Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Matched

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over 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:

By Ally Condie
Publication Date:  November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile  

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.

I can't imagine a world where I'd have no voice, no say so in what happened in my life.  This sounds like an interesting read!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Splits for a Cause

If you watch local television, you've probably seen the Electrolux commercials with Kelly Ripa.  Well, they are teaming up once again to celebrate the split that Electorlux is doing.  What's the split?  Electrolux Appliance is introducing the new stand-alone refrigerator and freezer.  They have added the "emperor of Ice Cream" Stephen Bruce, owner and founder of Serendipity 3, a New York City restaurant and dessert spot, into the mix.

Kelly and Bruce teamed up to make banana splits for a cause, and they're inviting you to make your own "virtual" splits.  What do you have to do?  Well, first, log on to and start building your banana split with virtual ingredients like whipped cream, caramel sauce, and sprinkles, to name a few.  For every "split" made, Electrolux will donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

There's more!  Everyone who logs on and builds a split will automatically be entered for a chance at the $50 towards summer treats daily prize and entry into the grand prize - the new stand alone Electrolux refrigerator and freezer!  So, what are you waiting for?  Get to building!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blog Tour - The Phantom Diaries

Another blog tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book Blog Promotions

Author:  Kailin Gow
Electronic Review Copy Provided by:  the author

About the Book:  What happens to the Phantom after the tragedy at the Paris Opera House is the basis for this fantastic tale of The Phantom Diaries, loosely based on Gaston Leroux's classic, The Phantom of the Opera, but with a new tale and a modern twist. This new series for older teens and young adults is told through the eyes of 18 year-old Annette Binoche, who lands a job at the New York Metropolitan Opera House as a seamstress' assistant only to become the lead singer of the Opera House, with the help of the mysterious, yet highly-seductive Phantom.

My Review:   I wasn't real sure how I would feel about this one when I received it.  One, I've never read The Phantom of the Opera, so I had nothing to compare it to, even though it's loosely based on that.  Two, the author sent it to me along with these words, "The Phantom Diaries is for older teens and young adults (age 17 and up).  It is a romance novel loosely based on the Phantom of the Opera, and does contain a few racy scenes due to the prominent characteristics of two characters.  If that is not the kind of book you review, then please do not feel obligated.  This book is definitely for the more mature teens who would be heading toward Harlequin romances for grown ups in a year or so and currently watch anything racy like Gossip Girl or Vampire Diaries on television  :)"  

So, to read or not to read.  Well, I am no stranger to racy scenes in a book, they don't bother me.  I've reviewed books for mature teens, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Besides, I'm a Vampire Diaries fan, so that was enough to make me want to read it.

Having never read Phantom was not a problem.  Maybe it even allowed me to get more into the characters because I had no preconceived notions.  Kailin Gow delivers an intriguing, mysterious, first in a series story that left me wanting more each time I stopped reading.  Waiting for the next one will be trying.  This book is dramatic and if you are looking for paranormal, mixed with romance and suspense, then this is the book for you!  The 2nd in the series is due out at the end of the year, so your wait will not be too long for the next one.

Friday Fill-Ins - 6/25/10

1. On vacation, I like to relax and enjoy time with my husband.
2. I love to snorkle in the ocean.
3. One of my favorite vacation spots is the Bahamas.
4. Children behave differently during a full moon.
5. Up, up and away went the balloon.
6. Bananas are great in my cereal.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to quiet time with my husband, tomorrow my plans include my nephew's 6th birthday party and Sunday, I want to work in the yard!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blog Tour - Female Nomad and Friends

Review Copy Provided by:  Three Rivers Press

About the Book:  In 1987, Rita, newly divorced, set out to live her dream. She sold all her possessions and became a nomad. She wrote a book about her ongoing journey and, in 2001, insisted on putting her personal e-mail address in the last chapter—against all advice. It turned out to be a fortuitous decision. She has met thousands of readers, stayed in their homes, and sat around kitchen tables sharing stories and food and laughter.

In this essay collection, Gelman includes her own further adventures, as well as those of writers and readers telling tales of the shared humanity they experienced in their travels. The stories are funny and sad, poignant and tender, familiar and bizarre. They will make you laugh and cry and maybe even send you off on your own adventure. Also included are fabulous international recipes such as vegetarian dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano chiles topped with a white cream sauce with walnuts and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds), and ho mok (an extraordinary fish-coconut custard from Thailand). Happy reading—and bon appétit, selamat makan, buen provecho!

My Review:  What a delightful collection of essays!  I really enjoyed Gelman's thoughts as well as those of the others in the book.  The stories took me through a range of emotions as I read them and made me want to see the places that were being talked about.  I love to read first person accounts; it makes me really feel like I'm walking in the person's shoes.  The voice in these essays really comes through as the authors speak from the heart and with passion!

My favorite thing about this book is the recipes.  I love to collect recipes and cookbooks, and love it even more when authors include recipes in their books.  I am anxious to try out many of the recipes because they are out of my comfort zone and culturally different than what I am used to.  It will definitely be a challenge, but one that I am ready to take on.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ray-O-Vac Powers Your Summer

Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion Twitter Event and Blogger Promotion

Enter for a Chance to Win Fun Summer Prizes and $50 Gift Cards
Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion

Moms and kids just want to have fun and Rayovac has the power to make it happen!

From June 21st through July 20th, Rayovac is empowering families to have fun through the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion.

First, show us you "like" the brand and products on Facebook at and together with expert moms at 5MinutesForMom, we will offer up great daily summertime family tips and a chance to win great prizes.

Then access and complete the entry form on Rayovc's website at Simply tell us how you'll power your fun this summer each day for a chance to win prizes ranging from Cameras and Bikes to Camping Supplies and a Summer Supply of Rayovac Batteries! No trick questions here! There is no correct answer to how you and your family add the Power of Fun to your summer! Must be a US resident and 18 or older at the time of entry to enter this Promotion, the Twitter Event or the Blogger Promotion.
"The first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion win a prize package from Rayovac."

Rayovac Powers Your Summer Twitter Event

Join Rayovac and 5MinutesForMom for a Twitter Event to support the exciting Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion. The Twitter Event will feature more than 20 fun giveaways from Rayovac ranging from a summer supply of Rayovac Batteries to $50 Target Gift Cards.

Rayovac Powers Your Vacation Summer Promotion Twitter Event
Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. CST
Location: #rayovac
Follow: @Rayovac_Battery, @5minutesformom, @CirclePRMary

"The first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Twitter Event win a prize package from Rayovac."

How can you participate?
  •  "Like" Rayovac on Facebook: Simply "Like" the Rayovac brand and products on Facebook at .
  • Post about the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion: Include a post promoting the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion on your blog, along with the following disclosure: "The first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion won a prize package from Rayovac." Then provide a link back to the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion located at
  • Answer the Question: Answer the June 22, 2010 Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion Summer Fun Inspiration question of the day on
  • Promote the Upcoming Twitter Event - Be sure to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer upcoming Twitter event on June 30, 2010 on your blog, along with the following disclosure: "The first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Twitter Event won a prize package from Rayovac."
  • Send a Link - You must be one of the first 99 bloggers to follow these Blogger Promotion requirements and send a link to your post to Winners will receive the prizes mentioned above and will be notified by June 28, 2010

Because of A Book with Linda Neas

I am so excited to have WOW! author, Linda Neas with me today at the blog!

Linda M. Rhinehart Neas self-published her first written work at the tender age of seven on the cardboard she gathered from her Dad’s shirts when they came back from the laundry. Since then, she has written extensively in various venues, publishing and performing her work throughout New England, including her own column in two newspapers in Southern Maine and as an online writer and contributing editor at

In February 2008, she self-published her first complete book of poems, Winter of the Soul. She recently published, Gogo’s Dream: Discovering Swaziland, a collection of poems dedicated to those who work to aid the peoples of Swaziland. Currently, she is working on several children’s books.

Ms. Neas lives in an enchanted cottage in western Massachusetts with her Beloved.

You can find Linda online at her blog, Words From the Heart.

From A Children’s Garden of Verses to Gogo’s Dream

By Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

When I was about five years old, I received a copy of A Children’s Garden of Verse with illustrations by Eloise Wilkin. I fell in love. Not only did I immediately connect with the poems, but the pictures took me to an idyllic world where children could run free through green fields, stopping to make daisy chain halos as mothers watched at a distance.

My life was anything but idyllic. I grew up in the brick and macadam of the city. While I was blessed with the ocean, only three blocks from the apartment we lived in, the streets were my playground.

This book was the first of my poetry collection. My mother had recited poems to me like other mothers read bedtime stories. I was well versed in the poems of Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg, as well as, Emily Dickinson and Kaye Starbird by the time I entered first grade.

I wrote my first real poem the year after my youngest brother was born. I pictured him immortalized by Wilkin in a new updated version of A Children’s Garden of Verse. Under his portrait would be my poem, “My baby brother’s name is Matty/And he is such a little fatty./When it is time to go to bed,/He laughs and laughs and shakes his head.”

The local librarian liked it and entered the poem into the Hornbook Club children’s contest. It didn’t win, but between my mother’s cheering on my efforts to live up to my heritage (My grandmother’s name was Riordan, which in Gaelic means, “The King’s Bard or Poet,”)and the librarian telling me that I was a “real” poet, I began my journey as a poet and writer.

It is important to remember, if one wants to be a writer of any genre, that one must read, constantly. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Reading poetry since the age of five and writing it since the age of eleven has brought me to where I am today.

Writing Gogo’s Dream: Swaziland Discovered was a work of love for a country and a people I have yet to meet. My relationship with them is purely virtual; however, I feel kinship with them in a way that transcends reality. When I see a Gogo smile, surrounded by her grandchildren, I feel her joy, I understand her fears for her children and grandchildren. I have lived with the nightmare of poverty and disease in my own life. It is through these connections that I found the fuel to write Gogo’s Dream.

Fifty something years ago, I never would have thought, as I held my children’s book in my hand, that the dream I had of being a published poet would come true. But, dreams do come true. The book is real. It is my dream now that the book with make the Gogo’s Dreams possible.

Thank you, Linda!  Here is a sample from Gogo's Dream:

Gogo’s Dream by Linda M. Rhinehart Neas © 2010

For the Gogos (Grandmothers) of Swaziland

African sun burns deep into your soul

As red-clay dust envelops your thoughts.

In the distance, the sound of a child

Crying, sobbing, wrenches your gut.

You kneel beside a Gogo,

Who exists only for her grandchildren.

Eighteen bodies crowd around -

Their faces belie their ages.

Babies who have seen too much -

Old before their time, yet,

Once smiles rise from the depths

Of their longing – they are young, again.

African moon pours silence over you

As night sings songs of sleep.

Gogo’s hut shines from within.

You stand outside wondering -

Perhaps it is a dream...

About A Child's Garden of Verses - First published in 1885 and continuously in print since then, Stevenson's poetry captures the joy and whimsy of childhood and is deservedly a classic. This book is a garden of delightful, imaginative poetry, complete with fairies, animals, and plenty of fun. Make-believe that a bed is a ship and exchange pirate stories; swing from a favorite tree and feel like you can touch the highest leaves; or visit a caravan of kings. An excellent read-aloud to share with a child.

Buy it at Amazon

About Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered - Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered is the culmination of a month long challenge to write a poem a day. When the author took the challenge, she was determined to write about the people and land that had touched her so deeply. All proceeds from the profits of this book go to Possible Dreams International to help the peoples of Swaziland.

Buy it

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blog Tour: Thumbing Through Thoreau

I don't usually review coffee table books, because honestly, who reads them?  I mean, the whole point of a coffee table book is not to read, but to be a conversation starter.  Well, I love quotes and so I knew I wouldn't be reading a "full" coffee table book.  It is definitely a conversation starter!

Title:  Thumbing Through Thoreau
Author:  Kenny Luck
Review Copy Provided by:  Tribute Books

About the Book:  On July 4, 1845, when Henry David Thoreau moved into his cabin on the shores of Walden Pond, he was probably unaware that his abode in the woods, and the impact and influence of that endeavor, would forever echo through time. Thoreau was an uncompromising idealist; an ardent maverick who criticized his fellow man. He urged that men and women ought to live more simply, and more deliberately. "The mass of men," he famously wrote, "lead lives of quite desperation." Yet the scope of Thoreau's message is much wider than social criticism. He speaks of spiritual transcendence in Nature and the unbounded potential of the individual. Thoreau is a dreamer and he speaks to dreamers. In a word, shun dogmatism and demagoguery; see beyond the immediate conventional religious explanations to reap a higher understanding. In our commodified contemporary American society, with the rise of religious intolerance and fundamentalism, materialism and mass consumerism, Thoreau's message is needed now more than ever.

My Review:  Let me start by saying that because I enjoy quotes and use them in my work, I enjoyed this book.  But, I wish I had been given an actual copy of the book to review.  What I received was a photocopy of the book, which didn't do the book near the justice it deserves.  I imagine the photos in the book are exceptional, but in black and white it's hard to tell.

If you love to read, collect, share quotes, then you will enjoy this book.  It is one to keep on the coffee table or in your office, to return to over and over again.  The quotes that the author chooses are chosen carefully and appropriately.  You really get a glimpse into Thoreau and his thinking.  Each page has one or two quotes along with a picture, which just adds to the quotes themselves.

I really enjoyed this one and wish that more authors would do books like this with other famous figures.  I think they are books to be cherished.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fiona Ingram interviews Danika Dinsmore

I am currently out of town, at a conference, so Fiona Ingram was gracious enough to post in my absence.  Thank you for this great interview, Fiona!

About Fiona Ingram: Fiona Ingram (B.A., Hons. (Natal), M.A., (Wits)) was born and educated in South Africa. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. The first book was inspired by an actual trip the author took to Egypt with her two young nephews (then aged 10 and 12). The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was a Finalist in the Children’s/Juvenile Fiction category of the 2009 USA Next Generation Indie Book Awards; Finalist in the Children’s Fiction section of the USA National Best Books 2009 Awards.

It was also a Winner in the Preteen category of the 2009 Readers’ Favorites 2009 Awards. The book was nominated Number 2 in the Top 10 Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens and Teens in The Children’s & Teens Book Connection. It has also won a Silver medal in the Teen Fiction category of the 2010 Nautilus Book Awards. The book was a Finalist in the 2010 International Book Awards

Escape to an Enchanted World with Brigitta of the White Forest

My guest today is Danika Dinsmore, an award-winning writer, spoken word artist, and educator. Danika has been working with children of all ages for 18 years. Faerie Tales from the White Forest is her first novel series. Brigitta of the White Forest is Book One of Faerie Tales from the White Forest.

Danika grew up in Northern California. She earned her MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (founded by Allen Ginsberg). Her early writing career was built on experimental poetry and collaborative spoken word performances. While living in Seattle, she organized and performed with the 12-person Word Orchestra as well as the performance group FourWord FourTete. Her inspired performances earned her the Washington Poets Association award for Performance Poetry. After moving to British Columbia she turned her attention to film, television, and new media. She has worked as an artist-in-the-schools and media literacy educator for Learning Through the Arts and has taught screenwriting courses in the Writing Department at Vancouver Film School and at Capilano University. She blogs about her multi-disciplined writing life as The Accidental Novelist. She currently lives with her husband and their spoiled cat in Vancouver.

Let’s take a look at Brigitta of the White Forest. Brigitta is a young Water Faerie from the village-nest of Tiragarrow. She’s anxious about going through The Change, as she doesn’t see how destiny markings on her wings should determine her life’s path. A few days before the annual Festival of the Elements, Brigitta is flying an errand with her tag-a-long sister when a mysterious curse turns everyone in the White Forest to stone, except for the two of them. They have no idea why they were not cursed, but they do know if they don’t turn everyone back in time for the festival rituals, the Hourglass of Protection will run out and so will its protective field around the forest. With no one in their forest left to help them, they must leave the protected realm to seek an exiled faerie they have only heard about in ancient tales.

Q&A with Danika

Fiona: Your two main characters are sisters. Is your book specifically aimed at girls?

Danika: I don't know the exact stats for publishing, but it seems to be a collective agreement that young girls read more than young boys. You always hear of people looking for ways to get young boys to read, at least in North America. I'm not sure if it's the same thing in other parts of the world. After I wrote the novel, a few people did ask if I could make one of the sisters a boy (Brigitta and Himalette are the main characters, Himmy is the younger sister). But really it would have been impossible to change either of them. They have a sisterly relationship. The relationship between sisters and brothers is a completely different dynamic. I know, I had two brothers.

Fiona: You wear two hats being in both publishing and films. What are your observations on the boy: girl ratio of viewers and heroes/heroines?

Danika: In the film and TV industry, it's quite the opposite to books where girls are the main readership. The largest movie-going audience is boys age 15-25 (interestingly enough, the 2nd largest movie going audience is women over 50). But, there are a lot of us who think this statistic was created by the industry because of the type of films that are made and marketed. It was self-fulfilling. I used to be on the board of directors of Women in Film and Television Vancouver. The statistics for women in "above the line" positions (i.e. those who have creative control over films) is staggeringly low. Until this most recent Oscars, no woman had ever won best director for a motion picture. 84 years! And, due to the preponderance of males in "above the line" positions, the trickledown effect is that there are a low percentage of female protagonists in films. Last summer I was looking at the marquees for the three leading theatres in town and NOT ONE film had a female protagonist. Not even the animated ones. Remember the animated film "Up"? There were no females in that movie except the protag's wife... who died.

Fiona: You started out originally in film. How has this influenced your writing?

Danika: This novel was originally a screenplay. I'm a screenwriter turned novelist. We always hear about novels becoming screenplays, but not much the other way around. And almost all my screenplays have strong female leads. It's been very important to me to write female heroes and to not use female stereotypes (well, I stay away from stereotypes in general anyway). So, yes, I had purposefully written this with female leads because I feel strongly about strong female leads in films.

Then I wrote the screenplay as a novel. I'd never written a novel before. I decided to do so because I thought there was so much more to this story. More than I could develop in a screenplay format. Screenplays are quite economic. When a novelist tries to write a screenplay, it's probably quite painful, because it's so minimalistic in comparison. You only write what you see (and hear) on screen. And even then, you don't describe anything too much because that's the set decorator's job. Also, I was concerned about rights. I knew I had something with Brigitta. I had written several screenplays, but instinctively I knew there was something special about this one.

Fiona: Who will read your book and why?

Danika: Even though my demographic will probably be marketed as girls aged 9-14, there have been men in their 40s that have read and enjoyed this book. That's because it's a real adventure story. This isn't a Disney fairy tale. This isn't Tinkerbell. This is a "hero's journey" into a dark and frightening place. Sure, there is comedy relief, but there are some quite scary moments. And the second book is even darker than the first. I think that's what happens when you delve deeper into something, it naturally gets darker.

It's also a coming-of-age for a girl who doesn't quite believe in herself. And the theme of "what is destiny?" runs through it. Are we in control of our destiny, or do things have an unalterable course?

Fiona: Did you ever think you’d write a novel?

Danika: When I was 15 I thought I wanted to be a novelist. I kept starting to write books and never finishing them. Then I discovered the magic of poetry, so that's the direction I went in. I even got my MFA in Writing and Poetics. And poetry is really my first love. I went from poetry to screenwriting, which isn't as much of a leap as one might think. They are both about economy of words, beats/rhythm, and imagery. To me, both are about what you SEE, and what is not said.

To answer your question, No, I never thought I'd actually write a novel. It seemed like such a daunting task. Too many words! Too much responsibility! But then I realized how wonderfully liberating it was! I'd been writing in such a restricted format. I became the director, cinematographer; set decorator, stunt coordinator, actor ... everything! It was so wonderful to be able to go into a character's head. So wonderful to describe things I didn't have the room to do so in the script. I got to add scenes! It became a richer, deeper, darker story.

Fiona: Now that you’ve gone and done it, how do you feel?

Danika: I'm excited that I can finally share it with the world. It scares me, though, because now I've created this entirely new world and I want to keep exploring it, so I hope people like it enough for me to continue on. That's what's really unique about this series. This imaginary world in which all the stories take place. It’s a place no one's gone before! That's what tickles me about it.

Fiona: What’s next after you finish Faerie Tales from the White Forest?

Danika: I don’t know what will happen after I finish this series, but I'd love to write a YA novel, something a bit more realistic. Perhaps a little magical realism? And I want to write some books about writing and teaching writing, because I have a lot to say about that. I've been teaching creative writing for 20 years.

Fiona: Thanks for being my guest today, Danika. Readers who’d like to know more about Danika’s work can visit her book website. Danika’s poetry Every Day Angels & Other Near-Death Experiences is also available on Amazon.

Visit Danika's worlds:


Brigitta link

Danika’s poetry

Another good interview that focuses on the book and makes an interesting link is An interview by Lori Calabrese, National Children’s Book Examiner.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Beautiful Darkness

"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:

Beautiful Darkness
By Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publication Date: October 12th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.
I read, fell in love with, raved about and reviewed the first book in this series, Beautiful Creatures.  It engulfed me into it's small town and I didn't want it to end.  I'm so glad that the next book is coming out, even if I have to wait until October. :(

Monday, June 7, 2010

BBAW Nomination

In case you hadn't heard the buzz around the blogosphere, Book Blogger Appreciation Week has been announced.  You can find all the details at the Book Blogger Appreciation Week blog. 

One of my favorite parts of the whole week are the blog awards.  Well, this year, the nomination process for the awards has changed.  Now, I've never been one to toot my own horn, but in this case, it's expected.  In order to be considered for an award, I have to choose 5 links from my own blog that will best fit the niche that I'm nominating my blog for.  I could only choose one, and it was hard for me to do that.  But, since I started my blog as a KidLit blog, that's the niche I chose.  The following links are the ones that I feel best showcase this.  What do you think?

Because of A Book with Cindy Hudson - this is a weekly feature that I do on my blog where bloggers, authors, or publishers share about books from their childhood, that shaped them as a writer, reader, or person.

Children's Book Week Kick-Off - I started this last year and work together with authors and publishers to host a week long celebration of children's books with guest posts, interviews, reviews, and giveaways.

Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch - book review

Artsy-Fartsy - book review

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge - book review

So, why don't you enter your own blog in a category?  The awards list and nomination instructions can be found at Awards & Nominations.  Check it out for yourself...what are you waiting for?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blog Tour - Wendelin Van Draanen

I apologize to those of you who stopped by yesterday for this post...I had my dates mixed up!

 Today, I am pleased to have Wendelin Van Draanen, author of the Sammy Keyes books, stopping by the blog with her thoughts on "quirky characters."

Wendelin’s Blog:
Wendelin Van Draanen’s website:
(go to Sammy Keyes to be able to participate in Crack the Code with Sammy Keyes)

People often ask me how I come up with the “quirky characters” in the Sammy Keyes books. Well, sometimes they just show up. Like the Elvis impersonator who works the night shift at Maynard’s Market. Sammy walked in the door and there he was. And  Madame Nashira—in a cosmic poof of smoke, there she was. I love when a character appears like that. It’s surprising, and usually makes me laugh out loud. Like, yeah, you definitely belong here. Let’s go!

Sometimes the quirk in the character comes from real life. There’s nothing’s quirkier than real life. In Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, the crazy cat lady was modeled after a woman I knew.  It wasn’t the cat part—she didn’t own cats. It was the appearance part. This woman tried to look like Barbie. She had the super-bleached hair, and wore ghastly amounts of makeup and clothes that would look cute on a fifteen year old. Trouble is, she had to be around sixty. I actually liked my neighbor quite a lot. She was sweet and friendly, but she was trying so hard to hold on to her princess years that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. Not sorry enough not to use her as a basis for a character, but see, that’s the thing with characters. They often start as someone you know, but after some time and a few chapters, they evolve into their own person.

But often characters acquire their quirks along the way. Like in Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary, I knew Sammy was going to come upon a hunched-over old woman who was walking along the side of the road. What I didn’t know was that this hunched-over old woman would be walking a pig. A big black pig. A big black pig with a big black bow around its neck. A pig named Penny. But there I was, typing away at my story when the pig inserted itself. I’m like, What’s this pig doing in my story? But there it was, and suddenly the hunched-over old woman had some real spunk. Some real personality. I mean, what kind of old person has a big pig as a pet? Not a boring one, that’s for sure.

Wherever they come from, I like the quirky characters the best. They make me laugh, and they make me think. I mean, what do I want to be like when I grow up? Do I want to be the kind of old lady who has a pig as a pet? Or the kind who paints her lipstick way outside the lines? Or do I just want to be rock solid like Grams. 

Or maybe I’ll be the old lady riding across the parking lot on the back of the shopping cart, going “Outta my way, sonny! I’m comin’ through!”

Maybe I’ll wind up in some young whippersnapper’s story.

Talk about poetic justice!

Anyway, thank you, Shelly, for inviting me to stop in on my Sammy Keyes blog tour. This has been fun and I appreciate the opportunity to share some inside information about where the characters in Sammy’s world come from. Tomorrow Sammy Keyes is actually stepping in for me at Mundie Moms ( I’m a little nervous, ‘cause there’s just no telling what that girl might say.

Here are the other stops on Wendelin's tour...

Wendelin Van Draanen
Sammy Keyes and the Cold Hard Cash Blog Tour

May 31st: Where the Books Are
June 1st: Steph Su Reads
June 2nd: Through A Glass, Darkly

June 3rd: Mrs. Magoo Reads
June 4th: The Children’s Book Review
June 5th: Write for a Reader
June 6th: Mundie Moms
June 7th: Library Lounge Lizard

June 8th: Wendelin’s Jog Blog (this is Wendelin’s site, where she will be posting a final entry here)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blog Tour - Glamour Girl from the Stars

Title:  Glamour Girl From the Stars
Author/Illustrator:  Carlton Scott
Review Copy Provided by:  Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours

About the Book:  Out of this world rhyming story about a 3 foot tall alien girl named Plee-Dee who borrows her father's flying saucer to visit Earth hoping to enter the Miss Universe Pageant in LA. She visits different cultures around the world realizing she feels good about herself without having to enter pageants. The book intends to teach little girls self esteem. Illustrations in colored pencil and photos from the author.   

My Review:   This is a cute little story with a message for little girls.  PleeDee wants to be in the Miss Universe Pageant, so she sets off for earth, in a spaceship.  As she travels to LA, she makes stops all over the world, from the time of the dinosaurs, to 2010; she visits Vegas, Hawaii, China, Africa, and Rome.  In each stop, Mr. Scott shows landmarks or animals that the spot is famous for.  What a great way to introduce young children to geography!

The book is written in rhyme, which I love, but this one doesn't always have that sing-songy feel that many rhyming texts do.  The illustrations appear to be colored pencil and are detailed, yet look like kid drawings, which should appeal to the children.  Even though this book's main character is a girl alien, boys will like the space theme of it.  Plee Dee learns that it's okay to be who you are, and that is a message that all children need to learn.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blog Tour - Michael Scott

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Michael Scott in the last stop of his blog tour.  Michael's book, The Necromancer, was released on May 25th.  It is the fourth book in the New York Times bestselling series The Secrets of the Nicholas Flamel.

There is lots of fun to be had online, to go along with the new book.  Click the link to play the game and enter the sweepstakes:  Quest for the Codex  Sweepstakes is open to US residents only.

Follow Michael on Facebook, where he will be posting original status updates daily during the tour:

You can find 5 video clues to the Necromancer at YouTube.  Go to and search for Michael Scott.

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by Michael Scott

“Master yarn-spinner that he is, Scott expertly cranks up the suspense while keeping his now-large cast in quick motion.”—Kirkus Reviews (The Sorceress)

From critically acclaimed author Michael Scott comes THE NECROMANCER (Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers / on sale May 25, 2010 / $18.99), the fourth book in the six-part series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. This internationally-known series introduces readers to legendary historical and mythological figures—weaving history, mystery and magic together seamlessly. Foreign rights for the series have been licensed in 36 countries and the first three books, The Alchemyst, The Magician, and The Sorceress, were all New York Times bestsellers. The series has now sold more than 1 million copies.

THE NECROMANCER picks up with Josh and Sophie Newman finally home in San Francisco, though it’s anything but a relaxing homecoming. The twins are more confused than ever, and Dr. John Dee is still pursuing them. The most disturbing issue they face is whether or not they can trust Nicholas Flamel. Michael Scott’s passion for history and mythology shines as he brilliantly weaves legendary figures into his signature fast-paced plot. Fans of the series will be spellbound as they read of these renowned historical characters on their quest to obtain the last two pages of the coveted Codex—and ultimately save the world.

In THE NECROMANCER, Michael Scott’s edge-of-your-seat adventure and meticulous research rise to a new level, taking fans on a ride full of excitement, surprises, and unexpected twists that will leave them satisfied and hungry for the next installment. The fifth book in the series, Warlock, will release in May 2011.

“When readers discover Scott’s work, they are fascinated by his ability to weave a fast-paced fantastical adventure with characters transplanted from history, mythology, and legend,” says Beverly Horowitz, Vice President and Publisher, Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers. “The only fictional characters are the contemporary twins Sophie and Josh,” she adds. “The rest of the characters from Dr. Dee and Nicholas Flamel to Shakespeare and Machiavelli, all have been thoroughly researched and brought to life with meticulous care.”

Fans can indulge themselves in even more of the adventure online by visiting the series’ Facebook page at which boasts thousands of fans and is growing daily. They can also contribute to the ultimate quest by playing the online game at

Michael Scott is one of Ireland’s most highly regarded and prolific authors, an authority on mythology and folklore. He has been hailed by the Irish Times as “the King of Fantasy in these isles.” His first book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, The Alchemyst, was named a Book Sense Children’s Pick, an Amazon Best Book of 2007, and a selection for the Texas Lonestar Reading List 2008–2009, among other accolades. The second book in the series, The Magician, received honors including the Children’s Indie Next Pick and 2008 CBC Children’s Choice. Michael Scott lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Overheard at a convention.

Writing is one of the few professions, along with professional police informants and bad journalists, where eavesdropping is actively encouraged. You never know when you’re going to overhear the perfect sentence, or the germ of an idea (because, this is really where we get all our ideas!)

However, location is important; listening to two women chatting on the Number 46a bus may not give you the idea for your killer SF novel (might give you something for a horror novel though!) But a science fiction convention is a different matter. I love conventions, both as author and fan. I go to the convention with one small suitcase and return home with three, two of them bulging with stuff I just had to have!

A convention brings together a couple of hundred like-minded people, well-versed in the shorthand of science fiction and fantasy … you never know what you might overhear.

What follows are genuine quotes, only the names of the authors have been changed to protect delicate and much abused egos.

At WorldCon in Glasgow many years ago, I followed two earnest bespectacled gentlemen, both wearing anoraks with fur around the collar (honestly). They left the following gem trailing in their wake.

So I said to him, your last book was rubbish, and the book before that was rubbish, why do you keep writing? And do you know what he said? He said, “To annoy people like you!” Now I think that’s bloody cheeky; we are his fans. He depends on us for his money.

A very serious young lady, in full Princess Leia round hairdo costume, trapped a well-known writer, famous for his depictions of alien races, in a corner. He had that glassy eyed look of a beaten man who had been trapped by a “Serious Fan” for a long time. As I went to rescue him, she was uttering the following immortal phrase. “Aliens will never interbreed with humans … unless they’re human aliens of course.”

A trio of very solemn black clad fans, with plastic bags bulging with books, discussed coffee.

“Coffee at Worldcons never tastes like coffee.”

“What does it taste like?”

“Like coffee with the coffee taken out.”

“Like water?”

“No more like coffee.”

A heated discussion vis-à-vis the relative merit’s of Babylon 5 and Start Trek: Deep Space Nine, ended thus:

Star Trek Fan: “Anyway, DS9 is realer than B5. Giant spider shadow ships are just ridiculous.”

However, often it is the fragments of sentences which are the most intriguing. Invariably you want to stop and grab the person and say, tell me more; you don’t, of course, and you are therefore left with the following immortal snippets.

“And of course the head stuck…”

“His mother wouldn’t let him come as a Ferengi. She’s Catholic of course.”

“I couldn’t get boots, so I used duct tape on my legs.”

“I left the extra head on the bus.”

“I do have a complete collection; I’m only missing twenty-two parts.”

And this, my absolute favourite: “Oh, I think he’s dead! Died before he could finish his last series. No great loss.”

And the author the two young women were talking about; why me of course! But, as your Mother told you, listeners never hear good of themselves.

I have 1 signed copy of each book in the series to give away to one lucky person.  You can enter by commenting on this post, posting the contest on Facebook, Twitter, or being a follower of my blog.  Doing any of those will earn you one entry, so you have the chance to get 4 entries.  Entries will be accepted until Friday, June 11th.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Clockwork Angel

I haven't done a "Waiting On" post in a while, but I felt it was time I joined back in.  In fact, I haven't done much blogging lately, but school is almost out, so things are looking up!  I miss my blogging buddies terribly and admire all of you that keep blogging everyday.  If you're a reader of my blog, thank you for coming back and sticking with me.  I appreciate each and every one of you!!

"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:

Clockwork Angel
By Cassandra Clare
Publication Date: August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

I have heard alot about this one around the blogosphere and really want to read it!
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