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ABOUT EVERYTHING PICTURE BOOK
I found it so eye opening and interesting-
Plus a great way to shake off your old winter blues and get your creative juices flowing.
There are great comments, educational tidbits, best ever sketches, Q&As, and neat, fun stuff.
I’m excited to be returning this week to the fantastic Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival this week at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Much of the festival requires registration, but the Hattiesburg American reports that there are exceptions, and my session is one of them:
First panel open to the public: Chris Barton, Don Tate and Kathleen Merz discuss “The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch,” a picture book biography of the Mississippi slave-turned-congressman, 11:30 a.m. April 8, Thad Cochran Center ballrooms.
(Kathleen is the editor of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, and I’m delighted that she’ll be joining Don and me. On only one other occasion in my career have I gotten together in person at the same time with both the editor and the illustrator of one of my books, so this will be special.)
Another open-to-the-public panel ends the festival on Friday, with David Levithan and Deborah Wiles discussing their relationship as editor an author.
Whether you’re able to make it to the beginning of the festival, the end, or the whole thing, you’re in for a treat. If you see me, won’t you please say hello?
Columnist: Maurene Goo
It’s very exciting to write the debut post for this new series of diversity recs for YABC! As a member of We Need Diverse Books and as a YA author who started this entire journey because I wanted to see books that reflected something close to my teen years in print—well, this means a lot.
My inspiration for this first blog post is two-fold: 1) What better way to kick off this debut post than with fellow authors from my debut year? I met Brandy Colbert, Stephanie Kuehn, and Justina Ireland through The Lucky 13s, and not only do they write awesome books that I enjoyed reading, but they are three pretty wonderful human beings whose voices are so valuable. 2) Last month, there was a great hashtag on Twitter called #BlackWomenAuthors, and I was so inspired by it that I wanted to apply it to my first blog post.
So without further ado…
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Pointe has been called gritty by a lot of reviewers, and I can see why. But I find it more accurate to describe it as a story about grace and redemption. Colbert’s beautiful writing is such a complement to this wrenching story. The story centers on Theo, a sixteen-year-old dancer who is poised to pursue a bright ballet career. Things get thrown off course when her abducted childhood friend, Donovan, returns home after four years. Pointe juggles some heavy-duty topics—sex, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress, just to name a few. But it’s all handled with a natural hand rather than a heavy one, and that’s also how Colbert deals with Theo’s skin color—being black is another facet of Theo that gives her nuance as a character, but doesn’t define her trajectory in life. But, let’s be real, hasn’t a good YA about a black ballerina been a long time coming? Also, fun fact: Theo is named after Theo Huxtable!
To read more about POINTE, or for links to purchase the book, go HERE.
It will be no surprise to anyone who knows Ireland that there is a whole lot of fun badassery in her sophomore novel, Promise of Shadows. The novel takes place in a modern world where Greek mythology is very much real. The main character is a Harpy named Zephyr Mourning who has been dragged into the hells of Tartarus for reasons that become clear as her past unfurls, one layer at a time. I’ll keep mum about most of the plot to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say there are some big, world-saving things ahead for Zephyr, the timid and less-than-confident Harpy. What’s refreshing is to see Greek mythology and the hero’s journey from the point of view of someone who isn’t some pure-of-heart-golden-haired wunderkind, but rather, a failed warrior with a penchant for blood, and oh yeah, dark skin, blue dreads, and snaky lines of dark power tattooing her entire body. It’s a great update on classic Greek mythology, and Promise of Shadows features a snarky, irreverent main character whose fantastic voice carries us through the complexities of taking up the savior mantle. Fans of Buffy, rejoice.
To read more about Promise of Shadows, or for links to purchase the book, go HERE.
There is so much importance in diversity acting as a mirror for readers' experiences, but there’s also its other big purpose—to act as a window into another, wholly unfamiliar world. Charm & Strange was a much-needed window for me as a reader, opening my eyes to the dark, intensely sad world of childhood mental illness. This Morris-winning debut took my breath away. Kuehn takes on a very challenging subject by using a fantastical metaphor as a vehicle for her traumatized main character, Drew/Win. The book is structured so that every other chapter you are following ten year old Drew’s story, and then sixteen year old Win’s story. You know from the very beginning, through a broken and suffering Win’s point of view, that something deeply traumatic happened to him one fateful summer. And even as you dread that terrible truth, there is so much humanity and empathy in the way Kuehn treats Drew/Win. This book changed me, in the way that only books can.
To learn more about Charm & Strange, or to find links to buy the book, go HERE.
Which book do you want to add to your TBR pile and why? Tell us in the comments. We'd love to hear from you!
Maurene Goo is the author of Since You Asked. She studied communication at the University of California, San Diego, and received a master’s degree in publishing and writing at Emerson College. She has very strong feelings about graphic design and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a very old cat. She is also a team member of We Need Diverse Books http://weneeddiversebooks.org/Read More
The 10-day virtual book tour for Helping Herbie Hedgehog, sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center, starts today.
Just click here to start the tour:
Day 1 – Helping Herbie Hedgehog
In today’s post, you’ll learn more about Melissa Abramovitz, author of Helphing Herbie Hedgehog.
I came very close to making a terrible financial blunder last week.
I wanted to make it with all my heart.
I came very close to buying a house in Greencastle, Indiana.
This is the house:
This is the description of the house:Affordable and well-cared-for Craftsman two-story home only a block from campus. Home features 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, office/bonus room, large living room, formal dining room & full basement w/built-in garage. Lovely craftsman details seen in the wood trim, doors, windows, staircase and hardwood floors throughout the home. Many newer updates include wiring, roof, & A/C. Appliances included. Spacious backyard for outdoor play & gardening. A great value for the condition & campus location. And this is the price of the house: $99,000!!!!!!I yearn for this house with every fiber of my being. It's the perfect size for me: around 1500 square feet. It's well maintained (currently owned by a colleague). It's adorable. If I lived here I would be happy every minute of every day.I even called a realtor. I had a sweet, wonderful renter lined up for next year, who agreed to let me keep one tiny room for my own.But then I remembered: I already have a house, a lovely little condo in Boulder, Colorado. I already have a mortgage on that house. I have a beloved family who live in that house. I have many dear friends nearby that house, and two writing groups, and a church that is another home to me. Plus, after I leave DePauw in June, I have NO JOB and no income except what I can earn with my pen, which is not enough to own and operate TWO houses, one of which would need to be fully furnished, as well.So I'm not going to buy the house. I had buyer's remorse even before becoming a buyer. But now I have non-buyer's remorse, which is just as keen. If only there were two of me, one to live in Boulder and one to live in Greencastle. But there's only one of me. One me, with two hearts.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
While it's great that the weather is finally warming up, it does have one drawback: pollen! Around here pollen is falling so fast it's almost impossible to keep electronic screens free of the bright yellow particles, which means reading outside with an e-reader is a bad idea for now. It's a good thing we have four wonderful hardcover books to give away (along with a fun swag pack) so you can read AND enjoy the nice weather. Make sure to enter below! There are also a bunch of other great books releasing this week, so leave us a comment telling us which ones you're looking forward to reading.
Jocelyn, Martina, Jan, Shelly, Susan, Lisa, and Erin
YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK
* * * *Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agendaby Becky Albertallipersonalized swag pack Giveaway
U.S. OnlyBalzer + BrayReleased 4/7/2015
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda?This is actually a hard question to answer, since I feel so close to the entire book. Every day, I change my mind about what I think is the heart of the story. That being said, I think my favorite moments are the emails exchanged between Simon and Blue. I loved writing them – sometimes, it almost felt like they wrote themselves. One of my favorite things about writing in that epistolary format is that it gives another character (Blue) a direct voice. He has a slightly different perspective than Simon, and I loved having the opportunity to show that. It also gave me a chance to play around with the differences between Simon’s unfiltered thoughts (in the narrative) and the way he presents himself to others (in the emails). Simon admits that he edits his emails to impress Blue, and he’s definitely, deliberately flirtatious. I loved showing those two sides of Simon, and it was interesting to explore what we do and don’t share with others, even when we think we’re being very open.Purchase Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda at AmazonPurchase Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda at IndieBoundView Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on Goodreads
* * * *Empire of Nightby Kelley Armstrongpaperback of Sea of Shadows (book 1) & hardcover of Empire of Night (book 2) Giveaway
U.S. OnlyHarperCollinsReleased 4/7/2015
Sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood. Or at least they were. Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, the emperor has sent them on a mission to rescue the captured children of Edgewood—accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of imperial warriors. But the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. And with treachery and unrest mounting in the empire, the girls are running out of places to turn.
With all the pulse-pounding action and romance that have made her a #1 New York Times bestselling author, this second book in the Age of Legends trilogy will appeal to Kelley Armstrong's legions of fans around the world and win her many new ones.Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Empire of Night?When I speak to other writers who do trilogies, they often lament the middle book. To them, it’s like act 2 of a regular book, which is often the hardest part to write—you know the setup and the conclusion, but then you need to keep a story interesting for 200 or so pages between them! To me, though, book 2 of a trilogy is my favourite. I’ve established the characters, setting and situation in book 1. I don’t need to actually resolve anything major until book 3. So the second book is total play-time for me. It’s where I can get creative and add anything I want, from action to mystery to romance, and just have fun with the characters. Of course, for me “having fun” with the characters is usually “making things steadily worse for them” but that’s what makes a story interesting! EMPIRE OF NIGHT was pure rising action and rising tension, taking the characters from bad to worse, and seeing them grow and develop because of it. It’s probably my favourite book in the Age of Legends trilogy, as is THE AWAKENING in Darkest Powers and THE CALLING in Darkness Rising.Purchase Empire of Night at AmazonPurchase Empire of Night at IndieBoundView Empire of Night on Goodreads
* * * *None of the Aboveby I. W. GregorioHardcover Giveaway
U.S. OnlyBalzer + BrayReleased 4/7/2015
A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.
But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned--something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."
Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self? Author Question: What is your favorite thing about None of the Above?This book will always hold a special place in my heart because of how intimately it's intertwined with my day job as a doctor. Because it was inspired by a patient I treated and I felt a deep sense of responsibility re: the subject matter, it was a tricky book to write. I felt like I was constantly walking a tightrope between explaining too much, and not enough. I didn’t want to sound didactic, so I made sure to pace the plot well, but at the same time I did want people to learn from the book. I'm sure there will be some people who think I threaded the needle, and others who don't! And it doesn’t sound very sexy, but the proudest moments of my debut year so far have been when readers say that it's opened their mind - and that they read it in one sitting.Purchase None of the Above at AmazonPurchase None of the Above at IndieBoundView None of the Above on Goodreads
* * * *Don't Stay Up Lateby R.L. StineHardcover Giveaway
U.S. OnlySt. Martin's Griffin; First Edition editionReleased 4/7/2015
R.L. Stine's hugely successful young adult horror series Fear Street is back after almost 2 decades. Fear Street is a worldwide phenomenon and helped to kick off the young adult craze which is still going strong today. In the second new book in this series, Don't Stay Up Late, Stine explores the unbridled terror of a damaged young lady sent on a doomed babysitting job.
Ever since a car accident killed her father and put Lisa and her mother into the hospital, Lisa can't think straight. She's plagued by nightmares and hallucinations that force her to relive the accident over and over again in vivid detail. When Lisa finds out that a neighbor is looking for a babysitter for her young son, she takes the job immediately, eager to keep busy and shake these disturbing images from her head.
But what promised to be an easy gig turns terrifying when Lisa begins to question exactly who — or what — she is babysitting.Purchase Don't Stay Up Late at AmazonPurchase Don't Stay Up Late at IndieBoundView Don't Stay Up Late on Goodreads
* * * *One Thing Stolenby Beth KephartHardcover Giveaway
U.S. OnlyChronicle BooksReleased 4/7/2015
Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she's become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether? Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.Purchase One Thing Stolen at AmazonPurchase One Thing Stolen at IndieBoundView One Thing Stolen on Goodreads
YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS
* * * *What Waits in the Woodsby Kieran ScottHardcoverPointReleased 3/31/2015
Seeing things. You were just seeing things.
For city girl Callie Velasquez, nothing sounds more terrifying than a night out in the wilderness. But, wanting to bond with her popular new friends, Lissa and Penelope, she agrees to join them on a camping trip. At least Callie's sweet new boyfriend, Jeremy, will be coming too.
But nothing goes as planned. The group loses half their food supply. Then they lose their way. And with strange sounds all around her--the snap of a twig, a sinister laugh--Callie wonders if she's losing her mind.
Tensions swirl among the group, with dark secrets suddenly revealed. And then, things take a fatal turn: Callie stumbles upon a cold dead body in the woods.
Is the murderer close by, watching them? Callie has to figure out where she can turn and who she can trust, before her own life is at stake.
Kieran Scott weaves a thrilling mystery that explores love, loyalty--and the dangerous decisions we make in order to survive.Author Question: What is your favorite thing about What Waits in the Woods?I'd have to say the cliffhangers. WHAT WAITS IN THE WOODS is a thriller/mystery, which means there are plenty of opportunities to totally freak out readers. It's always more satisfying to drop a bomb at the end of a chapter that makes people keep reading! There's nothing I love more than a good cliffhanger at the end of a book or a TV show, so to be able to write one for almost every chapter was so much fun. I hope the readers enjoy it!Purchase What Waits in the Woods at AmazonPurchase What Waits in the Woods at IndieBoundView What Waits in the Woods on Goodreads
MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS
* * * *Ask the Darkby Henry TurnerHardcoverClarion BooksReleased 4/7/2015
Billy Zeets has a story to tell.
About being a vandal and petty thief.
About missing boys and an elusive killer.
And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.
Gripping and powerful, this masterful debut novel comes to vivid life through the unique voice of a hero as unlikely as he is unforgettable.Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Ask the Dark?Billy makes people see the hero in themselves. That’s my favorite thing. Just as much as the story shows his investigation of a killer, it also shows his investigation and discovery of himself. I think – I hope - he becomes an example of what is often overlooked in the human spirit. Purchase Ask the Dark at AmazonPurchase Ask the Dark at IndieBoundView Ask the Dark on Goodreads
* * * *Figby Sarah Elizabeth SchantzHardcoverMargaret K. McElderry BooksReleased 4/7/2015
Love and sacrifice intertwine in this brilliant and provocative debut of rare beauty about a girl dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia and her own mental illness.
Fig’s world lies somewhere between reality and fantasy.
But as she watches Mama slowly come undone, it becomes hard to tell what is real and what is not, what is fun and what is frightening. To save Mama, Fig begins a fierce battle to bring her back. She knows that her daily sacrifices, like not touching metal one day or avoiding water the next, are the only way to cure Mama.
The problem is that in the process of a daily sacrifice, Fig begins to lose herself as well, increasingly isolating herself from her classmates and engaging in self-destructive behavior that only further sets her apart.
Spanning the course of Fig’s childhood from age six to nineteen, this deeply provocative novel is more than a portrait of a mother, a daughter, and the struggle that comes with all-consuming love. It is an acutely honest and often painful portrayal of life with mental illness and the lengths to which a young woman must go to handle the ordeals—real or imaginary—thrown her way.Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Fig?I’m pleased with the success I had regarding the initial constraints I made for myself when I first sat down to write the book. I knew I had to write the novel from Fig’s point of view because I was interested in using a child’s perspective as an unreliable narrator to tell the story of a woman coming undone. To properly express the trauma, I had to tell the story in present tense—this was the only way to make the reader experience what Fig experiences.
But I’d also like to address the fact that Fig is no longer a pile of papers or an electronic file, but an actual BOOK. In the beginning of the novel, Mama shows Fig how books have spines like people do, and she says, “Books are bodies too and the pages are the wings that make them fly.” This is what I thought about when I held the hardcover of Fig for the very first time. With the help of everyone at McElderry, Fig is a breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL book, and it really does FLY. The aesthetic is stunning—I mean, just look at it! The imagery of the bird and the unraveling spools of thread, not to mention the actual font inside, or the particular shade of purple—the design not only grabs your attention, it actually aches to be picked up. I haven’t yet seen it on a shelf, but I when I do I’ll probably die from happiness.Purchase Fig at AmazonPurchase Fig at IndieBoundView Fig on Goodreads
* * * *Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)by Amy SpaldingHardcoverPoppyReleased 4/7/2015
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.
After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they'll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.
While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone's heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she's been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for. Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)?I wrote Kissing Ted Callahan when I was worried I would never get published, and decided to just write something fun that would make me and my friends laugh. It feels special to know that soon that book will be out in the world.Purchase Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) at AmazonPurchase Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) at IndieBoundView Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) on Goodreads
* * * *Skandalby Lindsay SmithHardcoverRoaring Brook PressReleased 4/7/2015
The dramatic sequel to Sekret, this psychic Cold War espionage thriller follows Yulia to Washington, DC, where she fights to discover the truth about her family without losing control of her mind.
My mind is mine alone.
Life in Washington, D.C., is not the safe haven Yulia hoped for when she risked everything to flee communist Russia. Her father is reckless and aloof, and Valentin is distant and haunted by his past. Her mother is being targeted by the CIA and the US government is suspicious of Yulia's allegiance. And when super-psychics start turning up in the US capitol, it seems that even Rostov is still a threat. Ultimately, Yulia must keep control of her own mind to save the people she loves and avoid an international Skandal.Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Skandal?I love SKANDAL for all the ways it holds a mirror up to my first book, SEKRET—and also the ways it doesn’t! Sequels are so intimidating. I wanted to deliver on what audiences loved about the first book, while introducing new story elements, and forcing my characters to grow, as well. By changing the setting from the Soviet Union to America, I was able to look at the Cold War in a whole new perspective. Yulia wrestles with being an outsider trying to blend in, this time, instead of a peer trying to escape. Plus, it was so fun to write a jazz club scene in 1964 Washington, DC!Purchase Skandal at AmazonPurchase Skandal at IndieBoundView Skandal on Goodreads
* * * *The Truth about Usby Janet GurtlerPaperbackSourcebooks FireReleased 4/7/2015
A powerful and gripping contemporary YA from the author of I'm Not Her that's "Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult."-Booklist
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.
The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care.
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Truth about Us?My very favorite thing about THE TRUTH ABOUT US is the relationship that develops between Jess and Flynn. I really think these two are good for each other and they're probably the most romantic young adult couple I've written. My other favorite thing was Wilf, the grandfather figure for Jess
in the book. I named him after a grandfather I never met, and kind of got to make up a nice grandfather relationship that I always wanted to have.Purchase The Truth about Us at AmazonPurchase The Truth about Us at IndieBoundView The Truth about Us on Goodreads
MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK
* * * *Anastasia and Her Sistersby Carolyn MeyerHardcoverSimon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman BooksReleased 4/7/2015
There’s a heavy price to pay for royalty in this compelling—and true—story of Anastasia Romanov and fellow grand duchesses of Russia, from an award-winning novelist.
It’s summer in 1914 and the Romanovs are aboard the Standart, the Russian royal yacht. Tsar Nicholas, Tsaritsa Alexandra, their four daughters, and the youngest child, Tsarevitch Alexei, are sailing to Romania to meet Crown Prince Carol and his parents. It seems like a fairy tale existence for the four grand duchesses, dressed in beautiful clothes, traveling from palace to palace. But it’s not.
Life inside the palace is far from a fairy tale. The girls’ younger brother suffers from an excruciatingly painful and deadly blood disease, and their parents have chosen to shield the Russian people from the severity of the future tsar’s condition. The secrets and strain are hard on the family, and conditions are equally dire beyond the palace walls. Peasants chafe under the burden of extreme poverty and Tsar Nicholas’s leadership power weakens. And when the unthinkable happens—Germany declares war on Russia—nothing in Anastasia’s world will ever be the same.Purchase Anastasia and Her Sisters at AmazonPurchase Anastasia and Her Sisters at IndieBoundView Anastasia and Her Sisters on Goodreads
* * * *Awakeningby Shannon DuffyHardcoverEntangled: TeenReleased 4/7/2015
A thrilling, futuristic sci-fi novel set in a unique and thought-provoking world, from author Shannon Duffy.
Desiree Six (because she was born on a Friday) believes in everything the Protectorate stands for. She likes the safety and security of having her entire life planned out—her career, her mate, even the date of her death. She doesn't even think to question when Darian, her childhood friend and neighbor, is convicted of murdering his parents. They had seemed like such a loving family. But if he was convicted, then he must have done it.
Then Darian shows up in her room late one night. He has escaped from the Terrorscape—a nightmare machine used to punish all Noncompliants—and needs Desiree's help. What he tells her rocks her world to its core and makes her doubt everything she's ever been told. With this new information, will Desiree and Darian be able to escape the Protectorate before it's too late?Purchase Awakening at AmazonPurchase Awakening at IndieBoundView Awakening on Goodreads
* * * *I Am Her Revengeby Meredith MooreHardcoverRazorbillReleased 4/7/2015
She can be anyone you want her to be.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.
And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.
Anyone… except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her. Purchase I Am Her Revenge at AmazonPurchase I Am Her Revenge at IndieBoundView I Am Her Revenge on Goodreads
* * * *Lies I Toldby Michelle ZinkHardcoverHarperTeenReleased 4/7/2015
What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you've told yourself?
Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family.
But it’s all a lie.
Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines' biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught...including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark.
Perfect for fans of Ally Carter, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Gail Carriger, this thrilling, high-stakes novel deftly explores the roles of identity and loyalty while offering a window into the world of the rich and fabulous. Purchase Lies I Told at AmazonPurchase Lies I Told at IndieBoundView Lies I Told on Goodreads
* * * *Miss Mayhemby Rachel HawkinsHardcoverG.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young ReadersReleased 4/7/2015
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins is sassier than ever in this page-turning follow up to Rebel Belle, perfect for fans of Buffy and Veronica Mars.
Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.
Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.Purchase Miss Mayhem at AmazonPurchase Miss Mayhem at IndieBoundView Miss Mayhem on Goodreads
* * * *Palace of Liesby Margaret Peterson HaddixHardcoverSimon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersReleased 4/7/2015
Desmia discovers the reality of royalty is far from a fairy tale in this third adventure set in the Cinderella-esque world of Just Ella and Palace of Mirrors, from New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix.
Desmia and her twelve sister-princesses are ruling Suala together at last, a united front. The kingdom seems to have finally gotten its happily ever after, but Desmia, trained by a lifetime of palace intrigue, is not so sure. She desperately wants to believe all is well, but she can’t help seeing danger around every corner.
And then the unthinkable happens, and Desmia’s worst fears are confirmed. Now, without the support of the sister-princesses she’s grown to rely on or the trappings of royalty that have always convinced people to listen to her, Desmia must find the courage to seek out the truth on her own terms—and to determine the course of two kingdoms.Purchase Palace of Lies at AmazonPurchase Palace of Lies at IndieBoundView Palace of Lies on Goodreads
* * * *The Queen of Bright and Shiny Thingsby Ann AguirreHardcoverFeiwel & FriendsReleased 4/7/2015
Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.
Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.
But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again… Purchase The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things at AmazonPurchase The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things at IndieBoundView The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things on Goodreads
By Mari Mancusi
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
The day I learned to snowboard was not the best day of my life. I actually spent most of it on my butt. And the bruises the next day were more than brutal. I was cold, I was frustrated. I was pretty sure anyone who even attempted this sport had to be a masochist and maybe I just needed to cut my losses and go home.
After all, I was already a decent skier. Maybe I should go back to what I already knew was safe.
But I didn’t go back. And the next day got easier. And the next week, easier still. Now, when I do have a chance to go snowboarding (not as often, thanks to now living in Texas!) I have a blast. I’m not Olympic caliber by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s become a sport I’m passionate about and truly love. And the fact that it wasn’t easy? Well, that only makes it better.
I think the same could be said about the writing and publishing industry. Just like snowboarding, it’s not for the faint of heart. You get a lot bruises—to your ego, to your heart, to your sanity—as you try to send books out into the world, only to face disappointment, rejection and frustration. It would be so easy to go back into the lodge. To play it safe and give up on this seemingly unattainable dream.
But for those of us who stick with it, who keep writing in the face of rejection, in the face of disappointments, day after day, we do get better.
And while saying it gets easier is a stretch—we do start finding small successes and maybe even large ones. And whether we become multi-published, bestselling, or just remain hobbyists, writing can become a passion and something we truly love.
And the fact that it isn’t easy? That only makes it better.
I’ve done a lot of adult and teen novels, but Golden Girl (Aladdin Mix, January 2016) is my very first middle grade novel and one I’m particularly proud of.
My heroine, Lexi, has dedicated her entire life to snowboarding, hoping to someday achieve Olympic gold. But when a freak accident may put her out of the running for good, she is forced to reexamine her life—and what’s really important to her. It’s a life lesson that applies to everyone—even those who have never set foot on a mountain and I’m so excited to share Lexi’s story with the world.Cover Reveal
Cold meant snow. Snow meant snowboarding. Snowboarding meant everything.
Lexi Miller--aka "Golden Girl"--is Queen of the ‘Cross--snowboard cross, that is. As the most promising student at the elite ski and snowboard school, Mountain Academy, she is a sure lock for the Olympic-level trial team and has the most promise for a future Olympic gold medal the school has ever seen.
Until a freak fall during a snowboard-cross competition crushes her dreams and puts her future on hold.
One year after her disastrous fall, Lexi is back at Mountain Academy and attempting a comeback. But everything has changed—her best friend is suddenly friends with her arch-enemy on and off the slopes, and everyone seems to be rooting for her to fail.
Everyone except Logan Conrad that is. Logan is a “staff rat” whose mother works at the school and he believes snowboarding should be for fun—not sponsors. With his help and friendship, Lexi begins to discover a whole new world outside her favorite sport and even a new passion for music.
But Lexi's dad--who just happens to be her coach and lead instructor at Mountain Academy--has strong opinions on his daughter's future. Can Lexi figure out how to balance her dreams with the dreams of her dad's--and find out what exactly happened on that mountain a year ago?
In 1879, at the dawn of his career, John Singer Sargent painted his teacher Carolus-Duran. Soon after, Carolus-Duran sat for a photograph.
Since the two images share a similar pose and lighting, it's possible to compare them for some insights into the subtle choices that Sargent must have been making.
1. Values of the skin tones are simplified and organized.
2. The principle highlights are reserved for the forehead and the nose.
3. The values of the hair are greatly simplified.
4. The mustache is twirled into up-facing points.
5. The face is slightly slimmer.
6. The eyebrows and eyes are drawn with more definite angles.
7. Throughout, there's a visual theme of the heart- or chevron-shape.
People who watched Sargent paint a portrait marveled at the process: "The lightness and certainty of his touch was marvelous to behold. Never was there any painter who could indicate a mouth with more subtlety, with more mobility, or with keener differentiation. As he painted it, the mouth bloomed out of the face, an integral part of it, not, as in the great majority of portraits, painted on it, a separate thing. He showed how much could be expressed in painting the form of the brow, the cheekbones, and the moving muscles around the eyes and mouth, where the character betrayed itself most readily; and under his hands, a head would be an amazing likeness long before he had so much as indicated the features themselves. In fact, it seemed to me the mouth and nose just happened with the modeling of the cheeks, and one eye, living luminous, had been placed in the socket so carefully prepared for it."
The painting won an Honorable Mention at the Salon, and an observer noted, "There was always a little crowd around it and I overheard constantly remarks in favour of its excellence."*
Adapted from "John Sargent
" by Evan Charteris (New York: Scribner's Sons, 1927).
* from John Singer Sargent, Complete Paintings, Volume 1: The Early Portraits (Vol 1)
Previously: A similar comparison with his portrait of Coventry Patmore
Anna Ingwersen is a native Texan who spent her crucial years in New Mexico (still miss those sunsets) and has now settled in Edinburgh where she writes, reads, mothers, and teaches yoga. Currently, she’s working on another historical fiction novel and a short story. Her last short story,” The Snowbird,” was published in Deep South magazine. Anna’s been writing stories for as long as she can remember, including a sequel to Gone with the Wind, co-authored by Caroline Starr Rose, at the age of ten.
Please tell us about your book.
The Moon Garden is historical fiction taking place against the backdrop of pre and post Civil Rights Texas. Both main characters live under different societal constraints, James, as a black man passing for white, and Elana, as a free spirited abstract artist. Their attraction is strengthened by their shared identities as outsiders. However, their love affair cannot protect them from circumstances beyond their control, forcing decisions that, thirty years later, may finally be redeemed.
It’s a love story, but also a story about identity, ethics, and how the daily decisions we make shape the course of our entire lives. I also explore how we are limited by the times we are living in and how we struggle to create authentic lives under these constraints.
I’d never heard of Texas’s Veterans’ Land Act Scandal before reading your book. What drew you to this subject?
The Texas Veterans Land Board Scandal provided additional historical backdrop for the story. It was the biggest scandal in state history, one in which state land promoters and politicians were involved in cheating veterans, many of whom were black, out of low interest state backed loans for land. I was drawn to this scandal because at the time I was working in state government and could see how easily people can forget their ethics and forget they work as civil servants. After reading about the scandal, it just seemed ripe for a juicy novel! It was unbelievable how high and deep it ran, how a prominent lawyer investigating the scandal was the victim of an attempted murder via a car bombing, and how the story broke because an intrepid reporter from a small town followed his instincts and went on to win a Pulitzer for his work.
The glimpses you give us of both Austin and Galveston feel intimate and familiar. Can you talk a little about the importance of setting and specifically why you’re drawn to write about Texas?
I’m a Texan and spent most of my life in Austin and near Galveston. I love these two places for different reasons, and both places are very dear to my heart. Both places are very evocative for me. I suppose I’m always a bit homesick, and writing about these places helps me to be there on those days I miss hearing a mourning dove cooing outside my door or a cheeky grackle giving me a disapproving look.
Also, as a writer, I feel setting is an essential character in a book. I want a reader to feel they are fully immersed in the story and setting allows that to happen. As a reader I also love books with a well-drawn setting. It takes me somewhere new, a little holiday without leaving home.
Moon Garden moves between the 1950s past and the 1980s present. What made this the best way to tell your story?
I liked the idea of a man who had lived an extraordinary life during difficult times, looking back on his life and trying to make sense of it all. America’s history is so short and I felt contrasting the 1980s and the 1950s illustrated that really well. Only thirty years span between Jim Crow and the 1980s. So much had changed, yet for many, what they had experienced in terms of social change, wasn’t ancient history, and still isn’t!
What are some challenges associated with telling a story from two different character’s perspectives? What are some advantages?
I felt like I really knew James and Elana, so for me, I had to write from both perpectives. Both suffer from different, yet powerful societal constraints, and I was passionate about exploring that. I think if your characters both have a story to tell, then do it, just make sure they both need to be there. For a while, I didn’t want to listen to Elana and then she came out and demanded to be heard. It evolved that way naturally and through valuable feedback, I was able to let her come through.
I think the advantages of writing from two perpectives are that you get to see two different takes on the same events, that you see reality can be extremely different for two people living in the same time. I’ve always been fascinated by the diversity of experiences we all have and how it shapes our actions and who we are.
The post An Interview with Anna Ingwersen, author of THE MOON GARDEN appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.
Over the course of the past several days, my Twitter feed has bloomed with posts from the good people of Abrams & Chronicle. Chosen lines from One Thing Stolen,
posterized. Words of encouragement and hope. It's been a quiet, miraculous thing. This sense this UK publishing arm has provided of a story fully seen.
And so, when Abrams & Chronicle (through Lara Starr) asked me to write about how my travels have influenced my stories, I was more than happy to comply, writing the story that appears today, here
. Please take some time to review the many lovely posts on A&C blog. I promise you good reads and eats.
But while I'm at this, I'd like to thank my dear friend Ed Goldberg, who has been such an exquisite companion through my many seasons as a writer of books for young adult readers. I was standing in the lobby of an Atlantic City hotel years and books ago when I first received an Ed email. I was standing in Books of Wonder when I first (a surprise) met him. And here he is again, reading One Thing Stolen
and offering his support in his beautiful blog, Two Heads Together.
I am forever grateful.
Eliza Wheeler is an illustrator and author of children’s books, including MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS, which debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list, and the Newbery Honor winning novel DOLL BONES (by Holly Black). Eliza is a northern Wisconsin native currently living with her husband in Los Angeles, California.
I met Eliza when we were both chosen for the SCBWI Illustration Mentorship Program back in 2010, and we've become good friends since. It's been exciting to watch her career take off! So looking forward to rooming with Eliza at the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles this year.
Also excited about the launch of WHEREVER YOU GO, a new picture book written by Pat Zietlow Miller (I'll be posting an interview with Pat later this week), illustrated by Eliza, coming out from Little, Brown Books For young Readers on April 21, 2015. I LOVE this book so much! Young readers will appreciate the fun journey and look-more-closely-what-do-you-see gorgeous artwork while grown-ups will also enjoy the underlying (and uplifting) life sentiment. You can read the (starred) review on Kirkus.
Synopsis of WHEREVER YOU GO:
Join an adventurous rabbit and his friends as they journey on winding roads to discover the magical worlds that await them. Pat Zietlow Miller's lilting rhyme and illustrator Eliza Wheeler's enchanting landscapes celebrate the possibilities that lie beyond the next bend in the road, which always leads you home again.
You can find out more about Eliza and her work at her website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?
The favorite thing in my work-space is the doll that I made while I was creating my first book, MISS MAPLE'S SEEDS.
While I was working on the sketches for this book, I wasn't feeling confident in the consistency of the many angles of my one singular character (Miss Maple) in the story, and so I decided to build a doll of her. I'd never done this before, and it took me a long time.
I used a self-hardening clay called LaDoll for the head, arms and feet, and then made the body out of wire and stuffed and sewn fabric. It was worth the work because I was able to pose and photograph her with lighting in all the positions and angles I needed to draw. And now she sits on my shelf.
My husband, Adam, occasionally takes walks around the block, and will sometimes bring back the most interesting seeds or leaves. She hangs on to those for me.
Q. What advice do you have for young writers and/or illustrators?
Seek a balance in your creative work and daily life that's not only sustaining, but life-giving. Finding this balance has been and is still a constant process for me.
I often hear creative people talk about working hard, going all-or-nothing, taking leaps of faith, giving ultimatums and timelines about 'making it' into an industry, etc. Especially for those just starting out, the dilemma is often between time and money. Trying to do the creative work 100% right away brings a lot of pressure and tension into your life that can stifle creativity, which then becomes paralyzing.
On the other hand, feeling locked into a life that allows no time for creative work is also stifling. So the goal is to find the perfect situation that gives you just enough of both.
That often means working part time or full time at a day job for many years and finding a few regular hours on nights, mornings or weekends to turn off the world and focus (or just play!). The baby steps that you make during these hours will begin to add up, and form into tangible, inspired projects. That momentum will build, and then the scales gradually tip.
Making progress is about daily baby steps. It's not about achieving instant perfection in one fell swoop. It's a small seed that grows imperceptibly for a little while.
Q. What are you excited about right now?
I'm very excited to be traveling to Madison, Wisconsin in May to celebrate the release of my new illustrated picture-book, WHEREVER YOU GO, written by Wisconsin author Pat Zietlow-Miller. Pat's manuscript is rhythmic and beautiful, and was basically a blank canvas for me. The text was so open that I could create a narrative within the pictures. This book stretched my creative muscles in a lot of new and sometimes uncomfortable ways (the joke with my agent was that I was drawing my fingers down to bloody stumps) -- there's a scope and level of detail in this artwork that I'd never created before -- so I'm thrilled to finally be able to share it with everyone, and to be able to team up with Pat in that sharing process.
For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.
Over at her Poetrepository, Mary Lee is writing a poem for each day of April either using an emotion word or evoking that emotion--this after writing a poem in March for each and every one of my Forward...MarCH CHallenge words! I am humbled and could not possibly keep up this pace of writing and blogging, but I have promised myself that I'll join in where I can.
For example, I have begun a cleridoubledactylhew in response to Kwame Alexander's challenge over at Today's Little Ditty with Michelle--a wonderful post! Kwame's challenge is to write a clerihew, the rules for which are quite loose, but yesterday at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Jane Yolen shared some very fun double dactyls, which, like clerihews, are written about people. When I went to save my very difficult cleridoubledactylhew, I had a serendipitous thing happen: I caught sight of a doc called "Sadness made me keep a diary." I'd totally forgotten about writing such a poem. It needed more work, but here it is.
Why I keep a diary
She was withering,
I was blooming. I visited,
sat in a familiar wing chair
in an unfamiliar room,
looked through a box of her papers:
calendars, church bulletins, a little locked
five-year diary marked 1943.
Fell down the basement stairs
carrying a bushel of peaches ($2.15).
Broke my ankle.
Tried not to cry in front of the children.”
Collected rents today (sunny, 79*).
Made black-and-white cookies
for the Ladies’Aid meeting.
Charlie & Lila growing awfully fast.
Find myself talking to Arthur’s
picture too much.
Took it off the piano today
and put it away.”
All my gramma’s sadness—recorded
in brisk, cheerful lines, hidden
under a bushel, now unlocked.
At home I began my own little
five-year diary, so that someday
my children might understand
why sadness is hard for me.
all rights reserved
Other challenges I am visiting have produced this work:
For Jone's Double LL challenge, using the words "alluvium" and "elliptic":
of shallow silt
Elliptical Rainbow Mama
all rights reserved
Every year this day
We turn the eggs gently
in their baths of color
but like Mama,
heavier at the bottom,
they spill off the spoon
and splash rainbows
on the gray newspaper.
all rights reserved
For Tricia's Jumping into Form challenge
, this sijo, written on my phone while waiting to see my doctor:
A wild, wide one with fringe wraps the wearer in animal drama.
Short stripes on silk knotted around a neck stand guard against slouching.
Field of Van Gogh flowers twists infinitely, lifting heart to face.–HM 2015
all rights reserved
So much more to share...off to Author Amok to check in with the "What Are You Wearing to NPM?" series!
We continue to consider failure through the wise, honest words of science fiction author Lyda Morehouse (and a few from Milton).
In the Koran, Iblis (Satan) feels Allah tricked him (long story, but he’s super mad about Allah’s newest creation, human beings, and when Allah presented this new muddy clump of animated clay, Satan refused to bow before it, because, he felt, that God was the only one worthy of his devotion. Satan thought that the point of this exercise to check the loyalty of the angels. He thought himself pretty smug for having passed. So, no surprise he feels very PWN’d when Allah says he will be cast out of Paradise for his transgression,) so Satan/Iblis says:
“Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left…”
Traditional New York publishers aren’t the Great Satan, but I have spent many days counting the ways in which I feel they share similar characteristics.
There are a lot of reasons to be bitter about the state of publishing. My personal story of heartache has a lot in common with Iblis’s, at least in my own mind. I actually got into Paradise, which is to say that a prominent publishing house picked up my first novel. That book came out to a moderate amount of fanfare. From there on out, I tried to be a perfect angel. I never missed a deadline. When my editor called and said, “So, this Twilight book is hot. You think you could do something similar?” I happily said yes, even though maybe a tiny part of my soul died a little. I never fought editorial changes to my book. NEVER. “It’s their book,” I told myself. “They paid for it.”
And then I was cast out.
I spent a lot of time brooding about this since. Was it just my time and was this the excuse they were looking for? I know that can happen because I narrowly avoided being “quietly shown the door” earlier because I met and bonded with my previous editor. My science fiction numbers hadn’t been what the publisher was hoping for, but we chatted at a convention and he, bless his soul, decided he’d tell me what his bosses had in store for me and helped me switch from science fiction to romance. So, I’d gotten some awesome breaks in the past.
Truthfully, I got fourteen published books out of my run; I was probably simply due for a fall.
But you would not believe the amount of time I have spent turning over details and events around that final moment. Who’s fault was it? Was it fair? Who could I blame? Should I have fought over creative differences earlier? Would that have helped my books be better, and thus improve my numbers? Or, was it a mistake to fight? Should I have continued to capitulate in hopes that things would get better and so that would have yet another book to write under contract?
Any one of those could have been my great failure. But, believe it or not, none of that really matters.
The mistake I’ve made is allowing myself to become bitter. The single most destructive force in my career has been me: my willingness to bow my head and quit.
I always believed that I could never not write, and that’s been true. I’ve been writing ever since my publishing career crumbled beneath my feet, but I gave up striving for publication. There are so many new avenues for writers these days and instead of exploring self or small press publishing, I have stared at the doors of heaven and shaken my fists.
This is a mistake—it’s a failure of resilience, a loss of hope that I’m finally beginning to recover from. I’ve been trying my hand at new ways of writing: a comic book script, collaboration, self-publishing, etc.
And I’m here to tell you that writing can still make me happy. It’s still the greatest job on earth. Ultimately, I have found an answer to the question another writer once posed:
“To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or by opposing, end them?”
It is better to oppose them.
It is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.
Lyda Morehouse writes about that gets other people in trouble: religion and science. Her first novel Archangel Protocol won the Shamus Award for best paperback novel featuring a private detective. A subsequent novel, Apocalypse Array, also came in second for the prodigious Philip K. Dick award. This, however, did not insulate her from failure and so she revived her career as paranormal romance writer Tate Hallaway, author of the Garnet Lacey series and the YA series, Vampire Prince of St. Paul. She is now attempting to rise from the ashes again. Wish her luck and follow her progress at: www.lydamorehouse.com or on twitter @tatehallaway or via the various places she blogs, including www.tatehallway.blogspot.com
Filed under: How to Fail
These days libraries aren't just about books, they are about endless resources. Common Craft recently released a video about what our modern libraries do... (Click the image to see the video at School Library Journal.)
May Contain Spoilers
I saw this at the library and had to check it out. Why? Because they don’t have many Harlequin Comics and they are like my crack. They’ve also greatly improved from the first ones I read, where the words didn’t even stay inside the word balloons. Why even have word balloons, if the text is going to drift lazily beyond their borders? It used to drive me crazy, so I’m happy to report that that particular issue is now a non-issue.
Chloe is a housekeeper for the wealthy Carstairs family, and one day, while doing her thing, she’s startled by a handsome man swimming in the pool. His face and leg are marred by terrible scars, and Chloe learns that he’s Declan, the eldest Carstairs son, and that he survived a horrible mountain climbing accident that took the life of his brother.
Chloe also discovers that he’s blind, and that he’s irritated with people mollycoddling him. He’s frustrated that he needs assistance, so Chloe does her best to help him without robbing him of his pride. She’s confused when Declan demands to know who was visiting with his brother, Adrian, before he died. Adrian, she insisted, kept to himself. She doesn’t share that he also stalked her and intimidated her, making her feel threatened whenever he stayed at the mansion.
Declan is still reeling from Adrian’s death. The last thing he said before he fell off the mountain was that he couldn’t go on with his broken heart. He then showed Declan a photo on his cell phone, the photo of a beautiful woman who took advantage of his little brother and then spurned him. Declan vows that he will find her and extract his revenge upon her.
Declan and Chloe begin to grow close, and after a night of unbridled passion, Declan regains his sight. But wait! Now that he can see Chloe, he recognizes her as the woman on Adrian’s phone. Shocked, he flees from the mansion without a word to Chloe. Chloe is understandably hurt when she doesn’t hear from him in months, and then is suddenly called to work at a party he is hosting. Once there, he springs his attack, accusing her of using and abusing his brother, and blaming her for Adrian’s death. These two have quite an obstacle to overcome!
First off, the art is lovely. The characters are long and lean, and everyone has hair that seems to take on a life of its own. Facial expressions are easy to decipher, and the action flows seamlessly from panel to panel.
The story, however, felt too abbreviated. The introduction is well done, with Chloe helping the stubborn Declan with the things he can no longer do without his sight, but the conclusion was rushed and unconvincing. Since these Harlequin Comics are only about 150 pages, there is a lot of story to fit into a short amount of space. Declan treated Chloe horribly and completely misjudged her, and I didn’t think he groveled enough for her forgiveness.
This is a common complaint I have with the manga based on Harlequin novels, but that being said, I still managed to purchase a bunch of them on Amazon over the weekend because they were priced at .99. Who could possibly resist that? If you’re curious about these comics, there are several titles available on Scribd, and you can check your local library too.
One day, Chloe, the housekeeper of the wealthy Carstairs family’s villa, meets a mysterious man by the mansion’s pool. He has a strong, sun-kissed body with a long scar running down his thigh and a deep scar carved into his cheek. Learning that Declan is the owner of the house, Chloe tries to hide that she was gawking at her boss by greeting him. It is then that she realizes that he is practically blind. It is the beginning of their dangerous relationship, and Declan is on a mission to find the woman who jilted his deceased little brother.
I had the pleasure of meeting Erin Entrada Kelly at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA, during her book launch party on March 27. She read a passage from Blackbird Fly, and gave a moving and heartwarming speech about growing up as the only Filipino American in her class in a small town in Louisiana. So she always felt different.
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books/Harpercollins, March 2015, for ages 8 to 12) Synopsis (from the publisher): Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That's no choice at all. Apple Yengko moved from the Philippines to Louisiana when she was little, and now that she is in middle school, she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams.
Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. Her mother still cooks Filipino foods, speaks a mix of English and Cebuano, and chastises Apple for becoming "too American." It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple's class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple's friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is.
Why I recommend it: The voice is spot-on. Apple Yengko will strum her way into your heart and into your soul and you won't be able to forget her. Erin Entrada Kelly has perfectly captured the essence of middle school: both the pain and the hope, the cruelty of certain kids, and the solid lasting friendships that can develop with other kids. Reading this is like eavesdropping on real middle-schoolers. I especially loved how Beatles' music helped Apple follow her dream and find her place in the world. Ten-year-old me would have hugged this book and read it all over again.
Bonus: This book will appeal strongly to anyone who ever felt like an outsider. Perfect for starting discussions in the classroom, or with your kids at home, about bullying, about tolerance, and about diversity.
My favorite line: "
I imagined a hole cracking open and transporting me into another dimension so I wouldn't have to listen to my mother." (p. 88)Erin's websiteFollow Erin on Twitter
Apple's favorite Beatles song is "Blackbird Fly" and mine is "Here Comes the Sun." What's your
By: JOANNA MARPLE,
Blog: Miss Marple's Musings
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, young adult
, None of The Above
, we need diverse books
, 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge
, I W Gregorio
, Add a tag
Today’s diversity read is one I had been looking forward to since meeting the author at one of the biannual SCBWI conference LGBTQ meetings a year ago. It doesn’t exactly fall into any of my categories, but boy, is it … Continue reading
A simple act of giving a few words of encouragement go a long way. When you share your positive words of someone's accomplishments or struggles, watch them stand a wee bit taller when you offer your encouragement.
Something as simple as saying...
"I'm here for you"
"I like how you are developing this scene, may I offer a suggestion"
will often change a person's self-doubt to a positive. Try it, today and everyday and brighten someone's day!
Thanks for visiting and commenting. You have certainly brightened my day!
Best wishes,Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's AuthorIgnite curiosity in your child through reading!
Connect with Donna McDine on Google+A Sandy Grave
~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star ReviewPowder Monkey
~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star ReviewHockey Agony
~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star ReviewThe Golden Pathway
~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
SEO marketing has changed. Or, maybe a better wording would be SEO marketing has evolved.
It’s true you still need to take the major search engine players (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) into account, but you have more options now.
The Major Search Engines
Using Google as a catch all for this category, getting your website visible and its content categorized and indexed is an absolute necessity.
By: Sharon Ledwith,
I have always loved reading books that use humor and have realistic (and relatable) characters. I decided to write the book I wanted to read when I was in middle school and I’m overjoyed it’s now a series where people can follow along on Landry’s journey through dealing with friendships, the ups and downs of school, crushes, and insecurities. Sure, going back to that time in my own life was a little crazy, but lucky for me there weren’t camera phones to capture me dancing in the grade school talent show…while wearing jean shorts. If you’re not cringing yet, let’s just say I also had a moment of “genius” where I thought my super dark brown hair would look amazing with “Sun-In” highlights that actually turned my hair a lovely shade of copper. Sigh.
The Landry’s True Colors Series is a clean reads young adult/middle grade series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Children's Books on Values and #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction. True Colors is an international bestselling book.
Tag line: Good friends have your back, but some go behind it.
Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way—instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year—something she finds terrifying.
Landry gets her first boyfriend, but then gets dumped just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice about dealing with frenemies from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry faces having to speak up for what’s right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American Ingénue modeling competition.
“Landry, it’s gotta be so awkward for you to be going to Vladi’s school next year,” Tori said. “I mean, what if you run into him during the tour?"
"It’s a huge place,ʺ Ashanti said. “People break up all the time. It’s not a big deal.ʺ
Tori raised her eyebrows as if to say, “Yeah, right,” and went back to her sandwich. Meanwhile my delicious homemade soup was no longer sitting well. It never occurred to me Vladi might be around during the first pre‑freshman tour. I would be mortified if I ran into him and he was with a girl. Or worse yet, running into him, and he was with Yasmin. Plus, I hadn’t told my mom about the breakup, so if she saw him, she’d probably go over to talk to him. I could already imagine it: “Landry, Vladi’s here! Hon? Why are you hiding behind the garbage can? Your boyfriend, Vladi, is here. Come say, ‘hello.’ Stop trying to run away. Why is everyone laughing and pointing at you and calling you a ‘loser dumpee?’ What does that mean?”
Well, maybe the world would end and I wouldn’t have to deal with high school or Vladi and my mother running into each other.
Sadly, the world did not end, and on Thursday, we all had to go to the high school for a freshman information night from 6 to 9 p.m.
Author bio:Krysten Lindsay Hager is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.
What people are saying about True Colors (Landry’s True Colors Series Book One):
From Teenage Book Recommendations in the UK: "This is a fantastically relatable and real book which I feel captures all of the insecurities and troubles which haunt the modern teenage girl. It is about a young model who has to go through tough times when she is torn between a life as a model and managing her friendships. You learn which friends she can most trust and which will create the drama typical of teenage life. Follow the life of Landry and try to see if you can find out which are her true friends before their true colours are revealed. This book is all about relationships, hopes and truth. I loved this book!"
From Books & Authors Spot: “This book is such an inspiration for those who just care about their looks and are tensed about them. This thing is looks aren't everything. This book is related to every teen's problem. Hager has written a very inspiring novel.”
Connect with Krysten:
I'm back in the deadline cave (Dear NEVERSEEN: why must you refuse to cooperate!) so I am throwing these MMGM links together on minimum brainpower. Here's hoping they're right--sorry if they're not.
- Iron Guy Carl is back with a review of MISSION TITANIC. Click HERE to read his thoughts.
- Cindy Tran has a triple feature for you guys this week. Click HERE to see what the books are!
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is on the edge of his seat for SURVIVING BEAR ISLAND. Click HERE to see why.
- Andrea Mack is marking her calendar for SEPTEMBER 17. Click HERE to see her review.
- Katie Fitzgerald is spotlighting CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS. Click HERE to see her feature.
- Jess at the Reading Nook wants you to take the WORST CLASS TRIP EVER. Click HERE for her thoughts.
- Suzanne Warr is sharing how to get in the middle grade mood. Click HERE for details.
- Greg Pattridge is raving about TIME SQUARE--THE SHIFT. Click HERE to read his feature.
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is cheering for THE WHIPPING BOY. Click HERE to see why.
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.
Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!
Try Book 1 for Free
Darcy’s Note: In my question to understand action scenes better, I came across Ian’s book and was blown away by how practical it is. To make it even more practical I created an Action Scenes Checklist. To understand it and fully exploit it, you should buy his book and read it cover to cover. Yes, I’m that enthusiastic about it. If you plan ANY action in your story, you need this book. Stay tuned below for a chance to win a copy of this book and Healy’s latest novel.
Guest post by Ian Thomas Healy
Like many people, I love movies, and I have a special love for tight action sequences. I have always taken pride in my ability to translate that type of action into my books, and as a writer specializing in superhero fiction, action is an important component of my work. After years of being asked by my writer friends to help them with their own action sequences, it occurred to me that there might be a need for this sort of information across the industry, and so I sat down and analyzed what was it exactly that I did instinctively when I wrote action scenes, and how I might teach that to others. Thus, ACTION! WRITING BETTER ACTION USING CINEMATIC TECHNIQUES (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055LH0MU ) was born (naturally, during a running firefight with explosions and hair-breadth escapes).
A lot of writers dance around action, because writing it is daunting and uncomfortable. By its very nature, action is high-energy, full of motion and intense pacing, and for many writers, it’s a weird change from what they’re used to. At its very root, though, action is a means to resolve conflict, and conflict is the basis of all good storytelling, so it’s not something to run from (crashing through a window, sliding down a rooftop slope, and then dropping into a waiting convertible), but to embrace as an important part of your toolbox.
In ACTION, I break down what makes an action scene tick, from individual acts, called Stunts, up through Engagements (related series of stunts), to the all-encompassing Sequence, which contains more than one Engagement. Here’s an example of an action scene from my new book CASTLES, which released on April 1:
Sally rushed into the building. All she knew was in the space of a single breath, her entire squad had been taken out. Who were these guys, and how had they stayed under the radar so long? Parahuman criminals didn’t just appear out of the woodwork at random, especially when they were working as a team. There had to be records on these guys somewhere.
And then Sally ran across someone who could move nearly as fast as she could, and she was fortunate not to have been gutted like a fish by the barbed quills sprouting from the new combatant’s arms. He slashed at her and she twisted and dodged through the lobby of the building on full defense. Unlike the criminals two floors above, the guy attacking Sally wore less of a jumpsuit and more of a wrestling-style singlet. The quills seemed to grow all over his body and she thought of him as Porcupine Man.
Super-speed abilities were rare in the world, even more so than psionic powers, and yet this was the second speedster Sally had fought in as many weeks. “Is there a factory churning you guys out or something?”
Porcupine Man’s perceptions were apparently accelerated like hers, for he understood her despite her rapid speech. “The times, they are a-changin’.” He spread his arms wide and flexed his chest in a peculiar way.
Sally dropped to the floor as several quills whisked over her head to embed themselves in the reception desk, quivering like arrows. A sharp, burning pain shot down her back and she knew one of them had grazed her. She hoped like hell they weren’t tipped with poison. “That’s a Bob Dylan lyric. My husband loves that song.” She pulled her horseshoes from her belt.
“Maybe he can play it at your funeral.” Porcupine Man shot more quills at Sally and she threw herself backwards over the reception desk to put something solid between her and her opponent. With his speed, she only had a moment to decide on her next action, and she froze when she saw a terrified woman huddled beneath the desk, eyes wide, a quill poking out of her bloodstained blouse.
Sally had no time to check to see if the woman was severely hurt. She couldn’t stay hiding where she was and put the civilian in danger. Nor could she risk slowing herself down enough to offer any comfort. She heard the patter of Porcupine Man’s approaching footsteps and forced herself to move. She ran, leaning forward to make herself a smaller target. The slice on her back burned like a paper cut with lemon juice in it. He skidded to a stop and Sally knew she had an advantage over him, being able to stop and start instantly.
She glanced back and saw him fire another quill at her from his chest. It had gone from a veritable barbed forest to a sparse stand in just a few moments. His quills didn’t replace themselves very quickly. Maybe she could get him to use them up. She dove for the floor again, twisting herself around to land on her shoulder. The quill passed right over her face, close enough that she could see the wicked barbs on its tip. As she slid, she hurled one of her horseshoes at him. Normally, throwing away one’s melee weapons was a poor choice, but Sally had spent thousands of hours at the targeting range, learning how to throw things effectively. When accelerated by her super-speed arms, the most innocent objects could become deadly projectiles.
Her horseshoes were hardly innocent.
The iron ring caught Porcupine Man on his sternum, hitting him hard enough to send him flying back into a wall, which cracked with his impact. He fell amid a pile of broken drywall and didn’t move.
This scene represents a single Engagement in a larger Sequence, which is Mustang Sally’s team of superheroes versus a group of super-powered bad guys. There are several Stunts in this Engagement:
- Sally dodges as Porcupine Man attacks her in melee combat.
- Sally dodges again as Porcupine Man shoots spines at her in ranged combat.
- Sally dodges yet again as he keeps shooting at her (she’s having a rough go of it).
- Sally goes on the offensive and throws a horseshoe at Porcupine Man, taking him down.
In ACTION, I coach you on methods for writing these types of scenes on a step-by-step basis. When Darcy contacted me to say how helpful she’d found my book, it made my day, because any time I hear that I’ve helped someone to become a better writer, it makes the whole process worthwhile. If you find it a valuable tool for yourself, please don’t hesitate to post a review online and to let me know how it helped you!
Leave a comment and your name will be in a giveaway for a copy of one of Healy’s ebooks (Kindle, epub or pdf). There’s one copy each of ACTION! and CASTLE.
Heading to Canada to visit some schools
By: Carole Anne Carr,
Eihwaz is The Tree of Life, one of the central characters in my children's fantasy Thin Time. Poor Alice has been caught by Eihwaz who has wrapped his roots around her ankles!
‘I’m not playing games,’ Eihwaz said. ‘You wouldn’t play games either, if the evil Niddhogg chewed your toes and this Earth Creature cut your branches.’ The tree gave a nasty sounding chuckle and rubbed his boughs together. ‘Let me punish the Earth Creature some more.’
‘No. She is this year’s Task Bearer and must bring back the New Year Seeds before Thin Time ends. Without the seeds the world will die, you will wither, and all your twigs will drop off.’
There was a long moaning sound from the tree, like the wind sighing in its topmost branches, and Fymm said, ‘Do you want the girl to help you or not?’
‘You know the pain in my roots is worse when that wretched Niddhogg gnaws through them .I can’t stand it anymore. Where is the Master?’ the tree said. ‘I don’t care about any seeds. If the Master doesn’t stop him, the Niddhogg will chew me to pieces. All my life sap will trickle out, and then you’ll be sorry.’
‘Just let her go, Eihwaz. Don’t punish her any more. You are keeping her from her Task Bearer duties. Soon it will be too late, and Samhain will be over. Forgive the girl her stupidity and she’ll bring comfort to your toes.’
‘Will she free me from that that Ratatosk?’ the tree spluttered.
‘Forget Messenger Ratatosk, Eihwaz. He’s in trouble enough. I’ll deal with him later. If you let the girl go, she’ll fight the Niddhogg for you and you’ll be happy again.’
Fymm trotted over to me and growled in my ear. ‘Stupid girl, if you want to live, tell Eihwaz you promise to fight Niddhogg the Snake-Dragon. That should save you. Say it!’
‘I promise, I promise,’ I shouted, struggling to sit up.
‘Promise what?’ Fymm said, his hackles rising. ‘Say it properly!’ ‘I-promise-to-do-battle-with-the...’
‘With the what?’
‘Battle-with-Niddhogg-the-Snake-Dragon,’ I shrieked, but I had my fingers crossed hard behind my back.
‘You don’t think you could rid me of Messenger Ratatosk while you’re at it?’ Eihwaz said in a wheedling voice, the sort of voice Thomas always used when he wanted something....
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I so enjoyed April Halprin Wayland's interview with Paul B. Janeczko! Thank you, April!
And congratulations to Jone M, who won IN DEFENSE OF READ-ALOUD!
Continuing our celebration of poetry, here's another of my favorite poets.
Cynthia Cotten is a gentle writer. Her poetry sparkles like the water on a creek chanced upon during an early morning walk. Very gentle and soothing, and unexpected. Cynthia’s poetry, like all good poetry, is an emotional exchange.
The language of the poem, as Mary Oliver taught us, is the language of the particulars. And Cynthia’s language incorporates images that are at once tender and sensuous. Her rhythm twinkles, as in her Night Light
, and sometimes the rhythm pops like a good smirk, as in her Ack
But sometimes, just like that early morning creek, Cynthia's poems sends shivers up our spine, as in her poem, Missing
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
I know what you really are:
a blinking bug in flickering flight,
lighting up my yard tonight,
in the treetops, near the ground,
winking, flashing all around.
I watch you and I'm mystified--
how did you get that bulb inside?(from Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by G.Brian Karras. Candlewick Press, 2010
I always know just what to say.
The perfect words are there--
words that render others speechless,
uttered with such flair.
My comments are insightful,
my wit is unsurpassed.
Oh, yes, I know just what to say--
too bad the moment's passed.
(from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School - compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Pomelo Books, 2013
My brother is a soldier
in a hot, dry
missing things like
fishing, French fries,
flame-red maple trees,
I'm missing, too--
his read-out-loud voice,
his scuffed-up shoes
by the back door,
There are people
in that land of sand
who want to shoot
they miss him,
(from America at War - Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields...Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” -- Mary Oliver And don't forget our giveaway! Enter here to win an autographed copy of Paul's newest anthology, his 50th book, Death of a Hat, illustrated by Chris Raschka. You can enter between now and 4/22/15 (which just happens to be TeachingAuthors' 5th Blogiversary!)Bobbi Miller