Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Into Books 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--nearly 200 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 February 29th - March 5th. You can find the linky at either of the hosting blogs. It is too long to post here.

My Giveaway:

by Phoebe Kitanidis

Publication Date: April 17th

Goodreads Blurb:
What if you forgot your identity and had to rely on other people to tell you who you were?

And what if to discover your true self, you first had to unravel a mystery so big and terrifying you were not sure you’d survive solving it?

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could jog their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship...but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love—and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls
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)


Monday, February 27, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Humming Room

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 Humming Room
by Ellen Potter

Goodreads Blurb:
Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.

Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.

Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write.

I read this book in one sitting. It's a quick, easy read, full of great characters and an even greater setting. Roo grows in a variety of ways throughout the novel, improving the lives of everyone around her--whether they like it or not. With the balance between Roo and her two male friends, I think this is sure to appeal to both boy and girl readers. It did in my house! My 10-year-old son AND my seven-year-old daughter both enjoyed it. Plus, the fact that it's based on The Secret Garden scores it bonus points!

I'm also featuring a middle grade new release at PROJECT MAYHEM today! Come and visit! 

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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Like Myself When . . .

“I like myself better when I'm writing regularly.”
~ Willie Nelson
It never ceases to amaze how writing ebbs and flows. There are times when the words pour out like water, and there are times when I just don't even want to think about them. I agree with Willie, though: I like myself a lot better when I'm being productive!
What makes you like yourself better? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beyond Addicted!

Oh, my gosh, you guys!!

Do you see this . . . ?

This series is one I would NEVER have picked up on my own. I read it because my current author crush, Karen Amanda Hooper, told me I should. She even insisted I bump it up on my way-too-huge reading pile. So . . . I did. I mean, Karen told me to!

I positively devoured this series. When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about it. It was the first thing to pop into my head in the mornings. And now, I'm impatiently waiting for the sixth and final book. SO. FREAKING. GOOD!!!

Goodreads Blurb:
Harper Madison isn't like other girls. She has extraordinary powers, but her inability to control them has gotten her kicked from so many foster homes she's lost count. Shadowford Home is her last chance, and she hopes Peachville High will be the fresh start she needs. But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.
Let me tell you, the blurb does not begin to tap into the layers of this series.  I originally gave the books 4 out of 5 stars, but after book three I had to go back and change my rating to five stars. They are just too addictive for a 4 star rating. The storyline is stunningly original. The character relationships are complex and wonderful. The setting and visual imagery is fantastic. The world building in book five is exceptional. 

I can't fully explain the effect of these books on me, but I can tell you I LOVED THEM! 

Thanks, Karen! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Glittering Pages

"Stay alive, refreshed in language! Listen to little toddlers bopping metaphors around the room like balloons. Let language zip and lean, sound can lead you, be surprised as you are writing. I play with words every day and I am going to play right now. It takes me where I need to go, into the real content, and into serious hard places, too. Experimenting means anything goes. We need to keep doing that on our pages if they are to keep glittering and waking us up."
~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Don't you just love that? Naomi Shihab Nye is a brilliant wordsmith. "Famous" is one of my favorite contemporary poems. In fact, I used it in a post a couple of years ago HERE.

Ralph Fletcher, one of my favorite writing gurus is a collector of words and phrases. When he hears something interesting or memorable, wherever he is, he writes it down and adds it to his collection. One of my favorites I found in his book, Pyrotechnics on the Page: Playful Craft that Sparks Writing. He overheard a three-year-old girl on a tricycle yell to her father on a park bench, "You stay with your sun, Daddy. I'll ride with my wind."

Other nuggets from his collection include:
  • Overheard at a bar: "Mothers raise their daughters and love their sons."
  • His brother: "A knife will cut you until it earns your respect."
  • His son: "Daddy, could you really get in a barrel and go over Viagara falls?"
  • Shared with him by a 5th grade teacher about a student: "There is April the month, and there is April Ham Lincoln."

Don't be afraid to eavesdrop, collecting nuggets like these ones for your own "collection". Then, when the language play in your MS feels a little dull, you'll have a fun source of inspiration. And I recommend anything and everything written by Ralph Fletcher. He is my greatest source of writing wisdom and inspiration!

Do you have any fun nuggets to share?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Ghost Hunters

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.  

Ghost Hunters
by Cornelia Funke
Ghosthunters #2: Ghosthunters and the Gruesome Invincible Lightning Ghost

Goodreads Blurb:
Bestselling novelist and picture book author Funke now reaches a brand-new audience with a silly, spooky, illustrated series for early readers. Among her top sellers in Germany!Nine-year-old Tom can't catch a break: He's a klutz, his sister Lola pretty much hates his guts, and--and this is a BIG "and"--he just found a ghost camping out in his cellar. Lucky for Tom his grandma's best friend just happens to be the world's foremost ghosthunter. Under her expert tutelage, Tom learns the tools of the trade--which just happen to include buckets of graveyard dirt--and soon finds he has to face down not just the Averagely Spooky Ghost (ASG) in his basement but the Incredibly Revolting Ghost (IRG) in town. All while keeping the nettlesome Lola off his trail....
I love Cornelia Funke. The Inkheart Trilogy is one of my favorite series of all time. Dragon Rider, The Thief Lord, and Reckless are all fabulous. In my opinion, there is no one out there better at creating new worlds and fascinating characters. The glass men and fire fairies of Inkheart and the frightening tailor in Reckless are perfect examples. Now, my younger kiddos can enjoy her too.

When I first discovered The Ghosthunters books I was thrilled. Look at that cover! How can you resist? While her other titles cater to the upper MG range, these stories are more easily accessible to readers on the younger side of MG. And my kiddos LOVE them. We have two copies of each book at our house, because my two youngest didn't want to share. The cool part is that the two main characters are a brother and sister who know all about sibling rivalry!

These books are quick, easy reads, perfect for your younger MG readers.

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


Friday, February 17, 2012

Pandemonium Review + ARC Giveaway

by Lauren Oliver

 Expected publication: February 28th 2012 by HarperCollins

Goodreads Blurb:
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push,
push, push,
like Raven taught me to do.The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,behind a wall of smoke and flame. 
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

In the past, I've been a bit tough on Lauren Oliver. With the exception of Liesl & Po (which I positively LOVED), I've struggled with the way she ends her books. BEFORE I FALL was the hardest for me in terms of resolution. I loved DELIRIUM, but the ending killed me. Killed me. 

This time, I have to bow to the brilliance of the writing and the power of the ending. Every book Lauren Oliver writes is better than the last. PANDEMONIUM is fabulous. The extension of Delirium's storyline is brilliantly done. The cast of characters is perfect. The suspenseful tension is constant and thick and unpredictable. This story is masterfully written all the way through. This time, I give her 5 stars without hesitation!


In order to share the love, I'm giving away my ARC to one lucky follower.
Simply comment on this post by midnight on Tuesday, Feb. 21st.
As always, Int'l entries are welcome.
I will announce the winner on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Calling All Picture Book Writers

We all know and love the fabulous Matthew Rush, master of the Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment (QQQE). Many of us have benefited from his awesome query advice and the comments provided by his followers. If you are working on a novel query, I highly recommend paying him a visit!

Now, picture book authors can benefit from a similar process at Ishta Mercurio's Musings of a Restless Mind. Ishta is starting a blog series to help other authors perfect their PB queries before entering the query wars.

If you are interested, you can check out her picture book query template and then send her your query. Easy peasy!

Good luck!!

* Tomorrow, I will be reviewing Lauren Oliver's PANDEMONIUM and giving away my ARC. Be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book Valentines

"If it gets crowded with all the books and there's nowhere to put your bed, it's better to exchange it for a folding bed."
  ~ Viktor Shklovsky

In honor of Valentine's Day, I think we should all choose a "book valentine". It can be your best-loved book or simply the book you'll be curling up with sometime today. I'll go first!
Best-loved = the INKHEART TRILOGY by Cornelia Funke

Book of the day = INNER DEMONS by Sara Cannon
The Peachville High series by Sara cannon is NOT one I would ever have chosen on my own. Karen Amanda Hooper was raving about it on Goodreads and then convinced me to move it up my TBR pile. I'm so glad she did. I was immediately hooked. I finished book one in a day and am now devouring book two. If you need a quick and addictive series to curl up with today, I recommend it!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Time Gangsters

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.  

Time Gangsters
Berin L. Stephens

Released February 14th by Cedar Fort

Goodreads Blurb:
When Billy discovers a hidden cache of ancient coins, it isn't long before a gang of thugs from the 1920s swipes them right from under him. Plotting to use the magical properties of the coins to seize power in the past, these power-hungry gangsters will do anything to reach their goal. Their future threatened, Billy and Danny must race through time to steal back the coins before history is changed forever.
I have come to depend on Cedar Fort Publishing as a great source for MG stories. Time Gangsters is another Cedar Fort title I enjoyed. If you love stories with a "mafia" flavor--gangsters and machine guns and old cars and mystery--you'll enjoy this one.

The main characters are a lovable group of kids with very distinct personalities. Danielle, the only girl, is too fun for words. She likes spinach salads for breakfast and is afraid of cell phones. My favorite part of the story is the growth in Danielle's and her cousin Billy's relationship.

The magic coins, the time travel, the good guy/bad guy battles all make for a fun and entertaining story. I know reluctant boy readers will gobble this one up

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

Friday, February 10, 2012

Middle Age

"Middle age is when you're sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn't for you. "
~Ogden Nash

I don't know about  you guys, but that is SO me!

Happy Friday,
have a great weekend,
and I hope the phone doesn't ring for you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The End

"Story endings are hard to write - often much harder than beginnings. Any author who wants to be published must understand how to write a book with a powerful ending."
~ Marg McAlister

This is where I'm currently living in my revision coma: the pre-climax, climax, resolution phase. The oh-my-gosh-endings-are-totally-not-my-strength phase. Yes, the book was finished. Yes, I do have my fabulous agent. Yes, I'm still re-writing the ending. And  because my brain is stuck in ending mode right now, what better topic for today's post?

For my benefit and yours, here are a few "no-no" tips about endings. According to Marg McAlister, there are four main BAD endings that will get your hand slapped by agents and publishers everywhere (from "Write a Story Ending That Will Satisfy Readers"):

1.) The Story Ending That Is Too Good to be True  
The underdog not only wins through but is suddenly popular, rich and powerful. The ugly duckling swaps glasses for contact lenses, ditches the frumpy hairdo, loses weight, dresses better and marries the 'prince'. The author's mantra here should be "the hero can end up with what he MOST wants, but not EVERYTHING he wants."

2.) The Story Ending That Goes On... and On... and On  
Build up to the story climax, write the final powerful scene, then get out of there. Any scenes that follow the story resolution should be short so they don't detract from the ending. Part of a writer's craft lies in understanding how to tie up various plot threads ahead of time, so they are not faced with having to explain it all right at the end.

3.) The Story Ending That Leaves Unanswered Questions  
Sometimes the author deliberately leaves the reader wondering what happened as a device to sell the next book in a series. This ploy probably works for popular, established authors, but it results in a lot of unhappy readers. They really don't want to wait a year for the next book to tell them what happened. If the author is not so well known, the reader might not bother buying the next book at all.

In other cases, the author fails to answer questions simply because they've forgotten. In the race to finish the book (Hooray! It's done at last!) they've missed resolving some 'minor' point. Unfortunately, readers usually keep turning pages because they're curious about what happened... and this applies to lesser plot elements as well as the main story question. By keeping a plot notebook, authors can help to eliminate this problem. A story timeline can include all questions that need to be answered by the end of the book.

4.) The Story Ending That Kills off the Main Character  
Authors who kill off the main character (or let them die from some ailment) will defend their decision to the end: "In real life, people die. Life's not always perfect," or "He had to die to be true to the story."
Some readers agree and don't mind the main character dying (even if they shed a tear or two) but readers treat it as the ultimate betrayal. They have identified with this character; they have lived in his skin; they have viewed the world through his eyes; they have felt what he feels. The main character's death is like a death in the family. Authors who want to sell the novel and to win readers should give careful thought to the fate of the main character.

So, what do you think . . .
Do you agree? Or are there any you disagree with?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Run Wild

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
  ~ Albert Einstein

Today, let your imaginations run wild!

I know I haven't been commenting on your blogs as much as I usually do. Please forgive me. I'm in the throes of editing, but I should come out of it soon. You know I love ya!

Monday, February 6, 2012

MMGM -- On the Bright Side Blog Tour

Goodreads Blurb:
As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven.

Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help.

Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free. 

I was lucky enough to be a part of Shelli's first blog tour for the release of UNTRACEABLE, her YA novel, which I thought was great. So, of course I jumped at the chance to read and review her new MG release. I can't believe the difference in voice! Nailing voice is one of the things we authors often struggle to get right. Not Shelli. The middle grade voice and humor in ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is spot on.

Gabby is a truly lovable character. Shelli's portrayal of "heaven" is creative and fun. The supporting characters are perfect for their roles in Gabby's life/death. I alternated between laughing and holding my breath. This is a perfect story for tween girls!

* website

* twitter username

* Goodreads

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wings of the Wicked Blog Tour and a WINNER

The randomly selected winner of a copy of
is . . .
Susanne Drazic!!!


I am THRILLED to be a part of the Blog Tour for Courtney Allison Moulton's Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire #2), hosted by The Page Turner's Blog.

Goodreads Blurb:
Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.
Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.
She’s been warned.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.

She’ll be betrayed.
Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay. 

Let me start by saying this was everything I'd hoped for in a sequel. 

Wings of the Wicked built upon key relationships from Angelfire and added new and important characters for us to fall in love with. Courtney provided more detail and backstory with this one, which I thought helped us understand Ellie and Will more--and their relationship, too. 

Ellie really struggles to maintain a normal life: friends, school, activities... while spending her evenings battling evil. Not an easy balance. And the "evil" in Wicked is far, far worse than what she faced before. These reapers are bad, bad, bad.

The tension built consistently toward the ultimate battle and climax, making it harder and harder to put the book down the further I read. I couldn't stop reading, yet I didn't want it to end. And the ending? Whoa!

I am not a fan of reviews that contain spoilers, so you'll have to trust me when I say that this was even better than Angelfire. I absolutely cannot wait for book 3.


Courtney's debut ANGELFIRE was a 2011 Indie Next Pick
I reviewed ANGELFIRE when it first came out HERE. In fact, I reviewed it twice. It was one of the first ARCs I ever received, and I got so excited about it that I posted my first review WAY before it was released. *embarrassing* So I posted it again nearer its actual release. 

For more information on Courtney and her writing, visit her website: 
or follow her on Twitter: 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Project Mayhem + Blog Hop Winner

Hi, guys! Today I am posting over at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. Come visit me there and say hello!


And the WINNER of the 

Pretty Little Liars book #10, 
RUTHLESS by Sara Shepard

is . . .

 An Int'l winner!

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you soon.

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