Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, 2) by Jessica Spotswood, June 18, 2013. Published by Putnam Juvenile.
With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate's friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn't want to be a weapon, and she doesn't want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood's schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she'll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess's quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.
Why: The biggest reason I want Star Cursed is that I'm curious to see what is going to happen to Cate and her sisters, especially since I feel like the end of the last book may have left things quite unsettled.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Blog Tour

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar, 1) by Tad Williams, July 2, 2013. 441 pages. Published by DAW. Source: Publisher for honest review.
Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.

When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.
First Sentence:
I was just stepping out of the elevator on the 43rd floor of the Five Page Mill building when the alarms began going off-those nightmarish, clear-the-building kind like the screams of tortured robots-and I realized I’d pretty well lost any chance at the subtle approach. page 96

Story's End

Story's End (Storybound, 2) by Marissa Burt, April 2, 2013. 416 Pages. Published by HarperCollin's Childrens. Source: Library.
Long ago, a King ruled the land of Story. . . .

During his reign, Heroes, Villains, and characters of all kinds lived out new Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles.

Then the King disappeared, and over the years, nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed. Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story that he will control. And an ordinary girl named Una Fairchild is inextricably tangled up in his deadly plan.

Una and her friends Peter and Indy are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy. But Una soon discovers that the real key may lie in her own mysterious ties to Story's past—and to the long-forgotten King, who could be Story's only hope for survival.
First Sentence:
Una Fairchild rolled the freshly printed broadside into a tight scroll, tied a piece of twine around the center, and added it to the growing stack of parchment that was the result of an afternoon’s hard work.

Friday, August 23, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Claudia White (author of Aesop's Secret)


This week, I am very excited to welcome Claudia White, author of Aesop's Secret, to the my blog to talk about her book. I hope y'all will give her a warm welcome.

About the author:
I’ve been a day-dreamer all of my life.   Lucky I was since all our family holidays when I was a child involved long hours of driving with nothing to do but stare out at the passing landscape.   It wasn’t unusual for my Dad to map out a trip where we would travel at least six hours a day, seeing the sights and learning the history of the western US and Canada from our big comfy car. In those days we didn’t have portable video players or Gameboys. So there was not a lot to do except sleep or enjoy the scenery. As it was, I did enjoy the scenery but for a totally different reason than my parents had intended.  What I saw in the constantly changing landscape was the inspiration for stories—stories about horses galloping across the plains…stories about me, as a horse, galloping across the plains!  For me, it was like watching a movie only better because I determined where my adventures would go and who would be the hero.

You can haunt Claudia White at-
Goodreads | Website
Interview

Interview:
1.                  Could you tell us a little about Melinda and Felix's family history and how they're able to transform into animals?
Melinda and Felix are Athenites, a race of people that can transform into animals. The kids didn’t even know about the existence of Athenites beyond storybooks and fairytales, let alone that they were related to them until Melinda began to experience transformations. Their parents explain that their ancestors are the subject of myths and fables who throughout history have called upon animal strengths for survival, but that they are every bit as real as you or I. 
2.                  I think it will be interesting to see how differently both Felix and Melinda react to the news. Why do you think Felix would prefer to be normal? 
Like many siblings, Felix and Melinda are very different.  Felix is a no-nonsense kind of guy, more interested in the science behind phenomena than believing magic may have been at work.  While I did not model him after anyone in particular, Felix reminds me somewhat of what a 12-year-old Sheldon Cooper (of the Big Bang Theory) might have been like (although years ago when Felix was born out of my imagination, Dr. Sheldon Cooper was not on anyone’s radar). The only area of his life that Felix would enjoy being considered different is being known as the smartest kid in his class. Felix has never imagined himself changing into an animal; the thought of it disgusts him.
3.      What about their new found ability has Melinda willing to embrace it? 
Melinda’s personality is the absolute opposite of her brother’s.  She is a dreamer whose active imagination keeps her entertained.  She doesn’t care why something extraordinary has happened, she simply enjoys that it did.  For Melinda, being able to transform into any animal she chooses is literally a dream come true.  She is always fantasizing about becoming a horse, a squirrel, a bird, a tiger, a dolphin…any and all creatures in her imagination, which is sometimes problematic.  Transforming takes a great deal of concentration which Melinda often lacks.  However, what she lacks in concentration she makes up for in enthusiasm. 

4.                  Claudia, would you mind sharing with us why you chose to write a middle grade book?
I wanted to write for children for as long as I can remember.   Exploring all the what-ifs in life has always been a great pastime for me and weaving them into stories a passion. When I began writing Aesop’s Secret I knew that Melinda was ten and Felix was twelve.  Through their development, I met my audience. 

5.                  I hear the your imagination and love of myths helped inspire the story for Aesop's Secret, so, I was wondering if you would like to share with us your favorite myth? 

That’s a difficult one to answer because I have so many that I enjoy.  But if I have to choose just one then I would pick the myth of the Satyrs (or Fauns). Their love of nature and of music and dance puts them at the top of my list. Like many mythological creatures, Satyrs have held a fascination for writers through the ages like Puck in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and more recently Mr. Tumnus in C.S. The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe.  

 

6. Car trips, boy am I familiar with those (although, we more did long haul's with no sight seeing). Since you're  a veteran when it comes to car trips, could you share with us what made the trips fun for you?
I grew up in the west and our vacations were spent traveling by car all over the western US and Canada.  The scenery was spectacular but not in the way that it was for my parents.  For me it presented the perfect backdrop to invent stories.  I would imagine scenes using the landscape as my guide.  It was like watching a movie for me.  At that time westerns were a big thing so I often imagined adventures using that theme.  It suited me just fine because I loved horses and horses were a major part of every story.  What was great was that I was usually the star of my imagined movie, either riding the horse or actually becoming one. 

7. Alright, time for a question about...books. If you could step into any book and take the main characters role, which book would you jump into? Now the tough part, why that book and character?
Chocolat by Joanne Harris and I would be Vianne Rocher.   The book is one of my favorites.  I was captivated by the charm of Vianne, her mystical presence, her strength and energy, her kindness and wisdom.   I also love chocolate and good food plus I enjoy cooking.  The book was a treat to my senses in so many ways.  The way Harris developed her characters, showing their complicated relationships and the changes that Vianne inspired was brilliant.   
8.       The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 
I’d have to say Superman.  He’s got that flying thing going, can use his eyes like lasers, is super fast (faster than a speeding locomotive!), and can jump pretty high (higher than the tallest building in fact).  Plus, I think he’s done this kind of work before. 
9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?
I love my little cave, an office upstairs that I share with an occasional four footed visitor or two and a window for daydreaming.  The space   is filled with books, memorabilia and artwork that are constant reminders of places  I have traveled and cultures that I have had the privilege to encounter and gain understanding. 
10.      Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us?

Key to Kashdune, the second book in this series, will be released in the spring of 2014.  The story focuses once again on Melinda and Felix Hutton but is a totally new adventure which involves hieroglyphs that lead them on a musical adventure.  Key to Kashdune will be followed by Servalius Window whose release date is to be determined.  You can read more about each of these books on my website www.claudiawhitebooks.com.

Claudia, thank so much fro stopping by and answering some questions.

Aesop's Secret by Claudia White, May 28 2013. Published by MP Publishing.
Melinda and Felix Hutton are just an ordinary pair of siblings, until their parents confess that they have all inherited the talent of metamorphosis, a revelation that begins to unravel the children’s world. Ten-year-old Melinda embraces her Athenite heritage, but her efforts often end up leaving her freckled face attached to feathered body with a twitching rat’s tail. Her older brother Felix doesn’t greet this new reality as something to celebrate. Wishing he were normal, Felix resents becoming parts of the myths and fables he’s read. But there’s a threat rising just as the children are learning of their talents, and a powerful enemy will use every trick and tool he has to keep the family from letting slip the secret of their gifts. With only the help of Melinda’s pet rabbit Aesop, who has begun acting awfully strange lately, Felix and Melinda determinedly fight back against the suffocating grasp of those who want to drive the Huttons and their kind back underground.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Book Fiends Lucky Day: Giveaway

Thanks to a very lovely person at appliancesonline.co.uk and their love of books, one very lucky winner is going to receive a $50 Amazon voucher to spend on books. Now isn't that awesome!

Here are some suggestions on what you could get:

You could get the first three books in Ally Carters' amazing Gallagher Girls series in paperback. Don't forget, the final volume of this series comes out next month.

So, why is this one of recommendations, well, the answer is quite simple. Ally Carters Gallagher Girls series is one of the best young adult spy series that you will ever lay eyes upon. What makes this series so good is the way the story evolves throughout it and the the characters. Besides, who does not love a good spy novel.

Or you could get all three books in Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices. This is another series that I highly recommend.

I could not fail to mention Ms. Clare's Infernal devices series because she did such an amazing job of incorporating the Shadowhunter world into Victorian London.
Last, but not least, you could get the complete Divergent series by Veronica Roth...yet another wonderful series that I'm sure y'all will love.

While I may have only read Divergent, so far, the list just did not feel complete without it. Divergent was definitely one of the best dystopian books I've read because the world, plot, and characters made the genre feel all new again.

Again, this giveaway is all thanks to the awesome people over at appliancesonline.co.uk.

All you need to do to enter is tell me in the comments what you would buy should you be the lucky winner. I am dying to know what books you would spend the money on. Don't forget to fill out the Rafflecopter form as well.

Rules:
Open to residents of the US, Canada, and the UK.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins, May 14, 2013. Published by Disney Hyperion.
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?
Why: Because it is written by Rachel Hawkins and I loved her Hex Hall books (need I give any more reason then that).


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nobody's Secret

Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl, April 30, 2013. 241 pages. Published by Chronicle Books. Source: Publisher.
One day, fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a mysterious, handsome young man. Surprisingly, he doesn't seem to know who she or her family is. And even more surprisingly, he playfully refuses to divulge his name. Emily enjoys her secret flirtation with Mr. "Nobody" until he turns up dead in her family's pond. She's stricken with guilt. Only Emily can discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he's condemned to be buried in an anonymous grave. Her investigation takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, this novel celebrates Emily Dickinson's intellect and spunk in a page-turner of a book that will excite fans of mystery, romance, and poetry alike.
First Sentence:
Emily lay perfectly still, hidden in the tall grass, her eyes closed tight.

Friday, August 16, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview with Heather Gregson (author of A Dog of War)

This week for the All About Middle Grade Challenge, I am excited to welcome the author of A Dog of War, Heather Gregson, to the blog. I hope y'all will give her a warm welcome.

About the Author:

Heather Gregson began writing historical romance novels under a pseudonym. She moved into children’s writing with her upcoming debut middle grade historical fiction novel, A Dog of War.

Interview

1. Could you tell us why you chose to set A Dog of War during World War II? What was the hardest thing about using WWII as the setting for your book?

I was inspired to write A Dog of War and set in during WWII by my dog Chelsea and watching several documentaries about WWII. In one of the documentaries the Germans emptied a village and forced the people away. The villagers’ dogs went with them, tails wagging and trotting alongside their owners. I looked at my Chelsea who was sleeping on the couch and wondered what she would think if something like that happened here and A Dog of War started to take shape.

It was very hard to set they story during that time because it is such a horrible chapter in human history. Researching the story was actually painful and there were times I had to walk away and distance myself from what I had read or watched because the cruelty was too overwhelming. I had to walk a fine line between keeping the historical accuracy of the Holocaust while being age appropriate.

2. What part of Aaron and Tierza's story do you hope will touch readers’ hearts?

The love and devotion the two have for each other. They are what sustain each other through the darkest days.

3.  When a book features a member of the animal kingdom as the protagonist I'm always curious to know why, so, Heather, what made you want to tell the story from Tierza's point of view?

This has been the hardest question to answer. I never planned on telling a story from a dog’s point of view, but as I watched that documentary and looked at my Chelsea, I couldn't help but wonder what she would think if that happened here. She was such a sweet, gentle soul, I tried to imagine how she would have been able to understand what was happening or why.The more I thought about it, the more the story took shape.

For me, telling the story from Tierza’s point of view became the only way to tell the story. It needed her innocence and unwavering belief that as long as she and Aaron were together everything would be okay.

When I was querying the book, I had several agents say if I changed the story from Tierza’ point of view they would be interested, but I couldn't do it. Tierza’s point of view gave the book the emotional impact it needed.

4. What would you say are the pros and cons to be a writer? Anything about writing you love or hate?

I love being able to take an idea and turn it into a complete story and hearing that my story inspired someone. A friend told me while her grandson was reading A Dog of War he wanted to learn more about WWII, and each night after he read a chapter, he would sit with his parents and go over maps to see where the story was taking place and read history books about the war.

What I don’t like is the rejection. I know agents and publishers say not to take rejection personally but it’s hard. I put so much of myself in reading, researching, writing, editing and then get a quick “No, thanks” back. It stings.

Writer’s block in another big con. It is so frustrating to have the idea of what I want to write but I can’t put the words together. There are times I feel like a hamster in a wheel. Instead of running and getting nowhere,I’m thinking, thinking, thinking and not coming up with the words.

5. Today, I shall play mean interviewer and ask one of the most dreaded questions...what are two of your favorite books? What makes them your favorite?

1)      Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire-J.K. Rowling
2)      Dragonfly In Amber-Diana Gabaladon

These stories are so full and rich they weave a world that draws me so I feel like I’m sitting in the room watching the story happen not just reading them.

6. Everyone has (at least) one song that they considered to be their song. What would your song be?Why?

Ventura Highway-America It’s just the perfect song ever and is proof that a person should dance like no one is watching.

7. When working on books what are three things that you cannot live without? Why?

1)      Music-I love listening to all kinds.
2)      Free Cell- Have to have my Free Cell breaks
3)      Mahjong Titans-I don’t think of the time I spend playing as avoiding writing but allowing mymind to rest and creativity to wander.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose?

I always knew the Cybertronians would get here one day. Optimus Prime will save us.

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

I write in the living room with my laptop on a sliding tray. My parakeet TC is next to me and my Transformers are on top of the television.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us?


I have a new middle grade, Billy and the Gargoyles coming out August 22, 2013 from Writers Amuse Me and I’m currently writing my third middle-grade The Dragon Sword.

A Dog of War by Heather Gregson, November 22, 2012. Published by Writers AMuse Me.
Farm dog, Tierza, is devoted to her human boy, Aaron. Their idyllic life is interrupted when the German Army invades. Forced from their farm, Tierza accompanies her family to the Warsaw ghetto. Together with her boy, they try to live as normal a life as possible under terrible circumstances. For Tierza, all of that ends when her Aaron is taken by German soldiers and forced onto a train. Relentlessly, she follows the train tracks. During her journey, she meets different people and tries her best to aid them any way she can, but she never stays for long. Her love for her boy drives her onward to the end of the tracks and her boy's fate.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, 2) by Rae Carson, September 18, 2012. 410 pages. Published by Greenwillow Books. Source: Birthday Gift.
In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.
First Sentence:
My entourage of guards struggles to keep pace as I fly down the corridors of my palace.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Angel Isle (The Ropemaker, 2) by Peter Dickinson, October 9, 2007. Published by Wendy Lamb Books.
ONCE THE 24 MOST powerful magicians in the Empire pledged to use their magic only to protect the people. But the promise that bound them has now corrupted them. They have become a single terrible entity with a limitless desire for domination. Only the Ropemaker may be able to stop them, but he has not been seen for over 200 years. Into this dangerous world come Saranja, Maja, and Ribek. They seek the Ropemaker so that he might restore the ancient magic that protects their valley. It is the task they were born to, but now it seems there is far more than the valley at stake should they fail. . . .
Why: Okay, so The Ropemaker has long since been a favorite of mine and when I finally read Angel Isle I fell in love again with the world and the writing of Peter Dickinson. While I have already read Angel Isle, it is one that I have long wanted to add to my collection.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 12, 2013

ARC Review: Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish (Cuttlefish, 1) by Dave Freer, July 26, 2012. 299 pages. Published by PYR Books. Source: Publisher.
The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery and capture. Under flooded London’s canals they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty - the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no further than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power. 
First Sentence:
It was after midnight, and London’s lights shimmered on the waters that had once been her streets.

Friday, August 9, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Nikki Bennett (Author of Four Fiends)

This week I am very excited to welcome Nikki Bennett, author of Four Fiends, to the blog to discuss her book and answer some of my random questions (you know I sometimes come up with strange questions). I hope that y'all will give her a very warm welcome.

About the Author:
Nikki Bennett is an author and world traveler currently living in Japan. She loves traveling, and incorporates all the culture and folklore she can from the countries she visits into her stories.

Nikki has two books out right now. Her first book, FOUR FIENDS is a MG fantasy adventure and her newest book, MUKADE ISLAND is a YA adventure/fantasy (think Lord of the Flies meets LOST, it it was set on a different world!)

You can haunt Nikki Bennett at-
Goodreads | Website | Twitter |
 Interview

1.       Nikki, could you tell us a little about each of the four kids kidnapped by the Golden Dragon and tasked with finding the missing Guardians? 

The four kids are very different.  Pietro is from Italy and is kind of feisty and full of himself.  He likes to tell tall tales.  Kate is from America.  She’s very pretty and always thinks she’s right, but she’s lonely too.  Saburo, from Japan, walks with a limp and gets teased a lot.  He is troubled and angry, not very sure of himself, but has a kind, quiet spirit.  And Jinjing is from Hong Kong.  She is shy, awkward, and never seems to fit in, but by the end, she realizes she has the potential to become a leader, if she overcomes her fears.

2.       Books with quest that send the charcters in to uncharted territory is always interesting. Would mind sharing with us a little bit about the where Jinjing and them will be travelling through?

3.     The kids travel through different countries as they chase down the Four Fiends, but they travel through different times as well.  They find themselves in New Jersey during the Civil War, ancient China, a remote Polynesian island, and Greece in the time of the Gods, when the first human was just being created.  The reader also gets to explore modern day Japan, Italy and Hong Kong.

4.       I love that seeing an ordinary thing was the spark behind the idea for Four Fiends. Could you share with us how your visit to Hong Kong inspired Four Fiends?

There’s this cool escalator in Hong Kong that takes you up the steep streets.  It’s over a kilometer long, and is billed as the longest escalator in the world.  When we visited Hong Kong a few years ago, we rode it to the top, got off, wandered around, and ended up in this botanical park.  In the park, we came across this huge storm water drain—all paved with brick that made it look like a Gothic arch—and I just began dreaming of things that might live up that drain.  The Four Fiends story began there, and in the first chapter, Jinjing discovers the drain and finds something wonderful in it.

5.       As one who would love to travel the world, I am so jealous that you are currently living in Japan. What do you enjoy most about living in Japan?

Everything!  The people are amazing, the food is great, but what I like most is exploring the historical places—all the temples and castles and shrines.  There are so many stories to be discovered here, every time I visit a new place I want to write a story about it!
6.      
Since you like to travel, Nikki, could you tell us what has been your favorite place to visit in the last three years? What was so enjoyable about that place?

The Kingdom of Bhutan, in the Himalayas.  It was a magical place.  Besides having cars and cell phones, there is hardly any modernization there at all.  Almost nothing from the outside world—no McDonalds or Starbucks, no chain stores of any kind.  The hotels didn’t even have elevators—apparently when an elevator or escalator gets installed anywhere in that country, people come from all over to see it because it’s so unusual.  The people in that country were amazing and the monasteries and castles were just magical.

7.       what were the last three books you read and loved?

Since I have an indie book review blog, I’ve been reading a ton of indie books and haven’t had time for anything else.  A couple of these books really stand out in my mind—Penumbra, a YA fantasy by Samantha Bennett, Glimpse, by Steven Whibley and I Wish I May, by David Stahler, Jr. (the last two both middle grade.)  The last book I think I read that was mainstream was Life of Pi, which I also loved.

8.      Weirdest thing you ate while travelling?

I am such a wuss when it comes to trying new food.  It has taken me forever to get used to raw fish, and I still only like the salmon sushi, the other fish I haven’t been able to stomach yet.  Let’s see…weirdest thing I guess would be jellyfish, that was in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  And although I guess it isn’t too unusual, the goat bulgogi we found at this roadside shack in South Korea was pretty awesome.  In Japan, the weirdest thing I’ve eaten is a soup with teeny-tiny live fish still swimming around in it.

9.      The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 

Oh geez…can I just wuss out and say Harry Potter?  Helped out by Gandalf?

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

            My tatami room—the traditional room in a Japanese house with straw mats and paper screens (although our screens aren’t paper, they’re glass.)  I sit at our Japanese kotatsu table to write.  But, since I work on a laptop, so sometimes I end up in a couch in front of the TV too, and right now I’m writing the answers to this interview in bed because I’m too lazy to get out of it.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us? 

I have one other book, MUKADE ISLAND, that was published in July by Firedrake Books, it is a YA adventure/fantasy set on a deserted island.  Projects I’m currently working on: FROM THE MAGICAL MIND OF MINDY MUNSEN is a middle grade book about four kids who move to a house teeming with weird spirits.  I’ve just finished the rough draft for a fun middle grade book about ninjas (after we visited the Ninja Village and went to Ninja Training School near Kyoto last month, I had to write something about all the cool ninja things we did!) and I’m working on the sequel to MUKADE ISLAND.  I’m also going to have a sequel to FOUR FIENDS, but that’s still in development stages, although I know the kids will be traveling to Bhutan in it.


I’ve got a new website called World of Nikki (www.worldofnikki.com) where you can check out all my latest projects!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Nikki, and for answering all of my questions. Your answers about travelling have made me want to start travelling even more than before. 

Four Fiends by Nikki Bennett, January 23, 2013.
Jinjing, a socially awkward, insecure and fearful girl living in Hong Kong, is about as far from a brave hero as you can get. But when a legendary golden dragon pulls Jinjing and three other kids—dishonest Pietro from Italy, moody Saburo from Japan and overconfident Kate from America--into another dimension, Jinjing discovers courage and strength she never knew she possessed.

A group of horrible monsters—the Four Fiends—have kidnapped the Earth’s Guardians. These ancient creatures protect the world from harm, and while they’re missing, life on Earth will spiral into chaos. The Golden Dragon tasks Jinjing and her new friends to find the Fiends and rescue the Guardians.

Now, Jinjing must unlock the courage hidden deep inside and lead the others through faraway lands in their quest to confront the Fiends. Can they pull together and save the Guardians? Or will their personal struggles overwhelm their combined strengths and doom the world?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, March 27, 2012. Published by Shadow Mountain.
Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.
From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will she be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.
Why: Alright, so Edenbrooke is one that I have already read (and reviewed) and also one that I much enjoyed which is why I'm wishing for it this week. I really enjoyed how clean the entire book was and that I did not once have to worry about skipping past things. In a nutshell that is why I've included it this week in my post.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Toadhouse Trilogy Book One

The Toadhouse Triliogy (book 1) by Jess Lourey, July 17, 2012. 300 pages. Published by Toadhouse Books. Source: Author for review.
Aine (pronounced "Aw-nee") believes herself to be a regular teenager in 1930s Alabama, but when a blue-eyed monster named Biblos attacks, she discovers that the reclusive woman raising her isn't really her grandmother and that she's been living inside a book for the past five years. With her blind brother, Spenser, she flees the pages of the novel she's called home, one terrifying step ahead of Biblos' black magic. Her only chance at survival lies in beating him to the three objects that he desires more than life.

As she undertakes her strange and dangerous odyssey, Aine must choose between a family she doesn't remember and her growing attraction to a mysterious young man named Gilgamesh. Only through treacherous adventures into The Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, and the epic Indian saga The Ramayana will she learn her true heritage and restore the balance of the worlds... if she can stay alive.
First Sentence:
The sky is the color of blueberries and cream.

The Monster Within by Kelly Hashway: Cover Reveal

Guys, I am really excited to help reveal the awesome cover for The Monster Within by Kelly Hashway. Hope y'all will enjoy seeing this one and hearing what the book is about.

About the author:
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. Poems, short stories, and now finally full-length novels. I've always loved books. Reading is a thing of magic. It has allowed me to enter into worlds I never would have known. I've cried, laughed, and been scared right alongside my favorite characters. And my hope is that one day kids will do the same for my characters. I want kids to see that reading is one of the greatest gifts.

My full-length middle grade and young adult works are represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management.

You can haunt Kelly Hashway at-
Goodreads | Website | Twitter
The Monster Within by Kelly Hashway, April 7, 2014. Published by Spencer Hill Press.
The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side--a completely unfair shot at life.
            But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.
            She's now a monster that drains others' lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.
            But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.
Don't forget to add Kelly Hashway's The Monster Within to your Goodreads shelves. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview with Mary G. Thompson (Author of Escape from the Pipe Men!)

I am very excited to welcome Mary G. Thompson, the author of Escape from the Pipe Men!, to my blog to talk about her book and other cool things. Hope y'all will give her a very warm welcome.

About the author:
Mary G. Thompson was raised in Cottage Grove and Eugene, OR. She was a practicing attorney for more than 7 years, including almost 5 years in the U.S. Navy, before moving to New York to write full time. She received her BA from Boston University, her JD from the University of Oregon, and her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School.

You can haunt Mary G. Thompson at-
Webiste | Goodreads | Twitter |

Interview

1. In seven words, could you introduce readers to Ryan, the main character in Escape from the Pipe Men

Like most kids raised in a zoo.

2. So, how did Ryan and his sister wind up in an intergalatic zoo?

One day when Ryan was little, the Pipe Men were exploring the universe and popped into Ryan’s house through a portal. The Pipe Men offered to take care of them and teach them all about the universe. They convinced Ryan’s parents that the family was lucky to be chosen as zoo people. Of course, later they start to wonder …

3. Why did you choose to write a middle grade space-travel adventure? What part of the setting for Escape from the Pipe Men did you enjoy creating the most?

I wanted to write a space travel adventure because I wanted to create a bunch of weird aliens! I love that in books aliens can look like anything, unlike on TV, where all the aliens have to basically look like people. Also, portals and spaceships are really cool. There’s nothing I’d like to do more than travel through space, so I’m living vicariously through my characters! My favorite setting in the book is actually Earth. There’s a scene near the beginning where the kids have to go out on Earth even though they don’t know much about it. What would Earth be like if you were used to a planet with different weather and different technology? How would you feel about humans if you’d never been around them?

4. Mary, I hear that you were a practicing attorney for over five years, what did you enjoy most about being an attorney?

I loved being in court and thinking on my feet.

5. Would you mind sharing with us why you chose to switch professions to become a writer? 

For some reason, I decided I wanted to write at the same time as I started law school. Once I finished school I started actually doing it, and soon it took over more and more of my brain, until I wanted to spend as much time on it as possible. It was hard to do as much writing as I wanted while I was working as a lawyer, so I decided to take some time off and come to New York to get my MFA in Writing for Children.

6. If you could pick any character from any book and were given the opportunity to change what happened to them, which character's story would you change?

Piggy lives and saves the day.

7. What was the last book that kept you reading late into the night? What about it made it hard to put down?

Recently I’ve been catching up on the William Sleator books that I missed as a kid. I recently read Singularity and loved it. It starts out as a simple book about a weird occurrence and takes a turn toward introspection. It turned out to be a lot more thought provoking than I expected at first, which I love. It shows how science fiction can explore truths that realistic fiction can’t get to.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 

Hermione. Always choose Hermione.

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

Well, I live in a tiny New York City Apartment, so cave is the appropriate word. My computer desk is also my kitchen table and my office is also my living room. Everything is piled high with books and magazines and random papers. Everything revolves around King iMac.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can share with us? 

My next book will be Evil Fairies Love Hair. It’s about a town where ravenous hair-eating fairies grant kids’ wishes. Look for it next August!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Mary. Escape from the Pipe Men! sounds like such a great read. And yes, Hermione would probably be able to save the world from a robot invasion (she's one sharp cookie). 

Escape from the Pipe Men!Escape from the Pipe Men! by Mary G. Thompson, June 11, 2013. Published by Clarion Books.
Thirteen-year-old Ryan Hawthorn has spent his life on display as a human exhibit in the multi-eyed Pipe Men’s intergalactic zoo. When his father is accidentally poisoned, it’s up to Ryan and his seven-year-old sister, Becky, to scour the universe for the antidote. Along the way, they encounter many strange creatures—from the doglike Hottini to the spindly-legged, hairy Xaxor—and learn that the Pipe Men (or, as Becky calls them, “overgrown drainpipes”) are not kindly overlords, as they had been led to believe. It's not only the humans who are planning to rebel! A wildly imaginative middle grade space-travel adventure.


Are you a middle grade author, want your book to be spotlighted this year during the challenge on my blog? Than this post is just for you. All about Middle Grade Challenge

Sign up for the 2014 All about Middle Grade Reading Challenge.

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