Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

The Vengekeep Prophecies (Vengekeep Prophecies, 1) by Brian Farrey, October 23, 2012. Published by Harper Collins.
“You can’t convict what you can’t confirm.” That’s the motto of 12-year-old Jaxter Grimjinx and his infamous family of thieves. And while Jaxter may not have his father’s burglary prowess, his mother’s forgery skills, or his little sister’s mastery of sleight-of-hand, his book-fed knowledge of non-magical solutions to magical problems makes him invaluable to the family’s heists.

But the Grimjinxes may have pulled one con too many in their hometown, Vengekeep. After swapping the prophetic tapestry used to guide Vengekeep’s actions for a fake concocted by Jaxter’s mother, the Grimjinxes are stunned when the false prophecies begin coming true, bringing destruction in their wake.

Suddenly, Vengekeep is besieged by “natural” disasters and rampaging monsters, courtesy of the secretly enchanted counterfeit tapestry. With his family forced to stay and combat the impending doom, Jaxter must leave his hometown in search of a way to keep the increasingly dangerous prophecies from wiping Vengekeep off the map.
Why: Because I absolutely loved reading The Shadowhand Covenant and would love to see where Jaxter's story began. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Seven Moon Circus

Seven Moon Circus by Randy Morrison, August 1, 2013. 318 pages. Published by Ringleader Books. Source: Author.
The Adventures of a Wild Boy in a Space Traveling Circus. The Wild Boy has no idea what a human may be . . . much less that he is one. But then a family of animal experts from a space traveling circus spots him from their hot air balloon. When they land in the Cloud Forest to investigate, he drops from his home in the trees and befriends them. Soon he must choose between the only life he's ever known--living with wild animals--and his only chance to live with his own kind. His fateful decision draws him into a human world of circus freaks, daring stunts, space ship adventures and . . . the battle for power over all of Empire Luna.
First Sentence:
The lunar governor unfastened the miniature dagger from her necklace.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Elisabeth Dahl (author of Genie Wishes)

This week I am excited to welcome Elisabeth Dahl, author of Genie Wishes, to the All About Middle Grade Challenge. This was supposed to go up last week, but I was out with a bad case of cedar fever and couldn't even get on the computer.

About the Author:
I write for both children and adults. My first book, GENIE WISHES, a middle-grade novel with line drawings, was published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, in April 2013. My shorter pieces for adults--fiction, essays, poems, and the like--have appeared at,, the Johns Hopkins Magazine, Baltimore Fishbowl, and other outlets.

Born in Baltimore, I studied literature and writing at Brown, then Hopkins (B.A. English, Phi Beta Kappa), then Georgetown (M.A. English, Writing Center Associate Fellow). I spent years as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader in Washington, DC, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Now I live back in Baltimore with my family, including my 14-year-old son, Jackson. We have two dogs--one the very Lulu who appears in GENIE. I still edit, and write, but now I also teach writing through Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth.

You can haunt Elisabeth Dahl at-
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | FB |

1. In seven words can you introduce readers to Genie?
Genie's a funny, generally optimistic fifth-grade girl. 

2. What do you think readers will enjoy about Genie's story? What part of her story did you enjoy writing the most?

Genie experiences a big friendship shift in the book. Basically, her longtime best friend dumps her for the class's new girl. Readers seem to like seeing Genie adjust to the new situation and, ultimately, find happiness with a different set of friends. I liked writing Genie through this transition, but I also liked figuring out smaller details, like what costume she'd make for Halloween and the class graduation party (she's pretty creative).

3. In Genie Wishes, why'd you choose for their to be a class blogger; why have Genie elected to the position?

I am always interested in how kids interact with technology, and in the case of blogging, the technology involves essential activities related to writing as well, such as finding one's voice. I thought that, in serving as class blogger, this relatively quiet girl would be required to take a stand on some bigger issues than she was used to confronting.

4. Elisabeth, since your book, Genie Wishes, is a MG title, could you share with us one of the oddest things that happened to you in middle school? 

In seventh grade, I was cast as the dog (Nana) in my middle school's production of Peter Pan. Weirdly, I'd never auditioned for the part. Even more weirdly, I never asked the director how this bit of casting had come to be. I just quit the basketball team (a scheduling conflict) and showed up at the first rehearsal as if this were all totally normal.

5. How did you feel on your first book tour appearance as a debut author? Best moment?

Transitioning from person-at-a-keyboard to person-in-front-of-an-audience hasn't always been easy, but the one-on-one interactions with readers at the end of an event, during the signing, always make the anticipatory nerves seem worthwhile in retrospect. 

6. I see that you recently did a volunteer day with First Book, could you share with us your thoughts on that experience?

That was a cool day; I'm still a little sore from it. First Book is a wonderful nonprofit that distributes new books to needy kids. In early December, First Book staff members--as well as hat-wearing, sweater-clad volunteers like me--spent time in a drafty Baltimore warehouse readying over 400,000 new books for distribution. It was an amazing effort to be a part of, even for only four hours.

7. What are three of your favorite 2013 middle grade debut books and why you enjoyed them?

Hmmm. This is tough. I loved Melanie Crowder's PARCHED partly because I love a spare writing style. I loved Caroline Carlson's MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT partly for its format, which includes clever "documents." And I loved Kristen Kittscher's THE WIG IN THE WINDOW partly because I love a good friendship story. Frankly, there's so much I haven't even gotten around to reading yet--it's making me crazy.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose?
Yikes.  This does not sound like a good situation in the least. My vote is for Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man. I know very little about superheroes and their various skills, but Robert Downey Jr. would at least provide wryly funny commentary while taking our world back from the robot invaders.

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

Oh, I do love my writing cave. I recently adorned it with holiday lights. (Photo attached.)

10. Any upcoming projects that you can share with us? 
Not yet! But soon.

Elisabeth, thank you so much for stopping by and answering some questions. I am so jealous that you have gotten to read Parched, The Wig in the Window and Magic Marks the Spot because I have been dying to read them. 

Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl, April 2, 2013. Publishes by Amulet Books.
Genie Kunkle may look like your average fifth grader, but she notices things her classmates don’t. When the school year begins, she’s elected class blogger, and it’s her job to record her class’s “wishes, hopes, and dreams.” But Genie has never been the center of attention, and she struggles to find her voice. What should she write about? Her best friend, Sarah, who’s spending more and more time with the boy-crazy new girl? What about the bras, deodorants, shaved legs, and makeup that seem to be all anyone can think about? Then there’s her widower father’s new adventures in dating, and her older brother’s surly new attitude...

As Genie writes the blog entries, she starts to figure out the types of things she wants to express, and her own wishes, hopes, and dreams become clearer with every day.

You can add Genie Wishes to your Goodreads shelf. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Raging Star (Dust Lands, 3) by Moira Young, May 13, 2014. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo and the Tonton...until she meets him and he confounds all her expectations with his seductive vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to create and build a healthy, stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The few who can pay.

Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Still uncertain, her connection with DeMalo a secret, Saba commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, anxious for the land in New Eden, Saba leads an inexperienced guerilla band against the powerfully charismatic DeMalo, in command of his settlers and the Tonton militia. What chance do they have? Saba must act. And be willing to pay the price.
Why: Well, I would really like to see how this series plays out and the fact that the synopsis has Saba seeming doubtful over what to do has me intrigued. 

Tuesday, December 17, 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, December 16, 2013

ARC Review: The Shadowhand Covenant

The Shadowhand Covenant (Vengekeep Prophecies, 2) by Brian Farrey, October 22, 2013. 375 pages. Published by Harper Teen. Source: ARCycling.
Trouble is brewing in the Five Provinces. Mysterious magical artifacts have gone missing from the royal vaults. Master thieves from a secret society known as the Shadowhands are disappearing. And without explanation, the High Laird has begun imprisoning the peaceful Sarosan people. Jaxter Grimjinx suspects all these things are connected, but he knows better than to get involved. Then a summons from the Shadowhands thrusts Jaxter right into the heart of the conspiracy.
First Sentence:
It was exactly the funeral Nanni always wanted. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Twisted by Holly Hook: Release Day Blitz + Teaser

Today is the release day of Twisted (Deathwind Triolgy #1) by Holly Hook!

Sixteen-year-old Allie isn’t like other girls. Instead of spending her summer break sitting around on the beach, she takes the epic vacation of a lifetime.

Tornado chasing.

And she’s not disappointed. Just a few miles from the town of Evansburg, Nebraska, Allie meets her dream of seeing a tornado. In person. She can’t wait to tell her friends back home. Never mind that her parents are going to kill her.

But her dream soon turns into a nightmare, and a strange event leaves her shocked. Confused. When she returns home to Wisconsin, something’s…different. Allie now bears a curse so awful, it could destroy everyone and everything she’s ever known.

With her best friend, Tommy, Allie must return to the plains to find a way to reverse it. She enters a world that she had never imagined, where she becomes a pawn in a fight to save the people of Evansburg from her fate…or to destroy them.
My very first tornado touches the grass of the plains. 
I stand next to the van, mouth dropping open, heart pounding.  It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for, saved money for, begged my uncle to book us for the Wild Weather Storm Chasing Tours for.
Uncle Cassius swears next to me, equally in awe.  It barely cuts over the wind rushing towards the distant funnel.  Waves of grass bow down to the twister, whipped down by the surrounding air flying in to feed it.  The perfect white cone stands out against the coal sky, slim and graceful.  A skirt of dust spins around its base, signaling its dance through a field a few miles away. 
“Beautiful!”  Kyle, our storm chaser guide, snaps a photo for his website.  He steals a glance at me and smiles.  He’s all enthusiasm, joy that we’ve found our prey. “Don’t worry.  We’re safe.  It’s heading to the east.  It’ll pass no closer than a couple of miles to our north.” 
I want his job someday. 
“I’m not scared,” I said, but my shaky voice betrays me.  Who am I kidding?  Kyle’s an experienced chaser–twenty years–but this is a real tornado.  In person.  Live.  I never realized it would be this intense, this breathtaking.  A hollow feeling fills my stomach like I’m plunging down the first hill of a roller coaster. 
The tornado curves, almost like it’s leaning to the side for a better look at something.  At us?  It’s a silly thought, one that makes me laugh.  The thunderstorm spins slowly above it, low and menacing.  Thunder claps.  It’s enough to remind me that the storm in front of me isn’t just beautiful.  It’s a predator, entrancing like a cobra and ready to strike. 
Good thing there’s no houses or buildings in its way.  Only farmland stretches from horizon to horizon. 
“Allie.  Forget your camera?”  Uncle Cassius slaps me on the arm, smiling.  It’s a tense smile.  So I’m not the only one with some nerves going. 
Yes.  Duh. 
I pull it out of my pocket and fumble with the slim case, fingers hunting for the button.  The camera zings to life.  Behind it, the tornado looms a bit larger, gaining strength and racing across the ground.  More dust kicks up around the perfect white of the twister. 
“Now I can really prove to everyone at school how crazy I am.”  I give Uncle Cassius a nervous chuckle.  The camera trembles in my hands as I catch the tornado in my view, click, and seal it in my memory forever. 
I’m having the most insane summer vacation of my entire high school.
I lift the camera for another shot, backing up to squeeze the tornado into the viewport.  I click another picture and lowered the camera again for another look. 
My heart jumps. 
The tornado looms larger, taller.  Kyle holds his hand up to his face, squinting for a better view.  Even Uncle Cassius goes quiet, stiffening and taking a step back towards the tour van. 
All at once I understand. 
The tornado has changed course. 
Kyle turns.  Real fear widens his features. 
“Get in the van,” he shouts.
* * * * *
The one big thing I can recall from those first ten seconds is the roar, like a distant train growing closer.  The wind whips my hair back, trying to pull me back out of the van.  It feels like the twister’s right behind me already, coming down for the kill. 
I slam the door on it.  The funnel’s much bigger behind the glass, so much that I can’t see the top of it anymore. 
Uncle Cassius snaps on his seat belt next to me.  Kyle starts it up, punches the gas, and gets us back on the road to nowhere. 
I toss my camera to the floor.  My hands fumble with the seat belt.  The van speeds up, slamming me into the seat.  The specter of the tornado closes in, whipping across the field towards us.  I’ve heard of tornadoes making sudden turns like this but I never realized it could happen this fast.  It rips across the field, coming straight at us.  My heart beats on a runaway course.  My mind locks into overdrive.  I feel like that news crew they always have on tornado shows, that one that survived by hiding under that overpass.  Will Kyle make us get out and climb under one?  They’re actually bad places to hide.  That news crew got off lucky.  Kyle knows better.  He’s been chasing storms longer than I’ve been alive. 
Only green and yellow spreads out ahead.  No shelter for miles.  Worse, no ditches.  The radar on Kyle’s laptop is covered in ugly red and orange blotches like Nebraska has sores. 
A hole of panic opens up inside me and for the first time, I regret coming on this vacation. 
“Can’t you go faster?”  Uncle Cassius leans forward in his seat, gaze hard, arms trembling. 
Uncle Cassius never loses his cool. 
Not even when I accidentally set his Persian rug on fire when I was seven and broke my arm at the age of nine. 
Outside, the tornado grows so close that I could only see the bottom half of the funnel.  The van bounces along every speed bump on the highway, every uneven spot.  My stomach heaves.  I’m going to be sick right here.  It’s my stupid fault we’re in this mess. 
“I don’t understand.”  Kyle punches the gas harder, making the van jump.  He turns his head like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, eyes widening.  “The tornado should not be moving this way.”
He’s right.  It shouldn’t.  But it is. 
The funnel reaches the road behind us, twisting harder, kicking up earth higher and higher.  We’ve gotten out in front of it.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  Kyle and Uncle Cassius do the same.  It’ll cross the road and forget all about us. 
Kyle lets off the gas a little and the whine of the engine calms some.  “We’re safe now.  That was highly unusual.  I’ve never seen a tornado turn like that in my career.”  There’s a hint of an apology in his voice. 
“Well, that was a close one, wasn’t it, Allie?”  Uncle Cassius hugs me from the side. 
“Yeah,” I say, willing my heart to slow down.  At least I can think straight now.  Can I even do another two days of this? 
Wow, what a dumb idea this was. 
But I still can’t resist another look at the storm.  I turn as far as my seat belt allows. 
My guts fall out of me all over again. 
The tornado’s still on the road, bigger than ever.  It can’t be. 
The twister has turned again.  It’s coming right up behind us.  Rolling dust eats the entire highway.  There’s tornado taking up the whole view of the back window.  Dust rips to the sides.  The bottom of its funnel spins with fury, big enough to swallow a house whole.  Its roar screams against the outside of the van, shaking the seat, pushing the whole van to the side. 
It’s no longer beautiful. 
“Ohmigod,” I say, sucking in a breath.  “Um…Kyle?  Stomp on the gas.  Just saying.” 
“I know!” he snaps.  His knuckles turn white on the steering wheel.  The van lurches again but he maintains control. 
“Allie, get down!”  Uncle Cassius puts his huge hand on my back and pushes me towards the floor.  
The seat belt cuts into my throat. 
What good is it going to do?  If the tornado lifts the car– 
I’m going to die. 
I begged to go on this trip and now Uncle Cassius is going to die too. 
The windows shatter with a deafening boom and the wind screams in my ears.  AllieAllieAllieAllie…
I can’t breathe. 
We’re floating. 
Uncle Cassius shouts something.  Kyle yells.  If I’m screaming, I can’t tell.  The storm’s sucking it right out of me.  Windy hands seize my arms, my legs. 
They pull. 
My safety belt snaps, whipping against my leg.  I cry out with the sting.  The seat disappears under me. 
I’m flying. 
The tornado’s ripping me right out of the van. 
The world turns to a white and brown roar.  The van’s gone.  I have no time to cry out to Uncle Cassius before the world snaps to black and silence takes the place of all.
About Holly Hook

Holly Hook is the author of the Destroyers Series, which consists of five young adult books about teens who are walking disasters…literally. She is also the author of the Rita Morse series, a young adult fantasy series still in progress, and After These Messages, a short ya comedy. Currently she is writing Twisted, a spin-off of the Destroyers Series due out in December. When not writing, she enjoys reading books for teens, especially ya fantasy and paranormal series with a unique twist.

Website    Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, 2) by Moira Young, October 30, 2012. Published by Margaret K. McElderry.
Saba thought her world would return to normal after they defeated the Tonton and rescued her kidnapped brother Lugh. The family head west for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But a formidable enemy is on the rise. What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?
Why: Because the end of Blood Red Road left me with so many questions. Also, I just want to know what is going to happen next in Saba's story.

The Wolf's Cry by Natalie Crown: Cover Reveal

 I'm excited to reveal the cover of The Wolf's Cry by Natalie Crown. This is a YA Fantasy/Alternate World book that releases January 2014. This is the first book in the The Semei Trilogy.

She is his weakness.
And she will ruin everything.

Kammy Helseth's idea of adventure never amounted to more than getting a boat across to the mainland and finally escaping to London. That was until she stumbled through the mouth of the forest into a world beneath our own, the world of the Semei.

Her only wish is to find her way home but when Jamie, her best friend, is taken into this new world of shapeshifters and Crystals she has no choice but to stand up to her fear and to remain beneath the surface. Hunted by Bagor, King of Alashdial, and those that are loyal to him, Kammy finds herself in the company of a group of outlaws led by Jad, a Prince with a bitter past and a similarly bitter demeanour.

They overcome age-old prejudice to find a way to work together. But Bagor knows a secret about the Crystals that threatens to change everything. Kammy and Jad must find a way to thwart the king and to save Jamie, but that is just the beginning. For Kammy is in possession of a Key and the fate of countless lives, both human and Semei, may rest in her hands.
Find the book:

About the Author:
I grew up in a village called Swilland, in the countryside of Suffolk, England. There wasn't much around, other than farms and fields, but for the most part I loved it, and I still do. I’m a passionate person by nature. I don’t just LIKE things, I LOVE things. Whether it’s a book, a film, or a sports team. Once I decide to enjoy something, I enjoy it to the MAX.

I’m a terrible cook. I prioritise essential social media work over keeping my flat tidy, because I know best. I

Onto my love of reading and, consequently, writing - it was my dad that played a big role in encouraging me to read. He didn't push me towards books necessarily; he simply read a lot himself. Then I would pick up his books and read them after him. I was reading high and epic fantasy from a very young age. I guess that might explain why I have always loved adventure stories with magic and intrigue and princes and princesses in.

I was aware that I wanted to ‘be a writer’ from a very young age. I was convinced I would be the first best seller that hadn't reached double figures in age yet! I wrote about the Danshees, furry creatures that lived through a mirror. I wrote about a Sand Bottle that transported a boy into a world of magic. I wrote about a sick girl finding a music boy that healed her, but transported her back in time. (Wow, I always have loved alternate universes…)

When I was eight I wrote my first novel called The Land of No Return. Despite the title, I am determined to return to it one day. I feel like I owe it to my past self. So, as you can see, I have always been writing. There have been times when I have gone weeks without scratching down a word. Then there are days where I churn out multiple chapters and only my body’s silly desire for sleep and/or food can stop me.

I write because I enjoy it. I write fantasy because I enjoy it. I try my hardest to put something of myself into my writing. I like to think my characters have depth, I like to think that my fantasy worlds reflect upon the real world in some way. You guys will be the judge of that but even if you don't agree I know that I at least try and I can do no more than that.

These days I live in North London and I love it. I work full time and London is a hectic city. Juggling work, writing and a social life is tough but nobody is forcing me to do it so I can't complain. The dream is that writing will be my career one day but it doesn't matter if I never quite make it. I love writing too much to ever pack it in.

I am desperate to get a dog. My mum suspects I miss my cats at home more than I miss her. I am a devout Arsenal/Ferrari/Rafael Nadal fan. I get all mad when confronted with a case of social injustice and then I get all mad when people take the fight for social justice too far. I mostly keep those thoughts to myself and simmer with rage. I watch good TV and bad TV, because I can. What I can’t do is enjoy bad books (subjective opinion of course). I just can’t.

Find the author:
Website/BlogTumblr | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

$40 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This cover reveal was organized by CBB Book Promotions.  

Tuesday, December 10, 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, December 9, 2013

A Vintage Reads Review: The China Garden

The China Garden by Liz Berry, October 6, 1999. 288 pages. Published by HarperTeen. Source: Bought.
When Clare moves with her mother from London to Ravensmere, a historic English estate, she can't shake the feeling that the residents already know her, especially Mark, a maddeningly attractive biker. Clare also feels compelled to take midnight walks in Ravensmere's abandoned China Garden. Then her mother reveals that their own past is tragically linked to the estate. But when Clare discovers that Ravensmere is in grave danger, will she risk her future-and Mark's-to save it?
First Sentence:
Dark of the moon.

Gabriel Stone and The Wrath of the Solarians by Shannon Duffy: Cover Reveal

About the author:
I grew up on the east coast of Canada in the province of Newfoundland and now live in Ontario. I'm the mom of one awesome boy named Gabe. I love writing, reading, working out, shopping and traveling. My guilty pleasure is reality TV. Love it. =)

My YA Paranormal Romance, SPECTRAL, and the first in my MG Fantasy series, GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA are both out now. The Gabriel Stone sequel, GABRIEL STONE AND THE WRATH OF THE SOLARIANS releases March/14.I also have a new YA Cyberpunk series coming out. The first novel in that series is titled, AWAKENING and releases Jan/15.

You can haunt Shannon at-
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Gabriel Stone and The Wrath of the Solarians (Gabriel Stone #2) by Shannon Duffy, March 25, 2014. Published by Month9Books.
Trying to re-unite Tahlita, the telekinetic Valtan girl with her prickly father Dane?

Not so easy.

Getting them to make up and go home to Valta—you know, so that just humans are living in Gabriel Stone’s small hometown of Willow Creek?

Epic uphill battle.

But when Prince Oliver shows up asking for help and drops the info bomb about the empress and princess being kidnapped by other-planetary creeps called Solarians, Gabe’s life turns into a nightmare full of suck.

Even with cool new powers, two best friends, awesome flying tigers, and a talking tracker monkey, Gabriel couldn’t have been prepared for the chaos slamming down on Valta. Let alone the dangerous quest to save his Valtan friends.

Oh, and Gabriel doesn’t do wells. So that witch trapped at the bottom of one who needs rescuing—the one who’s supposedly the key to saving so many others? Yeah, it’s not looking good for her either…

You can add Gabriel Stone and the Wraith of the Solarians to your Goodreads shelf. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reading Cram Read-a-Thon

I know, I just finished one read-a-thon, but you know that December is the perfect and last opportunity to get in some extra reading. Besides, there are quite a few books I would like to (hopefully) get read before the years out and maybe this will be the motivation to get the read.

The Reading Cram read-a-thon is hosted by Dana (DanaSquare) and Jenny (Juliababyjen's Reading Room) and tuns from December 9-22.

I'll post either a picture or list of books tomorrow since I still need to find/figure out what I hope to read during the readathon.

You can still join in on the end of year Reading Cram read-a-thon fun.

TBR Challenge (from Juliababyjen's Reading Room):
Those are the books I hope to get read over the next few days.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Soho Teen Book-of-the-Month club

Check out Soho Teen Book-of-the-Month Club. Just click on the picture and you'll be able to check out all the info on their book-of-the-month-club.

Friday, December 6, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Maggie Lyons (author of Vin and the Dorky Duet)

This week, I am very excited to welcome Maggie Lyons, author of Vin and the Dorky Duet, to the blog. I hope y'all will give her a warm welcome.

About the Author:
I’m a trapeze artist, astronaut, spy — just kidding! Well, the bit about being a spy is true. It was a long time ago in a far off land, lots of fun, and planets away from my middle-class upbringing in the UK. I was born in a little coal-mining town in South Wales and properly brought up in England where I did English things like attending an all-girls grammar school, playing rounders, doing two hours of homework every day, and going on soggy caravan holidays with my family. With no regard for my family's physical and emotional health, I also trained as a classical pianist - daily four-hour practices. Once I grew up — wait, that’s a fib; I’ve never actually grown up — I experimented with hedonism in Paris, where, among other things, I taught English to very proper French schoolgirls, and I failed to abide by the British embassy’s social rules in Romania, but that’s another story. My job in Bucharest was to appease visiting Royal Ballet dancers. If you’ve ever attempted to herd butterflies, you’ll know what I mean. Soon after that I gravitated to the USA because the streets there were supposed to be paved with gold. They weren’t, but I stayed anyway and finally wound up catching my breath in a tranquil fishing and farming community on Virginia’s coast.

You can haunt Maggie at-
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Blog | Amazon

1. In five words, per a character, could you introduce readers to Vin and Meg? What makes the sibling dynamic between Vin and Meg different from other books?
Vin: slightly sardonic, creative, reluctant quester
Meg: manipulative, talented, single-minded teen   
Vin and Meg are talented young musician siblings who don’t always see eye to eye, but ever-practical Vin will go along with Meg if there’s a strong enough incentive.

2. So, what about doing a duet with Meg has Vin so horrified? 
At their previous student concert Meg and Vin gave a less than stellar performance of a duet for piano and trumpet. Vin doesn’t want to risk repeating that embarrassment at the next student concert. What’s more, he doesn’t like the duet. It’s one Meg composed herself.

3. Why do you think readers will enjoy Vin's disastrous attempts to get out of performing a musical duet?
The main aim of my children’s books is to make readers laugh. Laughing is excellent for your health. We should all do far more of it. And it makes you feel good. Readers who are seeking a bit of comic relaxation may therefore enjoy following Vin on his mission, especially as the disasters he seems to attract are not life threatening. And readers may also warm to the recognition that life is a series of challenges we often can’t avoid and shouldn’t try to. Even plants face challenges. Well, at least my plants do.

4. Maggie, since your book, Vin and the Dorky Duet, features siblings could you share with us three sets of your favorite bookish siblings and why you like?

Alex and his little brother Jonathan, in Frank Asch’s hilarious Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius. Alex professes to detest his younger brother, with very funny results.

The four sisters of Jeannie Birdsall’s refreshingly wholesome The Penderwicks are vivacious, clever, and delightfully old-fashioned.

The three orphaned siblings of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books inhabit a deliciously snide and over-the-top world of dastardly villains and ludicrous cliff-hangers.

5. Last book that made you cry and why?
Jerry Spinelli’s heartrending Wringer—so exquisitely written. Spinelli is a master of the heart wrench! Place a box of tissues next to you before reading this one.

And Jeff Kinney, with his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, elicits tears of laughter.

Some other books I’ve recently read also elicited tears—the result of unintentional humor or grinding frustration. But I won’t tell you which books they were. Yes, I know. I’m a spoildy sport.

6. Since I've asked mainly bookish questions, could you share with readers one nonbookish thing you hope to accomplish in the new year?
Travel back to the UK, where I was born, to share some new fun with old friends.

7. What is one unbelievable or odd job that you have done that people think you've made up?
I was once an extremely unofficial spy for the British government while working at the British Embassy in then-communist Romania. I was very young, very gullible, and too fond of fun. And I had a riot of a time pretending to be Mata Hari. The other side had a good laugh too.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, whom do you choose? 
Kevin Spencer, hero—or is it anithero?—of Gary Paulsen’s Liar, Liar and Flat Broke books will unwittingly save the day. His hapless shenanigans will have the robots in total disarray before their little tin cogs and wheels catch on to what’s happening.

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?
I live in a cottage on a river in a Virginia backwater. My desk is next to the window. Can you see what’s coming? You’re right. It’s much more fun to watch an osprey buzzing a heron than attend to the words on the monitor in front of me. Sometimes only a deadline can get me back on track.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can share with us?  
Book signing at the Christmas open house of our local Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington, Virginia. Not so long ago this area was only accessible via steamboats plying the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. The history of that era and this region is quite fascinating. No—I’m not planning to write a story about it any time soon. I’m still trying to put Wales, the land of my birth, on the map (see my Welsh dragon detective adventure Dewi and the Seeds of Doom).

Maggie, thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions. Vin and the Dorky Duet sounds like quite the interesting read.

Vin and the Dorky Duet by Maggie Lyons, August 2012. Published by Halo Publishing International.
When he walks through the door and sees the sharky grin on his sister’s face, Vin rightly suspects Meg is hatching a plot. Worse still, he’s central to the outcome. Meg tells him everyone expects him to play her duet for trumpet and piano at the student concert. Vin is horrified.

His only escape is to persuade another trumpet player to take his place. Meg has the hunky Brad Stewart in mind, and she challenges Vin to introduce her to him. To do that he must first befriend Brad’s nerdy brother, Eyeballs, the last person Vin wants to be friends with until Meg’s promise of a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey changes the seventh-grader’s mind. He has five days to accomplish his mission—Operation BS.

Vin’s game plan, thwarted by exploding fish tanks, magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths, and other disasters ultimately succeeds, but not exactly as he expects …

You can add Vin and the Dorky Duet to your Goodreads shelf.

Holiday Read-a-Thon

So excited to be participating in the Holiday Read-a-Thon again this yeat, hosted by Liza over at WhoRuBlog.

Alright, things ended up being kinda busy, so, I haven't had as much time for reading as I hoped I would. Although, I really enjoyed the one book I've finished and the one I started last night seems promising.

Seven Moon Circus by Randy Morrison

Serpent's Ring by H.B. Bolton

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, 1) by Danielle Paige, April 1, 2014. Published by HarperTeen.
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
Why: Oh wow! Now this sounds like an interesting take on the Wizard of Oz. Just the thought of this book has me excited because I cannot wait to see what the author will do with a power hungry Dorothy; and to read Amy's adventure in Oz. 

Tuesday, December 3, 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!

The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black: Cover Reveal

About the author:
Eldritch Black is a writer who describes his work as dark whimsical tales of gothic dread and fantastical horror.

Eldritch Black's first novel "The Book of Kindly Deaths" is due to be published by Spencer Hill Press in June 2014, his short story "3 Curses for Trixie Moon" appears in the Ambush Books anthology "Magical Mayhem" & his second short story "The Festival of Love and Hate" is set to appear in the new Ambush Books collection "Love Stinks!". Eldritch has also published two short stories of ghosts in London and Steampunk Horror through Amazon Kindle.

When he isn't writing, Eldritch smuggles and trades in forgotten secrets and lost dreams.
Eldritch was born in London, England and now lives in the woods on a small island near Seattle.

You can haunt Eldritch Black at-
Website | Twitter | FB | Goodreads
The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black, June 10, 2014. Published by Spence Hill Press.

When twelve-year old Eliza Winter finds a secret room in her missing grandfather’s sprawling, Gothic house, her safe, sheltered life is blown apart. Inside, below a stained glass window where moonlight shines no matter the time of day, sits The Book of Kindly Deaths.

In defiance of her controlling mother, who has always forbidden her to read anything strange or imaginary, Eliza takes the book. As night sets in, Eliza reads one haunting story after another. And the further she journeys inside the book, the more the boundaries between our world and a shadowy land of monsters and forbidden places begin to blur.

When the strange, crooked man from the book arrives on the doorstep claiming to be a rare book collector and demanding entry into the house, Eliza’s world is turned upside down. To escape him she must dive all the way into the spine-tingling world of The Book of Kindly Deaths to save her grandfather—and write an end to the nightmare she's caught inside.

You can add The Book of Kindly Deaths to your Goodreads shelf.

Monday, December 2, 2013

ARC Review: The Fellowship for Alien Detection

The Fellowship for Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson, February 26, 2013. 432 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: publisher.
Two kids from opposite sides of the country find themselves on a road trip to save the world from an impending alien attack - and bolster their middle-school transcripts in the process.

First came the missing people, missing time events, and untraceable radio signals. Then came Juliette, Arizona, a town that simply disappeared from existence. Suffice it to say, something strange is going on. Enter Haley and Dodger, two kids from opposite sides of the country who both think they can prove that these unexplained phenomena have a very real cause: aliens, and they are about to discover that their fledgling theories about extraterrestrial life are one-hundred-percent accurate.

Having each been awarded a Fellowship for Alien Detection (a grant from a mysterious foundation dedicated to proving aliens have visited earth), Haley and Dodger and their families each set off on a cross-country road trip over summer vacation to figure out what is happening in towns across America. They soon realize that the answers to many of their questions lie in the vanished town of Juliette, AZ, but someone, or something, is doing everything in its power to ensure they never reach it. If Haley and Dodger don't act quickly, more people may go missing, and the world as we know it may change for the worse.
First Sentence:
Suza Raines was getting suspicious.

Friday, November 29, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Jo Malizia (Author of Wands and Wings) +Giveaway

So, it has been a little over a month since I was last able to do an All About Middle Grade Interview. Allergies, life, puppies, and a broken email account kept me from getting things done. On a happier note, I am excited to welcome Jo Malizia, author of Wands and Wings, to keep things back into gear.

About the Author:
Jo Malizia grew up in Minnesota. She has been an ASL interpreter for many years and loves to translate stories into sign language for children. She is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). She currently lives on the Central Coast of California.

She still remembers.

You can haunt Jo Malizia at-

1.    Could you introduce the Faylinn sisters and share a little about each of the girls? 

The five Faylinn sisters come from a long line of Fairy Royalty. Their 16 times Great Grandmother, the Fairy Queen, fell in love and married a human prince. This threw a wrench into the royal Fairy line, so it was decided Fairy Queens would only rule until their 13th birthday. At the moment they turn 13, they lose their wands and wings and become fully human with no memory of the Fairies or The Realm.

Aubrey, 16, is the oldest sister - she wears that badge proudly and takes full advantage of her “being the boss” rights.

Regan, 15, is a cheerleader in every sense of the word. Her head is in the clouds and her feet are at the nearest mall.

Next is Tia, our 12-year-old protagonist. She is the current Fairy Queen and tries to balance those duties along with life in middle school. Her ability to lead the Fairies is severely tested when the very essence of life on Earth is in peril.

Allie is next in line to be Queen of the Fairy Realm. She is an 8 year-old gymnastic whiz and an honor roll student at Neptune Falls Elementary.

And last, but certainly not least, is Fairy Princess Rory. This feisty kindergartener is usually in the middle of the commotion in the Faylinn household. Tia and Allie have to constantly keep an eye on Rory and her magic.

2. While writing Wands and Wings, what was your favorite part when it came to building the fairy world part of your book?

Oh, this is a tough one! There are so many components to this world. While it was great fun to build the Fairy Palace and the shops and eateries in the village of the Fairy Realm, my favorite part was crafting Fairy Central (the high-tech center of The Realm.) The Fairies who work there and the branches it holds, such as The Birthday Wishes Bureau and The Fairy Godmother Department were so much fun to create.

3. Why fairies?

They fly at the speed of light, wear gorgeous gowns, pop in and out of Fairy Tales, and have glistening wands which hold incredible magic. They use this magic to make wishes come true and bring all types of beauty to Earth. Fairies live in an enchanted Realm where every day is one big party. It sounds pretty sweet to me.

4. Keeping with the theme of fairy books, what are your three favorite books featuring fairies?

My very favorite book featuring a Fairy is Cinderella. Without her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella would still be sweeping around the hearth of her stepmother’s house! I’ve always adored Tinker Bell from the Peter Pan stories, except when she is being mean to Wendy. And my third favorite Fairy is The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio. I know I’m letting the movie version creep in here, but it is so enchanting when she turns Pinocchio into a real little boy.

5. Song(s) that you think best describe the Faylinn girls?

“We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. I know all the Faylinn gals would love singing, “I got all my sisters with me.” There is even a line in this song that says they “fly like birds of a feather.” I can imagine this song playing in the background as the sisters soar across the sky.

6. So, Jo, could you share with us why you write?

I write because I love stories. It doesn’t matter if it is a story from literature, history, a movie, or a 90-year-old grandpa – a great story is a treasure.
For me, the best part of writing is when I first come up with the plot of a story. The ideas tumble into my head faster than I can type. I live in that world as I write and it is a magical place to be.  

7. Last book you wanted to fling across the room and why?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – because it ended.

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

Well, since the Faylinn sisters are busy with their battle in the Fairy Realm, I’ll go with Supergirl. She would take care of those robots in no time at all.

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

Oh, how I wish I had a writing cave! My cave is wherever in my house I land with my laptop. Now all I can think about is going into the woods and finding a cozy little cave somewhere…

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

Yes! I’m currently working on another Wands and Wings book. I have many ideas about this magical world, so I can’t wait to see where the Faylinn sisters take me next!

Thank you so much for your questions, Orchid. You have a fabulous blog and I’m grateful and honored to be included in it.

Jo, thank so much for stopping by and answering some questions. The final Chronicles of Narnia book always leaves me feeling like I want to throw it because I hate that it ended.

Readers, today is your lucky day to win a copy of Jo Malizia's middle grade book Wands and Wings. A big thank you to Ms. Malizia for offering up a copy of her book for a giveaway.

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form (at bottom of post) to enter. Open to US only.

Wands and Wings by Jo Malizia, September 8, 2013.
How does a 12-year-old girl manage life with four sisters, middle school, and being Queen of The Fairy Realm?

Tia Faylinn comes from a long line of Fairy Queens. She and her two younger sisters live a magical life between Earth and The Fairy Realm. But Tia's reign is about to come to an end because she will soon turn 13 - the age a Fairy Queen loses her wand and wings and all knowledge of the Fairies to become fully human.

However, Tia's final days as Queen are not very enchanting. A split that occurred in The Fairy Kingdom 400 years ago produced a bitter descendant who has returned to reclaim the throne.

Queen Tia must now convince her two older teenage sisters to remember they were Fairies so that all five Faylinn sisters can return to The Realm. The girls must rely on their magic, wits, and cheerleading skills to battle the evil queen, Neferria. It's a battle that affects Wishing Stars, Fairy Tales, the Birthday Wishes Bureau, the Department of Fairy Godmothers, and the very essence of life on Earth.

You can add Wands and Wings to your Goodreads shelf.