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Monday, March 18, 2013

Cover Reveal for Jennifer Walkup's SECOND VERSE - with Epic Giveaway Contest!

SQUEEEE!!!! I am so glad to be a part of Jennifer Walkup's cover reveal for Second Verse because I have been dying to say something about this book. It's got mystery. It's got ghosts. But most of all, it's got swoonworthy musicians. All the things I like in a YA thriller. I've been anxiously waiting to see what the cover would look like. Well, probably not as much as Jenn, but definitely sitting on pins and needles. It's beautiful, don't you think? But wait! You get more than just a cover reveal today. There's a contest involved too!!

Click below to enter the Epic Cover Reveal Contest over at Me, My Shelf and I - she's giving away signed ARCs, signed bookmarks and an Amazon gift card! You won't want to miss it!!

Bad things come in threes. In Shady Springs, that includes murder.

Murder Now

Lange Crawford’s move to Shady Springs, Pennsylvania, lands her a group of awesome friends, a major crush on songwriter Vaughn, and life in a haunted, 200-year-old farmhouse. It also brings The Hunt: an infamous murder mystery festival where students solve a fake, gruesome murder scheme during the week of Halloween. Well, supposedly fake. 

Murder Then
Weeks before The Hunt, Lange and her friends hold a séance in the farmhouse’s eerie barn. When a voice rushes through, whispering haunting words that only she and Vaughn can hear, Lange realizes it's begging for help. The mysterious voice leads Lange and Vaughn to uncover letters and photos left behind by a murdered girl, Ginny, and they become obsessed with her story and the horrifying threats that led to her murder.

Murder Yet to Come
But someone doesn’t like their snooping, and Lange and Vaughn begin receiving the same threats that Ginny once did. The mysterious words from the barn become crucial to figuring out Ginny's past and their own, and how closely the two are connected. They must work fast to uncover the truth or risk finding out if history really does repeat itself.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Books of February

Only a couple days late! But hey, at least I'm consistent about my one monthly blog post. Sometimes it's all I manage, but at least it's keeping the blog going.

I've turned to reading a lot of middle grade books this month, for research purposes. And well, I really love being able to share favorite books with my kids. It's the best way to get them interested in reading. This list is LONG - I didn't realize how long until I started writing it. If you want to skim, the YA books are highlighted in red. Hope there's a few here that will tickle your reading bone.

7. The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer** MG I LOVED this book. So well written and such complex characters. I had a great conversation with my son about the bad guy, Olaf, who even though he's a killer (as the Vikings often were), was still able to touch the reader's heart. How did the author do that, he asked! There's a bit of history in this one too, and it was fascinating how Farmer weaved the old nursery rhyme of Jack and Jill into the story. This is a must read for anyone who likes middle grade adventure stories, particularly those middle graders!
8. Speechless by Hannah Harrington * I went into this book hoping to find what was missing when I read Harrington's debut novel, Saving June, last year. I liked SJ, but it just felt a bit old and tired. And well, I got the same feeling from this book as well. Many of the characters were one dimensional and even though the premise was kind of neat, I felt like it lacked something. It was... predictable. 

9. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo* Oh my, how I've been dying to read this one. Ever since my Aussie friend, Nomes, reviewed it over two years ago, I've been itching to get my hands on it. Well, it finally came out in the US with a brand new title and cover! I really enjoyed it. The characters were so true to life, and the prose is to die for. I wish that I could give it 5 stars, but there were just certain things about the male main character that made me dislike him to the point of no return. It was true to life, to be certain, but I wanted "more" from him, if that makes sense? Overall, it'd be 4.5 stars for me.

10. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis* This is another book I was anxiously waiting for. I was kind of so-so about Across the Universe, but Beth Revis had redeemed herself in book 2, A Million Suns. I was so ready to like Shades of Earth, and early on I did. I really did. But then, the light went out. I think it was probably about 1/2 way or 3/4 of the way through when I figured out where it was all going. Once the big reveal came, as I was expecting, then I started to pick apart the very unrealistic science and every other annoying detail that I had been ignoring up to that point. And got irritated. So, lesson learned I guess. Will be leery about what she puts out next.

11. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson** This book should be on everyone's must read list!! I admit that going into it I didn't really "see" the whole why of it. Like why doesn't the main character just get herself out of the situation? Why doesn't she just tell?? But as I got further into the story, I saw the connections the author was making with the character's past and present and why she wouldn't do that. And at that point, I started to love the plot, prose, and ALL of the characters (even the ones I was irritated with). This is a fantastic book and I look forward to reading Jackson's next.

12. Ivy and Bean #1 by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall* LMG About mid-February, I picked up working on my lower middle grade book and decided that I had better do some research so that I wasn't "reaching" too far with my own writing. So I started to peruse my daughter's shelves and picked up the first Ivy and Bean book. I really enjoyed it! Two young girls who are as different as night and day become fast friends and have some adventures in their own back yards. I think the only reason I didn't rate this a five-star is because I'm not the target age. I couldn't stretch my imagination far to put myself at that age where I would have seen things the way the characters do. It was kind of like when you pick up a barbie doll as an adult and you just can't place yourself back at that age where it's "fun". I do think that young girls (age 6-8) would really enjoy it though. My daughter loves this series. And fortunately for my writing purposes, this is a little younger than my own target audience. :)

13. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli* MG The characters here are actually in high school, but they are so tame that I think this book would fit really well as middle grade. The premise of Stargirl should have resonated with me - about a girl who is very unusual (calls herself Stargirl, cheers on the other team's players, gives gifts to people she doesn't even know) and how she tries to change herself just to please others. I "should" have enjoyed it tremendously, but there was just something about it that had me snoring at times. 

14. Reached by Ally Condie* This is NOT an exciting conclusion to the Matched series. I was expecting a rebellion with lots of suspense and blood, ala Hunger Games, (or at least a bit of that), but instead I got... poetry.  A lot of poetry. Granted, there was poetry in the first two books so it followed the same theme, but I was just expecting there to be something "more" in this last book because, well, it's supposed to be about an uprising! Anyway, it wasn't a total miss because Condie does get kudos for doing her research. If you've already read the first two I think it's worth it to finish off the series. 

15. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren** LMG Ah, Pippi. What more can I say? Except for one bit of confusion. I originally read this when I was about 10 or 11, and for some reason this one scene sticks in my head. Pippi goes trick or treating, but instead of asking for candy at every house, she asks for a glass of water. The adults feel so sorry for her because she's so pitiful that they fill her pillowcase with candy and by the end of the night she has to haul it around in a wagon. Well, suffice it to say, that scene was not in this book, so either it was in another of Pippi's books or I'm thinking of a completely different character. Anyone care to straighten me out?

16. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager ** Re-read. I am so so glad that I took the time to re-read this one because I fell in love all over again and picked up on so much that I missed the first time around. Carly's story and character just resonate with me. I don't know the why of it all, but I know that I'm going to read this again in a couple years.

17. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall **LMG  So cute and sweet! This story reminded me of everything that is innocent and precious about childhood. In the first few pages it was hard to keep the characters straight, but soon they each take on their own unique personality and you just fall in love with the whole family, even the Latin- speaking dad and Hound, their dog. Love this story and so deserving of the awards it's gotten. 

18. No Ordinary Hero by Dee Stone* MG This book is a little like reading the early adventures of the X-men, when they were teens. Some of the characters were a bit cookie-cutter-ish; they've been done by Marvel over and over again. BUT the plot is engaging, and I found myself eagerly turning the pages to see what was going to happen. LOVED the scene at the end with the mother. Recommended for any 9-12 year old who is into super heroes. 
7. The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer** MG
8. Speechless by Hannah Harrington *
9. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo*
10. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis*
11. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson**
12. Ivy and Bean #1 by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall* LMG
13. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli* MG
14. Reached by Ally Condie* 
15. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren** LMG 
16. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager **
17. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall **LMG  
18. No Ordinary Hero by Dee Stone* MG - See more at:



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