Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blog Link Up #2 - 1/31/09

Thank you for stopping by to see what links I've got for you this week.  This is something new that a groups of book bloggers are doing and I think it's going to be good for all of us, bloggers and readers.  We have submitted our favorite posts of the week and then blog about each others' posts so that we can make more people aware of what's out there to read.  The links provided in this round-up are usually book related in nature and ones that the bloggers in this group thought you should see.
My Friend Amy posted a very thought provoking post this week in her Sunday Salon.  In the post "The Book Nerd Who Loved Assigned Reading," she talks about reading that is assigned to kids in school and how she enjoyed what she was assigned.  Should we force reading on our kids?  Over at Devourer of Books, there are always good book reviews, and this is no exception.  Head on over and check out what she thinks about To Hold the Crown by Jean Plaidy.   Many of you know that I have a pretty hefty TBR pile, and The Heretic's Daughter is in there, yet keeps getting pushed toward the bottom.  Over at Wendi's Book Corner, she has reviewed it, and may be the reason it gets moved to the top of the pile.  Great review Wendi!  The Bodies Left Behind just sounds like a great book, but Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? thought it was awesome!  Read her review, then read the book and see what you think.  When I read a good book review, it of course makes me want to read the book.  Therefore, I keep a running list of wish books.  No need to write this one down if you win it.  Bookroom Reviews has a copy of Beat the Reaper to giveaway along with a great review of the book.  Marta's Meanderings has a sci-fi thriller that she just couldn't put down.  If you enjoy this genre, read her review and add Family of Bones to your must read stack.
I hope you will find a new blog or a great book as you link to these posts this week.  Please, let me know what you think about this new link round-up.

Snapshot Saturday #2

Welcome to Snapshot Saturday! 

Each Saturday I post a snapshot from my digital files.  You can join by adding a link to your post in the comments below.  Be sure to link to your snapshot not just your blog so others don't have to go hunting.  I will be setting up Mr. Linky starting next week so it will be easier to see everyone's photos.

Many of you commented last week that you didn't think I looked old enough to be a grandmother.  Well, technically I'm not, but my husband has 2 daughters from a previous marriage.  Although we've only been married 2 years, we've been together for 12, so I've watched them grow up, get married, and start families.  I am "grandma" and you can't tell my grandchildren any different.  This is our youngest and only grandson.  We gave him a bath in the sink one day and he had a blast.  Just the water and a wooden spoon was all he needed!  This is one of my favorite pictures.
Tell me about your snapshot.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Author Interview: Merrily Kutner

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to an author who is new to me, Merrily Kutner.  Merrily writes books for children and I had the privilege to read two of them, which I loved!  You can read them as well by going to Lookybook.

Down on the Farm is a book all about, you guessed it, animals on the farm.  Follow a baby goat on his day of mischief and adventure on the farm and he'll introduce you to all the other animals and the sounds they make.  Young children will fall in love with this!  The repetitive nature of the text will have them chanting, "Down on the farm, down on the farm," right along with you as you read.  The illustrations are just adorable too!  This is definitely one that I would recommend for the very young reader.  Down on the Farm has recently been released again, as a board book, by Holiday House.

Zombie Night Cafe' is a rollicking good time book, perfect for Halloween or anytime, especially if your child loves monsters as Merrily's did.  A boy and his dog, wander into the cafe' one night as they are out walking.  What they find is monsters of all kinds eating unspeakably gross things that kids will love to read about.  Will they ever get out of Zombie Night Cafe'?  You'll have to find out.  This is a great read aloud as the kids will be able to pick up on the rhymes and read along.

Now, let's sit down with Merrily.  Thank you so much for visiting with us today and sharing your thoughts.

Write For A Reader (WFAR):  Please tell us a little about yourself.

Merrily Kutner (MK):  I’m originally from New York. I received my degree at Columbia University and worked as a dental hygienist. I moved to California and started to take classes in interior design. I’m married and I have a son and an endearing golden retriever, Curly.

WFAR:  When did you start writing?

MK:  I never dreamed I would ever become a writer. So, how did it happen? Well, I believe writing chose me. I started writing picture books quite by accident, after I couldn't find a book for my son. At seven years old, he was definitely a reluctant reader. I spent a lot of time in the library trying to find books for him that would hold his attention. One day, I became frustrated because I knew he liked monsters and rhymes but I couldn't find any book like that in the library. I kept looking at book after book until I thought to myself (half kidding and half serious) “Hey, I can do better than these!” What an epiphany! I suppose that must have stirred something deep inside me. Or, maybe because I loved my son so much, I became inspired to write a book with monsters and rhymes just for him. Whatever the reason, after I began making up stories, I was hooked! The ideas keep flowing and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Writing transports me to a world where I’m suspended in time almost…I’m in fantasyland; I guess you could say…and it’s not a bad way to spend your day.

WFAR:  Do you have writing “mentors?” If so, who are they?

MK:  I was inspired by Dr. Seuss, Jane Yolen, Eve Bunting and I could go on. I aspire to write with the whimsy of Dr. Seuss, the skill of Jane Yolen and the sensitivity of Eve Bunting.

WFAR:  I love Seuss and Bunting!  Those are some great mentors.  What have you written besides Down on the Farm and The Zombie Nite Cafe?

MK:  Z is for Zombie was my first book. It was named an IRA/CBC Children’s Choice Book. After it took 10 years (yep 10 years, count them) to get published, that award validated me. I knew I was on the right path. I sold my second book in 10 months.

WFAR:  Wow, from 10 years to 10 months; that's amazing!  Thank you for not giving up.  How did you come up with the ideas for these 2 stories?

MK:  I was inspired to write Down on the Farm by my young daughter who loved animal sounds so much that she walked around the house saying, “Moo, moo, moo and nay, nay nay” etc. Her spirit lives on in the book.
The Zombie Nite Café was indirectly inspired by my dog, Curly. While out walking him one foggy night, I wondered what would happen if I accidentally walked into a café populated by monsters. The repeated refrain just popped into my head (“In the Zombie Nite Café”) and my mind played the “what if” game all the way home until most of the story was fleshed out.
WFAR:  I love the illustrations in both of the books! Did you get to choose the illustrators?

MK:  No. The editor and/or the art director at the publishing house pick the illustrator. Authors don’t usually have a say. I know a few authors who were asked to suggest an illustrator but that’s never happened to me. I was grateful that I received sketches.

WFAR:  Both books have a sing song feel to them; I think that’s important for young childrens’ books. Do you try to do that in your books? Why or why not?

MK:  I think books that have a lyrical feel (catchy words and phrases) make it easier to pull a child into the writing…so it makes the book more interactive. This also helps the book to hold up to many reads. But, I don’t set out deliberately to do that with every book I write. It depends on the story…how the vision comes to me.

WFAR:  What’s next for you as an author? Do you have anything in the works?

MK:  My next book Alphabet Magic is due out in the fall of 2010 from Neal Porter Books.
Currently I’m working on a few stories with my agent.

WFAR:  What is your favorite piece or book that you have written?

MK:  I usually say I hope I haven’t written it yet. But, I suppose my first book Z is for Zombie holds special meaning for me because it started my writing journey. Although it was written many years ago, I still read it at school visits. And, I love the reactions from the kids. It makes all the years of rejection worth it.

WFAR:  Kids' reactions are priceless!  What do you like to do when you are not writing?

MK:  I take yoga, jazz funk and Zumba dance classes.

WFAR:  That sounds like fun!  Describe your writing atmosphere…where do write, when, etc?

MK:  I write on the desk in my home office by the window. Even while I’m working on the computer, I can look out and see the pool and the palm trees in my backyard. Many times I write in my robe with my dog, Curly under my desk. I write everyday…at different times depending on the day. If I didn’t write…I’d miss it. I’m a night owl…many times I stay up till 2 am writing if I’m hot on something.

WFAR:  How do you feel about book bloggers reviewing your books?

MK:  I think it’s great if a blogger wants to review my books. Any promotion exposure is good exposure. It’s hard for an author to get the word out to promote her books. I always hold my breath before I read a review though.

WFAR:  What are some of your favorites? Author, food, color, book, any others…

MK:  Right now (and it can vary) Fancy Nancy is one of my current favorite books. I still love Dr. Seuss books (he’s timeless). I enjoy the spirit of the book If you give a Mouse a Cookie and its other related books. My favorites: author - Steven King, color- red, food- pizza; although almost anything chocolate calls to me and it’s hard to resist at times!

WFAR:  I understand the "right now" when it comes to favorite books.  Chocolate...mmm!  Is there anything else that you would like readers to know?

MK:  There’s a book for everyone. As a writer, when your work appeals to kids you’re like an ambassador for reading. Since all learning is based on reading, when children read books they’re learning more than they realize. They’re learning how to use their imagination in a way that movies or computer games can’t provide. They’re also learning about life, people, relationships, and how the world works just to name a few things. A book can influence a young child in ways we never know. My son is grown but he still remembers the book The Giving Tree. As an online writing instructor now it’s very gratifying to know that I am helping students to write books that might someday have a great influence on children.

What great thoughts to end on!  Thank you so much, Merrily for stopping by to chat.  I wish you the best of luck with your writing!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday Fill-ins - 1/30/09

1. I'd really like to be in bed right now.

2. "Fudge" is the word you'd most often hear me say if I stubbed my toe.

3. Possession is 9/10 of the law.

4. I am tired of watching Captain Jack Sparrow.

5. Marshmallows and fire go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

6. I tend to ramble on and on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to spending a lazy evening with my husband, tomorrow my plans include lots of laundry and Sunday, I want to watch the Steelers win the Super Bowl!

Review: The ABC's of Kissing Boys

Author: Tina Ferraro
Review Copy Provided by: publisher, Random House

About the Book: Parker Stanhope has played soccer practically since she could walk. And now that she’s a high school junior, everything she’s worked for is finally coming together. She’s paid her dues on the field, and as an upperclassman, she’s a shoo-in for the varsity team. But that’s not what happens. This year, Coach Hartley moved up every JV player but two—and one of those two was Parker. Now, she’s stuck with the freshmen, her friends are cutting her loose, and her love of the game is seriously beginning to fail. But Parker is determined to get her life back. She has to get on the varsity team, and she has the perfect plan. All she needs now is the right kind of coach.

My Review: I fell in love with this book cover and knew I just had to read it. It also has such a great title! Parker is a typical high school girl that goes through typical high school "stuff." I like how Ferraro gave her a what is commonly a boy's name and made her an athletic girl, not a girly girl. So many books you read have girly girls in them. I feel like Parker is a real girl that many teens will be able to relate to. What teenage girl doesn't wish she could just take Mommy's credit card and go to their favorite department store? Isn't it the goal of all teenagers to be in style? Parker was definitely in style, but she felt like she didn't belong. Teenage girls can be vindictive and there were times as I was reading this that I thought, "Don't be a wimp, Parker; stand up to those girls!" I feel like this story will show girls to stand up for what they believe and stand by your true friends, no matter what because they will always be there for you. It's a lesson that many of us learned in high school, when we hung out with the "in" crowd and shunned our other friends. I recommend this book to young girls. I feel like they will be able to relate to Parker and what she goes through.

See what other bloggers have to say:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review: Walking Through Walls

I finished this book at the beginning of the month and just haven't gotten around to posting the review.  Really ought to do that as soon as I finish, so that I don't forget.  Note to self:  remember that!

Author:  Philip Smith
Review Copy Provided by:  FNB Associates

About the Book:  After a full day of creating beautiful interiors for the rich and famous, Lew Smith would come home, take off his tie, and get down to his real work as a psychic healer who miraculously cured thousands of people.  For his son, Philip, watching his father transform himself, at a moment's notice, from gracious society decorator into a healer with supernatural powers was a bit like living with Clark Kent and Superman.

My Review:  This is the first memoir I've ever read, and although it won't become one of my favorite genres, it wasn't that bad.  Smith tells his story in a way that keeps you entertained, while trying to figure out just what is going on.  To say it's a bizarre story would be accurate.  How a child can grow up in a household like that is beyond me, but I've known them to grow up in worse.  Smith seems to be very independent and self-sufficient.  Who wouldn't be growing up in a house where your mom and dad aren't really around much?  I'm not sure I enjoy reading about other people's lives, it seems sort of intrusive.  If you are a fan of memoirs, you may enjoy this, but it's not one I'd pick up again.  Philip Smith is a good writer, but I just did not really care for the story.

Another Blogger's Perspective:  J. Kaye's Book Blog

Wednesday Wanderings 1/28/09

Wednesday Wanderings
"I wander around the blogosphere and bring you what I find."

It seems like bloggers are adding unique features to their blogs everyday. Here are some I found this week, that I fell in love with.

Bermudaonion is going to be doing Wondrous Words' posts, bi-weekly or monthly, she hasn't decided which. She will be sharing words that she comes across as she's reading. As readers we are always finding new words and I'm glad that Kathy acknowledges that and wants to share it with her readers.
Over at Presenting Lenore, she has added a post titled, New Blogger FAQ. If you are new to the blogging world, you want to take a look at this. She has given some real good information on getting started with a blog.
There are 2 new features here at Write for a Reader. One is Snapshot Saturday. Every Saturday I will be sharing a picture out of my many digital albums as a way to share the non-bookish side of my life and let you get to know me on a different level. I hope you will join me. The other, is a Weekly Link Round-Up that was the brain child of Amy from My Friend Amy's blog. On Sunday's I will give you links to some of my blogging friends' favorite posts of the week.
You know how I love giveaways, right? Well, this week there are a plethora of them, and thank goodness you can find them all in one place. Head on over to Bloggy Giveaways and partake in one or many of the giveaways in their Bloggy Giveaway Carnival.
Hope you enjoy these wanderings. What did you "wander" upon this week? Share your finds in the comments. Until next week...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - Kisses and Lies

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Please avoid spoilers!

Here is mine for this week, from Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson, p. 88
"Wow, you are so lucky you didn't have cauliflower cheese before you went on your date with Jase.  Can you imagine sitting in the movie theater and farting up a storm?"
What are you reading right now?  Want to tease us a little?  Leave your teaser in the comments or participate with us by adding it to the list over at Should Be Reading.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What Kind of Reader Are You?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader
You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Just for fun!  What kind of reader are you?

It's Award Day!!

Today, if you haven't heard, was the announcement of the Newbery, Caldecott, and other book awards by the American Library Association. Click through to the ALA's site to see the full awards list.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded each year to the illustrator of the "most distinguished American picture book for children" by the American Library Association. This year's winner is The House in The Night illustrated by Beth Krommes, and written by Susan Marie Swanson.

Caldecott Honor Books are:
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, illustrated by Melissa Sweet and written by Jen Bryant

The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year's winner is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

Newbery Honor Books are:
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle
Savvy by Ingrid Law
After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Which ones have you read? I haven't read any of them, unfortunately, but because of great reviews by some of my fellow book bloggers, many are on my wish list.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 1/26/09

It's time to reveal the goodies that appeared in my mailbox last week.  Unfortunately, there are probably books waiting for me at the post office because I was unable to get mail Friday and Saturday because some "gracious" person, ran into my mailbox during the day on Friday and for right now, I don't have one.  That being said, here's what I did get, until the mailbox was gone.
Drood - On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.  Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?

Mommy's Having a Watermelon -This book is #1 in the World of Zoe series by Danny and Kim Alderman.  Information/pictures on this book are limited as it is so new.
Galway Bay - Here at last is one Irish family's epic journey, capturing the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience. In a rousing tale that echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family, inhabiting a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations. Selling both their catch--and their crops--to survive, these people subsist on the potato crop--their only staple food. But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees in one of the greatest rescues in human history: the Irish Emigration to America. Danger and hardship await them there. Honora and her unconventional sister Maire watch their seven sons as they transform Chicago from a frontier town to the "City of the Century", fight the Civil War, and enlist in the cause of Ireland's freedom. The Kelly clan is victorious.
Peek-a-Boo I Love You! - This adorable peek-a-boo book invites little ones to play along with their favorite animals, with soothing rhymes and engaging illustrations as only Sandra Magsamen can deliver. The anticipation of what's hiding on the next page will keep kids guessing and giggling all the way to the surprise ending - when a heart-shaped mirror reveals who's loved most of all!

Bippity Bop Barbershop - perfect father and son book by the author of I Love My Hair!

That's all this week!  What showed up "in your mailbox?"  See all of the Mailbox Monday posts at The Printed Page.

Blog Link Up #1 - 1/24/09

It is the week for new additions!  This weekly round-up is the brainchild of My Friend Amy.  She is always coming up with great bookish ideas! 
In a way, this is similar to my Wednesday Wanderings, but in that post I usually highlight giveaways and new happenings around the blogosphere.  This weekly post will be a "best of" approach to what a group of bloggers posted on their blogs this week.  This is our first go at it and we may be tweaking the button, format, etc, but I hope you'll enjoy it.  You may even find a new blog to follow.  If you so desire, please Stumble these posts and fave them in Technorati.

Have you read Rebel by Bernard Cornwell?  Beth of Beth Fish Reads reviewed it this week, and it sounds intriguing!   Kathy reviewed American Savior over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.  It is a campaign book with a twist; read the review and see if it's one you'd like to read.  Julie's reviews always lead me to books that I have to read and this week is no exception.  She reviewed Beat the Reaper at Booking Mama.  Just in time for Valentine's Day, Wendi's Book Corner has a great romantic book review of The Valentine Edition.  The Bibliophile's Retreat is a new blog for me and I'm glad she's joining us in this round-up because I've made a new blogging buddy.   Head over and read her review of The Centurion's Wife; you'll be glad you did!  Conscience Point is a book I've been thinking of adding to my wish list.  Definitely doing that after reading S. Krishna's review this week.  Are you a LOST fan?  I watched it in the beginning, but didn't get hooked.  Amy did though, and this week at My Friend Amy, she started her LOST challenge.  Are you game?  Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? doesn't have a review for us, but she has a post titled The Ethics of Book Reviews.  If you review books, you will want to read her thoughts.  Finally, Marta at Marta's Meanderings reviewed Houston, We Have a Problema, which is a book in my TBR pile.  Now I need to move that book closer to the top of the pile after reading her review.

There you have it, the links for this week.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snapshot Saturday #1

I have been thinking about adding a personal addition to my blog and when I saw this contest, I knew that I could enter and introduce my readers to something new and non-bookish at the same time.  Don't get me wrong, I love posting book reviews and anything to do with books, but I also love a good contest and want my readers to know more about me, the blogger.

5 Minutes for Mom is hosting a Horsing Around Photo Contest.  Hello?  I'm all about horses, or didn't you know that?  We raise them, so of course I'm entering this.  The theme of the contest is “horsing around” and you can interpret that as children playing or take it more literally and let your photo display an equestrian theme.  They are giving away 3 rocking horses donated by A Rocking Horse to Love.  Entries are being accepted until Feb. 6th, when they will choose about 20 finalists that will be posted on Feb. 10th.  Readers will then vote for their favorite, so know that if my picture is chosen, I will be asking for your votes.  You can even go there now and comment on the post, recommending that I be chosen as a finalist.  My brother and his wife are expecting in March and this would be a great gift for my first nephew!

This picture is of my oldest grandaughter.  We had put a round bale of hay out in the pasture for the mares, and they had been eating on it for a few days.  She was here for the weekend and while helping her Papa feed, noticed the hole in the bale, so she sat down.  I just happened to have the camera and caught her.

What does this have to do with a new addition to my blog?  Every Saturday, I will post a picture from my many albums.  Why, you ask?  Even though my passion is books and reading, I enjoy photography and want to share that with you as well.  You can participate too, on your blog, and leave the link in the comments for others to see.  So many times readers don't know the blogger behind the blog and this is my way of sharing myself with you, on a different level.  Won't you join my in Snapshot Saturday?

Blog Worth Watching

Today is a good day!  I logged in this morning to find some comment love from fellow bloggers.  One of those comments was from Sheri who stopped by to award me the Well Worth Watching Blog Award.  Sheri blogs over at A Novel Menagerie.  I am honored to recieve this and flattered that she enjoys my posts and looks forward to what's happening over here.  She may not know it, but I feel the same about her.  Her blog is one that inspires me and she has been so encouraging as I have begun this blogging journey. 

This award was created by The Book Zombie. The details of the award are simple. It is for all those blogs you cannot wait to read every day, that you look forward to seeing updates on and that have inspired you in your own blogging!
I have to pass this on, but it was hard to choose as Sheri and I read and enjoy some of the same blogs, and she has already awarded them.  But, it is my honor, to present this award to the following blogs that I feel are "well worth watching."
  • The Book Chook - Susan is an Aussie writer who is passionate about literacy and children's literature; a woman after my own heart.  Her blog is chock full of great posts for teachers, parents, and the general book lover.  She has also been a source of encouragement for me and my blog.  She is always there to give her thoughts, advice, and kind words.
  • Maw Books Blog - Natasha is into all things bookish at her blog.  You can find her continuously making additions to her blog that are unique and wonderful.  She is another blogger that has gone out of her way to help me in my blogging endeavors, especially when I was changing sites and layouts.
  • Booking Mama - I have to stop by Julie's blog as she is on top of what is new and happening in the book world.  She receives, reads, and reviews TONS of books.  Plus, today is her 1 year blogiversary and what better to receive today than an award?
  • In Search of Giants - Aerin and I met through the 24 hour read-a-thon, and she offered to help me with my blog layout if I needed it.  At the time I was new and was unsure about what I was doing, but as I went along, I realized I needed my blog to be better.  So, I called on Aerin and she stepped up to the plate, even though she has a blog of her own, kids at home, and a busy life.  She truly inspires me, and my new blog layout is thanks to her!
I read many blogs that are worth watching, but I want other bloggers to be able to award each other, so I'll leave it at 4.  So, ladies, it's up to you; who will you honor?  I can't wait to visit your picks!
This puppy pic is for you, Sheri, and anyone else who was wondering about our new puppy.  Cap'n is an Australian Red Heeler and was a Christmas present for my husband.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Fill-ins - 1/23/09

1. Oh, I am so glad my computer works after puppy knocked it on the floor this morning!

2. Seasonal changes, big and little.

3. During the winter, I enjoy bundling up.

4. Someone hit my mailbox; are you kidding me???

5. Right now I'd like to be eating something bad for me.

6. My cell phone is my favorite gadget.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include laundry and whatever my husband has planned and Sunday, I want to get the puppy his next round of shots!

Review: 3 Willows the sisterhood grows

Author:  Ann Brashares
Review Copy Provided by:  Publisher

About the Book:  summer is a time to grow  Polly has an idea she can't stop thinking about, one that involves changing a few things about herself.  She's setting her sights on a more glamorous life, but it's going to take all of her focus.  At least that way she won't have to watch her friends moving so far ahead.  Jo is spending the summer at her family's beach house, working as a bus girl and bonding with the older, cooler girls she'll see at high school come September.  she didn't count on a brief fling with a cute boy changing her entire summer.  Or on feeling embarrassed by her middle school friends.  And she didn't count on her family at all...Ama is not an outdoorsy girl.  she wanted to be at an academic camp, doing research in an air-conditioned library, earning As.  Instead, her summer scholarship lands her on a wilderness trip full of flirting teenagers, blisters, impossible hiking trails, and a lack of hair products.  It is a new summer.  And a new sisterhood.  Come grow with them.

My Review:  Having not read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the other books in that series, I wasn't sure if I would be able to get into this or even know what was going on.  I was wrong.  So, if you are holding off reading it for that reason, don't.  This book has different girls and takes on a whole different feel.  These girls are bonded together although at times, they don't feel like it, don't act like it, but wish they were like they used to be.  Ah, the drama between middle school girls!  I remember it, and it wasn't always fun.  The same holds true for these 3 girls, and Ann Brashares writes it so well.  I will admit that at first I had a little trouble following the story as it jumps back and forth between the 3 girls' stories and uses flashbacks at the same time.  Having watched soap operas for years, once I figured the characters out, it was easy to get into.  I flew through this book, not wanting to put it down.  I worried about Polly and her weight loss, felt sorry for Ama, being stuck somewhere that she didn't feel like she belonged, and grieved with Jo over the loss of the family life she had known for so long.  This was a great book, and it has encouraged me to get and read the other books by this author.  I recommend it for teen girls, but also think that there are some of my 5th grade girls that would love this read as well. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BTT - Inspiration

Since “Inspiration” is (or should) the theme this week … what is your reading inspired by?

I guess it would all have to depend on the mood I'm in.  Some days I'm inspired by a cover, other days the summary on the book jacket, and others by an author.  So, during this week of inspiration, I have been inspired by a good story.  Isn't that what it's really all about?

What inspires your reading?  Join us over at Booking Through Thursday with your thoughts.

Sydney Taylor Awards Blog Tour - Illustrator Interview: Natascia Ugliano

I am honored to be a part of the Sydney Taylor Awards Blog Tour.  The Sydney Taylor Book Award recognizes the best in Jewish children's literature.  Today I have the privilege of interviewing illustrator, Natascia Ugliano.  Natascia won the award for Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Young Readers Catagory, for her illustrations in Sarah Laughs.

Before I interview Natascia, let me tell you a little about her.  Natascia Ugliano was born in Milan in 1969.  After obtaining an Art Degree, she got a Diploma at Fine Arts Accademy of Brera, in Milan, in 1993.  From 1992 to 2000 she worked as scenographer and costume designer assistant for theatre and cinema, specializing in elaboration, dyeing, decoration and ageing of costumes.  Organizing theatre labs for children, she discovered her interest for children's illustrations. In 2000 she attended a watercolour course by Arcadio Lobato.

Her illustrations have been awarded several prizes, such as: "Scarpetta d'Oro" (Vigonovo - Ve), "Premio Stepan Zavrél" (Cassano Ionio - Cs), "Favola d'Amore-H. Hesse" (Torino), "Stories of City" and "Round Red" (Chioggia - Ve), "The Little Mermaid" (Torino), "Sydney Taylor Award Book" (Sidney).

She illustrates childrens book's for Italian and Strangers Publishing.
Natascia, thank you so much for doing this interview with me today and congratulations on your award.
WFAR:  Please tell us a little about yourself.
NU:  Hi, my name's Natascia, I love to draw.  I like the colors, the nature and the animals. They are the inspiration for me in my illustrations.  I love to walk in the mountain woods.  I have two children, Sergio and Greta, I read many fairy tale books to them. My favorite children's book is “ Thumbelina “ by H. C. Andersen.
WFAR:  When did you start illustrating?
NU:  I started illustrating in 2004.

WFAR:  I love the pictures in Sarah Laughs. What did you use?

NU:  Me too!!! I used acrylic colours and oil pastels. WFAR:  Who picked you to illustrate Sarah Laughs?

NU:  The Karben Publishing picked me to illustrate Sarah Laughs: they looked at a web page with my works and then wrote me an e-mail.

WFAR:  What else have you illustrated?

NU:  I illustrated “ The storm treasure “ by A. Adeney – Watts Publishing, “ The little Marmead “ A.C. Andersen retold by A. Adeney – Watts Publishing, “ Abraham's search for God “ by J. Jules – Karben Publshing, “ Die Bibel in 365 Geschichten “ by Martin Polster – Thienemann Verlag - “ Snowithe “ by G. Clima – Coccinella publishing, “ Cinderella “ by G. Clima – Coccinella pulishing, “ Sleeping Beauty “ by L. John – Evans Publishing, “ Sarah Laughs “ by J. Jules – Karben Publishing, “ Piantatela “ - Rcs Rizzoli Publishing, “ Bedtime Rhymes “, “ Singalong Nursery rhymes “, Rhymes to Share “ - Ladybird Publishing, “ The Silver Goblet “ by J. Jules – Karben Publishing, “ The Leaves and the Fishes “ A. Ganeri – Watts Publishing, “ The Frog Emperor “ by A. Adeney – Watts Publishing.

WFAR:  What do you do for fun?

NU:  I like to cycle and to skate with my family.WFAR:  What are some of your favorites? Author, food, color, book, any others…

NU:  My favorite authors are H. C. Andersen (for children's books), Isabelle Allende and Emily Dickinson. My favorite color is green.  My favorite food is pastasciutta, an Italian food.WFAR:  Is there anything else that you would like readers to know?

NU:  I hope children read fairy tales and books to continue dreaming, also as adults!!
Thank you again Natascia, for the interview.  I wish you all the best in your illustrating!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Interview: Tony Peters

On Sunday, I posted a review of Kids on a Case: The Ten Grand Kidnapping, by Tony Peters.  You can read the review here if you missed it.  I am honored to have Tony join us today for an interview here at Write for a Reader.

Tony Peters enjoys working with children and writes to bring the enjoyment of reading to them. He plans on continuing his career as a writer and already has other books in the works. He lives in Swift Current, SK with his wife, Karen. You can find Tony and an excerpt of his book on his website, Tony's Writing.  He has also started doing book reviews himself on his blog.

First of all, thank you Tony, for agreeing to this interview.  I know that you are just getting started with getting your book and your name out there, so I am honored that you chose me.  I really enjoyed reading and reviewing your book.  It is always nice to be able to introduce my readers to the person behind the books I review.

Write For A Reader (WFAR):  Please tell us a little about yourself.

Tony Peters (TP):  I guess I can start at the beginning. I was born in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, and I was raised in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. I have my Youth Care Worker Certificate, and my General Biblical Studies Certificate. I love working with kids, so having written a young reader book kind of suits as it gives me a chance to interact with kids. I will have been married for two years as of May 12 (I know I am only 21, but I am proud to be happily married to my high school sweetheart). I love reading, and have been reading novels since as far back as I can remember. Being a published writer is a dream come true and I hope to make a full time career out of it.

WFAR:  When did you start writing?

TP:  I think I started writing when I was eight or nine, I am not sure which. When I learned how to write stories I was hooked, I couldn’t stop writing. Looking back they seem really lame, almost funny, but hey we all have to start somewhere right? I started taking writing as a serious career path when I took Creative Writing in high school, and I haven’t stopped pushing onward since. I love to encourage kids to write if that’s what they are passionate about. Pursue the dream, and don’t let any failures get in the way. Persevere through the trials and you can’t go wrong, the only thing you can do is learn from your mistakes/experiences and carry on.

WFAR:  Do you have writing “mentors?” If so, who are they?

TP:  My favorite author growing up was definitely Louis L’Amour. His westerns helped give me the desire to read more, to engross myself in moments from the past. His work gave the ambition to strive to improve my writing, even now I am still learning how to write, and I hope that I never feel I have learned everything there is to know about this amazing craft. In a close second would be Franklin W. Dixon, I loved reading his mysteries, but I don’t know if he was really a writing mentor. He was more of a favorite childhood author.

WFAR:  What was your inspiration for Kids on a Case?

TP:  My inspiration… good question, I guess that I remembered reading a lot of mystery books growing up that dealt with really childish mysteries and I always wanted to find a mystery writer who wrote more adult situation mysteries for kids. When I couldn’t find any (with exception to the Hardy Boy Series) I decided to create one myself, and so began the creation of characters, setting, and plot (all before I thought of writing as a career choice). The characters in my book come from a combination of my school friends. None of the characters are created from one person. They are all little pieces of people’s characters.

WFAR:  Your book deals with kidnapping. Why did you choose that particular topic?

TP:  I figured that kidnapping was a good adult topic that wouldn’t cross lines with gruesomeness. Also, every mystery writer does murder, to write another one would be over-killing an already over-killed topic. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good murder mystery, it’s just overdone is all. A kidnapping would also allow the group more leverage to find their own clues. In a murder the police would guard the crime scene too heavily.

WFAR:  What’s next for you as an author? Do you have anything in the works?

TP:  I am currently in the process of editing a sequel, called Kids on a Case: Hunting Black Dragon (that is the planned title, but it could change). It will be longer, and the language difficulty steps up just a little. I think that it is better written than the last one, and it doesn’t include the annoying repeat page (Yes I too find that annoying, and if I could go back I would find a way to avoid it). This one involves more danger and intrigue. I throw in a weird twist that turns it into a double-mystery and gives someone else a chance to take a lead role in the group. I am also working on an Adult war book, and a drama that could be YA or Adult fiction.

WFAR:  What is your favorite piece that you have written?

TP:  I haven’t written a lot as of yet, but I would have to say that the sequel is my favorite so far, I can’t wait until I can actually afford to have it edited.

WFAR:  What do you like to do when you are not writing?

TP:  I like to play strategic/sports video games, hang with friends, watch movies, and I love to be around kids. Kids are so unpredictable that I can’t help but be happy when I am around them. Oh and I love to watch four TV series’, Stargate Atlantis, How I met Your Mother, Bones, and The Office.

WFAR:  Describe your writing atmosphere…where do you write, when, etc?

TP:  I tend to write in my office at home, with music blaring to drown out all distractions. I used to write during college classes as the ideas would usually flow while I was sitting there bored in class. The time used to vary, as I was always writing in class, but now I find that I get more accomplished if I write in the morning, otherwise it is too difficult to motivate myself. When I write I find I like typing it as I think better than writing it down. It is too much of a drag to try typing it afterwards.

WFAR:  How do you feel about book bloggers reviewing your books?

TP:  This is my first blog review, but I am honored to have anyone reviewing my book. I love to get feedback so that I know what to/not to do next time. I am always looking for ways to improve my writing. ‘Listen to the reader and you will be successful,’ is what I like to tell the kids I do book readings for. The reviewer is the voice of the reader, their advice is important.

WFAR:  What are some of your favorites? Author, food, color, book, any others…

TP:  Favorite author… growing up it was the two afore mentioned authors, but now I would have to say J.R.R Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis, which is kind of funny because they used to be friends. They use imagery so well and are very creative. I respect them greatly. I only wish that they were alive today for me to get advice from. Favorite food would have to be lasagna and Caesar Salad. Favorite color is green. Favorite car is the Viper, or maybe even the Porsche Carrera GT. Favorite book…that is a really hard question, there are so many. It could be The Survivor by Robb White, or maybe the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, oh and The Hobbit (all by J.R.R. Tolkien).

WFAR:  Is there anything else that you would like readers to know?

TP:  I dream of volunteering in an orphanage in Africa one day. I also hope to adopt at least one child. When I start earning more money I hope to donate a pile of money to various charities on a regular basis. I would love to make the world a better/safer place for children to grow up in, and so I love to work with kids, whether through volunteering, or through my subbing as a Teacher’s Aide.
Thank you again Tony for talking with me.  I can't wait to read the sequel real soon!

Wednesday Wanderings - 1/21/09

Wednesday Wanderings 
"I wander around the blog and bring you what I find."

Last week's Wednesday Wanderings was all about the Sydney Taylor Awards blog tour.  You can see the entire tour schedule here.  The tour is still going on and will make a stop here tomorrow as I interview illustrator Natascia Ugliano.  Make sure you come back and hear what she has to say.


Presenting Lenore is having an awesome giveaway!  Enter to win 8+ YA books from Penguin.  5 are guaranteed 2009 titles.  You can see some of them on her blog.  You have until 2/8 to enter.

Don't forget about Reviewer X's giveaway of Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls.  Contest ends 1/24

Over at Bookdads, they are giving away a copy of Savvy by Ingrid Law.  This is one I've been wanting to read.  You can enter until 2/1.

New Additions to Blogs

I am an avid reader of Maw Books blog.  Just this week she started a new addition to her blog: Reader Spotlight.  Here is what she has to say: 
Each week I’ll be highlighting a different reader/blogger/commenter here on my blog! I have loved all the comments I receive on my blog and this is my way of getting to know each of you better! No rhyme or reason as to when I’ll post these. Hopefully, once a week, if I can manage it. I hope you enjoy these Reader Spotlights!
This week we are introduced to Jenn.  I hope you will hop on over and meet her as well.

New Blogs

I posted about this yesterday, but in case you missed it, check out this new blog: Connecting2Give started by my new friend Gwynne whom I met through Twitter.

What did you "wander" upon this week?  Please share in the comments.
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