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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: BLOG TOUR, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Dan Hanna – Illustrator Interview

I am changing up my Wednesday series just a little today to join in Debbie Diesen and Dan Hannah’s blog & book tour of THE NOT VERY MERRY POUT-POUT FISH, the latest hardcover children’s picture book from The New York … Continue reading

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2. New Jersey - The 50 States Fun Fact Blog Extravaganza!

New Jersey knows that it's the butt of jokes throughout the nation, but we also know that we've got a great state with unique features that no other state can match.  From the mountains to the shore, from the cities to the Pines, we've got a wealth of natural beauty, history, and culture.  It's like a well-kept secret.  But now, The Fifty States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 fact-filled maps, written by Gabrielle Balkin and illustrated by Sol Linero (Quarto, 2015) is bringing some of our secrets to light.

Take a peek at the New Jersey page, and then I'll share a few of my favorite NJ gems.

Three of my NJ favorites which are featured in The Fifty States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 fact-filled maps:
 BRIGHT IDEA In West Orange you can visit inventor Thomas Edison’s lab and house.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park is a fascinating place to visit.  In my opinion it beats visiting Thomas Edison Center in Menlo Park, NJ and his winter estate in Fort Myers, Florida.  He didn't just invent the light bulb, he invented everything you need to use a light bulb - from the lamp to the power grid.  And of course, he invented much more than the light bulb.  Not a perfect man, by any means, but a perfectly brilliant inventor!
"Edison labs Main St Lakeside Av jeh" by Jim.henderson - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edison_labs_Main_St_Lakeside_Av_jeh.jpg#/media/File:Edison_labs_Main_St_Lakeside_Av_jeh.jpg

LUCY THE ELEPHANT In 1881 the U.S. Patent Office granted inventor James Lafferty the right to make animal-shaped buildings for 17 years. His first creation, Lucy, still stands in Margate, Atlantic City.
She's a whopping 6-stories high and 134 years old, and she sits right next to the beach.  And what a view from inside!  I'm not positive but I do remember that her interior paint color is "stomach," or something similarly intestinal.
By Harriet Duncan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
FEBRUARY 1913: Silk workers in Paterson begin a six-month-long strike for better working conditions.
Paterson, NJ, may not be your first thought when seeking tourist sites, but it's well worth a visit.  Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park is one of the nation's newest National Parks. The falls (one of the largest in the nation) and park sit in the midst of an urban city of more than 145,000 people. The falls and the people of Paterson were powerhouses of the U.S. Industrial Revolution.
Photo by L Taylor (c)
If you want to know more great sites in NJ, you'll have to come see for yourself. (BTW, Come See For Yourself, was once our state slogan. I think they should have gone with the more popular, "New Jersey - You got a problem with that?")

Book images and quotes were provided by the publisher.  I have no publisher or bookseller affiliations and received no compensation.  I am participating for love of state.

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3. Blog Tour: The Toymaker's Apprentice-Sherri L. Smith Author Guest Post

Sherri L. Smith's newest book is based on The Nutcracker. Taking on a classic story is always interesting and I love knowing how authors research and make a well known story their own, so I wanted to know more about the research process for The Toymaker's Apprentice.  

Most people don’t realize that the Nutcracker ballet has its origins in an E.T.A. Hoffman story, Nussknacker und Mausekönig published in 1816.  Some thirty years later, Hoffman’s strange story caught the imagination of Alexandre Dumas—the man who wrote The Three Musketeers and other popular novels.  It was Dumas’ version that Tchiakovsky based his ballet upon.  Luckily for me, as a kid, I fell in love with both the Hoffman story and the ballet.  As an adult, I found myself still daydreaming about the mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer, and the story behind the story.  So it wasn’t much of a stretch to think that one day I would tackle those questions for myself.
In my office is a blue binder stuffed to the gills with indexed pages:  18th Century Clothing.  Asia.  Turkey.  Arabic Cooking.  Clockmaking.  Nuts.  You name it.  When I finally decided to tackle this book, I amassed so much information that the novel sank.  It disappeared from view under the weight of too many possibilities, which took me ten years to assimilate and resurface with a story worth telling.
            It’s a strange thing when you are a writer.  The book the world sees is only one version of a multiverse of books I’ve written or imagined, all a different variation on the same story.  The version of Toymaker that you will read took several passes of research.  From that initial binder (I even recruited my mother into researching various time periods for me) to the last round of spelunking into the history and politics of 1815 Europe, and toy and clockmaking of the period, I did as much research as I could from libraries and a laptop in California.  I read up on lifespans of the various animals in the books, and the land speed of mice versus humans.  How to crack nuts.  Christmas traditions in Nuremberg.  I could give you a long list and sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about shrimp. 
The idea is, you find out as much as you can, set it in the back of your mind, and then tell the story.  I find my brain will pull out the supporting details it needs to keep the story alive and moving forward.  Because of this method, which is rather like sifting for gold, I am always researching stories whenever I read or learn about something new.  I remember in patting myself on the back one day for inventing catacombs beneath the city of Nuremberg that worked perfectly for my story.  Then I went back and looked at my notes.  There are catacombs!  And they still work as if I made them myself! 
The best news for all us struggling writers out there is, if you’re midstream in a story and can’t come up with a good idea based on what you know, it doesn’t mean the story doesn’t work.  You just need to do more research.
About the Book: (from Goodreads) Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.   


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4. How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue + an interview with Jess Keating


by Jess Keating (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015)

Sometimes you meet people on the internet who are instantly your kind of people. And all of a sudden they aren’t a tiny square avatar, but a real friend who sends you ketchup chips from Canada and the best gifs to your email. They support you on this whirling road of publishing, and they make you laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and you wish that Canada and California weren’t so far away.

Let me introduce you to my friend Jess Keating. She’s got great books and she’s a better friend, and I’m so happy to have her here today to celebrate her newest story in the My Life is a Zoo series, How to O

And also, it’s not just me. These guys liked her too . . .

“With her trademark kid-oriented wit and lighthearted touch, Keating leads readers through the daily emotional ups and downs of the typical just-turned-teenager who is trying to juggle hormones, parents, schoolwork, and, most importantly, her friends…A sweet reminder that being middle school girl is about far more than boys and makeup.” –Kirkus, starred review

So: here she is!

Hi Jess!

Hello, my dear Carter! Thank you for having me!

Can you give us some backstory on Ana? Is there any young-Jess-Keating wrapped up in her?

There is definitely a lot of young-me in Ana. I’ve always been an animal nut, and I was raised on Kratt’s Creatures, Crocodile Hunter, and Jane Goodall. Savvy readers might notice that Ana’s middle name is Jane—both she and her mother share this name to honor Dr. Goodall!

As a kid, it was my dream to live in a zoo, surrounded by strange animals. Obviously, my parents thought this would be rather hazardous, so instead they let me decorate my room to look like the rainforest. I even stuck plastic lizards and poison arrow frogs to my walls. Sometimes I even pretended I was David Attenborough, narrating my way through the day with a bad British accent.

Ana is also a giant nerd, who struggles with feeling like an outsider a lot. I think that’s something a lot of us share (particularly as teens and tweens), and I was no exception. It takes guts to share your passions, you know? I think Ana is also a very lucky kid, in that she’s surrounded by intelligent people who challenge her to pursue her dreams. We have that in common too.

Which do you most identify with: having untied shoelaces, missing a snorkel, or not having a clue?

Untied shoelaces!



What’s your ideal writing scenario? Snacks? Tunes?

Yes to snacks! I’m a big fan of popcorn and chocolate chips. Together or separately, really. My awesome agent Kathleen Rushall introduced me to Songza, which I’ve found to be perfect for playing background music while I write. I listen to mainly movie scores and video game soundtracks.

I like to move around a lot as I work, so I have a standing desk that’s really just a wooden crate that props up my laptop. That’s about it! Oh, and Post-It notes. Millions and millions of Post-It notes.

Which came first, these characters or their scenarios?

The characters came first, for sure. I think once you’ve got characters you know well, especially their flaws, it’s really a matter of plunking them down with some challenges and letting them find their way. I’ve always had such a clear picture of Ana, Daz, and Shep, so they seem to run the show. With each book, I have a general idea of a setting I’d like to explore, but I like to give them some freedom in getting there.

But sometimes writing can surprise you! Characters like Sugar and Bella were much quieter in my mind, and getting to know them better as the series continues has been extra fun.

What has been your most favorite scene to write and edit? Just don’t spoil us too much!

I love writing funny scenes, embarrassing scenes, and downright awful ‘fight’ scenes between friends. There’s just so much juicy emotion in these!

My favorite scene to write in OUTFOX revolves around Ana doing a Superman impression. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a scene I’ve wanted to write since the beginning of the series!

Describe Canada in one word.


What gif best describes your feelings for this book’s birthday week?

Ahh, you know how much I love gifs! I have so many feelings, I have to give you two! Publishing a book is a funny thing—it never stops being exciting. With every new book, I feel like Bilbo going on an adventure:

And this week especially, I’m so thankful and humbled that we get to continue Ana’s story in a third book. It takes so many people to get the story in your head on a shelf, and the readers who pick it up are really the reason we do this. So, I have a lot of love for everyone who works so hard to make these books, and those who have been with Ana from the start. Hence, hobbit hugs:

What’s coming next for you?

I like working on several projects at once, so I’ve got lots to keep me busy! My first nonfiction picture book is coming out in February, called PINK IS FOR BLOBFISH. It’s all about challenging the notion that “pink is for girls”, showcasing bizarre, dangerous, and unique pink animals. I’m tickled pink for this one! (Sorry.) This book is part of a new series called “The World of Weird Creatures”, so I’m also working on the next one! I can’t share the title yet, but I’ve definitely never seen anything like it before. Hee!

I’m also deliriously happy to report that we’ve just sold my first picture book biography! SHARK LADY is all about the life of Eugenie Clark, an incredible female scientist who studied—you guessed it—sharks. She is one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever come across, and I’m so excited to share her story!

Thanks again for having me!


The wonderful folks at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky are going to give away a complete set of Jess’s My Life is a Zoo series to a lucky reader! Head here to enter!

Good luck!


About the Author:

Jess Keating is a zoologist and the author of the critically acclaimed How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied. Jess is also the author of the playful nonfiction picture book Pink is for Blobfish (Knopf Children’s, 2016). She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves writing books for adventurous and funny kids. Visit Jess at jesskeating.com.

You can also find her at these places:





(And you’ll be so glad you did.)


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5. First & Then Superlative Blog Tour and Author Guest Post: Books Most Likely to Make You Cry On Public Transportation

I love the idea of a superlative blog tour for First & Then by Emma Mills-such a fun blog tour! I was given the superlative of "Most Likely to Make You Cry on Public Transportation" and of course, I had to ask Emma herself which books make her cry:

I would have to say Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is the book that makes my cry the most! My father first read this book to my sister and I when we were kids, and I remember so clearly the overwhelming sense of loss I felt right along with Jesse. A beautiful—but tough to take!—book about grief.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – it has wrung the most book-fueled tears from me in my adulthood. Hazel’s relationship with her parents really gets to me.

Marrying Malcolm Murgatroyd by Mame Farrell—I first read this in junior high and shed more than a few tears. Very bittersweet, lovely middle grade story.

Before I share my own list, I first need to tell you something-I don't cry too often at books. Which honestly, I find a bit strange because I'm an emotional person and I cry at just about everything else, but books really have to get me to get me bawling. And these books did! So fair warning when reading on public transportation (or anywhere!):

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling-OK, I admit this one is cheating a bit, because seriously, what HP fan can read this one (or pretty much any book from 4-on) without bawling like a baby?

If I Stay by Gayle Forman-I cried so much at the end of this book and had to mourn that it was over. So I was incredibly grateful for the sequel-which yes, also make me cry.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley-Oh my goodness, this book just gets you in every emotional way and just tears at your heartstrings and makes you laugh and cry and smile all at the same time.

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern-I actually listened to this one on audiobook while driving-bad idea. It turned me into a blubbering mess and it was hard to sob and drive at the same time!

What books make you cry?

About the Book: Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

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6. Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler Blog Tour-Author Guest Post

Please welcome Sonia Gensler to GreenBeanTeenQueen

(photo credit: Eden Wilson Photography)

Writing horror for young readers

Growing up is scary and painful, and violent, and your body is doing weird things and you might, to your great horror, become something beastly and terrible on the other side. 

—Greg Ruth, “Why Horror is Good for You (and Even Better for Your Kids)”

Every day young people deal with horror landscapes, both physical and psychological. They face the gauntlet-like labyrinth of school hallways, and the confinement of overcrowded classrooms. They defend against emotional and/or physical bullying, all while feeling haunted by the “stupid” things they’ve said or done. In fact, young people often feel downright monstrous—their bodies are changing too quickly, or not quickly enough, their emotions are fraught with ups and downs, and the world just doesn’t make sense. 

I know all this from having been a teenager, and also from having taught young people for ten years. These experiences have somehow led me to write a certain kind of horror.

A lot of horror is about gore, grotesquery, and jump scares—and there’s a cathartic benefit to that experience. I try to write the horror of mystery and dread. Gothic horror is all about dealing with extreme transitions, facing the uncanny, and acknowledging repressed emotions that insist on spilling out against your will. I write this sort of horror for the apprehensive teen that still lives inside me. Mostly I just wish to entertain, but I can’t help hoping that teen and tween readers will recognize parts of their own experience, see themselves in the protagonists who overcome their fears, and somehow feel less strange and alone. 

About the BookThings that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!

Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.

Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.

As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?

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7. LOCK & MORI Blog Tour.... Review & Giveaway

From Becca I'm so happy to announce that Reading Teen is the stop for today's Lock & Mori Blog Tour. I really enjoyed Lock & Mori, and I can't wait to get my friends to read it too! Check out my review and don't forget to enter the giveaway! LOCK & MORI by Heather W. Petty Series: Lock & Mori (Book 1) Hardcover: 256 pages Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 15, 2015) Goodreads |

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8. #HeadsWillRoll Blog Tour Feat. Texts to ANNE & HENRY...

From Becca... Today we are hosting a stop on the #HeadsWillRoll Blog Tour for Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius! I'll be reviewing the book in texts to the book rather than writing a letter, because I thought since I was reviewing a modernized tale, I should modernize my reviews. Check it out, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!  ANNE & HENRY  by Dawn Ius Publisher: Simon Pulse (September 1,

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9. Fab Four Friends - the blog tour

Today I'm happy to share in the celebration for the publication of Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles, written by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, and published by Macmillan.

Author Susanna Reich has written an inspiring book chronicling the early years of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Each is highlighted in turn with a focus on the events and people that shaped his future and his interest in music.

The final pages feature the band's early successes.  Readers will be impressed by the boys' dedication to their musicianship and their ability to overcome family tragedy, illness, and in John Lennon's case - a lack of musical training and a guitar that his mother taught him to tune like a banjo.

John attacked the guitar, strumming as fast he could.  He didn't give a fig about wrong notes.

Eventually Paul traded in his trumpet for a guitar.  From then on, his brother said, "he didn't have time to eat or think about anything else."

At school, George sat in the back and drew pictures of guitars. But when it came to practicing, no one was more serious.

Back home, Richy [Ringo] couldn't stop his hands from tapping.  Listening to all kinds of music—country and western, jazz, blues, skiffle—he'd rap on the back of a chair, bang on a box, or pound an old bass drum with a piece of firewood.

The text is small and in simple font on a plain background, leaving ample room for Adam Gustavson's stellar illustrations in "oil paint on prepared paper."  It is a difficult task to render likenesses of these four men who are known and revered the world over.  Gustavson has done a remarkable job in capturing their youth, signature expressions, and intensity of mood. In quiet acknowledgement of the post-war era that engendered the rise of rock and roll, the book opens with double-spread illustration of "a dark October night in 1940," the night when John Lennon was born in the midst of war with Germany. The final double-spread is the one that appears on the book's jacket.

More illustrations from Fab Four Friends are on the publisher's site.

Rounding out Fab Four Friends are an Author's Note, Glossary (I'm sad that phonograph needs to be in the glossary!), Notes, and Sources.

I asked only one interview question of author Susanna Reich. With so many songs to choose from and her obvious love of her topic, I knew it would be a tricky question:
Q: "What's your favorite Beatles tune?"

It sent her to her headphones for an hour of listening. Her final answer:
A: "Let it Be."
It's certainly hard to argue with that.

The publisher's site lists a suggested age range of 6-10.  I think older kids, particularly those with musical inclinations will be interested in this one as well.

 A book's case and jacket are often (usually) the same.  Library books are typically processed with protective coating on the jacket that secures it to the cover. So, if you're a librarian, or a library user, you may never see the books' case.  If possible, however, take a peek under the jacket of Fab Four Friends. The front cover features individual portrait style paintings of Paul, John, George, and Ringo.  They appear youthful and suited and are presented in square frames reminiscent of yearbook photos or 1970s era Beatles posters. They are joyful and boyish - four fab friends.

My copy of Fab Four Friends was provided by the publisher.  You can find yours on a library or bookstore shelf, beginning today, August 18, 2015.

Follow the blog tour for Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles.  Tomorrow, the tour will stop at UnleashingReaders.com .

Happy book birthday to Fab Four Friends!

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10. BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY // Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine

From Becs... I'm so incredibly stoked for this post today, ya'll! I absolutely ADORED Of Metal and Wishes last year, which is a Phantom of the Opera retelling that you need in your life ASAP! I'm so honored to be on the OF DREAMS AND RUST tour. I have my review letter for you guys today, AND a super cool giveaway!  ABOUT THE BOOK:    Of Dreams and Rust (Of Metal and Wishes #2) by

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11. Blog Tour: Ruthless, Michelle St. James

It’s release day for Ruthless by Michelle St. James. We’re so excited for this sexy mafia romance! Michelle is sharing an excerpt and a fantastic giveaway so be sure to check out all the festivities! 

(My Review will be up soon! So come back! Make sure you read to bottom, awesome giveaway!!!-Laura)

About Ruthless:

front_6ix9i_RGB_300dpiTwo years out of college, Angelica Bondesan spends her time working as a barista, keeping in touch with her prodigal brother, and trying to figure out how to bridge the gap with her father, a wealthy real estate developer.

But all of that changes the night she’s kidnapped. Thrown into a windowless room, Angelica is positive there’s been some kind of mistake —until she meets Nico Vitale.

Gorgeous and frightening, Nico became the boss of New York City’s Vitale crime family after the execution style murder of his parents two years earlier. Since then he’s turned the old-school mob into a sleek, modern army of ruthless men who understand that physical violence —while always an option —isn’t the only way to get what you want.

Now Angel is forced to face the truth;

Her father is not the man she believed him to be.

Nico Vitale is dangerous, possibly lethal.

She is falling in love with Nico Vitale.


"From page one you're hooked and sucked into this corrupt thrilling world. A masterful romance of deep dark suspense, complicated emotions, and exciting action." - New York Times bestseller, M.J. Rose


Barnes and Noble

Exclusive Excerpt

Nico Vitale was kneeling in one of the pews at St. Monica’s, praying for his mother and father. They’d been gone two years, but the pain of losing them still lingered. He had only been twenty-eight when they’d been killed, and he’d expected to have them for many more years, to give them the daughter-in-law and grandchildren they had wanted.

Their future had been stolen. From all of them.

He forced down the fury that had become all too familiar. Anger was good. Productive. It’s what drove him to seek justice, to right the wrong perpetrated against his family, against the honor code that had survived decades under the rule of some of history’s most violent men.

But this wasn’t the place for anger. This was the place for peace. Repentance. He took a deep breath and tired to calm himself.

His mother had always gone to St. Patrick’s, but Nico made a point of moving around the city, sitting in any church with an open door. He liked the anonymity of it. Liked knowing that no one would know him or remember his parents.

His faith was only a shadow of the belief that had sustained them. Nico didn’t believe in the edicts of the Church. It had been organized by man to benefit man. He worshipped his own god, and his god didn’t turn the other cheek. He might forgive, but that forgiveness didn’t preclude a punishment justly earned. Still, he liked to sit in silence and remember, to send love to his parents, wherever they were, and to stand on the side of any god who believed in vengeance.

He was reciting the Lord’s Prayer when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He instinctively shook off the hand. When he turned to see who had interrupted him, he was even less pleased.

“What is it, Dante?”He forced his voice even as he took in the leather jacket and jeans worn by the man in front of him. A dress code was part of Nico’s organizational reboot, but keeping cool was a point of pride, part of his mission to remake his father’s business for the twenty-first century. And having a reputation for being calm only made him more formidable when the situation called for his wrath.

Dante shifted in his seat, his face flushed, eyes feverish with excitement. “We got her,”he said. “We got the girl.”

Nico looked around before tipping his head at the church’s massive double doors. “Not here.”

Dante stood, hurrying down the aisle. Nico followed slowly, letting the peace of the church wash over him as he made his way out the door.

He took his time following Dante down the steps of the church. When they reached the sidewalk, they stepped back to stand near an adjacent building.

“Any trouble?”Nico asked.

Dante shook his head. “She didn’t see it coming.”

Nico didn’t like the note of excitement in Dante’s voice. Nico’s father had ingrained old-fashioned chivalry in his bones, and Nico never sanctioned hurting women. These kinds of things were a necessary part of doing business, not something he enjoyed.

“You didn’t hurt her.”It wasn’t a question.

Dante sighed, and Nico caught a hint of annoyance in the other man’s face before he could hide it. “We did it just like you said. Knocked her out, put her in the van, took her to the basement. She’s fine.”

Nico nodded. “Good. Make sure she’s comfortable.”

“Comfortable?”Dante’s laugh was bitter. “Why do we care if that bitch is comfortable?”

Nico clamped a hand on Dante’s shoulder and squeezed until he flinched. “We don’t call women bitches in this organization. Ever. Understand?”

Dante nodded, his eyes lit with the fire of indignation.

“Good.”Nico released his grip. “Now go make the pick-up.”

“Will do.”Dante rolled his shoulders, like doing so would free him of Nico’s grip when they both knew only death or dishonor would do that. “Want a ride back to the office?”

“No.”He didn’t owe Dante an explanation.

Dante nodded and headed for the car double parked at the curb. Nico watched him get in and drive away. He waited for the car to disappear into traffic before he started walking.

Dante was a problem. Nico understood it, but he was still trying to settle on a strategy for dealing with it. He knew Dante resented him. That Dante believed his father, Gabriel Santoro, should have been Underboss to Nico’s father before his death. If that had been the case, Dante’s father would be Boss now, and Dante himself would be the crown prince of the New York territory.

Instead, a year before his death Nico’s father had inexplicably turned to Nico, pleading with him to step in as Underboss. Only twenty-seven at the time, Nico wasn’t ready to take on the mantel of responsibility held by his father. He didn’t even believe in the mob. Not the way it was then; stealing and killing and raping in the name of money. In the name of power.

But his father had been unsettled. Even Nico, as young and wrapped up in himself as he’d been at the time, could see that. And his father -- his family -- meant everything to him. So he’d gotten his act together and joined the business, learning it from the inside out. He was just beginning to feel like he had a handle on the basic operations when his parents were murdered, execution style, outside the restaurant where they’d met over three decades ago. They had been celebrating their thirty-second anniversary.

Nico had spent the two years since remaking his father’s legacy. Raneiro Donati, head of the Syndicate that acted as governing body to criminal organizations all over the world, had stepped in as a mentor and father figure, guiding Nico through the early stages of grief and the rage that threatened to undo him. Gradually, Nico had found a focus for his fury, and he’d poured every ounce of his energy into targeting that focus and reimagining his father’s legacy.

Some of Nico’s soldiers embraced the change. Others, like Dante, clung to the old ways. Nico understood, but the reorganization wasn’t optional. They would comply or they would be gone.

Nico didn’t like taking the girl. A decade ago, something like that would be off the table, a blatant breaking of rules that had been in place since before the Syndicate formally existed. But nothing could be rebuilt without first dismantling the rotting foundation of what had come before.

And unfortunately, the girl was part of that foundation.

He checked for traffic on 2nd Avenue and crossed just before a taxi barreled through the intersection. He felt liberated by his time at the church. Lighter on his feet. Maybe he would call one of the women who acted as a physical companion when he felt the urge.

After all, he wasn’t a saint.

Michelle St. James Bio:

Michelle Zink
Michelle St. James aka Michelle Zink is the author of seven published books and six novellas. Her first series, Prophecy of the Sisters (YA), was one of Booklist's Top Ten Debut novels. Her work has also been an Indie Next selection and has appeared on prestigious lists such as the Lonestar List, New York Public Library's Stuff for the Teen Age, and Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best. Her character, Alice, won the Teen Read Awards for Best Villain against Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Website

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12. The Circus Mirandus Blog Tour: How Hard Is It to Write a Circus That Isn’t Creepy?

CircusMirandusWhen I was asked to participate in the current Circus Mirandus Blog Tour, I was intrigued.  You know how sometimes a publisher will fall in love with a debut novel and then promote the whozitz out of it, hither, thither, and yon?  Well, that’s what Penguin has done with this title from first time author Cassie Beasley.  And whenever that sort of thing happens, I get very skeptical.  So I approached the book expecting to find it overwritten or cloying or to have something wrong with it.  What I found instead was fresh and fascinating.  The kind of book I’d recommend left and right to any kid.  And one thing about it struck me as very interesting indeed.  You see, most of the circus middle grade books I see are creepy in some way, so I feel like making a book about a circus that a kid might actually want to go to (heck, live in!) is enormously difficult. 

For this blog tour I asked Ms. Beasley one very simple question: How do you manage to write a non-creepy circus?  Here is her answer:

“When I say that my novel is about a boy trying to find a magic circus, most people respond with enthusiasm. Maybe it’s just that they don’t want to puncture my cheerful debut author bubble, but I like to think they’re genuinely excited by the idea of a circus story. For me, the mention of circuses calls to mind a fantasy world of sequined costumes and cotton candy, and I think it does the same for many others.

Sometimes, though, I meet potential readers who have a different reaction. They want to know if Circus Mirandus is a “creepy” book. They want to know if I’ve written a horror story.

CircusMirandus4I was surprised the first time someone asked. I initially thought the questioner must be concerned about the fact that my main character, Micah, is trying to save his terminally ill grandfather.

“No,” she said, when I started to explain my thoughts on character death in children’s literature. “I mean the circus. Is it scary?” She paused. “Are there clowns?”

The question actually makes a lot of sense when you consider the role of the circus in fiction. Real-life circuses are meant to delight, but fictional circuses often seem to be designed to do the opposite. An entire page at the (infinitely distracting) TV tropes site is dedicated to the “Circus of Fear,” and the number and variety of evil circuses listed is impressive.

Circuses, traveling fairs, and carnivals are, in some ways, a natural choice for the author in need of a disquieting setting. For one thing, they are supposed to be cheerful places, and transforming something lovely and innocent into something sinister is the basic stuff of horror. A T. rex chasing you is only frightening. A clown chasing you is frightening and also wrong.

And even when we exclude the murderous clowns, a circus still contains so much potential creepiness. It can be a transient and turbulent beast that arrives in an otherwise stagnant environment and starts to change things around. People alter their daily routine. Children sneak out of their houses to see the show. The town is suddenly a temporary home to masked strangers who will perform peculiar feats for a few nights and then depart.

CircusMirandus3And the performances themselves, the glitz and the mystery, create an otherworldly environment that is magical but fraying at the edges. A carnival is a pretty lie. Regular, imperfect people hide under the face paint, and electric cables power the rides, and sometimes if you look at just the wrong moment you see the magician sneaking around the edge of the curtain instead of vanishing into thin air.

Some people find this incongruity disturbing. Others relish it. It can be fun, after all, to be creeped out.

Having said all of that, my own circus is not menacing. Circus Mirandus is meant to be a place of joy and wonder. It’s where Micah thinks he will find the help he needs to save his grandfather. Most of the darkness in the story comes from Grandpa Ephraim’s illness, which is the sort of everyday horror that many children face. I don’t think it would have been right to distract from that with a terrifying fantasy world.

So, the magic is real, and it is (mostly) used benevolently. At Circus Mirandus, the aerial artists fly without the aid of wires, and there is no risk that any of the children in the audience, even Micah’s analytical friend Jenny, will see through the Lightbender’s illusions.

To the surprise of no one who has met me, Circus Mirandus is the world child-me would have created for herself if she had been given unlimited power.

This doesn’t mean the circus is perfect, as Micah will discover, but it is a force for good in the world. What conflict the circus creates is not the result of something sweet turned rotten, but that of something longed for that is almost out of reach.

CircusMirandus2I think Micah might tell anyone curious enough to ask how extraordinarily difficult it is to believe in something like Circus Mirandus in this world, especially when the people around you are telling you that your situation is hopeless. I think he might say that you need great reserves of courage to find it. I think he might tell you how hard it can be, once you’ve finally made it, to hold on to the magic.

So, though creepy circus stories abound, mine is not one of them. My circus is a dream world, one that I have tried to fill with the kind of magic that every young person searches for at some point.

For Micah, that search is rewarded in ways he doesn’t expect. But I believe that his decision to make the journey to the circus is ultimately more important than the fact that he reaches it. If there is one idea I want readers to take away from Circus Mirandus, I think perhaps it is this: that at the limits of magic (and even magic has its limits), in that place where we face the darkness, there is only the choice that Micah has to make.

Despair? Or hope?”

Many thanks to Ms. Beasley for her in-depth and fascinating answer and to the good folks at Penguin for inviting her here in the first place.

About Cassie Beasley: website/twitter/goodreads

CASSIE BEASLEY is from rural Georgia, where, when she’s not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. CIRCUS MIRANDUS is her first novel.


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13. Feet, Go to Sleep - a review

Welcome to the final stop on the Barbara Bottner blog tour for her latest book, 
Feet, Go to Sleep, illustrated by Maggie Smith and published by Alfred A. Knopf.

Fiona has spent the day at the beach and now it's time for bed.
"Time to say good night," said Mama.
"I'm not ready!" said Fiona.
"You've had a long day.  You must be tired, from your head to your toes," said Mama.
"Maybe just a little tired...."

This may be a bedtime story, but Maggie Smith's bright illustrations are richly colored and full of life. 
"Toes, go to sleep!" said Fiona.
Toes were for gripping flip-flops on the way to the beach.
Toes were easy.  They went right to sleep."

The illustrations feature bright and bold depictions of Fiona's earlier daytime activities, while the pajama clad Fiona is contrasted in a smaller inset box, growing wearier with each page until she is finally and peacefully asleep against a backdrop of evening blue.  Feet, Go to Sleep is an attractive combination of enjoyable and practical.

Although I was traveling, and did not have time to submit interview questions to author Barbara Bottner, she was kind enough to answer one question for me.  As a Jersey Shore gal, I was curious if Feet, Go to Sleep is based on any particular beach - perhaps one of Ms. Bottner's favorites. Bottner enjoyed frequenting Jones Beach on Long Island as a teenager, however, the location of Fiona's activities are not based on any specific beach, In fact, the book's location was added after the first draft. I have actually (succesfully) used the relaxation technique in Feet, Go to Sleep many times, although I've never needed it after a day at the beach. For me, a day at the beach is a relaxation technique in itself.  Ah, that salt air!

Previous stops on the blog tour include:
Feet, Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner
Blog Tour Schedule

My copy of Feet, Go to Sleep was provided by the publisher.

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14. Flirting With Scandal, Chanel Cleeton RELEASE DAY Blog Tour

Flirting with Scandal 
by Chanel Cleeton

May 19, 2015
Capital Confessions #1
Contemporary Romance 


The author of I See London sets her sights on Washington, D. C., with a sexy new series about three sisters, the secrets they keep, and a powerful blog with a knack for exposing scandals...

Jackie Gardner knows all about dirty little secrets. The illegitimate daughter of one of the most influential senators in Washington, D.C., she grew up surrounded by the scandals and shadows of politics. Now that she's landed an internship with a powerful political consulting firm, she's determined to launch her career and take this city by storm.

William Andrew Clayton was born for politics. He knows the drill: work hard, play discreetly, and at all costs, avoid scandal. At twenty-six, his campaign for the Virginia State Senate is the first step to cementing his future. It's time for him to settle down, to find the perfect political spouse. He needs a Jackie Kennedy, not a Marilyn... 

When Jackie meets Will in the bar of the Hay-Adams Hotel, sparks fly. But the last thing Will needs is to be caught in a compromising position, and an affair with a political candidate could cost Jackie her career. When what began as one steamy night, becomes a passion neither one of them can walk way from, they must decide if what they have is really love, or just another dirty little secret...


He moved forward, just an inch, but enough that his hand reached out, circling my wrist. We both froze the instant he touched me. His eyes widened, almost as if he were surprised by his own actions.

We both looked down at the same time, our gazes glued to the spot where our flesh met.

His hand was tanner than mine. It was easy to imagine him outdoors—sailing, maybe. Maybe he still played lacrosse. He looked so masculine, and physical, and something about the sight of his hand—long, tapered fingers, neatly trimmed nails—was enough to make my breath catch. His hands, like everything else about his body, were big. With him arched over my chair, it was impossible to not feel like he dominated me.

We didn’t look at each other, instead we both watched as he turned my hand over, palm up. For a second I forgot to breathe. Everything around us, the sounds of glasses clinking and deals being made, fell away. I forgot that I was at the Hay-Adams, forgot everything but the image of his hand, so male, so strong, so capable, encircling mine.

I waited. It must have been only seconds, and yet it felt like an eternity. Waited until I felt it, the brush of his finger, featherlight, on the inside of my wrist—stroking, teasing, tempting—unraveling me with the slightest touch.

I went completely still, my body anchored by his. The fire alarm could have gone off and I wouldn’t have moved an inch. My eyes closed, savoring the feel of his hand on my bare skin.

It was the kind of touch that was nothing and everything at the same time. It was an invitation, a proposition, a claiming, possession. With one finger, the power completely shifted.

My eyes fluttered open, unable to resist the urge to watch. His fingers stroked the inside of my wrist, lazy patterns and swirls that somehow looked like art. Each touch sent a shiver through me, my nipples tightening, heat flooding my body. I’d never been so turned on in my life, and all he’d touched was the inside of my wrist. 


Flirting with Scandal by Chanel Cleeton has it all. A sexy hero, strong heroine, delicious romance, sizzling tension, and plenty of breathtaking scandal. 
I loved this book!
- New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy

Scorching hot and wicked smart, Flirting with Scandal had me hooked from page one! Sizzling with sexual tension and political intrigue, Cleeton weaves a story that is as complex as it is sexy. Thank God this is a series because I need more!!
- New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris

Sexy, intelligent, and intriguing. Chanel Cleeton makes politics scandal-icious. 
- USA Today bestselling author Tiffany King

Chanel Cleeton knocked it out of the park with Flirting with Scandal. The banter was refreshing, the political storyline captivating, and the sexual tension was through the roof. Smart, emotional, romantic, and sizzling hot--this book is fantastic!
- Christina Lee, author of the Between Breaths series

Chanel Cleeton delivers again! Featuring a strong heroine, a steamy romance, and juicy dose of political scandal, Flirting with Scandal is completely engrossing. Clear your calendars--you won't be able to put this one down! 
- Brenda St. John Brown, author of Swimming to Tokyo

An emotionally satisfying page turner, deliciously steamy and set against a complex political backdrop that yields satisfying plot twists and a hefty dose of scandal.
- Lia Riley, author of Upside Down

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1Gpcx70
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/1NnvmsY
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1BMZn0M


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15. Author Guest Post: Julie Mata-Kate Walden Directs Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway

Please welcome author Julie Mata to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Her second book in  the Kate Walden Directs series is Bride of Slug Man, is out this month! 

About the Book: (from Goodreads) After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn't hurt that he's pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.

With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn't interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can.

But between the cut throat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big screen.

Plucky…not Perfect

by Julie Mata

Can I admit to a tiny pet peeve? It’s certain “mean girl” and “mean boy” characters in children’s books. You know the ones—everything they do and say is mean and their nasty behavior is usually aimed at the main character. They appear to have no role other than to cause problems for the MC. In contrast, the MC is the sympathetic “good kid” who sometimes suffers from terrible flaws like being toogenerous or too concerned about their friends and family.

Here’s my peeve—I raised two girls, hung out with a lot of middle school-age kids, and none of them fit either of the “good kid/bad kid” descriptions. I saw nice kids who had bad days and said mean things, even to their friends. I also saw kids who—yes—were more troubled, who had issues, but were still capable of kindness, humor and friendship.

In other words, they were real kids. When I sat down to write about Kate Walden, I wanted her to be a strong, likeable, funny character, but I also wanted her to be real. In Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man, Kate has already finished one movie to great acclaim. All the kids at school want to be in her next project. Suddenly, a cute new boy shows up who also likes to make movies, and they become rivals. Kate struggles with spiteful feelings. She makes bad assumptions and nurses a grudge.  Really, couldn’t that be any of us on a bad day? Luckily, Kate learns from her mistakes, which is what I think parents should hope for—not that our children will be perfect “good kids,” because that’s a huge expectation to put on anyone, but that they will learn from their stumbles and grow emotionally as they grow physically.

Let’s face it—middle school years can be tough. Innocent childhood is receding and adulthood looms on the far horizon like a scary gray fog. Like a lot of kids at that age, Kate worries about her social standing and what other kids think of her, but she’s also a plucky girl who’s not afraid to pursue a big dream. Hopefully, middle grade readers can relate to her character and maybe even see some of themselves in her humorous antics and social misfires.

About Julie: Julie Mata grew up outside Chicago and currently lives in Wisconsin, where she owns a video production business with her husband.. She loves movies and once wrote and directed her own short film. She also loves traveling, gardening, and reading a really good book. Her first book was Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. For more information, including a downloadable curriculum guide and a filmmaking tip of the month, visit her website: juliemata.com.
Twitter: @juliehmata

Follow along on the Bride of Slug Man blog tour!

Monday, May 18
Wed. May 20
Once Upon a Story
Thurs, May 21
Read Now, Sleep Later
Fri, May 22
Curling Up with a Good Book
Tues, May 27
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, May 28
BookHounds YA
Thurs, May 29
The Brain Lair
Fri, May 30
Kid Lit Frenzy

Want to win a copies of the Kate Walden Directs books? Fill out the form below to enter!
-Contest thanks to Big Honcho Media and Disney-Hyperion Books
-One entry per person
-US Address only please
-Ages 13+
-Contest ends May 28


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16. Anna Banks Interview-Joyride Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway

Please welcome Anna Banks to GreenBeanTeenQueen as part of her tour for her new book Joyride!

About The Book: (from goodreads:) A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

-Your Syrena Legacy series features mermaids and Joyride is contemporary. Why did you make the switch? Was one genre easier or more difficult to write?

I didn’t intentionally make the switch to contemporary. I’m not familiar with how you should even write contemporary, because I hadn’t read too many before this. But it’s Carly who compelled me to write it. She has a story to tell even if it’s not fantasy, and I can’t ignore the her strong voice. Fantasy is much easier for me to write. I get to create a world in fantasy, where in contemporary, the world has already been created. You’d think that would be easier but it’s not. Sticking within the boundaries of this world and still telling an interesting story is hard writing. A lot of fantasies have high concept plots, it’s expected, and contemporaries tend to focus on character. In JOYRIDE, I tried to write a balance between plot and character. I hope you enjoy it. J

-What's the best prank you ever pulled?

I’ve pulled a lot of pranks in my time but here’s the most recent. I was selling one of my Coach purses on craigslist and agreed to meet a lady in a parking lot so she could buy it. We had texted and confirmed our appointment. When she got there, she told me I didn’t have any business selling a Coach purse for that much money and that I should just give it to her. Ummmm, no. She pretty much pitched a fit for like fifteen minutes that I wouldn’t give her my purse. So after our confrontation, I downloaded a picture of a black cat, made lost posters for it with the lady’s number on it and put a $500 reward on it. Every available street light in town got a poster. I’m pretty sure she’s going to have to switch her number.

-If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be?

Warren from the Shatter Me series. Obviously, the guy is hot. But I’d want to pick apart his brain, and unfortunately he and I are amused by much of the same things. I think we’d get kicked out of the restaurant and that’s when our real dinner would begin.

-What books are on your nightstand right now?

I’m at RT, so I’ve got some steamy romance novels on my hotel night stand—and don’t think I’m not reading them all, either!

Want to win a copy? Leave a comment below!
Contest thanks to Macmillan Books!

-One entry per person
-Contest ends May 28
-Ages 13+
-US/Canada Address Only Please

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17. Barbara Bottner's Feet, Go to Sleep blog tour--and Poetry Friday!

Howdy, Campers! What's store for you at TeachingAuthors today? A new picture book, its blog tour, a guest author and poet, two original poems, and a reminder to enter our latest book giveaway . Whew!

In honor of Poetry Friday, (link at the bottom of this post) my teacher and friend, New York Times bestselling author, Barbara Bottner has opened her notebook to share a poem with us from a work-in-progress (W.I.P.). And I've added my poem about being in her writing group.

But first: TeachingAuthors is proud to be part of Barbara's blog tour (see tour schedule below) celebrating her brand-new book, Feet, Go to Sleep (Penguin Random House), illustrated by Maggie Smith.

From the book flap:Fiona is not ready for bed. But after a long day at the beach, her mom knows she must be tired from her head to her toes. So together they send each part of her off to sleep.  As Fiona relaxes her body, she remembers a day when feet were for splashing in the waves, legs were for running after cousins, tummy was for holding strawberries, and arms were for throwing beach balls. And bit by bit, memory by memory, Fiona slips from a  great day into a good night.

Trust me, Campers, it's a perfect-for-summer bedtime book, weaving in a relaxation technique we can use to help kids go to sleep after an exciting day.

And when I asked Barbara if she would share a poem from her W.I.P. verse novel, I See Thunder, she said, "Sure!"

by Barbara Bottner

I’m not Davy’s mother
but Mother demands
that I do things she should do

like take him with me, everywhere I go.
And Davy walks really slowly.
Sometimes I wonder if he does it
just to annoy me.

Today, I’m going to the Grand Concourse
to buy fresh salty pretzels.

Just as I'm leaving, Mother says:
“take David with you.”
Her shrill voice
says do not dare object.

She has no idea how that makes
going to the Grand Concourse
nothing like what I had in mind.
“C’mon,” I say.
“Put your jacket on already!”
He's so easy going.
I'm so hard going.

“Where are your glasses, Davy?”
Now my voice
is shrill.

He looks at me with his big browns,
mumbles:  “It’s hard to be me
when you’re angry at me.”

That’s when I get a grip on my nasty self.

(c) Barbara Bottner from her work-in-progress, I SEE THUNDER. All rights reserved.

Thank you, Barbara.  I especially love these lines: He's so easy going./I'm so hard going....“It’s hard to be me/when you’re angry at me.”...and that last line. One poem can say so much.

When asked "Where do you get your ideas?" here are some pearls from Barbara:...the ‘material’ we use in the beginning is often our own.  So I wrote books about being the worst dancer in the class, being messy, being rebellious. It’s not the events themselves, it’s what they stir up in me…We are the clay and we are the potter and I believe you have to be both if you want to be an author…work authentically…follow where the story wants to go.

There's too much to tell you about what a fine teacher Barbara is...

...how intuitive she is, how she challenges us to dig deeper and deeper still...

by April Halprin Wayland

It's magic, you know
the tinkling of her full moon necklace
impossible feats of metaphor.
Six of us around her rosewood table
savoring tea

spilling over our pages
foreshadowing, fortune telling
drawing stories
out of the shadows
of her drapes.

The illusion of allusion.
A prophecy of sorcery.
She's a shaman jingling bracelets
on her sleight of hand.

It's wizardry, you know.
She's clairvoyant,

(c) April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

Thanks for including us on your blog tour, Barbara!  Jump on board her tour and you may win a copy of Feet, Go to Sleep! Here's the schedule:

5/21 Shelf-employed

And...you have until midnight, May 15, 2015 to enter TeachingAuthors' latest book giveaway for Stephanie Lyons' new book, Dating Down--don't miss out!

And thank you, Diane of Random Noodling for hosting Poetry Friday!

posted by April Halprin Wayland while sharing sips of Pellegrino with Barbara's new pup

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18. Middle School Princess Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway

Inspired by Meg Cabot's newest book, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, Mac Kids asked bloggers what they would do if they woke up and discovered they were a princess or prince.

If I woke up and discovered I was a princess, I would be both nervous and excited. I would immediately want to check out my new royal castle's library (because a castle has to have a library!) and I hope that it would look just like Belle's castle, because isn't that what every bookish princess wants? 

I would also use my new princess powers for good and bring books and libraries to kids all over my kingdom. I would make sure my kingdom had libraries with great teen and children's librarians. I would even build a library just for kids and teens and staff it with the best librarians possible (all my friends of course who are the most amazing librarians ever!) And then one of my first acts as princess would be to bring a litfest to my kingdom bringing in authors and illustrators from all over the world. If I could, I would also use my powers to fund libraries outside of my kingdom and bring books to children everywhere I went. 

Aside from all the bookish things I would do, I would make sure that Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan got to own a sports team, since that's his dream. If I get my dream library and get to bring books to everyone I meet, then Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan should get something too, right? 

What would you do if you woke up and discovered you were a princess? That's what happens to Olivia in Meg Cabot's new book, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess. Want to win a copy of the book? Leave a comment below!

Contest thanks to Macmillan Kids Books
Contest ends May 26
One entry per person please
Ages 13+
US Address only please

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19. New Non-Fiction for Inquisitive Teens: Rockin Books from Zest

Zest Books is a fantastic publisher of non-fiction for teens. If you're looking for fun, engaging, and informative non-fiction, add these to your collection!

Secret societies are fascinating. Did you  know there's even a secret (and pricey!) club at Disney? Some of the groups may be familiar, some may be new, but all have interesting secrets to share! 

For teens looking for a fun read exposing secret clubs and societies, this is a book that would be a blast. It could also be a fun starting point for research projects. 

With so much information coming at teens, how do they know who and what to trust? How can they find out information for themselves? Debunk It helps teens sort out what's true and what's false. 

Debunk It helps teens sort out information and decide for themselves what to believe. 

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20. Blog Tour: Author Guest Post by Margi Preus PLUS Giveaway

Photo Credit: Shirleen Hieb Photography

I love to hear what writer's have to say about libraries. I relate so much to what Margi Preus shares about growing up surrounded by stories. May we all be as lucky!

            The stories of writers who as children were non-readers or slow readers or were saved from gangs or a life of crime by fairy godmother-like librarians—these stories are fascinating, and we readers thrive on hearing them.
By comparison, my own story is as dull as dirt. I grew up in a pleasant Minnesota town where people were generally good to each other. We had fine schools and nice teachers. I had a wonderful family and many friends. I was never bullied, nor do I think I was a bully. I was a good student. And I always liked to read. In short: a thoroughly dull and nondramatic life.   
            Except that it wasn’t. My world was populated with trolls and gnomes and golden castles that hung in the air—thanks to the stories my father told. I knew where fairies danced at night and that nissen(little people) were to blame for hiding my mother’s sewing scissors—because she told me that herself. I lived in a storied landscape and a world of stories, not least because my elementary school had a big, vibrant library stuffed full of books, and a librarian who made sure good books, important books, stayed on the shelves—even books that parents objected to, like (believe it or not) Harriet the Spy, the book that made me want to become a writer, or Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, a book that caused me to wander about in a daze for a full week, mind-blown.
            I may not have lived an outwardly exciting life, but through books, I sailed with Jim Hawkins and rafted with Huck Finn, sat under a Spanish cork tree with Ferdinand, wandered the magical realm of Narnia, made way too many donuts with Henry Huggins, and had tea on the ceiling with Mary Poppins.
            I felt every kind of emotion and lived through times both devastating and joyous. I was grumpy with Harriet, knew the comfort of friendship with Mole and Toad and Rat, felt loneliness and privation on the Island of Blue Dolphins, suffered prejudice with Hannah in The Witch of Blackbeard Pond, felt wildly free and independent with Pippi, and wept with Wilbur over the death of our mutual friend, Charlotte.
Like readers before me and after me, I learned to empathize, at least in part—and maybe a big part—because of books. And by books I mean novels. Fiction transported me to many worlds where I made friends and even lost a few, and where I experienced every kind of hardship and sorrow as well as the best kinds of delight, pleasure, and joy. Thanks to stories, my life was never dull, has never been dull, and never will be dull.  And thanks to my elementary school library and librarian, I got a good start down the road to adventure just when it counted the most.

About Enchantment Lake: On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as seventeen-year-old Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hotdish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? 

Would you like to win a *signed copy* of Enchantment Lake
Fill out the form below to enter. 
Contest thanks to University of Minnesota Press!
(open to ages 13+, one entry per person, contest ends April 8)


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21. Blog Tour: The Water and the Wild

The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee

by K.E. Ormsbee, illustrated by Elsa Mora (Chronicle Books, 2015)

From the publisher:

A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square, and tangled up in its magical roots is the story of Lottie Fiske. For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her are her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things are happening on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless—until a door opens in the apple tree. Follow Lottie down through the roots to another world in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.


I’m so excited to be a stop on the blog tour celebrating the release of The Water and the Wild, which includes a chance for you to win a copy of this beautiful (literally and figuratively!) book.

First, let’s hear from K.E. herself. Welcome, K.E.!

K. E. Ormsbee

Visualizing Limn: The Real-World Inspirations Behind Lottie Fiske’s World.

In The Water and the Wild, twelve-year-old Lottie Fiske travels through the roots of an apple tree into the magic-soaked world of Limn—a land filled with bustling cities, dense woods, magical yew trees, and giant spider webs. World building Limn was one of the most fun and challenging aspects of writing The Water and the Wild, and my inspiration for the look and feel of the fantasy landscape came from very real places.

Today, I’d like to share some of those inspirations and take a moment to gush about just how perfectly artist Elsa Mora captured the magic of Limn in her cover art and illustrations.

New Kemble – York, England

I’m a huge anglophile, and one of my favorite places in all of England is York. The city is rich with layer upon layer of history, as evidenced in its walls, its giant cathedral, and its winding streets. I remember first setting foot in The Shambles and feeling certain that something ancient and magical was at work there.

When I first drafted The Water and the Wild, the story actually took place in York. Over time and a number of subsequent revisions, York became New Kemble, a fictional island town off the coast of Massachusetts. But the inspiration for New Kemble remained thoroughly English. I still envision The Barmy Badger—home of Lottie’s best friend Eliot—on a street similar to The Shambles. And Lottie’s home in the boardinghouse on Thirsby Square is based on the real St. Paul’s Square in York.

St Paul's Square - Personal Photo

Iris Gate – The Biltmore Estate

When Lottie first arrives in Limn, she stays at the home of the Wilfers—an old money family with royal connections and a fair share of secrets. The Wilfer family home is called Iris Gate, and Lottie is overwhelmed by the size and grandeur of the place. When describing Iris Gate, I tried to capture the intimidation I felt upon first walking into the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Biltmore is an imposing mansion even to full-grown adults, and I was ten when my family visited. I remember gaping at the soaring ceilings, ornate decorations, and sprawling gardens. Though Iris Gate is nowhere near as extensive as the Biltmore, its architecture and landscaping were written to resemble that of the Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Estate - Taken From Biltmore Official Website

Wisp Territory – Springtime in my childhood neighborhood

I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. The city is surrounded by rolling green hills, black fences, and horse farms. It experiences four distinct seasons, and the springtimes there are lovely. In my neighborhood, there were many dogwoods, magnolias, and Bradford pear trees. When all of those trees were in bloom, white petals would blow loose into the wind, and everywhere I turned the world seemed awash in white. I called it my Warm Winter.

I never shook those springtime images, and when I was creating Wisp Territory—home to the mysterious will o’ the wisps—I wanted to convey a similar aesthetic. The world of the wisps is, by and large, colorless. The grass, the trees, and the leaves are all white. The royal home is made entirely of glass. This wintry appearance does not vary with the seasons, and it’s my homage to the Warm Winters I experienced as a kid.

* * *

Clearly, I have some very distinct ideas about how the world of Limn looks. What I was most nervous and excited about during the publication process was seeing how an artist would render a world that had for so long existed only in my imagination. As it turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. When Melissa Manlove, my fabulous editor at Chronicle Books, first gave me Elsa Mora’s name, I of course went straight to Google to do some major image stalking. After only a minute, I knew I was in the best of hands.

Elsa’s papercuts are pure magic. There is so much detail, care, and whimsy in each of her creations. The cover of The Water and the Wild conveys not only the fantasticalness, but also the danger of Lottie’s journey. The way in which the characters and their natural surroundings blend so effortlessly captures my own attempt to make the world around Lottie as much a character as she is.

Inside the book, you’ll find a papercut plant accompanying each chapter heading. These illustrations reinforce the importance of the natural world throughout the book. And, you know, they just so happen to be GORGEOUS.

It’s been almost seven years since I first wrote down the image of a magical green apple tree. Now, as Lottie Fiske’s story officially hits bookshelves, I couldn’t be happier with the way that image and others came to be realized in the art and text of The Water and the Wild.


If you’re anything like me, you’re dying to read more about Lottie and Limn. So! Tweet this post anyway you’d like on Twitter, and include the hashtag #dpb for a chance to win a copy! I’ll be in touch with a winner in a week.

Check out The Water and the Wild’s teacher guide here, and a sneak peek at its beginning here.

And be sure to check out tomorrow’s stop on the tour at Green Bean Teen Queen, where K.E. talks libraries!



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22. Blog Tour Guest Post : The Water and the Wild by K. E. Ormsbee PLUS GIVEAWAY

Please welcome K. E. Ormsbee to GreenBeanTeenQueen! K.E. Ormsbee is the author of The Water and the Wild. I asked her to share about libraries and I love the libraries she talks about! She even shared pictures and I want to visit these libraries now!

About K. E. Ormsbee: I was born and raised in the Bluegrass State. Then I went off and lived in places across the pond, like England and Spain, where I pretended I was a French ingénue. Just kidding! That only happened once. I also lived in some hotter nooks of the USA, like Birmingham, AL and Austin, TX. Now I'm back in Lexington, KY, where there is a Proper Autumn.

In my wild, early years, I taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. My crowning achievement is that the back of my head was in an iPhone commercial, and people actually paid me money for it.

Nowadays, I teach piano lessons, play in a band you've never heard of, and run races that I never win. I likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. I still satiate my bone-deep wanderlust whenever I can.

I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I grew up in the library. Both my parents were educators who read to me constantly and taught me how to read for myself. They created one insatiable bookworm. I munched through books with a voracious appetite, and I looked forward to my weekly visit to the library more than I did trips to the pizzeria. Oh yeah. I was a Supreme Nerd.

Growing up, I was well acquainted with many public library branches in my hometown of Lexington, KY. I knew which branch had the best Middle Grade section (Beaumont), which had the best storyteller (Lansdowne), and which had the coolest CD collection (Central).

On occasion, I even got to visit the behemoth William T. Young Library on the University of Kentucky’s campus. Truth be told, a college library was pretty boring stuff to nine-year-old Kathryn, but I lovedskipping through the automated sliding bookshelves, deliciously terrified that the motion sensors might not detect me. To be crushed in the Anthropology section would be a spectacular way to go, reasoned Little Kathryn. I was a pretty morbid kiddo.

I’ve always considered libraries to be magical places, and I’ve discovered some rather spectacular ones in my travels, from London to Prague to Seville to Cambridge. I mean, take a peek at this teeny but cozy library at King’s College, Cambridge:

(Magical, right? Magical.)

It wasn’t until my senior year of college, however, that I discovered the Library of Dreams, the Library to End All Libraries, MY FAVORITE LIBRARY. In 2011, I set foot in the newly opened Library in the Forest in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. And yes, this library is just as cool as it sounds. 

Library in the Forest, which is located on the edge of nine wooded acres, is Alabama’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified facility. My personal favorite feature of the library is the Treehouse Reading Room, a special space where you can read suspended above the forest.

I spent many days studying at Library in the Forest, soaking in the natural light from its giant windows and watching kids explore the surrounding area on class field trips. Whenever I reached my writing limit, I knew I could just rip out my earbuds, swing on my backpack, and step out into the great outdoors for a hike.

But it’s not just Library in the Forest’s location or facilities that make it so cool. It’s the people who tirelessly work to provide the community with great programming and countless opportunities for kids and teens to learn and explore. What makes the library extra special to me is all the time I spent there with friends who loved the winning combo of books, nature, and community-minded programming just as much as I did.

It seems rather fitting, then, that I worked on revisions for The Water and the Wild while at Library in the Forest, since the importance of nature, stories, and friendship are all central to Lottie Fiske’s story. I think all three of those things carry a little bit of magic in them, whether they’re found in the pages of a fantasy book or in a library just outside Birmingham, Alabama.

So! Next time you’re in the area, be sure to stop by the very special Library in the Forest. I hope you’ll feel the magic, too.

About The Water and the Wild: A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square, and tangled up in its magical roots is the story of Lottie Fiske. For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her are her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things are happening on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot's getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless—until a door opens in the apple tree. Follow Lottie down through the roots to another world in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.

Want to win a copy? Leave a comment below to enter to win a signed copy! 
-One entry per person
-Ages 13+ up
-Contest ends April 30

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23. Gabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen and Daryle Conners PLUS Giveaway

About the Book:
 (from the publisher) Case File: The First Unsittable

 The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task...until now.

After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It's a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby's audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.

Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: i was first intrigued by this book when I saw it billed as "Babysitters Club meets Men in Black." Two things I loved as a tween and teen combined? I was sold. And luckily, Gabby Duran lived up to my excitement. 

Gabby is a super babysitter-she's like Kristi, Claudia, Mary Ann, and Stacy combined with a dash of super nanny. So of course she would be awesome at babysitting aliens! And she gets some crazy clients! A kid that can turn into a giant slug? Gabby to the rescue! The story is filled with lots of humor and though there are aliens, it's sci-if light, so u think readers who typically shy away from science fiction would still be interested. Tweens are sure to get a kick out of Gabby's adventures, while feeling grateful about their own babysitting charges! Lots of fun and I'm looking forward to book two! 

Want to win a Gabby Duran prize pack? Thanks to Disney Publishing, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables, a Gabby Duran tumbler, and a lightup UFO flyer. 

Fill out form below to enter!
-US Address only
-one entry per person
-ages 13+
-contest ends May 2


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24. Interview: Courtney Summers

I first interviewed author Courtney Summers in 2008, shortly before her debut novel Cracked Up to Be was released. Seven years, five novels, and many tweets, Tumblr Q&As, and short stories later, her latest novel All the Rage is all the buzz, as is the #tothegirls campaign, which Courtney launched via Thunderclap on April 14th to remind girls everywhere that they are seen, heard and loved.

During her blog tour, I threw three questions Courtney's way. It was difficult, but somehow, I managed to resist the urge to ask her about her love for Pollito, the chicken in Despicable Me 2.

What inspired you to create #ToTheGirls?

I write for and about girls because I believe girls and their stories matter. I think we should take and make every opportunity we can to tell them so.

When you were a kid, were there any books or characters that you connected with strongly?

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with The Baby­-Sitters Club. I was so obsessed they inspired me to start baby­sitting . . . and that was not as fun as the novels led me to believe.

BUT. Those girls were so cool, so any time I could recognize a trait that I shared with any of the characters - from Claudia’s drawing (I loved to draw when I was younger) and her junk food obsession, to Mallory’s writing, to Kristy’s bossiness - I was thrilled beyond words. I felt like I could be as cool as them. Those books had such a positive impact on me and fueled my love of reading.

What's your favorite feature of the Supernatural Clue board game?

I love this question! My favourite part of the Supernatural Clue game is playing as Dean.And then taking it really personally when any of the other characters let him down by being whodunit. Especially if it’s Sam! :)

BONUS: Here's a little quote from ALL THE RAGE...

Follow the blog tour + learn more about Courtney Summers at her website.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Courtney Summers (2008)
Book Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Book Review: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
What Makes Courtney Summers Smile
So You Want to Read YA? Booklist by Little Willow at Stacked

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25. Author Guest Post: The Songs of Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

 About the Book: (from Goodreads) Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them...

I am excited to welcome author Sarvenaz Tash to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Her newest book, Three Day Summer, is all about Woodstock. She captures the atmosphere and the music and I wanted to know more about the music in the book and the playlists she made to get inspired to  write. I love this playlist and listening to it gets me in the mood for summer (and to read Sarvenaz's awesome book!) Be sure to check  out the rest of her tour stops as well!

It will probably come as no surprise that I love the music of the 1960s. And although I myself was a teenager during the bizarre grunge/pop hybrid that was the mid- to late ‘90s, I actually spent most of my high school years listening to this music instead.

I made two Spotify playlists to go with my Woodstock love story, Three Day Summer. One features the songs—and in some cases, some of the very performances—that my two main characters Cora and Michael hear during the festival itself. The other I like to refer to as my “’60s milieu” playlist, and I filled it with not only some of my favorite songs of the decade, but some of the tunes that I think best embody the many facets of it: from its socially conscious anthems to its feel-good pop to its trippy soundscapes. (I do have one strong caveat: Beatles songs are not available on Spotify and that’s the only reason they are not included on this list!)

Here then are the songs I chose for the Three Day Summer—In the Mood soundtrack (followed, of course, by the playlist itself!):

1“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” The Byrds
Between the out-of-this-world harmonies and the profound lyrics (partially taken from the Bible no less!), this is just one of those songs that makes me feel calm, reflective, and peaceful. I thought it was fitting since the peace sign is one of the most enduring symbols of the 1960s.

   “Happy Together” The Turtles
True to its title, this song just makes me feel toe-tappingly happy and, I think, is indicative of the some of the best pop to come out of the decade. Plus it’s about being head over heels in love which, of course, also goes along with the book.

   “Piece of My Heart” Janis Joplin
I’m not sure it’s possible to find a more gutsy and gut-wrenching performance of a song that’s both about heartbreak and about girl power. (This line: “I’m going to show you, baby, that a woman can be tough” is a particular favorite to belt out in the shower! Amiright, ladies?). Janis plays an important role in the book and she performed this song at Woodstock too!

“"America” Simon & Garfunkel
Another song with harmonies that slay me in the best way. I also think the lyrics portray both the hope and the heartache that came with the changing face of what it was to be young in 1960s America.

  :"You Keep Me Hangin’ On” The Supremes
The sound of Motown was a huge, indelible part of the 1960s and The Supremes were for sure the queens of it.

  “Build Me Up Buttercup” The Foundations
Yes, this has played at every Sweet 16 you’ve been to since the beginning of time (or, at least, since 1968) but there’s a reason for it: you simply must sing and dance along to its unshakeable beat.

     “Somebody to Love” Jefferson Airplane
From another Woodstock performer, I love the contrast of this song to the one before it and I think it’s a great example of some of the more psychedelic sounds of the decades. Plus lead singer Grace Slick is another fantastic rocker chick that embodies the feminist spirit of the decade.

     “Don’t Worry Baby” The Beach Boys
You can’t love the ‘60s without loving the beautiful harmonies of The Beach Boys and this one is one of my very favorite love songs of theirs . . . that also just happens to be about drag racing.

     “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” Nancy Sinatra
Remember all that girl power I mentioned before? In the age of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, this kiss-off anthem just fits right in. Plus I know that Nancy wore a lot of fabulous go-go boots to perform it—and what is more ‘60s than that?!

  “Joy to the World” Three Dog Night
The lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense (why is this person friends with a bullfrog?!) but you can’t help singing along anyway as this ode to the world is quite joyous indeed.

  “I’m a Believer” The Monkees
Full confession: The Monkees were my first-ever concert (see the first paragraph of this post) and I’ve adored them for practically as long as I can remember. Though they started out as a made-for-TV Beatles parody band, they ended up with some truly spectacular songs in their oeuvre. This bouncy number is a particular favorite.

 “Bad Moon Rising” Creedence Clearwater Revival
Also performed at Woodstock, this song comes in at a key point in the story. I also think it has a particular rock/bluegrass vibe that was a big part of the ‘60s sound.

  “Time of the Season” The Zombies
I find this song both sultry and trippy, which I think showcases yet another facet of the decade.

  “My Generation” The Who
The ultimate anthem for the teen population of the 1960s? I think so! Of course, I’m not sure how the Who feel now about belting out lyrics like “I hope I die before I grow old” but I think that it’s hard to find a song that better embodies the universal feeling of being young and misunderstood.

15.  “A Change Is Gonna Come” Sam Cooke
A song that remains as beautiful and pertinent today as it did when it came out, Cooke was directly singing about the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the hope for a better tomorrow that led so many to fight for equality.

Follow the Tour:

Mon, May 11
What a Nerd Girl Says
Tues, May 12
Wed, May 13
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, May 14
Curling Up with a Good Book
Fri, May 15
The Compulsive Reader

Mon, May18
The Hiding Spot
Tues, May 19
Adventures of a Book Junkie
Wed, May 20
Thurs, May 21
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Fri, May 22
Word Spelunker

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