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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: middle grade books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 151
26. Guest Blogger: Mark J. Grant, Author of Lila: The Sign of the Elven Queen

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Mark J. Grant, a graduate of Occidental College, has been on Wall Street for thirty-seven years in various senior management positions. He has run capital markets for four investment banks and been on the boards of directors of four investment banks. Grant also writes “Out of the Box,” a commentary on the financial markets that is distributed daily to approximately 5,000 large money management institutions in forty-eight countries. He is the author of Out of the Box and onto Wall Street: Unorthodox Insights on Investments and the Economy (Wiley, 2011). LILA: THE SIGN OF THE ELVEN QUEEN is his first novel.

Visit his website at www.princesslila.com. Follow Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lilaandfluffy.

7 Things About Lila: The Sign of the Elven Queen You Might Not Know

by Mark J. Grant

 

1. It all began at a dinner party at my house. I had some friends over and they were complaining that there were no nice books, no fairy tales, no Alice in Wonderland’s available in the world any longer. They said every book had he who could not be named or giant spiders or monsters or vampires or skulls and crossbones. There was nothing out there to read to their kids or have their older children read. This was quite a topic of conversation. I said that they had to be kidding, but if that was the case then I would write such a book. It would be a lovely fantasy that would not scare any child. They all looked at me with some disbelief but I did exactly what I promised. Lila—the Sign of the Elven Queen is my answer to their distress.

2.   The novel is the world seen through the eyes of a six-year-old girl. Each day is a new adventure as she confronts the wonder of daily life that is experienced by a child. She not only becomes older day by day, but mama is constantly teaching her to be a young lady as part of her growing up.Lila-233x300

3.   Lila lives in New York City and her building will not allow her to have a dog. Lila thinks and thinks about this, and finally concludes that she wants an invisible dog, to which her parents agree. On a cold and snowy day Lila and Papa go to the pet store to buy the invisible supplies for her new dog. As they reach the entrance, around the corner comes a black and white Australian Shepard who sits down in front of Lila, extends his paw and says, “Hello Lila, I am Fluffy.”

4.   Fluffy then introduces Lila to the invisible people of Iceland who live in the cornerstones of downtown buildings and in the boulders of Central Park. There is quite a stir in their community, as they rarely allow people to see them. It is apparent that Fluffy has something in mind.

5.   Lila has a birthmark on her left forearm and it is discovered that Lila has “The Sign of the Elven Queen.” This is something that has not been seen on a human in almost two thousand years. This causes a lot of fuss for the invisible people, and Lila and her parents are invited to “Boulder I, Parliament House” in Central Park to have lunch with the current Queen and Princess of the invisible people.

6.   The Council of Elders of both the invisible people in Iceland and New York then decide that Lila is to become a princess. Her coronation will also take place in Central Park at “Boulder II, Castlerock.” In the middle of this boulder is a large dome where two trees have grown thrones for the current Queen and Princess, and next to them is a sapling that is hurriedly growing a throne for Lila.

7. At the coronation it turns out that Fluffy is much more than he seems and he reveals his secret just as Lila become a Princess. Lila is crowned, turns seven and learns just who Fluffy really is as the invisible people can barely contain their joy. Now how good is that?

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27. Guest Book Review: The Shadow of the Trojan Horse by Wendy Leighton-Porter

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Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing
Language: English
ASIN: B009NUKBRA
Genre: Juvenile fiction, adventure, fantasy, mythology, history
Size: 236 pages
Age group: 10-13

Five Stars

Jemima and Joe Lancelot, along with their talking cat Max, and their best friend Charlie, are off on another adventure. The twins live with their Uncle Richard since their parents’ mysterious disappearance several months earlier. Only the children and Max know what really happened—Mr. and Mrs. Lancelot, with the aid of a mysterious book, have become trapped in the past. Using the book and a special key, the kids are desperately dipping in and out of time to track down the adults. Oddly enough, when Uncle Richard gives them their (eleventh) birthday presents—an Xbox game of the Trojan War for Joe and a special charm bracelet for Jemima as well as a book on Troy—it is more than enough of a hint as to where they are going next. The kids, Charlie, and Max end up in the middle of the Trojan War. They do their best to stay alive, find out more about where the twins’ parents were last seen, and do all they can to turn the tide of events in a war that has been raging for ten years.

I love this series and have become hooked on it since book one, The Shadow of Atlantis. Max is really coming into his own, and the adventures would not be the same without him. This time, Max has a significant role to play, although his efforts to help end in disaster. However, in one of the funniest scenes of the book, he gets the chance to make amends although it’s not quite the heroic role he anticipated. Dressed as Hermes, the winged messenger of the gods, Max tries to intervene to alter the fortunes of war. Alas, one cannot change the past, and those who must perish cannot be saved. Once again, author Wendy Leighton-Porter skilfully weaves a world of mythology, fantasy, and fact, and immerses her young protagonists slap bang in the middle of Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad.

The adventure is a turning point for the kids and Max as they face the reality of brutal war, death, and destruction when Troy falls through treachery. The author conveys a subtle message about violence that will help kids decide what is and is not acceptable. Other life lessons come when they realise they cannot turn the tide of history. For once, they are mere small pawns in a gigantic battle involving no less than the gods of Olympus, who prove to be as weak and fickle as the humans whose lives they dominate. The kids learn about human qualities, some good, some bad: King Priam’s pride and stubbornness; Hector’s bravery, Agamemnon’s cruelty, Cassandra’s compassion and self-sacrifice. I found a change in the series at this point, as the book embraces deeper, darker, and more mature themes. The author does a wonderful job of not sugar coating significant events and life’s realities.

However, all is not lost, history is fulfilled, and the kids return with a fragment of information on the adults’ whereabouts. Cassandra’s gift of prophecy has given them a glimmer of hope. Back home, Uncle Richard—hugely impressed by their avid interest in history and archaeology—provides them with some reassuring facts about the final fate of several characters. In addition, some interesting changes emerge on the domestic front. Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum Ellen are going out for a drink! Could this be something significant? We’ll have to wait and see what transpires in the next adventure…

A helpful map, pronunciation guide, a list of characters, and the author’s note placing Homer, Troy, history, and Greek mythology in context will add to young readers’ enjoyment. If you are a parent wanting to get your kids entranced with reading, start them on this series. It’s a great learning curve, with fun, action, adventure, and a unique story line.

Purchase at Amazon!

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


1 Comments on Guest Book Review: The Shadow of the Trojan Horse by Wendy Leighton-Porter, last added: 10/24/2013
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28. Guest Book Review: The Princelings of the East by Jemima Pett

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Publisher: Princelings Publications; 2.0 edition (November 26, 2011)
ASIN: B006F3SME2
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 10+

4 stars

Princelings George and Fred leave the safe confines of their home, Castle Marsh, to investigate a mysterious and recurring Energy Drain that ruined their grandfather, King Cole’s birthday feast (and led to a lot of good food being wasted too!). They must find the answers since this situation cannot go on forever. Soon, there might be no power left. Leaving the castle is easier than they imagined; in fact the very mention of how useful a tunnel would be is enough for a tunnel to obligingly appear. A Great Adventure calls. Fred and George, inseparable, find themselves separated but they make the best of it. They meet a number of mysterious and sometimes vaguely sinister characters, particularly the ones with a vested interest in the situation. Is the production of a delicious and popular cola drink really the problem? And is time getting messed up somehow…?

George and Fred, although twins, are appealing and different characters. George (the Brains – he is a Thinker) and Fred (the Brawn – he is the Adventurer) make a great team, relying on each other all the time. When their adventure separates them, they must learn to rely on themselves and make decisions and choices depending on the circumstances that confront each one. They are inventive, curious, brave, and sharp-witted, no mean feat to survive in a variety of situations where petty politics rule. Both George and Fred go on a real journey of discovery, but in fact, much of the journey is internal as they miss each other’s presence, but make those vital choices alone in the end.

Author Jemima Pett creates a charming and endearing world that is a fantastical mix of medieval with technology. Detailed descriptions sink the reader right into each new location and paint vivid pictures of sights and sounds, and the way the inhabitants live. The secondary characters entertain and amuse as well, with a quaint turn of phrase, or a deep, dark purpose (depending on who it is) to give them definition. Lovely idiosyncrasies such as habits and speech patterns ensure the secondary players are fully rounded in this tale. Ms. Pett’s tongue-in-cheek humour will also give many a laugh to slightly older readers.

There is a useful list of characters and locations in the front of the book, which will help younger readers through the twists and turns of this surprisingly complex plot. The author’s illustrations that preface each chapter are delightful and help cement the reader in the context. A lovely read for all ages, with enough action, adventure, inventiveness, and fun to satisfy the most demanding reader. Fans will be delighted to learn that George and Fred’s adventures continue with the second and third books in the series.

Purchase as Amazon!

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


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29. John William and the Quest for Copia by Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows Book Blast

copiaJohn William and the Quest for Copia

John William knew there was something special about the medallion Celeste found. It chimed and sparkled in the sunlight. He was right; the medallion was from Copia, a lost city masked in time. Legendary tales were repeated of a golden city inhabited by Empyrean Wizards that was suddenly plagued by greed and gluttony when a meager fledgling magician by the name of Imperius the Great wandered in. Some did not believe the city ever existed; others who knew better wanted it to stay lost.

John William and Celeste were more than ready for another adventure. The search for Copia seemed to be a perfect opportunity. They were unaware of the dangers until it was too late. Shadow jumpers emerged and grew rapidly in numbers. They wanted the medallion; its power would bring the lost city to life again, unlocking the dark past dormant with in its walls. The young explorers were in a mess of trouble. If they did not fix things fast, Copia’s pestilence of wild creatures would be set free to stir up an evil capable of destroying the realm.

Amazon * Smashwords

banditsJohn William and the Bandits of Basswood

We already know Alexander Drake’s story. His father, John William started it all years before when he entered Azra’s Pith. This is his story. John William was born an explorer; just like his dad before him. His adventure really began with the worst year of his life. He lived everyday in misery until his twelfth birthday. He set out to turn things around and find his smile again. A new friend gave him an invitation he could not turn down… follow me and change your destiny. He never imagined being captured by bandits and taken to a ship riddled with river rats was part of his fate. Not just any bandits – the Bandits of Basswood; known to be a ruthless and wild crew of thieves. Trying to escape would be a ridiculous idea. No one has ever escaped and lived to tell about it. Someone should have mentioned that to John William before he snuck off the ship. The chase out of Basswood was on. He took a chance to change his destiny and ended up on a wild ride to save his life.

Amazon * Smashwords

lizzieAuthor Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows

Being the frizzy-haired tomboy with buck teeth gave me a slight case of shyness as a kid. A colorful imagination meant escape and adventure at the drop of a hat.

Over the years I learned that the insecurities I carried around were a waste of time. I still prefer a football game to a manicure any day of the week. That indispensable imagination has found its way into my writing providing a sense of joy and a true purpose.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/20/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

If the Rafflecopter form doesn’t work, you can visit http://www.bookblasttours.com/2013/08/14/john-williams-and-the-quest-for-copia-by-elizabeth-bellows-book-blast-sign-ups/ for your chance to enter.


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30. First Chapter Review: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat by Beverly Stowe McClure

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Today starts the virtual book tour for Beverly Stowe McClure’s A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. My first chapter review of this middle grade/tween paranormal is part of that tour. The author had sent me a copy of this book when it was first released.  It’s high time I read it.

pirate-blockade-runner-cat-200x300BLURB: Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks’ life is falling apart. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom leaves his father and drags Erik from being king of the hill in Texas to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, no friends, just Starry Knight (a girl who reads minds) and her equally weird brother, Stormy, the twins that live down the block.

Just when Erik thinks life can’t get any worse, while hanging out at the beach one evening, he and the twins notice lights radiating from the lighthouse. The only problem is the lighthouse was deactivated years ago. Stranger still, a ship materializes in the moonlit harbor. Curious, the twins and a reluctant Erik investigate and discover the ghost of a blockade runner, a phantom cat, and a pirate who prowls Charleston Harbor, all searching for rest.

A former nonbeliever in the existence of ghosts, Erik cannot deny the proof before him. And he has a revelation: The ghosts may be the answer to his desire to return home. Erik soon makes a deal with the ghosts. He’ll help them find what they’re looking for so their spirits can rest in peace. In return, the ghosts will scare Erik’s mother so she’ll be on the next flight back to Texas. Star thinks his plan stinks, but Erik wants his life back, even at the cost of his mother’s sanity.

COVER: This publisher has a lot of great covers, but I have to admit this is one of my favorites. The color, the fonts, the images, they all work together nicely. Kudos to the cover artist.

FIRST CHAPTER: Erik is feeling sorry for himself. His mom has uprooted him and moved to South Carolina where he’s got no Dad, no baseball, and no friends. There are those two freaky twins, Stormy and Starry Knight, but Erik is not having a grand time. He’s kind of tired of hearing about the light coming from the lighthouse–which is not likely since the lighthouse was deactivated years ago. Then when what looks like a ship appears, he’s had enough.

KEEP READING: I had the privilege of seeing this story in the pre-published stage, so I have to admit I knew I would keep going. What McClure has always done well is capture the emotions of her characters. Here’s this thirteen-year-old boy with a great life and great friends in Texas, maybe even a girl to admire, and suddenly he’s pulled from all that and brought to South Carolina where all he has is a set of freaky twins to hang out with. His mom keeps telling him he’s going to love it, but Erik isn’t convinced. Change can be hard for children, especially a move away from friends, and McClure captures that so well with Erik.

The ending of this chapter hints at what is to come, even if Erik isn’t ready to buy into anything yet. This makes for a smooth transition into the next chapter, as Erik walks home and contemplates what Stormy and Starry are telling him about the lights and the ship. I’m definitely eager to continue. I don’t know what additional edits have been performed since I first read this book, but everything I’ve read from this author has been fantastic.Beverly Stowe McClure photojpg

Pages  240

ISBN  978-1-77127-219-3

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.

Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.

You can learn more about Beverly Stowe McClure at http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com or follow her blog at http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com.

 

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4 Comments on First Chapter Review: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat by Beverly Stowe McClure, last added: 10/8/2013
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31. Guest Blogger: Alyssa McCarthy of From Frights to Flaws by Sunayna Prasad

From Frights to Flaws

Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy can no longer stand the toughness of her uncle and wants a better life. But one day she discovers not only the existence of magic, but also a villain hunting her down. The villain uses magic and magical technology to kidnap Alyssa to the Fiji Islands. As much as she wants to go home, she has to face some dangerous challenges first. Not only that, the villain himself must also be defeated. Can Alyssa succeed, even with the help of her mentors?

The Times with My Parents by Alyssa McCarthy

My name is Alyssa McCarthy. I am twelve years old and am currently living a tough life with my uncle and my cousin, Hailey. My aunt died when I was nine. When I was seven, though, I lost my parents.

The days before they died, though, were pretty cool. They used to take me to all kinds of cool places, like the park, county fair, and zoo. My dad was a high school math teacher and my mom was a bookkeeper. I grew up as the average middle-class child.

My mom wasn’t nearly as strict as my uncle, but like him, she was quite a health freak. I used to look at all the sugary cereals at the grocery store and even knew the names of the characters on them. But my mom wouldn’t let me buy them. She bought only whole grain products when it came to carbs. However, she would occasionally buy desserts and other junk foods when it came to special occasions.

She was also crazy about getting my hair to grow long and thick, like some Indian women have. I’ve had long hair ever since I was three, although it wasn’t down to my butt until I was in first grade. I remember on my first day of kindergarten, my mom massaged coconut oil into my hair. Kids said I smelled really good, and so I told them what it was. My mom would massage so many kinds of things into my hair from when she bathed me to when she brushed my hair. Being a health freak was also one of the reasons for making my hair grow long and thick.

My dad was more laid back then my mom. He would sometimes take me out for pizza and ice cream after my dance classes. He would also play outside with me on my playground and in the sandbox. Sometimes I preferred him than my mom.

Sadly, those days are over. I hate to say that I have and will continue to grow up without my parents. However, I have a godfather in Ohio, whom I am dying to live with. He was actually supposed to be my legal guardian if something happened to my parents. I hope everything gets better.Sunayna Prasad

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

Sunayna Prasad has been writing stories for over thirteen years, starting at the age of six. Now nineteen, she will start her junior year of college this fall, and will study accessory design as well as continue to write for children. Aside from that, Sunayna also likes to cook, watch movies, and draw. She lives on Long Island, New York, with her family.

Her latest book is the middle grade fantasy novel, Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions: From Frights to Flaws.

Visit her website at www.SunaynaPrasadBooks.com.

 

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1 Comments on Guest Blogger: Alyssa McCarthy of From Frights to Flaws by Sunayna Prasad, last added: 11/7/2013
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32. Interview with Renee Duke, Author of The Disappearing Rose

???????????????????????????????Renee Duke was born on November 19th, 1952, the youngest child and only daughter of a Scotsman and his English bride.  She learned to read at an early age, and her best subjects in school were History, English, and Religious Studies. She later became a preschool teacher, but has also worked with older children in a variety of settings, including Belize, Central America.  She travelled extensively before embarking on parenthood, and later returned to this pursuit with young in tow.  Other than doing occasional interactive history units with 6-13-year-olds, she is now retired and able to concentrate on writing her Time Rose series. She has been writing for children and adults for many years and her work has appeared in magazines in Canada, the USA, and the UK.    

She does not, as yet, blog, but can be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/renee.duke.75https://www.facebook.com/renee.duke.75 and has a website: www.reneeduke.ca

Where did you grow up?

In Canada and England – specifically, Keewatin, Ontario, Kelowna, B.C., and Wantage, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire).  

When did you begin writing? 

I began writing when I was seven and a composition lesson at school helped me realize that books (which I loved) were actually stories thought up by someone.

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

I can sneak a few more moments now that I’ve pretty much retired.  Before that it was mostly at night or during school holidays. 

What is this book about?

It is about three children who use an ancient medallion to travel back to the fifteenth century England and find themselves caught up in the power struggles surrounding the boy king, Edward V and his brother Richard Duke of York, who disappeared from the Tower of London sometime between June 1483 and September 1485. 

What inspired you to write it? 

I’ve been interested in the mysterious disappearance of those two royal brothers ever since I read about them in a, what my Grantie Etta character would call, ‘Tudor propagandist’ text book in school.  disappearingrose333x500

Who is your favorite character from the book?

That’s like asking which of your children is your favourite.  Don’t you know you’re supposed to love them all the same?  But if I have to pick, then I’d probably have to say Jack, who, like me, hates sports and getting up early.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/53-our-authors/authors-d/297-renee-duke

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it? 

Not yet, but since I always make him his favourite cake when he comes home to visit, my actor/filmmaker son just might do one for me and put it up on my website in the not too distant future.

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

Learn your craft and be willing to go on learning it.   

What is up next for you? 

Finishing the edits for Book Two (due out in January), and getting past chapter two of the next one.  I haven’t really settled into it yet, and know I must do so fairly soon. 

 


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33. New and Upcoming Indie MG and YA Titles

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Jake’s plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother’s mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.

Coming in November from MB Publishing!

rocket

A thrilling graphic novel adventure that unlocks the mysteries of ancient Egypt!

The Egyptian capital of Cairo is a buzzing hive of treasure hunters, thrill-seekers, and adventurers, but to 12-year-old Ronald “Rocket” Robinson, it’s just another sticker on his well worn suitcase. But when Rocket finds a strange note written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, he stumbles into an adventure more incredible than anything he’s ever dreamt of.

Rocket and his friends soon run afoul of master criminal Otto Von Stürm, who’s planning the theft of the greatest treasure in history—an ancient pharaoh’s fortune, secretly hidden for centuries. To stop him, they’ll have to de-code an ancient riddle, solve a cryptic puzzle, face off hungry crocodiles, and navigate a centuries-old labyrinth full of traps. All while staying one step ahead of Otto’s bloodthirsty goons.

The streets of Cairo come alive in Sean O’Neill’s lively, vibrant, full-color illustrated pages. Young fans of ancient Egypt will immediately be drawn in by the references to hieroglyphics, mummies, pyramids, and pharaoh’s tombs, all lavishly illustrated in O’Neill’s fun, accessible style.

Coming in October from BoilerRoom Studios.

survivors

The Survivors: Body & Blood is the third installment of The Survivors Series!

How many answers you seek are just a part of you, waiting to be found?

The game has changed.

Fresh from her first brush with mortality, a fragile Sadie Matthau is playing human with Cole Hardwick while the Survivors endure unimaginable tragedy. Wrought with the first deaths of their own kind, a tyrant who will torture them, and an opponent more terrifying than anyone could have foreseen, the Survivors are facing their end.

Told from three points of view, The Survivors: Body & Blood is a bloodcurdling, mind-bending, heart-stopping ride. As Sadie and the Winters uncover more enemies, more history, and more answers, they find themselves brought closer together and ripped further apart. And all the while, a haunting Alexander Raven lurks at the edge of Sadie s lifeline, at the darkening fringes of her mind.

As the Survivors descend into chaos, Sadie realizes a painful truth: the deepest of secrets leave the darkest of marks.

Caught between a terrifying fantasy and her own grim reality, Body & Blood is the story of Sadie s dance with her demons, future, past, and present.

Released July 2013 from Chafie Press, LLC.

camelot

 

Filled with terrific suspense and budding romance, Daughter of Camelot is a fast paced adventure set against the turmoil at the end of the Arthurian era.

Raised in the shadow of a fort dedicated to training Knights of the Round Table, Deirdre thirsts for adventure.

Instead, at 14, she is sent to court to learn the etiquette and talents of a young woman.

Court life, however, is more fraught with danger than she expected, and Deirdre finds herself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that stretches deep into the very heart of Camelot.

All Deirdre thought she knew and believed in—loyalty, love, bravery—is challenged when she embarks on a quest to defy Fate and save the King.

Coming in September 2013 from Mabon Publishing.

 

 


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34. August 12 x 12 Update

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I’m a bit behind with my update, but now that the girls are back to school hopefully things will get back to normal around here. I should be upset I didn’t write a single word last month. I should be bummed that this is the second month in a row that I didn’t meet my 12 x 1 2 goal. Honestly, though, I’m not brokenhearted over it.  Here’s what I did accomplish in August:

  • I edited a previously written middle grade book and submitted it for consideration to my publisher.
  • I submitted a previously written picture book to an agent. (Got rejected :( ).
  • I’ve juggled two editing projects for clients.
  • I’ve managed two book tours for the past couple of months and have two in October and two in November I’m planning.
  • I’m working on setting up blog tours for my books: Little Shepherd by Cheryl Malandrinos and A Christmas Kindness by C.C. Gevry.

This all happened in between planning and teaching vacation Bible school, keeping all my blogs regularly updated (six total), my bi-monthly contributions to the Christian Children’s Authors Blog, cheerleading camp, back-to-school shopping, and the normal everyday craziness of our house.  So, while 12 x 12 suffered, I still feel I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m scheduled to work on Flag Day Fiasco—Students discover the school’s flag is missing and must try to find it before their annual Flag Day celebration kicks off—this month. I’m not sure I’ll get to it, but I hope I do. It’s one of my favorite ideas.

Hope you enjoy your weekend.


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35. From the Family Bookshelf – September

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Hard to believe the summer came and went so quickly. Between vacation, sports camps, and vacation Bible school, it seemed summer was over before it got started. Suddenly, though, my girls have decided they would rather read on their own than together at night. Part of me is hurt, but the Lil’ Diva turned 12 last month and the Lil’ Princess switched to a new school where expectations are even higher, so it’s to be expected. They can’t remain babies forever.

We had started Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Storyteller by Patricia Reilly, but now they are off reading other books, so not sure whether we will complete these or they will read them alone. The Lil’ Princess finished Falling in by Frances O’Roark Dowell this week. She loved it. The Lil’ Diva is reading Witchlanders by Lena Coakley. Dad has given up on reading lately. Other than his daily paper, his work hours have not allowed him to read for leisure.

I’m also reading a lot less than usual this year. It can’t be helped. My schedule is nuts. I try to read a tiny bit in the tub each night, but I’m also trying to make sure I get enough sleep now that I am getting up early with the girls. Here’s what I’ve read since my last post:

Strong Rain Falling by Jon Land (thriller)
Don’t Let the Wind Catch You by Aaron Paul Lazar (coming of age mystery)
Designed for Relationship by T.J. MacLeslie (Christian living)
Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney (cozy mystery)
Who I Be by Annie Brown (Christian living)

I’m currently reading the inspirational travel adventure memoir, Two Are Better by Tim and Debbie Bishop, and the historical novel, The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner.

What have you been reading lately? Any favorites?

That’s it for this edition of From the Family Bookshelf. Keep reading!


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36. Susan Cooper: GHOST HAWK

Susan CooperAmong the many stunning author events we’re having here in Houston this month, we were amazingly lucky to have Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor author Susan Cooper visit at Blue Willow Bookshop Thursday evening. While she was here, Ms. Cooper spoke with 12oo children during school visits. It was such an honor to have her here!

When Susan Cooper wrote OVER SEA UNDER STONE, she didn’t know it would be the first in a series. Ten years later after moving to the United States from her home country of Britain, she reread OSUS and got an idea for a series of five THE The Dark Is RisingDARK IS RISING Sequence. For each of the next four books, she wrote the title, when it was, and where it was. She also wrote the last half page of the final book, then spent the next six years writing them. She used that original last half page.

Susan Cooper was at Oxford, her lecturers were J.R. R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis! And like the works of these famous authors and educators, the thing all Susan Cooper’s books have in common is a strong sense of place. Place (a mysterious Scottish castle) made her write two books about a boggart: BOGGART and THE BOGGART AND THE MONSTER.

Place (an island in the Bahamas) also made her write a book called GREEN BOY.
The Boggart
Besides place, a strong sense of good and evil imbues Susan Cooper’s works—the dark and the light instilled from her childhood in England during WWII, particularly memories of her mother reading to Susan and her little brother in the air-raid shelter by candlelight. When bombs fell, the candle flame flickered.

In GHOST HAWK, a salt marsh island in Massachusetts bewitched her imagination. It had looked the same since the ice age. She researched the land and found the records of English ownership.

She continued her research and this time the Green Boybattle of good and evil took realistic form. King Phillip’s War changed everything. She thought of Little Hawk, at age eleven, going through the rite of passage with only three items to help him survive. When he survived, a greater danger would be waiting.

From Susan Cooper’s website: “Although we talk of learning from history, we do not learn. And even a ghost cannot explain to the living why this should be so.”

When asked about how she planned her novel, Cooper responded, “A book is a voyage of discovery for the writer as well as the reader.” Writing a historical novel was different than Ghost Hawkwriting a fantasy, making endless timelines and knowing what she wanted her character to do. It was a slower process. She said, “It’s not history; it’s a story.”

The story:

In the winter of his eleventh year, Little Hawk goes deep into the forest, where he must endure a three month test of solitude and survival, which will turn him into a man.

But outside the woods, the world is changing. English settlers are landing on the shores of the New World, and tensions between native tribes and the invaders are rising.
Susan Cooper
Little Hawk’s fate becomes irreversibly entwined with that of John, a young English boy who dares to question intolerance.

He is witness to a secret murder—will he now be witness to bloodshed between nations?

An exciting bit of news!  Simon & Schuster Audio has announced that Jim Dale will read the audiobook of GHOST HAWK. The unabridged audiobook will be available in both CD and download formats.



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37. A Scurrilous National Book Tour!

I’ll be traveling the country this fall talking about Will in Scarlet to any vagabonds and scallywags that will listen! Below is the schedule of where you can find me and when. Be sure to check back for updates as we get closer to the actual dates!

Huzzah!

Friday, October 4th

Voracious Reader (Larchmont, NY)

 

Sunday, October 13th

New York Comic-Con

 

Tuesday, October 15th 

Lemuria Books (Jackson, MS)

 

Thursday, October 17th

The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)

 

Friday, October 18th

McIntyre’s Books (Chapel Hill, NC)

 

Saturday, October 19th

Barnes & Noble (Cary, NC)

 

Sunday, October 20th

Barnes & Noble (Skokie, IL)

 

Monday, October 21st

Anderson’s Bookshop (Downer’s Grove, IL)

 

Tuesday, October 22nd

The Book Stall (Winnetka, IL)

 

Saturday, October 26th

Books of Wonder (New York City, NY)

 

Friday, November 1st

The Center for Fiction (New York – not open to the public)

 

Sunday, November 3rd

Northshire Bookstore (Saratoga, NY)

 

Saturday, November 9th

YALLFest (Charleston, SC)

 

 

 


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38. New Books for Review

seesawClavis sent me a group of books to review, which you’ll be seeing soon. Here’s a list of what arrived this week:

 

The Seesaw and Good-bye, Fish by Judith Koppens,

Circus 123 by one of my favorites, Guido van Genechten,crypto

A Big Book of Face Painting by Charlotte Verrecas,

Kevin’s Big Book of Emotions by another favorite, Liesbet Slegers.

 

I also purchased a copy of The Crypto-Capers in The Peacock Diaries by Renee Hand. I’ve been following this series since the beginning, so I sure don’t want to miss out on any of them.

Overdue is my review of Soccer Dreams by Clare Hodgson Meeker, but it’s coming soon. I promise.

 


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39. New Release: Angus MacBain And The Island Of Sleeping Kings by Angela Townsend

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Angus MacBain is unaware that his ancestral roots hail from an ancient sect of Scottish kings. When his dying grandfather gives him a dragon pendant, thirteen-year-old Angus learns of a legacy that will take him across an ocean to the island of Iona and thrust him into a heritage he did not know he had. He soon discovers that his mother, whom he had believed dead, is really a seal fairy, in hiding from a dangerous enemy. To save her, Angus must undergo a perilous journey of destiny and power to battle an evil Dacian knight and those who serve him. With only his family shield and the advice of a wizened vampire hunter to protect him, Angus must navigate dangerous terrain and dark enemies, in a land where the past and the present mingle, and sleeping kings wake.

Excerpt:

THE COMPANY OF KINGS
New York City, 2013

Gloomy shadows crept across the tired oak floor, stealing what little light peered in through a set of stained glass windows. A dying fire crackled in the corner, its golden embers fading as quickly as the old man who lay near it.
Angus MacBain stood at the foot of his grandfather’s four-poster bed, his hope slipping away with every rattling exhale from the old man’s lungs. Cocooned in a series of heavy plaid blankets bearing the family tartan, Duncan MacBain struggled to free a withered hand. He motioned for his grandson to come closer. Angus took a few stumbling steps, sank to his knees and grasped the thin hand in his.
Duncan raised his head from the pillow. His eyes seemed to glow in the dimness of the bedroom. Gnarled fingers pressed something hard and bulky into Angus’ palm, then closed his hand around it and squeezed. The object cut into the boy’s flesh, but he didn’t try to pull away.
“You’re thirteen now, almost a man. You’ve got to be brave. Remember, you’re a MacBain.” The old man inhaled another ragged breath. “The arrangements have already been made. There will be no funeral. I’m sending you to Scotland—to Iona. You must leave now.” His grandfather’s steely eyes pinned Angus to the floor. “Strange things will happen—things that—just be careful, lad.”

“No, I won’t go. Not without you.” He buried his head in his grandfather’s chest. Angus’ throat constricted like a drawstring jerked tight. Tears sprang to his eyes.
“Don’t cry for me, laddie. I’ll be in the company of kings.”
With that, Duncan MacBain heaved his final breath.
Angus squeezed his eyes shut. After a weary moment, he opened them to gaze at his grandfather’s motionless body. With the tension removed from the old Scotsman’s features, he looked relaxed, at peace. Even so, a bitter rush of sadness swept through Angus and the hole in his heart his grandfather had filled when his parents died, now returned. Angus’ chest tightened. Every breath seemed to take more effort than it was worth.
The palm of his hand throbbed. He unclenched his fist and examined an amulet attached to a heavy chain. It looked old, perhaps even ancient, with a silver long-tailed dragon clutching a purple thistle in its talons. Words scribed in a foreign language glistened on its wings.
His father had worn a dragon amulet. Angus frowned trying to remember what it looked like. Did it also have a thistle? Could it be the same one? He’d been so young when his father died, he couldn’t remember. He slipped it around his neck, the amulet warm against his chest.
“I’ll take care of it,” Angus whispered. “I promise.”
Angus made his way down the narrow hallway to Grandfather’s study. An antique clock ticked solemnly on the mantel. Without grandfather, the room seemed so different. Barren. Unfriendly. Cold. He fell into a cushy gray recliner that always reminded him of elephant skin and let it swallow him. Maybe if he just closed his eyes for a few moments, he’d wake up and it would have all been some kind of terrible dream. But no matter how he tried he couldn’t keep his eyes shut.
His gaze traveled over the towering bookcases lining the walls, filled with ancient volumes bound by his grandfather’s hands. Silent rows of books stared back at him, like leather corpses resting in their tombs. On a nearby workbench, marbled scraps of leather, paste, and a rounding hammer gathered around a dusty press.
Angus’ throat burned. He’d never be his grandfather’s apprentice again, never help him repair old books about castles, dragons and other tales.
Now he had no one, except Grandfather’s nurse, Vera. Even though she was very nice, he barely knew her.
Angus shuffled down the hallway to his lonely room and packed his things. He made sure he had his games and the favorite collection of vampire tales his grandfather had bound for him. He flopped onto his twin bed and glanced at his watch. Angus’ heart twisted. Very soon, Nurse Vera would take him to the airport and he’d fly to a strange place he’d only heard stories about.
Angus scanned his bedroom for the last time, memorizing every detail so he’d never forget. Bare spots on the wall stared back at him, places where his Dracula posters once hung. In a fit of misery, he’d torn them down and ripped them to shreds.
There was no such thing as vampires and other magical creatures. Life wasn’t about fairy tales, only heartache, despair and death.
Angus narrowed his eyes. If only death were a living thing—he’d destroy it. Make it suffer for ripping away all the people in his life that had loved him. Rage and frustration twisted inside of him.
Angus grabbed an antique sword hanging on his bedroom wall and stabbed it into the center of his mattress. Sparks flew from the bed. Celtic swirls carved into the handle of the sword started to spin. A banging sound hammered into his head like being trapped in a giant bell. He fell to his knees covering his ears. The noise died down and a voice broke into his head.
“Are you all right, Dear?”
Angus uncovered his ears and peered up at Nurse Vera. She never called him by name just, “Dear.” Nurse Vera glanced at her watch. “I’ll help you pack your things then it’s off to the airport with you.” Nurse Vera placed a hand on Angus’ forehead. “You look so tired and it’s such a long flight. Promise me you’ll try to get some rest on the plane, Dear.”
Angus nodded. He waited for Nurse Vera to see the sword and scold him for messing with something so dangerous, but she just stood there, her eyes filled with concern. Angus glanced at the bed to look at the sword—but the sword was gone.

 

Purchase at Amazon!

Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, Angela grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places.angela Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, Angela became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulations, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, Angela divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.

Angela’s first novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. Her newest novel, Angus MacBain and The Island of Sleeping Kings, was signed for publication with Clean Teen Publishing in 2013.

Angela resides on a ranch, in rural Northwestern Montana, with her two children Levi and Grant.

Visit Angela at http://angelatownsendbooks.blogspot.com/


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40. Week-end Book Review: The Secret Keepers by Paul Yee

Reviewed by Abigail Sawyer:

Paul Yee,
The Secret Keepers
Tradewind Books, 2011.

Ages: 11+

It is 1906 in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and the world has just come to an end; the world of Jackson Leong and his family at least. After their father’s death several months earlier, Jack, his older brother Lincoln, his two younger sisters, and their mother relocated from a farm in the Sacramento area to be near family in the bustling city. Now 16-year-old Lincoln, who “was big and tall and had quickly learned everything the family needed to know about their new hometown” has been killed in the aftermath of the great earthquake, leaving Jack to keep the family together while trying to manage the nickelodeon business his brother had begun. On top of all this, Jack’s “yin-yang eyes” see ghosts everywhere: and they seem to be trying to tell him something…

Read the full review

Read our interview with Paul Yee, in which he talks about The Secret Keepers.

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41. Week-end Book Review: Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

Reviewed by Aline Pereira:

Grace Lin,
Starry River of the Sky
Little, Brown, 2012.

Ages: 8-12

Grace Lin’s new middle-grade fantasy, Starry River of the Sky, is a gem every bit as compelling as its companion, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and cut from the same bedrock too: it masterfully weaves Chinese folklore into a richly textured yarn about magic, unexpected connections and the power of stories to shape our lives.

When Rendi finds a job as a helper at an Inn after running away from home in anger, he finds the small, in-the-middle-of-nowhere village of Clear Sky and its inhabitants mysteriously odd and out of sorts. For starters, the moon seems to be missing…

Read the full review

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42. author spotlight – Cheryl Carpinello

. . . . Cheryl is the author of three children’s books. Her latest is King’s Ransom, reviewed here on Friday, January 25, 2013.  Cheryl is a retired teacher, with passion for working with kids, especially with their writing skills.  Her Medieval Writing Workshops are held for local elementary and middle grade students and girls …

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43. review – Ol’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band abd Blues Ensemble by Jan Huling

Ol’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble by Jan Huling Henri Sorensen, illustrator Peachtree Publishers 5 Stars . Inside Jacket: Ol’ Bloo Donkey has always dreamed of retiring from the cotton field to become a honky-tonk singer.  But when he overhears the type of retirement plan Farmer Brown has in mind for him—of the permanent …

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44. post -Get Great MG Sampler! — Enter To Win!

    WIN A KINDLE FIRE (Value of $159!) WIN A $10 AMAZON GIFTCARD! WIN GREAT MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS! . HOW TO WIN! 1. Download this e-book 2. Find the secret phrase  3. Enter it into the contest link–embedded in the e-book NOW YOU ARE ENTERED TO WIN!! . Treat yourself and your kids with …

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45. interview – Anna Alden-Tirrill

Kid Lit Reviews would like to welcome Anna Alden-Tirrill, author of A Cat Named Mouse: The Miracle of Answered Prayer, which will be reviewed here tomorrow and can be read HERE! A Cat Named Mouse: The Miracle of Answered Prayer is a middle grade novel. Annie, whose cat is named Mouse, will discover a lot about faith and prayer while searching for her lost Mouse. Welcome, …

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46. From the Family Bookshelf – March and April

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It’s hard to believe we’re already into the third week of April. I should have posted this earlier, but I’ve had other commitments lately. The girls are on vacation this week, too, so we took them to New York City for the weekend. We had a fun time, but were saddened to hear about the bombings at the Boston Marathon today. Our prayers go out to all those impacted by this tragedy.

Now, onto reading. Dad is ever so slowly making his way through A Light in Zion, the fourth book of the Zion Chronicles by Bodie and Brock Thoene. he’s been a fan of their work for years. I hope I get a chance to read some of their books, as the hubby highly recommends them.

The Lil’ Diva (11) and the Lil’ Princess (9) and I have been reading almost every night together. We read Hank Zipzer: A Brand New Me by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. This is the latest book in the series. The girls and I loved it. I want to go back and read the others. Right now, we’re working on Scarlet, the second book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. Next up will be Emma Dilemma and the Two Nannies by Patricia Hermes and When the Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

As for me, I am feel great about my reading. After overloading my review schedule for the first quarter of the year, I’m determined not to take on any new review requests at The Book Connection until I catch up. I’ve already read four books from my TBR Pile that are part of the 2013 Catch Up Reading Challenge. Here’s what I’ve read since my last post in February:

Executive Command by Gary Grossman (political thriller)

Princess April-Morning Glory by Letitia Fairbanks (fairy tale)

Just for Today by Kevin McNamme (children’s picture book)

Dangerous Impulses by F.M. Meredith (mystery)

Fairy May by Jo Linsdell (children’s picture book)

I Left My Prostate in San Francisco – Where’s Yours? by Rick and Brenda Redner (health issues)

Nate Rocks the Boat and Nate Rocks the School by Karen Pokras Toz (middle grade novels)

The Abraham Man by R. Gregory Lande (American history)

Untimed by Andy Gavin (time travel adventure)

Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach (Christian historical romance)

First Colors and First Numbers by tiger tales (board books)

The Kensei by Jon F. Merz (vampire novel)

What Did Jesus Say… by Reverend Terry Allan Christian (Christian nonfiction)

Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble (Christian romantic suspense)

American Patriots by Rick Santorum (current events)

That’s it for this edition of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you have a great week.


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47. Interview with Yves Robichaud, Author of Tomes of Taria: Kaylen’s Rising

Yves-Robichaud
Yves Robichaud is originally from the small Acadian community of Grand-Barachois, New Brunswick, Canada. He has studied Business Administration and Information Technology, currently works for the federal government, and is the proud father of one son: Jeremy. Inspired by a love of fantastical, magical tales, Kaylen’s Rising is Yves’ first attempt to share this literary passion with his son and the rest of the world.

Thank you for joining us today, Yves. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Sure, I’m a 40 year-old French-speaking Canadian of Acadian descent. I live near the city of Moncton, New Brunswick, on the East coast of Canada. I literally live a two-minute walk from the beach. It’s beautiful here in the summertime. I love sports, mainly softball, golf and hockey. I also enjoy reading, jogging, traveling and playing poker. I have a university degree in business and also a course in IT from a private college. Most of my work experience has been in the fields of business or IT. I currently work for the federal government. I’m also the proud father of a 13 year-old son, Jérémy.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I think that my writing experience is a bit different than most. You see, I never really wanted to be a writer. It’s just kind of something that happened. I know this sounds silly, but it’s true. You know how sometimes a song repeats in your head over and over and you can’t get rid of it? Well for me, this story popped into my head and just wouldn’t go away. Every time I thought about it, I would add a bit to the story. I had the entire plot mapped out in my head even before I started writing anything down. Once my son was old enough, I decided that it would be a great idea for me to share this story with him. It’s only when I started typing it all up that I realized that I truly enjoyed writing. I guess you could say that I caught the writing bug at that point.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I decided to write the story for my son. I wanted to share it with him. Given that he is currently 13 years old, the book ended up targeting that age group.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

No, I don’t think so. I think it’s important to be able to relate to your audience. Whether you’re writing for children, adults or seniors, the important thing is to be able to put yourself in their shoes and write about something that would interest them in a way that they understand. Besides, kids are way more fun! J

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

For me, the best part about writing for children is seeing their reaction. Kids don’t have much for filters so they don’t hesitate to tell you (or show you) how they feel. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to present my book at local schools. Seeing the reactions from the kids made it all worthwhile. My son was so proud of me presenting at his school that he walked over and gave me a high five after the presentation. It was a great feeling. I’ve witnessed kids rushing over to see me after the presentations so that I could sign their bookmarks. It’s also touching to receive an email or Facebook message from a child explaining how they loved your book.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?Tomes-of-Taria

Kaylen’s Rising is coming-of-age story about a young elf named Kaylen who lives in a city built underground. Kaylen envies most kids his age because he sees them wielding weapons and learning magic. His parents forbid him to do such things. The other kids pick on Kaylen and label him an outcast. Kaylen’s parents finally relent and allow him to attend school for the first time. There, he learns that his people are at war with the humans. He also learns that he has a very unique magical ability to summon skeletons. Kaylen’s life will never be the same.

What inspired you to write it?

Initially, I decided to write the story to share it with my son. He motivated me to put it on paper. Once I started writing and discovered my passion for it, I decided to share this passion with my son too. He played a huge part in the writing and editing processes. I enjoyed reading to him the evolving storyline as it unfolded. Without a doubt, he was my inspiration.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

For now the books are only stocked at local bookstores in Moncton, NB. The book is available for order at several websites online such as Amazon, Smashwords and the Friesenpress bookstore.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

My website/blog is www.yvesrobichaud.com. On there you will find out more on Kaylen’s Rising such as the book trailer, reviews, pictures, etc. I also write book reviews, so that’s something that might interest readers.

What is up next for you?

I’m still working hard on the marketing of Kaylen’s Rising. I have a book launch party coming up. I also have an author-signing event at a local bookstore. Finally, I am continuing to do presentations at local schools. At the same time, I have already started on the sequel and have plans to do a trilogy.

Do you have anything else to add?

As part of Kaylen’s Rising’s book launch, I’m having a giveaway of amazing prizes such as a Kindle Fire HD and Amazon gift cards. For more information, please check out my website at www.yvesrobichaud.com.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Yves. We wish you much success.

 


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48. Guest Book Review: Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

twerp

Age Range: 9 and up
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (May 28, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0375971424
ISBN-13: 978-0375971426

Julian Twerski isn’t a bully. He’s just made a big mistake. He has done something he is deeply ashamed of, something that goes against the grain of his conscience. When he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade—blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he’s still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can’t bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

There’s nothing like a ‘real’ story to bring a smile to one’s face. The book was inspired by author Mark Goldblatt’s own childhood growing up in Queens during the 1960s. Reading it, one can’t help being taken back to the ‘growing up’ years, when everything is confusing, nothing goes right, everyone else is cooler/faster/cleverer and girls are an unfathomable mystery. Told from Julian’s point of view in typical middle-grader stream of consciousness, the author takes the reader on a trip back in time. Incidents pack Julian’s life and he reacts to them in a visceral and sometimes confused way. Life lessons can be hard, and Julian rolls with the punches, doing his best. He doesn’t always pull it off, but he does make sense of things where he can. Julian is a likeable character and he truly does want to make amends. Kids will enjoy this, but I think their parents will also relish this trip down Memory Lane. Times may change, but kids don’t. Author Mark Goldblatt’s style is quirky and different, but appealing with a touch of nostalgia. Five stars.

About the author: Mark Goldblatt is a lot like Julian Twerski, only not as interesting (that’s what he says!). He is a widely published columnist, a novelist, and a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Twerp is his first book for younger readers. He lives in New York City.

Please note that I reviewed an ARC. The book will be available on 28 May 2013.

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


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49. Interview with J. Q. Rose, Author of Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women

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After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction by crafting cozy mysteries published by MuseItUp Publishing. With Girls Succeed she returns to her first love, writing about real people.  Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter. 

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at

J.Q. Rose blog http://www.jqrose.com/

Girls Succeed blog http://girlssucceed.blogspot.com/

Author website http://jqrose.webs.com/

J. Q.  Rose Amazon Author Page http://tinyurl.com/aeuv4m4

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/jqrose

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/janetglaser/

 Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town in Central Illinois where the rich, fertile soil of the plains yields productive corn and soybean crops. My dad was the town undertaker and my mom taught second grade. That means I had to be a very good girl or everyone in town would tell my parents about me. There was lots of pressure to be good too because I felt if I messed up, it could ruin my father’s business.

When did you begin writing?

My mother was my teacher when I was in second grade, so in order to stay out of trouble, here I go again, I started writing stories. When I was in seventh grade I wrote my first “novel” which suspiciously echoed my favorite book, Black Beauty. My grandmother typed up the story I had scawled on a yellow tablet. The moment I saw my “manuscript,” in neatly typed paragraphs, I envisioned myself as a writer.

What is this book aboutGirls Succeed Cover 333x500 picnic

Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, a non-fiction e-book about careers, includes interviews with fifteen remarkable women who have achieved recognition for accomplishment in their occupations. This diverse group of careers encompasses women in the arts, business, science, medicine, ministry, entertainment, and sports. Stories include women who have stamped out disease, made people laugh, earned Olympic and Paralympic gold medals, crossed the country in the cab of an eighteen wheeler, and many more chapters to inspire and empower girls to reach for their dreams.

What inspired you to write it?

I was stirred to write a book for girls after working four summers at Camp Newaygo, a girls’ residence camp in Michigan. I met the most amazing young women who were counselors and energetic campers. They kept my life interesting! I marveled at the potential for the futures of these smart, enthusiastic girls. Faced with so many possibilities for careers, I wondered what choices they would make. This e-book is a good reference for them to learn about a career, and the women’s stories inspire and empower girls to follow their dreams.

How is it similar to other books in its genre? How is it different?

Girls Succeed is similar to other career books for children because the chapters discuss various careers and the responsibilities of the job, but very different because the women I interviewed also told me about the careers they dreamed about when they were little girls. They share how they made the dream come true. I purposely chose women who are respected in their fields of work, but they are not nationally known celebrities. (Unfortunately this was cited as a reason for publishers not to accept the book for publication. So I published it myself.) I include their advice about perseverance, determination, and dreaming big.

This e-book is different in many ways. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote. Many books include books and magazines for resources, but my little twist is possible because it is an e-book. I  added live links to websites about each woman and her career. With one click the reader, if she is connected to the Internet, is linked to a cyberspace filled with facts, guides, and articles. Not only can the reader discover horse woman Pati Pierucci’s story in the e-book about how she became a horse trainer and an award winning dressage competitor, but she can also click on a website to watch the Olympics dressage competition, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0te-vc_O04k&feature=related and learn about riding at the Young Rider site http://www.youngrider.com/ .

Girls Succeed Study Guide Kay's 333x500What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?

Besides learning about a career, the reader may identify with the situations in the childhood stories. Living in a home with alcoholic parents, fighting illness, being smart and trying to hide it, or being a star athlete were some of the difficulties for these now successful women to overcome. Even with obstacles in their paths, the women did not give up on achieving their dream careers. It is my hope readers will be inspired and empowered by their stories.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Smashwords Link http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/241825

Amazon Link  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009NY6ZAS

Kobo Link http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Girls-Succeed/book-myLEkD3MME6d8UiRBgthtQ/page1.html?s=lrOG8bTJ60qkeMkE-Y96Vg&r=3

Barnes and Noble Link http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/girls-succeed-jq-rose/1114041658?ean=2940045118033

Sony Link https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/j-q-rose/girls-succeed-stories-behind-the-careers-of-successful-women/_/R-400000000000000883970

What is up next for you?

The Girls Succeed book is published, but I continue to find stories about careers and about women both past and present who are considered trailblazers breaking down barriers for women. I feel I have to share their stories, so I began blogging about them on the Girls Succeed Blog. http://girlssucceed.blogspot.com/  I enjoy doing the research on these amazing women. I have a few trailblazers which I plan to feature in another book. Of course I will continue writing mysteries…one about an undertaker’s daughter perhaps???

15-Girls Succeed in Picnic

Is there anything you would like to add?

Readers who are interested in obtaining a study guide for the e-book can email me for a FREE guide this month. My e-mail addy is jqrose02 at gmail dot com

Thank you so much, Cheryl, for hosting me today so I can get the word out about this inspirational book. If anyone would like a copy to review, please email me at jqrose02 at gmail dot com


2 Comments on Interview with J. Q. Rose, Author of Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, last added: 4/24/2013
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50. Alexander Drake Blog Tour & Giveaway with Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows

alexander-tour

Today I’m reviewing the first two books in the Azra’s Pith Series. This is a middle grade fantasy series by Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows.

alexander 1

In Book 1, Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit, we meet young Alexander Drake. He lives alone with his distant father and has recurring dreams of his mother who has passed away. When his father leaves on another trip, Alexander is sent to stay with his grandmother. In his father’s old room, Alexander discovers a box in the bottom drawer of the dresser. Inside is an odd-looking key and maps and pictures drawn on a tweed fabric. His curiosity gets the better of him, leading him into the forest near his grandmother’s home and on an adventure that will change his life.

Alexander 2

The second book, The Return of General Drake, picks up immediately where the first book left off. Alexander makes it to Verhonia, which angers the evil Imperius. His minion, Roman, prepares his murk army to attack the city. With the safety of the realm in jeopardy and Alexander under a spell that has placed him in grave danger, General John William Drake returns to Verhonia. Can evil be defeated or is all lost?

The premise of this series is a great one. A young boy without friends, who is feeling neglected by his only living parent, is sent away and ends up on a life-changing adventure. In Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit, Alexander discovers many surprises about his destiny and his family. The book ends with a cliffhanger that leads into the next book.

By Book 2, Alexander is starting to put some of the pieces together. What he underestimates, however, is how far the evil Imperius is willing to go. With his plan to stop Alexander from reaching Verhonia a failure, Imperius wages war on the city and casts a spell over Alexander, sending him on a journey to Cantilonia. Though General Drake had vowed never to return to Verhonia, but with Alexander in danger he has no choice.

What I feel Parkinson-Bellows does well in these books is create a series set primarily in a mythical land filled with quirky characters like Ferdinand, a talking frog and Cozmo, a cunning wolf. These are exciting adventure books filled with action that middle grade readers will devour. Where the books fell a bit short for me was in the stilted dialogue and lack of depth in character development. My feeling is that the focus on creating quirky characters might have led to how the dialogue didn’t flow well. The conversations didn’t seem natural. There are also places in both books where resolutions came too quickly for the characters, so there isn’t a deep digging into the character’s–primarily Alexander’s–emotions and thought process.

That said, both books were enjoyable light reads. Though, I don’t like it when a book ends in a cliffhanger that forces you to buy the next book in order to see how it all plays out, these are short and economically-priced stories, so it doesn’t prevent the reader from continuing.

Rating (for both): :) :) :) :)

Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit
File Size: 1169 KB
Print Length: 110 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing (June 6, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B0054RFVTY

The Return of General Drake
File Size: 269 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing (April 25, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00CK12HEE

lizzie

Being the frizzy-haired tomboy with buck teeth gave me a slight case of shyness as a kid. A colorful imagination meant escape and adventure at the drop of a hat.

Over the years I learned that the insecurities I carried around were a waste of time. I still prefer a football game to a manicure any day of the week. That indispensable imagination has found its way into my writing providing a sense of joy and a true purpose.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash (Ends 5/15/13)

Enter for your chance to win at http://www.iamareader.com/2013/02/alexander-drake-blog-tour.html

 


1 Comments on Alexander Drake Blog Tour & Giveaway with Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows, last added: 5/4/2013
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