Monday, June 30, 2014

Young Adult Review: Lady Thief

Lady Thief (Scarlet, 2) by A.C. Gaughen, February 11, 2014. 304 pages. Published by Walker Childrens. Source: Library.
Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.
First Sentence:
The fire breathed, the dying embers flaring and cooling in a hot pulse. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

[Blog Tour Review/Giveaway] Deadwood

Deadwood by Kell Andrews, June 24, 2014. 220 pages. Published by Spencer Hill Press. Source: publisher.
Sometimes a lucky ritual becomes a curse. Seventh-grader Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town, Lower Brynwood, but with his mom fighting a war in Afghanistan, he has no other choice but to live with his crazy aunt. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it's cursed--and so is he.

It's not just any tree either, it's the Spirit Tree, an ancient beech the football team carves for good luck before the season opener. But every year they lose. Now the Spirit Tree is dying, and the other trees in the park are toppling around it like dominoes. The town is plagued with unexplainable accidents and people begin to fade, drained of life. Martin must team up with a know-it-all soccer star, Hannah Vaughan, if he has any chance of breaking the curse.

If they fail to save the Spirit Tree, it could mean the destruction of Lower Brynwood and a permanent case of bad luck.
First Sentence:
Martin Cruz knew something was wrong the moment he saw Lower Brynwood from the interstate. 

While I did enjoy Deadwood and the writing of Kell Andrews, this one fell a little short of my expectations. I really wanted to like it more than I did but it just took too long for things to truly happen and I was able to untangle the plot in just ten pages.

That's not to say the book is lacking in merit, just that it was a little too easy for my brain to unravel the entire plot. So, while I may have been a skosh let down with Deadwood I'm sure this is one book that many readers will enjoy...more than I did.

What worked for me:
I really enjoyed seeing the angle behind the Spirit Tree's demise and how it affected everything within the town, from the other plant life to that of the people. It was really interesting to see how the author made the Spirit Tree so interconnected with every thing there, as well, as the means which it used to communicate with Martin and Hannah as it trued to enlist their help to right the wrong of the evil one.
   So yeah, the author definitely did a great job when it came to fleshing out the story-line and the how's and why's behind the downfall of Lower Brynwood. I enjoyed seeing Hannah and Martin argue and muddle their way to the answers, and, even friendship as they fought to save the Spirit Tree and those they cared about from destruction.

In short, the actual premise of the story is quite interesting in itself. I've always enjoyed reading a book where two unlikely allies team up in order to save the day. And that is part of what you'll get when you dive into Kell Andrews' Deadwood.

What didn't work for me:
Well, let's just say that from very early on, like maybe ten pages in, I knew who was behind everything, who was just a mere pawn, and why they were doing what they were doing. It was just too easy for me to figure out which was a little disappointing as I was looking forward to unraveling the mystery of the Spirit Tree...albeit at a much slower pace then I actually did.
   While I found this to be a pretty predictable read, it was still interesting (if a little slow since I figured things out way before the characters ever got close to the answer).
The final thing that did not work for me in Deadwood would have to be some of the interactions between Hannah and Martin because they felt a little unlike what one normally sees within a middle grade title. While I did find certain things about their friendship to be a little odd, I really did enjoy seeing the way they worked together even when they were not getting along. Truthfully, I really enjoyed Martin's character the most.

In the end, what I really enjoyed about Deadwood would have to be the way Kell Andrews was able to write about the mystery surrounding the rapid decline of the Spirit Tree and how it created a domino like of destruction throughout the town of Lower Brynwood. It was definitely interesting seeing how she brought all the pieces together in the end, as well, as seeing the final way things settled after the truth finally came out.

The two things that kept me from truly loving this one, as much as I wanted, would have to be the ease in which I solved the mystery and that it seemed to take them ages, like the last few pages, for the characters to finally put two and two together. A little frustrating when you guess early on, but definitely worth reading for the story.

Final Verdict: Deadwood- While not as complex as I hoped, I found myself enjoying the character dialogue and following their investigations.

Deadwood earns

About the Author:
Kell Andrews writes nonfiction for adults and fiction for children. A little bit of magic helps with both. Growing up, she spent a lot of time reading, writing, drawing, and looking for treasure in the woods and on the beach. She still does. Kell holds a humanities degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A lifelong Philadelphian, she lives with her husband and two daughters in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, right next to a park a lot like the one in Deadwood.
 You can haunt Kell Andrews at-Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wish List Wednesday

Midnight Thief (Midnight Thief, 1) by Livia Blackburne, July 8, 2014. Published by Disney Hyperion.
Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

Why:  My curiosity is piqued by this one and I want to know if it'll be as good as it sounds. I'm really hoping that should I get the chance to read it, it won't be disappointing.

[Blog Tour Review/Giveaway] I Am the Weapon

I Am the Weapon (Unknown Assassin, 1) by Allen Zadoff, May 13, 2014. 368 pages. Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Source: publisher.
They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die-of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he's assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's mission.
First Sentence:
It's a thirty-two ounce Rawlings composite. 

Truth be told, I wanted to like I Am the Weapon more than I did. While it was supposed to be a whole new take on the teen spy genre, as it said on a blurb, I found it to be...well not. This is not the first time I've read a book similar to this one. Even though this one ended up being not as spectacular as I was hoping for, I did enjoy seeing the way the story came together.

So, what did I enjoy about the first book in Allen Zadoff's Unknown Assassin series, well, that would have to be Boy Nobody's story. I found it interesting to watch him go from being just a good little soldier within the Program's system, to questioning the rightness behind what he was being asked to do. It was definitely fascinating to watch him slowly come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the Program wasn't completely in the right with their missions and endgame.
   Morally, I found it interesting because he had been basically reprogrammed to accept his role and the jobs he was assigned with no questions asked, but, as more of his personal story was shared and how he came to work for them it became apparent that he had whitewashed away his feelings on right and wrong.

If I look at the book as one about right and wrong, as well, as how Boy Nobody's eyes were opened to the life he was brought into, then I Am the Weapon was an interesting read. But, when I look past that, I'm still left feeling disappointed because the author didn't break any new ground with his novel.
   While it has been sometime since I last read it, this book made me think of another that was quite similar in many areas. Boy is trained to become assassin, boy starts to question that truth behind his 'job', boy's mind is changed/opened to what could be by a girl. And this is where book one kind of lost me. Sure, there was the beginnings of the questions in regard to the Program from the very beginning of the book-cue, cannot be still and not working as memories and doubts plague character-and you see that not everything is as his "parents" hoped it would be.

Plot aside, let's talk about the writing.

The writing was okay, but what Allen Zadoff did excel at was the fight scenes and crafting intense scenes as Boy Nobody wrestled with his past and the shape of his future. I enjoy books when the author is able to make the reader feel something-whether good or bad for the character and their current situation. While I may not have liked everything about the way Boy Nobody's story and the writing, it does pull you in.

What I did not like about the writing. Well...that would be that I felt there was a lack of a) character development-Ben would start to question things and maybe think for himself and then he would back to siding with the Program. I would have liked to have seen him progress more along the line of deciding whether or not he was truly loyal to them. b) Even though he was in mission mode, i.e all about the job and nothing else, I really didn't buy into the whole connections he was trying to make with his targets. Ben just came across like a two dimensional paper cutout.

While I do have some problems with the overall story and characters, I Am the Weapon had it's entertaining moments and was, mainly the dramatic scenes, a page turner of a read as the constant action draws you in like an action flick.

As this review is getting quite long-this was the short version- I'll be sharing my thoughts on book two in a few days.

Final Verdict: I Am the Weapon- A fast paced read where loyalties are questioned and stakes are high.

Don't forget to check out tomorrow's stop on the blog tour @ Curling Up with A Good Book.

About the Author:
Allen Zadoff is the author of the THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN series as well as several acclaimed novels including FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE, winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award and a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults. Allen's action-packed series debut, I AM THE WEAPON (formerly BOY NOBODY), is a page-turning thriller about a teenage assassin that has already been optioned for film by Sony Pictures & Overbrook Entertainment. The book was featured in the Los Angeles Times' Summer Reading guide and has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA. Kirkus Reviews called I AM THE WEAPON "fast, furious, and fun." Look for the sequel, I AM THE MISSION, beginning in June 2014. Allen is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. His training as a super spy, however, has yet to be verified. Visit Allen on the web at

You can haunt Allen Zadoff at-
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:
3 sets of THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN books 1 and 2 US only.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Blackmoore

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson, September 9, 2013. 286 pages. Published by Shadow Mountain. Source: Library.
Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?
First Sentence:
A woodlark sings of heartache.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Catholic Review: Let's Not Forget About God

Let's Not Forget About God: Freedom of Faith, Culture, and Politics by Cardinal Angelo Scola, translates by Matthew Sherry, June 3, 2014. 128 pages. Published by Image. Source: publisher.
Born out of a speech celebrating the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, in which emperors Constantine I and Licinius granted Christians legal rights, this book by Cardinal Angelo Scola gives attention to the crisis of religious freedom in the twenty-first century. Let’s Not Forget God outlines how Christianity has been at the center of creating a pluralistic society, from the Roman Empire in 313 to the American Revolution in 1776. This bold vision of freedom brings religion into the realm of public debate without allowing the state to banish or control it. “The question of religious freedom,closely connected to that of freedom of conscience,” writes Cardinal Scola, “is revealing itself today to be crucial not only to the development of Western societies but also to the peaceful evolution of their relationships with Asia, Africa, and Latin America.” Let’s Not Forget God is both a portrait of the history of religious freedom and a testament to its potential for spreading peace.
First Sentence:
The seventeenth centenary of the Edict of Milan brings back to our attention the issue, more relevant than ever, of religious freedom.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Key to Kashdune

Key to Kashdune by Claudia White, June 10, 2014. pages 224. Published by MP Publisher. Source: author.
Key to Kashdune picks up the year after Aesop’s Secret ends. An earthquake in the exotic countryside of Turkey has uncovered an ancient cave full of relics of the shape-shifting Athenite people, and two present-day Athenites, Dr. Harmony Melpot and her uncle Joe Wiltshire (previously Aesop the rabbit), are eager to discover its secrets. When they meet with disaster in the form of another frightening earthquake, Melinda convinces her family to go to her friend Joe’s rescue. In the process she discovers four mysterious journals that reveal the secret to traveling by the Earth’s music. Captivated by the melodies she hears, Melinda flies off as a kestrel to the fabled island of Kashdune, rumored to be a place where Athenites and humans live together in peace. Unfortunately, the Huttons’ old nemesis Professor Horace Stumpworthy has learned of the utopian island, and he attempts to use the ancient Athenite knowledge there to exact his revenge upon the Hutton family. The Huttons, Harmony, and Joe set off after Melinda, parting a veil of magical mist that hides Kashdune from the outside world. Jake is separated from the rest of the group, but the others successfully make their way to the hidden island.

First Sentence:
The torch beam searched the walls of the dark and humid cavern.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Young Adult Review: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, 1) by Rachel Harris, September 16, 2012. 304 pages. Published by Entangle Teen. Source: library.
On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?
First Sentence:
I'm trapped.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wish List Wednesday

Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick, February 27, 2014. Published by Razorbil.
Natalya knows a secret.
A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia's Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.
But it's not in the right hands.
Why: The short write-up had me very intrigued as to what the book is actually about. Plus, I saw it while visiting the base library and wanted to check it out so badly. But alas, I already have books checked out from one library and will have to get another time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

[Blog Tour Review/Giveaway] Henrietta and the Dragon Stone

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (Five Kingdoms, 2) by Beth Barany, January 31, 2014. 300 pages. Published by Firewolf Books. Source: blog tour.
What if everyone you loved was threatened by a force you couldn't see or fight?

Henrietta the legendary dragon slayer wants to return to her village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after her and her Dragon Stone and aims to destroy everyone she cares about. Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone and keep her loved ones safe, or will the sorcerer destroy everyone and everything she loves?
First Sentence:
King Singfan sucked in a breath, stretched the crossbow, and held it steady, tracking the beast. 

While I found many reasons to enjoy Henrietta and the Dragon Stone, like the strong female character and the general story line, there were a couple things that kept me from being fully satisfied after finishing it. It was still quite the interesting read though.

Even though I do have some reservations after reading Beth Barany's Henrietta and the Dragon Stone, I am pleased that I was able to read this one because I enjoyed reading about Henrietta and her latest adventure. She was definitely a strong willed character, and as one would expect, with a past that at times haunts her.
   So, other than her obvious strength in battle and her fierceness when it came to protecting those she cared about I enjoyed reading about her because her character was more than those two aspects. I loved seeing the way the author wrote about her and how those closest to her respected her strength in the face of battle. It was interesting because at times you can see a strong character but, yes there's a but, the male characters seem well threatened by that and thus belittle it. But here that was not the case. The final reason I enjoyed reading about Henrietta would have to be because she had so much room to grow within the book. It was nice to see more than just her strength shown as she battled with her possible feelings for a friend, while still wishing to keep him safe from her by pushing him away.

As for the story, it was interesting even though I felt a little lost for the first couple of chapters. As the story seemed to pick up where the previous one left off-which I haven't read. So, while I worried for a few chapters on whether or not I was going to be able to make heads or tails of the story on a whole, I slowly fell into the writing and world as my brain puzzled out what could have happened in book one.
   That aside, what made the story interesting would have to be how all these little pieces, the attack on her mentor's village and more things, began to appear I enjoyed seeing the way the author used them to paint the fuller picture of the problems besieging the heroine. I'm sure y'all know how I like seeing the way authors take multiple plot strands to create the big picture of what's happening withing the world they have crated.

I would recommend starting from book one, unlike me, so that yo can have the full story of what happened previously that led up to the happenings of book two.

While I generally enjoyed the author's writing, I did feel that maybe things went a little fast when it came to the characters' evolving relationship. Would I have liked to see it move slower yes. There was just too much going on for me to believe that either character would even chance moving forward with their feelings at that point in the book. But, I'm guessing if it was a runoff from book one then I could more understand the exploration of their changing feelings.

Final Verdict: Henrietta and the Dragon Stone- An action packed fantasy with a strong, sword-wielding heroine that I'm sure readers will enjoy reading about.

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone earns

Special Blog Tour Giveaway: Grand Prize

I’ll be giving away 1 signed copies of Henrietta and the Dragon Stone and 1 signed copy of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer.
I’ll mail you a copy anywhere in the world.

I’ll also give away e-book copies of Henrietta and the Dragon Stone at each blog tour stop.

Friday, June 13, 2014

All About Middle Grade Interview: Pam Torres (Author of It's NOT Just a Dog) + Giveaway

This week, I am excited to welcome Pam Torres, author of It's NOT Just a Dog!, to the blog to discuss her book and the last book that "hit her in the heart"

About the Author:
Pam Torres was born in Logan, Utah and did most of her growing up in Prairie Village, Kansas. Besides playing Dorothy during tornado weather and digging Peter Pan-like underground forts she also played piano and ran cross-country. She started her family early, and had five energetic and creative children, and returned to school when the last one was four. She has fond memories of reading and playing with her children in between hefty amounts of volunteering at church and their schools. Several of her favorite memories are doing writers’ workshop, updating the art docent program, recruiting volunteers, working as the parent liaison for the curriculum team, publishing articles in the newsletter and directing a very popular after-school art club.

Writing was the one constant in her life through all the struggles of single parenthood, stepparent issues and bringing a large family together. She continued to write her brains out in hopes of writing full-time one day. After five years in sales, she quit her well-paying job to write. Her supportive husband is her biggest cheerleader and she frequently acknowledges that she couldn’t have done it without him.

The Project Madison Series is her debut middle-grade series. She organized Project Madison around its release and is donating 10% of her proceeds to the ASPCA®, animal shelters and other programs to benefit homeless or abused animals.

You can haunt Pam Torres at-
Goodreads | Twitter | website | Pinterest | FB |

In seven words, can you tell us about It's NOT Just a Dog?

Exciting adventure solving an injured dog’s mystery.

When it came to writing It's NOT Just a Dog! what was it about Madison that made you want to tell her story? If you describe her in one word what would it be?

I wanted to tell Madison’s story because of the courage she has to be herself and find answers to her questions. One word I would use to describe her would be, tenacious. 

Pam, what was the hardest chapter to write? 

The hardest chapter to write was the one that described the details of the dogfighting. I had no idea how brutal and unnatural it is for dogs to behave that way. 

Can you share with us a two sentence teaser from your favorite chapter?

“We watched, waiting for the fire to build. When the blaze rose above the crackling wood, Uncle spoke” (152).

If you could have tea with one author, who would it be and what would you say to them?

Toni Morrison. I’d like to ask her about the magical reality she weaves throughout her stories so tightly it becomes indispensable to the plot.

Last book that hit you in the heart? 

Wonder by R.J. Pelacio

Last book you read that you wish you could unread? 

Can’t really think of one.

Three things: one thing you're good at; one thing you wish you could do; and one thing you're bad at?

I’m really good at playing with my grandkids.
I wish I could focus my binoculars and see the birds I’m hearing.
I’m very, very bad at bowling.

It's your lucky day, you get to spend one day in the fictional world of your choice....where are you off to?

I’d love to visit Phillip Reeve’s world where Fever Crumb’s adventures are set. 

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

That’s easy, Katniss, from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games.

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

I recently moved to a new office in my house. Unfortunately, it’s still in quite a mess so I don’t want to send a picture. I have several things that are always part of my office. A large desk so I can have space for reference books, drawing space, many containers of pens and pencils and my computer. Bookshelves where I keep my favorite books by writers I admire, photos and artwork by my grandchildren. I usually have a large board that has a story outline in the making with colored cards, post it notes and even pictures I’ve drawn or cut from magazines. And my sunlamp, for those dark rainy days in Seattle. 

Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us?   

I tend to be quite tightlipped about my projects until they come into the revisions stage. I will say that I am working on the last book in the Project Madison trilogy and this time I'm looking to my readers for where they'd like to see Madison go in this one. So I'm encouraging them to send me their ideas. 
I've also begun a new adventure fantasy with some great characters who explore new worlds. But, that's about all I'm prepared to say. LOL

Pam, thanks so much for stopping by! Wonder is definitely one book that does hit the heart with a punch!

It's NOT Just a Dog! (Project Madison, 2) by Pam Torres, April, 2014. Published by Legacy Media Press.
School's out for the summer and straight-talking Madison and her friend Cooper have big plans for the summer: working at the kennel, training service dogs and creating a dog-walking business—besides writing her dog-blog. Her stepdad has agreed to make Lilly, Madison's foster puppy, a permanent member of the Morgan family, and Madison wants to make the adoption special.
When an injured dog is abandoned, Madison's determined to discover the truth about the orphaned dog. To crack this crime she'll have to sneak around some shady characters. It'll be tricky since her dad isn't happy about her animal detective activities. Her promise not to get into trouble won't be easy. Madison convinces Cooper to strike out on their own, but Lilly is dognapped and Madison finds herself locked in a shed with no way out. She regrets her crime-fighting obsession and realizes her snooping has endangered everyone she cares about. Cooper rallies an unlikely group of rescuers to bust her out.
In the end Madison learns she can depend on her friends and her stepfather. And when it comes to people and dogs, relationships are never simple, and a dog is never—JUST a dog!
You can purchase a copy of It's NOT Just a Dog at-Amazon | Barnes And Noble IndieBound 
Grand Prize- Set of illustrations signed by the illustrators, set of bookmarks, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, full set of magnets, set of stickers, signed hard copies of both books in the series, and a dream catcher. 

First Prize- 3 illustrations signed by the illustrators, bookmarks, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, full set of magnets, set of stickers, hard copies of both books in the series.

Second Prize- 2 illustrations signed by the illustrators, bookmarks, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, full set of magnets, set of stickers, signed hard copies of both books in the series.

Third Prize- 2 illustrations signed by the illustrators, official Netta recipe card with biscuit mold, bookmarks, magnets, stickers, signed hard copies of both books in the series. 

Swag Packages- One 5x7 signed illustration, bookmarks, magnets, stickers, an ebook in the format of your choice. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: The Battle of Darcy Lane

The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando, April 22, 2014. 208 pages. Published by Running Press Kids. Source: publisher.
It is summertime, and twelve-year-old Julia Richards cannot stand the anticipation. Everyone on Darcy Lane seems to be holding their breath waiting for the cicadas to emerge, but what Julia and her best friend, Taylor, want is some real excitement. Which arrives in the form of a new neighbor named Alyssa, who introduces a ball game called Russia . . . and an unwelcome level of BFF rivalry.

Suddenly nothing stands unchallenged—not Julia's friendships, her crush, or her independence. But while Julia realizes that she cannot control all the changes in her life, she hangs onto the hope that everything will go in her favor if she can just win one magnificent showdown.
First Sentence:
Taylor and I were sitting on my front porch pretending to be millionaires as the afternoon turned into evening.

[Blog Tour] Guest Post with Maureen McQuerry (Author of Beyond the Door)

Greetings, you have discovered the fourth stop on the U.S. leg of Maureen McQuerry's Beyond the Door blog tour. Today, Maureen will be talking about "What I've Learned from Myth, part II".

About the author:
Writers are like crows. They collect shiny objects that capture their attention and hide them away. Maureen has been collecting interesting bits since she was six and decided she wanted to be a writer. Like all interesting journeys, the road to her goal took many twists and turns along the way: teaching middle grade through college, coordinating a program for gifted students, marrying and raising her own two children, traveling the world, and all the while writing in the spaces in between.

You can haunt Maureen McQuerry at-
Twitter | FB | Website |

Beyond the Door Blog Tour

What have I learned about the world from myth as a writer and a reader? Since writing Beyond the Door and The Peculiars I’ve been thinking about why myth matters. Over the next week I’ll be blogging in the U.S and U.K. about six things I’ve learned from mythic stories that have inspired me. Plus there will be fun giveaways and a post by cover artist Victo Ngai!  Follow the thread…

Six Things I’ve Learned from Myth Part 2 (with a little help from Mr. Tolkien)
 We are All More than Meets the Eye

Reluctant heroes are at the heart of many ancient and contemporary mythic stories and fairytales. This isn’t surprising because they illustrate one of the greatest  truths we so easily forget. We, every one of us, are more than we appear.  Shall we make a list? Bilbo Baggins, Lucy Pevinse, Harry Pottery, Arthur,  Faced with extraordinary situations we can be heroic, noble, self-sacrificing. Isn’t that what stories have been whispering to us for time out of time: you are more than others see, you can make a difference in the world, you with all your flaws, prejudices, inconsistencies are immensely valuable and have something unique to offer the world.

“Let's have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.Tolkien, The Hobbit

We Can Fight Dragons and Win

All children know the world is full of dragons. What they to know is that sometimes they can be the hero who defeats the dragon. They (and we) need to be reminded that the dragon isn’t the end. Even though the path through the woods is dark, the story doesn’t end in despair. Like Timothy in Beyond the Door, we need to know that when the wolf is at the door, hot breathed and bloody clawed, we can be Wolfproof. Myth is tells us that the least expected person may be the hero.

Fairy stories are more than true, not because they tell us there are dragons, but because they tell us they can be defeated.” G.K. Chesterton

Story is Transformation

We love stories of transformation selkies, shapeshifters, changlings, enchantments. Without change there is no story because story is not about plot. It’s about how events change people. The human heart is made for stories and the greatest satisfaction for a reader is the protagonist’s inner journey. We read to see how the conflicts, struggles, antagonists will transform the hero, because her story is our story too. Stories aren’t prescriptive, they’re transformative.  They are acts of identification.  In the best stories we identify with the protagonist’s struggles and something in us is changed by the end. The Hero’s journey is our journey.

And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

U.S. 6/13   Interview/ give away
U.K. 6/13 – The cover story post illustrator Victo Ngai

Beyond the Door (Time Out of Time, 1) by Maureen McQuerry, March 1, 2014. Published by Amulet.
With his love of learning and the game of Scrabble, Timothy James feels like the only person who understands him is his older sister, Sarah, and he’s fairly certain nothing interesting will ever happen to him. But one night, while his parents and sister are away, the door opens, and mythical creatures appear in his own living room! Soon, a mystery of unparalleled proportions begins to unfold, revealing an age-old battle of Light against Dark, and Timothy must embark on a quest to prevent the Dark from controlling the future and changing the past. But he can’t complete the quest alone. Timothy has to team up with his sister and the school bully, Jessica, to face an ancient evil, and in the process, this unlikely trio discover they are each more than meets the eye.

 You can add Beyond the Door to your Goodreads shelves.