Friday, October 30, 2009

"Not So Scary" Halloween Giveaway

I thought you might enjoy this FAST "Not So Scary" Halloween giveaway.   Here are the details...

Leave me a comment on my blog about something you like about You Can Make This.  Make sure you leave your email address so I can contact you.  This contest is only for this Halloween weekend, so enter fast and spread the word.  You will get an extra entry for tweeting this contest, as long as you leave me a link to your tweet.  I will post the winner on Monday, so HURRY!!!

One winner will receive a $50 bundle of Halloween downloads. The bundle includes the following books:

Fancy Filled Tutu with Bonus 40 Tutu "Recipes"
Pumpkin Polly Patterns
Paper Piecing Project: Pumpkin Patch Pillow
Frayed Applique: Too Cute to Spook!
Little Miss Spider Applique Patterns
How to Applique the Easy Way
Hocus Pocus Patterns
Just a Little Something for a Happy Halloween Table Runner

Friday Fill-Ins - 10/30/09

1. It was a dark and stormy night, as the trick or treaters hunted for candy.

2. She didn't want to read them, so I offered to take the books myself.

3. Rushing out, I forgot my purse.

4. Hold it...I think I heard a howl!

5. Shhhh... did you hear that?.

6. You'd better give me something good to eat!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing at home, tomorrow my plans include trying to see what the storms have done to my yard and Sunday, I want to read!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween Treats!

Halloween is meant to be a time for treats, and what better to treat you with than books?!  I have the awesome opportunity, thanks to my friends at Random House, to offer my readers some fabulous books that are halloween related in one way or another. 

Take a look at the titles and descriptions, and leave a comment as to which one you would like to win.  You can pick more than one, if you are interested.  I will choose one commenter for each book.  Since Halloween is Saturday, this will be a quick contest.  I will choose the winners next Friday. 

So, comment and get the word out via your blog, twitter, facebook, whatever.  I will give extra entries for spreading the word, as long as you leave me a link to where you post it.  You can also have an extra entry if you are a follower of my blog: new or old.  Also leave your email address or I won't be able to contact you should you win.  Look for past contest winners to be announced this weekend and more contests to come.

For the young reader looking for a spooky, fireside read:

The Hanging Hill by Chris Grabenstein
Zack, Judy, and Zipper are back! Judy and Zack are planning to spend a few weeks in Chatham, Connecticut, rehearsing for a new musical based on Judy’s bestselling children’s books. Too bad the theater is haunted with a cast of its own, and the director has other plans—to raise a horde of evil specters from the dead. With the help of a new friend, Megan, Zack is back in spook-busting action, but can he escape the evil clutches of a necromancer director and some menacing demonic spirits?

For the slightly more advanced reader looking for a funny, clever romp:

Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck by Dale E. Basye
This sequel to Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go finds Marlo left behind in Heck when Milton escapes in a “soul balloon” made of old clothes. Marlo is sent straight to Rapacia, the circle where greedy kids are tormented daily by a glittering shopper’s paradise called Mallvana that’s always just out of reach. Back on Earth, Milton’s having his own issues. He’s got to find a way to communicate with Marlo and get her out of Heck, but it’s hard to concentrate when his body and soul don’t seem to hold together like they used to.

For the teen girl looking for romance with a supernatural twist:

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore
A broken leg has put a halt to Sylvie Davis’s ballet career, and her broken home causes even more pain. After her father’s death and her mother’s remarriage, Sylvie sets herself on a road to self-destruction. Her mother intervenes, sending her off for the summer to her relatives in Alabama, where a distant cousin is restoring the family home. It turns out that the house, and her family, have more history than Sylvie imagined. Two handsome guys only add to the drama when they begin vying for her affections.

Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well? With a spirited, spot-on heroine, richly drawn setting, and plenty of suspense to keep the pages turning, this southern gothic romance is sure to enthrall teen readers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blog Tour - Charlie and Mama Kyna

Thank you to Pump Up Your Book Promotions for this blog tour!

Author:  Diana Rumjahn
Illustrator:  Diana Rumjahn
Review Copy Provided by:  author

About the Book:  After Charlie the frog accidentally breaks his mother’s vase, he runs away from home. Charlie and his new best friends Leo and Joe, live in a little orange tent outside Mrs. Cupcake’s bakery. A homesick Charlie, Leo and Joe, journey far away to find Charlie’s mother.  

My Review:  This is a cute story for young children.  I really enjoyed the bright, vivid illustrations.  The characters are based on stuffed animals, so they look plush, like animals a young child would love to cuddle with.  The story shows three friends without a home, that work together to find one.  It would be a great book to teach children about friendship.

I wasn't real fond of the story line though.  It seemed to skip parts in some places, but overall it tells a story that children can relate to: helping a friend.   The jist of the story is a good one, but I would read a page and then when I got to the next page, I was wondering how I got there because at times it didn't make sense.  I think that may be due to me reading with an adult eye.  Through the eyes and mind of a young child it probably wouldn't be that was as it's written in a way that they think and talk.

Children will fall in love with the characters, be enthralled with the bright colors, and relate to the friendship of the characters. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Because of A Book with Jennifer Chambers

This week I am pleased to bring you another author, Jennifer Chambers.

Jennifer Chambers recovered from a traumatic brain injury at fifteen that forced her to re-learn every basic of life, from how to walk and talk to tying her shoes. She is an associate editor for a rural literary magazine, Groundwaters, as well as the married mother of two small boys. Her first novel, Learning Life Again, about two women with brain injury helping each other find meaning in their lives, will be released January 2010. To check her appearance schedule, contact her, or for more information on her books, go to

Because of a Book….

Like many readers-turned writers, I was a precocious child. A kid who was too smart for their own good, you might say. I grew up on a small farm in a village so small it still is without a post office. We had an elementary, middle, and high school, a rural fire station, a combination feed store/market, and the wooden-floored Grange. That’s it. I found the books in the basement of the grange before I could read them.

There’s a photo of me at about age five in a red flannel dress, twirling with my reluctant four-year-old brother around that floor at the Grange fiddle night. I don’t know if we saw the books that day, but the damp smell of the basement and the smell of the instant coffee the powdery older ladies made are with me still. I imagine us poking around the side room off the Grange kitchen, where all the folks would go for breathers between sets and eat homemade blackberry pie, to the room designated as the Grange “Library.” It was filled with items for the perennial garage sale, and paperbacks donated from around the community stacked up to the low ceiling. Most of them, I found later as I learned to read, were either Harlequin romance novels or Louis Lamour westerns. As often as she could my Mom would find me a kids’ book, generally a Dr. Seuss that someone had bought by long-ago subscription. It fueled my thirst for reading.

Later I burned through most of the books in the elementary school library. I preferred fiction, taking Nancy Drew and the Sweet Valley High girls by storm. By age twelve, I was on to melodramatic literature. After reading Gone with the Wind, I went on to one of my favorite books of all time, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. What could be more perfect for a twelve-year old, all awkwardness and pudgy knees? I was transported into tragic longing and beautiful brooding characters. I learned to feel someone else’s pain, at an age where self-centeredness is all. My skin problems were nothing compared to Jane’s tortured life and love.

Jane Eyre took on a completely different meaning at fifteen, when I was in a car accident and had a traumatic brain injury. I was in a coma for a time, and what I recall of that time are pages of the books I had read flashing thorough my mind. The books were more real to me than what was happening when I woke. For many weeks, I was in the hospital recovering, and as I became more aware of my surroundings, it was Jane Eyre that stayed with me. Brain injury erases the knowledge of your past wholly in some cases. I can remember things when prompted, but I will never know if it’s something I’ve parroted back or a real memory.

The chilling thing about Jane Eyre that got me was the part about Mrs. Rochester, shut up in the attic, raving mad. The brain injury ward was on a sort of half-floor of the hospital. Since I was fixated on the book, I felt like Mrs. Rochester, terribly alone, frantic, with no knowledge of who I was, or where I was, or who was keeping me there. Part of my mind must have recognized the difference between my own story and the Bronte book, and I think it was what helped me separate the delirium from reality.

I’m happy to say that I recovered completely, finished high school, and went on to complete college and have a family. The thirst for knowledge served me well in the end, and my precocious reading habit was a lifeline. Reading and writing are now my career as an author and editor. When I reread Jane Eyre every few years, I marvel at the power of the language that pierced to the heart of me in such an extreme state.

About Jane Eyre: An orphan who endures a harsh childhood, Jane Eyre becomes governess at Thornfield Hall in the employment of the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Jane's moral pilgrimage and the maturity of Charlotte Bronte's characterization are celebrated aspects of the novel, as is its imagery and narrative power. Rapidly reprinted following its first publication in 1847, Jane Eyre still enjoys huge popularity as one of the finest novels in the English language. 

About Learning Life Again:  A novel dealing with two women who have both suffered traumatic brain injuries and the way they deal with life obstacles.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 10/25/09

I always enjoy Sunday and Monday blog post reading as I get to see what others received in the mail over the last week.  I've participated in Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page, since I started blogging, but Kristi, over at The Story Siren, basically does the same thing, just on Sunday.  So, after reading Cindy's post this morning, I thought why not combine the two?  That way, I'm supporting both blogs with one post.  Also, I can post my mailbox on Sunday, leaving more room for reviews during the week.

Here's what came into my house last week:

War Games by Audrey & Akila Couloumbis, from Random House
Based on a true story of World War II.

For 12-year-old Petros, World War II feels unreal and far away. What’s real is working in his papa’s garden. Playing marbles with his friends. Fighting with his older brother, Zola. Zola, who must always be first. Who must always be best. But when the Germans invade Greece, the war suddenly comes impossibly close. Overnight, neighbors become enemies. People begin to keep secrets (Petros’s family most of all). And for the first time, Petros has the chance to show Zola that he’s not just a little brother but that he can truly be counted on. Soon what were once just boys’ games become matters of life and death as Petros and Zola each wonder if, like their resistance fighter cousin, they too can make a difference.

The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse, from Random House
Johanna is a servant girl to Dame Margery Kempe, a renowned medieval holy woman. Dame Margery feels the suffering the Virgin Mary felt for her son but cares little for the misery she sees every day. When she announces that Johanna will accompany her on a pilgrimage to Rome, the suffering truly begins. After walking all day, Johanna must fetch water, wash clothes, and cook for the entire party of pilgrims. Then arguing breaks out between Dame Margery and the other travelers, and Johanna is caught in the middle. As the fighting escalates, Dame Margery turns her back on the whole group, including Johanna. Abandoned in a foreign land where she doesn’t even speak the language, the young maidservant must find her own way to Rome.

Horse Diaries: Koda by Patricia Hermes, from Random House
Independence, Missouri, 1846

Koda is a bay quarter horse with a white blaze. He loves to explore the countryside and run free with his human friend Jasmine nearby. But after Koda sets out with Jasmine’s family on a long and dusty wagon train journey on the Oregon Trail, he finds out what is truly important to him. Here is Koda’s story . . . in his own words.

Finding Lincoln by Ann Malaspina, from publisher for Cybils judging
Louis needs to write an essay for school about young Abraham Lincoln. But it's 1951 in Alabama, and African Americans cannot use the public library. Mama says one day soon they'll be able to check out books, but Louis isn't going to wait! When he makes a brave journey into the "whites-only" library, something surprising and wonderful happens - he meets a brave young librarian. Ann Malaspina's moving story and Colin Bootman's rich paintings evoke the troubles and triumphs of days not long past. Includes a note on the history of racial segregation in public libraries, a brief history of Abraham Lincoln's life, and an "If You Want to Read More" listing.

Miss Trimble's Trapdoor by Lori Jordan-Rice, from Phenix & Phenix
Tyler Thompson hates that he never knows the answers to any of Miss Trimble's questions in class. But one day, Tyler accidentally unlocks a secret trapdoor beneath his school desk! He discovers a dark, mysterious basement filled with old books guarded by a magical talking dog named Barnabas Bailey. Now, with the help of the books and Barnabas, Tyler can travel to any time in the past to learn about history up close.

Tyler Thompson doesn't know which is worse: trying out for the school basketball team or giving an oral report about Christopher Columbus in front of the whole class! But with the help of the magic trapdoor beneath his school desk and his trusted canine guide, Barnabas Bailey, Tyler travels back in time to visit Columbus himself. When he sees the setbacks even a great explorer can face before reaching his goal, Tyler knows he can't give up.

The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book by Bob Hartman, from Lion Hudson
Forty gentle, reassuring folk tales from around the world, both traditional and new, delightfully retold by a master storyteller.

End of Event Meme

I didn't fare so well this read-a-thon.  I've never been able to make it all night, but this time I didn't even make it past 9:30 PM; not sure why I was so tired.  I just got up as well, so I didn't get any reading in this morning.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  the 9 PM really sleepy

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? 
It's the little books that keep me going.  I try to add in children's books.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? 
It was great!

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? 
The cheerleaders

5. How many books did you read? 
27 1/2

6. What were the names of the books you read? 
Too many to list...see past updates for titles

7. Which book did you enjoy most? 
Princess Hyacinth

8. Which did you enjoy least? 
How We Are Smart

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? 

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? 
very likely; reader

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mid-Event Meme

1. What are you reading right now?  Getting ready to start Miss Trimble's Trapdoor

2. How many books have you read so far?  23

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  It's Tough Growing Up

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? tried to, but it didn't work out, so I'm just going with the flow.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Yes, my husband.  He doesn't understand the whole read-a-thon, so I have to appease him every so often.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  That I"ve gotten so much read in spite of the interruptions.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  no, I think it's great!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?  Try better to free up my day.

9. Are you getting tired yet?  I was, but we went out for dinner, so I feel better.  May need a pot of coffee soon though.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?  can't think of any right now.

Read-a-Thon Intro Meme

Good morning! I didn't think I was going to be able to participate in the Read-a-Thon this time, but things worked themselves out so that I could and I couldn't be more excited! I have so many books around here just waiting to be read. I'm starting late, but I've already read a few books. My goal is to get through some of the children's books I have so that I can focus on some YA later. Now, for the introduction meme.

Where are you reading from today?
I am in my living room in my favorite oversized chair and ottoman.  This is where I do most of my reading.

3 facts about me …
I am an elementary school assistant principal
I just had a new grandbaby born on Tuesday - she makes 5 for us
My reading love is children's and YA

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
Too many.   I don't usually have a set pile...I just pick up whatever strikes me.  My pile has become overgrown since school started, so I'm hoping to make a little dent in it so it doesn't seem so overwhelming.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
No set goal, just to read as much as I can.  I wasn't going to be able to participate, so I didn't really prepare, but I'm going to tackle as much as I can.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Pace yourself.  Have short books to read in between the long ones; it will make you feel successful and break up your reading.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins - 10/23/09

1. The crickets sing, the birds chirp; where did summer go?

2. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

3. I want to get far away from the chaos.

4. Thank heavens; this was a dream.

5. But as for me I will do as I please.

6. Back where I come from

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with my husband, tomorrow my plans include building fence and Sunday, I want to try to participate in the Read-a-Thon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another "Another Faust" Contest

This is not my contest, but one I thought you might be interested in when I was asked by the authors to help promote it.  Here is a little about the authors, from their website:

Daniel Nayeri is a writer and editor in New York City. He wrote and produced “The Cult of Sincerity,” the first feature film to be world premiered by YouTube. He has had all kinds of jobs around books, including book repairman, literary agent, used bookstore clerk, children’s librarian, Official Story-Time Reader Leader, editor, copy-editor, and even carpenter (making bookshelves). He’s also a professional pastry chef. He loves Street Fighter 2, hates the word “foodie,” and is an award-winning stuntman.

Dina Viergutz graduated from Princeton where she first discovered her passion for fiction. However, being a stubborn know-it-all, she had to spend five years in the business world first. She worked as a consultant at McKinsey in New York City and as a project manager for Saks Fifth Avenue. Dina then received her MBA from Harvard Business School. During this time, she was a teaching fellow in economics at Harvard and a speaker on topics in business and marketing. Finally, she received a Master of Education from Harvard School of Education, where she was a Zuckerman fellow. It was during her graduate studies that Dina and Daniel began writing Another Faust together. Dina lives with her husband in Amsterdam. In her spare time, she loves to cook, travel, watch teen-flicks, and write stories.

Dina and Daniel were both born in Iran and spent many young adult years in Europe. There they learned several languages between them and tried Frosted Flakes for the first time. Their first two teen fantasy books, the first and second of Another Series will be published by Candlewick Press in 2009 & 2010.

I'll let Daniel tell you about the contest they are having.  I hope some of you will choose to participate because it sounds like fun and there are great prizes!

Hi everyone. Dina and I are about to kick off a month-long tour for our book, Another Faust, and we want to do it by announcing a contest! We are looking for the most promising writers out there (that’s YOU). And then we want to showcase their work, so that all of the Internet can bask in their awesome writing might (and, you know, give them prizes).


We want you to write your own short story, re-imagining of the Faustian Bargain. (For inspiration, check out Bedazzled, Simpsons “Tree House of Horrors IV,” and The Little Mermaid). It can be about anything you like (but let’s keep it PG-13, and under 3,000 words), and it’s open to everyone.

All you have to do is send your entry to before January 31.

Rules and details can be found here:

Make sure to read them so you don’t get DQed

And the winner gets all kinds of sweetness:

A signed copy of Another Faust

A handwritten deleted scene

A featured article & interview on our site

An author’s galley of the sequel Another Pan

Though we’ll feature the top five on our site for comments, the judging WON’T happen by popular vote (so basically, we don't care which contestant has the most friends). Dina and I will personally read them.

So, spread the word! Tweet, retweet, forward, thread, spread, embed this post.

Good luck!

D & D

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Waiting on Wednesday" - Shadow Hills

"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:

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Release date:  2010 by Egmont USA

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

Wow!  That synopsis is enough for me.  Not sure when in 2010 this one will be coming out, but I will definitely be watching for it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Because of A Book with Lea Wait

This week, my guest is children's and adult author, Lea Wait.  Here is her bio, in her own words, as posted on her website. 

What I remember most about growing up was wanting to learn everything.

I read historical novels and went to auctions and antique shows with my grandmother, who was an antique doll and toy dealer, and pretended I lived in the past.

I built a tree house with Charlie, who lived two houses away, and we studied the patterns of airplanes flying to and from nearby Newark Airport and imagined being on them. At night we looked at the constellations and dreamed of being astronomers discovering new universes.

In the summer I looked into Maine tide pools, identifying sea creatures who lived between the tides and collecting shells and rocks. I would be a marine biologist.

Until I saw my first political convention on television, and visited the Senate in Washington. Then I wanted to be a senator, or maybe even president.

So many possibilities.

But I always knew that whatever else I did, I would also be a writer.

I majored in drama and English at Chatham College in Pittsburgh. Later I did graduate work in American Civilization at New York University at night while I wrote speeches and films and did strategic planning for AT&T.

I adopted four girls born in Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and India. When they came home they were the ages of the characters in the books I now write for young people. I wrote about the joys and challenges of single parent adoption. In 1977 I started an antique print business.

In 1998 I left corporate life to live in Maine, run my antique print business, and write fulltime.

I’m still excited about learning, and about sharing what I learn. With every book I write, I learn more. I hope there are many books, and many more things to learn, still ahead of me.

Jo March and I
by Lea Wait

I grew up during the 1950s and 60s, but in many ways I had a nineteenth century childhood. I lived with both my parents and my grandparents. My grandmother was an antique dealer specializing in dolls and toys; my father collected 18th and 19th century United States paper money. No house I lived in was built after 1910, and the one I loved most was our summer home, built in 1774. (Today it is where I live and write full time.) Auctions, antique shows, attics to imagine in and old books to discover, were all a part of my childhood.

What was missing were playmates. Although I had two sisters, one was ten years younger than I, and the other, also younger than I, didn’t share my love of history.

So I found my ideal family in a book. Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and the sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, with all their trials and faults and joys and sorrows, became my family. I read my copy of Little Women over and over, memorizing pages of it. And the story continued: Little Men, and Jo’s Boys captivated me. I had my favorite of the Little Men (Dan; always Dan,) and I yearned for the lives of the March sisters, as children, and then, as adults.

Of course, then I grew up. I became a writer, as Jo did. I bought a large house outside a city. I didn’t find a wise and kind professor to marry, as Jo did, but I wanted to be a mother, so I adopted four older girls. My daughters were born in Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong and India; they came home when they were 4, 8, 9, and 10. They all had special needs, although none were physically disabled, as one of Jo’s boys was, and none were “feeble minded,” as another of her “little men” was.

But it never occurred to me until I was in my mid-thirties, being interviewed for a newspaper article about adoption, when the young reporter asked me what my favorite book was, that I had created the family I had dreamed of as a child.

We weren’t perfect – far from it! We had our sorrows and our joys and our traumas and our frustrations. But my daughters grew up in a house with four little women, and I became the Jo who helped them to find their futures.

Now I write historical novels for young readers (ages 8-14) as well as mysteries for adults, and I often speak in schools. And I often tell students to read books carefully.

Because – who knows? The book they read today might become a part of their life tomorrow.

It happened to me.

About Little Women:  Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

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

About Finest Kind:  It is 1838; the Panic of 1837 has taken Jake’s father’s money and job, and 12-year-old Jake and his family have moved from Boston to a small, run-down, farmhouse on the outskirts of Wiscasset, Maine, to start over, bringing with them a deep family secret. When his father’s new job at the lumber mill takes him away from home, Jake’s mother tells him, “I’ll have to depend on you.” But how can Jake find food and prepare for the dangerous cold of a Maine winter when he’s never even chopped wood? How can he protect his mother – and the family secret they brought with them? A job at the local jail, and friendship with a neighbor girl who is also struggling with a family secret, helps. But as the pressures of their new life begin to pull his parents apart, Jake realizes he must also bring his family together to face the future – and their past.

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 10/19/09

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for bringing us Mailbox Monday each week!  Head on over to see what others received this past week.
Here's what was in my mailbox:

The Last Dragon by C.A. Rainfield, from Hip Books
Book One of the Dragon Speaker Series

In the year 1144, dark times have fallen over the kingdom. Lord Manning rules through fear and magic, and the land’s only hope seems to lie in the Prophecy. The Prophecy says that a dragon speaker will appear to save the kingdom. Yet there are no dragons, and no one who knows how to speak to them … except, perhaps, Jacob of Malden.

Jacob is an unlikely hero – a small young man who walks with a limp and has the power to speak with birds. But when the last dragon returns, it is only Jacob who can speak with her. It is only Jacob who can call upon her help. And ultimately it is Jacob – with his friends Orson and Lia – who rescues the egg of the world’s last male dragon.

Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen, from Egmont
Sara Black is tiptoeing across a fraying tightrope.

As the new eleventh grader at Anton High–the most elite public school in the country–she sticks out like an old VW bus in a parking lot full of shiny BMWs. But being the new kid also brings a certain advantageous anonymity.

In Anton High’s world of privilege, intelligence, and wealth, Sara can escape her family’s tarnished past and become whomever she wants.

And what’s the harm in telling a few little black lies when it can lead to popularity? That is, until another it girl at Anton becomes jealous of Sara’s social climbing.

With her balance evaporating, one small push could bring Sara crashing down.

Candle Man, Book One: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin, from Egmont
Murder, mystery, and adventure aren’t your typical birthday presents . . .
But for Theo, anything that breaks up his ordinary routine is the perfect gift.
A mysterious “illness” and Theo’s guardians force him into a life indoors, where gloves must be worn and daily medical treatments are the norm. When Theo discovers a suspicious package on his birthday, one person from the past will unlock the secret behind Theo’s “illness” and change his life forever.
Molded into an exhilarating steampunk adventure that gives birth to the next great fantasy hero, Theo Wickland, Candle Man: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance is the first book in a trilogy by debut author Glenn Dakin.

Up the Learning Tree by Marcia Vaughan from Lee & Low Books
Henry Bell is not allowed to learn to read and write. In fact, most enslaved children, like him, are severely punished if they are even caught with a book. But Henry is curious. He suspects there is something powerful in books, and he wants to know what it is.

One day Henry finishes his chores quickly, then runs to the schoolhouse. He hides in a sycamore tree just as the teacher begins reading a story. His heart pounds as he listens with astonishment, and right then he makes up his mind to learn to read. Henry's fierce determination and bravery in the face of serious consequences lead him to a special friendship, and a journey of discovery that changes his life forever.

How We Are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa, from Lee & Low Books
Musician Tito Puente. Ballerina Maria Tallchief. Explorer Matthew Henson. Congresswoman Patsy Mink. These are some of the people profiled in this book. They are well known for different reasons, but they also have something in common. They were all smart!

Readers will learn that being smart is about more than doing well in school. There are eight ways to be smart, and they are reflected in how a person uses his or her body, relates to the natural world, responds to music and art, and more. When readers see how the people in this book used their smarts, they will learn about themselves too, and their own unique ways of being smart. Back-of-book information about the eight intelligences, along with activities, enhance the learning experience.

Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story by S.D. Nelson from Lee & Low Books
Growing up on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona, Ira Hayes was a quiet, shy boy. He never wanted to be the center of attention, and at school, he felt lonely and out of place.

By the time Ira was in his late teens, World War II was raging. When the United States called its men to arms, Ira answered by joining the Marine Corps. He believed it was his duty to fight honorably for his country, and with his Marine buddies by his side, Ira finally felt as if he belonged. Eventually they were sent to the tiny Japanese island of Iwo Jima, where a chance event and an extraordinary photograph catapulted Ira to national awareness and transformed his life forever.

Joe Louis, My Champion by William Miller, from Lee & Low Books
t’s the spring of 1937, and anticipation for the heavyweight title fight between Joe Louis and James Braddock is at a fever pitch. Sammy can hardly contain his excitement. He knows his hero, Joe Louis, will soon be the boxing champion of the world.

Although he isn't big and strong, Sammy wants to be a boxer, just like Joe Louis, whose fame and success are a source of great pride and hope for African Americans. Only after Sammy realizes the significance of Louis's victories in the ring does he understand the true meaning of being a champion.

Joe Louis, My Champion is a heartfelt tribute to the first African American to be regarded as a hero by all Americans. Louis's enduring legacy of determination and perseverance is sure to inspire readers to find and fulfill their dreams.

Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer by Bill Wise, from Lee & Low Books
On a Maine summer day in 1884, twelve-year-old Penobscot Indian Louis Sockalexis first fell in love with baseball. As he grew up, Louis honed his skills and dreamed of one day joining a major league team.

Louis encountered opposition at every turn—from the jeers of teammates and the taunts of spectators who thought he had no place in a "white man's sport" to the disapproval of his father, who wanted Louis to focus on tribal life. Louis finally made it to the major league Cleveland Spiders, but racism followed him, until one momentous day in June 1897 at New York's Polo Grounds. Facing off against the most feared pitcher in baseball, Louis proved he belonged in the sport.

Here is the inspiring story of a boy who dared to make his dream a reality. With determination, courage, and quiet dignity, Louis Sockalexis smashed racial barriers and home runs, leaving an indelible mark on America's favorite sport.

What came in your mailbox?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins - 10/16/09

1. So are we going to get it all done?

2. The unexpected is what's up ahead.

3. I love to listen to music.

4. Chocolate of some sort.

5. I walk a lot around the school building.

6. Love is the true elixir of life!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dancing with my husband, tomorrow my plans include dinner with friends and Sunday, I want to rest and read!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Testing the Ice Giveaway

I am so pleased to be working with Scholastic again to bring you another fabulous book and giveaway.  Come back tomorrow for my review of this book.

About Testing the Ice:

In the early 1950s, legendary baseball hero Jackie Robinson literally "tested the ice" for his kids who so eagerly wanted to skate on the frozen lake near their home. Under Sharon Robinson's skillful authorship and Kadir Nelson's vivid illustrations, TESTING THE ICE also becomes a stunning metaphor for her father's remarkable racial breakthrough.

Buy it at Amazon

Watch the Book Trailer:

One (1) winner from my site will receive a TESTING THE ICE prize pack!

Kidorable Hat, Glove & Scarf set (random styles – see image)
copy of Testing the Ice

Four (4) additional winners will receive a copy of the book!

Contest runs from today until Thursday, Nov. 5th.  Prizing is only available to United States mailing address only. (International readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prizes by mail.)

You may enter by leaving a comment.  Extra entries can be earned by spreading the word about this contest.  How you do that, is up to you, just make sure you leave me a link to where you shared, in the comments.  Make sure I have your email address as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Because of A Book with Bethe Almeras

This week, please help me welcome author, Bethe Almeras to Write For A Reader!

Bethe Almeras is an award-winning author, web producer, and eLearning designer who has been connecting people with play and nature for many years. Her blog, The Grass Stain Guru, is about restoring childhood, and saving ourselves in the process. Bethe delights in speaking to groups about the benefits of a messy, muddy, slimy childhood and what we can all do to take childhood off the endagered species list. She plans on writing a Grass Stain Guru book to help parents and educators "get down and dirtty," so to speak.

Bethe lives in Washington, DC, right along the Potomac River. She can often be found there, chattering with squirrels, watching the blue herons fly overhead, and still attemping to master the art of skipping stones. You can also follow Bethe on Twitter.

As the youngest of six children, hand-me-downs were as much a fact of life as breathing. Clothes, bikes, books, and once we were teens – cars. We lived frugally, especially by the standards of my upper middle class DC suburb. My only sister (who naturally I will not share this with), was much older, and in high school when I was born. Needless to say, this made for interesting hand-me-downs; items frayed not only by use, but by the true passage of time.

But, if it were not for this frugal path, I would have never met my beloved Trixie Belden, star of a series of mystery books that captivated me as a girl. Trixie was the Nancy Drew for tomboys, a girl I could identify with. I whipped through each book like a house on fire. It was this series that not only made me fall in love with the mystery genre, which is still my “brain candy” of choice, but it made me fall in love with being a girl – being me.

I have four older brothers. The genetic lottery pretty much assured I was not going to be one of the “pink” girls. Trixie made that OK. I could be smart, tough, wear red, have skinned knees, and be everything a boy could be and more. Trust me, growing up in a house full of boys with an old school traditional mother, that was NOT the message I was receiving at home. While my friends with younger mothers of a different generation had a champion for girl power right there at home, I had Trixie Belden.

The Trixie Belden series taught me about friendship, and about loyalty, integrity, and standing up for what is right. It also taught me about a very important childhood rite of passage: the crush. Just because a girl has skinned knees doesn’t mean she is exempt from “crushing on” a cute boy. And for the record, to this day, I still love to have a crush.

I like to think that Trixie and I would be great friends as adults. Strong and spirited, with a love of travel, mystery novels and tequila. Somehow, I think Trixie would like a margarita from time to time.

Because of a book, I grew up liking the woman that I became. Thanks, Trixie.

 About Access Nature:  45 fun, hands-on activities for everyone.

About Trixie Belden:  Trixie’s summer is going to be sooo boring with her two older brothers away at camp. But then a millionaire’s daughter moves into the next-door mansion, an old miser hides a fortune in his decrepit house, and a runaway kid starts hiding out in Sleepyside!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 10/12/09

I'm a little late on posting this today, because I'm off work today, had a busy weekend, and didn't get this ready to post ahead of time.  I'm glad to have today to get some posts and reading done.

Mailbox Monday is brought to us each week by Marcia at The Printed Page.  It's a way for bloggers to share the books that came into their houses, over the past week, via the mailbox.  I love seeing the many books others receive and sharing mine with you.  Here's what came into my house...

Testing the Ice by Sharon Robinson, from Scholatic -
When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone's fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water.
In a dramatic episode that first winter, the children beg to go ice skating on the lake. Jackie says they can go--but only after he tests the ice to make sure it's safe. The children prod and push to get Jackie outside, until hesitantly, he finally goes. Like a blind man with a stick, (contd.)
Jackie taps on the ice's surface, when suddenly howling and roaring sounds come out of the lake! It is only then that Sharon realizes why she's never seen her father in the water -- Jackie doesn't know how to swim! But her horror changes to relief as Jackie bravely taps his way to the middle of the lake -- and declare it safe!

A Happy Halloween by Leslie Nazarian, from Lesruba Designs
No tricks in this rhyming halloween book for kids - Children will find it a treat to count and read along to this collage illustrated counting halloween book. With skeletons, witches, ghosts and more, there are lots of things for your child to explore as they count along from one to twelve.

Wenda the Wacky Wiggler by Christopher Aslan, from CKL Publicity
Wenda the Wacky Wiggler is a delightful story about a unique little girl who is always dancing and wiggling with joy. But when the gloomy townfolk take away all the music, she finds herself slumped to the ground in despair. To the towns surprise it is in the silence that Wenda realizes her love and joy come from inside! Wenda the Wacky Wiggler is an inspiring little tale reminding us of our individual expression of wisdom and love.

Sidikiba's Kora Lesson by Ryan Thomas Skinner, from publicist
Ten year-old Sidikiba is about to be initiated into the world of the kora, a twenty-one stringed West African harp performed by his family for seventy generations. To become a kora player, like his father and grandfather before him, Sidikiba must honor and respect the wisdom of his elders, trust in the mystical secrets of his community, and, above all else, be patient and practice hard. Sidikiba's Kora Lesson is the story of a child's encounter with a rich cultural heritage set in a modern African city, where learning to balance the new and the old is part of growing up. Through sound, pictures, and text, Sidikiba's Kora Lesson comes alive for readers and music lovers of all ages!
The book includes a CD featuring Sidiki Diabate, the son of the Grammy Award-winning kora virtuoso Toumani Diabate. On the CD, Sidiki demonstrates his deserved place in this illustrious musical lineage.

Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby, from Partners Publishers Group
Enter the magical festive world of the Christmas 'Tree-Dwellers', as Larry, a Christmas snowman, wakes up after the long sleep in the Christmas box, to find his brother is missing.
Desperate to find him before Christmas, Larry, along with his girlfriend Debbie, a newcomer Splint, and Larry's companion Tinsel, break the laws of the 'Tree-Elders' and escape down the tree and away into the house, to look for clues.
Away from the safety of the tree and in an unfamiliar world, the Dwellers stumble upon a dark and sinister secret that threatens their entire world. Can Larry and the group make it back to the tree in time to warn the others, and finally uncover the truth behind the 'Secrets of a Christmas Box'?

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper, from Knopf
Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island--until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.

The Very Best Parts of My Mommy by Michelle Korrell, from author

This paperback book was written by the spouse of a cancer patient and is intended to help families talk about a mother’s cancer diagnosis with their young children. The book focuses on the parts of a Mommy that are not affected by the disease.

The Very Best Parts of My Daddy by Michelle Korrell, from author
Adapted from the book written for the author’s own son, this paperback book is intended to help families talk about a father’s cancer diagnosis with their young children. The book focuses on the parts of a Daddy that are unaffected by the disease.

In the Land of Cotton by Martha A. Taylor, from author

Immerse yourself in this highly anticipated political docu-drama set in the Deep South amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.

Martha was a young white girl living in the Deep South, inundated with the racist sentiments of the times. But Martha's natural curiosity and generous heart led her to question this racial divide. When she discovered a primitive Negro family living deep in the woods near her house, everyone's life changed forever.

Take the journey of a lifetime alongside Martha as she forges relationships that lead to self discovery and a clearer understanding of the world around her. In the Land of Cotton provides an outstanding snapshot of life in the South during those troubled times - a snapshot everyone should take a close look at, regardless of era or color.

The year was 1956.

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd, from Knopf
Holly’s story will leave a lasting impression on all who travel with her.

Memories of mum are the only thing that make Holly Hogan happy. She hates her foster family with their too-nice ways and their false sympathy. And she hates her life, her stupid school, and the way everyone is always on at her. Then she finds the wig, and everything changes. Wearing the long, flowing blond locks she feels transformed. She’s not Holly anymore, she’s Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the supersharp talk. She’s older, more confident—the kind of girl who can walk right out of her humdrum life, hitch to Ireland, and find her mum. The kind of girl who can face the
world head-on. So begins a bittersweet and sometimes hilarious journey as Solace swaggers and Holly tiptoes across England and through memory, discovering her true self and unlocking the secrets of her past.

 The Blue Shoe by Roderick Townley, from Knopf
It was only one shoe. It fit no one. But everyone wanted it.

Hap Barlo in a cell, wondering how it had all gone so wrong. The blue shoe was ruined, the girl he’d been trying to help was missing, and he’d been branded a thief—again! He would be banished to the far side of Mount Xexnax in the morning.

On the bright side, now he might be able to rescue his father, who had been banished last year. No one has ever returned from Xexnax, so perhaps Hap is a tad optimistic to be dreaming of rescue. Then again, perhaps a dreamer, a doer, and a thief is just the kind of boy who could challenge this mountain—and win!

First edition will be printed in blue ink!
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