Friday, May 30, 2014

[Blog Tour Review/Giveaway] The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw


The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw (League of Princes, 3) by Christopher Healy, April 29, 2014. 516 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: publisher.
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. The Princes Charming, along with Ella, Snow, Rapunzel, and Princess Lila are caught and arrested for the murder of Briar Rose. The heroes are simultaneously shocked and sad to hear of this news. But a series of suspicious events leads them to believe that not only is Briar still alive, but some unseen evil is working its way into the throne rooms of all thirteen kingdoms. It’s up to the League to break out of prison, find Briar, and uncover the nefarious plot before the entire country is destroyed.
First Sentence:
Outlaws have too many feathers in their hats.


It is hard to believe that Christopher Healy's League of Princes series has come to an end. While I will be sad to say goodbye to the world, characters and just general awesomeness of the series, I am happy to say that the final book was a great way to close things out.

Secretly, when I first started this Christopher Healy's League of Princes I was hoping that they'd have a run in with pirates. I don't know why I thought it would be awesome coming from him, but I'm so glad that the final book had some swashbuckling adventuring. I'm thinking he read my mind when writing this one up. So, what makes The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw such a good book, well, the first answer would be the writing. I really enjoyed the mix of danger and humor that Christopher Healy so easily blends within his books. Also, the stories themselves, that of the princes trying to save the day and be recognized for their heroics makes for some interesting reading.

While I have enjoyed reading about all of the princes within the league, Prince Gustav came out as my favorite in the end. From the beginning you have this angry, angry guy who always wanted to pound things, but as the book progressed you get to see him slightly change and become more able to express himself-though I do love that he is still the same hit em' hard first kind of character because it's so him.
   That aside, I thought Christopher Healy did an incredible job taking these pretty blank canvasses and giving them all whole new look and feel for readers. I really enjoyed the wide variety of personalities that he bestowed upon this rag-tag group and how each character evolved throughout the three books. Seriously though, the characters and writing have been two of my favorite things about this series.

Again, I am saddened to be saying Auf Wiedersehen to Duncan, Liam, Frederick, Gustave, and the whole gang in the League of Princes, but, at least they go out in high fashion with one swashbuckling adventure with the heroes on the lam. Most definitely a series ender to put before your face as soon as possible...like after reading the first two books.
   So, was there anything that disappointed me in the ending, other than not being ready to let go. Well, I would be lying if I failed to mention this but...I thought the book could have used more Briar Rose! I know she's hard to get along with but she brought such an interesting spin to the series and I would've liked to see more about her story from Mr. Healy's imagination. All in all, a great, fun read for all.

Final Verdict: The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw- A madly entertaining way to close out the Princes' Charming saga.

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw earns




About the author:
Christopher Healy is the author of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, which the New York Times selected as one of its best books of the year, calling it “charming—a qurest that recalls at moments the Musketeers and at others the Marxes”; as well as its sequel, The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle, which Publishers Weekly hailed as “uproariously funny” in a starred review. He is also a reviewer of children’s media. Chris lives with his wife and two children in New Jersey. You can find him online at www.christopherhealy.com

you can haunt Christopher Healy at-
Website | Twitter | FB | Goodreads |

You can follow all things Walden Pond Press via-
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Giveaway:
Open to residents of the US.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle



The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle (League of Princes, 2) by Christopher Healy, April 30, 2013. 477 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: publisher
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming, who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses--Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose--to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms.

But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening--even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.

Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination--it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes.
First Sentence:
A true hero plays the flute.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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!

[Blog Tour Review] Uncovering Cobbogoth


Uncovering Cobbogoth (Cobbogoth, 1) by Hannah L. Clark, illustrated by Rebekah G. Shakespear, May 13, 2014. 288 pages. Published by Cedar Fort Publishing and Media. Source: blog tour.
Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister.

When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own.
First Sentence:
Long ago, at the beginning of time, a peculiar race ruled the earth.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Young Adult Review: The Caged Graves

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni, May 14, 2013. 329 pages. Published by Clarion Books. Source: library.
17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.
First Sentence:
Even facing probably death, Private Silas Clayton couldn't stop thinking about that leather satchel.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Catholic Review: Three Gifts of Thérèse of Lisieux

Three Gifts of Thérèse de Lisieux: A Saint for Our Times by Patrick Ahearn, January 1, 2014. 128 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books/publisher.
Transformation in our lives happens when we live with the confidence that "God is nothing but mercy and love.” In this inspiring book, beloved author Patrick Ahern looks at the teachings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, through the lens of his own personal experiences in which this  "saint for our times" played such an important role for more than seventy years.  With honesty and humility, he delves into the transformational love that infused her faith, led her to be named one of only four female Doctors of the Catholic Church, and gave Ahern’s own journey direction and meaning.

Ahern focuses on what he calls the three gifts of Thérèse:  her universal appeal, her conviction, and her little way. Echoing Therese’s recognition that bureaucracy, penances, rules and commandments miss the message of love that she knew to be true, he says, "She convinced me that someone as ordinary as I could aspire to the love of God, which filled her heart to overflowing." He hopes the same for his readers.

Friday, May 23, 2014

All About Middle Grade Interview: J.J. Parsons (Author of Dead Chest Island)


This week, I am very excited to welcome J.J. Parsons, author of Dead Chest Island, to the blog to answer all the questions-from her favorite line in the book to who she believes would be able to save the world from robots.

About the Author:
Growing up in the generation that sought enlightenment and then invented the Internet, J. J. Parsons writes from a crazy quilt of experiences that include earning an elementary education teaching degree in math-science, studying with famous yoga gurus, teaching college-level Computer Science, and authoring best-selling technology textbooks. After living in the Virgin Islands for twenty years, the author now lives on a picturesque street in Savannah that’s shaded by huge live-oak trees and wisps of Spanish moss.

You can haunt J.J. Parsons at-
 WebsiteGoodreads |


Interview

In three words tell us about Dead Chest Island.
      Adventure, adventure, adventure!
       
    Why do you think readers will enjoy reading about Edison's adventures?
Readers will love the non-stop action. An earthquake, a clue on an old piece of whale bone, a pirate story, “borrowing” a rickety wooden boat, castaway on one island, marooned on another island, outrunning a tidal wave, caught in an underwater tunnel, exploring an underground cave, discovering dolphinbots, finding a mysterious crystal, outwitting a band of spies, and more.

    What did you enjoy most when it came to writing Edison's story?
I had so much fun with the characters that Edison and Charlotte meet. There’s Jonathan, the boy who walks backwards. Margarita Fate who hypnotizes chickens. Kelly a beatnik beach bum with a head full of dreads. The guy Edison calls Mr. Tonka Truck, and a spy who could be a reincarnation of Natasha Fatale.

    What was hardest chapter to write in Dead Chest Island?
The first chapter. I rewrote it countless times. There was so much I wanted to get into that chapter; the characters, the setting, the time period, and so on. And, I wanted to get readers interested starting with the first sentence. So, the book begins with a couple of scary chickens, which is cool because on Caribbean islands there are chickens everywhere; Wandering about from yard to yard, roosting on dumpsters, and holding up traffic on major roads. The book starts and ends with chickens, who, of course, are tied to the outlandish voodoo woman, Margarita Fate.

The chapter in which Charlotte meets Jonathan was also difficult. There is a bit of tension between Charlotte and Jonathan. Unknown to readers, Jonathan is the first dark-skinned person she has met directly. Remember that this story takes place in the 1950s. Charlotte has been told that “skin color doesn’t matter,” but she has never been in a situation where she had to act on it. She is a bit confused and nervous. In the first drafts of the book, I wrote the issue in explicitly, but later decided that it detracted from the story. The issue still weaves within the text in subtle ways, which is perhaps a modern reflection on discrimination. Teachers and parents who wish to make it a point of discussion can find supporting passages in the text.
 
    Can you share with us a two-sentence teaser from your favorite chapter?

Charlotte didn’t hesitate, slow down, or stop. She continued running at top speed and hurled herself at the nearest boulder scrabbling for handholds. Her feet slipped on the steep rock face and she slid back down to the sand.
“Give me a boost,” she yelled while running to her right, half jumping, half climbing every few feet in desperation. Edison and Jonathan followed her while scanning the cliff face for any path to reach higher ground.
Charlotte suddenly disappeared behind a massive boulder the size and shape of a refrigerator. They heard her screech just before she reappeared pelting toward them at top speed as a bat swooped over her head. Edison and Jonathan caught her
before she ran back out to the boat.
“Wrong way,” said Jonathan, spinning her back toward the rocks.
“We’re trapped,” sobbed Charlotte hysterically. “We’re going to die.”
Jonathan shook her. “Stop it,” he commanded, but Charlotte crumpled on the sand wailing “I wish we’d never come here.”

    One of the craziest things Edison and Co. will encounter throughout their adventure?
Edison, Charlotte, and Jonathan are marooned on an island. They build a huge bonfire on the beach and get kind of crazy dancing around and singing silly songs. Charlotte makes a fire baton and does some wild stuff, tossing it and catching it behind her back. Suddenly, they stop. This is what they saw:
 “A tall figure stood quietly in the shadows on the beach. How long it had been there, was impossible to tell. It had two legs and two arms. Human-like. But where its head should be, there looked to be a wiggling, hissing mass of dark serpents.”

    Finish-the-sentence: 

"In middle school I was really good at ART; and my least favorite subject was SPELLING?"

    What was the last middle grade book that blew you away and why you enjoyed it?
I recently read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a story about two children who sneak away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sleeping in the exhibits and scavenging coins from the fountain to buy food. What blew me away was the realization that this seemingly outlandish adventure was plausible—at least when it was written in 1967.

    If you could visit any fictional world for one day which would it be and why?
At the risk of sounding conventional, it would have to be the Shire. I think I’m not too tall to fit in a hobbit house, and I could do with Gandalf’s spectacular fireworks displays.

·   The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, whom do you choose? 
I would choose Watson, the IBM computer famous for beating Gary Kasparov at chess. A robot invasion would call for fighting fire with fire, so I’d set a computer artificial intelligence to the task.

    Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?
Hah! That’s exactly what it is—a cave. The floor is old brick and the window is shuttered to keep out the glare. A single overhead tube provides light, but I have a big, big screen and a comfy lime green chair.

·      Any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
Edison led me to the Reading With Eyes Shut project, which is all about reluctant readers. As a writer, I’m always encouraging kids to read—they are our future readers, after all—but there are lots of reasons why some children never develop a love of stories and books (regardless of whether they’re print or digital). RWES offers stories on digital devices in a mixed-media format that helps readers visualize by closing their eyes and listening before they read a page of text. There’s a blog about it here: http://bit.ly/RRHY31 and there is a sample story here: http://www.edisonjones.com/pub/samuelpirates/content/page1.htm.


J.J, Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting about your book, Dead Chest Island

Alright guys, what do y'all think of J.J. Parsons choice on who'll save the world from a robot invasion? Plausible or now, you tell me. 



Dead Chest Island (Secrets Begin,1) by J.J. Parsons, December 5, 2013.
Sitting beside a smokey fire, Edison and his new friend Jonathan hear a curious tale of pirates and a cabin boy who is swept into an underwater tunnel on Dead Chest Island. Is the tunnel really there and where does it lead? Edison and Jonathan concoct a crazy scheme to borrow a boat and search for the tunnel. Edison’s loudmouth sister is a vexing last-minute participant in the quest. They set off on a sunny Caribbean afternoon, planning to return in time for supper. But the motor sputters and dies, triggering an amazing chain of events. Find out how the three adventurers deal with a treacherous tidal wave, shadowy dolphinbots, puzzling petroglyphs, a mysterious crystal, and a seriously evil band of spies. Are you ready to expand your reading horizons beyond sorcerers and vampires? Dead Chest Island is perfect for adventurous girls, boys, and dolphins ages 8-12 who are fascinated by the "secrets" of science and the "magic" of technology.

Don't forget, you can add Dead Chest Island by J.J. Parsons to your Goodreads shelves. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Summer Sacrifice by Holly Hinton (Cover Reveal).


summerreveal (1)

Today we are excited to share the cover process via images and the final cover for the middle grade fantasy The Summer Sacrifice by Holly Hinton.  The book is scheduled for release on June 21st, 2014.
The cover artist has provided us with the images to show the process of creating the cover.
Thumbnails-a-b-c small
 These three concept images were the first pictures David created for The Summer Sacrifice. Thumbnail A evoked the atmosphere of a mysterious fantasy, B gave the impression of a teenage classic, and C was more poetic in tone. Holly settled on a mixture of A and B as the basis for David to start constructing the final cover.
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These drawings were 'speed-painted' by David. They are rough in nature as their purpose was to help decide the cover's general colour scheme.
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David drew a detailed sketch of the friendship group. He used this as a guide for the final painting of the group on the cover. He kept the 'camera' low, almost on the floor, to make the characters look more heroic and the serpent bonfire bigger. He worked to get a sense of wind into the image to give it an outdoor feeling and to add dynamism, and also to break up the composition's symmetry.
06-work-in-progress-detail
David paid great attention to working out the many light sources in the painting, and particularly how they would interact with the faces and bodies of the five central characters. There is a strong backlight from the fire, a mix of bounced lights from the environment, and diffuse bluish light from the sky.
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This version of the cover is close to the final one. The serpent and the title still required small changes, and David also did some other general polishing, including painting the moon's glow onto the vines and leaves framing the picture, and adding the stars.
Screenshot
This screenshot shows the front, back and spine of the cover from inside Krita, the open-source software David uses to create his work.
The-Summer-Sacrifice Paperback_export
The final cover for the paperback.
The-Summer-Sacrifice_cover
The final cover for the ebook.

Book Description: Three hundred years ago, the Great Goddess sent a storm to destroy mankind. She nearly succeeded. One island survived. These days, the Goddess stops the spread of evil by sacrificing the Island’s rotten teenage souls. Or so the story goes... . When Jamie Tuff survives her Taking, she thinks her worst nightmares are behind her. But then her soul starts wandering into other people’s bodies, and she discovers that the Island harbours a deadly secret. Now, she must save her little world from a fate worse than—well, worse than what the Goddess has already done to it. Join Jamie Tuff and friends on their adventures through land, sea and sky, in a world where stars walk and Halfhawks fly.


About the Cover Designer:
David Revoy (nickname Deevad), is a french artist living in the south of France.  He has more than 10 years of experience working remotely as a freelancer. His skills and expertise includes illustrationart-directionconcept-art and teaching. In short: he's a 2D artist (he uses drawing, painting, digital painting techniques) and paints custom artworks for books, posters, board-games, video-games and movies. His clients are located all around the world.
Since 2009 he has painted using only free and open-source software. He uses Krita, Mypaint, and Gimp on Linux. This technical choice doesn't affect compatibility with his clients: he still provides industry standards and can work or open any regular files.
He can be followed on Google+TwitterTumblr or deviantArt.
;
About the Author:

hollyHolly grew up in a small, sleepy village in Suffolk. The acting bug hit her at age nine, when she was asked to play Baboushka in the school nativity. That same year she played the lead role of a naughty black poodle in a pet parlour themed ballet, and she thought she had made it. Years passed, but the acting bug didn’t. She went to Goldsmiths, University of London to study Drama, after which she completed her actor training at Arts Ed.
Writing a book was never part of the plan. But life’s full of swerves and surprises and ideas dropping into people’s heads. Holly had an idea drop into hers, and that idea became The Summer Sacrifice, and The Summer Sacrifice became the first book of the Master Game Series.


For more information please visit:  http://www.hollyhinton.com/
Goodreads | Facebook | Tumblr | Twitter | Pinterest


This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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, May 19, 2014

A Vintage Reads Review: Deception


Deception (Lady Grace Mysteries, 4) by Grace Cavendish, September 13, 2005. 224 pages. Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Source: Library.
Queen Elizabeth is furious at the production delays of her new coin. To escape her bad temper, Lady Grace and her fellow Maids of Honour skate down the frozen River Thames to the eagerly anticipated Frost Fair. But a gruesome discovery on the ice–a dead man with coins covering his eyes–interrupts the winter revelry. As the Queen’s Lady Pursuivant, Grace must unravel the mystery.
Uncover a dangerous world of counterfeiting and corruption inside the private daybooke of Lady Grace, the queen’s favorite Maid of Honour.
All miscreants and ill-thinkers, keep out! The Lady Grace Mysteries come to us from the most privy and secret daybooke of Lady Grace Cavendish, Maid of Honour to her Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I of that name.
First Sentence:
I have a new daybooke and I cannot wait to begin writing in it!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Interview with Nicole Conway (Author of Fledgling) [blog tour stop 24]

This week, I am excited to welcome Nicole Conway, author of Fledgling, to the blog to answer some questions about her book and three things about her. Now onto my interview with Nicole Conway and the 24th stop on the blog tour. You can catch up on the previous tour stops -> here <- .="" p="">
About the Author:

Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.

Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.

 She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.

Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.

In the past I have written and published paranormal romance novels, but my heart is in children's literature, specifically middle-grade fantasy. I'm currently working on a MG fantasy series titled THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, which is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Council. from her website)

You can haunt Nicole Conway at-
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | FB | G+ |


Interview


1. In five words, introduce readers to Fledgling?

Dragonriders.
Elves.
War.
Conspiracy.
Adventure.

2. Can you tell us a little about Jaevid and his story? What did you enjoy most when it came to writing about him?

Picture a heroic, sword-wielding knight, dressed in gleaming armor, and riding a dragon valiantly into the flames of combat—well, Jaevid is pretty much the completely opposite of that at the beginning of Fledgling. He’s small, puny, shy, and usually unsure of himself. Even at 15, he’s still very much a child. Lucky for him, the wild dragon that chooses him as a rider can sense that there is much more to Jaevid than meets the eye. He has the potential for greatness, but only training in Blybrig Academy for Dragonriders can mold him into someone worthy of being called a hero. That’s what I love the most about this story, and what has been the most fun to work with while writing the series. Jaevid’s evolution from boyhood to manhood is very difficult for him. He wasn’t born to be brave, he was trained to be that way, and the readers get to witness that change in him as the story moves forward. He goes from cowering under the boots of his enemies, to standing fearlessly in their faces for the sake of his friends. It’s a beautiful thing, and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I have.

3. Why dragons and dragonriders?

Why not? Dragons are awesome! Seriously, though, I have always wanted to write about both. Others have written plenty of literature about dragonriders, but I wanted my take on them to be different. I wanted it to be distinctly militaristic because that is their purpose in the book. They are a force for the king, trained for battle, and intended to be an elite core where only the strongest need apply. I find the notion of a dragonriding knight about as romantic as it can possibly get, and giving people the opportunity to see a side of a soldier’s struggle that isn’t usually revealed was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.

4. What chapter was the hardest to write in Fledging and why? Can you share with us a two sentence teaser from it?

“Get up, Jae.” Felix growled down at me. “I can’t take them all by myself.”

Chapter 10 is, by far, my favorite—but it was a challenge to write. Jaevid and Felix are the two most important characters not just in this book, but also in the whole series. Everything hinges on their relationship and their understanding of one another. In chapter 10, their friendship finally starts to truly take root as they get in their first real fight. They start trusting each other at this point, so it was critical to get it right.

When writing from a boy’s perspective, it was a delicate balancing act for me to write a scene so high in emotion without expression too much. After all, men have their own, completely different language when it comes to communicating that kind of thing to one another. And while Jaevid is far from being a man at this point in the series, I wanted to express his childish vulnerability without making him seem too “girly.”

5. Since your book, Fledgling, features dragons can you share with us three of your favorite books that have dragons in them?

My favorite dragon book of all time is Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville. It was my favorite book when I was little, and definitely has influenced me to want to write about dragons. Next, Dragon Weather by Lawrence Watt-Evans is absolutely brilliant, and it was a take on dragons I had never imagined before. I love an underdog, and this book delivers one of the most interesting plots I have ever come across! Lastly, I can’t think about dragons without thinking about The Hobbit. My mom used to read this book to me when I was little, and it is still a favorite of mine. Smaug will live on in infamy as one of the most famous dragons in literature!

6. Three things: Something that you’re bad at; something you love to do; and something you wish you could do?

I’m really awful at math. Anything that requires more than basic math skills might as well be in Chinese. I definitely do not need to ever be responsible for doing any critical, life-saving calculus problems.

I love to learn languages, though. I have a natural aptitude for picking up on them, but never really had the chance to invest time in it until after college. However, I did take Latin for 8 years (through high school and college). Now, I’m learning Japanese!

I wish I could acquire a really good costume for Elsa or Rapunzel from the Disney movies and go around to various children’s hospitals and spend time with the kids and sing the songs with them. I’m sure there are lots of those little kids who wish they could go to Disney World and meet their favorite princesses, but can’t because of their health. So I’d love to bring them it to them!

7. From any book you've read, pick one character that you think is most like you? Why do you think y'all are similar?

Oh boy. Well, there’s a reason I’ve dressed like Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson and the Olympians for the past few Halloweens. She is my book-twin! I have long wavy blonde hair, an affinity for design, am a bit of a smart-aleck, and no one is allowed to judo-throw my husband except me. ;)

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

Well, not to be repetitive, but it sounds like a problem Leo Valdez from the Percy Jackson series could solve. After all, robots are kind of his thing! He might accidentally blow a few things up or set them on fire, but I think he’d get it under control just in time.

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

My writing cave has to be mobile because I tend to write whenever I can find a spare minute. I have a tablet that I carry around in my purse for writing on the go, or whenever I get a chance to park myself at Starbucks. However, when I do get to sit down at home, I usually go in the guest bedroom which has sort of become my “office.” I have a little desk, but usually I spread my stuff out on the bed. I keep my collection of manga and regular books in there, too, along with some of my old action figures and trinkets I’ve collected on my travels around the world. It’s usually very tidy, because I’m an obsessively neat person when it comes to my home. I’m never alone in there, though. I have two cats who are more than happy to lay on whatever I’m trying to do.

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


I’m hard at work on multiple projects, at the moment. I just finished Fledgling’s sequel, Avian, which will be out this August. I’m working on the third and final book in the series now. I’m also plotting out a new series which will be a YA modern fantasy. It’s already making me excited just jotting down ideas. I’ve always wanted to put my own twist on fairies, and this story seems to be coming together beautifully. I can’t wait to get started on it!

Nicole, thank you so much for stopping by to talk about Fledgling. Probably my favorite answer of yours would have to be to part 3 of question 6!!!


For those who have been following the tour's scavenger hunt, it is time for you to find the hidden word for the 24th stop here at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia.

We talked about dragons and knights all the way to the property line. Then I gave her a hug, and she kissed my cheek like her mom did, and we parted ways. I walked a few feet into the dark before I stopped and looked back, watching her disappear into the gloom and thorny shrubs. She was the best friend I had—my only friend really, and sooner or later, she’d have to leave me behind. She’d outgrow me. She’d get tired of having to stick up for me all the time.



Fledgling (Dragonrider Chronicles, 1) by Nicole Conway, April 29, 2014. Published by Month 9 Books.
Can one boy stand between two kingdoms at war?
Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

Everything Jaevid learned at the academy will now be put to the ultimate test.

You can add Fledgling to your Goodreads shelf.
 You can purchase a copy of Fledgling at-
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo!



Giveaway Information:  Winner will be drawn May 31, 2014

·         Four (4) winners will receive an ebook copy of Fledgling by Nicole Conway (INT)

·         Five (5) winners will receive a paperback copy of Fledgling by Nicole Conway (US/Canada)

·         One (1) winner will receive an ebook copy of Fledgling by Nicole Conway AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card or B&N Gift Card – Winner’s Choice (INT)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer


Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer by William Summerhouse, May 19, 2014. 274 pages. Published by Shake-A-Leg Press. Source: author.
Eleven-year-old Orion lives with his stodgy grandfather in eastern Maine, where nothing exciting ever happens. But then a series of strange events draws him into the mystery of a lost explorer, and Orion is swept up in a whirlwind of adventure that takes him to the top of the world. To survive he must outwit a scheming treasure hunter, team up with a gang of flimps, and take on a tyrant with an anger management problem. Can Orion solve the mystery and get back home alive? And just what are flimps, anyway?

Orion Poe is about to find out. Join him as he laughs, cries, bluffs, and shoots his way to the heart of one of the greatest mysteries in the history of exploration. Along the way he discovers that the world is far bigger—and stranger—than he ever imagined.
First Sentence:
If you read what Mr. Lumpkin wrote in the newspaper about my adventure at the top of the world, you only got half the story.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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!


This week's teaser is taking from Conspiracy by Grace Cavendish and Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky. Enjoy.

Conspiracy (Lady Grace Cavendish, 3) by Grace Cavendish (my review):
I was staring ahead at the Queen, trying to do the same as her, when suddenly I saw that there was something wrong with the way the Queen was sitting. It seemed as if she wasn't as erect as she usually is. page 50

The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky (my review):
The other children, who Vince believed should thrive on hope as well-in a place such as this, what else was there?-seemed to do anything but that. From day one, it appeared to him that they were content with where they were, with no real expectations of ever leaving the orphanage. page 2 

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Vintage Reads Review: Conspiracy


Conspiracy (Lady Grace Mysteries, 3) by Grace Cavendish, February 8, 2005. 208 pages. Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Source: Library.
The Royal Court is on its summer travels and Lady Grace is sure something strange is going on. As Queen Elizabeth narrowly escapes a series of mysterious accidents, Grace must investigate just who might be behind the conspiracy. Could it really be one of the Queen’s faithful friends—or even her latest suitor?

Delve into the daybooke of Lady Grace, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite Maid of Honor, to discover a deadly dangerous plot.
First Sentence:
We are just making ready to leave Oxey Hall.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

All Dolled Up



As you've probably noticed, the blog is all dolled up in it's new design. While it has been maybe four months since I changed it for the first time in five years, yes, I sometimes move slow when it comes to changes, I have been looking for a new look that, in my opinion, would better fit my blog.  Well, after months of fiddling around and rejecting many different designs I have settled on this one. Which I plan on keeping for quite sometime.

This image perfectly fits my thoughts on the blog with the new look.

While I'm still tweaking some of the finer details, such as fonts and colors, the transition to the new from the old is pretty much complete. Please, let me know if any of the texts are hard to read due to color or size. I want everyone to feel comfortable when visiting the blog and to read with ease.

I would love to know what y'all think of the new look.

Catholic Review: St. Peter's Bones

St. Peter's Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found . . . and Then Lost and Found Again by Thomas J. Craughwell, January 14, 2014. 144 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books/publisher.
An exciting and fascinating account of the search for the remains of the world's first pope, none other than Peter, the apostle of Jesus.
In 1448 a team of architects and engineers brought Pope Nicholas V unhappy news: the 1100-year-old Basilica of St. Peter suffered from so many structural defects that it was beyond repair. The only solution was to pull down the old church-one of the most venerable churches in Christendom-and erect a new basilica on the site. Incredibly, one of the tombs the builders paved over was the resting place of St. Peter.

Then in 1939, while working underground in the Vatican, one workman's shovel struck not dirt or rock but open air. The diggers shone a flashlight through the opening and saw a portion of an ancient Christian mausoleum. An archaeologist was summoned at once, and after inspecting what could be seen through the hole the diggers had made in the mausoleum's roof, he authorized a full-scale excavation. What lay beneath? The answer and the adventure await.

Friday, May 9, 2014

[Blog Tour] Review/Interview: M.P. Kozlowsky (author of The Dyerville Tales) + Giveaway


This week, I am very excited to welcome M.P. Kozlowsky to the blog for an interview and review of his newest book, The Dyerville Tales. I'm also excited to be participating in the blog tour hosted by Walden Pond Press and to give y'all a chance, thanks to WPP, to win a signed copy of this amazing book.


Artwork © 2014 by Brian Thompson 
The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky, April 22, 2014. 336 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: publisher
Neil Gaiman’s Coraline meets Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs in M. P. Kozlowsky’s The Dyerville Tales, a powerfully imaginative middle-grade novel that blurs the line between fantasy and reality, from the author of Juniper Berry.

Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

Its unique voice and ability to combine creepiness with great story and character development make The Dyerville Tales a real standout middle-grade novel.
First Sentence:
Some tales are worth telling.


The Dyerville Tales is the first book written by M.P. Kozlowsky that I have had the pleasure reading, and I tell you this, I was very much impressed with the authors writing and ability to weave such a fantastic story. Needless to say, I will definitely be hitting up my library to read his other book, Juniper Berry, and eagerly awaiting any future releases from this author.

If you love middle grade books full of magic with a story that will hit you in the heart, then The Dyerville Tales is one that you need to read.  From the very beginning of the book I knew that this book would find its way into my heart, why, because the character’s story and journey to find happiness paired with the author’s writing made this such an interesting read.
     So, while Vince’s story starts out quite sad, especially as you learn how he came to be living in an orphanage, I  very quickly got pulled into his story as I saw him struggle with hoping that he’d find his father and that of giving up the search. Question is, do I think the author handled this well; I do because he never made Vince’s feelings feel forced and you just felt like you were there with him as he pushed on towards his destination.

As for the tales of Vince’s grandfather, Vincent, I enjoyed those immensely. At times, especially near the end, I was reminded of a certain fairy tale, but that only added to my personal enjoyment.
    One of the things I liked best about the tales of Vince’s grandfather would have to be that while a little crazy, you could almost see a lesson hidden within the stories, or at least I could. Finally, the artwork paired with each of the tales perfectly fit each of them, which was pretty cool and gave you a little visual to spur the imagination on.    

Even though there are many things that made The Dyerville Tales such a great read, the one that stands above all others is the writing. I simply loved M.P. Kozlowsky’s writing and the way he was able to capture the magic of the story, as well, as his ability to weave so many emotions into the life and story of Vince.  
    What is about the writing that pulled me in, well, that would have to be everything. I know vague, but there were so many different facets to the story and way the author wove all the pieces together that just made this such an interesting read for me. I really enjoyed watching the way Vince couldn’t help but hold out hope for a reunion with his father, and how his grandfather’s tales kept him going forward even when he thought he could go no further. It was just so interesting to see all these angles to story come together to form a whole, plus the tales were truly captivating.

While I really enjoyed The Dyerville Tales, I do wish that there had been a little more closure for Vince after the ending of his journey. Or at least one that was a little more present to the reader; even though I really liked where the book ended and how the reader could envision what they thought would happen. I guess you can say that the ending left me both happy, for Vince’s happiness, and wishing that there had been a little more to the story about his family and where his father is.


Final Verdict: The Dyerville Tales- Pure magic, that is what M.P. Kozlowsky’s writing is in his latest middle grade book. 

The Dyerville Tales earns

About the author:
M.P. Kozlowsky lives in New York with his wife and two daughters. Juniper Berry is his first novel.  The Dyerville Tales and Scarecrow Has A Gun will soon follow.

You can haunt M.P. Kozlowsky at-
Goodreads | Twitter | Website



Interview

  1.  In seven words, tell readers about Vince and his story in The Dyerville Tales? 
Collision of fairy tales and real life.

  1.  Which of the stories from Vince's grandfather's book was your favorite to write? Can you share a two sentence teaser from it?
My favorite chapter to write was The Forbidden Room.  A good two sentence teaser might be the very first two sentences of the chapter:  Vincent sat chained to the wall, his gold body gleaming in the giant’s roaring fire.  Every day for a week straight now, the giant demanded that his prize pose for his amusement, like a living statue.

  1.  What did you enjoy the most when it came to writing about Vince? Why do you think readers will enjoy reading about his story?
Well, there is a lot of myself in Vince.  He is a troubled soul; he is in pain; he longs for his family, particularly his father, but there is also so much earnestness in him, a hope for a better world.  It was fun to take him on this journey of discovery, his life meshing with a life of fantasy.  I believe this is something readers will relate to.  We are all searching for meaning and understanding in our lives and what better way to do that than through the power of story, especially that of our ancestors?

  1.  Favorite newest middle grade title that you've read and why you liked it? What was your favorite book from your childhood?
I think Anne Ursu is one of the best writers out there, middle grade or not, and The Real Boy was a revelation.  As a child I would have to say Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  There is a bit of an homage to it in The Dyerville Tales, but, where Alice falls down a rabbit hole to visit this magical land, Vincent falls off a cliff.

  1.  Three things: Something your good at; something that annoys you; and something that you wish you could do?
Something I’m good at:  I would hope writing.
Something that annoys me:  Not having enough time to read and write.
Something that I wish I could do:  Direct my own film, preferably adapted from one of my own screenplays based on one of my own books.

  1.  What song do you think best describes you and why you think it fits?
Without a doubt, if you want to know me, who I am and the way my mind and heart work, there is no better song than “Things The Grandchildren Should Know” by Eels.  As they say, it was as if it was written for me.  A beautiful, haunting song.

  1.  If you could visit any fictional world for the day which would it be and why?
I’d go down that rabbit hole with Alice, or off that cliff with Vincent.

  1.  The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 
This is not a light question.  A robot invasion is always at the forefront of my mind – as you will see once some of my recently completed books get published – although I believe it will be more subtle than an all out war.  However, to pick one heroine/hero, I would return to my first book and pull Juniper into the realm of the living.  Such a resourceful little girl she is.

  1.  Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?
Right now I think I would prefer to work in a cave.  Living in Manhattan, with a wife and two young girls, I don’t have much privacy.  My desk is out in the open in the Living Room, just outside the false wall we put up so that my eldest could have her own bedroom, not that that prevents the interruptions, the sounds of the TV, her cries and questions, etc. (To think I once wrote in complete isolation and silence.) One day I hope to have a full on library/study, complete with fireplace and wrap around bookshelves with a ladder, a globe in the corner, a leather sofa – something like Juniper’s father’s workspace.  That’s the dream.

  1.  Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us?   
I have recently completed a few very exciting books – one MG, one YA and one Adult.  All three are completely different from what I’ve done before, with not a hint of a fairy tale about them.  I hope to share more soon.

Now, I am definitely going to have to try Juniper Berry...since you picked her to save the world from a robot invasion. Thanks so much for stopping by and answering some questions Mr. Kozlowsky.

Don't forget, you can haunt all things Walden Pond Press at-
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One lucky, US, winner will receive a signed hardback of M.P. Kozlowsky's The Dyerville Tales.

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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