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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cover Reveals - Middle Grade - XL



The Extincts by Veronica Cossanteli
Goodreads
George is looking for a job in order to raise money for a new bike, so when he sees a help wanted ad for Wormestall Farm, he goes for it. Before long, he's embroiled in a madcap adventure involving creatures both (supposedly) extinct and (previously thought to be) mythological, a new friend (a girl!), and a maniacal taxidermist who wants the animals of Wormestall Farm in her own private collection . . . stuffed, of course.
Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe
Goodreads
This lovable new series introduces a little dog with a GIANT personality!

Fenway is an excitable and endlessly energetic Jack Russell terrier. He lives in the city with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and—of course—his beloved short human and best-friend-in-the-world, Hattie.

But when his family moves to the suburbs, Fenway faces a world of changes. He’s pretty pleased with the huge Dog Park behind his new home, but he’s not so happy about the Evil Squirrels that taunt him from the trees, the super-slippery Wicked Floor in the Eating Room, and the changes that have come over Hattie lately. Rather than playing with Fenway, she seems more interested in her new short human friend, Angel, and learning to play baseball. His friends in the Dog Park next door say Hattie is outgrowing him, but that can’t be right. And he’s going to prove it!

Get a dog’s-eye view of the world in this heartwarming, enthusiastic “tail” about two best friends.

A Week Without Tuesday by Angelica Banks
Goodreads
Something is broken in the land of story. Real and imaginary worlds are colliding--putting everything and everyone in grave peril. Tuesday and Baxterr, at the request of the Librarian, and with the help of Vivienne Small, venture to find the Gardener--the one person who can stop this catastrophe. On their way, they'll meet friends and foes, and discover strengths they didn't know they had. Will they be able to save the land of story?

Blue in the Face by Gerry Swallow
Goodreads
When Elspeth Pule, an eleven-year-old brat, wakes up one day in a strange forest, she finds some familiar faces around her--those of the nursery rhyme characters she grew up reading about. But as she soon learns from Humpty Dumpy, a suave, tuxedo-wearing egg, what she knows is a twisted version of the truth concocted by the evil Old King Krool--and none of the characters are what she thinks.

Elspeth couldn't care less, but she soon gets pulled into the fight against Krool's tyranny. And if she wants to get home, she'll need to learn some compassion--and teach the characters that sometimes a good old-fashioned tantrum is exactly what's necessary.

Told in a hilarious voice and with black-and-white illustrations throughout, this "revolutionary" tale is perfect for fans of Pseudonymous Bosch and Lemony Snicket.

My Life With the Liars by Caela Carter
Goodreads
Perfect for fans of Mockingbird and Counting by 7s, Caela Carter’s middle grade debut is a story of one girl’s strength and courage as she decides who she is and what she will believe in.

Behind the white-washed walls of the compound, life was simple. Follow the rules, “live in the Light,” and all would be well. Zylynn was excited to turn thirteen and begin the work of bringing others into the light, to save them from the liars and the darkness of the outside world. But when she is taken away by a man who claims to be her father, Zylynn is confused and desperate to return to her home.

Zylynn resists her new life—until she finds small comforts like shampoo, the color pink, and strawberries. But as her thirteenth birthday approaches, Zylynn must make a difficult decision—to stay with the enemy or find her way back to the light. And neither may be what it seems.
Pilfer Academy by Lauren Magaziner
Goodreads
Fans of Escape From Mr. Lemencello’s Library and Roald Dahl will gobble up this hilarious story about a secret boarding school for thieves-in-training!

Troublemaking George has never heard of Pilfer Academy, a top-secret school for cultivating young crooks, until he's kidnapped as its newest student. The teachers are kooky at best, and naughty does not even begin to describe his sneaky, smart, and morally bankrupt new classmates. Between disguise classes, cracking safes, and DIY gadgets, George becomes an expert bandit and finds true friendship with Tabitha, his new partner-in-crime. But everything is ruined when George comes to a shocking realization: He is just too good-hearted to be a thief!

Unfortunately, not thieving is not an option at Pilfer Academy, and "misbehaving" students face Dean Deanbuggle's favorite punishment—the Whirlyblerg! In order to gain their freedom, George and Tabitha must pull the biggest heist the school has ever seen and reveal their true colors not as thieves, but as kind (and, okay, mischievous) kids.
Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve; Sarah McIntyre
Goodreads
With a little luck and a pack of pugs, anything is paws-ible!
 
When True Winter comes, it’s time for the Great Northern Race! The best sled teams in the world must reach a mysterious man called the Snowfather. He will grant one wish to the winners. Young racers Sika and Shen want to win more than anything. But they don’t have big sled dogs—all they have is sixty-six yappy, yippy puppy pugs. Can this unlikely team make their dreams come true?

For early chapter book readers who are ready for something longer, the Not-So-Impossible Tales are packed with humor, action, and color illustrations on almost every page.
Rise of the Ragged Clover by Paul Durham
Goodreads
The Luck Uglies Book 3!
The Thickety: Well of Witches by J.A. White
Goodreads
The third novel in the dark and twisty fantasy series that has enchanted readers.

The third novel in the Thickety series, Well of Witches, is an epic quest on the edge of a magic crusade, into an enchanted kingdom with new kinds of magic, old enemies, and only one way out.

Kara and Taff know that only Grace Stone has the power to reverse her terrible Last Spell on their father and in order to save him, they have to rescue their foe from the Well of Witches first. Forgiving Grace should be the hardest part of their journey…but soon the children are confronted by creatures called the Faceless, mysteries as old as magic, and an ancient secret that threatens their very lives.

Back in the World, a war against magic is brewing that endangers everyone they care about. Can Kara and Taff find Grace, find their way out of the Well, and make it back to their father in time?

Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Omega City by Diana Peterfreund




Goodreads

Title: Omega City
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 8-12
Pages: 336
More by this author: Rampant, For Darkness Shows the Stars
Description:

Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War–era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced them to move to a cottage in the sticks, but Gillian knows he’s right and plans to prove it.

When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Underberg’s diary in her father’s mess of an office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle—a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off on a journey deep into the earth, into the ruins of a vast doomsday bunker.

But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. Now Gillian and her friends must race to explore Omega City and find the answers they need. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried...forever.
I'm loving that some of my favorite YA authors - Carrie Ryan and now Diana Peterfreud - are branching out into the MG genre. This MG debut from Peterfreud is an action-packed adventure story that brings together an engaging cast of characters who must escape the clutches of a dangerous foe while navigating the dilapidated remains of a secret underground bunker.


Like many MG action/adventure stories, Omega City follows a group of kids who must take down the bad guys without the help of parents or adults. What I liked about Peterfreund's take is that there's a teenaged boy a handful of years older than the core group of kids who is reluctantly pulled into the fight as well. In truth, I might have just liked that he was included as he provided a sort of comic relief. He's the protective older brother of Howard, the member of the group that is arguably the most obviously nerdy, and the pizza delivery guy that one of girls has a ridiculously huge crush on. I loved these little side elements that had little to do with the scifi plot of the novel, but served to add some dimension to the characters.


As I mentioned Howard is the character that, at first, seems a bit nerdy and weird. But, what I loved about this novel is that, as it progressed, it was clear that each of the kids had their special strengths and passions and that being nerdy is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, being nerdy can be pretty darn cool. Even Savannah, who, at first, acts like she's above being smart and passionate about things other than boys, eventually realizes that being yourself - nerdiness and all - is infinitely more fun.


Most of the novel is set in Omega City, the secret underground bunker built by the genius Dr. Underberg before his mysterious disappearance. Peterfreud's descriptions of the underground city and the cultural markers with nods to the decade in which it would have been built, well before the present of our intrepid main characters, were spot on. I loved that this setting allowed Peterfreund to reference interesting bits of history as well as provide a fast paced scifi adventure.


Fans of Tony Abbot's Copernicus Legacy and Matthew Kirby's Spell Robbers or The Arctic Code will enjoy this book's premise and pacing. I'm hoping that there will be more MG from Peterfreund in the future!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

I'm thrilled to be revealing the cover of Tara Sullivan's The Bitter Side of Sweet this morning along with Icey Books, Jen Bigheart, and YA Books Central!

You might remember Tara Sullivan from her debut novel, Golden Boy, which was about the Tanzanian Albino killings and earned a spot as a top ten YALSA Best Book. Her new book looks equally compelling:
Fifteen-year-old Amadou counts the things that matter. For two long years, what’s mattered are cacao pods. The more Amadou can chop down in a single day, the better his chances are of keeping the bosses’ beatings at bay, keeping himself and his little brother, Seydou, alive and then maybe, just maybe, returning home to Baba and Auntie. At least he hopes so. But the bosses won’t tell him the number that matters most—the number that equals freedom. 

When the boys first left their farm life in Mali, they only wanted to make some money to help their impoverished family survive the lean times. They never imagined they’d end up as forced labor on a cacao plantation in the Ivory Coast. But that’s exactly what happened, and each day that passes, they lose a little more fight, a little more hope that they’ll ever be free or see their home again. 

Then one day, a girl—Khadija arrives at the camp. There’s never been a girl on the farm before and she is a wild thing; she fights every day to get away—reawakening old impulses in Amadou to run. But when the bosses finally break her, and the unthinkable happens to Seydou, Amadou understands the only choice left—the only choice they’ve ever had—is to run . . . or die without their loved ones ever knowing what happened to them. The three band together as family and try just once more for home.
 Intrigued? Now check out the fantastic cover art below...

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I love the textures and colors used for this cover. It successfully conveys the seriousness of the novel while still feeling like a MG cover. I'm very much looking forward to reading this novel, which promises to be just as powerful as Sullivan's debut.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Don't forget to add this book on Goodreads HERE

You can follow Tara Sullivan on Twitter HERE!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Giveaway: Horror Fan Starter Pack feat. Trollhunters, Lockwood & Co, + more


Samples & prizing are provided by Disney-Hyperion.




To celebrate the release of Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus' deliciously creepy novel Trollhunters, Disney Hyperion is offering one lucky winner the Horror Fan Starter Pack show above! The prize pack includes:
Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus
·         The Enemy by Charlie Higson
·         Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
·         plus branded Trollhunters pins!
Find out more about Trollhunters and enter to win below!




"You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They're patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you've paid so much attention to in mirrors? It's delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don't cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites."

Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino— one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named "Tubby" who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn't know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.

From the minds of horror geniuses Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus comes a new illustrated novel about the fears that move in unseen places.

THE CREATIVE TEAM

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Guillermo del Toro is best known for his critically acclaimed feature films, such as Pan's Labyrinth, Helllboy, The Hobbit, and Pacific Rim, as well as his best-selling Strain Trilogy.
Daniel Kraus is the award-winning author of Scowler and Rotters, and is the director of six feature films. He lives with his wife in Chicago. 

From Pan's Labyrinth to Hellboy to his best-selling novel The Strain, del Toro has captured the imagination through his works. His co-author Daniel Kraus is another award-winning author and filmmaker with a penchant for horror stories. Kraus' debut novel, The Monster Variations, was selected for New York Public Library's "100 Best Stuff for Teens." Fangoria called Rotters, his Bram Stoker-finalist and Odyssey Award-winning second novel, "a new horror classic." Kraus' 2013 title, Scowler, also won an Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults. 

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Sean Murray is an illustrator, concept artist, author and teacher known for his work on video games such as Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online, as well as the creator of The World of Gateway, which includes his fantasy guidebook Gateway: The Book of Wizards and the upcoming card game Gateway Uprising.
AN INTRODUCTION FROM DEL TORO


 WIN IT!
 One winner. Open to US addresses only. Ends August 5, 2015.

Learn more at Un-RequiredReading.com
Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter & Tumblr
#Trollhunter
 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Storytime: New and Notable Picture Books (20)


This week's Storytime features a bear far from home, two friends at the fair, preschool adventures, sisters learning to be apart, and a birthday party for a fancy dessert.

Welcome Home, Bear
Written & Illustrated by Il Sung Na
Ages 0-3




Buy It 
Goodreads
Bear is tired of waking up every morning in the same green forest, so he decides to search for a new place to live. He visits the birds in the trees, a mole underground, a camel in the hot desert sand, puffins in the cold arctic snow . . . only to realize his own home is the perfect place for him after all. Welcome Home, Bear offers rich illustrations, bright colors, and a simple, spare text—all wrapped up in a beautiful, kid-friendly package. Readers meet animals in their habitats around the world—and return with Bear to the one place he is truly happy.
Il Sung Na is one of my absolute favorite authors and illustrators, so perhaps I'm biased when I say that Welcome Home, Bear is a book that you need to get your hands on. Not only is it a wonderful exploration of various animal habitats, it is absolutely gorgeous. I love all of Il Sung Na's books, but this one might be my favorite!

Billy and Goat At the State Fair
Written & Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Ages 3-7


 Buy It
Goodreads
Billy and Goat are best friends, but they have different styles. Billy likes to smell the roses—Goat likes to eat them! So it’s no surprise that they have different ideas of how to enjoy the state fair.

For Billy, the crowds and the noise are pretty intimidating. He’s happy to wait in the livestock pens until the best-goat contest begins. But Goat’s not one to sit when he could run. Faster than you can say butter sculpture, Goat’s out of the pen and leading Billy on a merry chase past rides, games, contests, and exhibits. When Billy finally catches up to him—on the biggest float of the parade!—he’s relieved, but also amazed. The fair is awesome! They may have missed Goat’s chance to win best in show, but for Billy it’s never been more clear—his best friend is the best goat ever!

I always love Yaccarino's books and this one is no exception! I quickly fell for Billy and Goat; Yaccarino's illustrations featuring the pair exude an enormous amount of warmth and emotion. I especially loved that this story was set at a busy fair, which was one of my all-time favorite experiences as a kid. Spotting Doug from Yaccarino's other books was also a treat.
 
Rosie Goes to Preschool
Written & Illustrated by Karen Katz
Ages 2-5



Buy It

Goodreads
Who better to offer advice to children facing the first day of preschool than the hugely popular, bestselling Karen Katz? It’s the first day of preschool, and the narrator, Rosie, knows everything a new preschooler needs to know. Rosie introduces the reader to her cubby, her teacher, her reading circle, her music class, her lunch table, and more.

With gentle, reassuring language and Katz’s signature bold, bright, and sweet artwork, Rosie Goes to Preschool will surely be a hit among the legions of children who have grown up reading Katz’s books. Now that these big boys and girls are ready to take their first big steps into school, Karen Katz is here to help.
This sweet introduction to preschool from Karen Katz is a must for preschool parents and teachers! With minimal text and sweet illustrations, Katz offers a pitch perfect look at the preschool classroom and etiquette. New students are sure to delight in seeing their new experiences represented on the page.

Maple and Willow Apart
Written & Illustrated by Lori Nichols
Ages 2-5



Buy It
Goodreads
Funny, relatable sibling dynamics make this story a wonderful way to address navigating big changes. Lori Nichols’s expressive artwork beautifully portrays Maple and Willow’s strong bond, and children will love the creative, kid-powered solution.

Maple and Willow have always been inseparable. So what happens when Maple starts big-girl school and Willow stays behind? Well, of course, both girls have marvelous adventures of their own, but the truth is, they miss each other. And when they see that the missing is mutual, they find a unique way to feel connected even when they have to be apart.

This is my first experience with Maple and Willow, but it won't be my last! I adore Lori Nichols' ORQ books, but its her characters Maple and Willow that truly warmed my heart. Nichols' gives readers such a true look at sibling, specifically sister, relationships. Her portrayal of an older sibling starting school and leaving the younger sibling at home was absolute spot on! I recognize so much of my own childhood experience in these pages. 
 
Happy Birthday, Cupcake
Written & Illustrated by Terry Border
Ages 5-8



Buy It
Goodreads
What's a cupcake to do when she needs to plan her birthday party? In this hilarious, kid-friendly homage to food and birthdays, Cupcake runs through tons of ideas while her best friend, Blueberry Muffin, finds reasons why they won't work: Soup gets seasick; Donut melts in the sun; someome might get squashed during musical chairs; and Cupcake is not very good at limbo (her icing might get sliced off!). Just as Cupcake is ready to crumble, Blueberry Muffin has one last idea that just might save the day.

With laugh-out-loud visual gags (like a band made up of beans--the musical fruit, of course), this book is sure to put a birthday smile on any kid's face (and on adult faces as well).
And to think I almost passed over this book! I'll be honest, I'm usually not a fan of picture books that feature photographs, but I gave Terry Borders' newest a try and absolutely fell in love. Not only is this book ridiculously creative, its absolutely hilarious. Kids are going to love this book and parents might like it even more. I also love that there's potential to use this book in the classroom, especially the art room. Creating a project in which students turn unconventional objects into characters to tell a story would be so much fun!
 
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Love any of the books featured this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cover Reveals - Young Adult - XXXVIIII



The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Goodreads
There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the face of her demons–and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie haven’t talked about what they saw that summer night since it happened. After the trial Callie drifted and Tessa moved and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa’s had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette–to Wyatt Stokes sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the only other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer–and this time, it won’t be as easy to run away.
Twenty Questions for Gloria by Martyn Bedord
Goodreads
A bored teenager girl who meets a mysterious new boy bent on breaking all the rules. He is everything Gloria wishes to be, but he is not all he seems, and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home.

The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
Goodreads
Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls' father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China.

Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors' prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie's father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family--and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China.

But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?


The Raven Files: Crossing the Line by Meghan Rogers
Goodreads
“IN THIS TEEN SPY THRILLER, JOCELYN STEELY IS AMERICA’S LAST SHOT TO BEAT THE NORTH KOREANS

When Jocelyn Steely was kidnapped by a North Korean spy agency, she was only a little girl. Young. Scared. Powerless. And completely moldable.

Now, ten years later, she’s a ruthless assassin. Yet her target isn’t who you might think. Jocelyn is determined to escape her kidnappers and take down North Korea and their spy agency forever.

But when she makes it to U.S. soil, she finds that not everyone believes her story. Will she be able to get the Americans to trust her? Or will the North Koreans discover her deception before she has a chance?

In this life-or-death action-packed spy thriller, Meghan Rogers creates a teen girl character whose toughness, intelligence and determination rival Jason Bourne, Sydney Bristow and James Bond.

The first novel in the Raven Files series will leave you breathless.

Escaping Perfect by Emma Harrison
Goodreads
Gone Girl meets the TV show Nashville in this sultry summer read about a girl who runs away from her high-profile past to live the normal life she’s always wanted.

Cecilia Montgomery has been America’s sweetheart since the day she was born. A member of the prestigious Montgomery family—the US equivalent of royalty—her childhood was cut short after she was nearly kidnapped. Since then, Cecilia has been hidden away, her adolescence spent at an exclusive boarding school.

Her dreams of becoming a professional violinist—dashed.

Her desire to be a normal teenager—not possible.
The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
Goodreads
Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...

Archie and Veronica...

Althena and Noth...

...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Althena Chronicles, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.
The Incident on the Bridge by Laura McNeal
Goodreads
From National Book Award nominee Laura McNeal comes a riviting, tautly told novel that is at once hopeful and harrowing. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars and Bone Gap.

When Thisbe Locke is last seen standing on the edge of the Coronado Bridge, it looks like there is only one thing to call it. But her sister Ted is not convinced. Despite the witnesses and the police reports and the divers and the fact that she was heartbroken about the way things ended with Clay and how she humiliated herself at that party, Thisbe isn’t the type of person to end up just an “incident.”

While everyone in town prepares to mourn the loss (some more than others), Ted and Fen, the new kid in town, set out to put the pieces together and find her sister.

But if Thisbe didn’t jump, what happened up on that bridge?
My Second Life by Faye Bird
Goodreads
The first time I was born, I was Emma.
I was beautiful. I had everything to live for.
But I died.

Now I have been born a second time, and my previous life haunts me. Because in it I think I did something very wrong. I must find out what I did to Catherine. I must uncover the truth about Emma...

Intriguing, compelling, heartbreaking.
What if your past life could shatter your future?
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Goodreads
What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Interview with Will Mabbitt, author of The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones


I'm happy to welcome the very funny and talented Will Mabbitt to The Hiding Spot today to answer questions about his hilarious middle grade novel, The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones, how writing can be like milking reluctant porcupines, rejected names for his daughters, and more! 

Oh, and Will and I share a hiding spot! My favorite animal was the peregrine falcon all through elementary school. :)
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The Unlikely Adventure of Mabel Jones is a rollicking adventure story that I’ve no doubt readers of all ages will love. Can you speak a bit about your inspiration for this story? Did you originally imagine it would have illustrations to accompany your text? 


The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones is inspired by a lifetime of reading adventure books, daydreaming and also by being incredibly bored on a train one day. Originally I was going to print it out on A4 paper, draw pictures myself, and give it to my daughter. I never imagined it was going to be made into a real book with real drawings by a real illustrator. He’s called Ross Collins by the way and he’s ace. 

Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
I start by writing the chapter headings. Then I fill them out in order. The plot will change as I write so sometimes I’ll have to go back and modify things. I try to do this after I’ve got the first draft done. It’s a painful process. Somedays it feel like I am milking a reluctant porcupine, but its all worthwhile when I see the final version sitting in my local bookshop. 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration? 
I’ve had loads of jobs. I’ve checked toothpaste lids for defects in a plastics factory. I’ve been a door-to-door salesman. I’ve ordered staplers for civil servants. I’ve been a computer programmer, a graphic designer, and finally I’ve worked in advertising. Advertising is the most similar to writing fiction: You’re trying to get people to believe in things that aren’t really true. 
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
 This is the hardest question ever. I’ve had to come back to this one after days of careful thought. My favourite word is either Sausage or Scarper. I suggested both as names for my first daughter but my wife didn’t like either for some reason. The word I use most is probably erm. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
I think reading My Side of The Mountain by Jean George provided me with a hiding spot. It’s a story about a boy who runs away to live wild. I had never been to the Catskills mountains, and never been to America, but I knew every bit of the mountain side described in that book as though I had lived there for a year myself. As a kid I always wanted to run away to the mountains. I think there is a part of me that still does. I wonder if everyone feels like that sometimes? 
What can readers look forward to next? 
The Second Mabel Jones book comes out in February next year. It’s called Mabel Jones and The Forbidden City. I’m working on the third one as we speak. 

Oh! And I’ve got a picture book coming out next year too. It’s called Princess Pink Kitten and The Giant Robot Dinosaur!
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Buy The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones here

Follow Will Mabbitt on twitter: @gomabbitt. Check out his new Facebook page here. Visit www.mabbitt.co.uk for updates.