Monday, April 29, 2013

MMGM -- House of Secrets

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.

House of Secrets

by Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzini and Greg Call 



From legendary Hollywood director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and bestselling author Ned Vizzini (It's Kind of a Funny Story) comes this first book in an epic new fantasy series.

Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything: two loving parents, a beautiful house in San Francisco, and all the portable electronic devices they could want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job in the wake of a mysterious incident. Now in dire straits, the family must relocate to an old Victorian house that used to be the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff—a house that feels simultaneously creepy and too good to be true.

By the time the Walkers realize that one of their neighbors has sinister plans for them, they're banished to a primeval forest way off the grid. Their parents? Gone. Their friends? A world away. And they aren't alone. Bloodthirsty medieval warriors patrol the woods around them, supernatural pirates roam the neighboring seas, and a power-hungry queen rules the land. To survive, the siblings will have to be braver than they ever thought possible—and fight against their darkest impulses. The key may lie in their own connection to the secret Kristoff legacy. But as they unravel that legacy, they'll discover it's not just their family that's in danger . . . it's the entire world.

This book felt like it was written by a Hollywood producer and director. It flies from one nail-biting scene to another, building upon the layers and characters of the story as we go. It reminded me a bit of JUMANJI--the craziness and unexpectedness that comes with new and strange surprises. I enjoyed the complexity of the plot and the likability of the characters and will happily read other stories by these authors in the future.




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Middle Grade Feature for Earth Day + GIVEAWAY

You Can't Have My Planet, 
But Take My Brother Please

 by James Mihaley

Thirteen-year-old Giles is the last person anyone would expect to save the planet. He's not as charming as his little sister, and not as brainy as his goody-goody older brother. But when Giles witnesses an alien realtor showing Earth to possible new tenants, he knows he'd better do something. With the help of an alien "attorney" and the maddest scientist in middle-grade fiction, Giles just might save humans from eviction from Earth. Let's hope so. The alternatives are...not so hospitable. 

This hilarious and eco-friendly book was recently released in paperback, just in time for Earth Day! James is a fellow Project Middle Grade Mayhem author and an all-around awesome guy. Whether in celebration of Earth Day or not, this is a don't-miss middle grade title. Original, laugh-out-loud funny, and full of adventure, You Can't Have My Planet, But Take My Brother Please has a perfect 5 star rating on Amazon. You'll love it!



James has agreed to a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a free copy of You Can't Have My Planet, But Take My Brother Please.

To enter: 
  1. Be a follower of this blog
  2. Leave a comment by Friday, April 26th
  3. Follow James on Twitter

And the winner is . . .

SA Larsen!


You can stalk James at the following locations:  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Lies That Bind

The Lies That Bind
by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Another Sister Gone—You Can't Let Them Get Away With This

Kate has heard of messages from beyond the grave, but she never expected to find one in a fortune cookie. Especially from her best friend, Grace—who's supposed to be dead.

At the elite Pemberly Brown Academy, nothing is as it seems. A popular girl has gone missing, and Kate owes it to Grace's memory to find out what happened. But in a school ruled by secret societies, who can she trust? Definitely not Bradley (despite his hotness) — he's one of them. Still, she may just have to get closer to him if she wants to get some answers.

Kate's next mystery at The Pemberly Brown Academy is every bit as riveting and surprising as the first. I loved LIAR SOCIETY, and I have to say that LIES THAT BIND is just as good. Even the cleverest of mystery fans won't be able to predict what's coming--Lisa and Laura Roecker are just too good. I don't think I've ever read better YA mystery than these. They are suspenseful, action-packed, funny, romantic, and impossible to figure out--all in one!

I love these books, my students love these books, and I have no doubts that YOU will love these books! Don't miss out. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

MMGM -- Loki's Wolves


  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.

Loki's Wolves

by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr
Expected publication: May 7th 2013
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.
First, you should know this book passed the "kid test", as both my 5th grade son AND 3rd grade daughter read it and loved it. It took my son a little longer to get sucked into the story than my daughter, but once he did he couldn't put it down. He even used it for a book report, feeling pretty proud of himself for sharing a book that isn't out yet!
Loki's Wolves is a fantastic middle grade fantasy-adventure, and it lives up to the reader expectations that come from such well-known authors. I highly recommend it for all mythology lovers!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blog Tour -- Return of the Mystic Gray


Return of the Mystic Gray
by Steve Westover

Return of the Mystic Gray: Crater Lake

Released April 9th, 2013
Cedar Fort Publishing

Ethan and his friends are back in a brand-new adventure! With inherited powers they don't understand and can't quite control, they head back to Crater Lake to rescue their friend Jacob, train for an epic battle, and join forces with a powerful ally---the Mystic Gray. Filled with action, adventure, and mystery, this book is a thrilling addition to the Crater Lake series!

Like its predecessor, “Return of the Mystic Gray” is set at Oregon's pristine Crater Lake and follows the exploits of Ethan, a pudgy and reluctant hero, and his band of misfit friends who are beginning to realize that their last Crater Lake adventure left them with inherited powers they don’t understand and can’t quite control. Though the kids live in different parts of the country, they are all drawn back to Crater Lake to resume their battle with the evil Chief Llao and hopefully find their lost friend, Jacob.

A year ago I posted a review of Steve's first book, Crater Lake, here. I have to echo those thoughts a little now, because book 2 is just as good. Like Crater Lake, Return of the Mystic Gray once again combines courage, magic, friendship, and teamwork, while still maintaining the wilderness adventure, Native American folklore, and local legend that I loved the first time around. These books are ideal for middle grade mystery/adventure lovers. I highly recommend them BOTH!  

Return of the Mystic Gray is currently available on, and and

 “Growing up in Oregon, I loved camping in the mountains with my fellow Scouts,” said Westover. “I even camped in the snow, cross-country skiing into camp and building snow caves. Many of those experiences inspired this book. Unlike the warm summer adventure the kids had in Book 1, they are now at Crater Lake in the dead of winter with miles of snow and frozen landscape. It’s beautiful, but treacherous.”

Twitter: @stevenwestover

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