Monday, August 29, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Magnificent 12

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

Bookreads Blurb:
Until the 3,000-year-old man appeared in the boys' room, middle-schooler Mack MacAvoy had resigned himself to leading a middling, unexceptional life. That was before the ancient bathroom crasher identified Mack as one of The Magnificent Twelve, a group of talented12-year-olds who have been empowered the save the world. Before they can do that, however, Mack must track down these other special children and prepare to do battle. Action, magic, and laughs.
I LOVE Michael Grant! I've reviewed his amazing GONE series before, but because of my TBR pile, I'm a little late getting to THE MAGNIFICENT TWELVE. So late in fact, that book 2 in the series is due to be released on September 1st!

My favorite thing about this book is Mack's surprising sidekick, the meanest bully in the school who once wanted to pound him. Now Mack is "under his wing". Together, they make a hilarious pair: Mack has a million phobias and his bully manages even the oddest situations with a simple grunt or two, determined to protect Mack from the world.
The strong points of this novel are the voice, the humor, the odd cast of characters, and the non-stop adventure. It's a fun one.

*** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: ***

Today, Elana Johnson has an MMGM post and a giveaway of Janitors by Ty Whitesides.
 Happy Monday!

Friday, August 26, 2011


THANK YOU to everyone who commented 
and helped spread the word!

And the oh-so-lucky winner is . . .

According to, 
the lucky number this time is #1:

Natalie Aguirre

Congratulations, Natalie!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Too Good NOT to Review

by Ilsa J. Bick

Expected Publication: September 6th by Egmont USA

Goodreads Blurb:
It could happen tomorrow...

A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."
Can one teen really survive on her own?

An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...

Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.

This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive.
This book is a mega-loop-the-loop-roller-coaster-ride, so buckle up and hold on tight! Oh my gosh, I honestly could not put it down. Within only pages, I was beyond my family's grasp. It's riveting, terrifying, touching, heart-wrenching, hopeful, romantic, and  tragic--and I loved it! It reminded me a lot of Jonathan Maberry's Rot & Ruin, but Ashes is most definitely YA, while I think Rot & Ruin is still upper MG friendly. 

I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I'm trying to keep this review vague. I want to make it absolutely clear, though, that for the dystopian, zombie-loving readers out there, this is a WINNER! It will rock your world.

What's the last book that rocked your world?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Game of Catch-Up


Well, I must admit to feeling a bit behind. My sporadic summer blogging put a serious kink in my new news/gossip line, as well as my connections to all of you. Therefore, we need to catch up.
Here's what's new with me:

Over the summer, I had a close encounter with "the call". An agent expressed interest in representation and we scheduled a time to visit by phone. Sadly, she had a medical emergency two days before our call and for health reasons is no longer able to provide representation. *sigh* I do still have a couple of fulls out there, though, so keep your fingers and toes crossed for me.

In July, my family went to Disneyland for the first time and then spent a week on the beach in San Diego. We went to Sea World and the Zoo while we were there, and a great time was had by all. 

It was a good summer.

Now, what's new with you? 
What's new with our bloggy buddies? 
What did I miss?

Tell me everything!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MMGM (on Tues.) - Wildwood + Giveaway

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
(on Tuesday)

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.   

by Colin Meloy

Expected release: September 2011 by Balzer & Bray

Book Blurb:
A forbidden wilderness. An epic journey. A new classic.
Prue McKeel's life is ordinary. At least until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest in the middle of Portland. No one's ever gone in--or at least returned to tell of it.
So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness.  There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval--a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater, as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.
This book is thick. I was tempted to put off reading it based solely on its length. I'm glad I didn't. Once you begin reading, the length is not an issue--it didn't feel at all as long as it looks. The story truly does have that "classic" feeling: it's unusual, riveting, and completely enjoyable. Despite being the first book in a planned trilogy, it could easily stand alone and still feel satisfying. It's full of wicked coyotes, wise birds, quirky people, and lots and lots of conflict. For me, one of the coolest things about this story is that Colin Meloy made a magical, Impassable Wilderness in the middle of Portland BELIEVABLE. How cool is that?


On Friday, I will choose one random commenter to win my copy of Wildwood (many thanks, HarperCollins!).

  1. You must be a follower of my blog
  2. You must leave a comment on this post
  3. Extra entries for spreading the word: twitter, FB, blog posts, sidebars... just tell me in the comments what you did (1 entry each)
Good luck and happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Well, summer ends for me as of next Monday. The bad news: summer ends for me. The good news: I'll be back to my regular blogging schedule, posting M-F.

I've had a wonderful summer, but I am in serious bloggy buddy withdrawal. I'm anxious to get back in touch with all of you. Hopefully, I haven't missed too much while I've been a blog slacker!

See you all on Monday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Last Martin

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday  

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

The Last Martin
by Jonathan Friesen

Goodreads Blurb:
There's always a Martin. One Martin. Martin Boyle already has plenty to worry about. His germaphobic mother keeps him home from school if she hears so much as a sneeze, and his father is always off somewhere reenacting old war battles. Julia, the most beautiful girl in school, won't even speak to Martin, and the gym teacher is officially out to get him.Which is why Martin really doesn't need this curse hanging over his head.On a trip to the family cemetery, Martin wanders among the tombstones of his ancestors and discovers a disturbing pattern: when one Martin is born, the previous Martin dies. And---just his luck---Martin's aunt is about to give birth to a baby boy, who will, according to tradition, be named Martin. Martin must find a way to break the curse, but every clue seems to lead to a dead end. And time is running out.
I won this book on Goodreads, and I am SO GLAD I did. This was a fun, fun story--I loved it. The voice is excellent, the mother is a hoot, the dad is uber lovable, Poole is too cool for words, and Martin is just perfect! This is a great story for middle grade readers, full of humor, middle school angst, weird and embarrassing family members, friendship, fears followed by courage, and dreams. 
I highly recommend it!
*** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: ***
 Happy Monday!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog Tour: Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth

Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth
by Andy Hueller

Because most of us are writers, published or hoping to be published, Andy wrote a special guest post for us. It's a wonderful and personal article sharing his writing journey. I LOVE it and really appreciate Andy taking the time to share his story with us.
Expected publication: August 8th 2011 by Cedar Fort

This morning, I accompanied my wife as she rode her bike to work. It’s a lovely, green, breezy, up and down ride along the river. Plus, my wife is quite a sight on her white bicycle with pink wheel covers. The bike sports a horn and a basket with flowers (blue, yellow, purple, pink), as well. And then there’s my wife herself to pay attention to. She’s a marvel to watch. She takes her time up and down the hills. She stops halfway up a hill for a long drink of water. She rides her breaks going down big hills. She’s a joy to ride with because she’s a character through and through.

Actually, I wrote my first published children’s novel about her. Or at least it was inspired by the girl I knew her to be through pictures and stories. The girl Debbie Fine in Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle is creative and a daydreamer, she has parents who own and work hard at a small store, she has more moxie than she knows, and she becomes a superhero when she learns to fly on her bicycle. You can say the same about my wife (except for the superhero part, though I swear she’s close). I wrote about my wife, as I do all my characters and scenes, to get to know her better. From a lost-in-her-head girl my wife became the most organized, productive person in my life. And yet she has a lot of daydreamer in her still, and I’ve always loved to watch her ride a bike. (Though I admit the bike with the pink wheel covers came after the publication of Dizzy Fantastic.)

I put a lot of thought into this guest article. Shannon said her many of her readers are also writers, and they enjoy reading about writers’ paths to publication. Truthfully, though, I’m not sure my path is all that interesting. It still brings a smile to my face, but it’s much like the path many of us take. I queried agents, got a couple to look at my manuscripts (and then reject them faster than a kid does broccoli), and kept at it (though frustrated) until a wonderful publisher (Cedar Fort) saw promise in my work. Don’t get me wrong: I jumped for joy, praised the heavens, and did everything else every oh-so-fortunate, first-time author does upon hearing the happy news—but I don’t know that I have any insight to offer. I’m lucky. But I feel I understand a lot more clearly my path to writing than I do my path to publication. Though I guess I am writing exclusively about my published writing, so I suppose this article deals with both topics.

Cedar Fort will soon release my second children’s novel, Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth. It’s a story that’s been with me for six years. The first draft took me four and a half years. Aside from marrying my wife, it’s my life’s greatest accomplishment—a book featuring the intersection of four stories, mystery, humor, and thrills (as I see it, anyway). It all began when I was a boy, vacationing in northern Minnesota. From the window of a restaurant, I watched a man—a southpaw—skip tones farther across Lake Superior than anyone I’d ever seen. He was so smooth it all seemed mysterious and even magical. The memory stuck with me. I wonder, now, however, despite being so very pleased with the outcome, how I ever finished writing the novel.

Why did I spend six years writing a story, most of them without any promise of publication? And the bigger question: Why, again, do I write? I have a terrific home life and a spectacular teaching job. Is writing really worth all the hard trying?

This is my article, so I get to answer my own questions (hah!): I write because I, like many of you, I’m sure, am an observer. I see interesting things all around me (people and places), and for some reason I feel the need to share them with others—to show others these marvelous occurrences.

The narrator of Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth says this about the main character, Cal Cobble, and observers everywhere: 
A true observer, after all, is always curious. As the observer observes, he asks: How does he do that? How and why does that happen? And, inevitably, Can I do that? Cal, against all odds, was an observer. He asked himself these very questions as he watched Mr. E pace Robert’s beach, so thoroughly engaged in his remarkable hobby of skipping stones across the biggest lake in the world. (68-9) 
My first two novels come from moments that keep playing in my head: my wife riding her bike her way. A man skipping stone after stone with enviable ease. I’m sure my next story will come from the same place.

Skipping Stones is the most lyrically written MG story I've read since Kathi Appelt's THE UNDERNEATH--almost musical at times. The story is totally original, the characters and setting are strange and unique, and the ending was not what I expected. When reading this story, there were times I wasn't sure what I was feeling; it almost needs to settle a while, like Thanksgiving dinner. By the end, I was a fan. Andy Hueller won me over with his unique style and storytelling ability!

You can learn more about Andy and his book here:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Darke

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday  

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.   
by Angie Sage 

Goodreads Blurb:
Angie Sage's Magykal series continues in frantic, high-spirited fashion in this latest number. To save the Castle and the Wizard Tower from certain destruction, Septimus Heap wades into the Darke to battle evil; but he isn't alone: Jenna, Marcellus Pye, Alther Mella, Marcia Overstrand, and even Septimus' problematic brother Simon assist in the fray. A nice mix of action and wit.
I have loved the Septimus Heap series from the very first book and this one was no different. If you haven't read these yet, get started! And if you've been waiting for book six as long as I have, you won't be disappointed.
*** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: ***
This week, sweet Lenny Lee has posted his first MMGM review--and it's about Hilary Wagner's sequel to Nightshade City, THE WHITE ASSASSIN. Hop over and say hello to our sunshiney friend!!  
 Happy Monday!
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