Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1)This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catarina Agatta is a brilliant hacker. Her skills not only make her an asset to the resistance, they make her a target of the corporation that controls human life after a virus has swept the earth. In Catarina's world, codes run the global computer network but codes also control life itself since every human is implanted with a panel than recodes their DNA. Her father was working on a vaccine for the global pandemic when he was taken by Cartaxus.

When a Cartaxus soldier arrives at her hideout, Catarina must choose: hide from Cartaxus at all costs or finish the work her father started.

This Mortal Coil is a fast paced sci-fi thriller where Warcross meets World War Z. I loved the ethical exploration of biology and tech. This novel is sure to be a hit with teens who love STEM...and zombies.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

K10: Samantha's Surprise: A Christmas Story by Maxine Rose Schur

The Kidliterati Ten is an interview series with young readers. We ask them about a favorite book and hope that you enjoy their answers.
Tell us a little about yourself: what is your first name, how old are you, and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? My name is Eva. I'm 6 years old, and my favorite ice cream is vanilla!

What book did you read and why did you choose it?
 I read Samantha's Surprise (actually, my mommy read it to me because it's so long!). I wanted to read it because it was a book my mommy read when she was little.

Can you describe this book in one word? Christmas!

What was your favorite part of this story? My favorite part of the story is when Samantha gets her Christmas dress.

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do? Samantha had a problem liking Cordelia in this book. If that happened to me, I would try to get to know the person so I could like her.

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book? I would tell her that it's a good story and it has pretty pictures in it.

What do you think about the book's cover? I love the cover. It's beautiful and it shows Samantha's new dress.

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not? Yes because it's a great story with really good illustrations.

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one? There are more books in this series, all with Samantha!

If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be?  I have a question for the illustrator instead -- how did you make the pictures so good?

The illustrator for the original edition of this book, Eileen Potts Dawson, passed away in 2017. She went to art school, and along with illustrating children's books, she also painted pictures of people's beloved pets, which you can see here.

Thank you for the interview, Eva!

You can find out more about Samantha's Surprise here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi

Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Received this ARC for an honest review.

MEET YASMIN … the Explorer who discovers how useful maps can be. The Painter, finding inspiration after much frustration, the Builder of Bridges, and the Fashionista, who creates a unique style all her own in each adventure-filled chapter.

Yasmin and her Pakistani American family will delight you. Yasmin shares her problem-solving skills in creative and inventive ways. She’s quite the visionary. Readers go to school with Yasmin, enter an art competition, become lost at the farmer’s market, and share in the horror of ripping her mother’s most beautiful silk kameez. But Yasmin has ideas and she gets to work!

Yasmin’s a spunky, smart, and courageous second-grader; her family life is fun and nurturing. We learn a few words in Urdu, a language from Pakistan, and there’s a delicious recipe for a yogurt drink called Lassi, plus, a bookmark craft that’s simple enough for young hands. MEET YASMIN is a welcome addition to the chapter book market. I look forward to reading more of Yasmin’s trials and learning how she tackles them. I’m sure kids will too!

Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan and currently resides in Houston, TX with her husband and two children. She writes for a number of publications online about the global contemporary Muslim experience. She is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry and prose. Her short stories have been published in several American literary journals. "Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan" is her debut fiction book. Her early reader series Meet Yasmin (Capstone, 2018) features a Pakistani American little girl.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cover Reveal! CAN YOU CRACK THE CODE? by Ella Schwartz

Today, we are so excited to host the cover reveal for CAN YOU CRACK THE CODE? by our very own Kidliterati blogger, Ella Schwartz!

Codes can carry big secrets! Throughout history, lots of good guys and lots of bad guys have used codes to keep their messages under wraps. This fun and flippable nonfiction book features stories of hidden treasures, war-time maneuverings, and contemporary hacking as well as explaining the mechanics behind the codes in accessible and kid friendly forms. Sidebars call out activities that invite the reader to try their own hand at cracking and crafting their own secret messages

CAN YOU CRACK THE CODE? is the first book in an exciting new series that invites readers into a STEM topic through compelling historical anecdotes, scientific backup, and DIY projects. It's the perfect addition to any classroom or school library. Add it to your TBR, stat!

Before we get to the awesome cover, here is a special message from the author:

Like most authors, when I was writing this book I had an image in my mind of what the cover should look like. When I received the cover I was blown away. It was the complete opposite of what I had imagined! And yet, it was perfect. Illustrator, Lily Williams, somehow managed to create the cover this book was meant to have but the author was not brave enough to imagine. The first thing that hit me was the color scheme. These colors reflect the tone of the book brilliantly, and now I’m trying to decide which room in my house to repaint teal with orange highlights. 
My favorite part of the cover are the sheets of papers along the border, depicting strings of seemingly random, indecipherable numbers, letters, and symbols. Each and every one of these papers are inspired by famous codes and ciphers in the book! Not one of them is arbitrary. And I love that the cover introduces characters Alice and Bob —the heroes of the crypto universe—looking all sleuthy. I look forward to readers getting to know Alice and Bob better! 

Sleuthy characters, a crypto universe, and ciphers we can solve? Sounds wonderful to us! Without further ado, here's the cover reveal:






What do you think? We love the teal and orange color scheme, and seeing little bits and pieces of all of the cool cryptography contained inside. Congratulations to Ella on a gorgeous cover! We can't wait to see inside!

By day, Ella Schwartz works as a cybersecurity warrior, helping to keep the Internet safe. Ella writes fiction and nonfiction books for young readers. CAN YOU CRACK THE CODE? (Bloomsbury, 2019), is the first book in a nonfiction STEM-based middle grade series, exploring concepts in cryptography and internet security. The second book in the series, IS IT OKAY TO PEE IN THE OCEAN? will explore topics in biology and the human impact on the earth’s ecosystem. When she's not working, writing, or training to run a marathon, Ella volunteers on outreach initiatives to promote women in science and improve science literacy.
WebsiteGoodreads | Twitter  


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Secrets of Kidlit: Spotlight on Joey Green

The spotlight series brings to light authors’ approaches to writing for young readers and the secrets to their success. Joey Green is the author of over sixty books, including Contrary to Popular Belief, The Mad Scientist Handbook series, and The Zen of Oz.
He has appeared on dozens of national television shows, such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, and The View. Joey has also been profiled by the New York Times, People magazine, and USA Today and interviewed on hundreds of radio shows. His first middle grade novel, Not So Normal Norbert, was co-written with James Patterson and released just this week.

Welcome, Joey! It’s a treat to interview such a prolific author about the craft of writing for young readers.

JG: Thank you for having me! It’s an honor to be interviewed!

With an extensive career in writing humor and nonfiction for adults, what inspired you to switch to middle grade fiction?
JG: Many moons ago, I met my wife Debbie when we were both working at the same advertising agency in New York City. Our boss was a guy named Jim who occasionally wrote murder mystery books. Jim turned out to be James Patterson. Three years ago, when my wife and I visited Jim at his house in Florida, Jim invited me to write a murder mystery book with him. Murder isn’t really my thing, so I asked, “Can I be funny?” Jim said, “Maybe a kid’s book would be better.” Jim was the first person to suggest my imagination and sense of humor would be a great fit for middle grade fiction.
You co-wrote Not So Normal Norbert with best-seller James Patterson. How did the collaboration work in terms of your roles as writers, and what was the coolest writing secret you learned from working together?
James Patterson
JG: For me, working with Jim is like being Robin to Batman. He trusts my imagination, encourages my creativity, and occasionally lets me drive the Batmobile. Jim has a keen editorial eye, and he instinctively sees where the plot is slowing down. The coolest writing secret Jim taught me is “Don’t say in six pages what you can say in three pages.” The goal of his kids’ books is to get kids excited about reading by creating exciting books, and that goal totally inspired me to write a really fun book. Becoming a great reader is essential to every child’s success. And getting kids to read helps make the world a better place.

What was the main difference for you between writing adult and middle grade fiction?
JG: I find writing middle grade fiction incredibly liberating because kids are generally more receptive to nonsense, whimsy, and flights of imagination than adults are. I can write about a spaceship that soars at super-hyper-turbo-zippo speed—a gazillion times the speed of light—and kids immediately suspend their disbelief and accept the impossible with no questions asked. Kids also appreciate my sophomoric and sardonic sense of humor.

Green on the Helicycle
You’ve made dozens of television appearances to promote your previous books, often with fun antics with show hosts. What are your plans for getting the word out on Not So Normal Norbert?

JG: When I get invited to appear on television shows, I’ll demonstrate some of the wild gadgets that Norbert uses in Not So Normal Norbert like the helicycle, a one-person pedal-powered helicopter, and the Divergent Gibberish Transducer, a device that transmits Norbert’s spoken message across the universe but translates it into complete nonsense. I’ll also show the audience how to throw paint balloons at a wall, like the kids do in the book.

Is there some secret about you that our readers may be surprised to know?

JG: I worked at Walt Disney World where I wrote television commercials for the theme parks, so I’ve gone on the Haunted Mansion ride more than 200 times.

As a sneak preview for our readers, can you share with us any secrets about upcoming projects?

JG: I’m hard at work on a new middle-grade fiction book called Look Mom, I’m Invisible! It’s written from personal experience. Or is it? Shh, that’s the secret.

Thanks for such an interesting and fun interview, Joey. We’ll keep an x-ray eye out for your upcoming Look Mom, I’m Invisible! but in the meanwhile, we’ll check your website for updates or order a copy of Not So Normal Norbert at

And readers, don’t forget to enter the giveaway contest for an ARC of Not So Normal Norbert below!

All the best, Chris Brandon Whitaker

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls: Power Play by Beth McMullen

Power Play (Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls, #2)Power Play by Beth McMullen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everyone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges. After Drexel’s son—who is Abby’s friend, Toby—receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.

With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.

And with a little luck, they might just save the world.

This was a fun follow-up to last year's Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls! Thirteen-year-old, spy-wannabe Abby finds herself on a whirlwind international adventure, searching for her friend Toby's missing father. Abby, Toby, and their friends race against the clock through an online monster-catching game, hoping for more clues from the villain who kidnapped Toby's dad. But it turns out the villain wants more than just control of the game . . .

Fast-paced and funny, Power Play is a quick read. The star of the book is Abby's voice. She's a little sarcastic, smart, and always hopelessly in trouble. The supporting characters are fun and add a lot to the story, and I loved the beginning of some teen drama sneaking into their relationships. Moving the story between the boarding school, Paris, Florida, and London keeps the pace moving along (as does Abby's ability to constantly find a way to sneak off). I especially enjoyed seeing Abby come into her own as a future spy during the climax of the book. Kids who enjoy adventure stories, spies, and friendship books will love this series!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Happy Birthday to Us!

The Kidliterati are celebrating our 5th birthday this month. 

We've had five trips around the sun together, loving books and supporting each other the whole way.

We will be sharing some of our favorite posts on Twitter. We hope you enjoy re-reading them as much as we loved writing them.

*blows out candle*



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