Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

The Gallery of Unfinished GirlsThe Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A piano appears on the lawn one week after seventeen-year-old Mercedes Moreno’s mother has left for Puerto Rico to watch over her abuela, lying in a coma. Mercedes and her fourteen-year-old sister, Angela, wait for their mother’s return in Sarasota and try to the best of it. But it’s not easy. Her sister becomes better and better on the piano they keep in the living room, growing as a musician, while Mercedes is unsure of what to paint, or why or how she’ll create anything of artist merit since her award-winning piece last year.

That she’s fallen in love with her best friend Victoria and keeping it a secret might have something to do with her lack of inspiration. A mysterious new tenant moves in with the neighbor they share a porch with. Her name is Lilia Solis. She’s also Latina, and a painter, and seems to live in an entirely different world. Lilia works to move Mercedes out of limbo, toward her next work of art, asking questions and sharing her own work.

Mercedes wishes she could return to the feeling of being on the brink of creation, “a little like falling in love.” When Lilia introduces Mercedes to the Red Mangrove Estate, a beachfront artist’s community where the artists can “be their best selves”, she spends more and more time there, meeting other artists, in a whirlwind of dreamy creation, where Tricia’s deepest secrets spill forth, while her sister spends time upstairs playing piano like a virtuoso. They both want to stay and live in endless creation.

An absorbing, and beautifully written in a way you’re sure you’ve entered another dimension, blurring the lines of reality in this delightful magical realism, that had me racing through, so I could get to painting and playing music too! I’m pretty sure I burst into magical tears in the last chapter. This book was that inspiring. The relationship between Victoria and Mercedes is warm and tender and very loving. (Positive bisexual representation.) Readers 13 and up.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Guest Post: Aram Kim, author of NO KIMCHI FOR ME!

Today we are thrilled to host Aram Kim, author of NO KIMCHI FOR ME!, published September 5, 2017 by Holiday House. From author Aram Kim, NO KIMCHI FOR ME! is the story of Yoomi, who is determined to eat kimchi despite her lack of enthusiasm for it. This Junior Library Guild selection has universal themes while at the same time celebrating Korean culture.

Showmanship for Introverts: Presenting Your Books to Readers  


Showmanship for Introverts is the title of the master class session at the upcoming SCBWI annual winter conference. Julie Gribble, an author, and founder of Kidlit TV, a senior agent Erica Rand Silverman, and I will be leading the session. When Julie suggested a workshop on authors’ presentations, and Erica narrowed it down to read aloud performance, I jumped right on board. I resonated with the idea very much as a newly published author at the beginning of my author career.

Many of us who try to get published spend years perfecting the manuscripts, searching for right agents and editors, and going to conferences and workshops on how to get published. This process alone is daunting, and we barely get to think of what comes next after the book is out in the world. Many newly published authors confess that they did not realize public speaking was to become such a big part of their career. Whether you love it or hate it, speaking to many readers and presenting your book to the audience is a big part of author’s life. For many authors, doing book events could feel uncomfortable. Creating is often a solitary activity, and many of us who write or illustrate books are introverts by nature. Yet, we need to appreciate the opportunities to present, actively seek those chances, and embrace them. Not only because the book events will potentially boost the book sales, but also because the books that authors spend years writing deserve a chance to be introduced to readers and read by many of them.

What I learned after publishing my first book, Cat on the Bus, and after attending various book events for the second book No Kimchi for Me! is that one does not need to change oneself to perform in front of people. I am in no way extrovert. I know I could not perform like some authors who rouse their audience, make them sing, clap, scream, and dance. That is not who I am. However, I love sharing stories. That is why I am making books. I desire my readers to be interested in the stories I am sharing. I want them to have a good time. I want them to enjoy the stories, and I want my stories to enrich their lives. As introverts who are presenting, what we need to do is to prepare. Prepare well. Spend time to think about what your unique quality is. Spend time to think of what your readers would appreciate hearing. Spend time to practice what you are going to say and practice reading aloud. Record yourself with your phone. Many people, including myself, cannot bear hearing oneself recorded, needless to say seeing oneself recorded. Even though it feels so unfamiliar and weird, by doing that, you would certainly improve the performance.

All my books are inspired by my Korean cultural heritage. Because most of my audience are little children, I use a big bright globe to show where Korea is. Starting from U.S.A., specifically from the city where I am presenting, I draw the line to reach Korea and explain a little bit about the country and tell them that’s where I came from. That introduction leads nicely to the story time, and “kimchi,” often very foreign especially for the children audience, does not feel too foreign anymore. There is always something you can tell your audience about yourself connected to the story. Make yourself accessible. Readers feel closer to your books when they feel closer to you. You are there to make a nice introduction of the book you poured your heart out to create. Just remember one thing - audiences are rooting for you. So go out and have fun.

Aram Kim is a New York-based children's book author/illustrator and picture book designer. She was born in Ohio, spent her childhood in South Korea, and now lives in Queens, New York. She likes bringing in distinctive South Korean flair to works she creates. Aram is a huge advocate for diversity in children's literature, and a creator of the Multicultural Children's Book Day 2018 poster. Her debut picture book, Cat on the Bus (2016), was included in Children's Choice Reading List by ILA. Her second picture book, No Kimchi for Me! (2017), is a Junior Library Guild selection. Visit

Yoomi is determined to eat kimchi. She tries to disguise it by eating it on a cookie, on pizza, and in ice cream. But that doesn't work. Then Grandma shows Yoomi how to make kimchi pancakes. This story about family, food, and a six-year-old -coming of age- has universal themes, and at the same time celebrates Korean culture. A kimchi pancake recipe and other back matter are included.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Book Review: Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rules by Cynthia Lord 
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules-from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"-in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal? (From Goodreads).

Other rules for David include:
  • If the bathroom door is closed, knock! (especially if Catherine as a friend over).
  • Don't stand in from of the TV when other people are watching it.
  • No toys in the fishtank.
  • A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.
  • Some people think they know who you are, when really they don't.

Rules is full of heart and humor. Ms. Lord does an excellent job of describing a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). She shows how uniquely some kids think by using gentle words and appropriate humor. If fact, I have read Rules to my 4th - 6th grade students--some of whom are on the spectrum. It's amazing to see how they relate to David, even mentioning it out loud in class with total acceptance by their peers.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Guest post with Leah Henderson, author of One Shadow on the Wall

Today we are thrilled to host Leah Henderson, author of ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL, published June 6, 2017 by Simon & Schuster. From debut author Leah Henderson, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL is the story of an orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal who must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father. Here Leah shares her thoughts on remembering why we write.

Remember Why You Write


As writers and creatives, I’m sure we’ve all experienced days and sometimes weeks or months of doubt and uncertainty. Where every thought about our work is met with an inner voice that says it’s not good enough. These are the moments that make us want to stop writing, stop caring, and stop trying. The moments when we silently ask ourselves: what’s it all for?

Last week I was reminded what it’s for. Why I do what I do, and why I write what I write.

A few years ago on a trip to Senegal, West Africa one glimpse outside a car window changed more than just my writing life; it clarified what I strive for. I know it sounds weighty, but it’s true. A young boy passing the time on a beach wall captured my attention for the briefest of seconds. And for reasons I still can’t fully understand, he stayed in my mind throughout the day. Then, hours later, when I came back to the same area and found him still there, I asked his permission to take another photograph (I’d already snapped a frantic one out the car window). Little did I know what an immense gift and responsibility he was about to give me. After the shutter closed and reopened, I peered at the captured image immediately struck by the face and stance of the person staring back at me. In the still shot, the boy’s strength screamed a challenge.

I dare you not to see me as I see myself.

Snapshot from the car window

I remember smiling and thinking, this is what he wants me to capture. The way he wants to be seen by the world. The strength and determination I met in his eyes meant everything to me at that moment. It pulled at my heart. I felt like he had so much to say and I wasn’t sure if anyone had ever listened. I wanted him to know I heard and saw him. So the writer in me created a fictional world for this boy. I tried to tell myself a piece of his story.

The moment that captured my heart

The process wasn’t an easy one, and my days and nights were often filled with doubt, uncertainty, and fear that I’d mess things up, or worse, that I’d never capture even a fraction of Senegal’s heartbeat. But my need to show the boy in my photograph (even if our paths never crossed again) that I saw him as a hero, a warrior, a defender, and a friend in his own adventure was far greater than my fear.

Kids like him, who rarely see themselves as the hero or heroine of stories, are my driving force. They deserve stories they can feel proud of and identify with—stories that mirror their own experiences and that are bursting with possibilities, featuring characters they can relate to and hopefully root for.

That is why I write.

And each time I got stuck, didn’t trust my ability to put one word in front of the next, worried no one would pick up my book or connect with the story, I thought of that boy. I pinned his image to the wall by my computer, saved it in my phone, and often stared at it to replenish my writing well.

And long after I’d written the final line, and turned my attention to promotion, I still tried to remember him after almost six years. Yet at a point last week, during a moment when I’d lost sight of “my why,” I received a letter from a young reader. After introducing himself the letter read, “Ms. Henderson I really loved your book!” And if his words had ended there they would have been enough, but he went on to describe what he liked about the story. Then I reached the close of the letter: “You know so much about Senegal it’s amazing. My own dad came from Senegal in a poor village so I really feel a connection to the book and I hope you write more books.” That line was fuel, tears, laughter, stars, sunshine, and glittering gold for me.

The young reader who found his way to my book.

Writing has its ups and downs like anything else, but in that instance every discouraging moment before that letter arrived was magically forgotten, or turned inconsequential in my mind. The memory of why I write flooded back.

I share this with you, because on those days when you are plagued by frustration, or falter because of some level of rejection, please remember why you write. Why you love what you do. Why you need to create. Why all the sleepless nights, doubts, insecurities, and uncertainties are worth it. That is how you will get to the next day and the next.

And sometimes, maybe just sometimes, after all that you’ll be lucky enough to be reminded of what you’ve set out to do in the most wonderful ways.

This is why I write! Why do you?

Happy writing, my friends!

Leah Henderson has always loved getting lost in stories. When she is not scribbling down her characters’ adventures, she is off on her own, exploring new spaces and places around the world. Her middle grade novel One Shadow on the Wall (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster) was sparked by one of those trips. Leah received her MFA at Spalding University and currently calls Washington D.C. home.

You can find her on Twitter @LeahsMark or at her website:

An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father.

Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined.

With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine FraudGenuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who is Jule West Williams? A tourist pursued across the globe? A victim? Has she been framed after her best friend Imogen's death?

I read this book in one sitting with my mouth agape.

It's hard to review Genuine Fraud without spoilers but it is a mind-bending book. Told in reverse-chronological order beginning at Chapter 18 and ending at Chapter 1, it took me a chapter or two to fully appreciate the implications of the timeline. But once the lightbulb went off for me, I was hooked. Lockhart's characteristic tight prose matches her cutting craft. There is not a word wasted or a clue misplaced.

Genuine Fraud is a novel for those who love unreliable narrators, anti-heroes, and love at its most manipulative.

View all my reviews

Friday, November 3, 2017

K10: First Year (Black Mage, book 1) by Rachel Carter

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?

Emma. 12. Cookie dough. Or bacon [laughs].

What book did you read and why did you choose it?

First Year by Rachel Carter. It's the first book of the Black Mage series. I like it because I thought the plot was interesting and had lots of teen drama. It made me cry 3 times and I like books that make me cry.

Can you describe this book in one word?


What was your favorite part of this story?

I liked when the person the main character hated in the beginning of the book ended up being the person she fell in love with.

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do?

The main character had so many problems I don't even know where to begin.

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book?

Just read it!

What do you think about the book's cover?

It portrayed a good image of the characters.

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not?

Yes, because I love these characters!

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one?


If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be?

Why do you like making people cry so much?

We reached out to the author, Rachel Carter, and here is her answer!

My favorite books are always the ones that evoke strong emotions from me as a reader. Not every book can affect me so deeply, but when one does, I tend to remember that book far longer than others, so when I sat down to write The Black Mage I knew I wanted to take my readers on that same emotional journey. Crying over characters in a book is the ultimate compliment to an author, because it shows you felt deeply and were able to connect with them enough to feel heartbreak and joy the way my characters did in the book.

A big thank you to Emma for sharing First Year with us!

First Year (The Black Mage #1)

Before the age of seventeen, the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice —pursue a trade or enroll in a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight, or mage. For fifteen-year-old Ryiah, the choice has always been easy. Become a mage and train in Combat, the most prestigious faction of magic.

Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Everyone is rooting for her to fail—first and foremost among them is Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.

Will Ry survive, or will her dream go down in flames?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Guest Post with Celia Pérez, THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK

Today we are thrilled to host Celia Pérez, author of THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK, published August 22, 2017 by Penguin Random House. From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching. Be sure to stay tuned for the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

3 Things I Learned About Writing and Publishing

Having just had my first book released in August, I’m still pretty wet behind the ears when it comes to this whole published author business. I don’t have a ton of sage advice to share, but I did learn a few things that I’m trying to remember as I embark on the second book journey (which is a completely different journey and that would probably be item number four if this were a list of four things I learned).

1. The process of making a book takes much longer than you can imagine.

I like to show this photo at my school visits. It’s the “before” picture of THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK. The stack includes the earliest drafts, going back to February 2015, and is topped by the final print out of the book that I took a pen to, the first pass pages from March 2017. It isn’t a complete picture, of course. It doesn’t take into account that the book had been cooking before February 2015. It only shows the writing part, the part I had control over. There’s time spent that you can’t capture as easily--like all the time you spend waiting for someone to respond to an email. Or time spent fuming because the publishing world doesn’t work full days on Fridays in the summer. You know, little things like that. Does knowing that the whole process moves at a snail’s pace make it easier? No.

2. You will cycle through feelings. Get used to the cycle.

Here, I even wrote the whole thing out for you. This cycle will likely become very familiar. I wrote this down before I’d even gone out on submission with THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK and was revising with my agent. Just swap out the word “agent” for “editor” and it’s the only thing that changed in the cycle once the manuscript was acquired. I wrote it down to remind myself that whatever I’m feeling at any given moment will change, that there’s a pattern, and something about that makes me feel, I don’t know, a little more reassured. When you’re in the part of the cycle where you feel like you’ve been kicked in the gut and nothing you write will ever be any good (and you’ll be there, trust me), you’re there with the knowledge that, yes, this too shall pass. Right now, I’m in the “Ignore the whole thing for a few days” part of the cycle and so ready to move on.

3. Your process doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s.

I follow authors on social media who seem to spend about twenty-four hours a day writing in lovely rented writing space or swanky retreats away from home. They use tools like Scrivner to stay organized. Sometimes I look at their videos and images with the same envy with which I look at Instagram photos of Martha Stewart’s even, perfectly frosted cakes. Why is my cake always lopsided?

I have a full-time job (and a kid, so let’s say two full time jobs) in addition to writing. I write where I can and when I can. I don’t have a special space reserved for writing. I don’t even have a desk. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to write, much less the time to tango with Scrivner. My process consists of cutting and pasting with a scissors and tape on the living room floor.

And sometimes, my process includes having to coax a dog off my manuscript pages.

I realize that knowing these things likely doesn’t make anyone in the thick of this process for the very first time feel a whole lot better, but perhaps less alone? Yes, it takes a long time. No, your emails will not be responded to as quickly as you wish. Yes, you will be drowning in paper. It’s okay that you’re writing at your unglamorous, sticker-covered dining room table. Take deep breaths, embrace the cycle, and know that in the end it will all be worth it.

Inspired by punk and her love of writing, Celia C. Pérez has been making zines for longer than some of you have been alive. Her favorite zine supplies are her long-arm stapler, glue sticks, animal clip art (to which she likes adding speech bubbles), and watercolor pencils. She still listens to punk music, and she’ll never stop picking cilantro out of her food at restaurants. Celia is the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Cuban father. Originally from Miami, Florida, she now lives in Chicago with her family and works as a community college librarian. The First Rule of Punk is her first book for young readers.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school--you can't fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malu (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School's queen bee, violates the school's dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malu loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malu finally begins to feel at home. She'll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review: Uncertain Summer by Jessica Lee Anderson

Uncertain SummerUncertain Summer by Jessica Lee Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the small town of Uncertain, Texas, Everdil’s twelfth birthday arrives with more surprises than expected, when she learns about the Cryptic Cryptid Productions contest and the one million dollar reward for an authentic photograph or video of Bigfoot. Bigfoot is legend around this part of East Texas.

With a road named after the beast, and a lodge for tourists, even Everdil’s father and grandfather are enthusiasts, and together have scraped enough money to purchase the local marina her father’s worked at over the years, and they plan on continuing the local tours.

Life would be easier for her family if she won one million dollars. But capturing the winning picture isn’t going to be easy. Her thirteen-year-old, brother, Emmett, constantly provokes her. It seems everyone in the family has joined in the “yell-at-Everdil-a-thon" except for Gramps, over her prank with Emmett and the cake, she wishes she could rewind.

When Everdil receives a digital camera with recording features, she hadn’t asked for, she determines it’s fate and her birthday colliding to help her capture the prize photo. Her new camera can also record her mother’s audition for FoodieLand, blaming the last inferior recording on why her mother never heard back.

Everdil forms a team with her brother, Emmett, and Tim, the son of the town’s Bigfoot scholar, and her old best friend, who’s back in town, though time and space have strained their friendship, she must navigate her feelings for what happened between them, as Everdil gets closer and closer to Bigfoot.

Uncertain is a real town in East Texas. The author captures the setting beautifully, the great cypress, the Spanish moss, and the draught. Everdil’s relationships with her family and friends grow on you and feel as real her search for Bigfoot.

A fun and adventurous MG book for readers 9-12 and a perfect “not too scary” book for Halloween.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Eerie, Creepy, Middle Grade + Giveaway!

It's that time of year again! Last year's Halloween post featured creepy activity books and myths and legends, check it out HERE. But this season, it's middle grade novels! So, all of the...


Plus, obviously, lots of this...

And what better way to get into the Halloween spirit than with some creepy recommendations for several spooky reads?! (Psst! Enter to win a copy a couple of these books at the bottom of the post!)


Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. She knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

Corinne begins to notice odd occurrences after that night. First she spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market. Then this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for her father. Danger is in the air. Sure enough, bewitching Corinne’s father is the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and ancient magic to stop Severine and to save her island home.

The sequel to the highly praised novel The Jumbies takes Corinne and her friends on another spine-tingling adventure under the sea.

Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.
👻My 11-year-old avid reader is currently reading The Jumbies and LOVING it!👻

“A lightning bolt erupted from the cloud and aimed directly at Ned’s heart. He couldn’t cry out. He couldn’t even move. He could just feel the magic sink into his skin and spread itself over every inch of him, bubbling and slithering and cutting deep, until he didn’t know where the magic stopped and he began."

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?

👻This author is one of said avid reader's all time favorites!👻

In this spine-tingling tale where the line between imagination and madness is sometimes hard to find, a girl fights to save her home and her life from a mysterious stranger.

Daisy Fitzjohn knows there are two worlds: the outside world and the world of Brightwood Hall, her home—and the only place she’s ever been. Daisy and her mother have never needed a life beyond Brightwood Hall, with its labyrinth of rooms, many animals, and stores of supplies. Daisy has no computer or phone, but she has all the friends she could want, including a mischievous talking rat named Tar and a ghostly presence of a long-ago explorer who calls herself Frank.

When Daisy’s mother leaves one morning without saying goodbye, a strange visitor, James Gritting, arrives on the estate claiming to be a distant cousin. But as the days tick by and Daisy’s mother doesn’t return, Gritting becomes more and more menacing. He wants to claim Brightwood for himself, and Daisy soon realizes he will do anything to get it. With no one to help her but her imaginary friends, Daisy must use her wits and her courage to survive.
👻Talking animals and a haunted mansion, yes please!👻

In this near-future dystopia with echoes of The Giver and Among the Hidden, Tania Unsworth has created an unsettling and fast-paced page-turner that’s wholly satisfying and startlingly original.

Devin doesn’t remember life before the world got hot; he has grown up farming the scorched earth with his grandfather in their remote valley. When his grandfather dies, Devin heads for the city. Once there, among the stark glass buildings, he finds scores of children, just like him, living alone on the streets. They tell him rumors of a place for abandoned children, with unlimited food and toys and the hope of finding a new family. But only the luckiest get there.

An act of kindness earns Devin an invitation to the home, but it’s soon clear that it’s no paradise. As Devin investigates the intimidating administrator and the zombie-like sickness that afflicts some children, he discovers the home’s horrific true mission. The only real hope is escape, but the place is as secure as a fortress.
👻I'm a sucker for creepy corn mazes so this cover totally has me!👻


::As promised, enter (US only) for a chance to win The Jumbies and Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste::

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Secrets of Kidlit: NaNoWriMo Tips and Tricks

It's almost my favorite time of the year -- NaNoWriMo time!

For those who just tripped over that gobbledygook of a word, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. And if you're a writer, it's about to become your favorite time of the year, too. All over the world, writers try to produce 50,000 words on a brand new manuscript in the span of one month. Sound impossible? Welllllll . . . it depends.

I've done NaNo since 2006 -- and skipping the year my child was born and I dealt with all the cancer fun -- I've participated for ten years. I love it. There's something so wonderful about trying to write a novel (or most of one) at the same time as thousands of other people. I like the daily word count goals, and I'm a huge fan of the messy, no-editing-allowed first draft. So as a veteran NaNo-er, I'm going to give you my best tips and tricks for surviving November, NaNo-style.

1. Outline, plot, or do something to prepare. You've got a week before November 1st. Use it wisely. Even if you're a pantser, it's a really good idea to have something in mind for the story you'd like to write, or you may find yourself flailing to get 1667 words each day. For a crash course in plotting, check out this post on Kidliterati.

2. Set up your document. If you're using Word, this is simple -- create and name a document, set up the headers, and write out the title. But if you're a Scrivener user, this will take more time. Trust me, it's much better to have all your folders and scenes set up so you're not wasting precious time come November 1st.

3. Plan. Specifically, when are you going to write? Figure out a time now, and then stick to it. (This is good advice for writing all the time, not just NaNo.)

NaNoWriMo forums
4. Peruse the inspiration on The good folks at NaNo have archived their past prep posts and videos -- with more inspiration to come in November. The forums also have some great stuff, but be careful not to lose all your time in there once November starts (been there, done that).

5. Sprints! Once you're in the thick of it, writing sprints are a great way to up your daily word count. NaNo runs official sprints on Twitter, participants will post word wars and sprints on the forums, local organizations might run sprints in-person or online, or you can gather some friends together and do your own.

6. For the love of all that is holy and good, DO NOT EDIT. I repeat, November is not the month to edit your words. That's December. NaDecEdiMo. Or something.

7. Finally, it's okay not to finish! I'm going to let you in on my secret. In the ten years I've done NaNo, I've never once "won." I've never hit 50,000 words in one month. Life creeps in, and that's okay. Because you know what? I'll still have finished the month with a huge head start on a new manuscript, and that's accomplishment enough. Also, if you try it and you find NaNo isn't for you, that's okay too! We all have our own processes, and the best thing you can do for your writing (and your sanity) is to be true to your process.

For more on NaNo, see "What to Think About Before NaNoWriMo" (a three-part series!), Wondering if You Should Do NaNoWriMo?, and Getting Kids to Write the NaNoWriMo Way.

If you're in this year, feel free to friend me on NaNo (I'm morgail), see if the Kidliterati crew is tweeting on the #campbeta hashtag (join us!), and happy writing!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

Dragonwatch (Dragonwatch #1)Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know how it feels when you find a book series that you love, that you want to rush through and read as quickly as possible, but you don't want it to end? That's how I felt reading Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series. It was filled with wonderful magic, suspense, humor, and yes, even dragons.

It was bittersweet to finish the series and say goodbye to the characters that I loved. The world and the people that Brandon Mull had created were vivid and real, so I missed them as soon as the books were done.

Luckily, it was only a “until we meet again” kind of goodbye, because the first book of the new Dragonwatch series is now here, seven years after the last Fablehaven book came out.

Dragonwatch picks up only four months after the end of the Fablehaven series, with siblings Kendra and Seth, ages 15 and 13, now needing to calm dragon unrest that's happening at all the dragon sanctuaries built to protect dragons. As the king of dragons, Celebrant the Just is restless for more control of Wyrmroost, one of these dragon sanctuary, and wants to ultimately release all of the dragons from their confinement.

Kendra and Seth must work together as a Dragon Tamer so they can complete their mission to strengthen the defenses of the castle, securing the safety of the inhabitants within, and the world beyond.

Brandon Mull does not disappoint with Dragonwatch. He stays true to the Fablehaven world that he created, while introducing new characters into the story. Kendra remains thoughtful and kind, Seth continues to be impulsive and funny.

If you liked Fablehaven, you’ll love to meet up with your favorite characters and magical creatures in this new series.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Guest post with Kristi Wientge, author of KARMA KHULLAR'S MUSTACHE

Today we are thrilled to host Kristi Wientge, author of KARMA KHULLAR'S MUSTACHE, published August 15, 2017 by Simon and Schuster. Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this sweet and charming novel in the tradition of Judy Blume. Be sure to stay tuned for the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Postpartum Book Baby Depression

You’ve seen the photos of authors wrapping their books up in baby blankets or the writing community wishing fellow authors Happy Book Birthday.

I’m a mother of four, so I’ve had my fair share of babies and I’ve written six manuscripts some of which I’ve spent years on trying to get just right. Like the unique challenges I’ve faced with each child, books are all too similar. So, I understand this comparison and want to expand on it because there is much more than just getting a book out there, after all, giving birth doesn’t end there. You have an ever-developing relationship with your child and any possible future children—books or human.

Also, one of the less talked about truths of giving birth is the depression, doubt, fear and/or complete lack of feeling that can follow. I’ve felt a mixture of one or more of the above emotions after the birth of each of my children, but I never expected to feel any of this after my book came out—or gave birth to it—or whatever.

There were weeks where I couldn’t string together a sentence. There were days I was sure my agent saw something in me that I’d faked and could never replicate. AND if my agent had gotten all wrong, then what in the world had my editor been thinking? Good reviews didn’t really seem to matter because how was I ever going to pull it off again?

I’m no doctor and there is no medicine to cure postpartum book baby depression, but I can share a few pointers that helped me through the slump.

1. Don’t be your own worst enemy.

a. You can protect your time—that may mean early mornings or late nights or cutting off Netflix.

b. You can demand time—I often feel un-empowered by this, after all, the kids have homework, then there’s dinner to cook and laundry, etc, etc. So, how do I demand my time? I’m off duty at 8pm. Do it yourself or go to bed. My husband isn’t the kind to take the kids out for hours at a time and give me that space, so I have to carve it out when I can. If I keep treating my writing as my “dirty little secret” that wracks me with guilt, those who aren’t supportive of it are also going to view it this way.

2. Surround yourself with people who “get” it and will support you. None of my CP’s live in Singapore. Even if they hopped on a plane to help me, it’d take them a day and too much money BUT I can post on Facebook in our private group and get at least 10 to 20 encouraging comments, helpful tips and suggestions to spur me on.

3. Don’t give up! The struggle is real. Acknowledge it. Work through it. Nothing worth it comes without some pain and struggle.

Kristi Wientge is originally from Ohio where she grew up writing stories about animals and, her favorite, a jet-setting mouse. After studying to become a teacher for children with special needs, she spent several years exploring the world from China to England, teaching her students everything from English to how to flip their eyelids inside out. She’s spent twelve years raising her family in her husband’s home country of Singapore, where she spends her days taking her four kids to school, Punjabi lessons, and music. With the help of her mother-in-law, she can now make a mean curry and a super-speedy saag. Karma Khullar’s Mustache is her debut novel.

Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cover Reveal for FRIDAY NIGHT STAGE LIGHTS by Rachele Alpine

Today we're super excited to host the cover reveal for Rachele Alpine's upcoming middle grade novel, FRIDAY NIGHT STAGE LIGHTS! I love that title (and not just because it immediately made me think of Tim Riggins and Coach Taylor), and I can't wait to get my hands on this book.

First, a little about the book . . .

Brooklyn Gartner eats, sleeps, and breathes ballet. But after her mom gets remarried and moves them to Texas, everything changes. Brooklyn’s life ends up being all about football. Football is all her parents—not to mention the entire town—seem to talk about. It’s not like she can ever get a break from it either because her new stepbrother is the star of Leighton High School’s football team.

Brooklyn has a chance to escape the football-obsessed fans if she can get into her dream high school, The Texas School of the Arts, where she’ll be able to pursue her passion for dance. But first she has to make it through a big showcase, where a ton of scouts will be watching-including one from TSOA. She doesn’t mind the extra rehearsal time. That is, until the middle school football players invade her dance studio, thanks to a new conditioning program that will (hopefully) help them with stamina and coordination. The studio was Brooklyn’s sanctuary—and now even that seems to be ruined by football!

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Brooklyn’s dance partner gets injured, and she is left to pair up with Logan, a football player on the middle school team, in order to perform for her audition. But there is one condition to his offer: Brooklyn has to at least try to learn the game of football and respect what the team does, and he will do the same for her—and hopefully get her into her dream school.

With some fancy footwork, teamwork and a little understanding, can Brooklyn make her mark, and finally feel comfortable in her new life?

The cover . . .

Perfect, right? Here's what Rachele had to say about it . . .

I’m so happy to share this cover with all of you. I love that it’s not too girly and not too sporty; it’s just the right mix of both! And the look on the faces of my two main characters, Brooklyn and Logan, capture the fun competitive edge between the two of them perfectly. And can we talk about the freckles on Brooklyn’s face!?! As someone who grew up covered in freckles, I am so excited that the artist added them to Brooklyn! 
FRIDAY NIGHT STAGE LIGHTS will be out in Fall 2018 from Aladdin M!X/Simon & Schuster. I don't know about you, but to me, that seems like forever away! In the meantime, we can catch up on Rachele's other middle grade books -- OPERATION PUCKER UP, YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL, and BEST. NIGHT. EVER. Or her young adult novels -- CANARY and A VOID THE SIZE OF THE WORLD.

One of Rachele Alpine’s first jobs was at a library, but it didn’t last long, because all she did was hide in the third-floor stacks and read. Now she’s a little more careful about when and where she indulges her reading habit. Rachele is a high school English teacher by day, a wife and mother by night, and a writer during any time she can find in between. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio where she writes middle grade and young adult novels. Find Rachele on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...