Monday, January 30, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Between Two Ends + Giveaway

 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.  

Between Two Ends
 by David Ward

Goodreads Blurb:
When Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother's creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats's father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and the friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales. Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad--dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the margins of the stories--in order to save Shari and bring peace to his family.

I received this book from Abrams some time last year, but it got buried in my TBR pile--probably because I don't love the cover and put off reading it for others that looked more interesting. My mistake.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a quick and easy read, but the storyline flows at a pace that makes it hard to put down. I love the magical elements and characters; I love the world inside The Arabian Nights; I love the action and suspense and relationships...

I think my favorite characters were the pirate book ends, but Yeats and Gran and Mr. Sutcliffe and Shari are all wonderful, too. This was a refreshing and pleasantly original story. I can't wait to share it with my boys.



In fact, I enjoyed it so much I'm going to give away a copy to one lucky commenter. Just be a follower a leave a comment by Thursday night. I'll announce the winner on Friday. GOOD LUCK.

** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Young Adult Giveaway Hop

Welcome to another fun blog hop!! This time it's . . . 


Like all of I Am A Reader's hops, this one is HUGE--over 250 participating blogs--which means an amazing number of opportunities to win. Again. Participating blogs are all featuring young adult book giveaways

The window of time to enter is from January 27th - January 31st. You can find the linky at either of the hosting blogs. It is too long to post here.
My Giveaway:
Good reads Blurb:
For years scandal has rocked Rosewood, Pennsylvania—and high school seniors Aria, Emily, Hanna, and Spencer have always been at the center of the drama. They’ve lost friends, been targeted by a ruthless stalker named A, and narrowly escaped death. And it’s not over yet.

Aria’s love life is on the fritz. Emily’s exploring her wild side. Hanna’s kissing the enemy. And someone from Spencer’s past—someone she never thought she’d see again—is back to haunt her.

But none of that compares to what happened last spring break. It’s their darkest secret yet and guess who found out? Now A is determined to make them pay for their crime, and the only thing scarier than A is the fear that maybe, just maybe, they deserve what’s coming to them.

Giveaway Rules:
1. Be a follower of my blog
2. Leave a comment + email address
3. Tweet or FB or something to spread the word (let me know)


Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Paper Doorway

Early in December I did my first post for Project Middle Grade Mayhem. I thought posting it over here would be fun, because so few people are aware of Dean Koontz's children's books. So . . . enjoy!

One sure thing about kids is that whatever age they are, they want to be older. The "big" kids are always so strong, so fast, so smart, so cool . . . I remember when my son was in third grade and had a high school reading buddy. His buddy was his hero--just because he was *gasp* a high schooler.

When people think of Dean Koontz, they do NOT instantly think children's author. They think of adult horror and suspense, and rightfully so. However, that is not the only hat he wears these days. Believe it or not, he is also a picture book author and children's poet.

His picture books, SANTA'S TWIN and ROBOT SANTA: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SANTA'S TWIN are a huge hit with my high school students and my middle grade son. As you can tell, they're a bit twisted, and MG kids usually love anything twisted.

In addition to his Santa PBs, he also has a couple of picture books about his dog, Trixie: I, TRIXIE, WHO IS DOG and TRIXIE AND JINX. Both are adorable.

The most middle grade friendly of his children's books is THE PAPER DOORWAY: FUNNY VERSE AND NOTHING WORSE, a collection of poetry reminiscent of Shel Silverstein.

Poems like "The Monstrous Broccoli Excuse," "Boogeyman," "Frankenbunny" and "You Get the Pickle You Asked for" will be instant hits with most middle grade readers. And they get the added bonus of being able to say they read Dean Koontz!

James Patterson, John Grisham, and many others have also begun writing books for children.

Can you think of any other well-known adult genre writers 
who have crossed into the children's market?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Passion Fuel

"Acknowledgment and celebration are essential to fueling passion, making people feel valid and valuable, and giving the team a real sense of progress that makes it all worthwhile."
~ Dwight Frindt 
And THAT, my friends, is what makes our blogging community so dang great! 
acknowledge and celebrate  
someone else! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Ten Rules for Living With My Sister

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.  

Ten Rules for Living with My Sister
 by Ann M. Martin

Goodreads Blurb:
Pearl’s older sister Lexie is in eighth grade and has a boyfriend. Pearl’s only boyfriend is the family’s crabby cat, Bitey.  Lexie is popular. Pearl is not, mostly because of the embarrassing Three Bad Things that happened in school and which no one has forgotten. Everything Pearl does seems to drive Lexie crazy. On top of that, their grandfather is moving into their family’s apartment and taking over Pearl’s room. How will these sisters share without driving one another crazy?

Pearl is good at making lists of rules, but sometimes, life doesn’t play by the rules!

This is the perfect book for sisters. In classic Ann Martin style, the story addresses issues of family, friendship, aging grandparents and dealing with what life gives you. While not original in theme, I think themes like this are timeless, so it doesn't matter. Middle grade girls will both enjoy and learn from this story.

** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Being a Beginner

"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you."
~ Barbara Sher

So many of us had to start from the beginning when we embarked on our writing journeys: learning to blog, learning to write well or better, learning to find a critique partner or two or ten, learning to query and to edit and to edit better . . . and always, always, learning to be more patient.

Being a beginner opens the door to the possibility of great things to come. If we are too afraid to begin, we'll never know what it feels like on the other side of our dreams. 

When have you been willing to be a beginner 
in order to chase a dream?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dreaming of Books Hop WINNER

The winner of my Dreaming of Books 
Giveaway Hop 
and a Pre-Order of
by Ellen Potter is . . .

Congratulations! You'll be receiving an email from me shortly.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fractured Light Blog Tour + Cinder Winner

First, according to the ever reliable Random.Org, 
the lucky winner of my CINDER ARC is . . .

Drumroll Please . . .

Bookish in a Box!


by Rachel McClellan

Expected publication: February 8th, 2012

Goodreads Blurb:
I’m dying, I thought. This was unexpected and not at all how I envisioned my death. I was supposed to die gardening in a flowerbed as a hundred-year-old woman, not as a seventeen-year-old trapped in a lake beneath inches of ice.

Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. She can’t take any chances. But when she starts to make friends for the first time in her life, she gets careless and lets her guard down. Big mistake.

As an Aura, Llona can manipulate light and harness its energy. But if she wants to survive, Llona will have to defy the Auran Council and learn to use her power as a weapon against the Vyken whose sole desire is to take her light. Now she’s caught in something even bigger than she can understand, with a power she can’t wield, and no one she can trust, except, just maybe, a mysterious stranger.

In this breathtaking and romantic adventure, Rachel McClellan delivers a truly mesmerizing story that will keep you guessing to the very end.

This story held me from beginning to end. I loved the main character, Llona--her light abilities are unusual and fascinating. The storyline and pacing flowed well for me, and the ending was totally satisfying. I'm ready for the next in the series without feeling like she left me hanging. Plus, the mystery, tension, and romance blend perfectly to make it a winner. I recommend it!! :-) 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - How to Make a Golem

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.  

How to Make a Golem and Terrify People
 by Alette J. Willis

How to Make a Golem and Terrify People

Goodreads Blurb:
"You think you're a fairy godmother or something?" I asked. "Or something," Michael agreed. Edda is tired of her nickname, 'Mouse', and wants to be braver. But when her house is burgled on her twelfth birthday, Edda is more afraid than ever. That is until new boy Michael Scot starts school. There's something peculiar -- and very annoying -- about know-it-all Michael. He claims to be a great alchemist who can help Edda overcome her fears by teaching her to build a golem. But surely they can't bring a giant mud monster to life? Can they?
Winner of the Kelpies Prize 2011.

What a cute story! I requested a copy of this book on NetGalley, mainly because it's middle grade and has a catchy theme. I am SO GLAD I did. 

I enjoyed the voice of this book from the get-go. The characters were alive, the storyline was perfectly paced--with the PERFECT amount of spine tingles and creepiness thrown in--and the ending worked perfectly. I read it easily in one day, and the longer I sat reading it, the more curious my kids became. It is now in the hands of my 9-year-old son. *grins*

I wholeheartedly recommend this one. It was an absolute pleasure!

** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Kindle Fire Tips and Tricks Book


A fabulous new resource for those of you with the Kindle Fire



Product Description

There are Kindle Fire guides for people who need to know where the power button is, and then there are Kindle Fire guides for people who are ready to start having fun! Get the scoop on all the exciting discoveries since the Fire’s release, as we give you step-by-step instructions on how to do things that you won’t find anywhere else. (Rooting is not covered)

In over 30 articles and over 17,000 words, this guide featuring the best of the Kindle Fire Department blog includes such topics as…

Extending Battery Life
Optimizing the Silk Browser
Setting up Gmail
Parental Controls and Preventing Unintentional Purchases
Sending FREE Texts from the Fire
Sideloading Apps
Addressing Volume Control Problems
Sending Documents to the Fire
Using Cell Phone Chargers with the Fire
Managing Screen Brightness
Syncing iTunes
Streaming Videos from Your PC
Finding FREE Apps
Playing Apps on Windows
Using a Microphone with the Fire

And many more! 
The Kindle Fire Department blog is one of the most useful resource sites I've ever stumbled upon. I make multiple visits each day to check the FREE android app and Kindle book deals of the day, as well as tips and tricks and other price deals.

The Fire Department is currently giving away a free Fire, for those of you who may still be considering the possibility. You already know how much I LOVE mine! Hop over and enter HERE. The contest ends on Tuesday the 17th.

And for those of you who have already purchased a Fire, go HERE for the Compendium and discover how to make the most of your Fire's potential.

I can tell you that the info in this collection is AWESOME! I love Gadget, and these tips have never steered me wrong.  Love, love, LOVE!!  :-)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop


Like all of I Am A Reader's hops, this one is HUGE--over 200 participating blogs--which means an amazing number of opportunities to win. Again. Participating blogs are all featuring reading, writing, or blogging related giveaways

The window of time to enter is from January 13th - January 18th. You can find the linky at either of the hosting blogs. It is too long to post here.


The Humming Room MY Middle Grade GIVEAWAY:
The Humming Room
by Ellen Potter
Expected publication: February 28th 2012 
by Feiwel & Friends 


Because I don't like it when contests take forever to enter, just . .  .  
  1. Follow me
  2. leave a comment w/ email addy
  3. Tweet (button at bottom of post) 
Winner announced January 19th.
Good luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cinder ARC Giveaway

Goodreads Blurb:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.  

I enjoyed this book. It's one of the most original fairytale re-takes I've read, yet it definitely has the Cinderella flavor. I love it that she's a mechanic--a greasy, disheveled mechanic. And the best mechanic in the land! It's perfect. I also love the mix of humanity, cyborg, robot, and Lunar peoples.

I had a hard time deciding whether to give this a 4 or 5 star rating. Ultimately, I went with 4 stars because while it was a great read, it wasn't UN-PUT-DOWN-ABLE for me until the last 150 pages or so. Then . . .whoa! It all gets crazy intense. And leaves us dying for book two!

This one is well worth the time!

And now . . . the giveaway!

To be entered to win, you must: 
  1. be a follower of this blog
  2. leave a comment by midnight on Monday, Jan. 16th
  3. provide an email address so that I can contact you if you win
  4. Int'l entries welcome
 I will announce the winner next Tuesday. 
Good luck! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012



Create-A-Story Kit 

Amazon Description:
Age Level: 9 - Adult | Grade Level: 4 - Adult | Series: Storyworld

An ingenious toolkit for the imagination, designed to inspire storytellers of all ages.

Welcome to StoryWorld, a box containing forty cards that suggest a myriad of characters, places, and objects that you can use to create your own story. Pick a handful of cards and use their pictures and words as inspiration. You can tell a new story every time the box is opened. Discover more ideas about how to use the cards in THE STORYTELLING BOOK, packed with tips and ideas for creating your story, games to play with the cards, and a sample story written using the cards.

I first learned about these cards a  couple of years ago from Charmaine at Wagging Tales. I ordered them for my high school classroom, and they are truly awesome. The myriad of ways in which these cards can be applied creatively to our writing is virtually limitless.

If you are looking for writing warm-ups or story starters or idea generators or character traits or ANYTHING, really . . . these are for you. They can definitely help jump-start you out of any funk or writer's block. For all of us--whether pleasure writers, aspiring authors, or multi-published--I highly recommend giving these a try!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy Book Birthday!!

F-I-N-A-L-L-Y . . . 

Happy Book Birthday 
Beth Revis

Hop over to Beth's Blog to join
the Virtual Launch Party!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - May B. + Guest Post

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.  

May B.
 by Caroline Starr Rose

Goodreads Blurb:
I've known it since last night:
It's been too long to expect them to return.
Something's happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor's Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it's hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May's memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she's determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose's fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.
May B. is written in verse--truly beautiful verse, full of imagery and emotion. I loved every word of it! May is such a lovable character, and we experience every hardship, every uncertainty, right along with her. You MUST read this one. I promise.

MAY B. will be released TOMORROW!! 

Caroline wrote a guest post for us about her author journey. Enjoy!
Fourteen Years, Hundreds of Rejections, Eleven Books, and One Sale

Fourteen years ago this December, I started writing in earnest. I’d always heard you needed to have some magazine pieces published before writing a book, so I wrote an article and mailed it in.

I never heard back.

By the following summer, I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to learn by working on a book of my own. After two whole weeks of research (!), I wrote a mid-grade historical about the Oregon Trail, a terribly sappy, confusing thing that nevertheless taught me a lot. I sent it out into the world, starting a pattern I’d continue for years: writing, revising, submitting, and starting something new. In that time, I wrote three more novels and seven picture books and collected hundreds of rejections.

Everyday I’d wait for the mailman, anticipating word that someone, somewhere had connected with something I’d written. Some rejections came weeks after submitting; others took over a year to find their way back to me. Somehow, I held onto the belief that the next editor or next idea would be the one.

It was only after I got serious about finding an agent in the fall of 2009 that things started to happen. Within four months, my agent sold my very non-commercial, non-flashy literary historical at auction. This little book has so far earned a starred review from Kirkus and has been selected as a title for the Junior Library Guild.

Those years of submitting on my own weren’t wasted. I learned how to write, develop my craft, and stick it out. May B.’s January release will mark a lot of things for me, the most amazing being the realization I’ve taken on (and accomplished!) a task that for years seemed insurmountable.

** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Project Mayhem


Today, I'm posting over at the awesome 
Please come visit me there
so I don't feel lonely!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tension and Conflict


"Our instinct as human beings is to provide answers, to ease tension. As writers our job is the opposite, to create tension and not dispel it immediately."
~ Sol Stein
"Plot conflict is not conflict merely in a character's mind or soul, while he sits at home. A plot conflict has to be expressed in action. The more struggle a story involves, the better the plot."
~ Ayn Rand 
It took me a few years to fully embrace the "kill your darlings" (or at least make them miserable) philosophy. Once I did, once I really amped it up and layered on more action and misery, then I finally got my agent. But it took me 3 freaking years to really do it--even though I knew I should. I never did it enough. MORE is BETTER.

So . . . how miserable are your characters?
Are you being too nice?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Some "Boy Book" Guarantees

When searching for great boy books, 
don't forget these no-fail classics!

Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Goodreads Blurb:
Offers a feast of bizarre facts, features and freaks to enthrall and entertain. This title includes the pink dolphin, the girl no bigger than her schoolbag, and the island of lost dolls. It helps you gasp at true tales about vampires, the Ripley's waxwork gallery, and the feats of sword swallowers past and present.

Guinness Book of World Records

Goodreads Blurb:
It's an Olympic year, and to celebrate, the latest incarnation of the world's biggest selling annual unveils its most thrilling edition yet­ with a dynamic new "widescreen" design, thousands of new and classic records, never-before-seen photos and an exciting selection of new topics and features.

Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary

Goodreads Blurb:
The subtitle of this Star Wars reference guide from DK Publishing, "The Ultimate Guide to Characters and Creatures from the Entire Star Wars Saga," says it all. Bringing together all four titles from the Visual Dictionary series (Episode I-III and the Trilogy) in one gigantic volume, this resource contains every tidbit of information that any Star Wars fan will ever want to know about the six motion pictures -- from the color of Chewbacca's eyes to the eating habits of Jar Jar Binks! 

 My son spends hours and hours with these books--they just never seem to get old.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good to Be Back

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! 

I enjoyed every moment of my time with the three kiddos, but it's back to business here on the blog. Today, a reminder not to miss the incredible deals going on right now from HarperTeen:

From 12/20/11 to 1/30/12
10 incredible HarperTeen ebooks 
will be on sale for $0.99 each! 

* The titles, authors, and ISBNs are: *
 ~ Unearthly 
Cynthia  Hand

~ Vesper 
Jeff  Sampson

~ Hereafter 
Tara  Hudson

~ Bumped 
Megan McCafferty

~ Unidentified
Rae Mariz

~ Poison Diaries, The 
Maryrose Wood

~ Entwined 
Heather  Dixon

~ Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) 

Sarah  Mylkowski

 ~ Withering Tights 
Louise Rennison

~ Lucky 
Rachel Vail

You can visit either Amazon or Barnes and Noble to purchase these great deals! To find out more about hot Harper deals and titles, giveaways, and goodies, click HERE to visit the Epic Deals Facebook page!
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