Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Because of A Book with Margaret Stohl


Today, I am proud to welcome Margaret Stohl to Write For A Reader.  Margaret, or Margie as some call her, is one half of the awesome writing duo that is responsible for the upcoming YA release, Beautiful Creatures (Dec '09).  Let me share with you a little bit about her, in her own words.

Writing has gotten me in and out of trouble since I was 15 (back then, mostly just in trouble.) I have written everything from video games and video game manuals to live action screenplays (one optioned, many never happened) and animation (one optioned, one never happened), as well as poetry in the UK & the US, marketing documents in Vegas, coverage for a big Hollywood agency where a guy walked around with a writing crop hitting desks, and an Imax movie (come to think of it, not sure what ever happened to that...?) For 10 years, I designed &/or wrote for lots of video games, one of which was nominated for “Most Innovative Game Design,” but I lost to a rapping onion. If you know games you get why my two bad beagles are named Zelda and Kirby.

School: I spent more years in it than a person ever should, because let’s face it, reading books is so much better than having a job. I fell in love with American literature at Amherst and Yale, earned an MA in English from Stanford, and studied creative writing under the late great poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I taught Intro to Film as a TA at Yale and Romantic Poetry as a TA at Stanford. Don’t tell the people at Yale but sometimes I taught the section before I’d seen the movie it was about...

I live in Santa Monica, CA, with my family, most of whom were enslaved into working with me in one form or another on my forthcoming YA book for Little, Brown. I’m not kidding; when my daughters wanted to go to school I said “Why are you so selfish? Get back in there and edit,” and by said I mean yelled and maybe threw things, it’s all a haze. I have a writing partner named Kami and she is why we ever get anything done. (Well, K and the daughter-slaves...)

And so we wrote a book this year, and it’s going to come out in lots and lots of countries in a few months. And I am really, really hoping there is no hot title about a rapping onion coming out at the same time. 

You can find Margie on her blog, at Goodreads, at the Beautiful Creatures Facebook page, and at the Beautiful Creatures website.

On car trips long before car seats, the three of us lay in the back of the station wagon in the night. My mom read aloud by the dim light of the glove compartment. The glass on the window was cold, and I would press my face against it and look out in the dark desert sky, trying not to let my brothers see me cry. Banner in the Sky. Where the Red Fern Grows. The Outsiders. Ah, Ponyboy. At gas stations we shuffled out of the car, jarred by the smell of the gasoline and the lights and the Cheetos, hiding our wet faces until we could disappear into the story and the Way Back again.  At least, that’s how I remember about those trips, though I’ve forgotten where we were going.

I remember hiding in my closet with a pillow and Jello powder stolen out of the garage, reading the entire Narnia series. Sitting high up in our avocado tree reading A Wrinkle in Time and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Crowding under the steps of our classroom bungalow with Pam Ling, to recite the poem from the front of The Dark is Rising books. “When the Dark Comes Rising, Six Shall Turn it Back/Three From the Circle, Three From the Track…”

I read the Little House books by my nightlight, even though the shadows scared me, and The Girl of the Limberlost on the piano bench instead of practicing. I held Anne of Green Gables low enough in the church pew that you might confuse it for the Bible. When we visited my grandma, I stole into her linoleum basement and borrowed everything from my mom’s old bookshelf, with battered covers and titles like Sal Fisher at Girl Scout Camp, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and one about a particularly dashing student nurse named Cherry Ames. To this day, even my daughters have been known to exclaim, “Pshaw, Mrs. Shaw, and all the Little Shaws!”

Because of a book, I had Fancies. I knew that, if caught in a thicket, rowan and ash would protect you from Dark Magic. Likewise, a Highway was old magic, neither Light nor Dark, so our station wagon was vulnerable in traffic on the 405. I believed that eyes flashed when angry, a boy traced a girl’s cheeks with a thumb just before a kiss, and that you could be stricken if caught out in the rain, though I was vague on the details. I pined for lawn and muslin, fine whalebone stitching, dressing gowns and/or smoking jackets (and yes, if you had asked me I would have used the word pined.) Thought I had not even the smallest bustle, I still hoped to live in a gabled house overlooking an azure sea/apple orchard/Sunnybrook Farm with a cupola and a garret, a root cellar and a grape arbor. A secret garden would be ideal, but I’d settle for a veranda. In fact, I’d pull right up to it in my surrey and pass a pleasant afternoon on the settee in the parlor with a cherry cordial and a thick slice of icebox cake.

Because of a book, I’d hold warm salt against your ear if it ached, make an onion poultice or a mustard plaster for your chest if you had galloping consumption, the aigue, or even a fainting spell. Dropsy. Horsehair. Battenberg. Petit fours. Kid gloves. Real silk stockings. A muff. I’d have come calling and left you my card. My name was probably Lavinia, and I was here for the High Season. Or the Grand Tour. Or cream tea in the drawing room. Or as a companion for my aunt, Her Ladyship, who was of a Higher Station. I hoped I wasn’t being forward. I demurred.

Because of a book, I was never quite sure where I was, what you just said, or why I should know things like, say, 4 x 7. “Never hold a lady by her arm,” said I, at five, to my father, while getting out of the station wagon. “You, sir, are either a jealous husband, or you’re insane.” What can I say? I was always looking for a duel, or at least fisticuffs and a few boxed ears.

Because of a book, I went to study at the school that had Emily Dickinson’s house on campus. I took 36 English classes. I went to a Writers Program in the UK and took more. Because of a book – because of a thousand – I began to write.

Because of a book, I have never once had a single thing I Fancied – neither mustard plaster nor cupola -- yet I have somehow always had all of them. Because of a book, I had Expectations. Tens of thousands of books later, I expect I still do.

And that, as someone in a book once said, has made all the difference.

About Beautiful Creatures:
There were no surprises in Gatlin County
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Pre-order it at Amazon

About The Outsiders:  First published by Viking in 1967, The Outsiders immediately resonated with young adults. This groundbreaking novel was like nothing else out there—it was honest and gritty, and was a deeply sympathetic portrayal of Ponyboy, a young man who finds himself on the outside of regular society. Forty years later, with over thirteen million copies sold, the story is as fresh and powerful to teenagers today as it ever was.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 6/29/09

Mailbox Monday is hosted every week at The Printed Page.  Here's what made it's way to my house last week.

Moose and Magpie by Bettina Restrepo, from Sylvan Dell

Mother Osprey: Nursery Rhymes for Buoys & Gulls by Lucy Nolan, from Sylvan Dell

What's New at the Zoo?: An Animal Adding Adventure by Suzanne Slade, from Sylvan Dell

Count Down to Fall by Fran Hawk, from Sylvan Dell

Once a Witch (ARC) by Carolyn MacCullough, from Deborah Sloan and Company

Undiscovered Gyrl (ARC) by Allison Burnett, from Vintage

New England's Stormalong by Louis Arthur Norton, from Tate Publishing

Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari, from Random House

Matisse on the Loose by Georgia Bragg, from Random House

Too Many Visitor for One Little House by Susan Chodakiewitz, from Booksicals

First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends by Roy Rowan & Brooke Janis, from Algonquin Books

Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan, from Algonquin Books

No, Never by Sally O. Lee, from Lee Publishing

Who's Taking a Bath by Alice Berger, from author

Afraid by Jack Kilborn, from Jenn's Bookshelf

All the World (galley) by Liz Garton Scanlon, from Beach Lane Books - I blogged about this on my Snapshot Saturday because the packaging was so cute.  

What did you get in your mailbox?

Blog Tour Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon


Author:  Grace Lin
Review Copy Provided by:  Little, Brown

Grace Lin's book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, will be released on July 1st.  She is hosting an online book launch on her facebook fanpage and on her online book launch page.  She would love it if you would join her as she launches her book! 
Grace was nice enough to answer some questions for those of us on the tour, so make sure you check out the other tour stops to see what she has to say.  Here are my questions and her answers.

In the story, Minli's father tells her folktales.  Did you listen to folktales growing up?  If so, what were they?

I did not listen to folktales when I was growing up, but I did read them.  I loved fairy tales and my mother sneaked in some Asian folktale/fairytale books into my library.  So, as a child I read almost all the traditional European ones—from Grimm’s , Hans Christian Anderson,  to Howard Pyle and Kate Greenaway; and a good many of the Asian ones. “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” is very, very roughly on a Chinese tale called “Olive Lake.” However, I took quite a bit of creative license—there is no Fruitless Mountain, Magistrate or Paper of Happiness in the tale and the protagonist of that story is an adult male!

Your sisters are scientists.  What did your parents think of your career choice? Have their thoughts changed?

Well, my parents were quite horrified when I decided to go to art school to pursue children’s book illustration. But even though they did not really understand, they tried their best to support me.  But over the years, they have really come around and seem to be very proud! My mother is always telling people to buy my books. And they were especially pleased on how I portrayed them in “The Year of the Dog,” though my older sister insists my father was never that funny.

The story was somewhat inspired by your travels; what else inspired this book?

Well, this story first was inspired by the folktales and fairytales of both Asian and European/American cultures that I read and loved as a child.I grew up in Upstate NY, the only Asian (except for my sisters) in my school. Because of this, my childhood was always tinged with a strange sense of identity. Was I Chinese? Taiwanese? American?

Books and stories were always a source of comfort. I loved folktales and fairy tales as a child. I loved the classics, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” “The Light Princess,” and "The Wizard of Oz"—all with gorgeous illustrations, which I devoured and gazed at in awe.

It was because of my love for these stories, that my mother knew she could pique my interest with the Chinese fairy tale books. At the time, she regretted that I knew and had so little interest in our cultural heritage—this was a way of “sneaking” it in. And it worked!

I began reading the Chinese folktales, and was at first disappointed. Used to lush illustrations and descriptions, the Asian books were plainly translated with an occasional simple b/w line drawings and seemed an inadequate comparison. However, slowly I discovered the stories had a magic and I began to imagine details of my own, tinged with Asian-American sensibilities. When I grew older and was able to travel Hong Kong, Taiwan and China--the stories came alive.

And "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" came into existence. An homage to the folktales and fairy tales I read in my youth, it is a mixture of Asian fairytales and North American classics. Not a traditional retelling of stories from either cultures, it is a mix-- like me, Asian-American. Hopefully, it is full of the magic from both that will satisfy readers everywhere.

My travels to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China brought the settings of the story to life for me, inspiring the imagery. Well, when I first began writing this book, I had visited Hong Kong (http://gracegoeshk.blogspot.com/) and Taiwan which were wonderful trips. Being Asian-American (and more American than Asian) it was a fascinating experience to be surrounded by a culture that was so foreign and familiar at the same time. Whenever I viewed the landscape, saw a temple or a sampan in the water, I suddenly would remember the Chinese folktales I had read as a child. I could see them happening in the setting around me and I knew in there was a book waiting to be written.

I was almost 3/4th finished with the writing the book when I went to visit China (http://gracegoestochina.blogspot.com/). This was the perfect time to go, as I had an idea of what kinds of things I wanted to see and research there but the book was still open enough to be changed. And it was wonderful! Actually seeing China with my own eyes and experiencing it added such a rich layer to the story. For example, one of the excursions we took especially for the book was a visit to a tiny mountain village (http://gracegoestochina.blogspot.com/2008/11/cold-village.html). I wanted to see a mountain village because I knew Minli (the main character in “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” ) would be visiting one. The whole time we were there, we were freezing cold but the villagers were so friendly and red-cheeked (which I was to find out later was wind-burn, not good circulation). So, those element of mountain cold and a warm, friendly shelter became the back drop of the village Minli visits.

Wow!  Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration for the book and other thoughts with us.

About the Book:  In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

My Review:  What a good book!  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon  is just a fun, inspiring, feel good read.  I enjoyed the mix of narrative with the folk tales in this book.  It gives you a glimpse into the lifestyle, culture and beliefs of the Asian people.  Without the folk tales, you wouldn't fully understand the story.  Each one is put in the book, in a certain place, for a reason.  This middle-grade book is a different read with a great message.  Children don't always understand that they can be happy with what they have, they always long for more.  Minli shows us that sometimes it's better to sacrifice what you want for the sake of a friend.  This is something that all children can learn from.  I really like the message in this story.  

Minli is such a strong character.  She knows what she wants and goes for it!  Even when faced with adversity, and nay-sayers, she presses on.  Her goal, to find the Old Man of the Moon.  Along the way, she meets some very interesting animals and people who help her and whom she'll never forget.  Each character is important to the story.  My favorite, besides Minli, are the twins, Da-Fu and A-Fu.  They add alot of humor to the story.

Grace Lin gets 5 out of 5 stars for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
Make sure you visit the next stop on the tour: The Mommy-Files.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review: Melonhead

Title:  Melonhead
Author:  Katy Kelly
Illustrated by:  Gillian Johnson
Review Copy Provided by: Random House

About the Book:  Melonhead is my preferred name. Preferred by me, not my mom. She likes people to call me by my real name, Adam Melon. Luckily, it’s too late for that because when my friend, Lucy Rose, invented Melonhead, it caught
on fast.

Usually I am the one doing the inventing. All my life, which is 10 years, great ideas have been popping in and out of my melon head. Sometimes they work. This year they’d better, because our class is entering an inventing fair. My friend Sam and I are dreaming up plans. And Capitol Hill has a ton of places to find invention parts. We just have to make sure to get home on time, with no excuses. If we get first place at school, it will be Chantilly, Virginia Regionals, here we come! 

My Review:  Current day Denis the Menace, Melonhead is just funny!  I love Melonhead.  He is just a fun-loving, precocious, annoying, typical boy.  His ideas/inventions are just too cute!  What young boy wouldn't love this book?

The author really creates Melonhead and makes him come alive to the reader.  Reading this story made me think of some of the boys in my 3rd grade class.  They wanted to please, to have a great project, but sometimes they try so hard to come up with the best thing, that they miss the obvious one.  Melonhead and his friends work so hard to think up a re-invention when the real re-invention is right there in from of Melonhead, if he'd only stop long enough to see it.  Isn't that usually the way with young boys?

This was just a fun read!  I recommend it for elementary teachers, elementary age readers (boys and girls), and parents of elementary age students.  4 out of 5 stars for Melonhead.

Do You Buy Books?

If you are a book lover, I'm sure the answer to the above question is yes.  If so, my next question is why.  Why do you buy books?

I have been buying books, going to the bookstore, and reading, since I can remember.  My mom is an avid reader, so I grew up loving books.  Thank you mom!  Thank you also to the wonderful teachers I had who helped to grow that love of reading and introduce me to books and ideas that were outside of my repertoire at the time.

So, in order to feed my reading habit, I buy books.  That in itself, is a bad habit, but I love it!  Being a teacher doesn't help my habit, because I MUST have good books for my classroom.  I've always worked in a Title I school, so there wasn't extra money for books and the parents didn't usually give books or bookstore giftcards as gifts, if they gave gifts, so it was up to me to provide those books.  Yes, I have boxes of children's books, separated by themes, and stored in my shed.  No, I will not be getting rid of them anytime soon, even though I will not be in the classroom anymore.  I have grandchildren, nieces and nephews who can enjoy them for now.  Maybe later I'll take them to a children's hospital, Half-Price Books, or have a garage sale, but until then, they are safe in their boxes.

Many of my books come from school book fairs.  Each school I've worked at has had 2 book fairs a year, one in the fall and one in the spring.  At each, I spend close to $100 and get alot of books.  Usually it's buy 3, get one free, and no tax for books used in the classroom.  I also go to the Scholastic Warehouse sale, held twice a year.  Then, I'm a sucker for Barnes & Noble, the store itself and online, as well as Amazon.com. 

I believe in buying books because I love to read.  I also know that my purchase not only benefits me, but the author, publisher, bookstore, and many more.  Many people have jobs that depend on people like me buying books.  They have to make a living just like I do.  This is the way they do it.  I want authors to keep writing, publishers to keep putting out new books, and bookstores to stay open, so I do want I can to support them.  Why do you buy books?

I say all of this to bring to your attention, a wonderful event going on over at My Friend Amy and Presenting Lenore.   Together, they are hosting a book drive for Beth Kephart's new book, Nothing But Ghosts.  What is the book drive?  Well, here are the details, from Amy's blog:

When: June 23-June 30 at 9 PM EST. (she has extended it through Friday, July 3rd)
Where: Well, here, of course!
What: The book drive is an intentional effort to expand the readership of Nothing But Ghosts by driving sales. It is the book buying fun part of a book party!
Why: Because I believe Beth is a very gifted author who deserves a wider audience. Also, first week sales for a book are always important. Lastly, I'd love to have a measurable example of how book blogs can drive sales for a book.
The Goal: 200 books sold.
How Will it Work: If you choose to buy from Amazon I am asking that you use this link so that I can track the number of books sold. We want and actually NEED to track the number of books sold...because....

There are prizes!  Visit Amy's actual post and read all the details.  Then, read Amy's review of Nothing But Ghosts, buy the book, and send Amy your receipt.  I dare you!!!  Buy it for a gift, if not for yourself.  I bought mine, will you buy yours?  Let me know if you do.  I'd like to say thank you!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: Everything is Fine

Title:  Everything is Fine
Author:  Ann Dee Ellis

About the Book:  Stuck at home caring for her severely depressed mother and abandoned by her father, Mazzy has only the day-to-day dramas of her neighborhood to keep her busy. But between flirting with the boy next door and worrying about the fact that she's flat-chested, Mazzy has to face the fact that her mom is emotionally paralyzed by a family tragedy. As readers delve into the story, they'll eventually discover what it was that tore Mazzy's family apart, and they'll see what it takes to put it back together. 

My Review:  Wow! This one hits ya' in the emotions. I love the feeling that obviously went into this book because it shows through in the words that Ellis wrote.

Mazzy is basically on her own.  What is she supposed to do when people come to the house asking to speak to her mom? Who's taking care of her?  Where is her father?  What a load for a young girl to carry, but she does it, by herself, in spite of outside forces trying to help her.  She is strong, or is she?

I always love a first-person narrative.  I feel it really lets me know the character, when it's done well, and this one is.  I also liked how Ellis took a different spin with the chapters.  When one ends, albeit in the middle of the page, a new one starts.  I enjoyed that.  The book just flowed from one chapter to another without any feeling of interruption.  Many of the chapters are just a few sentences too.

This book deals with very serious content: mental illness.  It's prevalent, and needs to be brought up, not hidden.  Teens need to know about it and I'm glad Ellis chose this to write about in Everything is Fine.  The title itself lets you know a lot about the book, because as much as Mazzy makes it appear, everything is not fine.  Will her family be able to recover from the tragedy that has caused all of this?

This is a quick read, with only 154 pages.  5/5 stars for Everything is Fine.

Snapshot Saturday #17

Yesterday I tweeted about a package I received in the mail.  I have received many book packages, but never anything as beautifully packaged as this!  I subscribe to the Shelf Awareness Newsletter, and one day at the end of April, I saw a children's book, All the World, in the newsletter.  The cover was very attractive, and the blurb about it sounded interesting, so I took a chance and emailed the publisher.  Sometimes when I email publishers, I don't get a reply, so when I didn't hear back, I wasn't real concerned.  I had made a note of the book and would get it when it came out.  Imagine my surprise when I received an email last week saying that they would love to send me a review copy.  Well, that copy came yesterday!  I just had to take pictures to show you how beautifully it was put together.  As they say, presentation is everything, and this publisher knows how to present a product.


This is what I saw when I opened the box.  The review copy is a galley, meaning it is not bound together, but looks just like it would if it were.  Beautiful cover, huh?  Want to know what the picture on the top side of the box says?


That's actually a picture from the book, but the words, which aren't the ones from the book,  read like a clue to something.  It talks about a shell, which had me curious.  When I picked up the galley, imagine my surprise, as this is what was underneath.

The shredding made it look like the beach, with the shell and sea glass set in there just so.  Don't you just love it?  Along with the galley, in the box was a Beach Lane Books catalog, a note from the VP and a little note on how to enter to win an original piece of art from the book by Marla Frazee.

I still haven't taken everything out of the box, because I just can't bear to throw it away.  I'm still just in awe at the great pains Simon & Schuster went to to show off their new children's imprint, Beach Lane Books!  Thank you Allyn Johnston (VP of Beach Lane Books)!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Review: Chasing Boys

Title:  Chasing Boys
Author:  Karen Tayleur

About the Book:  El Marini just isn’t fitting into the new life she’s been forced to create without her dad. Her mom and sister have accepted his absence and moved on, but El is convinced things will get back to normal if she just keeps her feelings of loss to herself and waits it out.
Life at her new public school would have been unbearable if weren’t for Eric Callahan. As her crush grows to epic proportions, she’ll do anything to be more like the popular girls he notices, even buying the first pink top she’s ever owned. But then she meets Dylan, a quiet artistic-type who is both unnerving and annoying as he shines a light on El’s misguided attempts to attract Eric. El’s need for acceptance will hit home with teens as she finally sees that chasing boys has distracted her from making peace with the past and finding herself.

My Review:  Another YA dose of realistic fiction.  One that took me back to high school and my own teenage years.  This book is full of issues that many teens have to face: changing schools, cliques, jealousy, crushes, acceptance, and more.

El is one of those teenagers.  She is used to living the high-life, but with her dad gone, she has to get used to less, a lot less.  Her mother has issues that El refuses to acknowledge.  All of this changes El, as I assume it would many teens.  She doesn't know how to deal with all the changes in her life, so she retreats into herself at times, changes her appearance, and gets new friends. 

This book has all the romantic elements, without all the mush that many girls can't stand to read about.  I enjoyed it for it's honest approach to all things typical, teenage girl.  El must make a decision between 2 boys, who wouldn't want that problem.  The fact that the boys are two totally different guys doesn't help matters.  Does she go for the jock, I have it all type, or the artistic, bad boy type?  Oh to have to have those type problems again.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was the chapter lengths.  Some chapters only had one sentence, but it was a big idea one!  Tayleur says what needs to be said in each chapter without adding unnecessary information or filler ideas.  Way to go!

Chasing Boys receives 4 out of 5 stars from me.

Friday Fill-Ins - 6/26/09

1. She had a great attitude.

2. My husband is by my side, always.

3. I know this: the death of Michael Jackson has shocked the world

4. Sit still.

5. These words apply to me: I love chocolate.

6. One day it was raining and the sun was shining.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading, tomorrow my plans include mowing the yard and Sunday, I want to watch the NASCAR race!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Title:  Going Too Far
Author:  Jennifer Echols

About the Book:  HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?  All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn't make it back.
John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge -- and over....  

My Review: This was a different read for me.  After reading about zombies, fairies, suicides, and eating disorders, Going Too Far was a welcome change of pace.  A real dose of reality.  Echols' realistic fiction is a wonderful, quick read!  I enjoyed following the characters, who are very well introduced and developed.  The way that John's secret is kept is great!  I never saw it coming.  When a book does that, I really enjoy it.  Don't give it all to me at once, let somethings be a shocker.  Well, this one was.

There is suspense to this one, which I enjoy in a book, as well as good ol' teenage fun.  The kind of fun that sometimes gets teenagers in trouble.  Meg finds this out first hand.  John tries to keep her from it, the trouble and the story behind the real dangers at the tracks, but she continues to push, too far.

I love how John tries to protect himself, his secret, and Meg at the same time.  Through it all, romance may be blooming, which surprises them both.  Young love, another good addition to a YA novel.  

Jennifer Echols deserves 5/5 stars for Going Too Far.  A great read for teenagers and adults as well!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

20 Things in 20 Days: Clue #14

To celebrate the launch of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, I'm blogging clue #14 for the 20 Things in 20 Days Scavenger Hunt. Answer clues and challenges to earn points toward the 20 Things grand prize, including 6 signed books from 2009 debut authors! Get a clue... June 11th-30th at 20 Things in 20 Days! 

Today's Clue:

When Anna first sees the sea lions barking along the California coast in Twenty Boy Summer, she calls them the number one coolest thing she's ever seen in her life.  For 20 Things clue #14, tell us in the comments about the number one coolest thing you've ever seen. 2 points

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Because of A Book

Today is the first installment of a brand new, weekly feature called Because of A Book.  If you want to know the story behind this feature, read yesterday's post.  Our first guest is YA author, Lisa Mantchev.  Before I let her take over, I'd like to tell you a little about her.

Lisa Mantchev grew up in the small Northern California town of Ukiah and can pinpoint her first forays into fiction to the short stories she thumped out on an ancient typewriter. She now makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state with her husband Angel, her daughter Amélie and four hairy miscreant dogs. When not scribbling, she can be found on the beach, up a tree, making jam or repairing things with her trusty glue gun. Eyes Like Stars is her first novel. Find out more at http://theatre-illuminata.com/.

And now, here's Lisa!

Three girls, one stage school.

The year I was in fourth grade, I had a no-nonsense teacher who ended up with the nickname Mrs. Grizzlybear. This was largely the result of her spelling tests, in which we were expected to use each word properly in a sentence. She would have had better luck with me if she'd included some of my new favorite vocabulary words:

Pocket money, attaché case, dress circle, license, m'audition.

Because, after receiving Ballet Shoes as a birthday gift from my aunt, I lived, ate, and breathed the story of the Fossil sisters. One was an actress, the second a gearhead and a mechanic, the third a ballet dancer, but they all attended the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training and studied under the tutelage of the renowned Madame Fidolia. Oh, I wanted to go, too. Better yet, I wanted to be Pauline: golden-haired, beautiful, stage actress, film star.

My love of Ballet Shoes knocked over the first of many literary dominoes for me.

Pauline and her sister Petrova perform in a charity performance of Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird, and parts of the script were included in the text. When I found a tattered hardbound copy of The Blue Bird in a used bookstore, I devoured it, then turned the scene with the Unborn Children into a skit for the May Day festival: my directorial debut.

Pauline's very first audition was for Alice in Alice in Wonderland.  Enter, Stage Left, the "Drink Me" bottle in the Théâtre Illuminata Properties Department.

And, perhaps most importantly, Pauline and Petrova go on to perform in A Midsummer Night's Dream. So I asked for a Complete Works of Shakespeare. It must have been a curious sight: a nine-year-old, sitting on front porch with a giant gilt-edged, leather-bound book on her knees. I still have that book, and surely it is template for my own Complete Works of the Stage.

When the fairies appeared in Eyes Like Stars, I knew immediately which ones I wanted to use: Peaseblossom, Moth, Cobweb, and Mustardseed. They only have a handful of lines (even then, Petrova struggles to get her "And I!" just right) which made them a blank slate on which I could paint my own brand of sugar-fueled mayhem. Nana would be highly disapproving of my Fearsome Foursome's shenanigans, but she'd be thankful to know I didn't send them onstage in their combies.

When I back up far enough, I see the patterns created by all those fallen dominoes in the pages of my own novel, and it's one that makes me smile. Perhaps someday there will be echoes of Beatrice Shakespeare Smith in someone's work, but I'd be wholly satisfied if the dominoes tipped by Eyes Like Stars include a child asking to see a play for their birthday, or reading their first bit of Shakespeare...

Or using a cupcake as a trampoline. *wipes the frosting off my shoes*

About Eyes Like Stars:
All her world’s a stage.

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.
That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right
NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Open Curtain

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at Indiebound
About Ballet Shoes:  Pauline, was rescued from a shipwreck as a baby. She longs to be an actress.
Petrova, is a Russian orphan. She is happiest when playing with cars and engines.
Posy was handed over with just a pair of ballet shoes to her name. If she could, she would dance all day!
But one thing they DO have in common is, that with money running out at home and Great Uncle Matthew missing, the sisters want to stay together. Whatever it takes.
As they prepare for a dazzling life on stage, the dreams and fears of the fossil girls are about to come true…

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powell's
Buy it at IndieBound

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Feature: Because of A Book

I am so excited to tell you about a new feature at Write For A Reader, Because of A Book.  I hope you will enjoy this new Tuesday post.  It will be a weekly post, not by me, but by authors, bloggers, and publishers.  Of course, it's about books - the books that we read as children that have had some kind of an impact on our lives.  What do I mean?  Well, many of us read a book growing up, that sparked something inside us, created the reader we are now, inspired us to write, etc.  In some way, our lives were changed Because of A Book!

Many of you know that I belong to a wonderful group called the Word Ninjas.  The first set of posts will be from my fellow Word Ninja members.  All of the authors are '09/10 debs with YA books and I am so pleased to be able to introduce or reacquaint you with them through these posts.  The Word Ninja bloggers will also be stopping by.  This is a great group of YA bloggers from all over the country and across the pond, who I'm very proud to be in cahoots with!  Please comment on their posts, let them know what you think, share some love.  They are all doing this out of the kindness of their hearts and I'm very thankful to each and every one of them!

Our first guest will be the YA author of the soon-to-be-released (July 7th), Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev.  Come back tomorrow and see what she has to say!

Mailbox Monday - 6/22/09

Mailbox Monday is brought to us by Marcia at The Printed Page.

Here's what came into my house last week:

Right on the Money: Financial Advice for Tough Times by Pat Robertson, from Hachette

Duck! Rabbit! by Amyy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld, from Chronicle Books

The Bed & Biskit Gang: Everybody's Different by M. Rene' DePaulis, from Tate Publishing

0 to 60 by Susan Slater, from Bascom Hill Publishing Group

The Denim Diet: 16 Simple Habits to Get You Into Your Dream Pair of Jeans by Kami Gray, from New World Library

Days of Little Texas by R.A. Nelson, from Knopf Delacorte Dell

Labor Day (ARC) by Joyce Maynar, from Harper Collins

City of Hamburgers by Mike Reiss, from Inkwater Press

Sliding on the Edge by C. Lee McKenzie, ordered from Amazon

One Wish by Leigh Brescia, ordered from Amazon

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

A Midsummer Night's Dream by WilliamShakespeare, ordered from Amazon for Shakespeare Challenge

Hamlet by William Shakespeare, ordered from Amazon for Shakespeare Challenge

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, ordered from Amazon for Shakespeare Challenge

Hollywood is Like High School with Money by Zoey Dean, from Hachette

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott, from author

What did you get last week?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Review: Abigail Iris

Illustrator:  Joy Allen
Review Copy Provided by:  Curled Up with a Good Book

About the Book:  Abigail Iris is sick of being One-of-Many—brothers and sisters, that is. She’d rather be an Only, like all her best friends, and not have to compete with siblings for time or attention. So Abigail is thrilled when she joins her friend Genevieve’s family on a trip to San Francisco. She gets to stay in a fancy hotel, visit Chinatown, order room service—and she doesn’t have to share anything with her pesky older siblings! Amid all the fun, though, Abigail discovers that having a set of parents to yourself might be nice some of the time, it just isn’t right for Abigail all of the time.

My Review:  Abigail Iris will be to young girls today like Ramona was to me when I was young.  She is the new Ramona, precocious and fun, she is a 3rd grade version of Junie B. Jones.  I just love her and her antics.  This was a real fun book to read and I know that girls 7-10 will fall in love with Abigail Iris!

Glatt and Greenberg have written a great book and Joy Allen adds such fun with her illustrations.  This could be a great classroom read-aloud!  I can also see little girls anxiously waiting for their copy to come in at the library.  It's just a quick fun read that will have them asking for more.  Abigail Iris is charming, funny, full-of-life, and at times an annoyance to her siblings.  When it's all said and done, will she want to be an only anymore?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review: Strange Angels


Author:  Lili St. Crow
Review Copy Provided by:  Penguin

About the Book:  Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.) Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever—or whoever— is hunting her? 

My Review:  This is only the 2nd "zombie book" I've read.  I really liked it and it was a quick read for me.  I had a hard time putting it down because I wanted to know what happened to Dru.  She is a very independent, strong-willed character, and maybe that's why I connected with her.  I am the same way.  She knows what she wants and she's not afraid to go after it, or in this case, away from it sometimes.  Even when she is left alone, she doesn't give up.  Her father taught her well, so she relies on what she's learned from him, in all their years of zombie hunting, to keep her going.

Graves is a neat character.  I love the way St. Crow wrote him.  He deeply cares for Dru, even when she tries to run him off.  He is also strong-willed, because he doesn't care how many times she tells him to go away, don't get involved, he keeps coming back.  He's such a kind soul, reaching out to her when she's down and out.  They are like kindred spirits - each of them is alone in the world, but now they have each other.

St. Crow has written a winner.  If you like zombies, suspense, strong characters, you will enjoy Strange Angels.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 19, 2009


It's official!  I am beginning the Bloggiesta at 5 PM, Friday June 19th.  I've missed out on some of the fun because I was at work today, but I'm anxious to get started now.  Hubby will be gone for awhile tonight and in the morning, so I will have the house to myself.  Hopefully I will get a lot done.  My goal is to write and schedule the reviews for books that are stacked up in my back room.  Yes, I am behind...why do you think I'm doing this?  I have some book winners to announce that I have failed to put up, thank you summer school, and I have a HUGE new feature starting next Tuesday that I need to get ready!
What is this whole Bloggiesta business, you say?  Well, if you don't know, let me tell you.  A wonderful blogging buddy, Maw Books, is the mastermind behind all of this.  Here is what she has to say about Bloggiesta:
"The Bloggiesta will focus on blog content, improving/cleaning up your blog or working on your social network profiles.  I’m pretty open on what you can do during the bloggiesta but reading actually won’t count!  I know, I know.   The point is to catch up instead of adding another book to the “to be reviewed” pile."
The date is Friday, June 19th beginning at 8am, Saturday the 20th and ending Sunday the 21st at 8am (8am your time, wherever you are).  That is a total of 48 hours, of which you should aim high for a total of 18-24 hours spent on the challenge. (I chose both a weekday and a weekend to hopefully accommodate different needs and not take up your entire weekend.  And yes, that’s only a week away!)  The hours spent on the challenge do NOT need to be in a row. Use the entire 48 hour time frame and see what you can do with it.  I say aim for 24 hours but really if you can only do six, twelve or eighteen that’s fine too. I just like to have something to aim for.

Want to join?  Bloggiesta Start-Up link
So, as of right now, I'm taking the challenge...I'll be back to update you on my progress periodically

Friday Fill-Ins - 6/19/09

1. All children alarm their parents, if only because you are forever expecting to have to clean up after them.

2. Show me a good loser and I will show you a bridgeI have for sale.

3. Nothing is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs at one time.

4. Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy spending my money and taking unneeded vacations.

5. I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine more power and anything motorized.

6. It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without meat or dessert in it.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a cool house since the AC's fixed, tomorrow my plans include working in the yard and Sunday, I want to read; I need to!

To see other Friday Fill-Ins, visit Janet at the Friday Fill-Ins blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Hollow - chapter 1

Are you dying to read The Hollow?  I know I am!  Well, I have some awesome news for you; are you ready?  First, let me tell you about the book, in case you haven't heard about it.

When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead?and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special. Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

Make sure you stop by and visit Jessica's website, where you can sign up to Get the Goods!

Now, for the news...

The first chapter is available to read in a PDF file! How cool is Jessica Verday for allowing us a sneak peek into her book?  I'm going to give you a taste, and then you can read the rest on your own.

It was funny. At a time like this, wasn't I supposed to be thinking serious thoughts of eternity, and the afterlife, and all that? As I glanced around me at the small groups of people huddled around the room, it seemed like that's what they were all thinking about.  Each somber face reflected their pious thoughts, but all / could think about was the hair-dyeing incident.

It was funny.

I guess I should have been thinking about all the things I wanted to say. All the things I couldn't say. And all the things I'd never get the chance to say. But I didn't. It wasn't like any of this was really happening anyway. She's only been missing since June 9. Sixty-eight days. That's not long enough for her to be ... dead.

You can't have a viewing of the body if there is no body. And someone can't really be gone from your life forever if there is no viewing. It all works itself out. This was only an act. Just motions we were going through. 

You know you want to read more, right?  Well go ahead and click:  http://jessicaverday.com/html/chapters/The_Hollow_Chapter_1.pdf 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday Wanderings - 6/17/09

I wander around the blogosphere and bring you what I find.

Rachel Vincent is giving away a signed copy of Prey and the necklace Faythe wears on the covers of Rogue, Pride, and Prey. The contest runs until June 23rd and all you have to do is leave a comment.

Would you write a review for Nicole Baart? In exchange, she will send you a package with bookplates and bookmarks. Read her post to see all the details.

Win an advanced copy of When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton. Enter by June 25th.

Are you a True Blood watcher? Well, many book bloggers are and because the series is based on a book series, Beth Fish Reads has put together the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge. A bunch of us are challenging ourselves to read the books between now and next June. I'm joining, will you?

Our online book club read this month was Into the Beautiful North. Bermudaonion has posted her review and also has an extra unread galley to give to someone who comments. She loved this book! You can enter until June 28th.

Fantastic Book Review wants to give you a chance to win a summer prize pack which includes a signed hardcover copy of Twenty Boy Summer. This one ends July 1st.

Are you a follower of the Young Adult (& Kids) Books Central Blog? Well, you should be. Every time their followers count reaches a multiple of 50, prizes will be awarded to one random follower. So, what are you waiting for? Get over there!

So, I told you about the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge right? Well, Melissa's Bookshelf is running a contest to win the first 7 books! How cool is that? There are many ways to get entries. This one ends July 5th.

Many of you have seen my Twitter icon and are wondering, "why is it green?" Well, you have @DevynBurton to thank for my greenness, but the reasoning behind it is at Devyn's blog, The Faerie Drink Review. Read his original post and follow-up.

Bookluver-Carol is giving away Nikki's Purse, filled with goodies, and a hardcover copy of Dork Diaries. Just leave a comment by July 1st, US only.

A lot of people are wanting to read Shiver. Well, Karin's book Nook has an ARC to give away. Hurry because this one ends on Friday, the 19th!

Okay, I have to stop because my eyes are burning from searching for contests. I do have one last thing to share with you. My blogging buddy and friend, Vania, is an awesome talent! She does fabulous photography and went out on a limb to create a trailer for Michelle Zink's upcoming YA release, Prophecy of the Sisters. She had never attempted a trailer before, but wait till you see this' it's FABULOUS!

Prophecy of the Sisters from Vania S on Vimeo.

Blog Tour Review: The Host


Title:  The Host
Author:  Stephenie Meyer
Review Copy Provided by: Hachette Book Group

About the Book:  Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves-Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.  

About the Author:   Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English literature. After the publication of her debut novel, Twilight, booksellers chose her as one of the "most promising new authors of 2005" (Publishers Weekly). She lives with her husband and three young sons in Arizona. 

My Review:  I enjoyed the Twilight series, ate it up in fact, but this one, not so much!  When this tour was offered to me, I was excited to read another novel by Stephenie Meyer.  I know that some have criticized her writing, but I have enjoyed it.  She writes a good story, but this particular one wasn't for me.

I guess I am not really a sci-fi, alien invasion kind of girl.  The storyline is good, a species that invades humans and more or less takes over the world; I love the concept.  I just couldn't follow this one.  I had a hard time keeping up with what was going on, between Seeker, Healer, Wanderer, Melanie, etc.  About the time I would catch up with what was going on, something would happen that would get me lost again.

I have to admit that I have abandoned this one.  Maybe I'll pick it up again at a later date, who knows.  I teach my students that it is okay to abandon a book, but you have to give it a fair chance.  My usual rule of thumb is at least 75 pages, but with this one, I went well over 100 and just couldn't do it.  Every night I picked it up and read 10-15 pages, but there was just no connection for me.  I even read 2 books in between trying to read this one, thinking it would help.  Many people have loved this book, so if this is one you want to read, please do so and form your own opinion.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Harry Potter Giveaway

I know that many of my readers and/or your children are Harry Potter fans, so when I was approached with this opportunity, I jumped on it! I am very excited to offer you, my readers, a fabulous giveaway in honor of the paperback release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Keep reading!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a breathtaking finish to a remarkable series. The final chapter to Harry Potter’s adventures will be releases in paperback July 7! It all comes down to this - a final face off between good and evil. You plan to pull out all the stops, but every time you solve one mystery, three more evolve.

Make sure you visit Scholastic's Harry Potter website. There's lots of fun to be had over there. Check out the Hogwarts Personality Profile and find out which house the Sorting Hat places you in. I ought to be in Hufflepuff!

Okay, so I know you are anxious to hear about the giveaway, so here are the details:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Five (5) Winners receive a paperback prize pack:
  • Book 5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Book 6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Book 7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Contest begins today, June 15th and will run until July 6, with the winners posted on July 7th, release day for Deathly Hallows, paperback. Open to US residents only, no P.O. boxes please.

Enter by leaving a comment here on this post about anything Harry Potter related. For an extra entry, take the Hogwart's Personality quiz and tell me in another comment which house you should be in. Extra entries are as follows: +1 following this blog, + 2 blogging or tweeting about this contest.

Mailbox Monday - 6/15/09

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday every week.  I enjoy seeing what everyone else is getting.  I can compare it with what I get and find books to add to my wish list.

Here's what came into my house this week.  Some were purchases, but they still came in the mail.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, from Amazon - I ordered this one because of a blog post and discussion on Twitter with @LisaMantchev, author of Eyes Like Stars, and @mstohl, author of Beautiful Creatures. - Pauline, was rescued from a shipwreck as a baby. She longs to be an actress. Petrova, is a Russian orphan. She is happiest when playing with cars and engines. Polly was handed over with just a pair of ballet shoes to her name. If she could, she would dance all day! But one thing they DO have in common is, that with money running out at home and Great Uncle Matthew missing, the sisters want to stay together. Whatever it takes. As they prepare for a dazzling life on stage, the dreams and fears of the fossil girls are about to come true...

Castration Celebration by  Jake Wizner, from Random House.  I already have this ARC to read, so this hardcover copy will be a giveaway when I do my review. - It’s High School Musical—rated R!  When the girl who’s foresworn men meets the boy who’s devoted himself to picking up women, there’s bound to be drama—perfect for a sixweek summer program devoted to the arts. Olivia’s summer goal: to write a musical that censures men with wandering eyes. Max’s summer goal: to hone his acting skills, along with his talent for attracting the ladies. Before camp is over, they’ll perform Olivia’s musical onstage and in real life—though the ending may turn out differently than either expects.  

Generation T: Beyond Fashion: 120 New Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay, from Workman Publishing - Megan Nicolay revolutionized the T-shirt. She repurposed it, reinterpreted it, reinvented it—and created the #1 craft book in the nation, Generation T, which continues to dominate. Now she explores new ways to slash a tee, scrunch a tee, and sew a tee with Generation T: Beyond Fashion. A collection of 120 projects for every occasion, it takes the humble yet ever-malleable tee in dozens of new directions—from baby gifts to pet accessories, stuff for the home, the car, the road, the boyfriend.
The rallying cry is: Don't buy; DIY. The result is hip, imaginative, crafty, and very green. There's a basic primer on techniques—knotting, sewing, braiding, lacing—plus a full tutorial on embellishing. And then an amazing range of projects. There’s fashion, of course: all-new halters and tank tops, sexy gaucho pants, a baby-doll dress, twisted shrug, and hooded scarf. But also baby gifts: Jumper for Joy, Baby Back Bib, Wild Thing Blankie. Home décor: plant hanger, wine cozy, toilet seat cover, ruffled apron, and Spastic Plastic (grocery tote). Grill mitts and bolo ties for the guys, doggie tee and stuffed cat toys, a steering wheel cover for the car, the Ants Go Marching (picnic blanket), and Beach Bum (beach caddy). Projects range from the simplest no-sew to intermediate, and all have easy-to-follow illustrated directions—plus, how to throw your own Tee Party.
Time to get your craft on.

Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein, from Pocket Books -Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone is convinced bones speak, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed during her twelve years of toiling at Israel's storied battlegrounds of Megiddo has delivered the life-altering message she so craves. Which is why the story of Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat, a young Arab couple who implore Page to excavate the grounds beneath their house in Anatot, instantly intrigues her.
The Barakats claim the ghosts of two lovers haunt their home, overwhelming everyone who enters with love and desire. Ignoring the scorn of her peers, Page investigates the site, where she is seduced by an undeniable force. Once Ibrahim presents Page with hard evidence of a cistern beneath his living room, she has no choice but to uncover the secret of the spirits.
It is not long before Page makes miraculous discoveries -- the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman named Anatiya. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of Anatiya's scrolls, whose mystical words challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet's story and create a worldwide fervor that threatens to silence the truth about the lovers forever.
Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under constant siege from religious zealots and ruthless critics, Page risks her life and professional reputation to deliver Anatiya's passionate message to the world. In doing so, she discovers that to preserve her future in the land of the living, she must shake off the dust of the dead and let go of her own painful past.

GirlForce: A Girl's Guide to the Body and Soul by Nikki Goldstein, from Bloomsbury for blog tour -Welcome to GirlForce, an exciting new lifestyle brand for tween and teen girls that is simply irresistible. At its core, Girl Force is based on an ancient science called Ayurveda that says our bodies are made of three elemental energies: Fire, Air, and Earth. And with just two quick quizzes about body and mind you can determine your Body Type. Air girls are outgoing and creative; Fire girls are born leaders and highly passionate; and Earth girls are easygoing and make loyal friends.

Guided by these principles, and using lush, high-end photography and gorgeously designed pages, GirlForce imparts the best food, exercise, makeup, yoga, stress relievers and more for your body type. But don't just read about your type...reading your friends' types can help you figure them out too! 
My Spaceship: The Arrival by L.G. Bavaro, from Tate Publishing - On a small Nebraskan farm, the days are quiet, the night's even more so. But life on this farm is about to change. L.G Bavaro authors a true winner of a story about the adventures of 13-year old James Grant. Being an avid antique radio and TV nut, James stumbles upon an old-time HAM radio at a local flea market that magically intrigues him, and purchases it for $10.00, confident that he can restore it. That evening a summer storm passes, lightning hits the tree outside his bedroom window, then arcs into the room and hits the radio, the radio is destroyed. Three days pass when an unoccupied UFO is discovered in James' barnyard. The next week is somewhat of a dream to James, his father, a few friends, and the federal government.

Seeds From Nobody by Nobody, from author - Haven't you noticed we are all beginning to question ourselves and the state of the world we live in? People everywhere, who are interested in bona fide change, are challenging old fated stereotypes, antiquated rules, and questioning the credibility of the status quo. Things are completely screwed up... We are in dire need of a whole new way of thinking-an upgraded model for the human global family-one that speaks to the integrity and complete well-being of each and every individual. One that also speaks to the commonality of our collective spirit and insures that every human being has the opportunity to be authentically happy.   

Tell Me Something True (ARC) by Leila Cobo, from Grand Central Publishing - Gabriella always loved the picture of her mother kneeling in front of a bed of roses, smiling, beautiful and impossibly happy. But then she learns that her late mother hated gardening; that she had never wanted the house in the Hollywood hills, the successful movie producer husband, and possibly, her only daughter. When Gabriella discovers a journal--a book that begins as a new mother's letters to her baby girl, but becomes a secret diary--the final entry leaves one question unanswered: the night her mother died, was she returning to Colombia to end an affair, or was she abandoning her family for good?

I, Alex Cross (ARC) by James Patterson, from Grand Central Publishing - Alex Cross's niece is found brutally murdered. Overcome with grief, Alex vows to take down her killer before he strikes again. But shortly after he begins the investigation, Alex discovers that his niece had gotten mixed up with some very important, very dangerous people. And she's not the only one who has disappeared.
The hunt for the murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to Washington's most infamous club--a place where every fantasy is possible,
if you have the credentials to get in. The killer could be one of their patrons, one of Washington's elite who will do anything to keep their secrets buried. 

Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children (ARC) by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman, from Grand Central Publishing - In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel? Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter? Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated? If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie? What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language?
NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They argue that when it comes to children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science have been overlooked.

A Separate Country (ARC) by Robert Hicks, from Grand Central Publishing - Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army--and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins. But fate had other plans. Crippled by his war wounds and defeat, ravaged by financial misfortune, Hood had one last foe to battle: Yellow Fever. A Separate Country is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures-and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him. 

Roses (ARC) by Leila Meachum, from Grand Central Publishing - Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town's founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been--not just for themselves but for their children, and children's children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love 

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