Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Reviews: Children's Books; Zoe gets Ready / The Very Fairy Princess / Because Your Mommy Loves You

One of my most favorite things to do is read books with my kids. There's just something magical, and special about spending time with my kids while reading a great story. Below you'll find a few reviews for some of this year's children's book releases that I've enjoyed spending time reading with my kids.

Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic
Released on: May 1st, 2012
Ages: 4 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
5 stars: We Loved It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A story where getting dressed inspires big dreams!Each day is full of possibilities, and Zoe wants to be ready for everything this one might bring. But that makes getting dressed really, really hard! If it's a twirling day, she'll need to wear the purple skirt. But if it's a cartwheeling day, she'll want the polka-dot tights. Or it might be a hiding day, perfect for the flower crown that will help her blend into the garden . . . or a flying day, which demands butterfly wings! As the clothes pile up and Mama tells her it's time to go, there's only one way Zoe can be sure she's prepared for all the adventures ahead -- a solution that will have parents laughing in recognition and kids nodding in satisfaction. ZOE GETS READY is perfect for all those little girls who wouldn't have things any other way. -quoted from Goodreads

What a fabulous children's book. My daughter and I really enjoyed reading this one. Not only was the story engaging for her, but it's one she related to. Zoe and my daughter seemed to have a lot in common, as like Zoe my daughter really enjoys trying on various outfits through out the day, and has a hard time trying to decide which outfit is perfect for the day's activities. In the story, each outfit Zoe chooses/tries on goes along with what she wants to do that day. She tries on several outfits until her mom finally yells for Zoe to be done, which is very similar to what it's like in our home. The cute storyline and equally adorable illustrations make this one a must have. Plus who can resist a book with pink and a little dusting of glitter on it on it's cover?!

Published by: Little Brown
Released on: April 17th, 2012
Ages: 4 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
4 stars: We Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Gerry is asked to be the flower girl in Aunt Sue's wedding, and she couldn't be more excited. Her imagination runs wild with thoughts of extravagant decorations, a billowy white gown, and hundreds of guests. When she finds out the bride prefers a small celebration, Gerry can't help but be disappointed... but she soon realizes that having the wedding in her own backyard will let her put her creative stamp on everything. Even when disaster strikes in the form of rain on the big day, Gerry finds a way to bring sunshine to the party, reminding everyone that the most important thing at a wedding is the most special sparkle of all - happiness and love. Christine Davenier's whimsically elegant illustrations include lush garden scenes and plenty of wedding flowers in this spirited follow-up to The Very Fairy Princess and The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage from the renowned mother-daughter team. -quoted from Goodreads

My daughter loves The Fairy Princess books, and really enjoyed this, though not quite as much as the others. It's still a cute story, and one she likes having read to her. In this particular book Gerry wants to make everything perfect for her Aunt's wedding. What could be more exciting for a Princess than to help with a wedding that will be in her own backyard. Despite not everything going as planned, Gerry still brings a bit of sunshine to what could have turned out to be a dreary day. Cute story and great illustrations. I think fans of this series will enjoy this one.

Illustrated by: R.W. Alley
Published by: Clarion Books
Released on: April 3rd, 2012
Ages: 4 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
3 stars: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When a little boy and his mom go camping, mini-disasters abound, and there are
lots of opportunities for Mom to step in and fix everything. But instead, with a loving
touch, this mommy shows her child ways to do things for himself, going far to encourage
her child’s independence. And there is still plenty of opportunity for snuggling
under the stars.
This warm and humorous testament to all the loving things a supportive mom does
each day is every bit as heartwarming as its predecessor and is sure to become a favorite
for families everywhere -quoted from Goodreads

This story puts a different spin on showing how this mother loves her son. Instead of doing certain things for her son while preparing and then going on a campout out together, this mom helps her son do things. This not only teaches him to do things on his own, but it gives him a sense of empowerment. I liked seeing that part of showing a mom's love for her child. I'll admit, at first I wanted to see the type of love I'm used to reading about in a children's book. You know the one where the mother runs to her child who's lost and calling out her name and hugs him. On the flip side, I liked what the author was doing, and in showing that a mother's love for her child also comes in the form of her teaching them, and helping them to do things for themselves. The illustrations in this book are adorable!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Giveaway Time! Enter to win a PARANORMAN Prize Pack!

I'm excited to help celebrate the recent release of an exciting new movie called PARANORMAN! To celebrate I not only have a sneak peak of the movie via it's trailer and a few stills from the movie itself, I have 2 really awesome prize packs for two lucky fans to win. First, take a look at the movie trailer.

Focus Features
Now In Theatres

About the Film
The new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA, reteaming the company with Focus Features after the groundbreaking Academy Award-nominated Coraline. ParaNorman is, following Coraline, the company's second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D.

In ParaNorman, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he'll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst, of all, grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

Get a sneak peak of the film via a few movie stills:

Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Strich, Tempestt Bledsoe, Bernard Hill, Alex Borstein, Tucker Albrizzi

Directed By Sam Fell and Chris Butler
Written By Chris Butler
Screenplay By Chris Butler
Produced By Arianne Sutner and Travis Knight

Rated PG

Link Up!
Find out more about the ParaNorman books
Like ParaNorman on Facebook
Visit to play games, grab free downloads and more
Follow @ParaNorman on Twitter #paranorman


Two (2) winners will receive: (all items shown above)
·         Freaky Fun Cupcake Kit
·         Youth T-Shirt
·         Backpack
·         Activity Book & Activity Sheet
·         Keychain
·         Notebook
·         Pencil Pack with stickers
·         Nightlight
·         Paranorman: Original illustrated middle grade novel (young adult novel)
·         Paranorman: Meet the Ghosts (Early reader book)
·         Paranorman: Attack of the Pilgrim Zombies! (Early readers book)

Prizing value, $60
Prizing provided by Focus Features

To Enter: Please fill out this form below

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Trailer Reveal: Gabriel Stone and the Divinity of Valta

I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Month9Books to reveal debut middle grade author, Shannon Duffy's book trailer for her upcoming release GABRIEL STONE and the DIVINITY of VALTA. After you watch the trailer, you can find out more information about the book, the author and the publisher below in my post. ENJOY the trailer!

About the Book

Gabriel Stone is a magical, fast-paced story that takes readers on a journey they won't soon forget. It has enough mystery, intrigue, and wonder to keep readers up, lamp lit, and reading well into the night!
"Gabriel woke to Zigzag’s sloppy licking, and glanced at the clock on his nightstand. “Crap. Not again.” He pushed the three-year-old boxer away, sat up in bed, and gave his clock a tap. “Stupid piece of junk.” Today, of all days, his alarm clock had chosen to fail him. Again. It was the day Brent, Piper, and he found out if the waterfall crystal was more than just a crystal, if it was something really magical. Maybe it had been dropped from an alien ship, or something really cool." --Gabriel Stone and The Divinity of Valta
About the Author:
Shannon Duffy writes MG and YA. She grew up on the beautiful east coast of Canada and now lives in Ontario, Canada. Shannon is a mom of one boy, her angel. She loves writing, reading, working out, soccer, and the sport of champions-shopping.
Visit Shannon via her: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

About Month9Books:

Month9Books is a speculative fiction young adult and middle grade imprint.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term that encompasses the following genres:

·         Science Fiction
·         Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, and Urban Fantasy
·         Horror
·         Supernatural
·         Paranormal
·         Super-Hero, Villion, and Anti-Hero
·         Utopian and Dystopian
·         Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic
·         Alternate History

Month9Books will also publish Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Techno-thriller, and Action-Adventure-Fantasy.

Formed in 2011 by speculative fiction writer Georgia McBride (also founder of YALITCHAT.ORG and #yalitchat on twitter), each year, a portion of the proceeds from our anthologies will be donated to a charity we admire. We are NOT a charity publisher.

Our first anthology is scheduled for publication in October 2012 and features: Michelle Zink, Lisa Mantchev, Sarwat Chadda, Nina Berry, Leigh Fallon, Suzanne Young, C. Lee McKenzie, Angie Frazier, Georgia McBride, Jessie Harrell, Francisco X. Stork, Gretchen McNeil, KM Walton, Heidi R. Kling, Nancy Holder, Karen Mahoney, Suzanne Lazear, Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg and Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone.

In addition to our charity anthologies, we seek to publish 9-11 additional titles annually. 

We are distributed by Small Press United, a division of IPG.

Visit Month9Books via: Goodreads | their Website | Twitter | Facebook

Monday, August 27, 2012

MMGM: Madhattan Mystery by John J. Bonk

Published by: Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: May 22, 2012
Ages: 9 & up
Source: Book from author/publisher to review
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

All set to spend their summer in New York City with their aunt while their father is honeymooning with his new wife, Lexi and her younger brother Kevin’s snoozy summer plans turn into high-stakes adventure when Lexi overhears a plot to steal Cleopatra’s famous jewels from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Joining forces with budding investigative journalist Kim Ling Levine, they ditch day camp to track down the thieves and rake in the reward money. Can Lexi, Kevin, and Kim find out who’s behind the jewel heist without getting into too much trouble themselves?

For fans of the classic From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler comes a hilarious whodunnit that will keep readers guessing to the very end.

Tour the big apple with a group of unlikely friends as they try to solve the mystery of Cleopatra's missing jewels!

A mystery set in the heart of New York City, Madhattan Mystery will take readers on a wild goose chase with it's characters Lexi, Kevin and their new friend Kim. During a visit with their Aunt, Lexi over hears two men talking about jewels and where they're going to bury them at. Unsure of what to think about it, Lexi doesn't know what to do until the following morning when it's reported that Cleopatra's Jewels are missing. What's a group of preteens to do when you have no evidence and a little to go? You go in search of clues and find out where those jewels are hidden. 

Lexi and Kevin stand out like sore thumbs in NYC, and luckily for them they meet a girl, Kim, who lives next door to their aunt. Kim is a say how it is, blunt, fearless girl who's lived in NYC all her life. Taking Lexi and Kevin under wing forms an unlikely friendship between the more reserved Lexi. Lexi was a fun character to get to know. She's layered, little complex and as the story unravels John allowed me to see different sides of her, making it easy for me to sympathize with her. She's still coping with her mother's death, dealing with her father's new wife, aka her stepmom whom she despises, and visiting a city she knows little about. 

NYC itself is a great setting, and though I've not been there, based on everything I've heard about it, I felt like John gave me a personal tour of the good, the dangerous and the hidden parts of the city. The mystery that the kids are trying to solve literally takes them all over the city and it was really cool as a reader to see the different aspect of it. It's a very detailed setting, and one that fit perfectly with this story. While I enjoyed the setting and the mystery part of the book I had a hard time staying focused with the story the entire time. I felt that because there were so many other things going on outside of the mystery, the story lost it's focus at those times for me. BUT, I'm also an adult reading a middle grade book, and this is one mystery, adventure book younger readers may really enjoy. 

Want to check out this book for yourselves? Then enter to win an ARC of the book! To enter, please fill out the form below. Open internationally and you must be 13 yrs of age to enter. Under 13 yr of age is required to have an adult/guardian's permission. Good luck!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly feature started by MG author Shannon Messenger and is a weekly post featuring an upcoming MG release, a MG Author Interview or a MG review. You can find out more about this series posts, and find links to author authors and bloggers who are taking part in this feature here. You can also my Must Have Middle Grade Reads feature on Mundie Moms

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Published by: Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: August 21st, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review/signed ARC from TLA
5 stars: I LOVED It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: Princess Academy #2

Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should "help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where "Princess Academy "left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom -quoted from Goodreads

Shannon Hale does a fabulous at creating a whole new story line for her Princess Academy books. She re-introduces readers to characters I fell in love with, with Princess Academy, and introduces them to a whole new set of characters, dangers, and adventures. I really enjoyed jumping back into Miri's world. Though it has been awhile since I have read Princess Academy, I didn't feel lost at all with all that was happening, and who each of the older characters were. I felt like the each of the characters grew up a bit more in this book. There's a sweet, innocent romance, shocking secrets, betrayal, and the Kingdom of Ashland is facing a revolution. A lot of things happen in this book and I enjoyed every moment of it!

Character wise I really enjoyed reading about Miri, her adventures, mishaps and all that she encounters in this book. I felt like Shannon really allowed me to understand her character in this book as she tries to find her place in her world. From being fierce and protective, to be brilliant and educated, and speaking her mind when she needed to, Miri was a character I came to admire a lot more in this book. There were times she was also incredibly naive, but it was so fitting for all that was going on in her story for her to be like that. Everything she experienced and all she does made sense to me. There's a lot she learns as she tries to figure out what's right, and wrong, doing what needs to be done vs following her heart. I admire her courage and love her quest for reading and learning. She's a smart girl who yearns to be educated in the ways of all that's going on around her. I liked how her love for reading, and understanding the history of Ashland's people plays a huge role in something that happens in this story, as does her embracing who she is and where she comes from. 

I love the friendship that she and Britta continue to have, as well as that of Prince Steffan. I adore Peder, but I wish he was a little bit stronger of a character. I felt like Miri is very much the dominate one in their relationship, though there's nothing wrong with that. The new character Timon and his relationship with Miri turned out just how I expected it to, and I liked what his character brought to the story line in the beginning, and all that he challenged Miri to think and feel. There's a few other characters I enjoyed getting to know and understand a bit better as the story went on, and the roles they played in the book. Miri by far is my favorite out of each of the characters we get to read about it in this book. 

The story is fabulous! I love this type of setting, and the feel it adds to the book. The over all storyline is wonderful. I absolutely love Shannon Hale's writing and her ability to not just tell a story, but bring it to life like she does. Her stories are always richly detailed without going over board, innocent, clean cut, and always have these well developed heroines that I completely adore, and fall in love with. Shannon's books are just as engaging and exciting for middle grade readers as they are for adult readers. She knows how to mix age appropriate romance with action, and stay true to the time period her books are set in. I loved Palace of Stone and definitely recommend picking this one up! 

Monday, August 20, 2012


Welcome to the 1st stop in Claire Legrand's blog tour for The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. I'm excited to not only have Claire on the blog today, but I've got an excerpt from her book, and a GIVEAWAY! After you're read through my interview with Claire, please be sure to click on the blog tour link high lighted above to follow the entire tour. First, here's a little bit about the book.

Published by: Simon & Schuster Kids
To Be Released on: 8/28/12
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | iTunes | The Book Depository

At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy -quoted from Goodreads

Hi Claire! Thank you for being on Mundie Kids today. Congratulations on the release of your book! I can only imagine how surreal this all feels right now. Are you able to describe what it feels like to have something you've spent years working on to be out in book stores? 

 You know, I’m not sure it’s possible to convey this feeling in words. Instead, how about I use GIFs? (I will admit to having an unhealthy obsession with GIFs. I have a massive folder full of them on my computer. And when I say massive, think that moment in Jurassic Park when they see the Brachiosaurus for the first time and are all like, “GUYS GUYS THIS IS A MAGIC MOMENT.”)

  PhotobucketPhotobucket Photobucket
(In the above gif, I am the Tramp, and CAVENDISH is that eeeetle weeeetle fluffy puppy *dissolves into baby talk*)
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket  

How did your story come about? What inspired it? Was it a certain scene in your book, a character, or a part of the setting? 

CAVENDISH was inspired by real-life locations! When I was in college, I lived down the street from a questionable orphanage. In actuality it probably wasn’t that questionable at all. But my overactive imagination and a few strange occurrences had me convinced something was up at this place. Police tape on the front door. A disturbing lack of activity on the grounds, despite signs advertising field days and open houses. An unmarked van pulling out of the driveway and following me and my friend around town. I get delicious chills just thinking about it! I knew that I had to write a “creepy orphanage story”, and for the longest time, that’s what I called CAVENDISH when talking with friends and family: “My creepy orphanage story.” CAVENDISH was also inspired by the town my dad lives in. It’s a great place to live—clean, beautiful, safe. But there’s lots of money in that town, and with that money can sometimes come a rather Stepford-esque quality. So I took this creepy orphanage and this shiny Stepford-esque town and thought, “How far would a town obsessed with perfection and appearances go to achieve that perfection?” And CAVENDISH was born. 

Do you have a favorite scene or chapter in your book you can share with us? 

Yes! One of my favorite scenes happens fairly early on in the book—and don’t worry, this will be spoiler-free! This scene happens after the main character, Victoria, has realized her best friend, Lawrence, has gone missing. She goes door-to-door down her street, looking for answers:
“I’m going to find out exactly what is going on here,” Victoria said … “I’ll knock on every single door if I have to.” She turned the corner and pressed the buzzer on Two Silldie Place’s gate.
Mr. Everett answered. He and Mrs. Everett were very old and collected porcelain figurines of African animals.
“Yes” said Mr. Everett, through the intercom.
“Mr. Everett, it’s Victoria. May I come in, please?”
“No. Victoria.”
“What now?” said Mr. Everett.
Victoria heard Mrs. Everett sigh and say, “It’s Victoria, darling,” and the gate clicked and started opening. “Victoria Wright.”
Mr. and Mrs. Everett let Victoria in and gave her tea, which Victoria only pretended to sip at.
“Have you seen my latest giraffe?” said Mrs. Everett, and she held out a giraffe with a neck twice as long as its stub of a body, painted in pinks and blues. “It cost one thousand dollars. It’s an antique, you know.”
All the Everetts’ figures were antiques. Victoria couldn’t believe something so ugly was so expensive. She also couldn’t believe that a pink and blue giraffe was an antique.
“Yes, it’s nice,” said Victoria. “Now I have a question.”
“Why, ask away!” said Mr. Everett, looking over their shelves for another figurine to show off. His hand was reaching for a smiling crocodile when Victoria said, “It’s about the Prewitts.”
The Everetts paused. They looked at each other and then at Victoria. They didn’t say a word. Mrs. Everett poured Victoria more tea and dumped four spoonfuls of sugar into it.
“The Prewitts,” Victoria said. “You know.”
“Yes, of course,” said Mrs. Everett.
“Are they sick or something? Do you know? And Lawrence—”
“He’s out of town,” said Mr. Everett. “Visiting his grandmother. That’s what we heard.”
“That’s right,” said Mrs. Everett. “We did hear that, didn’t we? Just the other day.”
Victoria said, “Yes, yes. But—” She paused. “Did you hear when he’ll be back?”
The Everetts looked at each other again. Mrs. Everett held out her giraffe and smiled. “But don’t you want to see the rest of our collection?”
“Look at this croc,” said Mr. Everett, his pointy white teeth matching the crocodile’s grin. “Priceless, you know. We have only the best in our collection.”
Oh, they knew something, all right. … They were only pretending they didn’t know what she was talking about. They weren’t going to help her. This realization enraged her. She forced herself to smile the sweetest smile she had ever worn.
“I’m so sorry, but I have to go,” she said at last, stopping just short of slamming down her teacup.” Thank you ever so much for your time.”

This scene goes on to highlight a few other neighbors on Victoria’s street, which was so much fun to write. Then, the scene ends like this:

Victoria stood alone on the porch, the wind whipping her hair around. Her curls were falling out, which added insult to injury.
“Fine,” she said. Clearly, everyone around here knew more about what was going on than they were telling her, and nothing about any of it made any sense. And things were supposed to make sense in Belleville. The entire situation was unacceptable.
“So rude,” Victoria said, straightening her coat with a snap. “Maybe Mrs. Cavendish will be more polite.”
She walked to the end of the street, stopping right at the Home’s gate. The gray brick wall disappeared into the woods on either side. There wasn’t a buzzer or anything.
“How do I get in?” Victoria muttered.
The gate clicked open.

Which of your characters did you feel like you connected with the most and why? 

 Oh, definitely with Victoria! She’s like an exaggerated version of me when I was twelve years old: Bossy. A perfectionist. Obsessed with grades. Mega goody-goody. A lot of people think Victoria’s a bit of a snot, and she is, but I empathize with her need to be the best at everything. It’s less about competing against other people and more about competing with herself, and I completely understand that drive. We’re the same in that way. At that age, I didn’t care if other people were better than me because I wanted to be better than them; it wasn’t about taking joy in seeing them fail. I just wanted to be better because I had set extremely high standards for myself. So, I get Victoria. She was very easy to write, and she came to me fully-formed. She was clear in my head from Day One. Oh, and instead of trying to make my hair curl perfectly like Victoria does, my twelve-year-old self was dead set on getting mine to lie flat! It never worked, though. Ah, the hours wasted in front of the mirror with a hair dryer!

What children's authors were influential on you growing up? 

 So many! Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, Bruce Coville, R. L. Stine, Michael Bedard, C. S. Lewis, Louis May Alcott, and Marguerite Henry, to name a few. I was obsessed (and still am) with horses and unicorns, scary stuff, weird stuff, and magic. I remember bursting into tears when I first read the end of A WRINKLE IN TIME. It was so chilling, so powerful. Come to think of it, Victoria's town of Belleville kind of reminds me of Camazotz, the planet controlled by IT in A WRINKLE IN TIME, where everyone looks the same and does the same things at the same time. Absolutely shivery. 

If you could share one piece of writing advice with young authors, what would it be? 

Read—a lot! That has been the most important learning tool for me as a writer, to read as much as I can and dissect each book to find what I like and what I don’t like. That helps me figure out what I want to achieve as a writer, what I don’t want to achieve, and what I can do better.


Author Bio
Claire Legrand is a Texan living in New York City. She used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a full-time writer, Claire can often be found typing with purpose on her keyboard or spontaneously embarking upon adventures to lands unknown. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is her first novel, due out August 28 from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. Her second novel, The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers, comes out August 2013. Her third novel, Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker, comes out Fall 2014. 

You can follow Claire on: blog | twitter | facebook | tumblr | goodreads

The Giveaway:

To win a hardcover copy of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, simply comment on the post below! Contest is U.S./Canada only. Ends September 12th.

Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

By: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Published by: Aladdin
Released on: August 7th, 2012
Ages: 8 & up
Source: book from the authors to review
4.5 stars: I Really Enjoyed
Purchase from: AladdinAmazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: Heroes in Training #1

After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series!

The terrible Titans—merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans—have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe....      

Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightening. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.      

Zeus gets his wish—and a lot more than he bargained for—when he is kidnapped by dangerous, giant Titans! In self-defense, Zeus grabs the first thing he sees—an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone that is covered in mysterious markings. Zeus is the only one who can decipher the markings, and sets off on a quest to rescue his fellow Olympians from the evil Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime—and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods - quoted from Goodreads

From the authors of the Goddess Girls series, comes a brand new series with whole new cast of characters, Heroes in Training. Though some of the characters have the same name of those who are in their Goddess Girls series, these characters are anything but the same. I really enjoyed the creative spin Joan and Suzanne have given this Zeus. It makes reading about his epic adventure appealing to a much younger audience and it's a great introduction to Greek mythology for young readers. Combine that with the length of this book, and I think this one even a reluctant reader will enjoy. It's a fun, fast paced read with a handful of great illustrations that help bring this story to life.

We all know Zeus as this great powerful God whom many feared, but before he become that fearless leader he was just your average awkward teen who sought out adventure. Maybe that fearlessness he had when he's first introduced to the story, and the fact he was hit my lightening more than anyone you've ever read about will be an indication about the type of person he came to be. Orphaned, and alone, Zeus knows how to defend himself, and do what it takes to survive. So when the giants come and take him away, he's not as scared as you might except a young Zeus to be. This leads him to one of my favorite characters in this story his thunderbolt, Bolt. Similar to that of a loyal dog, once Zeus found or rather retrieved Bolt they became inseparable and had each other's backs.

There are a few other well known Olympians in this story, but the primary focus is on Zeus, Bolt and their quest to save the others. Don't worry, Poseidon, and Hera both make appearances in this book, as dose a rather comical Oracle. Though she's suppose to be able to tell the future, Oracle's often foggy glasses tend to confuse her a little bit and she might mix a few things up. Her part in this series is definitely humorous and one I think a lot of readers will enjoy.

This series reads like a greek mythology for kids. One of things I enjoyed about this original spin on Zeus is how relatable Joan and Suzanne make Zeus, while at the same time staying true to the heart of Greek Mythology. It's modernized and yet still loyal to the mythology many of us grew up reading. It's fun, easy to follow along and full of adventure. This creative spin on Zeus's epic adventure is sure to be a hit with young readers!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly feature started by MG author Shannon Messenger and is a weekly post featuring an upcoming MG release, a MG Author Interview or a MG review. You can find out more about this series posts, and find links to author authors and bloggers who are taking part in this feature here. You can also my Must Have Middle Grade Reads feature on Mundie Moms

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, Author Interview

I'm thrilled to have author Annabel Pitcher on Mundie Kids today to talk about her US release, My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece. Her debut was already released in her native country of England at the beginning of this year, and was released this week here in the US.

Congratulations on the rave reviews My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece has been receiving! What inspired you to write Jamie's story?
Thanks very much. I am so happy with the reviews! You never know how a book is going to be received, especially one with such difficult themes like My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. Strangely, I got the idea for the novel when I was in Ecuador during a round-the-worldtrip. One evening I found myself in the TV room of my youth hostel, searching for a DVD to watch as I didn’t have a lot to do. The only English or American film in the collection was United 93, a real-time re-enactment of events on board one of the hijacked planes on 9/11. Obviously it was harrowing stuff, and I went to bed thinking about how hard it must be to lose someone in a terrorist attack, and Jamie just sort of popped into my head. I could see this little boy and his cat and his sister’s ashes, which had ‘lived’ in an urn on the mantelpiece since her death in a terrorist bomb in London, and I just knew I had to write his story. I started the book that night.
I haven't yet had the privilege of reading your book, and I can't even begin to imagine all that young Jamie deals with in the story. What's something you came to admire about his character?
That’s a great question. There is so much to admire in Jamie – he’s bright, determined, creative – but I think I respect his loyalty the most. No matter how they treat him, Jamie is devoted to those he cares about: his grumpy, pink-haired sister; his drunken, grieving father; his absent mother, who has run off with another man... He never gives up hope that the people in his life will come up trumps.

You book sounds like a powerful read that will stay with readers long afterthey finish it. What message would you like your readers to take away from My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece?
To be honest, as a writer, I am not trying to give any message to the reader. I am simply trying to tell a good story. When someone finishes My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, all I hope is that they feel as if they have met an interesting set of characters, laughed a lot (because the book is darkly funny) and maybe shed a few tearsalong the way. That is more than enough for me.

In what ways has your book changed you as a person or author, since writing it?
Another great question! I’ve changed a huge amount since writing the book. Firstly, my working day is completely different. I used to work as anEnglish teacher in a busy school, but I am now a full-time author so I spend my time sitting at home in my study, playing with words and coming up with stories. Secondly, I feel a sense of relief to have realised one of my ambitions. I was a child who dreamed big, wanting to win Oscars or Olympic Finals. However, I wasn’t very good at acting or sport so I never managed to achieve those goals! Writing was the other thing I wanted to do, and it feels good to have something published. Thirdly and most importantly, I have realised that happiness comes from within. Though I do feel very proud to have a written a book, it has not brought the full-blown contentment that I expected. I think a lot of us areguilty of putting off our happiness, thinking we’ll allow ourselves to enjoy life when we graduate, find a partner, get married, change jobs, get a bigger house etc etc without realising that we already have what we need to feel satisfied. Publishing the book and realising it didn’t make my life miraculously wonderful (though it was pretty cool) has made me determined to enjoy each and every day, however ordinary they might seem. I still strive for goals, but I don’t wait to achieve them before I feel fulfilled. I try to enjoy the process rather than the end product.

As an author, do you have a favorite place to sit and write? What's one of your writing must haves? (music, etc)
Absolutely! My favourite place to work is in my beautiful study at home. It overlooks some fields at the back of my house (and usually a large herd of cows!) and I love sitting at the computer, typing away with my windows open and a nice breeze blowing in to keep me awake and focused. My only writing must-have is silence. Even in an empty house, I often wear earplugs to block out any tiny little noise there might be. I find music in particular a hugedistraction, which is a shame as I’d love to listen to my favourite tunes and work, but I just can’t concentrate!

Thank you Annabel for stopping by today!

About the Book:

Published by: Little Brown
Released on: 8/14/12

My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece.
Well, some of her does.
A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe.
To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose's surviving fifteen year old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose's ever present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone.
Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family's struggle to make sense of the loss that's torn them apart... and their discovery of what it means to stay together.

About the Author:
Follow Annabel via: her website | blogfacebook | twitter 

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~