Friday, December 21, 2012

Lies That Bind Blog Tour: Quirky Not Crazy (Lisa and Laura Roecker

We’re old. Not old-old, but old enough. There’s always risk in writing for teenagers when you’re not, in fact, a teenager. We had all these goals for Kate—we wanted her to be independent and funny and cute and smart and sad and lonely and loving. The list goes on and on. But we needed to ensure that she wasn’t a thirty-something trapped in the body of a neon-haired detective. Because, let's face it, there's nothing worse than a bossy thirty-something trapped in the body of a blue-haired teen.

So we channeled our inner-YA, our awkward high school selves, and imagined who we always wished we could have been. We thought we knew everything in high school, we had it all figured out so we needed Kate to have a little of that—most teenagers do.

Kate is extremely goofy and makes us laugh out loud. This is actually very sad because it means that we’re laughing at our own jokes. The reality is that as we switch the book back and forth while drafting, we’re always trying to one-up the other sister. Our main goal is to play make-me-laugh with the manuscript (or make-me-scared, make-me-cry, etc., depending upon the scene).

Kate is also very sensitive, even if she doesn’t show it all the time (what teenager does?). She’s fueled by her love for Grace and her need to right a wrong. She takes advantage of her devoted neighbor Seth, but sometimes she lets her guard down just long enough for the reader to witness her love for him. It will take a long time for her to learn that Seth is the kind of guy she’ll want to marry! Liam and Bradley are there to mix things up even more. Each of these characters help define the true Kate Lowry.

But at the end of the day, Kate isn't perfect. She says stupid things, judges people way too harshly and generally makes a ton of stupid mistakes. But she's a TEENAGER. A very imperfect teenager. But fun and brave too. Part of our goal when we started writing The Liar Society Series was to chronicle Kate's journey as she slowly grows up and in THE LIES THAT BIND, Kate takes one more step toward adulthood. And maybe even half a step backward. Hey, no one ever said growing up was easy!

About Lies That Bind:

Just when Kate Lowry thought she had life at elite private school Pemberly Brown figured out, she cracks open a fortune cookie to find a message from her best friend Grace--who's supposed to be dead.

Another Sister Gone

A classmate has gone missing, and Kate soon realizes that the disappearance is tied to the secret societies that rule her private school. Her best friend died for their secrets, and there's no way she'll let them get away with it twice. It's up to quirky outsider Kate to get some answers, but in a school where every answer leads to more questions and nothing's as it seems, who can she trust?

About the Authors:

Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters-turned-writing partners with a passion for good books, pop culture and Bravo programming. Not necessarily in that order. Lisa has always been a phenomenal liar and Laura loves to write angsty poetry, so writing for young adults seemed like a natural fit. The sisters live in Cleveland, Ohio in separate residences. Their husbands wouldn’t agree to a duplex.

Follow Lisa and Laura: 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Q&A with Jessica Fellowes, author of The Chronicles of Downton Abbey

Today I'm very excited to features a quick Q & A with Jessica Fellows, author of The Chronicles of Downton Abbey! This show basically rocks my world, and I'm very excited for the third season!!! Here's what Jessica had to say....

Edwardian fashion has been resurrected on runways and in style magazines. What else has surprised you about the popularity of the show?

I think no one could have anticipated the way it's become such a cultural reference point not just in Britain and America but all over the world. 'Dowager gems' is a well-known Twitter hashtag. I don't think Julian could have predicted that!

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes' great-aunt Isie is the model for Violet Grantham. Are any of the other characters based on anyone notable or otherwise?

As any writer does, he has drawn on different people he has met or known over the years. O'Brien is based on a particularly mean lady's maid that used to work for a cousin of his grandfather. She was, he says, "as polite as courtier, but she had a black heart, cold and manipulative", driving away all her mistress's friends and family until she alone ruled their Knightsbridge house. Others, are taken more lightly from people he has known – Thomas is based on a dresser from his theatre days; Carson on a wonderful butler, Arthur Inch, who was an advisor on Gosford Park.

What is your favorite episode or scene from the first two seasons of Downton Abbey and why?

Ooh, that's not easy to answer! I'm a blubber – I cry at the readthrough, when I see it on the television, and then again when watching it on DVD! I think the war scenes were striking, and I was pleased, if that's the right word, that current generations would realise what our grandparents and great-grandparents had gone through. But who can possibly forget the final scene of the second series – Matthew and Mary, kissing and happy at last, as the snow fell around them. Aah!

What was the greatest challenge you faced when writing this book? What was the most fun?

The greatest challenge was probably the timing. Both books were not started until January and were at the printers by July. Given that we had to interview actors and production, go on set, research the period, source the images – photography had to be done alongside the filming – as well as actually write it, this was something of a challenge, but one I was happy to rise to. The most fun for me was definitely the research – it's a period that has always fascinated me, so to have the excuse to immerse myself in it completely was wonderful.

Which character do you think has evolved the most during the course of the first two seasons?

Lady Edith for me is the most interesting. She, like a lot of women at that time, was brought up to expect a certain kind of life, which was completely turned inside out by the war. She thought that all her prayers would be answered in the shape of a husband – marriage was what gave Edwardian aristocratic women freedom, independence and a certain kind of power. Without that, she has to find her own way and it's not as if everyone then moves with the times – nearly everything she chooses to do has to be fought for. It's a lesson to us now to be thankful of what we have and to use it in the best way possible. 


The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, carefully pieced together at the heart and hearth of the ancestral home of the Crawleys, takes us deeper into the story of every important member of the Downton estate. This gorgeous, entirely new book focuses on each character individually, examining their motivations, their actions, and the inspirations behind them. An evocative combination of story, history, and behind-the-scenes drama, it will bring fans even closer to the secret, beating heart of the house.

About the authors:

JESSICA FELLOWES is the New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of The World of Downton Abbey. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Country Life, she has also been a columnist for the London Paper. Jessica also writes for the Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Weekend, The Lady and Sunday Times Style, and lives with her family in London.

MATTHEW STURGIS is a writer and critic who has written for Harpers & Queen, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Independent on Sunday. He is the author of Passionate Attitudes: the English Decadence of the 1890s and the highly-praised Aubrey Beardsley. He lives in London.

JULIAN FELLOWES is the creator, writer, and executor producer of Downton Abbey, which won nine Emmy Awards and the Golden Globe for best mini-series. Previously, he won the Academy Award® for best original screenplay for Gosford Park, and wrote the bestselling novels Snobs and Past Imperfect. A member of the House of Lords, he lives with his wife and son in London and Dorset, England.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker


Since when do the dead send emails?

Kate Lowry's best friend Grace died a year ago. So when she gets an email from her, Kate's more than a little confused.

Subject: (no subject)
I'm here... sort of.
Find Cameron. He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell. They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. She teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not-so)-shining armor-the dangerously hot bad boy, Liam, and her lovestruck neighbor, Seth. But at their elite private school, there are secrets so big people will do anything to protect them-even if it means getting rid of anyone trying to solve a murder...


Published March 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire  

The Elliott Review:

This book engrossed me from the very start. I LOVE Kate's quirky narrative voice. Although she has been through a lot in the past year with her best friend supposedly dying in a not-so-accident accident, she is still a driving force as she seeks to solve the mystery surrounding the death.

As she seeks the truth, she discovers many things that the elite at her school would prefer remain hidden. It is a task for her to decide who she can trust. I really enjoyed her interactions with her kind of gross but completely loyal friend, Seth. This is definitely not a relationship I could envision going anywhere, and I was comfortable with that. Liam, on the other hand, is completely gorgeous in a rough sort of way, and it's hard to know exactly what his motives are. Is he a tortured soul bad boy who would do anything for Kate or a menacing, lying evil bad boy bent on hurting her?

This read was completely engaging, keeping me in suspense the whole time.

Source: Library

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Guest Post + Giveaway: Time Travel Intrigue (Marissa Moss, author of Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris)

As a kid, my first introduction to time travel was Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. That was it, I was hooked. The idea that time could be fluid, that events could be altered with unimaginable consequences, that the smallest thing can have enormous ripple effects – these are all magnets to any writer. Authors are always asking what if questions and time travel invites an incredible range of “what ifs.”

For a writer who loves history, time travel is even more seductive. What if the Pope had allowed Henry VIII to divorce his wife? What if the South had won the Civil War? What if John F. Kennedy hadn't been assassinated?

In writing Mira's Diary, I not only researched the history I was writing about, but the notion of time travel itself. Beyond the classic Back to the Future trilogy and a lot of science fiction, including H.G. Well's classic, The Time Machine, I read David Lowenthal's The Past is a Foreign Country, a compendium of time travel through the ages, in literature, science, and philosophy. Because time travel is tricky. Do you allow paradoxes or dismiss them as an unfair cheat? What does quantum physics tell us about time travel? Would Einstein believe in time travel? I have a hunch he would.

And some things make such good stories, I don't mind leaving the science a bit fuzzy. Just because we can't time travel yet doesn't mean we won't be able to. Or that in some parallel universe we already have.

About Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris:

Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it's time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn't run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?

Win a copy of Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris!

Open to US and Canada.

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Ends November 10th.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tot Tuesday Review: How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Hannukah? by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Mark Teague


With more than 9 million books in print, America's favorite dinosaurs can't wait to celebrate Chanukah!

From the warm glow of holiday candles in the menorah to the fun of family gatherings, little dinosaurs love to celebrate the Festival of Lights. But sometimes the excitement of Chanukah, its treasured rituals, and the tradition of gifts can tempt a youngster to misbehave. . . .

Come along on a joyful romp filled with tumbling dreidels and melting gelt as America's favorite prehistoric pals spread a little mischief this season. Children will laugh out loud as dinosaurs fidget, fuss, and stomp through every occasion, while their human parents shift from shock to weary patience.

Filled with warmth and cheer, this new book by the bestselling team of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague makes a perfect gift to be read again and again, year after year. How do dinosaurs say Happy Chanukah? The same way they say Merry Christmas: With an abundance of love, joy, memory, and gratitude.


Published September 1st 2012 by The Blue Sky Press

The Elliott Review:

This book is a cute companion to How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? Again, the dinosaurs don't behave inappropriately - they do just the right thing. The pictures are whimsically cute and fun. This is perfect for any family that celebrates Chanukah to use to help kids know in advance what the desired behaviors are. It could also just be a fun read for anyone and can help educate everyone about some of Chanukah's favorite traditions.

Source: Thanks to Scholastic for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tot Tuesday Review: How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Mark Teague


Ho! Ho! Ho! With more than 9 million books in print, America's favorite dinosaurs can't wait to celebrate Christmas!

From decorating the tree to wrapping presents, little dinosaurs love to celebrate Christmas-and everything about it. With ornaments on the branches and carolers singing at the door, the spirit of Christmas is finally here and filling the hearts of families everywhere. But when the stockings are hung on the chimney, and the cookies are left out for Santa, how can little dinosaurs go to sleep? It's so exciting! How can they possibly calm down and behave?

Children will laugh out loud as dinosaurs secretly lick candy canes, take sneaky peeks at gifts, and disrupt the traditional family feast.

With holiday surprises around every corner, the award-winning team of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague create an engaging, fun gift sure to be read again and again, year after year. How do dinosaurs say Merry Christmas? The same way they say Happy Chanukah: With an abundance of love, joy, memory, and gratitude.


Published September 1st 2012 by The Blue Sky Press  

The Elliott Review:

This quirkily beautifully illustrated book walks kids through the events that they might likely encounter during an typical Christmas season and helps them learn through the examples of the dinosaurs. Of course, dinosaurs do NOT do anything the wrong way, they do everything the right way and have a great time doing it. 

This book provides an opportunity for parents to teach kids appropriate behavior along with having fun seeing the dinosaurs being silly in both bad and good ways. This book will be one that kids will want to read again and again so they can take in the fun illustrations.

Source: Thanks to Scholastic for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: Tap Out by Eric Devine


Seventeen-year-old Tony Antioch lives in Pleasant Meadows, a trailer park where questions aren't asked since everyone already knows the answers from their own experience. He dreams of rescuing his mother from her constant stream of abusive boyfriends but in reality can barely duck the punches that are aimed at himself.

When Tony is coerced into joining his friend Rob's Mixed Martial Arts class, he is surprised to find that he has a talent that he actually wants to develop. But with a meth-dealing biker gang that is hungry for recruits and a vicious cycle of poverty and violence that precedes him, Tony is going to need a lot more than blood and guts to find a way out.

Gritty, powerful, and unapologetic, Tap Out explores what it takes to stay true to oneself and the consequences of the choices made along the way in order to do so.


Published September 11th 2012 by Running Press Kids  

The Elliott Review:

This book has some of the heaviest realism that I have ever read. I feel that the reader has a complete view of Tony's motivations and emotions, and in light of what he faces, they are extremely realistic. I have read some mixed reviews about his personality and actions, but I think that for someone who feels so trapped in his very difficult life, everything in the book works. The language and the bitter outlook on life are things I would expect to see from someone who has been through the things Tony has been through.

In fact, my emotions got so wrapped up in this book that I had to put it down every so often just to keep from taking that subtle depression on myself. At times, I was was like, "Give up already. You're not going to win." Even though it made it minimally less enjoyable of a read, it thoroughly convinced me of Eric Devine's enormous talent as a writer, that he can make me feel the same way as a character with experiences that are the complete opposite of my own.

Even though the book somewhat reads as a trial of the truth of Murphy's Law, with basically everything going wrong at every turn, I still feel that there is a note of hope at the end. Not some wow we had an epiphany and the sun will come out tomorrow ending, which I was very glad of. After all that Tony experiences and works through, that kind of ending would've been cheap and unbelievable. However, I get the overall sense that Tony hasn't been beaten yet even though he will obviously have more battles to fight in the future.

Young Adult Notes:

Name something that would offend someone, and it's probably in this book. Reading about the lives of these characters is not for the faint of heart.

Source: Thanks to Running Press for making this title available at Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review: Live Through This by Mindi Scott


Sometimes hiding the truth requires more than a lie . . .

From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her from the annoying drama. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a stepdad and mom who would stop at nothing to keep her and her siblings happy and safe.

But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted façade. That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship that crossed the line. Now, Coley and Reece are getting closer, and as Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.

Mindi Scott offers an absorbing, layered glimpse into the life of an everygirl living a nightmare that no one would suspect in this unforgettable powerhouse of a novel.


Publication date: October 2nd 2012 by Simon Pulse

The Elliott Review:

This book takes a sensitive subject and deals with it in an incredibly intelligent, sensitive, and realistic way. Coley keeps the secret of the inappropriate relationship she has against her will while on the side maintaining what appears to be a perfectly normal and perfectly good life, with the people closest to her having no idea as to what is going on. Coley is in denial, forcing herself to believe that nothing really horrible or bad is happening to her.

Yet on a family ski trip when her crush comes to visit, it becomes completely obvious to her that she can't continue living this way even has she has no idea how to get out of the cycle she has been placed in. Everything in her normal life begins to spiral out of control once she accepts that she can't live this way. She has to open up to someone about 

This is a very important, very well done book that chills you with its premise and chillingly realistic prose.

Young Adult Notes:

Sexual abuse - incest, teen drinking, language.

Source: The Teen {Book} Scene

Friday, September 28, 2012

Guest Post: How I Became a Writer (Erin Cashman)

I’ve written for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I sat on my perch high up in our maple tree (much to my mother’s displeasure!) and wrote stories and poems. It has always been my dream to be a published author. I majored in English at Bates College, where I read and read and read, and wrote and wrote and wrote. My favorite class was Creative Writing.

Following graduation, my father encouraged me to go to law school, so that I could support myself. I took his advice, and stopped writing anything except legal briefs and memos for several years, always knowing I’d go back to writing one day. When my kids were little, I took a couple of creative writing classes at night. And then one night I had the strangest dream about a family of vampires. I just had to write it down. I finished it a year later, and sent it off to agents and publishers, certain I would realize my dream and become an author.

Boy was I wrong.

After Twilight, romance vampire stories were in demand, not middle-grade adventure ones.

But several editors asked for the full manuscript after reading a sample, and were very encouraging. I asked one what I could do to improve the novel, and she told me to re-read a book that I loved (so as not to be swept up in the story!) and really pay attention to the voice, the descriptions, the story arc, and the characters. I did. I underlined the book, wrote notes in the margin, and folded down pages.

I wrote another book, and suffered through many more rejections. And then I had the idea for The Exceptionals. It’s about a teenage girl who must use her ability to communicate with animals to unravel the mystery behind the disappearances of the most talented students at Cambial Academy, a school for teens with special abilities. Since much of my book takes place in the woods, I went outside with my pen and notebook, and like my protagonist, Claire, sat down on a rock and observed what I saw, heard and smelled. The colors and sounds were different than what I had thought. In the morning I jotted down what the sunrise looked like (my children get up much too early for school!). I was surprised to discover that in winter months I often saw vibrant bands of violet at the horizon -- rarely did I see the pinks and oranges I saw in my mind’s eye. I paid attention to storms and the way the clouds moved. Every observation went in a 3 ring notebook I dedicated just to writing.

As I wrote, I worked on avoiding the same old tired expressions. Once I did that, I started to notice how other authors described things. As I came across a phrase or description that was beautiful or interesting, I stopped and tried to come up with my own unique way to express it – which I scribbled down in the notebook.

After a few months I had a first draft of The Exceptionals. As I labored through the edits, I kept my notebook next to my laptop. I referenced it often. Every time I used a word too often, or I relied on clichés, I turned to my notebook. And when I thought I was finished, I read the entire manuscript out loud. It’s amazing how many mistakes I caught! And it really helped with dialogue. I want all my characters to speak beautiful, proper English. Unfortunately, people don’t speak like that!

I sent The Exceptionals out to about ten agents and editors, but this time I had no expectation that it would be published. A couple of weeks later I got a call from an agent, Erica Silverman from the great literary agency, Trident, offering to represent me, and the very next day Pam Glauber, a very talented editor at Holiday House, called and made an offer to buy the novel! Two years later, I was a published author.

Even now, when I read a book, I keep my green notebook handy, and a pen to scribble in the pages. When I write, it is next to my laptop (along with an ample supply of chocolate!). It is the single most important thing I did to improve my writing.

About Erin:

Erin grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Bates College in Maine and from Boston College Law School. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three children, and their dog.
Follow Erin:
About The Exceptionals:

Born into a famous family of exceptionally talented people, 15-year-old Claire Walker has deliberately chosen to live an average life. But everything changes the night of the Spring Fling, when her parents decide it's high time she transferred to Cambial Academy--the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blog Tour: This or That with Ming from Live Through This

From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a mom and stepdad who would stop at nothing to keep her siblings and her happy.

But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted façade. That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship that crossed the line. Now that Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.

In this unforgettable powerhouse of a novel, Mindi Scott offers an absorbing, layered glimpse into the life of an everygirl living a nightmare that no one would suspect.

Today Ming, Coley's friend in Live Through This, is here to tell us some of her preferences...

Pepsi or Coke? 

Pepsi. I think it’s sweeter.

Vampires or werewolves? 

I’ve actually put tons of thought into this and I can’t decide. Vampires are guys that are dead. And werewolves are guys that are wolves. So, do I like dead-guys or wolf-guys? I think wolf-guys because I’m yicked out at the thought of cold flesh all up on me. But wolf-guys are animals, so there’s that to consider.

City or country? 

City. I like having places to go and things to do.

Chocolate or vanilla? 

Chocolatey goodness. Milk chocolate, of course.

Light or dark? 

Dark. I’m such a night owl.

Indoors or outdoors? 

I’m up for either, really.

Top or bottom? 

Um . . . top? We’re talking about bunk beds, right?

Television or books? 

TV. Well, movies, really. Love movies!

Looks or personality? 

Both, but personality goes a long way . . .

Warm or cold weather? 


Friends or family? 

Probably friends. Is that bad?

Diamonds or pearls? 

I like sparkle, so diamonds. Plus, my grandma has pearls, so me wearing pearls would make me feel old.

Facebook or Twitter? 

FB, I guess. Any weirdo can talk to you on Twitter.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught


When Jason Milwaukee's best friend Sunshine vanishes, Jason knows that something is terribly wrong, but solving her disappearance will require pushing through all the voices in his head and then getting the world to listen to him. His schizophrenia is stopping him from remembering the events leading up to her disappearance, and often he discounts his own memories, and his own impressions. But his deep knowledge that he would never hurt his friend, plus the faith of his parents and a few others in the town bring him to the point of solving the mystery. In the end, it's Sunshine's own love for Jason (Freak) that persuades him of his own strength and goodness. By turns brilliantly witty and searingly honest, Susan Vaught's newest novel is a laugh-out-loud, tear-jerking, coming-of-age story.


Publication date: September 4th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens 

The Elliott Review:

This book is a thoughtful, easy to read glimpse into the mind of a teen with schizophrenia. Jason (aka Freak) thinks differently than the average kid, and through his unique way of viewing the world, the reader comes to deeply feel his emotions. As Freak copes with his best friend/crush being missing, we are able to see fragments of something that Freak had vowed to forget as they come back to him in the midst of a frenzied search for Sunshine.

This book is gripping and intense, filled with Freak's narration that is sometimes fractured by his schizophrenia, what he calls his "alphabet." Freak must deal with those who mistrust him while trying to figure out where his friend might be - law enforcement, his father, and even himself. Someone was hurting Sunshine, Freak remembers, but who was that person?

This book is a quick, meaningful read that will give readers an insight into the mind of someone who is mentally ill yet still powerfully self aware and proactive.

Young Adult Note:

 Allusion to rape/sexual abuse, mild violence.

Source: Thanks to Bloomsbury for making this title available at Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tot Tuesday Review: Change the World Before Bedtime by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good


Written in simple, engaging rhyme, this story takes an inspirational look into how the little things in life a smile, a kind word, a simple deed can help change the world in a big way. Through 18 stunning illustrations, children will read about eating right, cleaning up the Earth by recycling and conserving, helping the sick and those less fortunate, and working in a group to make bigger miracles. Even an ordinary kid can be a superhero before bedtime! Grades Pre-K to 2.


Publication date: August 31, 2012 by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

The Elliott Review:

This book combines completely cute, whimsical illustrations that draw children's eyes with a rhyming text that is sure to entertain as well as encourage altruistic thinking. The focus of the book is to help kids think about small acts of kindness and goodness that they can do. Kids might not think of these things as changing the world, but the book shows kids doing small things like donating money, volunteering, being kind to others - things that actually would change the world if everyone did them.

This book would be a great classroom resource, fostering a discussion or being the anchor text for some kind of service project. It could also help parents talk about these issues with their children.

Source: Thanks to Schiffer Publishing for making this title available at Netgalley.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Winners of the Mickey Tussler Series!

And the winners of The Mickey Tussler series are:

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Thanks to everyone who participated! Don't forget to check out my current giveaways!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Author Interview + Giveaway: Elisabeth Wheatley, Author of THE SECRETS OF THE VANMARS

Today on the blog I have the pleasure of interviewing author Elisabeth Wheatley. She started writing short stories when she was as young as seven years old. She began working on what would eventually become The Key of Amatahns when she was eleven. After many rewrites, the story was recommended by its editor to a small publishing house, Chengalera Press. Elisabeth is currently working on the second and third installments in the Argetallam Saga, while continuing to attend high school in the Texas Hill Country. Her hobbies include beekeeping, cheesemaking, mythology, and studying American Sign Language.

You have started your career as a writer at a young age. How did you initially become interested in writing?

The first story I can remember writing was a short piece of fan-fiction for my favorite picture book when I was about six or seven. Corgiville Fair by Tasha Tudor is the story of a young corgi named Caleb training his racing goat, Josephine, for the upcoming race at the fair. I loved that book to bits, literally, and I wanted to live in it. Since moving to Corgiville wasn’t an option, I scribbled out a story entitled Muttville Fair with my dog and my pet goat, Count as the main characters. (Yes, I had a pet goat – one advantage of living on a ranch is you have plenty of room for pets.) It was written and illustrated in pencil and held together with duct tape. We still have it because my mother is a pack-rat.

What motivated you to finish and revise The Key of Amatahns?

At first, when I was writing, I thought “maybe this will be a real book someday,” but it wasn’t that serious, it was more like “maybe I will grow up to marry a billionaire fairy prince.” Writing was fun, yet I didn’t think of it as that important. After awhile, I started getting into my writing and revising was a matter of personal pride—I couldn’t let anyone see the story when it was like that—hence, I revised. I got more and more into my stories until they now consume about 70% of my working brain capacity.

What kind of emotions ran through your head when you found out that your work would be published?

My reaction was like this: “Say what? I’m going to be published? Is this a joke? It isn’t? ISTHISREALLYHAPPENING?!?!?!?”

What has the reaction of your friends and family been to your early writing success?

My friends didn’t even know I was writing a story, I was that secretive. Now they’re very impressed. My parents, aunts, and grandmothers take every opportunity to mention that I’m a writer, which can get embarrassing, but I know that just means they’re proud of me.

How have you been able to make the time to write?

The biggest thing I did was cut down on TV and start doing my chores early. After I did that, it was amazing how much free time I had.

How would you describe your story?

An enchanted, dark fairytale of destiny, love, and adventure with a spice of humor.

Was there any part of writing this book that was difficult? If so, why?

I wrote a complete draft of The Secrets of the Vanmars which I ended up scrapping and totally re-writing. There are perhaps three scenes in the final draft and the first draft that are the same. So, I would say that writing this book itself was the greatest challenge. While I was writing this book, I kept thinking about how much I wanted to get to the next book, book No. 3. I’ve had the idea for book 3 since almost before book 1, and I’ve been dying to write it. There was just the problem of getting from the end of The Key of Amatahns toward the beginning of book 3 without leaving loopholes and ginormous gaps in the story. Once I had the second draft, editing was relatively easy.

Which of the characters in the story would you say you are most like?

I recognize a lot of my faults in Janir (occasional pig-headedness, for one), but fortunately she has several qualities I don’t (patience with Karile, for instance). I think there’s a bit of me—however great or small—in each of my main characters. Some people who’ve read my books might find that alarming, but I don’t write characters who are purely evil or purely good and if right now a character seems purely evil it’s because I just haven’t showed his/her good side yet.

Who are some authors who have inspired you?

Christopher Paolini was probably my biggest inspiration in writing because he was fifteen when he started Eragon, and I thought that if he could do it, then I could, too. Besides him, I look up to Shannon Hale, Gail Carson Levine, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and I recently fell in love with Sarah J. Maas’ novellas, and now I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy of Throne of Glass.

Are you reading anything now?

Technically, I’ve been reading Sense and Sensibility for months now and I’m almost done. But the truth is, I just went on an online feeding frenzy and ordered a bunch of books I’ve been coveting (Something Strange and Deadly, Entangled, Innocent Darkness, and Throne of Glass), so as soon as those arrive I’ll get to pick one. 

About the Book:

After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…


Open internationally. US can choose the format. International will receive an eBook.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Winner of PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry!

The winner of PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry is:

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Thanks to everyone who participated!!

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Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop Winners!!

The winner of a $10 book from The Book Depository is:

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The winner of a bookmark from Magic Bookmark is:

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Thanks to I Am A Reader, Not a Writer for inviting me to co-host this hop!

Also, thanks to all the awesome folks who participated in this giveaway! You guys rock!

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