Posted in Children, Giveaway, Middle Grade, Spotlight on September 20, 2017


The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby

Violet Barnaby searches for the joy in life after losing her mother in this sweet and funny follow-up to The Charming Life of Izzy Malone.

Violet Barnaby is a having a blue Christmas. She’s still grieving the loss of her mother, and to make things worse, her dad has just married Melanie Harmer, a.k.a. the meanest teacher at Dandelion Hollow Middle School. But on the day Violet and her dad are packing up and moving into the new house they’ll share with Melanie and Melanie’s two children, Violet finds a letter her mother wrote to her before she died, asking Violet to enjoy Christmas, along with a Christmas Wish List—things her mom wants her to do during the holiday season. On the list are exactly the kinds of things Violet doesn’t want to do this year, like Be Someone’s Secret Santa; Give Someone the Gift of Your Time: Volunteer; and Bake Christmas Cookies.

Violet shows the letter to her friend Izzy’s Aunt Mildred, who calls a meeting of the Charm Girls, a club Izzy and Violet belong to along with their friends, Daisy and Sophia. Aunt Mildred decides she will give them each a charm to put on their bracelet if they do all of the tasks on the Christmas Wish List, which Violet is not too happy about. She’d rather forget about the list completely, but feels compelled to honor her mother’s wishes.

And when Izzy’s crush confides a big secret to Violet, Violet feels like she is stuck between her best friend and the boy who she just might have a crush on, too…

 

Praise for The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby

“[an] emotionally perceptive novel of grief and recovery.” – Kirkus

You’ll fall in love with Violet and love every minute of living in her wondrous world! – Stephanie Faris

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound

 

About the Author

Jenny Lundquist was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California, where she spent her time unsuccessfully learning how to surf. When she was younger, she wanted to be either a rock star or a published author. After she taped herself singing and listened to it on playback she decided she’d better opt for the writing route. Jenny is the author of multiple YA and Middle Grade titles including Seeing Cinderella, The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby and the forthcoming The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams (2019).

Website * Facebook * Twitter

 

 

amazon or paypal$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 10/10/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in 5 paws, Middle Grade, Review on September 5, 2017

Synopsis

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK’D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK’D.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK’D to the judges?

New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone combines friendship, coding, and lots of popcorn in her fun and empowering middle-grade debut.

Review

I LOVED this book on many levels. I loved that the author is a computer geek and brings that out in her main character, Allie. Allie is only 12 but has already created an app that could take off by leaps and bounds and help those awkward new students at school find friends. Allie has been coding programs for several years by this point and I think that message to all young women out there is a strong one = that math and sciences are just as easy for females to conquer as their male counterparts.

But beyond that message, there is also a message about friendship. That no app can truly decide who your best friends will be or who you will “click” with via this app, but it is a start especially in an unfamiliar situation. It is also about perseverance and working hard to get where you are in life, even at the age of 12.

I would recommend this book to any young woman 10 and up (possibly a bit younger) and even to adults like myself so that we can continue to encourage young women in STEM.

We give it 5 paws up

About the Author

TAMARA IRELAND STONE is the author of Time and Time Again, a collection of her two novels Time Between Us and Time After Time, and the New York Times best seller Every Last Word.

A Silicon Valley-native, she has worked in the technology industry all her life, first testing Atari game boards in her parents’ garage, and later, co-founding a woman-owned marketing strategy firm, where she worked with small startups as well as some of the world’s largest software companies. She enjoys skiing, music, movies, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Want a chuckle?  Check out the Top 10 things about Tamara

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Posted in coming of age, Fantasy, Magic, Middle Grade on February 22, 2017

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One


Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr
Published by: Wondertale, California
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
ISBN: 1-945353-11-2
ASIN: B01MQGHGBH
Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic
Ages: 12 and up.
Length: 85,000 words / 290 pages

Amazon * Goodreads

Synopsis
Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume Two

Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr
Print Length: 273 pages
Publisher: Wondertale
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
ASIN: B01N988TW7
Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic
Ages: 12 and up.

Amazon * Goodreads

Synopsis
Return to the world of The Magician’s Workshop: Where Dreams Become Reality.

In Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void?

Rejoin your favorite characters as they step forward and receive a label that will have the power to dramatically alter the course of their lives forever.


About the Authors

Christopher Hansen

The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.

 

 

J.R. Fehr
When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

 

Contact the Authors
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Posted in Middle Grade, Spotlight, Young Adult on February 16, 2017

Grow Up Messy!

(A Hilarious Coming of Age Series Book1)

Author  : Paromita Goswami

Genre :  Middle School, Teen and YA

Publisher :  Ficus India

 

Synopsis

Childhood is considered to be the best time of one’s life. What if you get a chance to live it once more with a five-year-old?

Misry, a naughty five-year-old girl, lives with her parents in a B.S.F border outpost near Indo-Bangladesh border. But with no schools and friends she feels very lonely. She tries to befriend some local village kids.

But they find her incompetent in their rural antics. They nickname her Messy as most of the time she messes up their plan. Can Misry really be a part of the gang?

Set in the early eighties, join Misry in the adventures of her life.

Amazon Kindle * Nook * Kobo

Fun Facts about the book & the writing journey

      1. Misry’s character in the book Grow Up Messy! is that of an innocent child who depends more on her mother for her smaller needs. The best part is she expects her mother to be know everything just like the superwoman. She believes there is nothing which her Ma cannot do or hasn’t seen. So when she requests her mother to make Pinjiri, something which she had tasted for the first time elsewhere, it never occurred to her that Ma might not know about its preparation.  This particular scene from the book is very close to my heart. Although the entire episode is very funny but it actually depicts the trust of a child in the mother. Something which no one can ever challenge. I see my son in this episode sometimes.
      1. Children enjoy being dirty. We have done it so many times in our days yet as a parent if we see our child playing in the soil we try to stop him immediately. The same thing our mothers might have also done with us while we enjoyed. Isn’t it strange, when we grow up we follow our mothers so blindly.There is an episode in the book where Misry plays in the muddy pool and ruins her fresh clothes. No doubt her mother is mad at her.
      1. Children have a very special place for animals in their heart. Whether they have pets at home or not but whenever they get a chance to pet an animal they will never stop themselves. I wish as we grow up we shouldn’t lose this emotion within us. It actually makes us more humane.In the book, Misry befriends a sacrificial  animal as her pet what follows next is very heart wrenching.
      1. As kids, our relationship with our first cousins is very interesting. Once in a year, during the school vacation we go to visit them. Whatever, time we spent together is always fun. We use to share things, study together, fight with each other and even share our little secrets. These moments are recreated when Misry visits her Dadu’s house. It is so much fun to have so many family members living under the same roof. Have you ever lived in a joint family or visited one?
      1. It will be a lie if I say I never had any difficulties in learning or rather mugging up the multiplication tables. This was one part that I always hated in Mathematics and the fact is no one said before that this multiplication table I will be using throughout my life. Yet when it comes to our kids we never fail to tell them how easy it is to learn the multiplication table. Was it really???  The book has a chapter for that too. Seriously dedicated to the Multiplication Tables.    How Misry and her family copes with it is something to watch out for.

About the Author

Paromita Goswami is a writer and storyteller by passion and a rebel by choice. She says the world is full of stories and as a writer she loves to pen them down. Her work is not genre specific. From literary fiction to children book to upcoming paranormal thriller and women fiction, Paromita Goswami‘s books offer the variety of life to her readers. Grow Up Messy! is her second book. She debuted in 2015 with Shamsuddin’s Grave, a literary fiction. Besides writing, she is also the founder of reading club that enhances book reading habit in children. She lives in central India with her family.

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Posted in 4 paws, Middle Grade, Review, Western, Young Adult on January 20, 2017

Synopsis

When Annabelle Fortune, the fastest gunslinger in the wild west, inadvertently stops a stranger from attacking a train — and he wears a suit that enables him to fly! — the government believes she’s the only one to have witnessed the Locomotive Reaper and survived to tell the tale.

Promising to find out what he can about her missing father, the Director of the Secret Service persuades Annie to swear in. Too soon, her detested nickname re-stakes its claim.

Partnered with Beau Slokam, whose penchant for gambling leads them straight to the Doom Gang, Misfortune Annie guides the smooth-talking Southerner in a chase through the Rockies, with her Cheyenne friend, Wontoa, rounding out their unlikely trio.

When Annie again meets the Locomotive Reaper, his gadgetry proves far more advanced — and deadly — than even top scientists could have imagined.

A sequel is already underway! Visit Annie at MisfortuneAnnie.com for updates on release, as well as announcements regarding future books in the series!  You can also check out the Facebook page.

Praise

“At a time when women weren’t typically adventurers, especially at Annie’s age, it’s great fun to see a story about a girl who loves an adventure, is capable, and well-respected.  Annie is a great model for young girls.”

“Annie is whip smart and a dead shot. If you are looking for western action, train robbers, and a sharp shooter – look no further.”

“A fast-paced, action filled adventure in the Wild West with a wonderful heroine. Misfortune Annie’s bravery and determination leap off the page from the first scene.”

Review

This book was entertaining and a little different from what I normally read, but enjoyable all the same.

Annie is a gunslinger, and while I don’t know her age, I assume she is rather young (teenager or early 20’s at the oldest). Despite that, she is apparently known for having misfortunes on a regular basis, hence the nickname. She is persistent and when shooting at people tries not to kill them, but rather shoot guns out of their hands or just wound them. Sometimes that is to her detriment as they seem to continue coming after her. She is also a whiz with a rope and does some impressive roping throughout the book. Despite her scrapes and adventures, she is a character that is very likable.

Despite the era, she is educated and likes to read. That is a plus near the end of the book…but I can’t tell you why because it will spoil some of the anticipation while reading the book.

The book does leave you with a little of a cliffhanger that I assume will be addressed in a future book.

This book would be great for kids to read because of the action adventure, humor and historical setting.

We give this book 4 paws up!

About the Authors

Janet Fogg

Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later, she resigned from the firm to follow the yellow brick road. Ten months after that, she signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her historical romance Soliloquy a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.

With husband Richard, Janet co-wrote Fogg in the Cockpit (Casemate), one of five books nominated in 2012 by the Air Force Historical Foundation for best World War II book reviewed in Air Power History.

Keeping her historical knowledge sharp, Janet manages the 359th Fighter Group’s Facebook page, sharing WWII stories and photos about the Fighter Group.  She is also a proud member and 2015/16 Vice President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She previously served as Published Author Liaison in 2010.

Website | ChiseledInRock.com |  Janet “The Kid” Fogg on Facebook | Goodreads | YouTube

Dave Jackson

Not your typical author, Dave Jackson started writing in his constant pursuit to become a renaissance man, but later fell in love with the art form. He performs stand-up and skits regularly, as Comedy remains one of his many passions and he writes and performs skits, as well as stand-up. Also a songwriter and guitarist, Dave has composed over 300 musical titles.

A country boy, Dave was raised in Oklahoma and taught 6th grade English for two years. He enjoys sharing the tale about when he climbed high into a towering black jack tree and grabbed a dead branch. Snap! He hurtled toward his death, but he held tight to the branch and it slowed his fall, saving his life.

In 2013, Dave enjoyed the release of Tattoo Rampage by Curiosity Quills Press. The novel follows Evangelina Marquez-James, a strong female heroine, who gets her first tattoo as a symbol of courage to carry on after her police officer husband dies in the line of duty.

 ”Gusto” Dave Jackson on Facebook |  Goodreads


 

Posted in Children, Giveaway, Middle Grade on November 26, 2016

the-charming-life-of-izzy-malone

The Charming Life of Izzy Malone by Jenny Lundquist

Izzy Malone isn’t your typical sixth grader. She wears camouflage combat boots and tie dye skirts; the Big Dipper and Orion are her two best friends; and she’d rather climb trees or shoot hoops than talk about boys and makeup. And after only a month of middle school she’s already set the record for the most trips to the Principal’s office.

The only time Izzy feels at peace is when she’s on the open water, and more than anything else, she wants to become a member of the Dandelion Paddlers, her school’s competitive rowing club. But thanks to those multiple trips to the Principal’s office, Izzy’s parents force her to enroll in Mrs. Whippie’s Charm School, a home-study course in manners and etiquette, or they won’t let her race in Dandelion Hollow’s annual pumpkin regatta—where Izzy hopes to prove to the Dandelion Paddlers she is more than qualified to be on their team.

When Mrs. Whippie’s first letter arrives it’s way different from what Izzy was expecting. Tucked inside the letter is a shiny gold bracelet and an envelope charm. Izzy must earn her first charm by writing someone a nice note, and once she does more tasks will be assigned.

Izzy manages to complete some of the tasks—and to her surprise, she actually finds herself enjoying the course. But when one of her attempts at doing something good is misinterpreted, she fears her chances at passing the course—and becoming a Paddler—are slipping away. With some unexpected friends there to support her, can Izzy manage to earn her charms and stay true to herself?

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Praise for the Book

“Izzy’s frank, vulnerable, sassy first-person narration reveals her surprising journey from a solitary girl talking to the stars to a girl with friends to light her way…This story of an atypical girl, her family, and friends, laced with middle school drama, is indeed a charming one.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A heartwarming coming-of-age journey…Lundquist deftly portrays the pain of being odd girl out, both at school and at home.” –Publisher’s Weekly

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Excerpt

Mom opened the letter, and sure enough, I was right.

“It’s from Ms. Harmer. It says you frequently refuse to follow instructions.” She paused, and said, “Well?”

I frowned. “Well, what?”

“Well—what do you have to say for yourself?”

“I guess I would say…instructions are for kids who have no imagination.”

Mom sighed loudly and ran a hand through her hair, but behind her back Carolyn grinned and gave me a thumbs up.

“What? You told me to say something, so I did.”

Mom read the letter again. “Apparently you were supposed to write an essay about a famous poet, and instead you turned in a story.”

“So what? Ms. Harmer didn’t actually say it had to be a real life famous poet—so I made one up.” If you ask me, what I did was actually harder; and, the best part of all, it only took me fifteen minutes. I wrote a story about a poet named Wanda Wordsmith who went fishing for her poems. Except instead of a fishing pole, she used a kite to catch her words on the wind. I thought it was a great story, and deserved an A. But apparently The Hammer thought it deserved a note home, which made no sense to me at all. Sometimes I think teachers like Ms. Harmer view creativity as something dirty and slightly embarrassing, and would prefer to turn kids into people who color inside the lines.

Generally speaking, I don’t care much for lines.

 

jenny-lundquistAbout the Author

Jenny Lundquist was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, where she spent her time unsuccessfully learning how to surf. When she was younger, she wanted to be either a rock star or a published author. After she taped herself singing and listened to it on playback she decided she’d better opt for the writing route. Jenny is the author of Seeing Cinderella and Plastic Polly as well as the young adult titles The Princess in the Opal Mask and The Opal Crown.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

 

 

 

amazon or paypal$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/12/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Fantasy, Giveaway, Middle Grade, Young Adult on October 6, 2016

sapphire-blade

The Sapphire Blade

The Sapphire Blade by Dorine White

The final journey begins!

Travel with past heroes and a new adventurer to the historical romps of London and the scorching sands of Alexandria. Fourteen-year-old Akmir, raised from birth to sacrifice everything in the pursuit of Cleopatra’s magic gemstones, holds within his hands the secret location of the fifth and final mystic gem: the blue sapphire.

His quest leads him to England, where four other gemstone searchers: Sara, Melanie, Kainu and Claire, are on the hunt. A pawn of the Roman Brotherhood, Akmir must choose his own path, whether to follow in his father’s brutal footsteps or stay true to his mother’s Egyptian heritage. Clues, puzzles, and danger rule the day.

What will happen when the power of all five gemstones are brought together? This is a battle for life and death, and only one side can win.

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Dorine

 

About the Author

My name is Dorine White. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Humanities. I am a member of the SCBWI, PNWA, LDStorytellers, and ANWA. I write middle grade and YA fantasy. My first book, The Emerald Ring, was published in May 2013 by Cedar Fort Books. I live in the beautiful, yet rainy Northwest with my husband and 6 children.

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$25 Blog Tour Giveaway

Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/30/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway, Middle Grade on September 12, 2016

EMERALD KEY BOOK COVER

The Emerald Key by Mark Frederickson & Melora Pineda

Penny and Laci are headed for a mundane summer vacation until a mysterious journal unlocks a portal to another world and they find themselves face to face with a baby dragon. In an attempt to send their new acquisition back to its home, the girls, along with two neighborhood friends, get sucked through to a mythical world. In this land, they must battle foes seen and unseen, pushing them to both their physical and mental limits. If they fail to stop the powers they’ve unleashed, it could not only destroy this strange world, but also annihilate their own.

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Praise for The Emerald Key

“In The Emerald Key, authors Mark Frederickson and Melora Pineda take readers on a fast-paced journey sure to enthrall not only middle-grade readers but their parents, as well. Laci and Penny will appeal to anyone looking for strong, resourceful female characters and the side characters are well-developed and hilarious, too (my favorite might be Buzz!).”  – Author Julie Gardner

“If you like fantasy and want adventure, this book is for you! It is entertaining for adults as well as middle-grade students…Just when you think there’s nothing new anyone could offer in a fantasy, these two authors prove you wrong. They have created a very believable new world fraught with danger and excitement at every turn. I couldn’t put it down.”  – Dani B

“I love the vivid characters and the way you can picture all the action…I would recommend this book for any age and it is a book that grandparents can buy for their grand kids and know that it is an exciting story and a safe read.”  – Amazon Customer

“A real page turner, loved it. This book is funny and an adventure story for both young and old readers. I’m looking forward to the next book!”  – MJP


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Excerpt

THE PIRATES

Hallvard was gallantly dueling the taller pirate, while Ethan and Buzz were hitting the short smelly one with a stick and throwing dirt into his face. Ethan hauled off with all his might and swatted the pirate in the head, knocking him down. The rotund pirate tried to get back up and grab his sword, but stumbled and fell just as Buzz hit him in the face with a giant dirt clod. Buzz grabbed the sword, but the weight of it caused him to fall over. Ethan took it away before Buzz hurt himself.

“It’s clear; let’s go,” Penny said to Verge and Laci. As they exited the woodshed, running for the top of the knoll, Penny motioned for Ethan and Buzz to follow. They sprinted up the hill, with the smelly pirate in pursuit.

Join the Blog Tour Coming October 10th!

mark-fredericksonAbout Mark Frederickson

Mark was born and raised in Southern California. He graduated UC Santa Barbara with a degree in film and has worked in the film industry for years. He has written several screenplays and had a show optioned by MTV. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Rebecca and his daughter Sara. This is his first novel, and hopefully not his last.

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melora-pinedaAbout Melora Pineda

After Melora graduated from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, she worked in the television industry for several years before becoming a library volunteer at her daughters’ school. Her passion for both reading and entertainment inspired her to write. This is her first novel. She currently lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and a pet bunny and a fish. Oh…never mind, the fish died.

Facebook * Twitter

 

Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/3/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Guest Post, Middle Grade, Spotlight on July 24, 2016

Banner Summer Vacation

SUMMER VACATION

The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen

Book One, Second Edition

by 

Belinda Everette 

Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary Fiction

Date of Publication: June 12, 2016

# of pages: 70

Scroll down for Giveaway!

synopsis

Summer Vacation cover

It’s the beginning of summer and Uncle Mike and Aunt Melanie invite Mackenzie for an extended summer vacation in their hometown of Houston, Texas. On the first day, Mackenzie finds her cousins, Cristen and Chloe, helping their parents prepare a special meal. Come and learn about the holiday and celebration of Juneteenth with this first book in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a cultural journey of joy, family, and fun!

Summer Vacation is the first installment in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a five part journey of family love and fun.  Each adventure finds the cousins learning history, exploring cultural themes and traditions, and discovering the joy in the world around them.

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PRAISE FOR SUMMER VACATION

“I read Summer Vacation by Belinda Everette.  I thought it was educational regarding the true history of Juneteenth and portrayed realistic events in the lives of the characters.  I did pass it on to one of my daughters with a special interest in children’s books.  This seems to be a good moment for this kind of story, with increased interest in African-American history with readers of all ages.”   — Ronne Hartfield, Co-Chair, Harvard University Arts Education Council, Executive Director, Art Institute of Chicago, Author

Summer Vacation is very good.  This book is entertaining and informative.  The author has given us a unique way of presenting history to our children.  This book should be published in Spanish and other languages to share this history with other cultures.”  — Irma P. Hall, Academy Award nominated American Actress,  Poet, Author, Language Educator (ret), Dallas Public School System,  30 years.

 

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Wanting to hone my craft and give more substance to my writing, I enrolled in a “Beginning Short Stories” class at Rice University, the fall of 2014.   Sitting in class, I was feeling a bit intimidated, largely because the majority of my classmates had experience with the instructor, having taken a class he offered the previous semester.  Discussions and lecture points invariably had references to concepts and ideas made in some prior class, and I consistently felt like I had just walked up to a group in the middle of a conversation.  I felt like I was constantly trying to catch-up to the rest of the class, or worse, I felt like perhaps it was something I should have known and I was too embarrassed to ask for clarity or more information and went off to research on my own.

Suffice it to say, for my first assignments in the class, I felt compelled to write about subjects that I was familiar with or had a great deal of experience. The objective was to be viewed as a subject matter expert on or an SME. (An acronym from my Corporate America days. The use of acronyms in that environment was so prevalent, we used to joke that we were bilingual.)

I chose to write about the African-American holiday, Juneteenth, from the historical beginnings through the current day observance and traditions.   It felt like a safe topic for me, and the critique, I hoped, would not be too harsh; after all, I was the only minority in the class and how much would anyone else know? I anticipated providing an educational yet entertaining essay for my classmates by sharing the thoroughly researched facts of this Texas holiday and the celebrations that acknowledged its significance.  Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of slavery and it never occurred to me that anyone other than African Americans celebrated or were aware of the Juneteenth holiday.

After the critique and discussion of the story was over, after I took notes and incorporated the commentary from my classmates, and after I collected the twenty-one edited copies of my story, I listened to a fascinating story of a Juneteenth celebration steeped in history, tradition and rites of passage, that happened annually right here in Houston.

Our instructor would, on occasion, pepper his lectures with stories from his youth, tales of growing up as an only child, and of course, a bit of family drama here and there.  It helped us with data retention and kept mundane subject matter interesting.

Throughout his childhood, his family belonged to a country club.  He recalled many summer afternoons at the club, but one event, prominent in his memory, was the annual carnival held at the club every June.    The carnival, he explained, was a very big event, complete with Ferris wheel, assorted rides, popcorn, cotton candy and everything one would expect to see and experience at a festive carnival.   It became, he explained, a family tradition, to go to the club in June for the carnival.

He told us his earliest memory of the annual carnival at the club, was around the age of six. After a few years he began to wonder about the reason for the big party, the big carnival.   Finally, at the age of eleven, he asked one of his parent’s friends, in passing as he enjoyed the carnival one Saturday afternoon.   He remembered walking toward the Ferris wheel, when he saw his dad’s friend and recalled tugging at the hem of his shirt tail to get his attention.

“Mr. Bob,” the little boy asked, looking up at the older gentleman. “Why do we have this party every year?  Why do we have all these rides and this carnival?”

His father’s friend looked down at him with a big smile, and answered, “It’s Juneteenth son!  We’re celebrating Juneteenth!”

Our instructor paused for moment, as he told his story.  He looked down at the floor for a moment and the classroom was very quiet.   You could almost see the inner turmoil his mind was processing.   The muscles in his jaw area twitched slightly, as if he was trying to reconcile what he saw with what he knew about the holiday.

The moment passed and he looked around the classroom before he started to speak again.  He explained that by that age, he knew what the meaning of the Juneteenth holiday was.  He learned about the holiday and its meaning in school.

The instructor went on to tell us that after his father’s friend answered his question and walked away, he stood there and looked around at all of the activity at the carnival. He saw that the only people enjoying the carnival were white, and black people were working, serving drinks, operating the rides, passing out food, or picking up trash.

I thought about the irony in that story for a very long time.  Long after I completed the assignment, long after I finished Rice, long after I celebrated the next Juneteenth holiday.   I thought about telling that story.  I considered how I would explain that story to a child, how I would explain the dynamics of the carnival, the people working, the people celebrating the holiday.

By the end of 2015, I wrote the first three books in my children’s series, The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, and the first book, Summer Vacation, was inspired by that story.

 

about the author

Belinda Everette PicLike most people, when life throws lemons, you make lemonade and that was certainly the case  for Belinda Everette, the author of The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen book series.   After twenty-six years as a Senior Vice-President for several Fortune 500 financial institutions, life circumstances required a change.  Belinda put down her briefcase, enrolled in Rice University’s creative writing program, and began to pursue her lifelong dream of writing.

When not writing, Belinda supports several of her favorite charities which focus on providing housing and improving living conditions for those in need, including Houston’s Star of Hope, Covenant House, and Houston Achievement Place.

“Family is my greatest joy,” Belinda adds “nothing is better than a houseful of family and friends with lots of children running around, enjoying a delicious meal and good Christian fellowship.”  Cooking, entertaining, and music along with daughter Ashley, son-in-law Ron, and grandchildren, Mackenzie and Evan, keep live full and happy.  Belinda and her constant companion, a four-year old Shih Tzu, reside in suburban Houston, Texas.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

1 Grand Prize Winner wins:

Signed Copies of Summer Vacation  and It’s Just A Song, plus a tote bag

2 Other Winners each win:

Signed Copies of Summer Vacation plus mouse pads

(US ONLY)

July 20 – July 29, 2016

summer vacation giveaway

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Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

7/20    Hall Ways Blog         – Review

7/21    Country Girl Bookaholic – Excerpt #1

7/22    Reading By Moonlight  – Author Interview #1

7/23    Margie’s Must Reads           – Review

7/24    StoreyBook Reviews           – Guest Post

7/25    The Crazy Booksellers  – Excerpt #2

7/26    Missus Gonzo – Review

7/27    Byers Editing Reviews & Blog  – Author Interview #2

7/28    The Librarian Talks  – Promo

7/29    My Book Fix Blog – Review

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Posted in Middle Grade, Spotlight, Young Adult on June 7, 2016

Lucy cover image -- Amy

Lucy in Her Secret Wood (A Story inspired by Wordsworth’s wild child, Lucy Gray)

Genre:  Middle Grade/YA
ISBN No. 978-1-94384809-6
Number of pages: 263
Number of Illustrations: 13

Synopsis

She discovers freedom, magic, and an extraordinary friendship, her first ever, with a surprise visitor, 9-year-old Will, who, bewitched by her wild eyes, long black hair and strange speech, brings her live chickens to give her eggs, food daily, and a recorder to imitate the wood’s sounds. Lucy feels safe and at home for the first time, sleeping inside “grandpa tree’s hollow trunk, and playing woodland music during the day that puts a spell on all who hear it. Lucy’s greatest fear is that she will be found.

But the police do eventually capture her and take her to an orphanage run by strict nuns where the bullying and fascination for toys and television seem strange to Lucy who sees this man-made world as another prison, cut off from outdoor miracles. She eventually manages to escape back to the woods where she and Will, inside grandpa tree, experience magical guidance on how to continue their journey. This will be Book 2: Lucy and the Forest School of Wonder.

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Lucy sleeping

About the Author

Christina Pagès grew up in the fields of Kent, England, and spent many carefree hours wandering the countryside with her three older sisters. After living in Spain for three years, Christina married and came to live in America in 1970. She began her studies in literature and poetry while raising four children, and received her Ph.D. in English in 1993. She received a publication award from the International Society of Poetry for her poetry collection, Shadow Words (Watermark Press, 2006), and was the California State Poetry Society’s 19th Annual Contest Winner in 2005. Her second full collection of poetry, Remember Not to Forget was published by Summerland Publishing in 2013. Her children’s chapter book, The Mountain Boy had been published by the same company in 2007. Lucy in Her Secret Wood, is her first middle grade/young adult novel.

Christina began painting English and European landscapes in oils after moving to the U.S. out of nostalgia for the countryside there. Since 1987, Christina has taught in various English departments of Universities/Colleges on both the East/West Coast. She is now teaching composition and literature at Santa Barbara City College, and living in the beautiful valley of Ojai. Christina claims that her writing, painting, piano playing, gardening, all come from her love of nature as a child. “Nature is a child’s best friend,” she says; “it patiently waits to be conversed with and to feed a child’s imagination and spirit.”

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