Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Waiting on Wednesday" - Harmonic Feedback

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
Release date:  May 25th 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.

Doctors have pinned 16-year-old Drea with everything from ADHD to Asperger’s Syndrome. She has an obsession with sound design, a tendency to blurt out whatever she’s thinking, and a problem making friends, but likes to think of this as following her own rhythm in a confusing world.

Drea is hesitant to befriend purple-haired Naomi, her teenage neighbor with a kamikaze personality. But Naomi is the first person to treat her like she isn’t a world class dork. Then there’s Justin, the sexy and persistent boy in her film class. If she’s learned anything from her mom, it’s that boys are trouble.

When Drea discovers Naomi’s love for drums and Justin’s piano prodigy status, the three form a trip-hop band and a friendship that will challenge everything Drea thought she knew about herself and the world around her.

What a refreshing cover, literally!  Not many books have broached the ADHD or Asperger's Syndrome topics.  I'm glad that this one is.  I've known some elementary kids with one or both of those diagnosis, and I've often wondered how they will cope as teenagers.  Will they have friends or will others think they're weird?  I'm anxious to see how this storyline plays out.

Traveling to Teens Tour - Duplikate

This review is part of a Traveling To Teens Tour, to find out more about past and future tours as well as contests, please visit the website.

Summary:  Getting into Yale has been Kate Larson’s dream for years—and being overworked and under-rested is the price of admission. But when she opens her eyes after falling asleep on her keyboard one night, she comes face-to-face with, well, herself

Meet Kate’s computer-generated twin. Kate doesn’t know why she’s here or how to put her back where she belongs, but she’s real. And she’s the last thing Kate has time to deal with right now. Unless. . .could having a double be the answer to Kate’s prayers?

In this hilarious second novel, Cherry Cheva introduces a character who has been granted the wish of every overscheduled teen everywhere—for there to be two of her. But as everyone knows, you should be careful what you wish just might come true and wear all your clothes and steal your boyfriend.

My Thoughts:  This was a new concept, in a book, for me.  In such a technological age, we could see something like this in our lifetime.  A computer generated twin, well, who wouldn't want that?  Well, Kate, in this case.  Especially when the "other" twin does things you wouldn't want her to do.  Reminds me a lot of my husband's favorite movie, Multiplicity, just in the teen version.  But I digress.

Kate is a character that many high school girls can probably relate to.  She is a typical teenager trying to balance it all: school, friends, and stressing out about it.  I remember being that way myself, in high school.  It is a stressful time, but it can also be a fun time.  It will all pass you by, if you are not careful.  

It has a good message too.  Take the time to really look at yourself.  Don't get so wrapped up in what the future holds, that you forget to live in the moment.  High school holds many lifetime memories, so don't look too forward to the future, that you let all those memories pass you by.

I enjoyed this one and think that you will too!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Because of A Book with Caroline Webster

This week I bring you author, Caroline Webster.  I am so thankful that she responded to my Twitter request for more author participation.  Please know that through authors like her, passing on the word about this feature, it continues to be enjoyed by readers.  Feel free to contact me, bloggers, authors, and publishers, if you'd like to be featured here.

Caroline Webster is a freelance writer, author, fanatical gardener and a passionate believer in the magic of being outdoors & encouraging lots of unstructured play for children. She has worked in a variety of industries including advertising, politics, benevolent organizations and publishing, but says writing and being ‘Mum’ to two outdoor warriors suits her best.

She lives in Sydney with husband Robert, children Angus and Grace, and Sunshine, Blossom and Kipper their very naughty, but adorable pets.

Because of a book……..

When I was a very young girl, I wanted to be like my mother. I wanted her hair (she is blonde, I am brunette), I wanted her voice, her clothes, her intelligence, her warmth, her knowledge, her sense of humour and her beautiful eyes - I wanted her very essence …

But most of all I coveted her imagination. Each night as we snuggled down to read; she would transport me to the very heart of whatever book it was that she had chosen for the day. I would close my eyes and press up close, so I could feel her warmth and hear her voice reverberating from within - a low, methodical and harmonious purr.

As I lay my head on her chest, I loved listening not only to the story; but also to the regular ka-thunk of her heart and the gurgling, circulatory sounds of her body. These sounds, smells and sights combined in such a mesmerising and comforting fashion, that it has become a much-treasured memory.

The two books that remain with me from that time are The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton and The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay. Each relies on the imagination and creativity of the narrator/reader to bring them to life.

As I became older, and able to tackle them myself, I would disappear into the ‘other worlds’ of these books for hours on end.

The Magic Pudding is an utterly charming tale of a (talking and walking) Christmas pudding who finds himself somewhat reluctantly thrust into the company of some lovable rogues. Whenever I delved into this book, I found myself smelling the Australian bush, hearing the unique Aussie banter of the creatures; wishing that I could participate in their antics. I would invariably create a few of my own. I wanted to wake up happy and carefree like them every morning, not giving two hoots about what the day may bring. It is a crazy, unlikely narrative and I just adored it.

The Wishing Chair took me to wherever I wished to be at the time. I added hundreds of destinations and adventures to the simple ones contained in the book. I could virtually feel the chair upon which I was sitting, gently lifting, waiting to transport me to my imagined places of adventure, intrigue and unstructured, unfettered play.

So, imagination, magic, mystical creatures, adventure and a desire to weave them into everyday life have always figured heavily in my life. I firmly believe that if you weave the extraordinary into the ordinary, the magic into the mundane and manage to find a little enchantment in the everyday, you set a perfect starting point for children to lead full and creative lives. The great outdoors is the perfect place to foster this.

With this in mind, in 2008 I wrote a book, the aim of which was to inspire parents/carers to spend time outside with children. Outdoors is where imagination and discovery collide in the most spectacular fashion. Mother Nature’s secrets are just begging to be discovered and what’s more, she is a brilliant patient teacher and your child a willing student. Everything about outdoors is pure magic – including kicking back under the shade of a tree with book in hand.

Now, with two young children of my own, I delight in spending time with them curled up outside with a book. We have just started reading The Wishing Chair together. I hope they too enjoy listening to the story and the k-thunk of my heart and that I’m successfully kick-starting their beautiful creative minds and a lasting love of reading.

About Small Fry Outdoors:  includes, activities, recipes and more…

Small Fry Outdoors helps children find the magic in everyday outdoor activities.

Small Fry Outdoors stimulates children’s imagination, creativity and physical activity.

Small Fry Outdoors is full of ideas for enjoying seasonal planting and fresh food.

Small Fry Outdoors inspires parents and carers with easy-to-do ideas, recipes and activities.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at ABC Shop
Buy it at Harper Collins

About The Wishing Chair:  Once Mollie and Peter have discovered the Wishing-Chair, their lives are full of adventure. It takes them to all sorts of magical places, from the giant's castle where they rescue Chinky the Pixie, to the amazing party at Magician Greatheart's castle.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells

About The Magic Pudding:  The Magic Pudding is a pie, except when it's something else, like a steak, or a jam donut, or an apple dumpling, or whatever its owner wants it to be. And it never runs out. No matter how many slices you cut, there's always something left over. It's magic.
But the Magic Pudding is also alive. It walks and it talks and it's got a personality like no other. A meaner, sulkier, snider, snarlinger Pudding you've never met.
So Bunyip Bluegum (the koala bear) finds out when he joins Barnacle Bill (the sailor) and Sam Sawnoff (the penguin bold) as members of the Noble Society of Pudding Owners, whose "members are required to wander along the roads, indulgin' in conversation, song and story, and eatin' at regular intervals from the Pudding."

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 9/28/09

Welcome to the Monday evening edition of Mailbox Monday!  I had another post that had to go up this morning, so I held this one until now.  Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting this every week.  I love seeing what others get in the mail and sharing what I get as well.

I'm very pleased with my book-week.  I got some things in that I had been waiting on, as well as some surprises.  I also had a lot of requests from authors and publishers last week, so I'm looking forward to what's to come.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner, from Delacorte Press
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

The Hollow by Jessica Verday, from Simon and Schuster UK - this one has the UK cover, which is not nearly as gorgeous as the US cover.  I've posted this one before, as I received a US ARC back in the summer.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by Fiona Ingram, from the author
Cousins Justin and Adam are ecstatic about accompanying their aunt to Egypt. Both love adventure and know the work of James Kinnaird, an archaeologist searching for the tomb of an ancient Egyptian ruler, the Scarab King. Some dismiss the tomb as legend, but Justin and Adam believe differently.From the moment their plane lands, Justin and Adam bounce from one mysterious event to another, starting from the moment a street peddler gives Adam an ancient scarab. Dr. Khalid, head of the department of antiquities and research at the Egyptian Museum, shows excessive interest in the cousins and their relic. Then, when the boys learn that James Kinnaird is missing, they realize something sinister is afoot.Kidnapped and taken across the desert, the boys are plunged into serious danger and chased by ruthless enemies. Dr. Khalid will stop at nothing to discover the Scarab King's tomb and claim its treasures. But he has underestimated the boys' ingenuity.Join Justin and Adam as they evade their captors and unravel the secrets of the Scarab King. Relying on their wits, courage, and each other, the boys must solve the mystery of the sacred scarab and rescue James Kinnaird before time runs out.

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater, won from Flux
Remember us, so sing the dead, lest we remember you
James Morgan has an almost unearthly gift for music. And it has attracted Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and then feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. James has plenty of reasons to fear the faeries, but as he and Nuala collaborate on an achingly beautiful musical composition, James finds his feelings towards Nuala deepening. But the rest of the fairies are not as harmless. As Halloween—the day of the dead—draws near, James will have to battle the Faerie Queen and the horned king of the dead to save Nuala's life and his soul.

Two Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens, won from the Book Club Cookbook giveaway
In a San Diego facing its second year of drought, weatherman Andy Dunne feels increasingly irrelevant: his satellite radio gig is no great shakes, he's out of shape, his wife left him and he's still hurting from the death of his twin brother. He's sustained mostly by a low-grade flirtation with Hillary Hsing, who urges Andy to audition for work on a children's television show. Soon, he's promoted to host, the show takes off, and Andy is losing weight, making money and finding new confidence. Unfortunately, as soon as Andy becomes a TV star, his problems vanish like morning fog, leaving Klomparens to toy with Andy and Hillary's relationship and to introduce a flurry of new characters—a brother-in-law with post-traumatic stress, a niece with growing pains of a very contemporary variety.

Medina Hill by Trilby Kent, from Tundra Books
In the grimy London of 1935, eleven-year-old Dominic Walker has lost his voice. His mother is sick and his father’s unemployed. Rescue comes in the form of his Uncle Roo, who arrives to take him and his young sister, Marlo, to Cornwall. There, in a boarding house populated by eccentric residents, Marlo, who keeps a death grip on her copy of The New Art of Cooking, and Dominic, armed with Incredible Adventures for Boys: Colonel Lawrence and the Revolt in the Desert, find a way of life unlike any they have known. Dominic’s passion for Lawrence of Arabia is tested when he finds himself embroiled in a village uprising against a band of travelers who face expulsion. In defending the vulnerable, Dominic learns what it truly means to have a voice.

The Frog Scientist by  Pamela S. Turner, from the author
 When Tyrone Hayes was growing up in South Carolina, he didn’t worry about pesticides. He just liked to collect frogs. Tyrone’s interest in science led him to Harvard University, and though he struggled at first, he found his calling in the research lab of an amphibian scientist.
Meanwhile, scientists discovered that all around the globe, frogs were dying. The decline has many causes, including habitat loss and disease. Tyrone discovered that the most commonly used pesticide in the United States, atrazine, may also play a role. Tyrone tested atrazine on frogs in his lab at Berkeley. He found that the chemical caused some of the male frogs to develop into bizarre half-male, half-female frogs. What was going on? That’s what Tyrone wants to find out.

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again by Juliana, Isabella, and Craig Hatkoff, from Scholastic
Winter is a dolphin. Just over two years ago, when she was a baby, she was rescued from a crab trap, her tail seriously damaged. Winter was rushed to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a marine animal hospital. It wasn't clear that she would survive. She did, but eventually the tail fell off and Winter compensated by swimming more like a fish than a dolphin which was seriously damaging her spine. But for the last year, Winter has been learning how to use a prosthetic tail. The idea came from a company that makes prosthetics for humans. It was very challenging but Winter is thriving and using her new tail with great command. The word has gotten out about Winter. Visitors are traveling in droves to Clearwater to visit Winter who has become an inspiration to adults and children alike, especially to children who are amputees themselves. The tale doesn't end there. The special technology used for Winter's prosthetic tail is being used to develop prosthetics for Iraq war veterans who have especially sensitive injuries.

Winter's Tail Book Giveaway

I am pleased to be working with Scholastic on Winter's Tail book promotion. I received this book in the mail last week and couldn't wait to share it with you.

Title: Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again
Authors: Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Craig Hatkoff

Review Copy Provided by: Big Honcho Media

About the Book: When Winter, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, was found trapped with her tail badly damaged, she was not expected to survive. This is her miraculous story, from her rescue to learning how to swim again to her unprecedented success using a prosthetic tail. This is also a celebration of her indomitable spirit.

You and your family can meet Winter the Dolphin!
Winter’s Tail Virtual Field Trip
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
1:00 P.M. – 1:45 P.M. (ET)

My Review: This is a great non-fiction story! From the authors of Owen and Mzee, the hippo and tortoise, comes another story of an animal who overcomes obstacles. Unlike their other stories, that were about animals who lived on land, this one takes place in the water. Winter learns from her adversary, and overcomes the toughest obstacle, learning to swim without a tail. She is an inspiration to children and adults who are living with prostheses

I love the message that this story gives to children. It teaches them that you can overcome. Winter could have given up when she got tangled in the net, but she didn't. She also allowed others to help her when she needed it most

Non-fiction texts are ones that children don't usually like to read, but they need to understand it because it is the kind of writing that is found in their textbooks. It is a skill that we teach in school, but it's hard to find texts that are non-fiction and enjoyed by students. This is one that they would like. Dolphins are animals that many children enjoy reading and learning about, so I feel that they would enjoy Winter's Tail.

One reason I enjoy non-fiction is the real pictures. There are many in this story and they chronicle Winter's trial and triumph so vividly. I really enjoyed this one and can't wait to see what the Hatkoff's next tale will be.

Teachers, there's even a
discussion guide and lesson plan to go along with the book. If you're going to use this book in the classroom, I recommend taking a look at it.

Q and A with the Author, Craig Hatkoff

Q: How did you first hear about Winter?
A: In almost all of our stories, we hear or read about these animals in the news or a human interest piece. We now get emails from scores of people anytime an interesting animal story makes the news. Sometimes, as in the case of Owen & Mzee, it will be a single picture in the newspaper, and other times it will be a series of articles. We saw a number of stories covering Winter's prosthetic tail in early 2008, and I called David Yates at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see if he would be interested in doing a book about Winter.

Q: Why do you think kids and adults are drawn to Winter’s story?
A: Winter appeals to people on many different levels. People are very inspired by Winter’s resourcefulness and resilience. From her dramatic rescue to the way she learned how to swim first without a tail and then with her new tail, her story shows us that if this little dolphin can overcome her incredible challenges, we can get through our own life challenges as well. Also, the story of the engineers who are challenged to design her prosthetic tail adds an element of the wonders of technology. Winter has become an ambassador to children and grown-ups alike, inspiring people with her story and her exuberant “can do” personality.

Q: Winter began to swim on her own at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, so why was her health still in danger?
A: The caretakers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium were afraid her side-to-side motion would damage her backbone and her internal organs.

Q: How did the idea come about to use a prosthetic tail on Winter?
A: Kevin Carroll, an engineer at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, a leading designer of prosthetic devices had heard about Winter in the news. He also loves dolphins. It was a huge engineering challenge that took almost 18 months to implement.

Q: What are some behind-the-scenes facts we might find interesting about Winter?
A: Winter as of right now is on her 7th tail and it is expected that she may need up to 25 or more tails as she grows, and as the engineers keep learning more and improving the technology. Winter is also quite a talented artist. Winter actually signed a book and created a painting for our family.

Q: How does Winter's story fit in with your line of other animal books?
A: This story takes us in a number of very interesting directions. It is our first story about an animal in the United States who people can easily visit. Secondly, it deals with the difficult topic of physical and other disabilities in a way kids can relate to.
Winter's story is helping to de-stigmatize disabilities of all kinds in a natural way. It adds a dimension and a new set of tools for kids, parents, and teachers to deal with difficult subjects or topics.

Q: What is it like writing with your daughters?
A: We each have a very special contribution to the stories. Isabella is very focused on the animals themselves and their dilemmas. Juliana tends to focus more on the people involved. But we all have to agree before we will invite an animal into the collection.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from Winter's story?
A: I think there are many things readers can take away. First, the story of Winter is a great example of how humans and animals can work together to help each other. This story also has a very special and personal meaning to me on another level. When I was growing up, along with some friends, I had teased a boy who wore a hearing aid. To this day, I have never forgiven myself, and I think about it almost every day. It is one of the few things that if I could do over in my life, I would. It was only when I was teased a few years later (as almost all kids are teased at one point or another) that I truly understood how it felt to tease and to be teased. The experience had a profound impact on me, and I have tried to explain this lesson to my daughters. We hope the story of Winter will help kids learn to understand the experience of people who face different life challenges.

Q: Why is the publication date of this book significant?
A: Winter is turning 4 years old in October 2009. We will be celebrating the fourth year of this amazing dolphin that could.

Q: How can people meet Winter?
A: People travel from all over the world to Clearwater, Florida to see Winter up close. At the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, guests can see her and take pictures of her. Winter can also be seen live and in action on the Aquarium’s webcam, located at “Winter: The Dolphin That Could,” a documentary devoted to Winter’s story of survival, is also available for purchase on the Aquarium’s website.

Q: What does the future hold for Winter?
A: Many more tales with many more tails!

Watch the Book Trailer:

One (1) of my readers will receive a Winter’s Tail prize pack!

* Dolphin Plush
* Dolphin Key Chain
* Winter’s Tail game for Nintendo DS
* Copy of Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again Book

Shipping Guidelines: The Winter’s Tail book promotion is open to participants with a United States mailing address only (international readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prizes by mail!)

Contest runs from today through Monday, Oct 12th. Extra entries for spreading the word about this contest on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, etc. Don't forget to leave me a link and your email.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Review: Little Miss Matched series

I am excited to showcase this series today!  Any of these boxed sets would make a great gift for a young girl in your life.  Many thanks to Laura at Workman Publishing for sending me copies of these to review.  Here are the 4 boxed sets in the series, along with their descriptions.

The Artist in Me! contains everything an aspiring young artist needs to develop her talent, improve her skills, and discover how to express herself as only she can. The 96-page book is filled with dozens of tutorials on the principles of drawing. But it also goes farther, giving the reader strategies for learning to "see" as an artist—and think as an artist. It reminds readers that there are no mistakes and celebrates the crooked lines as well as the straight. Included in the kit is a complete set of tools: 3 drawing pencils, an artist's sketchbook, a set of vine charcoal, oil pastels, sanding pad, blending sticks, color wheel, kneaded eraser, and assorted charcoal drawing paper.

Tween girls love to write, whether keeping a diary of their deepest thoughts or beginning to express themselves for the public through poetry, songs, or fiction. The Writer in Me! is an all-in-one creativity kit for every up-and-coming wordsmith, written in a fun, accessible way by Arielle Eckstut, co-author of Putting Your Passion into Print, one of the founders of LittleMissMatched, and author of the previous LMM books.

A book of motivation, instruction, inspiration, technique, and tips, it helps the young writer on her journey—to find her inner voice, to observe the world, to discover the forms of writing that are most appealing. The kit also includes a full suite of writer's tools: three different types of journals (an observation notepad, a diary, and a lined blank book), a handy rhyming dictionary, a "Why Writers Write" inspirational poster, and a deck of word cards and story-starters to get the creative juices flowing.

Pajama Party in a Box is the all-in-one pajama party kit with everything a girl needs to throw the perfect— and perfectly her—pajama party. The 96-page, full-colorbook is a guide to every step in the process: how to find a theme; how to make your own invitations, party favors, goodie bags, and decorations; what to serve, including fun recipes; plus games (Madcap Scavenger Hunt, Expert Witness, Pass the Gesture) and crafts (dreamcatchers, scrapbooking, transform a t-shirt). Also inside the keepsake box are sheets of stickers, a spin-orama truth or dare game, scrapbooking pages, and a Little MissMatched autograph memory album for all the guests to personalize.

Are you a perfectionist? An artist? A leader? An introvert, or an extrovert? What's your personality profile? Marvelous & Fabulous Me Quiz Book is the 128-page, full-color guide to finding out all about who you really, really are.

50 personality quizzes offer insights into mood, preferences, personality types, fashion sense, passions, and more. Pick up a pencil, and learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

My Thoughts:  Wow!  These boxed sets are great!  Oh, to be a tween again...well, not really, but I think that tween girls will absolutely love these!

Each box not only includes a book, but also other items to bring out the artist, writer, fun, girl inside your tween.  In a day and time where imagination is often stifled by video games and technology, this series strives to bring that out.  As an educator, I am always looking for items like that.

The Marvelous Me box is perfect for the girl who loves to know about herself and her friends.  The book has 50 personality quizzes that are short and fun.  Young girls will enjoy learning about themselves and are sure to want to try the quizzes out on their friends after school or at a party.  It's all about figuring out the who, what, and why of YOU!

The Writer and Artist in Me boxes will make good gifts for young girls who love to write or draw.  Along with the books, they get other fun items to encourage writing and drawing, like journals, notebooks, sketchbook, oil pastels, etc.  What fun!  I can see girls turning to these boxes on a rainy day or in the evenings after homework is done.

Finally, my favorite box is the Pajama Party in a Box.  As a girl, I loved slumber parties, and I don't think they happen nearly enough for girls today.  Everything you need to throw the perfect party is in this box.  The book talks girls through the planning, recipes, and games for a pajama party.  Then, the box includes an autograph book, stickers and other fun items to use at your party.  My niece would love this, as she lives in a house full of boys and desperately needs some girl time.

With Christmas just around the corner, I recommend any of these sets for one or all of the tween girls in your life.  I know I will be giving them to some of mine!  Workman Publishing scores a 10 with me and these boxed sets.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blog Tour - Spotlighting Pat Williams

Today I have the pleasure of spotlighting a book by Pat Williams.  This is a different post for me, so I hope you will enjoy.  This blog tour is sponsored by Pump Up Your Book Promotions.

About the Author:

Pat Williams is the senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. He is a popular motivational speaker averaging over 150 appearances a year. Williams has spent 45 years in professional baseball and basketball as a player and executive. He served as general manager of the 1983 world champion Philadelphia 76ers and managed the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.

Williams is the author of 55 books. He and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four nations. He and his family have been featured in such diverse publications as Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, The Wall Street Journal, and Focus on the Family as well as all the major TV networks. Pat and Ruth recently received an award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute for their efforts in adoption. To learn more about Pat Williams, visit

About the Book:

Human beings are designed for teamwork, and teamwork is the only way to make seemingly impossible dreams and bold visions come true. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven consecutive times, not by himself, but with the backing of his coaches, mechanic, and teammates. Charles Lindbergh may have been called “the Lone Eagle” because of his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, but he assembled a first-rate team to make his dream possible.

In his new book, Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams (Center Street, July 22, 2009), Orlando Magic co-founder and Senior Vice President Pat Williams says that teamwork is the key to making extreme dreams a reality. Named one of the 50 most influential people in the NBA (National Basketball Association) after following his dream and helping to build the Orlando Magic from the ground up, Williams gives inspiring accounts of the power of teamwork—many of them personal—in a book that leadership guru Patrick Lencioni calls “the most comprehensive and interesting collection of wisdom on teamwork I have ever read.”

In Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams, Williams points out that extreme dreams are only fulfilled when teams are led with characteristics like respect, empowerment, commitment, trust and passion. “Once you put teamwork into practice in your organization, these principles will begin transforming everything. They will transform how you view the world, including our society and its problems, and the political and environmental issues we face…you’ll begin seeing the world through a lens of extreme dreams, extreme possibilities, and the power of teamwork,” says Williams.

I happened to have received 2 copies of Pat's book, so one lucky commenter will win it.  Please leave me a comment about why you would like to read this book.   Just an "I want to win" comment will not get you an entry.  I will run the contest from today until Oct. 4th.  Open to US/Canada only.

Friday Fill-Ins - 9/25/09

1. One week ago I had a Friday I don't want to repeat any time soon.

2. Life was easier when I was young.

3. Mama told me I could be anything I wanted to be.

4. I love it when it's just you and me.

5. Take your time and get it right.

6. This too will pass!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to social time away from school with the teachers, tomorrow my plans include the Montgomery County Rodeo and Sunday, I want to rest!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blog Tour - Libba Bray and Going Bovine

I am excited to bring you this guest post as part of the Going Bovine Blog Tour.  I am in the middle of reading Libba's book right now, and I have to say, I LOVE IT!  There will be a review as soon as I finish.  I was hoping to have my review ready for you today, along with this post, but I can't do that without finishing the book.  I'm thrilled to be reading another book with a male main character.  The book reads like I'm inside the mind of a teenager.  I haven't read anything like this in a while.  It's fresh and realistic...a great read!

When I was asked to participate in this blog, Meg at Random House, asked me to come up with a specific subject for Libba's post.  Well, that wasn't hard.  I wanted to know how she came up with the title, the signifigance behind it.  Ever since I started seeing the book around the blogosphere, I've been intrigued by the title and what the book would be about.  So, from that, we have "The Impossible Dream."

“The Impossible Dream”

My new book, Going Bovine, is loosely based on Miguel Cervantes’ classic novel, Don Quixote. I’m embarrassed to say that my fascination with that great classic probably all started with a vaguely remembered dinner theatre production of “The Man of La Mancha,” the somewhat cheesy musical based on Don Quixote. (Really, when we are talking levels of cheese, it doesn’t get much more queso than a dinner theatre version of TMOLM. That’s like cheese squared, which is now my new band name. “Hello, Cleveland! We are Cheese Squared!” But I digress.) My mom and I used to sit at the piano and sing Broadway songs (oh, the humanity…) and one of them was “The Impossible Dream.” That song always made me cry. Apparently, I was the world’s weariest seven-year-old. They should have given me my own bar stool.

But c’mon—it had lyrics like this: “To dream…the impossible dream/To fight…the unfightable foe/To bear…with unbearable sorrow/To run…where the brave dare not go…” Any song that uses an egregious amount of ellipses has me at hello.

I identified with Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills, with his noble ideals and impossible quest, which everyone else saw as mad. I remembered it as a celebration of this. But in rereading Cervantes’ novel, I saw that he was, of course, mocking those very ideals. This is not the madman as wise fool.
To play the association game, “The Man of La Mancha” is to Don Quixote as vanilla pudding is to habanera sauce.

Don Quixote is hailed as “the first modern novel.” And it is surprising how accurate this is. It’s like Monty Python traveled back in time with Kurt Vonnegut to write a massive treatise on absurdity in Spanish. It’s no wonder Terry Gilliam wanted to direct the movie version. It is weird and brutally satiric. It’s hilarious and sad. And it challenges us to examine the illusions to which we hold fast , the status we take as quo, when, if I may quote Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible, “the status is not quo.”

Don Quixote left me with questions I wanted to explore for myself: What is insanity? How do you define insanity in an insane world? What really matters then? How do we ever know what’s real and what’s not? My “real” might be somebody else’s delusion. How do we keep scratching away at the glossy surface of life and find what’s individually authentic while living in a society that is designed to reject both authenticity and individualism? Do we need certain illusions in order to live fully? Do we sometimes need to tilt at a few windmills as a way of raging back against the inevitable?

Life IS an impossible quest, because the truth is, at some point, we all have to let go of certain illusions, like the idea that we will live forever. Eventually, we have to die. (I’m sorry if I’m the one breaking this news to you. Would you like a cookie? I find there is very little existentialism in cookies. Unless it’s one of those jelly cookies, which is just a wrong thing to do to pastry.) Hopefully, we get in a lot of living first.

And that seemed the crux of the matter. What, I wondered, was there to do about my feelings that Alonso Quixano, Don Quixote, was both deluded and not? Could I find a balance between the cynicism of Cervantes and the sentimental idealism of “The Man of La Mancha?” In the end, I went back to the quote from Don Quixote that opens Going Bovine: “Take my advice and live for a long, long time, because the maddest thing a man can do in this life is to let himself die.” Ah, I thought, that’s not a completely sucktastic place to start. And so, there was the creation of an alter ego Don Quixote—sixteen-year-old Cameron, the slacker kid polar opposite of a knight errant, pressed into a quest he does not want, setting off on adventures both mad and impossible, and in the end, hopefully necessary, an unreachable star brushed with a fingertip for a moment—singing optional.

Make sure to stop by these other blogs to read their blog tour posts on Going Bovine.

Great News:  I have a hard cover of Going Bovine to give away.  Why do you want to read it?  Answer that question and you are entered!  Contest will run from now until 7th.  US/Canada addresses only!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday - The Secret Year

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Release date: January 7th 2010 by Viking Juvenile

Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

I'm very intrigued by the whole "secret" part of this book.  It sounds a bit Romeo and Juliet to me as well.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Because of A Book with Pamela Ehrenberg

I am so excited to have this guest back at my blog.  She has been here before, and I'm thrilled that she has agreed to share her thoughts about a childhood book.  Thanks for stopping by Pam!  I hope, readers, that you will check out Pam's book, Tillmon County Fire, which I reviewed back in June.

Pamela Ehrenberg is the author of Tillmon County Fire (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2009) and Ethan, Suspended (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2007). She has been an educator for twelve years, currently serving as a consultant for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and Getting College Right. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her children Talia (age four) and Nathan (almost one).

In first grade, what I wanted most was a big sister. Or a little sister. Or even a brother. I wanted someone to play with, of course, but also someone to draw imaginary lines down the back seat of the car, keeping me company back there on long rides. I wanted a non-grownup to argue with, and someone to distract my parents now and then. Mostly, I wanted someone to balance things out in our family, make things feel not so uneven, and make me feel not so different from everyone else.

My first grade classroom had a bookshelf from which, every day after we'd finished our work, we could read any book we wanted. And though I must have read other books from that shelf, the one I returned to over and over was called The Oldest, The Youngest, and the One in the Middle. The book had probably belonged to my teacher's children in the 1950s and was old (not in the classic sense) even in 1978. But I recall clearly the characters' efforts to establish a neighborhood club, how as their needs expand (someone to build a clubhouse, someone to paint a sign) the membership grows from children who are the oldest in their families to include youngest children and middle children as well. And even one girl with no brothers or sisters at all.

At the end of the book, someone's mother presents lollipops to all of the club members: first to the "oldests," then to the "youngests," and finally to the middle children. The girl with no siblings, of course, falls into all three categories--and the last illustration shows her with one lollipop in her mouth and one in each hand.

Of course, the book didn't cure me of wanting a sibling. But because of a book I learned there's a place in the world for people who feel different, people like me. And that sometimes, if you face the world head-on with all its potential for disappointment, you just might stumble into a triple serving of lollipops.

About Tillmon County Fire - In tiny Tillmon County, where it seems like nothing ever happens, a mysterious fire rocks the lives of the teenagers who live there. Who set the fire that night, and more importantly, who owns the reasons behind it? / As the story unfolds, the lines between truth and fiction, motive and happenstance, guilt and innocence blur. This novel-in-stories is told sequentially in the voices of its disparate cast of characters: a frustrated adoptee, a gay teenager, a big-city kid who is new in town and wishes he were back in Manhattan, a pregnant store clerk, and a boy with autism who is more at the center of events than he imagines.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

About The Oldest, the Youngest, and the One in the Middle - written by Lillian Gardner and published in 1954 by The Junior Literary Guild and Franklin Watts, Inc, NY.  I was unable to find information about this book as it is an older title.  I would appreciate any comments about where to find a picture of the cover and/or a synopsis of the book.

Buy it at Amazon

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 9/21/09

 Last week wasn't a big book week for me, but it was a busy week in the blogosphere.  Last week was Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  I wanted to take a minute to say congrats to all of my fellow blogging buddies who were nominated and won awards during the week.  Although I didn't get to participate much during the week's festivities, I enjoyed reading all of the posts, interviews, and thoughts on everyone's blogs.  Kudos to Amy at My Friend Amy for putting it all together!  I was proud to be a part of her team this year, behind the scenes and judging some of the blogs.

Mailbox Monday is hosted each week by Marcia at The Printed Page.  It gives bloggers a chance to share with each other the books that they got in the mail the previous week.  I love to see what others receive and to share what I received.  Here's what came into my house.

Voices in the Dark by Catharine Banner, from Random House 

Asking for the truth can be as painful as telling it. . . .

Anselm Andros has clearly defined roles in his family and they are roles he plays very well—he is confidante to his mother, Maria. He is the confessor to his stepfather, Leo, a man haunted by the secrets of his past. And Anselm is also the patient, caring brother to his precocious sister, Jasmine. When the political landscape of Malonia starts to shift, this unassuming family begins to unravel. Even though they’ve spent the past fifteen years leading a quiet life, Maria and Leo’s actions are forever linked to the turbulent history of Malonia and its parallel world, modern-day England. With so much uncertainty at home and in his world, it is more important than ever for Anselm to put all the pieces of the past together. He must listen to his own voice and acknowledge his fears and desires—whatever the cost.

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade, from Random House

A gripping new series combines Steampunk, spying, and a fantastic Victorian London.

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania’s efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It’s up to them to save their country.

The Long Wait for Tomorrow by Joaquin Dorfman, from Random House

Freaky Friday for the 21st century . .

Joaquin Dorfman is back with another smart novel that pushes the envelope of literary fiction, examining identity, high school roles, and even the high-blown concept of destiny through a cool science-fiction lens. What if, in a Freaky Friday moment, a wise and humble 40-year-old man woke one morning to find himself transported back in time, into his body more than 20 years before, when he was the popular, entitled, and arrogant quarterback of the school football team? Could the man do anything to stop a tragedy initiated by the cruel actions of the boy, or is fate too strong a force? It’s the small-town football worship of Friday Night Lights with a dark and unsettling Donnie Darko twist.

The Pricker Boy by Reade Scott Whinnem, from Random House

Some stories draw blood. Some truths won’t stay buried.

He was human once, or so they say. The son of a fur trapper, he was taunted by his peers and tricked into one of his own father’s traps. By the time anybody found it, the trap’s vicious teeth were empty, pried open and overgrown. It was said the brambles themselves had reached out and taken pity on that boy; that his skin had hardened to bark as thorns grew over every inch of his body.

Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. But anyone who knows anything stays out of the woods beyond the Widow’s Stone.

That used to be enough. But this is the summer everything changes, as Stucks Cumberland and his friends find a mysterious package containing mementos of their childhood: baseball cards, a worn paperback, a locket. Offerings left behind in the woods years ago, meant to keep the Pricker Boy at bay. Offerings that have been rejected.

Black Beauty retold by Sharon Lerner, from Random House

A stunning picture-book introduction to the first famous fictional horse!

Anna Sewell's classic Black Beauty comes vividly to life in this 40-page picture-book adaptation by Sharon Lerner. Follow the famous stallion as he meets many masters, from Squire Gordon, whose wife Black Beauty saves nearly at the cost of his own life; to the cruel Nicholas Skinner, who drives horses to death; and finally to a reunion with Joe, the kind groom he knew as a colt. Caldecott Award winner Susan Jeffers illustrates this beloved tale with lush watercolor drawings guaranteed to delight and enchant children.

Baby Owl's Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis, from Sylvan Dell

What if you found a baby owl in your back yard? Would you know what to do? Where would you go to find help? Join young Maddie and Max as they learn a valuable lesson from a little lost owl in Baby Owl s Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis. The brother and sister pair just wanted to play baseball one day. They never expected to come face-to-face with a wild animal! Lush illustrations by Laura Jacques accompany this story and demonstrate the proper treatment of wildlife. This story reminds all of us that we live in a world surrounded by wild animals, and those wild animals deserve our caution and our respect!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday - The Mark

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Mark by Jen Nadol
Release date: January 19th 2010 by Bloomsbury

Sixteen-year old Cassie Renfield has seen the mark since forever: a glow around certain people as if a candle were held behind their back.

The one time she pointed it out taught her she shouldn't do it again, so Cassie has kept quiet, considering its rare appearances odd, but insignificant. Until she watches a man die. Mining her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person's imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.

Cassie searches her past, her philosophy lessons, even her new boyfriend for answers, always careful to keep her secret. How does the mark work? Why her? Most importantly, if you know today is someone's last, should you tell?
Why did I pick this one?  Well, most of you can probably's the PURPLE COVER!!  Yes and no.  Yes, I love purple, so those covers catch my eye, but no.  Did you read the synopsis?  That last question really gets me.  To tell or not to tell...what a tough question!  Especially difficult if you are sixteen I'm sure.  I can't wait to read this and find out how Cassie deals with the mark.

Blog Tour Review: Bran Hambric - The Fairfield Curse

Author: Kaleb Nation
Review Copy Provided by: Sourcebooks

About the Book: Bran Hambric was found locked in a bank vault at six years old, with no memory of his past. For years, he has lived with one of the bankers, wondering why he was left behind -- until one night, when he is fourteen, he is suddenly confronted by a maddened creature, speaking of Bran’s true past and trying to kidnap him.

Bran finds that he is at the center of a plot that started years before he was even born: the plot of a deadly curse his mother created…and one that her former masters are hunting for him to complete.

Haunted by the spirit of his mother’s master and living in a city where magic is illegal, Bran must undo the crimes of his past...before it is too late.

Who could possibly have put a six-year-old into a locked bank vault if not mages or gnomes? The answer is larger than Bran. In fact, it is larger than Dunce. It just might be larger than magic itself. It might be about as big as the universe. And Bran is the key. But what’s the lock?

For more about the book see Bran Hambric.

My Review:  This was a fun, Middle Grade book!  Fun because it was chock full of magic.  What tween doesn't love magic?  I liked the fact that the main character is a boy.  I haven't read a lot lately with male main characters, so this was a welcome treat.

When I first started this story, I was reminded of Harry Potter because like Harry, Bran is basically alone.  He lives with a family that usually ignores him, just like Harry did.  If you are a Harry fan, then chances are you will enjoy this one.  It did start off a little slow, but once it got going, it kept me intrigued.

Kaleb Nation is a great writer!  There is such imagination in his words, especially for him being so young.  He got the idea for Bran Hambric when he was just fourteen, but spent most of his teenage years writing it.  Now, at the age of 20, he's got his first published book, that is sure to be a hit!

I found myself laughing out loud many times during the reading of this book.  It was just funny at times!  One scene in particular, at the beginning, when they are chasing the burglar, just kept me in stitches.  The people in Dunce, where Bran lives, do some strange things.  It takes a lot of imagination to write a story like this, because so much is going on, magic, mystery,  mayhem, and menace.

Bran learns a lot about himself throughout the story.  Where did he come from?  Who was his mother?  What are these magical powers he has?  Find out all of this and more by reading Bran Hambric.

I have a hardback copy of this book to give away to one lucky commenter.  Good luck!!  I will run the contest from today until next Wednesday, so you have a week.  Extra comments for promoting this on any social network or blog.  U.S./Canada only.  I am extending this contest through the 27th, because a new prize has been added:  Sourcebooks has generously offered an autographed poster of the cover art for one of my readers.  Please spread the word!

Here is the complete tour list.  Make sure you check out some of the other stops on this great tour!

Sunday, August 30th 
Jenn’s Bookshelf
Homespun Light

Monday, August 31st
Dolce Bellezza
Bobbi’s Book Nook

Tuesday, September 1st
The Looking Glass Review
Beth Fish Reads
SMS Book Reviews
James Holder’s YouTube Channel

Wednesday, September 2nd
Reading Rumpus
Katie’s Literature Lounge
Ultimate Bookhound

Thursday, September 3rd
Brimful Curiosities
Charlotte’s Library

Friday, September 4th
Bran Hambric by Kaleb Nation

Saturday, September 5th
Library Lounge Lizard
Sarah’s Random Musings

Sunday, September 6th
Cindy’s Love of Books

Monday, September 7th
Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf
Grasping for the Wind
Life After Twilight vlog channel

Tuesday, September 8th
Shooting Stars Magazine
Mrs. Magoo Reads
Lori Calabrese Writes

Wednesday, September 9th
The Brain Lair
The Children’s Book Review
TV Watch Online

Thursday, September 10th
The Friendly Book Nook
Book Journey
Stephanie’s Written Word
Home School Buzz

Friday, September 11th
The Inside Scoop With Chandelle
Booking Mama

Saturday, September 12th
Zoe’s Book Reviews
Lit for Kids

Sunday, September 13th
Never Jam Today
A Bibliophile’s Reverie

Monday, September 14th
Café of Dreams
Marta’s Meanderings
A Book Blogger’s Diary
The Reader’s Quill

Tuesday, September 15th
a book in hand
Not Just for Kids

Wednesday, September 16th
Write for a Reader

Thursday, September 17th
Howling Good Books
The Written World

Friday, September 18th
Always Riddikulus
YA Books Central

Saturday, September 19th
Ms. Bookish
Into the Wardrobe
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