November 30, 2011

WoW: Cinder

This post is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I'm excited about OR already published book's I've seen that I'm really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren't sharing so that more books are shared.

This week I'm waiting on:

by Marissa Meyer
Release: Jan 3, 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

I've read a few reviews and think it sounds really good! Plus the cover is really cool.  What have you heard about it??

November 29, 2011

Tween Tuesday Review: The Contest (Everest Series #1)

Title: The Contest (Everest Series #1)
Author: Gordon Korman

A thrilling adventure trilogy from Gordon Korman about a number of kids competing to be the youngest person to ever reach the top of Mt. Everest
Four kids. One mountain.
They come from all across America to be the youngest kid ever to climb Everest. But only one will reach the top first. The competition is fierce. The preparation is intense. The challenge is breathtaking. When the final four reach the higher peaks, disaster strikes -- and all that separates the living from the dead is chance, bravery, and action.

My Thoughts
Gordon Korman has written several of these trilogy series, but this is the only one I've read.  It's a great book for those kids who need something short, fast paced and enough mystery to keep them guessing.  I found that all in this book.  This first book in the trilogy is all focused on how the kids are chosen to be part of the group of kids that will climb Mt. Everest. You'd think it could be kind of boring even cut down to be part of the second book, but you really can't.  So much is set up in this book that you know will be played out in the other two books.  I liked that part of it - it wrapped up the mystery and tension in this part of the story well, but set up so much that you want to keep reading and know exactly what is going to happen.

The book also had some great twists and surprises.  As the kids battle it out to be part of the team you begin to realize that as talented as each are, they each have struggles and secrets they are trying to hide.  And worse some are trying to prove what everyone thinks about them is wrong. Putting those two situations together creates some very dangerous situations.  This sense of danger kept me reading because I wanted to find out if anyone got hurt during it all.  This is even more important with how the story starts hinting at something bad that happens on the climb.  I know that any kid reading this first book will want to know more and jump right into the rest of the series.

Final thought: Great for both boy and girls who love to read and perfect for the reluctant reader
Best stick-with-you image: All the climbs were all so well described that I would get nervous!
Best for readers who: Like short books that have a lot happening
Best for ages: 9-12

For the Guys? YES! The main character is a boy and he does a lot of daring things that should impress some guy readers

November 28, 2011

I'm a NaNoWriMo Winner!!!!!

I did it!!! 

After falling behind I pushed myself tonight and I got it done!!! 50,000+ words and actually I have more of the novel yet to write.  For a long time I really kinda hated the story.  It turned into more of a romance than I wanted. But right at the end the main girl character got depth, and I like her a whole lot better! I'd like to explore her more and see where it could lead because she really found herself and was ready to take on what she wanted.

So anyway, I'm done and I will now take a mini break from writing :)

Cover Crush

I love book covers.  Love, love, LOVE them.  I've been known to drag my sister across Barnes and Noble just to show her a book cover.  Or to find students before school starts just to do the same.  You could say that yes, I develop a cover crush!

Today I'm Crushing On:

by Devon Ashley

Why I'm Crushing
The second saw this one I was completely drawn to it.  How could you not be? Maybe it's because it's not like everything else out there - a girl in a big pretty dress  -that draws me to it. Not that I don't like those covers. I do. But this is so completely different. 
 Her eye just captures me, and I get stuck on it.  And do you see how the sliver of her face is in the shape of a knife? Why? Is that intentional?  
And the stars in her eyes? What do they have to do with the story? I love it all. 
 Oh and I also like that the title is vertical instead of horizontal.  It's just all so different and memorizing. 

November 26, 2011

IMM a Few Weeks Together and the RETURN of Owl of the Week!

IMM is the time we all share the wonderful books we've gotten in the mail, bought, borrowed from the library or won  I've got a few because I didn't do this last week! 
Before we start I need to give a shout out to Krisit at The Story Siren for hosting each week! 

Here we go!

For Review
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Everneath (YES!!) by Brodi Ashton
The Partials by Dan Wells
Awakened (audio book) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

 From the ALA Convention 
in my home state
(the media specialist in my building went and shared!)

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
Chasing AllieCat (signed!) by Rebecca Fjelland Davis
Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker
Playground by 50 Cent

From Paperback Swap

The Knife of Never Letting Go (audio book) by Patrick Ness
Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz


After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

It was a good week :)

And this weeks Owl of the Week:
Look at these cute owl pj's from Target! I want them!!!
Click the picture to link to the page for them.

November 20, 2011

A Happy Thanksgiving List Early and a Week's Break

Hey all I wanted to wish you all a very very happy Thanksgiving!!!! 
I'm saying it now, but because I've decided to take the week off from blogging.  I'm trying to catch up on my NaNoWriMo writing - I'm like 3000 word behind YIKES! plus I have a few books I NEED and really I just want to relax for the holiday and my few days off.  
I should be back next weekend with my IMM. I've gotten a few that I want to share.  

If you're a US follower hope you have a good holiday.  If you're an international follower I hope you take minute this week to think about what you are thankful for.  

Below is my list of what I'm thankful for:

My kids: man I love you three! 
         MJ your talent and willingness to be who you are amaze me each day
         MK I love how your mind works and how you still give me hugs 
         SL For always saying I love you and patting my back when you hug!
My sister and brother-in-law: I would've been lost without you lately
My mom: thanks for always understanding
My dog and cat: You goofballs make me laugh so hard!
My Friends: Thank you for texting me whenever I need you to. 
All the kids I interact with each day: You take my crabby days and force me to do a 180.  Thanks for singing with me and listening to my babble about books!
Running: Painful but good
And the weird things that keep me going: coffee, wine and tootsie rolls.  

Happy Thanksgiving all!!!!!

November 17, 2011

Author Interview: Catherine Austen

I'm very excited today to welcome Catherine Austen author of both a middle grade and a young adult  book! 
I'm always in awe of authors who can write both.  It just shows how broad their creativity is.  

Catherine is the author of the MG book 26 Tips for Surviving 6th Grade

Becky Lennox wrote the book on getting through grade six, but these aren't the kinds of tips that come from school books or teachers... 
Forget social studies, math, and science - this hilarious new novel is about surviving some of the real problems tween girls face in the sixth grade: jealous friends, first crushes, embarrassing parents, and annoying older brothers. 
This honest and heartwarming novel follows 11-year-old Becky Lennox through the course of the school year, as she survives one challenge after another - feeling left out, lovestruck, lonely, and loony, but learning a little something each time.

And the YA Dystopic novel All Good Children

Quick-witted, prank-pulling graffiti artist Maxwell Connors is more observant than the average New Middletown teenager. And he doesn't like what he sees. New Middletown's children are becoming frighteningly obedient, and their parents and teachers couldn't be happier. As Max and his friend Dallas watch their classmates transform into model citizens, Max wonders if their only hope of freedom lies in the unknown world beyond New Middletown's walls, where creativity might be a gift instead of a liability. 
For those who like their dystopias with a rich character sauce and a side of humour.
Don't they both sound fantastic??? 
And with that - Welcome Catherine Austen!

The Serious Questions!

 For these two books - what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?

In both my new books, I am most proud of my main characters. In All Good Children, it’s Max, a smart-aleck teenager who is pushed into heroism. In 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6, it’s Becky, a funny self-absorbed 11-year-old who makes a lot of mistakes but learns from them. Sort of.

Tell about your writing process. How long did it take you to write your current book from idea to finish? Please tell about revision is you can!

I let ideas sit in files for years, then one day I wake up knowing it’s time to write that book.

I sometimes draft methodically, working every day at a moderate pace. But other times I draft all day long, barely bathing or eating for several weeks running. That is absolutely the best time (for me, not so much for my family)

I spend at least as long revising as drafting. It’s hard to see where the original book is, actually, by the time I’m done. After major revisions – which are difficult and depressing - there is polishing line by line – which is beautiful, like the icing on the cake.

All Good Children took about 5 months of drafting, 5 months of revising and polishing, then a couple more months revising based on my editor’s advice. So a good year’s worth of work (two if you count the idea/outline stage).

I began 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 over 8 years ago as a short story. It went through many forms and revisions before publication, including repeated rewrites of the ending based on my editor’s advice.

Is either story and/or characters based on anything/anyone in your real life?

26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 has many small bits of my life in it. Embarrassing bits. I’m not telling which bits. All I’ll say is that I did go to the circus with a boy in grade 6 and I can still picture the acrobat.

How much say did you have in the cover of this book? What is the process for creating the cover (my students are always curious about this!)

I had no say at all. From my end, the process was opening up an email with the cover in it, as created by my publisher’s designers. Fortunately, I have liked all my covers. It would be so disappointing to get a cover I disliked.  

 When you were in middle school kind of student were you? Did you write then?

I was good at heart, I truly believe, but I had a misguided sense of justice. Like at one point I embarked on a not-entirely-legal plan to start my own library. And there were some altercations with teachers making what I felt were unjust requests of my time. On the upside, I was hard-working and academically inclined (my apologies to the 7th grade teacher who received my 64-page report on Hawaii). I probably wrote stories back then, but I didn’t keep any. (That’s probably for the best.)

And because it's the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing?

I admire writers who make me laugh, like Daniel Pinkwater and Barbara Park, and writers who make me cry, like Robert Cormier and Virginia Euwer Wolff. My all-time fave might be Roddy Doyle, who does both.

The Fun Questions! (based on what 7th graders do!)

Do you chew gum? Yes or No If yes favorite kind?

Yes, I chew any brand of peppermint (NOT spearmint, which is gross) or some brands of bubblegum (NOT Hubba Bubba and NOT grape or strawberry flavors)

Did you pass notes in school? Ever get caught? 

I don’t remember ever getting caught. The key is to fake a stretch and maintain eye contact with the teacher while dropping the note. If you are an A-student and you have an honest face, no one will ever suspect you. 

Do you text? 


 Was school lunch just as yucky then as it is now?! 

Up to grade 8, it was much much worse. I’m talking day after day of bologna or tuna fish. Mondays were okay because I’d get roast beef left over from Sunday’s dinner. There was no such thing as Schneider’s Lunchables or snack-sized Pringles in my day. (But then again, there was always PB&J – I never heard of a peanut allergy when I was young.) 

High school lunches were WAY better than they are now because there was a cafeteria and absolutely no one in the world was concerned about our nutritional intake (because we were all skinny and active and ate home-cooked suppers), so I ordered French fries with gravy (AND ketchup) every single lunch. It was AWESOME. 

French fries are no longer served in high schools where I live – honestly, it’s French fry fascism up here in Canada. There is still cardboard pizza and soggy lasagne, but the one item that cafeterias make better than you can make at home - fries and gravy – are banned. This is particularly sad because I live in Quebec, where fries are served with gravy AND cheese curds in a delicious ultra-fatty nutrition-free dish called poutine. You can’t get that at the high school. You have to go to the chip truck next door. 

I can't imagine having no french fries for a school lunch!!! And the idea of not texting is forgien to most of my students! 

Thanks so much Catherine! I hope you all check out 26 Tips and All Good Children!

November 16, 2011

Book Review: Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule

Title: Beautifully Broken
Author: Sherry Soule
Thirteenth daughter. Heritage witch. Demon slayer.  
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse. 
Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. When she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes spellbound by his charms. Yet she is determined to discover the connection between them before it’s too late.  
Finally, Shiloh's met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list. And Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?  
It sucks to have a destiny, especially since Shiloh would rather spend her summer being a normal girl who worries about clothes and boys, not the supernatural. But she’s never been normal and the stranger things become the more her own magical senses awaken. 
With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, she will begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and decide how much she's willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town. 
Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.

My Review
I went into this book not sure what to think.  I'll have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised.  First let me talk about Shiloh.  She really sold the book for me.  I liked her.  I thought she was very genuine and real.  Her reactions as all these crazy things was great!  I loved that she didn't just give up and run away.  I loved that even though she didn't really know what she was doing and she was winging it a lot, she stepped up to fight what ever was thrown at her.  How could you not like a girl like that??? I'd like have her in my corner if I ever came up against something. And the best part about her? She has no clue how completely brave she is! See! Awesome character.  Now this doesn't mean that I agree with everything Shiloh does! There were times I wanted to pull mom and yell and her to think first.  She makes mistakes along the way as she's trying to figure it all out, but what kind of book would it be if she already knew everything!  It was also neat to see her become more confident and less alone as the story progressed.

Now the plot was pretty decent.  What I really liked was how it jumped right into the scary and creepiness right from the first few pages.  The biggest of bad guys is introduced then, and this pulled me right in! There were times I wish I had more background about exactly what had happened with Shiloh, her scar and mostly her relationship with her mother.  Some of it was almost presented like it was something I should already know, so there was no need to give me the details.  I saw this mostly in the relationship with her mother.  I had a hard time figuring out if her mother had been this way towards her since she was born, or if her behavior had only started recently.  Some of it was explained as the story progressed.  This helped reveal more and more what was happening with Shiloh and the ghosts and I see why it was done - it built up some tension and heightened the mystery, but sometimes I just wanted the full story about their relationship now.  I also felt this with the story behind her scar.  What happened that caused her to get her scar was slowly revealed. I got why, but at times it confused me and I just wanted all the details! Over-all the plot held my attention well and kept me reading. I wondered how all these creatures, shadows and ghosts fit together and what they all really wanted from Shiloh. Were they all evil? How would she overcome them? Could she over come them?? Lots of questions I kept reading to find the answers to.

I liked the budding relationship between Trent and Shiloh.  It was well done.  I felt Shiloh's frustration with Trent as he seemed to be one way one second and then completely switch.  This made their relationship never completely certain.  Did Trent like her and could she trust him? Even now I think those questions are not completely answered, and I'm ok with that.  I don't like perfect little romances. The romance was important in the story, but I liked that it wasn't the only thing that drove the plot.  The shadows and Shiloh's developing powers were really doing that instead.

Final Thought: If you like a ghost story with some nasty bad guy check it out!
Best stick-with-you image: The nasty creature that shows up within the first few pages
Best for readers who: Like a ghost story
Best for ages: 14+ (mostly due to the romance between Shiloh and Trent)

For the Guys? No not really.  I don't think they'd enjoy hearing all Shiloh's thoughts although they might admire her courage too!

November 15, 2011

Book Review: We Are Not Eaten By Yaks +KINDLE Giveaway Details

Title: We Are Not Eaten by Yaks (An Accidental Adventure #1)
Author: C. Alexander London

Eleven-year-old twins Oliver and Celia Navel live on the 4-1/2th floor of the Explorers Club with their father, Dr. Navel. Their mother, Dr. Navel, has been missing for years. So when an explorer shows up with a clue as to where his wife could be, Dr. Navel drags Oliver and Celia to Tibet to find her. Once there, the twins fall out of airplanes, encounter Yetis, travel through waterfalls, and end up in the Demon Fortress of the Warrior King where they - just possibly - might find their mother and save their father from the Poison Witches. Thing is, they would much rather be watching television. And if their trip doesn't work out as planned, the twins could end up as slaves to Sir Edmund Thitheltorpe III, an evil explorer with breath that smells like boiled carrots, who has it in for the whole Navel family.

Loved this book! Just loved it.  It was fun mixed with tension mixed with mystery mix with more fun. I tore through it because there was so much going on that I couldn't stop - the pace was fantastic.  It was like a wild roller coaster ride that included yaks, monks, scary airplanes and a whole lot of need of TV.  I do have you tell you that with a mix like that the book risked going over the top - being to crazy that I could not in anyway buy into it and enjoy.  That just didn't happen.  Even though a lot of  what happened was so crazy that we all know it wasn't possible but I believed it.  I believed every wild rump of it!

Ok let me talk about why I believed it.  That would be the two main character Oliver and Celia.  They were fantastic. I completely loved their dry sense of humor, and their obsession with TV. The love they have for TV is amazing! And they way they described their shows and how much they knew them was so over the top it couldn't be anything but funny! I also loved that from these two explorer who raised their children around explorers came twins that only wanted to explore what the next TV show would be!  It was a fun contrast.  But what was even more fun was that their parents still made them go on all these adventures even though they hated them.  And the kids had great complaints about why they were so awful.  The funny thing was I understood why they'd hate them! They lived the danger first hand.  They just wanted to stare at the tv where dramas gave them dramas etc.  I guess that once you've been bitten by a poisonous snake you'd just rather stay home and watch it happen to someone else! The funny part is, you catch glimpses of the maybe just a tiny tiny bit liking to explore, but of course they'd never ever admit that! Admitting might mean they miss their favorite shows even more.  But as the adventure they accidentally find themselves in develops it becomes clear that all the adventures they've gone on with their parents has stuck whether they admit it or not.

The twins do have one other topic besides tv that they think about - their mother who disappeared while searching for the Lost Library of Alexandria.  She has been gone for several years, and the twins do wonder what has happened to her. The mother's disapparnce does play a role in the adventure they find themselves in.  Her disappearance and a cast of shady characters and the mystery that also keeps the reader reading.  Where is their mother? What happened? Is she helping them now?  Loved looking for all the answers to these questions! Just another aspect that kept me reading.

Final Thought:  Fun! Fun! Fun! with lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing.
Best stick-with-you image: Falling from the plane
Best for readers: Who like a fun fast mystery filled read
Best for ages: 9+

For the Guys? YES! Great adventure (duh!) and a pace that never lets up.

Now I want to share a giveaway that C. Alexander London is hosting! Here are the details:

Hey Friends!

I wanted to let you guys know about a contest I've launched to celebrate the release of my new book, We Dine With Cannibals

With the help the help of SMITH Magazine's Six-Word Memoirs project, I'm asking readers to share their own most accidental adventure in Six Words. One randomly selected winner will get a Kindle!

My Six Word Accidental Adventure ("Surprise revolution took away my cartoons") tells the story about how I got the idea for The Accidental Adventures series. 

You can read the back-story on SMITH's site:

All the Accidental Adventures Kindle Contest (AAKC!-I love a good acronym) details are here:

Readers can enter on Twitter or on SMITH Magazine's Website

Plus there's a Bonus Prize! Signed books for a lucky winner who helps share the contest on twitter with the #AccidentalAdventures hashtag

What are you waiting for???? Go!!! Enter!!!!

Guest Post: C. Alexander London and Turning Idea Into Plot

Today I have the honor of welcoming C. Alexander London author of the Accidental Adventure series. The first book, We are Not Eaten By Yaks,  and being published this week, We Dine With Cannibals.  I'll be reviewing We Are Not Eaten later today.  It was fantastic! 

Today he is sharing with us something I always want to know and something I'm always emphasizing to my students - how to structure and idea into a plot!
If you've ever wondered how authors work you must read on!!

Welcome C. Alexander London!

When I was young, I loved the movie The Secret of NIMH (an adaption of the Robert C O’Brien book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM). I was terrified of one particular scene where Mrs. Brisby goes to see the great Owl, whose eyes are aglow and whose voice crackles with danger. The image of that owl is forever burned into my brain. Needless to say, I hope this visit to The O.W.L. won’t be so terrifying. I’m glad to be here in fact!

My name is C. Alexander London (the C stands for Charles…shhh), and I’m the writer of the Accidental Adventures series. This week, the 2nd book in the series, We Dine With Cannibals, is being published and I’m excited to share it with you.

I promise not to include any spoilers, but in this adventure, Oliver and Celia Navel—the TV obsessed heroes of We Are Not Eaten By Yaks—are back and this time they are forced to trek through the Amazon Jungle for a reality TV show, survive deadly booby traps, angry fire ants, vicious thugs, raging river rapids and the worst thing I could possibly imagine: 6th Grade Dodgeball. I had a lot of fun writing it and I hope you’ll like reading it.

I’m often asked how I go from a bunch of random ideas, like deadly booby traps, angry fire ants, vicious thugs, raging river rapids and 6th Grade Dodgeball into complete books that keep readers wanting to turn the pages. I thought I’d tell you how I do it.

The first and most important thing is that I write. I know that sounds a little silly, but writers write. Every day, I sit down in my chair write at least 1,000 words (okay, I confess, I give myself weekends off, usually). I write my thousand words whether I feel like it or not, whether I think what I’m writing is good or whether it’s terrible, I get those words down on the page.

I know writers who make 500 words a day their goal and writers who make 3,000 words a day their goal. The point is that when you write a bit every day, it adds up and before you know it, you have a first draft. It won’t be perfect and you’ll need to rewrite it and fix it and revise it in further drafts, but it’s there and you did it by sitting down and doing the work every day. This also helps, because then I don’t have to write a whole book at once. I just write my daily word goals. It is much less intimidating that way!

The other key to turning my ideas into a complete story is structure. Structure is the spine of storytelling; it is how plots are built. From the earliest tales we hear (Once upon a time…) to mind-bending epics with dozens of characters and countless plots and subplots, structure organizes the ideas and builds suspense. There are as many ways of structuring a story as there are stories to tell, but there are some basic elements that work for me. I’m going to let you in on how I make my outlines and design the structure of my plots to keep them fast-paced and exciting.

The structure I use is based on something that was taught to me by James V Hart, a screenwriter and novelist who has written some great movies (Hook and Dracula are two of my personal favorites, and his book, Capt. Hook, Adventures of a Notorious Youth is a riot).[1]

Before I write anything, I make notes on each of the “signposts” he taught me. That way, as I’m writing, if I get lost or don’t know how to move the action along, I can look at my notes and see where I want to go. Every novel I write has these elements as the backbone of their structure.

So here you go, check out these signposts and see if they work for you!

Set The World: What are your characters doing the day the story starts? What’s their world like? This is a chance to get to know the people we’ll be following throughout the story.

New Opportunity: This is it! Something comes into the story that sets everything in motion. Anything goes here, a mystery, a monster, even a little brother.  What your character(s) do with this new thing in their lives will drive the story forward.

The Goal: The New Opportunity has set events in motion and your characters are going to have a goal in mind because it. Solve the mystery, beat the monster, keep the little brother from getting their room…ask yourself: What does my character want?

Progress and Setbacks: As your characters strive for their goal, they make some progress, but they also face obstacles. Things get in the way. This is the drama, this is the action, this is where they grow. If you were drawing a picture of this part of your story it would like the mountains rising and falling.

The top of the Mountain: This is the big moment, their highest point, the closest your characters have gotten to their goal. The view is pretty great from up here. They feel good about getting what they want, but nothing can last, otherwise, the story would be over…

The Plan Falls Apart:  Suddenly, things change. They slide down the mountain. Everything goes wrong. The clues were tricks, the monster’s still alive, little brother is smarter than he looks! All is lost. Or is it?

The Aha! Moment: Your characters have hope! The situation seems impossible, the bullies are too big, the monsters too monstrous, your little brother has already stolen your room, but there’s a new idea and it just might save the day!

The Showdown: This is where it’s all been leading. Will your character get what they want? How? Will they get something else instead? Win or lose? What will they learn? What won’t they learn?  This is where they face their biggest obstacle and (hopefully) beat it for good (or maybe they don’t? Maybe there’s a sequel…)

The Aftermath: After the showdown, what happens? How does your character react? Did they win? Did they lose? And what does that mean for the world they started in? How have they changed?

That’s it! By making notes on each of those, I know I can sit down and write a story that will have action and conflict and that will move forward with a strong beginning, middle and end. Even if the final story is different from the notes I made, these signposts help me make sure I never get too lost.

I wish I could say the same for my main characters, but I write these stories so that Oliver and Celia get very lost. I put them in grave danger to see if they can get out of it. I put obstacles in their way to see how they react. The more trouble I can throw at them, the more fun the books become. I hope you enjoy reading their adventures as much as I enjoy writing them!

Thank you so much for sharing all this with us! I'm not looking at the stories I've written to see if I've followed any of this. 

Stick around for my review of We Are Not Eaten by Yaks
And pssssst I'll be sharing a Kindle giveaway if you're willing to share your accidental adventure!

[1] This structure is copyright James V Hart. It cannot be published without his permission.

November 11, 2011

For the Guys: N.E.R.D.S. by Michael Buckley

On Fridays I like step back and make sure that I am addressing boy readers.  It's so easy to review and highlight books for girls, but I also teach boys, so I need to make sure to find books for them! 
Today I'm featuring a series boys  might enjoy.

by Michael Buckley

Why Do I Think Boys Would Like?
It's about spies and kids being spied and has gadgets - fun gadgets.  How could boys not like it!
And it has pictures - fun pictures.  Now I'm not saying boys can't read books without pictures or that they need them, but I know boys and they tend to gravitate towards that kind of book! And the concept of this book is great - the nerds actually being the "cool" kids.  How many boys (all kids actually!) could relate to that!  

I have the audio book of this, so we're going to listen to it.  I think my son will really enjoy it.  Maybe enough to actually read the second book!

N.E.R.D.S #1
Michael Buckley is at his comic best in this madcap new series sure to appeal to kids looking for a quick, exciting read.
Combining all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school, NERDS, featuring a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school, hits the mark. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities! They battle the Hyena, a former junior beauty pageant contestant turned assassin, and an array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last.

N.E.R.D.S. #2
In this second outing for the 5th grade super spies, Duncan Dewey, codename "Gluestick", is the point of view character. This time the group must fight a very unlikely villain - he still lives with his Mum. In other words, it's the NERDS against a nerd.

November 10, 2011

Book Review:The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Title: The Secret Year
Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard
Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one - not even Julia's boyfriend - knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can't mourn Julia openly, and he's tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia's journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he's desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

My Thoughts

I had been wanting to read this book for a very long time, but just bought.  Then when I did buy it it sat on my shelf for a long while before I finally picked it up.  I'm glad I finally did.  I enjoyed the book.  I was very intrigued by the concept.  The idea of having a secret love that no one knows of and then one dies was fascinating.  I wanted to know how it played out. How do you grieve in that situation?  How do you let that person and move on?  I really wanted to know.

Colt was a great main character.  I really liked him.  His personality balanced Julia's.  I found her to be a little harder to like. She seemed confused and unable to make a decision, and because of this she didn't always treat Colt right.  That bothered me.  But this is all part of the story.  It's exactly that that Colt is trying to figure out and comes to terms with.  Who was Julia really?  What was there relationship? It was a such a strong struggle that I really felt for him.  Sometimes I wanted him to just put her journal away and not read it any more because I didn't want him to read something that might hurt him. Then there were times that Colt was so confused about what to believe that I wanted to take the journal out of his hands just so he could move on and let it all become part of of past.

The question of the book seems to be - how can you move on after losing someone when you find out they might not be all you thought they were.  That's what Colt, and several other minor characters, are dealing with as well.  Because Colt is only in high school he's at an age that causes him to not always handle his grief over Julia well.  He makes some bad choices that make things worse.  I felt for him and kept reading because I wanted to know if he made through ok, and if he did, how did it do it? It really was my like of Colt that made this book strong.

On thought I kept having while reading it - it reminded me a lot of some Jon Green books I've read. And that's a compliment! It just had the same feel.

For the Boys? For older YA boys yes they might like it.  Although the narrator is a boy, the content my be deemed to "girly" by some boys.

Final Thought: Very interesting concept carried out well
Best Stick-with-you image: Eating Thanksgiving dinner
Best for readers who: are ok with a "thinking" book.  This book doesn't have any action.
Best for ages: 14+ for sure.  Very much upper YA

I have to share the paperback cover for this book. When I saw this cover I loved it so much.  I liked it a whole lot better than the hardcover.  Now that I've read the book I'm not sure.  They both fit, but it's much more of a toss up as to which one I like better.