my interview with Kat on Inkygirl earlier this year.

Anyway, here are a few fun gift packaging ideas:

- Combine this book with the ingredients for one of the many excellent recipes in this book for a middle grader who likes to cook/bake.

- Great hostess gift for your favorite librarian or kidlit book lover: a copy of this book along with a a yummy baked Twinkie Pie (or No-Peek Chicken, Maybe Even Better Soup, Madder'n Heck Smashed Potatoes, Special-Occasion Fancy Sandwiches, Pull-Aparts, Easier-Than-Pie Pudding, Impossible Pie, Tangled-Up Pie, Heartbreak On Toast, Pick Me Up, Cherries In The Snow or one of the other recipes)

- Other combo gift items you could include: baking or cooking utensils or tools, a cookbook, Twinkies :-))

You can find out more about The Truth About Twinkie Pie and Kat Yeh on her website.

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5. THE NEST by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen

I read middle grade novel THE NEST (written by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Jon Klassen) in one sitting last night. Totally lives up to the hype. I'm a horror fan and this was genuinely scary, with tension and dread gradually building to a nightmare-inducing climax. Yowza.

If you or your 8-12 year old are looking for a good Halloween read, I strongly recommend THE NEST.

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR in the U.S. and by HarperCollins in Canada.

 

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6. Halloween Reads: BOO-LA-LA WITCH SPA and THE GHOSTS GO SPOOKING

Looking for some new Halloween books to share with young readers? Here are two recent releases that would make fun read-a-louds:

BOO-LA-LA Witch Spa, written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Penguin Random House):

 and THE GHOSTS GO SPOOKING, written by Chrissy Bozik and illustrated by Patricia Storms (Scholastic Canada):

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7. Need a great fall read? Check these out

One of the most rewarding experiences being connected to the writing world is seeing people you think are amazing and talented blow up and become wild successes. This year was an incredibly fruitful time for some of the writers I'm fondest of as both writers and human beings, and I'm delighted to point you to them!

Check these out...


I first met Sarah McCarry way back in 2010, when she was secretly writing her legendary blog The Rejectionist. I finagled a way to meet her in New York and we've been great friends ever since. In addition to publishing the awesome Guillotine chapbooks, she's now the author of the wildly acclaimed trilogy All Our Pretty Songs, Dirty Wings, and now About a Girl

All three books are incredible coming of age stories featuring intertwined characters in different times, with mythology weaving through. Sarah is one of the finest writers I know and even apart from the compelling narratives, the prose alone is worth the purchase.


Back in 2007, I was a literary agent on the hunt for new authors and Lisa Brackmann sent me one of the best query letters I've ever received. A few years and many revisions later, that book became Rock Paper Tiger and received a rave in the New York Times.

Following Hour of the Rat in 2013, Lisa has now completed a trilogy with Dragon Day. One of the most amazing qualities of Lisa's books is the way she's able to weave in seemingly disparate cultural threads, her deep on-the-ground knowledge of China, and a knack for realistic suspense into wildly compelling narratives.


I met Carmiel Banasky through Sarah McCarry a few years ago, and at the time she was putting the finishing touches on an intriguing literary novel. That novel, The Suicide of Claire Bishop found a publisher, rave reviews from everyone, and is now out for you to read.

The Suicide of Claire Bishop has the type of mind-bending plot you don't often find in literary fiction. In the 1950s, a woman's husband commissions a painting for her. The artist disturbingly depicts her suicide, and her life starts to unravel. In the 2000s, a man with schizophrenia comes across the painting and improbably thinks his ex-girlfriend is the artist, which is impossible unless she can time travel. Weaving all this together is some of the best prose I've come across in a long time.


Daniel José Older is one of the last authors I started working with before I left agenting. We went through many rounds of revisions on an incredible young adult novel set in a Brooklyn alive with Afro-Caribbean mythology, where graffiti paintings come alive and dark spirits are threatening.

Shadowshaper is another book that has received starred review after starred review after starred review, and it was so awesome to see it come to life after all the hard work that I saw Daniel put into it.


Anyone who hasn't heard of Ransom Riggs' wildly popular Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will likely do so in short order when the Tim Burton film adaptation comes out in March.

But in the meantime, you can content yourself with the third book in the series, Library of Souls. These innovative novels combine found photographs that are interwoven into a charming and spine-tingling alternate world.


Can't believe I know these talented people! You can't go wrong with their books.

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8. THE KIDNEY HYPOTHETICAL: OR HOW TO RUIN YOUR LIFE IN SEVEN DAYS by Lisa Yee (Arthur Levine Books)

Just finished THE KIDNEY HYPOTHETICAL: OR HOW TO RUIN YOUR LIFE IN SEVEN DAYS by Lisa Yee​ (Arthur Levine Books, Mar/2015). I've been a fan of Lisa's since MILLICENT MIN, and I thoroughly enjoyed her new YA. What I love about all of Lisa's books, including this one: the wry sense of humor, flawed and appealing characters, how the relationships develop throughout the story. And who could NOT love a character named Higgs Boson Bing? :-)

More info about THE KIDNEY HYPOTHETICAL on Lisa's website.

Read the (starred) review in Kirkus.

This book is on YALSA's BFYA nomination list!

Synopsis:

"Lisa Yee gives us her most fascinating flawed genius since Millicent Min.

Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed. Then it's on to Harvard to fulfill the fantasy portrait of success that he and his parents have cultivated for the past four years. Four years of academic achievement. Four years of debate championships. Two years of dating the most popular girl in school. It was, literally, everything his parents could have wanted. Everything they wanted for Higgs's older brother Jeffrey, in fact.

But something's not right. And when Higgs's girlfriend presents him with a seemingly innocent hypothetical question about whether or not he'd give her a kidney . . . the exposed fault lines reach straight down to the foundations of his life. . . ."

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9. Booktweet: BONE GAP by Laura Ruby

What I just tweeted:

Just heard that BONE GAP made the 2015 National Book Award Longlist!

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10. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorites for August

Our favorite books this month will get kids exploring the outdoors, show them the importance of kindness and illustrate the bond between parents and children, no matter the distance. You’ll also find a beautiful coming-of-age story for older readers and a tale about life during wartime.

Pre-K – K (ages 3-6)

outdoor_oppositesOutdoor Opposites by Brenda Williams

Jenn’s pick this month: “This colorful book featuring a diverse group of friends is perfect for young children! Use it to get kids up and moving, learning about opposites, and exploring the great outdoors.”

Grades 1-2 (ages 6-8)

the_invisible_boyThe Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Kelsey’s pick this month: “I love this book! It will speak to any child who has ever gone unnoticed and help all kids understand how kindness can fill others and bring color to the world.”

 

 

Grades 3-4 (ages 8-10)

knock_knock_sfapKnock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty

Miriam’s pick this month: “So moving and so beautiful! This compassionate story of a son’s love for his father despite their separation will touch readers of all ages.”

 

 

Grades 5-6 (ages 10-12):

war_that_saved_my_lifeThe War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Alison’s pick this month: “I can’t stop talking about this book! It’s one of the most honest and accessible books I’ve read about the long-term impacts of neglect and abuse, and an empowering look at life with a disability. On top of all that? It’s an engrossing novel about life in war-time, finding family, and allowing yourself to feel and show love – to yourself, and to others.”

7th & up (Ages 13+):

aristotle_dante_discover_1Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Matthew’s pick this month: “This is one of the most honest and beautiful coming-of-age stories about personal identity, relationships, and love (both platonic and romantic) that I have ever read. Aristotle and Dante’s poetic journey will stay with you.”

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorites for August appeared first on First Book Blog.

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11. Nine Halloween Reading Recommendations!

Book Recommendation banner

by Team PubCrawl

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, READERS! Some of the members of Team PubCrawl wanted to share our recent Halloween-esque favorites! I hope you’ll let us know what spooky reads you’ve discovered recently in the comments section.

ADAM SILVERA: Rooms by Lauren Oliver breathes new life into ghost stories. There’s an ensemble cast, and my favorite narrators were Alice and Sandra, two ghosts inhabiting the walls of this old house. There are family secrets, the sudden appearance of a new ghost, stunning prose, surprising humanity from the ghosts, and a glowing ending. It’s not a tale of vengeance or a typical journey toward redemption, but it’s definitely a unique kind of ghost story you should check out.

ERIN BOWMAN: Between the Spark and the Burn by April Tucholke, which just came out in August! It’s the sequel to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and both are incredibly creepy, haunting and atmospheric. Perfect Halloween reads for anyone craving a little gothic horror.

SUSAN DENNARD: So…I might have devoured the entire Fever series by Karen Marie Moning recently. What with the brooding dudes, terrifying monsters like you can’t (and don’t want to) imagine, and the whole plot revolving around Samhain (a.k.a. Halloween), I cannot imagine a more atmospheric (and smexy!) read for Halloween.

JULIE ESHBAUGH: I recommend Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly trilogy for Halloween season! The series is set in a fantastic, alternate-history world with a thrilling gothic feel. I loved traveling from nineteenth-century Philadelphia to Paris to Egypt with the amazing Eleanor as she battled an evil necromancer (all with romance thrown in, of course!).

JORDAN HAMESSLEY: I recommend the Women Destroy Horror issue of Nightmare Magazine edited by Ellen Datlow featuring great horror short fiction and non-fiction discussing women in the genre. It’s totally badass.

S. JAE-JONES: I recommend Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan, the final book in the Lynburn Legacy trilogy. A spin on gothic tropes, it has a mixed-race Japanese heroine in a picturesque English town. The town, of course, has dark, dark secrets. Oh, and invest in some Kleenex stock because SARAH REES BRENNAN WILL WILL OUT YOUR HEART AND EAT IT. She thrives on the tears of her readers, like a YA Erzebet Bathory.
KAT ZHANG: I just finished The Madman’s Daughter, and it’s definitely Halloween creepy!
JANICE HARDY: Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson! Very creepy, wonderful demon-gothic setting in a post-Katrina-esque hurricane devastated Savannah. Demons cause natural disasters and steal people’s souls :) Fun! Good scary book for Halloween.
JOANNA VOLPE: The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham. This middle grade book was a little slow to start, but it definitely got super creepy and it’s stuck with me. It’s about a giant sycamore tree that is sapping the life of boys it’s lured into its roots over the past 80 years. It keeps them just alive enough to continue feeding on them. TOTALLY CREEPY.
Hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween! Let us know what spooky books you’re reading!

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12. Buy Books for Black Friday

Black Friday is at the end of the week. As writers I highly suggest we forget the newest gadgets and support other writers. Buy books! Give them as gifts. Buy them for yourself.

But BUY BOOKS!

If you need some suggestions, here are some great books that came out this year by my friends:

MIDDLE GRADE (ages 8-12):

Caroline PiratesThe Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2: Terror in the Southlands by Caroline Carlson

More pirates, more magic, and more adventure in the second book of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series! Caroline Carlson brings the unceasing wit, humor, and fun of the first book in the series, Magic Marks the Spot, to this epic sequel. Fans of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and Trenton Lee Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society will love this quirky tween series and hope to join the VNHLP just like Hilary!

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

Greene heistJackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then  school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count. So Jackson assembles a crack team:  Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

YOUNG ADULT (ages 12-18):

Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Don't TouchStep on a crack, break your mother’s back,
Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good . . .

Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it’s never been this bad before. When her parents split up, Don’t touch becomes Caddie’s mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn’t make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama’s humidity, she’s covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.

And that’s where things get tricky. Even though Caddie’s the new girl, it’s hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who’s auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she’ll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. From rising star Rachel M. Wilson comes a powerful, moving debut novel of the friendship and love that are there for us, if only we’ll let them in.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Exquisite CaptiveFor fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy comes the first book in the Dark Caravan Cycle, a modern fantasy-adventure trilogy about a gorgeous, fierce eighteen-year-old jinni who is pitted against two magnetic adversaries, both of whom want her—and need her—to make their wishes come true.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Now in hiding on the dark caravan—the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command—she’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle. Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to release Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle . . . and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him.

Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

Don't Call Me BabyPerfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Huntley Fitzpatrick, Don’t Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and our online selves and the truth you can only see in real life. All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on that blog.

Imogene’s mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. The thing is, Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her. In gruesome detail. When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online . . . until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to define herself for the first time.

Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols

Now THat You're HereIn a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek. One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body–his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee–a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension . . . a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Don't YouStephen King meets Tuck Everlasting in this eerie, compulsively page-turning tale of a girl haunted by the loss of her sister—and trapped by the mysterious power that fuels her small town. Gardnerville seems like a paradise. But every four years, a strange madness compels the town’s teenagers to commit terrible crimes. Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, led her classmates on a midnight death march into a watery grave. Now Piper is gone. And to get her back, Skylar must find a way to end Gardnerville’s murderous cycle. From Kate Karyus Quinn, author of Another Little Piece, comes a mesmerizing and suspenseful novel that will thrill fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys and Brenna Yovanoff’s The Replacement.

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Strange Sweet SongOutside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right. Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school’s production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? Lyrical, gothic, and magical, Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule will captivate and enchant readers.

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Divided We FallDanny Wright never thought he’d be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enlisted in the Idaho National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the governor’s orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd-control mission … but then Danny’s gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd, and by the time the smoke clears, twelve people are dead.

NEW ADULT (ages 17 – 25):

Black Moon by F. M. Sherrill and Becca Smith

Black MoonShea Harper is forced to stay in boring, hot and dry Phoenix, Arizona for college. But once she meets the enigmatic yet positively egocentric Lucian, Shea’s life changes forever. She finds out that she comes from a long line of descendants called Vessels. In her soul is the key to destroying an ancient prison protecting the world from darkness itself: Lucian’s father.

Up until now, Lucian has captured every descendant except Shea. With her powers awakening, all vampires want to drag her down to the pit. But Lucian is territorial. She’s the first female Vessel… and he’s convinced she belongs to him. Saucy and tauntingly surprising, Black Moon captures the struggle between burning desire or denying the heart. This is a love story that will drain you dry.

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

All Lined UpNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights. In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past. But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated. Dallas doesn’t know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn’t know that Dallas is his new coach’s daughter. And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

 Want More Book Suggestions? Check out the list I posted last year:


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13. Buy Books for Black Friday

Black Friday is at the end of the week. As writers I highly suggest we forget the newest gadgets and support other writers. Buy books! Give them as gifts. Buy them for yourself.

But BUY BOOKS!

If you need some suggestions, here are some great books that came out this year by my friends:

MIDDLE GRADE (ages 8-12):

Caroline PiratesThe Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2: Terror in the Southlands by Caroline Carlson

More pirates, more magic, and more adventure in the second book of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series! Caroline Carlson brings the unceasing wit, humor, and fun of the first book in the series, Magic Marks the Spot, to this epic sequel. Fans of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and Trenton Lee Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society will love this quirky tween series and hope to join the VNHLP just like Hilary!

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

Greene heistJackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then  school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count. So Jackson assembles a crack team:  Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

YOUNG ADULT (ages 12-18):

Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Don't TouchStep on a crack, break your mother’s back,
Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good . . .

Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it’s never been this bad before. When her parents split up, Don’t touch becomes Caddie’s mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn’t make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama’s humidity, she’s covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.

And that’s where things get tricky. Even though Caddie’s the new girl, it’s hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who’s auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she’ll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. From rising star Rachel M. Wilson comes a powerful, moving debut novel of the friendship and love that are there for us, if only we’ll let them in.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Exquisite CaptiveFor fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy comes the first book in the Dark Caravan Cycle, a modern fantasy-adventure trilogy about a gorgeous, fierce eighteen-year-old jinni who is pitted against two magnetic adversaries, both of whom want her—and need her—to make their wishes come true.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Now in hiding on the dark caravan—the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command—she’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle. Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to release Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle . . . and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him.

Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

Don't Call Me BabyPerfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Huntley Fitzpatrick, Don’t Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and our online selves and the truth you can only see in real life. All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on that blog.

Imogene’s mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. The thing is, Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her. In gruesome detail. When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online . . . until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to define herself for the first time.

Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols

Now THat You're HereIn a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek. One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body–his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee–a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension . . . a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Don't YouStephen King meets Tuck Everlasting in this eerie, compulsively page-turning tale of a girl haunted by the loss of her sister—and trapped by the mysterious power that fuels her small town. Gardnerville seems like a paradise. But every four years, a strange madness compels the town’s teenagers to commit terrible crimes. Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, led her classmates on a midnight death march into a watery grave. Now Piper is gone. And to get her back, Skylar must find a way to end Gardnerville’s murderous cycle. From Kate Karyus Quinn, author of Another Little Piece, comes a mesmerizing and suspenseful novel that will thrill fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys and Brenna Yovanoff’s The Replacement.

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Strange Sweet SongOutside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right. Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school’s production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? Lyrical, gothic, and magical, Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule will captivate and enchant readers.

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Divided We FallDanny Wright never thought he’d be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enlisted in the Idaho National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the governor’s orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd-control mission … but then Danny’s gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd, and by the time the smoke clears, twelve people are dead.

NEW ADULT (ages 17 – 25):

Black Moon by F. M. Sherrill and Becca Smith

Black MoonShea Harper is forced to stay in boring, hot and dry Phoenix, Arizona for college. But once she meets the enigmatic yet positively egocentric Lucian, Shea’s life changes forever. She finds out that she comes from a long line of descendants called Vessels. In her soul is the key to destroying an ancient prison protecting the world from darkness itself: Lucian’s father.

Up until now, Lucian has captured every descendant except Shea. With her powers awakening, all vampires want to drag her down to the pit. But Lucian is territorial. She’s the first female Vessel… and he’s convinced she belongs to him. Saucy and tauntingly surprising, Black Moon captures the struggle between burning desire or denying the heart. This is a love story that will drain you dry.

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

All Lined UpNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights. In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past. But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated. Dallas doesn’t know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn’t know that Dallas is his new coach’s daughter. And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

 Want More Book Suggestions? Check out the list I posted last year:


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14. 5 Tips for Researching a Novel & Cover Reveal!

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by

Meredith McCardle

The Eighth Guardian

I, Susan, am a huge time travel dork. Like, I grew up on a steady diet of both time travel fiction and just straight science time travel books, so when I say that The Eighth Guardian is one of the BEST time travel books out there, I think I’m pretty qualified to make that assertion. ;)

Now, imagine my ABSOLUTE delight when the author of The Eighth Guardian, Meredith McCardle, asked if she could do a guest post + cover reveal on Pub(lishing) Crawl? Cue FREAK OUT!

And as if that wasn’t awesome enough, Meredith and Amazon have been kind enough to donate a Kindle Paperwhite!!! So scroll down to enter that giveaway–and to check out the Blackout cover!

Now, onto Meredith’s guest post!

5 Tips for Researching Your Novel

1. Wikipedia is a great place to start, but it probably shouldn’t be your only source.

Wikipedia is great for the small things—like figuring out who the candidates were in a gubernatorial election in the 1870s. But for the really big stuff, definitely branch outside of Wikipedia. In BLACKOUT, one of the biggest missions that Iris goes on is to Washington during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wikipedia was great for giving me a basic timeline of the crisis—when the US discovered the missiles on Cuba, when President Kennedy addressed the nation, that sort of thing. But Wikipedia can’t give you a feel for how terrifying it must have been to be living on the eastern seaboard of the United States in October 1962. It won’t let you experience the protests that built outside of the White House every day. For that, you have to go deeper. These are some of my favorite sources for further research:

  • Museums and museum websites. There are museums for everything. Many times, you’ll find they maintain really excellent websites with a lot of information and videos readily available.
  • Books! Good ole’ fashioned history books, to be exact. I’ve made fast friends with my local librarians who are always willing to escort me to the right shelf or track down a book through inter-library loan if I need it.
  • There’s a reason 90% of my Netflix suggestions are documentaries.

2. YouTube is a godsend.

You really can learn to do just about anything on YouTube. It’s taught me how to pick a lock. It’s taught me how to defend myself against both a knife attack and a gun in my face. You can also find a lot of documentaries on YouTube that aren’t available on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Google Image Search is also a godsend. Not quite sure what a civil war-era rifle looks like? Want to know what a well-heeled Colonial woman wore? Google images! (But brace yourself because you never quite know what you’re going to get. And do me a favor and never, ever, ever do an image search for gangrene. Trust me on that.)

 3. For settings, primary research is best, but it’s not a total necessity.

I set both THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN and BLACKOUT primarily in Boston because I know that city very well. I lived there for several years. But there are scenes in the books that take place in New York City, Washington D.C., and Vermont, places I’m far less familiar with. And as much as I would love to research all the places I mention in my books specifically, it’s not always logistically (or financially!) feasible. But I have friends who live in those places. I have Google Earth. I have access to all sorts of historic maps. As long as you spend the time researching the setting, you can skate by without buying a plane ticket.

 4. When is it time to stop researching?

Have you ever fallen down a research hole? I know I have. The Kennedy assassination plays a huge role in THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, and I’m sure you can imagine the sheer volume of information out there on it. I turned THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN in to my editor nearly two years ago, and had I attempted to read everything I could find on the assassination and all of its various conspiracy theories, there’d probably still be a stack of library books on my nightstand. And by probably, I mean definitely. So here’s a good rule of thumb that I learned from my days as a lawyer: When you’re running into the same information over and over again in different sources, you probably have a good enough base knowledge. Move on!

 5. Keep your notes.

You’ll need them when you revise. I am a huge fan of printing out every tiny little thing I find on the internet that might be useful. (I’m currently leaning over a full copy of the Geneva Convention in order to get to my keyboard). The papers will pile up on my desk, I’ll scribble notes directly on them, and then once I have a complete first draft, I punch holes in the papers and stick them in a three-ring binder. It’s kind of a pain to organize everything at once, but it makes life so much easier later on. And trust me, you’ll use them later!

Oh my gosh, having written historical with LOADS of research, I (Sooz) cannot emphasize #5 enough! I was so disorganized with all my research in book 1, and it made copyedits as well as sequel-writing a giant pain in the butt! So be organized and be fastidious!! Meredith’s right that it will make life easier later on.

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for ;)–the cover for the second Anum Guard book, Blackout!

Blackout

Seventeen-year-old Amanda Obermann (code name: Iris) has more on her mind than usual. As a member of a covert government organization called the Annum Guard, which travels through time to keep history on track, Iris has been getting some particularly stressful assignments. Plus, Jane Bonner, the Guard’s iron-fisted new leader, seems determined to make life as hard as possible. Thankfully, Iris has Abe (code name: Blue), her boyfriend and fellow Guardian, who listens to her vent—and helps her cope with her mentally ill mother’s increasingly erratic behavior.

When Guardians start to disappear on their assignments, Iris makes a terrifying discovery: a “blackout” squad is targeting anyone who gets in the way of a corrupt force that’s selling out both the Annum Guard’s missions and Guardian lives. Together, Iris and Blue must go undercover to untangle the Guard’s elaborate web of secrets and lies. But when Iris discovers that the terrible truth may involve her own father, a former Guardian undone by his own greed, she must decide how much she’s willing to risk to rescue her friends…and how dangerous the consequences will be for all of humanity.

A thrilling time-traveling adventure that spans from Abraham Lincoln’s assassination to the Cuban Missile Crisis and back to the present day, this pulse-pounding sequel to The Eighth Guardian reveals that playing with time can turn into a deadly game.

I have read Blackout, and I can honestly say it is just as good as The Eighth Guardian, if not more so. Meredith really takes the stakes up a notch, and aaah! SO much tension!! (I really love this series, if you can’t tell.)

So, if you’re interested in starting the series or reading an early copy of Blackout OR just getting a shiny new Kindle Paperwhite, be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meredith McCardleMeredith McCardle is a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly. The first book in the Annum Guard series, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, was released in May of 2014 by Skyscape. The second title, BLACKOUT, releases January 13, 2015.  Learn more about Meredith on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.

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15. That Time of Year

Shopping at holiday time is not high on my list of favorite things to do. Unless it involves being in a book store. I’m always happy in a book store :) Chronicle Books has an annual challenge for people like me. #GiveBooks this holiday and they’ll donate books to a child in need through First […]

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16. 2 Favorite Reads: One Classic, One New, & Links to Best Books of 2014


Today, in our last TeachingAuthors' post for 2014, I wrap up our series about our favorite reads of the year. In case you missed the earlier posts, Mary Ann kicked off the series by talking about a graphic novel she enjoyed, April shared a poetry title, Bobbi discussed a bounty of books, JoAnn shared not only favorite titles but also a description of her reading process, and Esther even included a couple of adult books on her list. After sharing my two favorites, I'll also provide links to several "Best of 2014" lists published by review journals. That should give you plenty of reading material to get through winter break!

This has been such a busy year that I probably wouldn't have read any books for pleasure if I wasn't a member of the "Not for Kids Only" (NFKO) Book Club sponsored by Anderson's Bookshop. Both my favorites of the year are books I read with the group.

My first is the classic, The Giver, by Lois Lowry, originally published in 1993 by Houghton Mifflin and winner of the 1994 Newbery medal.


Our NFKO group read the book in preparation for seeing The Giver movie together as a group. Most of us had read the novel before, as I had back in 1997. While re-reading it this August, I was surprised by how little I remembered. I recalled the ending clearly, because I’d reread it several times to try to understand it. I also recalled that Jonas’s eyes were different, and how he’d first seen the color of an apple. But other than that, it was like reading the novel for the first time.

After my first reading in 1997, this is the response I wrote in my book-reading journal:
"This book was extremely well-written.  The futuristic world seemed so real it was frightening. Jonas made a great hero: intelligent, sensitive and brave, yet still uncertain and with his own fears.  . . . I can see why it won the Newbery."     
I'm a much more critical reader now than in 1997, and I was even more impressed with the novel this time. I was so enthralled with the story and with Jonas's world that I went on to read the other three books in the Quartet: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son. While they are all masterfully written, The Giver is still my favorite.

By the way, I didn't know what inspired Lois Lowry to originally write The Giver until I read this post on Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac. If you're not familiar with this classic novel, or haven't read it recently, I suggest you pick it up, especially if you've seen the movie. While I enjoyed seeing the world of The Giver brought to life so brilliantly in the movie, there are several significant differences between the movie and the book. I'm not sure all the changes were for the better.

The other favorite I'd like to share is Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2013.


This middle-grade novel is a fun re-imagining of the Rumpelstiltskin tale in which the title character turns out to be the story's hero. Here's an excerpt from the School Library Journal review that sums it up well:
"All the elements of the original story are here--the greedy miller, the somewhat dimwitted daughter, and Rump's magical ability to spin straw into gold--but Shurtliff fleshes out the boy's backstory, developing an appealing hero who is coping with the curse of his magical skills while searching for his true name and destiny. This captivating fantasy has action, emotional depth, and lots of humor."
I identified with the main character--initially known only as "Rump"--right away because, like him, I hated my name as a child. I was the only "Carmela" in my K-8 elementary school and even in my high school. I disliked having such an unusual name and I despised the "nicknames" the other kids gave me. Eventually, though, I grew to love my name, as "Rump" does by the end of the novel.

I happened to read Rump while I was preparing to teach a summer writing camp for ages 11-14. I decided to use it as an example for our class discussion on choosing character names. After I read the first chapter to the students, several of them went out to borrow or buy their own copies of the book to read the rest of the story. I know of no better recommendation for a children's novel!  

And now, as promised, here are links to some of the review journal lists of "Best Books of 2014" for children and teens:
Don't forget, today is Poetry Friday. When you're done checking out all these great lists, be sure to head over to this week's roundup by Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!

Our blog posts will resume on Monday, January 5, 2015.
Until then, happy writing (and reading)!
Carmela

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17. Elle & Buddy – 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

On January 1st, An Unconventional Librarian, an educational, book-loving blogger whom I follow, posted the following challenge, which I love and have been promoting over the inter-webs. I thought it would be fun to take the challenge myself and blog … Continue reading

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18. Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror, plus advice for writers and illustrators

 

Just finished reading Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror by Chris Priestley, with wonderfully creepy illustrations by David Roberts. I've always been a fan of scary stories ever since I was little and I used to write a lot of scary, sinister short stories in grade school. My eighth grade teacher attended my I'M BORED book launch, which was a total (and wonderful) surprise, and apparently he was telling my husband about how many of the stories I wrote back then were very dark.

I don't read as much horror now but I do still love indulging in creating creepydark illustrations sometimes, just for the fun of it.

Speaking of illustrations, here's a fun interview on The Independent's children's book blog with illustrator David Roberts. Interesting that David says he doesn't think much about the age group when he's working on book illustrations. He says his work is more a response to the story. His tip for aspiring illustrators: "Don't be afraid of that vast expanse of white paper (or I guess these days you could say computer screen). Sometimes your mistakes can be good and you can always start again if you don’t like it."

Chris Priestly advises young writers to have at least a rough outline of their story. "Give yourself a decent start and plan where you are going. You don’t have to stick to it – but it will make your life easier and it will mean that you will be less likely to give up."

More info about Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror on the Bloomsbury website

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Find out more about Donalyn Miller's Book-A-Day Challenge on the Nerdy Book Club site, and you can read archives of my #BookADay posts.

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19. Love List: Great Books to Read Aloud with Preschoolers Again and Again

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

When people find out that I have a love affair going with children's books, they often ask me: "So what's your favorite book at the moment?" or "What do you read to your children at bedtime?" or "What books do you recommend?" These are questions that parents and grandparents and nannies and teachers are always curious about - everybody seems to be looking for a new great book to read!


Today I'm sharing 10 great books to read aloud. I read these books often with my children, and these are books that we all love and can read again and again. Some of these books may be familiar to you, some may be unknown - but if you haven't read them aloud with your child yet, you should!



1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz

As a child I loved hearing this story, and as an adult I love to read it to my children even more. Everyone can relate to having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day". It's a great book to read aloud because Alexander's voice and attitude are expressed so clearly in the way Viorst writes that you can make the character "come alive" as you read it. And while I have seen this book criticized, I really couldn't love it any less, no matter what some say about Alexander being bratty and spoiled. It's a perfect book to open up a conversation with your child about having a day that's just not going his way.



2. Veggies with Wedgies by Todd H. Doodler


You might know author Todd H. Doodler from another underwear-themed tale, Bear in Underwear. This story about a bunch of veggies who happen upon a bunch of underpants hanging out to dry is....well, pretty funny. There are lots of veggie characters in this book and when I read it with my children, I give each one its own distinctive voice. I promise this book will make you and your kids chuckle, or at the very least smile. Veggies with Wedgies would be a great book to buy for a potty-training toddler or preschooler - it will not only get them excited about underwear, but will put some silliness into what can sometimes be a less than fun transition.




3. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein



In my humble opinion Shel Silverstein is a genius. I've read this collection of poems over and over and over again and never tire of it. My children can recite some of the poems by heart because many are short, and I'd imagine can keep the attention of even the busiest of toddlers. All of the poems in this collection are what I would call "whimsical". Some are touching. Some are just outright hysterical and goofy. Basically what I'm saying is that this book of poems has something for everyone. And, did you know that rhymes like these aid in your child's pre-reading skills by drawing his attention to the different sounds in spoken words? Yep, you should really pick up this book if have never read it, and your child's preschool teacher will thank you. Oh, and Silverstein's drawings are just as genius as his words.


4. Blue 2 by David A Carter


Blue 2 is really an art book to me. There aren't many words, but the words that Carter uses in this intelligently crafted pop-up book will give your child a lesson in vocabulary. I put this book on my "read aloud" love list because it's something fun to read and do with your child. If you ask my daughter what her favorite present was this past Christmas, she'll definitely respond, "Blue 2". Trust me, you will read this book over and over again - not always because you want to, but because you just HAVE to find all of those hidden Blue 2's!





5. Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo 



I do have to warn you that this book does contain potty humor, but the giggles I get from reading it make me happy. Brief Thief does have a very important lesson to be learned too: don't touch other people's things. My children just love to read this book over and over for a plain and simple reason: it's fun. And in my mind, if you can take a valuable lesson and make it fun to learn, it's a win win for all.







6. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts




This book gets one thing right with its title - this world needs more female engineers! I'm loving this book not only because it's inspiring to little minds, but it gives you a great feeling when you are done reading it. You can't help but feel like you did at least one thing "right" in the day by reading it with your child. 







7. Eric!...The Hero? by Chris Wormell



Ah, Eric! The boy that nobody believes in, and who seems to be good at nothing. I think we all can relate to feeling a little lost and misunderstood at times which is why I love this book. Wormell's story is about courage, finding yourself, and believing in your own abilities, even when no one else does. This book is especially great for kids who love monster books, and parents (like me) who love to teach important life lessons through books.





8. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson




My kids adore this book, and I do too because it's clever. The first time I read it I remember thinking - well, isn't that an adorable ending to a perfectly enjoyable book. The Gruffalo is fun to read aloud because you can really put a lot of expression into the character's voices, and even give the story an eerie feel in the way that you read it. In my opinion, this is one of those great children's books that you can cuddle under a blanket and read together....and anticipate exactly what's going to happen next. This book is truly a greatly told story.





9. The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair by Kate Bernheimer and Jake Parker




A story of a little girl who wouldn't brush her hair...and you know what happens to her? She has a little village of mice who take up residence in her over-tangled locks! There are many days that I think this book was written specifically about my daughter (she even has the same long brown hair). We love this story because it takes something that we struggle with on a daily basis and exaggerates it. I'm sure many families with little girls can relate. And of course, if you think a book was written for you and about you...you're going to want to read it aloud again and again like we do.




10. Tap to Play by Salina Yoon




A truly interactive book where you play a game as you read along! My 5-year old and 2-year old equally love reading this with me and the second we are through, ask to read it again. While Tap to Play reads like a traditional book, it feels like an iPad app with all of the fun, and none of the screen-time guilt (which I sometimes feel, anyway). I have no doubt this book will become one of your household favorites to read (and play) over and over, like it is ours.





So there you have it....my book love list (just in time for Valentine's Day). Of course, if you ask me in a week, I might have some new favs to add to the list, but as of right now these books get my votes and I'm sticking to it.

What are your favorite books to read aloud lately?


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20. Can't wait to buy my copy of WHEREVER YOU GO by Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler!

 

I recently had a chance to read the f&gs (which stands for "folded and gathered", an unbound galley) for WHEREVER YOU GO, a new picture book coming out from Little, Brown in April, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by my friend Eliza Wheeler.

LOVE THIS. When I read picture books for the first time (and second and third...) I usually read them out loud, and this one was so fun to read aloud with its rhythmical prose.

Young readers will appreciate the fun journey and look-more-closely-what-do-you-see gorgeous artwork. Adults will also appreciate the multi-layered interpretation of the prose. The following (especially when combined with the beautiful artwork on that spread) is just an example:

"Roads...remember.

Every life landmark, the big and the small.

The moments you tripped,

the times you stood tall."

*snif* (this wasn't the only page spread that made me teary-eyed)

You can read the STARRED review of Wherever You Go on Kirkus Reviews.

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21. Good news & good company for The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

bookcover-johnroylynch
This past week has brought a couple of happy developments for my new book with Don Tate, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers).

First, the book has received a Silver Honor from the Parents’ Choice Awards. Thank you, Parents’ Choice!

And another big thank you goes to Colby Sharp and Jon Samuelson for including The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (along with Bob Shea’s Ballet Cat and Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl) in the latest episode of the Booklandia podcast.

I love the surprise in Jon’s voice when he realizes that the story of Lynch’s 10-year rise from slavery to the U.S. House of Representatives during Reconstruction is nonfiction rather than historical fiction. I also appreciate the thorough notes on this episode — very helpful, guys.

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22. A Computer Suggested I Read This Book!

The other day, I was fortunate enough to attend a Book Summit, which was a day of discussion and education for people from all facets of the book industry in Canada. In one of the sessions, the speaker was discussing the pros and cons of Amazon and virtual book shopping, and he raised some interesting points. While online bookstores offer readers greater choice than they ever had before, they are also limiting our ability to discover books, and thus also limiting our choice.

While at first this notion may sound ludicrous, it actually makes perfect sense. The algorithms that suggest books to you on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads are designed to collect information on what authors/titles you are reading, looking at or purchasing, and then to search the database for identifiers that suggest authors/titles that are somehow considered similar. For example: On Amazon, when I entered Hunger Games, it told me that other customers had bought Divergent, Maze Runner, The Outsiders, and Twilight to name a few. It also gives me the option to search within similar categories such as Teen sci-fi, fantasy, adventure and thriller. Sounds good right? Amazon obviously believes that in looking at The Hunger Games, I must have an interest in one of those categories, because these are subject codes that have been assigned to this book, but they aren’t made on any personal knowledge of my personal or reading interests, and of the first several they recommended, I’ve already read them or didn’t want to read them, so I struck out on all counts.

Goodreads is slightly better, showing me books that other users who have read or are interested in reading the book I’m reading have also read. I won’t pretend that I haven’t scrolled through the list to see if anything catches my eye, or even that I have occasionally discovered something cool. I like to know what others are reading- especially if they seem to like something I’ve enjoyed- but it’s also very limiting. The recommendations are typically books of the same or similar genre. If they identify that I’m reading a YA fantasy, other books that are YA fantasies come up on the feed. Goodreads is a community, and there are opportunities to join groups and engage others in discussion, but that’s different. What I’m specifically talking about is the computer controlled portion of these sites.

I couldn’t even give you an exact figure of how many books are in print, but chances are, most of them are available online from Amazon. They have something around 15 million titles to purchase which is vast and a bit overwhelming, so they try to narrow your focus to something they think you’ll like. Nothing wrong with that, but it comes back to the question how do we know what we don’t know? We don’t- just as we don’t know about all the books that are out there that we might like to read but won’t unless we discover them somehow, and a computer can only go so far to help us do that.

Human interaction is still the best way to weed our way through all of the millions of books out there and find exactly the right book for ourselves or for whoever we are purchasing for. A knowledgeable bookseller/librarian knows exactly the right questions to ask you, and can find that hidden gem for you. And if you visit frequently, over time, they might even have books already in mind that they want to share with you! We hear tons about blockbuster authors & bestsellers. My Twitter feed is inundated with information about the new Harper Lee, Stephen King or James Patterson, or the surprise hit that everybody is reading for book club, but my reading tastes do not fit into a narrow little box. Just because I enjoy horror doesn’t mean that I only want to read horror. And just because I liked Gone Girl doesn’t mean I’m only interested in authors who write thrillers.

If we are indeed in a “golden age” of publishing and storytelling as experts proclaim, then the next time you’re wondering what to read next, don’t ask Amazon. Instead, try visiting your local bookstore/library and asking for a recommendation. You might just be amazed at what you end up with!

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23. A reminder to myself (and maybe to you, too)

This #TenThingsToSayToAWriter contribution by author Jen Malone (Maps to the Stars) — I just put a review of your book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble *and* Goodreads and requested from my library. #TenThingsToSayToAWriter — Jen Malone (@jenmalonewrites) July 30, 2015 — was a welcome reminder for me. And a needed one, too. Each time recently […]

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24. #BookADay: NINJA BUNNY by Jennifer Gray Olson (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Children's)

#BookADay: NINJA BUNNY by Jennifer Gray Olson (Alfred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers). Such a fun picture book with adorable and eye-catching illustrations. Also love the underlying positive message about collaboration and friendship. A great read for little ninjas everywhere!

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

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25. Kate Messner’s Thumbs-Up Revision Tool for Anyone, Any Time

Just in time for our back-to-school TeachingAuthors posts, which JoAnn kicked off Friday with a Book Giveaway of her WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP, I share my THUMBS UP review of Kate Messner’s REAL REVISION (Stenhouse, 2011) – a must-read for anyone any time of the year  (really!) who wants to get his or her writing right.

Personally, I’m a Big Fan of the prefix “re” – as in, back to, return to, again and again. According to my trusty online dictionary, verbs affixed with re connote restoration and repetition, a backwards motion, a withdrawal.
Think Second Chances.
Think Do-overs.
REAL REVISION makes all of the above possible, breaking down the revision process into doable, fun-even tasks, by sharing the revision strategies of a bounty of award-winning children’s book writers – Mentor Authors who truly show readers that all writing is revising. 

Kirby Larson, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Jane Yolen, Kathi Appelt, Mitali Perkins, Donna Gephart, Tom Angleberger, Tanya Lee Stone, G. Neri, Rebecca Stead, just to name a few – share honest-to-goodness manuscripts and revision experiences of specific titles they’ve published in order to illustrate a key element of narrative – say, voice or characterization, setting or plot, and the writing process – maybe research, seeing the Big Picture, word choice, copyediting or brainstorming. 
I’m talking REAL examples that lead to raised eyebrows and bulging eyes and all sorts of head-shaking responses.
Each Mentor Author’s offering is the stuff of a mini, personalized writer-to-writer one-on-one.

Each Mentor Author also offers a Try Out for the reader that accompanies the teaching point of each chapter– an easily-reproducible hands-on, doable, concrete exercise that underscores what’s – really – important.

The quotes that begin each chapter are delicious, too.
For instance, Lisa Schroeder’s:
Revision is like cleaning your room because it may not be fun while you’re doing it but when you’re finished, you can stand back and see what you’ve done, and think, ‘Wow! That looks great!’”
Or Kirby Larson’s:
“Revision is like a newborn because it’s a 24/7 commitment and worth every sleepless night.”
Or Donna Gephart’s:
“Revision is like a lottery ticket because it’s a golden opportunity to make your work even better!”

Throughout REAL REVISION, Kate herself wears both her author and teacher hat, sharing her writing life, her process and the revision stories of her books.  Kate happens to be a National Board-certified teacher – and – the award-winning author of such books as the E.B. White Read Aloud Award winner THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z., SUGAR AND ICE and the Marty McGuire chapter book series.

I don my two TeachingAuthor hats to sincerely thank Kate for bringing REAL REVISION’s Mentor Authors and their realistically-presented, insightful and informative revision strategies to the page in such a fun and readable instructive way.

Whether it’s back-to-school for you, and/or back-to-writing, don’t leave home without this anytime/anyonetool.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway for JoAnn Early Macken’s WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP.

Here’s to that prefix “re” and second chances!

Esther Hershenhorn

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