Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan, 1992. Published by Scholastic.
Elsha is one of the Quelled: a branded people, doomed always to mine coal to warm the ruling class, the Chosen. But Elsha has strange visions that set her apart - and a strong spirit that condemns her to death. Her life is saved when she is called to be Handmaiden to the Firelord, the most powerful being on the planet. Elsha is the first of her kind ever to be so honored - and both the Chosen and her fellow Quelled are stunned. But her powers and visions grow ever stronger, even in the face of extreme prejudice. Yet Elsha must learn the hard way that you can't play with fire without getting burned.
Why: Sherryl Jordan's Winter of Fire has been one book that has stuck with me since I first read it. I first read this book (from the library) a few years back when I lived in California. While the title of the book and author slipped my mind, the main premise of the story didn't and spurred me onto searching high and low for it.

Tuesday, February 26, 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, February 25, 2013

Blog Tour: The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy

The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy (Shadow of the Unicorn, 1) by Suzanne de Montigny, November 30, 2012. 179 pages. Published by Muse it Up Publishing. Source: Orangeberry Book Tours.
A loud, hissing sound filled the air. The unicorns looked up, their eyes filled with horror.
Azaria, a unicorn colt, is intrigued when the young, clairvoyant dinosaur, Darius, foresees a terrifying change to their world. When a giant fireball smashes into the earth, the unicorns struggle to survive the hurricanes and starvation that follow. But nothing compares to the danger when the creatures-that-walk-on-two-legs settle in the valley, and their leader discovers the healing power in the unicorns’ horns. Greedy and ruthless, Ishmael will stop at nothing in his pursuit of wealth – even the complete extinction of the herd. Azaria must find a way to outsmart Ishmael before it’s too late.
First Sentence:
Azaria strained his skinny legs and pushed his way up the mountain.

Friday, February 22, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Karen Harrington (author of Sure Signs of Crazy)

Guess, what, time to hear from another middle grade author. This time Karen Harrington, author of Sure Signs of Crazy, is stopping by the blog.

About the author:
Karen Harrington is a freelance writer and author of the novel JANEOLOGY (Kunati, 2008). Her next book, SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY, is forthcoming from Little, Brown for Young Readers. She lives in Dallas, TX with her family and is at work on her next novel.
You can haunt Karen Harrington at-
Website | Twitter | FB | Goodreads |

Interview Questions:

1. I really love the title of Sure Signs of Crazy, its' like a little tease of what is to come. Could you tell us a little bit about Sure Signs of Crazy and why you think readers will enjoy it?
Sure Signs Of Crazy follows twelve-year old Sarah Nelson as she writes letters to her hero, To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch, for help understanding her mentally ill mother, her first real crush and life in her small Texas town, all in the course of one momentous summer.  Despite the difficulties in Sarah’s life, she really has a sense of humor and a developing sense of the way the world should be if only she had a mother around. And like so many people I’ve known in my life, she seeks solace in books and words. You root for her. You have the same questions she has. You find yourself wanting the same answers. I hope that journey will be enjoyable for readers.

2. I'm really liking the premise of Sure Signs of Crazy and how it looks to have both a serious undertone, yet still be somewhat light.  I'm a little curious as to why you chose to write a book were the MC, Sarah, is dealing with the effects of having a parent suffering from mental illness? Was it difficult to get that aspect of the book to come across right while writing?

It was absolutely challenging to think of balancing the serious tone of the book and the issues within it. The origins of this story stem from my first novel for adults, JANEOLOGY, which tells the story of Sarah’s father as he struggles to cope with the aftermath of his wife’s breakdown.  

After writing that book, I always wondered “What happened to their daughter?  Was she okay? What would it be like for her to grow up under that shadow?” These questions sent me to the keyboard. And I discovered, happily, that a very resilient girl was there and that she was much, much more than what had happened to her.  So I was so excited to write Sarah’s story. I wish I’d known someone like her when I was growing up.

3.  I think it’s cool how Sarah writes letters to Atticus Finch in Sure Signs of Crazy. While he is definitely an excellent character for this, what made you choose him to be the recipient of Sarah's letters?

          Thank you. In various drafts of the novel, Sarah wrote letters to Scout and Boo in addition to Atticus. But I realized what she wanted most in life were the qualities that Atticus Finch embodies: consistency, wisdom and integrity. And like so many people I’ve talked to in my life, Atticus Finch is the ideal father. Sarah longs to have a father like him, too.  So Atticus became the natural sounding board for her.

4. What was the most difficult aspect to write of Sure Signs of Crazy? Easiest?

          For me, novel writing is the most difficult when you have that gap between what you imagine the story can be and what you have on the page. Revising is all about closing that gap. Early on, I knew I had something with Sarah’s character but couldn’t find the right balance of story. I kept approaching it in different ways and tossing out drafts. It got so frustrating that I thought about pitching the whole idea in the trash. But my husband kept encouraging me and telling me that this was going to be my next published novel. How he knew that, I don’t know, but I’m so glad he kept pushing me. The easiest part of writing this novel was being in Sarah’s company. She kept showing up in tender ways as I changed the story and played with her life. I loved opening up the Word file and listening to Sarah. I think I could have continued writing about her for a long time. She is still whispering her opinions about life in my ear and even though the book is done, I’m still writing them down.

5. In the spirit of the book, which fictional character would you choose to write your letters to? Why?

I would absolutely write to Atticus Finch. It would be fascinating to get his perspectives on our modern world.

6. Having recently returned to the great state of Texas and noticing that you are from the Lone Star State, I cannot resist asking: What do you like most about TX? Any indie bookstores that you would recommend?

What’s not to love about the Lone Star State? I’m a die-hard Texas fan. I think what I like most is the sense of possibility in our state. It’s so diverse in every way a state can be diverse. Yet there is still a common can-do spirit and optimistic attitude. My current favorite indie bookstore is A Real Bookstore in Fairview, TX. It’s an oasis of books and the architecture of the store is so inviting. I would love to get accidentally locked in that store for one night!

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

          I have my daughter to thank for my answer to this question because she’s recently discovered Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and The Olympians books. So I would choose Percy Jackson because he would be able to perform some feat with water that would cause all of the robots to rust.

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

          We bought our current house, in part, for the room that is our family office. It has a great window looking out onto our pool. The pool has three fountains and that sound is the music I write to. As far as my actual writing surface, it’s just your garden variety desk. At any given time, there are manuscript pages, coloring books, bills and fourth grade math problems spread out all over the place. I have my children’s artwork and a list of Writer’s Rules tacked up on the bulletin board in front of me. My favorite rule is “There Are No Rules”.

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

          I’m currently working on another book for middle-grade readers that features a young girl who pretends she’s a character in a book to escape the challenges of having an agoraphobic mother.

Karen, thank you so much for stopping by and answering a few questions. Definitely excited to jump into Sure Signs of Crazy...and anything else you have planned.

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington, summer 2013. Published by Little, Brown for Young Readers.

Not every person responds to words the same way. Some words are trouble words. A trouble word will change the face of the person you say it to. Love can be a trouble word for some people. Crazy is also a trouble word.I should know.
You've never met anyone exactly like twelve-year-old Sarah Nelson. While most of her classmates geek out over Harry Potter, she writes letters to Atticus Finch. Her best friend is a plant. And she's never known her mother, who has lived in a mental institution since Sarah was two.
Sarah and her dad have spent the past decade moving from one Texas town to another, and she's never felt truly at home....until now. This is the story of one extraordinary summer in which Sarah gets her first real crush, new friends, and the answers about her family she's always been looking for.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Audiobook Review: A Tangle of Knots

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, read by Katie Honaker, Fenruary 5, 2013. 4 hours and 9 minutes. Published by Penguin Audio. Source: publisher.
Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan. If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent.
Lisa Graff adds a pinch of magic to a sharply crafted plot to create a novel that will have readers wondering about fate and the way we're all connected.
First Sentence:
The line for the number 36 bus out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was the longest at the station.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices, 3) by Cassandra Clare, March 19, 2013. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Danger intensifies for the Shadowhunters as the New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy comes to a close.
If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?
The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.
Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.
Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.
Why: I NEED to know how everything is going to end for Will, Tessa, and James. Besides, I really enjoyed the first two books in the series and would love to see how everything will playout.

Trailer Reveal: Finn Finnegan

Have y'all seen the book trailer for Darby Karchut's Finn Finnegan, one of my favorite reads this year (so far), because you definitely want to.

Tuesday, February 19, 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, February 18, 2013

Cover Reveal: Team Sprung

I am excited to help reveal the cover for Sprung the second book in Kelbian Noel's Witchbound series.

About the author:
Kelbian is the author of Elemental and a blogger at Diverse Pages. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her two children.

You can haunt Kelbian Noel at-
Goodreads | Twitter | Website |

Sprung (Witchbound, 2) by Kelbian Noel, April 1, 2013. Published by Diverse Pages.

Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson's life is almost perfect. Almost. Even perfect has its glitches.
What happens when the one with all the power makes the biggest mistakes? Welcome to my life.
Four months ago, I couldn’t have been happier. When my parents got divorced, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Especially when Mom married a guy half her age. But then I found out I wasn’t the average Joana. Discovering magic existed and, best of all, I could use it, made everything easier to deal with. That is until I got a little too spell happy. But what girl wouldn't defend her best friend against a world-class creep? Now I’m stuck in a nightmare, forced to make life and death decisions I never dreamed I’d face.
Love the magic, hate the responsibility.


Forsaken (The Demon Trappers #1) by Jana Oliver, 2011. 422 pages. Published by Macmillan. Source: Won.
Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself—and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on...

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get—even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart—and her life?
First sentence:
Atlanta, Georgia

Riley Blackthorne rolled her eyes.

Cover Reveal: Revelations by J.A Souders

Guy's, I could not resist signing up for yet another cover reveal. I must say that I am quite excited to help reveal the cover J.A. Souders' next book, Revelations, because it is awesome.

About the author:

J.A. Souders was born in the heartland with an overactive imagination and an overabundance of curiosity that was always getting her into trouble. She first began writing at the age of 13, when she moved to Florida and not only befriended the monsters under the bed, but created worlds for them to play together.
Because she never grew up, she decided she’d put her imaginary friends to work and started writing. She still lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and their two children.

You can haunt J.A. Souders at-
Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook
Revelations (Elysium Chronicles, 2 by) by J.A. Souders, November 5, 2013. Published by Tor Teen.

J.A is hosting a giveaway of a signed hard copy of RENEGADE, an e-copy of A DARK GRAVE (for those that don't have it, of course.) and signed copies of ARTICLE 5 and BREAKING POINT by Kristen Simmons.

Friday, February 15, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Paul R. Hewlett (author of Lionel's Grand Adventure)

Please, help me welcome Paul R. Hewlett, author of Lionel's Christmas Adventure, to the blog.

About the author:
Salesman by day, writer by night. Air Force vet. My aim is to write books that are constructive for children and encourage them to read, even if reading is not their favorite thing. I live in the midwest with my wife and dog (he's a "senior" that we adopted from the local rescue shlelter). Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule is the first book in a series. It is my first book (reviews & feedback would be much appreciated). Lionel's back in Lionel Turns the Other Cheek. Check out his comical adventures as Lionel heads off to summer camp. Look for Lionel's Christmas Adventure this November on Amazon. (from Goodreads)

1. In seven words can you tell us a little about your book, Lionel's Christmas Adventure: Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas?

Be careful what you wish for…

2. What made you want to make the story about Lionel as he learns the true meaning of Christmas?
This is the 3rd book in the Lionel’s Grand Adventure series and I thought it might be fun to write a holiday story. Writing about the true meaning of Christmas seemed like a great topic. All the Lionel books attempt to convey a message and have some meaning so what better message for the holidays?
3. Why do you think readers will enjoy reading about Lionel and the adventure that is surely awaiting him in your book?

The book is entertaining and fun. I mix magic, fantasy, and humor all through the eyes of a loveable main character everyone can relate to, Lionel Snodgrass. The adventures and high jinx that happen combined with a relatively short story make for something even reluctant readers may enjoy.

4. What was your inspiration for writing Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas? What do you hope readers will take away from Lionel's latest adventure? 

My inspiration comes from my desire to get children to read. The benefits of reading are nearly countless. I know it can be difficult to get children to read, especially today with social media and electronics fighting for a child’s attention. I hope in reading Lionel that readers will realize what is important. Many times it’s the things we already have that are important, friends, family, health, you name it. It’s hard for adults to realize and accept this at times let alone children. Hopefully readers will take away that the easiest (and sometimes the hardest) thing to give is that which doesn’t cost a thing.

5. Could you tell us a little about the illustrations in your book? Do you think that they capture the essence of the story?

At this time the only illustration is the cover which was done by my wonderful illustrator Pat Sauber. The rest of the cover was done by Laura Wright LaRoche at LLPix Photography. I think the cover most definitely captures the essence of the story. It’s apparent even at a young age Lionel is acting a bit like a curmudgeon. One also gets a feel for the personality of Lionel as well as the imagery in the book. I am pleased to say that I am currently working on adding chapter illustrations to all of my books.
6. Three middle grade books that you think every kid/person should read at least once in their life? Why?

Oh wow. That’s tough. I am such a huge middle grade fan. A good middle grade book is my absolute favorite. First off every kid/person should read Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol. Classic book never gets old. Then I would say any Three Investigators books by Robert Arthur. I’d recommend The Secret of Terror Castle since that’s the first one. These characters and books are classics. The main characters are so much fun and so original. I love detective stories and these are so clever and entertaining. I don’t know any child (particularly boys) that doesn’t want to solve a good mystery. How many times have we all sat bored on summer vacation dreaming of an adventure or something to do? Lastly I will add one I just read last year and absolutely loved, Alligators Overhead by C. Lee McKenzie. The main character in this book Pete Riley is just super. The story mixes in some magic, humor, excitement and there is a wonderful underlying lesson that kids/people will learn without even realizing they are learning it.

7. I hear that you are retired from the Air Force, was it difficult transitioning between being in the military to writing books for children?

I’m not actually retired. I just served in the Air Force, but not long enough to retire. However, I think I am still qualified to answer the question. It is very tough. The military is very structured. There is no question what you are going to do every day. It’s really quite simple. Get up and go to work or go to jail. Obviously that’s not the case in the civilian world. I think many veterans feel a bit lost transitioning. It’s hard to determine what you are qualified for and what you want to do. It’s even harder to get a job. And the work place is so different than the military. I really wish there was a better system for making the transition. I know the military has really improved their out-processing procedures to accommodate this, but there’s very little in the civilian world to help.

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

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. I’m not sure why I picked her; I just went with the first person to pop into my head. Maybe if Jennifer Aniston played a heroine in something-- I just realized how jealous I am of Brad Pitt.

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

My writing cave is my office. It also doubles as my White Sox room. I’m a die hard Chicago White Sox fan and it is decorated in White Sox stuff. I spend a ton of time in there writing/working and watching the Sox on TV. There are post it notes all over and lots of paperwork. I really need a bigger/better desk, right now. I use a TV tray as an extra desk top. I actually bought a new desk, but I’ve been sidelined since May with shoulder injuries so I can’t put it together or move the old one out of my room.

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

Sure, the fourth book in the Lionel’s Grand Adventure series is in my critique group right now. I wanted to add to those that don’t like series that these are not a continuation. They don’t end in cliffhangers is probably a better way to put it. You could read the third one first and would be fine. If you’re familiar with the first two of my middle grade must read books above, that’s what my series is like. You don’t have to read all the Encyclopedia Brown or Three Investigator books or read them in order. They are just unique stand alone stories with the same main characters. I’m also working on a longer middle grade novel with a new set of characters. It is in its infancy right now.

Lionel's Christmas Adventure: Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas (Lionel's Grand Adventure, 4) by Paul R. Hewlett, November 10, 2012.
Have you ever wanted something you couldn't have? Meet Lionel, a loveable bully-magnet who desperately wants a new sled and will do anything to get it.This fun Christmas book follows Lionel from Larrystown to the North Pole. His magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot is back and is as unpredictable as ever. Whether Lionel's sledding, ice skating, or in a life-sized gingerbread village, it takes him on some grand adventures. Filled with great Christmas imagery, this book is perfect for young readers and family story time. This 2012 holiday, be careful what you wish for, you never know what might happen!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Audiobook Review: Crewel

Crewel (Crewel World, 1) by Gennifer Albin, read by Amanda Dolan, October 16, 2012. 10 Hours. Published by AudioGo. Source: Audiobook Jukebox.
For generations, girls known as Spinsters have been called by Arras' Manipulation Services to work the looms and control what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die. Gifted with the unusual ability to weave time with matter, sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But Adelice isn't interested. Because once you become a Spinster, there's no turning back.
First Sentence:
They came in the night.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

Doomed by Tracy Deebs, January 8, 2013. Published by Walker Books.

Beat the game. Save the world.
Pandora’s just your average teen, glued to her cell phone and laptop, surfing Facebook and e-mailing with her friends, until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring twelve photos of her as a child. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora enters the site, where she is prompted to play her favorite virtual-reality game, Zero Day. This unleashes a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No utilities, traffic lights, hospitals, law enforcement. Pandora teams up with handsome stepbrothers Eli and Theo to enter the virtual world of Zero Day. Simultaneously, she continues to follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father, her one key to saving the world as we know it. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.
Why: A modern retelling of the myth of Pandora, yes, please!!!!

A Crewel World Valentine's Giveaway

Okay, so, I've never really been one for celebrating Valentine's Day-which I almost called St. Valentine's Day-because it is way too commercial and pink for me, but Gennifer Albin's awesome V-Day contest is definitely worthy of shining a light on the day's festiveness.

So, I know you're probably dying to know more about A Crewel World Valentine's Day Conntest so what better way to sum up the awesomeness then by sharing what Gennifer Albin has to say about it:
The Contest:
Tell me who you want to immortalize in fiction this Valentine's Day.  It can be a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, sibling, grandparent, parent, that cute guy at school, your favorite barista—whoever you want to wow this Valentine's Day.

The Prize
The nominated name will appear as a character in Crewel #3.  I won't know who this person is until I see the name.  They could be a passing reference or the most important person in the world!  As a bonus, I will send you a special signed copy of the page in which the character's name appears for posterity!

The Rules
Contest is opened internationally and will run from February 13, 2013 from 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM.  The winner will be announced at noon (CST) on Valentine's Day!  See rafflecopter entry form for additional legal stuff.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Touch Menacing by Leah Clifford (book blast)

It’s nearly time to say good bye to Eden and her friends with the conclusion of the A Touch Trilogy from author Leah Clifford.
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Whether you’ve been there from the beginning when Eden first met Az in A TOUCH MORTAL. Spent countless hours contemplating with other A Touch Trilogy fans over the fate of the kitten, from A TOUCH MORBID. Or are just joining us now, the conclusion to Leah Clifford’s A Touch Trilogy promises to be heart stopping and well worth the wait!
Pick up whichever novel you need to catch up before MENACING’S March 5th release date. You don’t want to be the only one not talking about this book!

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A Touch Trilogy #3 Author: Leah Clifford
Release Date: March 5th
Eden is dying. For real, this time.
She is crumbling to ash, and an unnatural plague is ravaging mortals and immortals alike. With both Heaven and Hell out to destroy her, Eden can no longer tell the difference between good and evil.

Friends become enemies. And enemies are everywhere.
But don't underestimate Eden. She'll fight for her life, for the lives of those she loves, and for every life she has ever touched.
She'll fight for revenge. For redemption. For—just maybe—the chance to be mortal again.
Everything began with forbidden love.
What will be sacrificed at the bitter end?
The dramatic conclusion to Leah Clifford's dark, alluring trilogy of life, death, and epic love.
Pick Up The Whole Series!
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A TOUCH MORTAL (A Touch Trilogy #1) AMAZON | B&N
A TOUCH MORBID (A Touch Trilogy #2) AMAZON | B&N

Help us spread the word about the final installment of the A Touch Trilogy, and you could win one of these amazing prizes!
Grand Prize 
30 Minute Skype Chat with Leah Clifford. Talk about writing, talk about THE KITTEN, talk about her books! Talk about almost anything!
2nd Place 
Get’s to name a character in Leah’s next published book
2 Lucky Bonus Winners Will get 1 Paperback of A TOUCH MORTAL and 1 Hardcover of A TOUCH MORBID signed to the winner!
- Open Internationally for the Skype Chat and Character Name
- Books Will Only be mailed in the US.
- Pre Order for A Touch Menacing can be from any date
- Order for Mortal or Morbid MUST be dated between 2/1 and 2/22
*we reserve the right to deny any receipt for entry if it appears to be altered or manipulated in anyway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Leah Clifford currently lives in Ohio, but frequently dreams of finding an abandoned mansion in the south that she can restore. In her spare time she loves to travel and has been known to drive over two hours to get kickass quesadillas. So far for jobs she's sold corn at a roadside stand, been a pizza delivery girl, a camp counselor, an extreme cave tour guide, a flight attendant, a waitress (x3), a grocery store clerk and a writer. Out of all of them, writing has been the most fun. She's pretty sure she's gonna stick with it.
Love Leah’s A TOUCH TRILOGY? Check out the CafePress store dedicated to the series.

Just click to visit The Mortal Porta!
A Touch Menacing items coming soon!
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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, February 11, 2013

The Homeward Bounders

The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones, 2010 (originally published in 1981). 281 pages. Published by HarperCollins Childrens.  Source: Bought.
"You are now a discard. We have no further use for you in play. You are free to walk the Bounds, but it will be against the rules for you to enter play in any world. If you succeed in returning Home, then you may enter play again in the normal manner."
When Jamie unwittingly discovers the sinister, dark-cloaked Them playing games with humans' lives, he is cast out to the boundaries of the worlds. Clinging to Their promise that if he can get Home he is free, he becomes an unwilling Random Factor in Their deadly, eternal game.
Jamie travels alone until he teams up with Helen and Joris, determined to beat Them at Their own game. But Their rules don't allow Homeward Bounders to work together.
First Sentence:
Have you heard of the Flying Dutchman?

Friday, February 8, 2013

All About Middle Grade Author Interviews: Chris Rylander + Giveaway

I cannot believe that I get to share with y'all my interview with Chris Rylander, author of The Fourth Stall series. *jumps around* If you haven't read this awesome series but are curious about it, I have reviewed the entire series on the blog.

About the Author:
Some Stuff About Me:
I was born and raised in North Dakata. I love sports, movies, music and books of all kinds. I am married to a cool girl named Amanda. We have one dog and one cat. (from author's website)

1. Chris, Fourth Stall has been on of my favorite MG discoveries of the year. What made you want to write about a book about two boys running an illegal business from a bathroom stall at their school?

Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it.  My inspiration came from two places: 1)  I wanted to do a middle grade version of a well established adult genre.  After some thought, I stumbled upon the idea of mobster movies, like The Godfather and Goodfellas.  As far as I knew that had never been done before, and I thought the world of organized crime really could work in a school setting.  2) The rest of the story and plot simply came from me asking myself: What is the one book I would have loved to read as a 12 year old but never got to?

2. Mac and Vince have been two of my favorite characters to read about this year, as well, as their friendship. How important was it for you as writer to make their friendship so believable to readers? One thing you learned about both characters through the course of writing the Fourth Stall series?

It's always important to me to make every character and interaction as believable as possible.   But developing their friendship definitely took a few drafts and and a lot more work than I had anticipated.  I really relied a lot on my interactions with my brother growing up, since we were basically best friends in addition to being siblings.  I wish I could say I learned something about the characters, but for me creating characters is a transparent process.  I'm fully aware and cognizant of every detail I put into them, so for me, there are no surprises since every aspect about them was something I and/or my editor and agent decided upon.

3. I admit, the things that Vince would quote from his grandmother cracked me up. Did all those quirky sayings come straight from your brain, or did they have a little real life inspiration? Which three did you like the most?

Thanks!  They cracked me up, too, so it's always great to hear that I'm not the only one!  They came from somewhere in my brain.  I have no idea where most of them came from.  I just love random in general, so this was my way to get  non-sequitur jokes into the book.  My favorite grandma quotes are the ones in Part III.  I can't pick out just three, but compared to the first two books, these new ones are definitely my favorites.

4. Since the Fourth Stall series follows Mac and Vince, could you tell us three middle grade titles with male protagonist that you'd recommend? Why these three?

1) The Detention Club - Because David Yoo is one of the funniest writers around.

2) Sideways Stories from Wayside School - An all-time favorite of mine, just random and quirky and weird and hilarious.

3) Freak the Mighty - Because it was a favorite of mine when I was in middle school, and I loved the characters.  I've always liked "odd-couple" type stories.

5. So, Chris, are you as die-hard of a fan of the Cubs as your characters?

Unfortunately, yes.

6.  I am seriously going to miss this series and the characters after the final book. How does it feel to be saying goodbye to your series?

You know, I don't think it has quite set in yet.  I had increasingly more fun writing each book, so in that way it's definitely sad.  I'd still love to write more, or maybe even a spin-off series with some new characters introduced in Part III, so hopefully someday I get the chance to do that.

7. Mac is out of the Business and it's up to you to keep it going. How would you  make this new venture a success? Anything you would change about operations now that you are the boss?

I wouldn't stand a chance.  Mas is the ultimate businessman, and I'm... well, me.  The business would go under in less than a week without a doubt.   For starters, the first change I'd make is to be paid in candy.  And that would be the beginning of the end.

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

Luke Skywalker, definitely.  I just want Jedi to be real so badly.

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

My writing cave is simply either my couch or dining room table, actually.  Or sometimes I head down the street to my favorite coffee shop, Cafe Mustache, when I find that my TV and animals are becoming too distracting.  I can write in a lot of different environments, which is nice.  The whole last half of The Fourth Stall Part III's first draft was written on an 18 hour Amtrak ride from North Dakota to Chicago during the middle of the night.   One time, I even wrote a few chapters while simultaneously slaying this dragon that had been terrorizing our neighborhood.

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

My newest series, which is tentatively titled Codename Zero, is about a kid who becomes a secret agent by accident.   It hopefully will come out sometime early in 2014.

Cannot wait to read more of your work, Chris. Thank you so much for stopping by!!!!!!

Fourth Stall III by Chris Rylander, February 5, 2013. Published by Walden Pond Press.

The saga of Mac, Vince, and middle school organized crime comes to a thrilling conclusion in THE FOURTH STALL PART III. Their business is finished, and Mac’s and Vince’s lives have become something they have never been before: simple. None of the fortune or the glory and none of the risk or threat of juvenile prison. There’s even a new business that has stepped in to take their place (and take the heat off Mac and Vince for once). Things couldn’t be better.
But that was before things at their middle school started to go haywire. Before they found out that there’s a new crime boss at school in the town over trying to consolidate power. And before their old nemesis, Staples, came back to town begging for help after his stint in the clink. Just when Mac and Vince thought they were out, the business pulls them back in. But this time, will they be able to escape with their lives and permanent records intact?

You can check out my reviews for the whole series:
Fourth Stall
Fourth Stall Part II
Fourth Stall Part III

Thanks to the awesome people at Walden Pond Press, one lucky winner is going to win a hardback copy of Fourth Stall Part III and a signed bookplate.

Open to US/CA

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wish List Wednesday

The Savage Fortress (Ash Mistry Chronicles, 1) by Sarwat Chadda, October 1, 2012. Published by  Arthur A. Levine Books.

The gods and monsters of India roar to life in this thrilling fantasy!
After three weeks of vacation, Ash Mistry is ready to leave the heat and dust of India behind him. Then he discovers a gleaming gold arrowhead hidden in the sands---a weapon used to defeat evil King Ravana in legend.
At least, Ash is pretty sure it's only a legend . . .
But when Lord Alexander Savage comes after Ash, the legends are suddenly way too real. Savage commands an army of monstrous shapechangers called rakshasas, who want only to seize the arrowhead and restore Ravana to power. As they hunt Ash through magnificent fortresses and brutal deserts, he must learn to work with a powerful rakshasa girl named Parvati, and find the strength within himself to fight on no matter what. Because this isn't just a battle to stop the end of the world. It's a battle to stop the end of reality as we know it.
No pressure.
Why: Because Sarwat Chadda knows has to write an explosive book, and I want more of his awesome writing.

Tuesday, February 5, 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, February 4, 2013

ARC Review: Fourth Stall Part III

Fourth Stall Part III (Fourth Stall, 3) by Chris Rylander, February 5, 2013. 304 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: Publisher for review.
The saga of Mac, Vince, and middle school organized crime comes to a thrilling conclusion in THE FOURTH STALL PART III. Their business is finished, and Mac’s and Vince’s lives have become something they have never been before: simple. None of the fortune or the glory and none of the risk or threat of juvenile prison. There’s even a new business that has stepped in to take their place (and take the heat off Mac and Vince for once). Things couldn’t be better.
But that was before things at their middle school started to go haywire. Before they found out that there’s a new crime boss at school in the town over trying to consolidate power. And before their old nemesis, Staples, came back to town begging for help after his stint in the clink. Just when Mac and Vince thought they were out, the business pulls them back in. But this time, will they be able to escape with their lives and permanent records intact?
First Sentence:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kiki Strike Blog Tour: Interview with Kirsten Miller

I shall try not to fangirl, but, I got to interview Kirsten Miller!!!! So excited to have her on the blog because her Kiki Strike series is one of my absolute favorites!

About the author:

If you are looking for Kirsten Miller, the American author of bizarre young adult fiction, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re searching for some other Kirsten Miller, I wish you the very best of luck. As you may have noticed, there are quite a few of us out there. (And one of us is thoroughly evil.)  
I, one of the relatively benign Kirsten Millers, am responsible for the Kiki Strike series (all ages), as well as The Eternal Ones and its forthcoming sequel, All You Desire (ages 13+). I will not be held responsible for any other novels. I have enough to answer for already.  
Those of you in the mood for adventure should consider exploring the links on the previous page. They will deliver you to a few of the dark worlds I’ve created—worlds teeming with delinquent girl geniuses, sinister secret societies, man-eating rodents, snake handling clairvoyants, and various agents of entropy.  
I realize such things are not everyone’s cup of tea. If you have no interest in reincarnation or giant squirrels, I recommend reading the works of another Kirsten Miller. I hear they’re delightful.

You can haunt Kirsten Miller at-
Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | FB |


1.      Kirsten, the Kiki Strike books have been a long time favorite of mine. How did you first come up with the idea?

Thank you!! Well, there wasn’t a single moment of inspiration. Around 2004, million little pieces just started coming together in my head. I already had the main character—I’d created Kiki years before I ever started writing about her. And I’ve been interested in underground cities for as long as I can remember.

The that really brought everything together and got me writing was quite similar to the one described in the first chapter of Inside the Shadow City. An enormous sinkhole opened up on a busy corner here in New York City. At the bottom of the hole was a perfectly preserved room from the 19th century. But the room didn’t appear to have a door. (Isn’t that awesome?!?) I heard what had happened—and I literally couldn’t stop thinking about it. I became obsessed with all the forgotten things beneath New York’s streets—and that obsession became my first book.

2.      What made you want to make the Irregulars delinquent Girl Scouts? Any chance you yourself were a delinquent Girl Scout?

I was a Girl Scout. And I was a delinquent. Though I was never both at the same time. Ha. Yeah, I did a year or so in the scouts. I’m sure things have changed since then, but back in my day, all the fun seemed to focus on stuff like baking and macramé. Meanwhile, I wanted to learn how to track dangerous animals and survive in the wilderness.

My delinquent days started in high school. I’d tell you more, but I’m not sure the parental statute of limitations has run out on some of my “crimes.”

3.      The Irregulars has to be one of the coolest secret group names out there. If the Irregulars were real do you think you'd have what it takes to be to run with Kiki and company?

Thanks again! I borrowed it from Sherlock Holmes. He relied on a band of small boys to run errands that no adults could do. Sherlock called his urchins the Baker St. Irregulars. As a kid, I was always EXTREMELY annoyed that there weren’t any girls in the Baker St. Irregulars. So I named my group of unruly girl geniuses the Bank St. Irregulars.

Yes. I do have what it takes. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much spare time as they do. (That’s what you’ll miss most when you grow up, kids! Spare time! So use yours wisely!)

4.      I absolutely love the characters in your Kiki Strike series and how they all bring their own special talent to the table. If you could be one of the five for one day who would you choose to be? Why?

For just one day? Probably Oona Wong. I happen to be a big fan of scurrilous gossip, and I’m sure I’d “overhear” lots of juicy stuff at her nail salon.

5.      Five things every Irregular should have at all times? Why?

Gum: This stuff is amazing. You can use it to tack things together—or up on a wall. You can use it to jam a car’s ignition—or retrieve lost items from a sewer drain (with the help of a stick). And I honestly believe that fresh breath should always be a tip priority.

A Smartphone: This one is obvious. Can you imagine what James Bond could have done with an iPhone?

A Swiss Army Knife: I used to carry one of these with me everywhere—until the TSA started confiscating them.

A Scarf: This is fashion’s Swiss Army Knife. A scarf can quickly become a disguise. A bandage. A restraint. A weapon. A knapsack. And much, much more.

A Bad Attitude: There are many important situations in which a girl shouldn’t mind her manners.

6.      Three (non Kiki Strike) books that you think every would be Irregular should read? Why?

The Works by Kate Ascher
Wicked Plants  by Amy Stewart
How to Fix (Just About) Everything (or one of the two million books like it)

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

I think this is definitely a situation that calls for Luz Lopez. In fact, you just gave me an idea. I’ve been thinking about possibly writing a fourth Kiki Strike. (For fun.) I know it would focus on Luz. I know where the story would take place. And I’m kinda fascinated by robots at the moment. Hmmmm . . . this is how it usually starts.

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

I’m afraid a picture might expose my secrets to my enemies. (I’m not really kidding.) I write at my desk, in my office. It’s actually pretty nice. Lots of light. A window that looks over a bunch of Brooklyn backyards. (That happen to be home to at least one black squirrel. I always feel lucky whenever I spot him.)

My desk is pretty cluttered at the moment. Tons of Post-Its with ideas scribbled on them. Piles of books I need to read. A big pot of coffee. (Cause I’m answering these questions before the sun has risen.)

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

I have another book coming out soon! It’s called How to Lead a Life of Crime (Razorbill, 2/13). It will definitely appeal to older Kiki readers, but it’s not suitable for younger kids (or those with a weak stomach). It’s very dark and very disturbing. And it’s one of the two best things I’ve ever written. (The Darkness Dwellers being the other.) 

While I was doing some research for Kiki, I discovered that New York was once home to a school for young criminals. The Grand Street School was founded in the 1870s by a woman named Marm Mandelbaum—and it was a roaring success until Marm fled to Canada to escape from the NYC police. The premise of How to Lead a Life of Crime is that the Grand Street School never shut down for good. It simply changed its name and became respectable.

Thank so much for stopping by Kirsten! Luz would definitely be the perfect answer to a robot invasion. 

The Darkness Dwellers (Kiki Strike, 3) by Kirsten Miller, January 22, 2013. Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's.
First they ventured deep under New York to save the city itself. Then things got personal as the Irregulars ventured into a haunted mansion in Chinatown to uncover an evil twin. Now, in the third installment of bestselling author Kirsten Miller's Kiki Strike series, this delightful group of delinquent geniuses jump feet first into a fast-paced international pursuit, going underground in Paris to pursue a pair of treacherous royals who have killed Kiki's parents. With a dash of romance, a fresh take on good manners, and loads of butt-kicking bravery, Kiki, Betty, Ananka and the other Irregulars sharpen their amazing skills in this highly anticipated new adventure.

Friday, February 1, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Margo Sorenson (author of Island Danger & Time of Honor)

This week, I am very excited to welcome middle grade author Margo Sorenson (Island Danger & Time of Honor) to the blog.  Hope y'all will give her a very warm welcome.

About the author:

A National Milken Educator and author of 28 books for young readers, Margo Sorenson scrambles to keep up with her grandchildren’s expanding universes in this new digital age. Her most recent middle grade ebook mystery/adventure, TIME OF HONOR, was published in October 2012. You can read more about Margo’s books and interviews/reviews on her website,  Her books can be ordered through many outlets using the website links, including the publishers’ websites,, and others.

You can haunt Margo Sorenson at-
Website | Twitter | Goodreads

1. Can you tell us a little about your book, Time for Honor?

Fourteen-year-old Connor’s smart mouth gets her in and—luckily—out of trouble on her prep school’s debate team and in the classroom. On a field trip to the U.K., when she is suddenly catapulted into the year 1272, she finds her royal new friends’ lives are threatened by a conspiracy fueled by greed. When William and Maud learn that their father has been murdered on the Crusade, they beg her to help them find who is plotting against them. William must confront his enemy in battle, but what does Connor discover about herself and her ability to use words when she tries to save her new friends—and herself?

2. What made you want to write a book where the main character travels through time? Was it difficult?

As a medieval history major (anything before 1600 is way too modern for me!), I’d always wanted to live back in the Middle Ages, and, growing up seeing castles and such in Europe, it wasn’t too big a jump to write myself back into that time.  I’ve written other time-travel adventures (my adventure-biographies of Langston Hughes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, etc.), and it was always so much fun to juxtapose a modern kid with history, highlighting the contrasts and similarities, so it was a natural plot progression for me.  When I was writing this manuscript, it was always so hard to drag myself back into the 21st century!

3. What did you enjoy most while writing Time for Honor?

It was so much fun actually “living” in the time!  Writing it was like watching a movie where I was living in my favorite time period, and that “present moment” factor was a good check on helping me to make sure my research was as accurate as I could make it. For example, when Connor gets dressed in her new gown, she has to know how clothes were fastened (no to zippers!) and where clothes were stored (no closets!).  Connor cringes to think that the servants might not have made a thorough “flea-check” on the gowns, of course. There are so many minute details of our daily life routines that we take for granted that didn’t exist in 1272, and all of those details helped to make the time period come alive for me.  It really was about being in the moment.

4. What were the most interesting things you learned while researching the setting for Time for Honor?

There were lots of interesting things I learned, and one of them was that even noble people didn’t have forks, only spoons and knives, and they used “trenchers” of bread for their meals, not plates.  Connor has to figure out how to deal with these drastic lifestyle differences and not let the others see that some of them – like having to share a goblet with your dinner companion -- really gross her out.  She has a serious challenge pretending that she really does belong in 1272, and thus not alerting her new friends -- or the villains -- that she isn’t who she purports to be, thus putting herself in grave danger.

5. Where there any difficulties that you came across while writing a time travel(ish) book?

One of the difficulties was that because I so love the Middle Ages I would get off on a tangent and put in way many more details than were necessary – details that would, no doubt, put the readers to sleep!  I had to cut a lot of information that I thought was fascinating, but I had to stop kidding myself that young readers would find it equally mesmerizing. The other difficulty was to choose which would be the best aspects of life in the Middle Ages to compare and contrast with today’s that would intrigue and affect young readers the most.  I wanted them to see dramatically the differences between their lives today and the thirteenth century – but without boring them.  Connor was the best main character to do that, because she has a smart phone and a computer and is very knowledgeable about travel and the world, so the contrast between her own world and that of 1272 is very drastic.  She has to ride a horse instead of taking a taxi to find Akbar the Spice-Seller so she can try to finesse the information out of him about a murder, and it takes her hours to travel the distance that the tour bus took fifteen minutes to reach.  Her use of current 21st century slang is a definite red flag, so she has to really watch what comes out of her mouth, because if she doesn’t, she will put herself in danger.  For example, she can’t say, “I have your back,” or, “That’s cool,” or others will become suspicious of who she really is and where she’s from.  When she slips up and uses the current vernacular she’s used to using, her friends William and Maud will say, “Methinks they speak strangely in Chadbourne,” the latter being the name of her prep school, which they fortunately assume is the name of her family’s fiefdom.

6. Any new projects that you're working on at the moment?

I’m working on revisions for an adult historical romance (yes, the Middle Ages!) for an adult romance publisher and am working on a contemporary YA novel set in Italy, complete with Mafia-type organized crime and lots of Italian details, including cute Italian guys.  In addition to those, I’m always revising my many picture book manuscripts, none of which take place in the Middle Ages, though two of my published picture books are set in medieval times, AMBROSE AND THE PRINCESS and AMBROSE AND THE CATHEDRAL DREAM.

7. Last book that you read? What did you think of it?

The last book I read was FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES by Donna Leon, one of her murder mysteries set in Venice, featuring the redoubtable Commissario Guido Brunetti.  I am a big fan of hers, so of course I loved the intricate plotting, the authentic Italian setting and depiction of Italian daily living, and the characters of Guido and all his family.  She puts together the whole package!

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

I choose Atticus Finch, whose famous line, when he was checking the thought processes of Scout and Jem, in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was, “Do you really think so?”  His calmness and thoroughness and his integrity and courage would overcome the robots in a heartbeat.

9. Care to share your writing cave with us (include a picture if you want)?

Sure – here’s a picture!  You can see pictures of my grandkids, a little row of some of my favorite childhood books, and the pads of paper I use to jot notes to myself about manuscripts that I’m working on.  But, honestly, my writing cave is also anywhere I am with my ever-present notebook and pencil, which is how I write my first drafts of picture books and my outlines and first chapters of longer works.  It’s only later that I begin transferring the words onto my laptop.  It’s all about the connection between hand and brain as I write by hand.  Er, sometimes there *is* no connection, either – and that’s what gets revised or deleted!

10. Any thing you would like to ask the readers???

What was your favorite time in history, and why?  Would you like to travel back then?

Orchid, thank you again so much for your kind invitation!

Alright, readers, let's see what kind of answer y'all have for Margo's questions.

Island Danger by Margo Sorenson, July 27, 2012. Published by MuseItUp Publishing.

When fourteen-year-old soccer star Todd arrives in Hawaii, he hears that radical, militant Hawaiian activists have hidden weapons in a nearby ravine to use for their rebellion against the U.S. government to gain Hawaiian independence. Even though he’s warned that people are raising marijuana or “pakalolo” in the ravine, guarding their crops with rifles, pit bulls, and explosives, Todd plans to scout the ravine and find the weapons, hoping he can finally earn his family’s respect and find some adventure to offset his boring summer. What will Todd discover in the ravine that could force him to rethink everything he’s believed?

Time of Honor by Margo Sorenson, October 10, 2012. Published by MuseItUp Publishing.

Tween Mystery Adventure

Fourteen-year-old Connor’s smart mouth gets her in and—luckily—out of trouble on her prep school’s debate team and in the classroom. On a field trip to the U.K., when she is suddenly catapulted into the year 1272, she finds her royal new friends’ lives are threatened by a conspiracy fueled by greed. When William and Maud learn that their father has been murdered on the Crusade, they beg her to help them find who is plotting against them. William must confront his enemy in battle, but what does Connor discover about herself and her ability to use words well when she tries to save her new friends—and herself?