Space case

Spaced out is another awesome book by Stuart Gibbs and is the first book from the Moon Base Alpha series.

spacedoutDashiell Gibbson (also known as Dash) is seemingly a normal, average kid…except for one thing.  He lives on the moon.  People on Earth think life on the moon is awesome; but the truth is, the moon really stinks.  Dash is always bored and there is only one kid around his age whose name is Roddy.  But, Roddy isn’t very fun to be around because he obsessively spends all his time on virtual reality video games.

Dash’s days were boring, that is, until Moon Base Alpha’s top scientist, Dr. Holtz, gets murdered.  Dash has a feeling the murder was done on purpose, but nobody believes him.

Everyone thinks that Dr. Holtz just went out on to the lunar surface without his suit properly fixed.  But Dr. Holtz was on the edge of releasing a new discovery.  Dash soon finds out Dr. Holtz’s secret…and it’s a secret that could change everything for the moonies (people who live on the moon).  The secret is so deep, so critical, so intense that it could justify a murder. Read Spaced Out to find out what happens!

Poached

Poached is another wonderful book by Stuart Gibbs.  Poached is from his Funjungle series. I recently reviewed his first Funjungle book: Belly up. Poached is his second book.

poachedIn the book, Vance Jessup threatens Theodore Fitzroy (also known as Teddy) into doing an evil scheme for him. But then the plan doesn’t go as expected and causes a terrible situation to arise.  Teddy goes to hide in the koala exhibit to wait for everything to calm down. But the next morning, after the chaos seemingly subsided, people begin realizing that the koala was missing.

The zoo reviews the security cameras to find out what happened.  But, the only footage they see is  Teddy and he is accused of stealing the koala!  Now it’s up to Teddy to prove everybody wrong and hunt down the real thief…because if he doesn’t, he will have to go to juvenile camp as a convicted koala napper.

I highly recommend this book!  It was so captivating.

Stuart Gibbs is a talented writer that keeps your attention the whole time.  I’ll be reviewing all of his books, so be sure to follow along!  Thanks for reading!

Hello!

Hi everyone! My name is Elise.  I will be the new contributor to this blog.  As my cousin mentioned, I love to read a lot.  I read day and night.  Every opportunity I get, I am reading.  One of my favorite authors is Roald Dahl.  I love the way he incorporates poems into his work.  I enjoy a variety of books though and I’m really looking forward to sharing my point of view with all of you.

My favorite kind of genre is mystery.  I love mystery.  My favorite mystery book is Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.  It was suspenseful and unpredictable, you never know what is going to happen next.  I have so many books I’ve enjoyed though and I’m excited to now have a forum to share them with others.  Now, for my first book review (eek!)…

BELLY UP

For my first book review I will review Belly Up.  Belly up is written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Stuart Gibbs.  Stuart Gibbs has three very popular series.

belly-up-9781416987321_hr

Here are the three series:

1.  Moon Base Alpha

2.  Spy School

3.  Funjungle

The book I’m reviewing today is from the series Funjungle.  And the book is called Belly Up and it. is. so. Good!!!

So, Funjungle is a zoo and is owned by a famous billionaire named JJ McKracken.  And in the book, Belly Up, an animal murder mystery takes place.  The main character’s name is Teddy Fitzroy and it’s up to him to solve the mystery when nobody else will. JJ’s daughter, Summer McKracken, is a big help to Teddy and helps investigate.

I give this book 4.5 stars.   It’s a page turner and it’ll make you want to read the other books in the series.

Belly Up is the first book in the Funjungle series.  I know that once you read Belly Up, you’ll be motivated to read the next book in the series, which is Poached.  I’ll be reviewing this entire series, and books in his other series. So stay tuned folks!

ARC Review: The Changelings by Christina Soontornvat

the changelings by christina soontornvat

Izzy’s family has just moved to the most boring town in the country. But as time goes on, strange things start to happen; odd piles of stones appear around Izzy’s house, and her little sister Hen comes home full of stories about the witch next door.

Then, Hen disappears into the woods. She’s been whisked away to the land of Faerie, and it’s up to Izzy to save her. Joined there by a band of outlaw Changelings, Izzy and her new friends set out on a joint search-and-rescue mission across this foreign land which is at turns alluringly magical and utterly terrifying.

Description taken from Goodreads.


I feel like if I had read this during my middle-grade years, I could’ve loved it to death, but when I was reading it now, all I could do was point out the clichés to it. I think the problem with the story is that there’s next to nothing fresh about it. It’s interesting, and the characters are heartfelt, and the writing is cute, but there’s nothing super memorable there.

That being said, I did love Izzy and her adventures with the outlaws. Their trip through Faerie was entertaining, and I loved Izzy’s voice as a character. She’s bookish and clever, not necessarily strong or brave, but she grows over the course of the story and comes to home both within herself and with her family/friends.

Overall, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one. It’s cute, but it’s just not what I’m looking for. I’d much rather recommend Suzanne Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series, which has many of the same themes and was one of my first of these kinds of novels. Good read, but nothing I would come back to. 2 stars.

ARC Review: The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen

the scourge by jennifer a. nielsen

As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge — and quarantine colony — for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there. However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on.

But will she and Weevil survive long enough to do so?

Description taken from Goodreads.


First things first: Jennifer A. Nielsen is a solid fantasy writer, and I’m very much a fan of hers. However, I can’t go into every one of her books expecting it to be like The False Prince. That’s only going to leave me disappointed in another good (but different) story.

Second things second: The name Weevil drives me crazy. It’s what you name a pokémon, not a book character, but I’m being petty.

The Scourge is a great book that draws attention to the stigma associated with disease and the depths of friendship. I’ll focus specifically on the second part of that, because it was my favorite part of the book. I love it when stories go into friendships, and Jennifer did it beautifully. I loved the relationship between Weevil and Ani, and I was rooting for them every step of the way. They face many trials, but they get through all of them together.

Speaking of trials, this isn’t like The False Prince. You shouldn’t go into it expecting lots of action and adventure and a fast pace. The Scourge has none of those things. It took some getting used to, but I came to love this story for what it is versus what I hoped it would be.

All in all, I would recommend this one. It’s not quite so action packed. In fact, I think it resembles the last book in Jennifer’s Ascendance trilogy the most with its political focus and steady plot. The storytelling was great, as always, and I loved seeing the exploration of each character and his or her relationships. The Scourge wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I’ll definitely still recommend this one and maybe use it to get more girls into Jennifer’s writing! 3.5 stars.

Tweens Read August Day 12: Robin Yardi & The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the 13th day of Tweens Read August, and today, Melanie Conklin is here to talk about choosing books for middle-grade readers!

Here’s a little bit about her debut:

the midnight war of mateo martinez by robin yardi

Release Date: March 1st, 2016

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Life is confusing for Mateo Martinez. He and Johnny Ramirez don’t hang out anymore, even though they used to be best friends. He and his new friend Ashwin try to act like brave, old-time knights, but it only gets them in trouble. His parents keep telling him to hold his sister’s hand when crossing busy streets, even though she’s the one who always runs ahead.

And last night, two skunks stole Mateo’s old trike.

Wait—two skunks stole his trike?

Mateo is too big for that rusty kid toy. He has a cool, shiny new bike anyway. But Mateo also has a neighborhood to protect. And he’s about to begin a big, stinky quest to catch the thieves. A quest that starts in the middle of the night!

Description taken from Goodreads.

Choosing Books for Young Readers

It’s summer reading crunch time. Do you have a morose child draped over your couch? Is the summer reading quota giving you stress? Stop. Seriously, stop stressing!

As an avid kid reader, an elementary school teacher, a parent, and an author I know that reading should be approached with excitement. Stress and pressure just won’t do anything for your young reader. So here are my no stress tips for choosing books for young readers.

1. Don’t choose for them. The most empowering thing you can do for a young reader is to let them choose for themselves. I know sometimes they only want to read books with kittens on the cover, or they only want to read picture books, or they only want to read graphic books. I don’t care and you shouldn’t either. If they are excited to read, be exited for them too.

2. Think outside! As a teacher I love taking reading to the museum or the beach… or the backyard. My field guides are beloved books and they absolutely count as reading. I’ve led kids on outdoor reading adventures with scavenger hunts, picnics, pet shop stops, beach walks, and stargazing.

3. Read socially… and share. I have to admit that my own kids are strongly influenced by what their friends are reading. I can try to push a book in my daughter’s direction for years with no success. She doesn’t care that I loved it. I’m her mom. But the second she finds out her best friend loves it she gets sucked into a magic book portal. I’m always trying to lead the conversation to books when other kids are around and I encourage my kids to swap books with friends!

4. Read aloud. Kids do not outgrow this. Ever. Reading the beginning of a book aloud and passing it on to a kid is a great way to invite them their next book. Get a stack of books, read the first paragraphs aloud, and see where they choose to dive in!

5. Read with relevance. What’s going on in your kid’s life? What are you celebrating? Where are you going, back to school or on a trip? When you choose books that are relevant in some way to your kid’s day-to- day life there can be built in interest!

6. Research read-alikes! In this age of the internet finding read-alikes is easy. What was the last book your young reader loved? Just search for that title along with the term read-alike!

7. Ask a librarian or a bookseller. There are people out in the world who have book-choosing magic. They can eye a kid up and down, ask a couple of questions and find them the perfect book. It’s like a super power. Don’t be shy. These people are just waiting to be asked!

8. Yes, use incentives! Whether it is through a local library reading program or your own ingenuity, offering incentives for meeting reading goals is great. I’ve always been a sucker for pretty pencils, silly stickers, and strawberry scented erasers. And remember, incentives don’t need to be fancy… they need to be fun!

9. Watch the movie… but only after you finish the book! This is our house rule and it’s great fun. We make finishing a book into a celebration—pop some popcorn and snuggle up! We’ve done Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Holes, Harry Potter, The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe… you get the moving picture!

10. Have fun! I’m a big advocate for fun. If a book is boring (to your kid), let them put it down and choose again. Be silly. Read outside. Read together. Read in a tree. Read upside down. Read in a fort. Read with flashlights. Read by candlelight. Whatever you read, however you read, remember to have fun… it’s summer!

About the Author

robin yardi

I live in California with some chickens and a juvenile Sulcatta tortoise.

I’m a children’s book author, credentialed teacher,Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Backyard Naturalist volunteer, and a mom. My kids are always muddy and we are usually out in the garden. Coyotes cruise by stealing chickens, hawks dip in the sky looking for lizards, the quiet deer nibble from fruit trees, and every year new quail chicks are born out in the scrub!


Giveaway

Thanks to Robin for being a part of Tweens Read August! You can add The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez to Goodreads here! The author being featured tomorrow is Melanie Conklin. This post and the one coming up tomorrow are two of my favorite posts to come out of this event. Choosing books for young readers is something I’ve touched upon a few times, but Robin put it all together in a great list. And if you’re looking for more ideas, here’s a cute bingo chart she put together for summer reading:

robin yardi summer reading bingo

Tweens Read August Day 10: Monica Tesler & Bounders

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the tenth day of Tweens Read August, and today I’m interviewing Monica Tesler about her space adventure series Bounders!

Here’s a little bit about it:

bounders

Series: Bounders #1

Release Date: January 5th, 2016

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In the tradition of Michael Vey and The Unwanteds, twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.

Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.

But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.

When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.

Description taken from Goodreads.

Interview with Monica Tesler, Author of the Bounders Series

Tell us a little bit about BOUNDERS! How does it stand out in MG science fiction?

BOUNDERS is the story of the first class of cadets at EarthBound Academy for quantum space travel. When the cadets arrive at the space station for training, they soon realize that Earth Force’s plans for them are far different from what they’ve been told. These kids have always felt different, but they never suspected they held the key to saving Earth from an alien threat.

One of the unique things about BOUNDERS, is it fits in many different storytelling boxes. It’s a science fiction adventure story, but it’s also a story about school and friendship. The core of the story is a mystery, as the kids search for answers about a huge secret they discover when they arrive at the space station and what that means for them as Bounders.

What’s your favorite thing about BOUNDERS?

My favorite part of BOUNDERS is the unlikely friendship that develops between the five main characters—Jasper, Cole, Lucy, Marco, and Mira. As the story progresses, the kids learn to work together through their own unique strengths and challenges. Their bond is what ultimately saves the day.

What can we look forward to in the second book of the series, THE TUNDRA TRIALS?

Excitement, danger, and adventure await the cadets in THE TUNDRA TRIALS which is scheduled to release on December 13, 2016. Most of the book takes place on Gulaga, the Tunneler planet. There are more aliens, more Earth Force secrets, and a space elevator!

What kind of research did you have to do to write this series?

I love to read about current developments in science and technology. The space travel used in the series—bounding—is loosely based on quantum entanglement principles. I read several articles on quantum entanglement so that I had a basic understanding of the science.

I once read a post about a theoretical space elevator that could transport goods and even people from the surface of a planet or celestial body to outside the atmosphere. That’s how I got the idea for the space elevator in THE TUNDRA TRIALS. Of course, in real life, space elevators are just in the concept/design stage, but maybe one day scientists will build one!

What advice would you give to aspiring science fiction authors?

The best advice I can give aspiring authors is to write something they enjoy and let go of outcomes. It’s important to learn how to finish projects, set them aside, and start something new. Get connected with other writers and gain an understanding of the business of publishing while writing, but don’t let that become too much of a time drain. Twitter will take your day away if you let it.

Reading is a necessity for all writers. For aspiring science fiction writers, I recommend reading widely within the genre and also keeping informed about current developments in science and technology. There is a long history of science inspiring science fiction and vice versa.

And most importantly—have fun!

 

Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Eli! I hope you and your readers enjoy BOUNDERS! Watch my website, www.monicatesler.com, for information about a preorder giveaway for THE TUNDRA TRIALS as we get closer to the December 13 release date! You can also find me on twitter and instagram as @MonicaTesler.

 

About the Author

monica tesler

Monica Tesler lives south of Boston with her family. She can often be found hiking or biking with her boys, writing on the commuter boat, or trying to catch a quiet moment for meditation. The first book in her debut middle grade science fiction series, BOUNDERS, released in early 2016 from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. The second title, THE TUNDRA TRIALS, will release December 13, 2016.


Giveaway

Thanks to Monica for taking part in Tweens Read August! This book sounds great, and I’m interested to see the different aspects to it. If you’re looking forward to reading it as much as I am, add Bounders to Goodreads! The cover for The Tundra Trials, the second book in the series, is coming out soon too, so be sure to follow Monica on Twitter for all the latest news about that. The author being featured tomorrow is M.G. Leonard.

Tweens Read August Day 7: James R. Hannibal & The Lost Property Office

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the seventh day of Tweens Read August, and today, James R. Hannibal is here to talk to us about the unique superpowers in his MG mystery/adventure The Lost Property Office!

Here’s a little bit about it:

the lost property office by james r. hannibal

Release Date: November 8th, 2016

Series: Section 13 #1

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James R. Hannibal presents a thrilling adventure through history, complete with mysteries, secret items, codes, and a touch of magic in this stunning middle grade debut.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.

But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.

Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?

Description taken from Goodreads.

Birth Defects and Superheroes

Maybe you’ve seen The Lost Property Office already, even though it doesn’t come out until November. I hope you have.

Big black cover.

Enormous clockwork beetle.

You can’t miss it.

The story opens a new series of London-based adventures filled with mystery and magic, science and history, secret societies and stern-faced old spinsters—elements of plot and milieu that were loads of fun to write. But it is the character of Jack and the way he sees the world that are most important to me. I want Jack’s experience to open up a conversation.

Thirteen-year- old Jack Buckles is a new take on the Holmesian, hyper-observant detective. Jack has a “birth defect” known as synesthesia, although you’ll never see the word in the book. He doesn’t know he has it, much like thousands of kids today who don’t know they are “synesthetes,” and are thus misdiagnosed as unfocused, or even ADD.

Synesthesia is a lack of walls between the senses. For a synesthete, sounds, smells, or pain may invoke colors and textures. Other synesthetes might hear whooshes and clacks while seeing movement or flashes of light. There are several varieties, and many synesthetes only experience one pair of crossed senses. Some of us, however, are cross wired through and through. I am a synesthete. Did I mention that? My synesthesia is debilitating at times, empowering at others. It has sent me running from my mother’s kitchen and helped me catch a terrorist. It has made me feel powerless and afraid and helped me put a bullet through a target from two miles away.

Knowledge shifts that balance.

To give you an idea why it is critical to identify child synesthetes early, let’s take a look at a well-known kid who might also have been considered “different.”

Imagine you are young Clark Kent. You have no idea why you struggle so hard to fit in. The other children at Smallville Elementary seem to have no trouble keeping their feet on the ground.

Their pencils never snap in their hands like yours do. Their deskwork never spontaneously combusts.

Maybe they’re all just smarter than you are.

When you finally get up enough courage to ask another boy how he manages to open every door without ripping the knob off, he stares back at you like you’re crazy. Word spreads. Soon the other kids are pointing and giggling when you walk by.

The teachers aren’t much better—yours especially. “Oh, I love little Clark,” Ms. Moore tells your mom in a voice that says she really doesn’t. “But he’s always bouncing off the walls. I have to pull him down off the ceiling twice a day. I have to literally pull him down. If he doesn’t quit leaping the language annex in a single bound, I might have to put him in the special class.”

The special class?

The coach likes you, though—as much good as that does.

“Who? Kent? Sure, he’s a space cadet. Head in the clouds all the time. But you should see him boot that kickball. I don’t care what they say about him. Kid’s gotta future.”

Future? What future? You’re going to be the kickball star from the special class. Great.

Now see yourself as a child with synesthesia:

You do your best to concentrate on the lesson but a bird chirps outside the window. Pinkish- white spikes fly across your vision. You can’t suppress them. Nor can you suppress the feeling that Ms. Moore is watching you.

How do all the other kids ignore the spikes? You can’t take Ms. Moore’s stink-eye anymore. You look down at your hands, willing the bird to shut up, then glance up again. Ms. Moore is still locked on. She’s waiting for you to crack.

A moment later, old Mr. Guthrie fires up his vintage lawnmower outside. It growls and coughs as it gobbles up the grass, and your battle for focus is over.

Resistance is futile.

A few others are distracted by the mower, too, but your brain is completely taken over. A bumpy gray mass with rust-colored rods poking out of it closes around you. You’re not imagining things. The mass is there—unsolicited, uncontrolled—you can feel it thumping your head and shoulders.

Ms. Moore sees you hunkering down and moves in for the kill. You barely process the question. You wouldn’t know the answer anyway. Margie Wutherford does. Her hand shoots up, making you look as stupid as you feel. How does she do it? How does she ignore Mr. Guthrie’s killer blob?

Life isn’t all bad. You’re absolutely brilliant at math and memorization. Letters, numbers, and dates have colors and textures that never change. They fly around your head in purple wisps and gold ribbons. You max every test—assuming you did the reading. You don’t understand why the other kids can’t do the same thing, but you don’t ask, not after what happened in fifth grade. You told Margie about the dates spent last spring as crazy-pink- January boy.

Memorization isn’t your only skill. The school nurse says you’re some sort of audio-prodigy. Your hearing is off the charts. Really? How could anyone miss those pink, brown, and blue blobs. You don’t have to hear the tones. You can see them. It doesn’t matter. The nurse doesn’t like you despite your super hearing. You’ve been in her office three times in three days this week alone for throwing up in the lunchroom. “You’re not sick,” she tells you. “If you keep making yourself vomit, you’re going to do permanent damage.”

You’re not making yourself do anything. Peas and onions have been on the menu all week. To smell them is to wade through slimy black mush. You can’t tell that to the nurse. Or your teacher. You heard Ms. Moore. Any more screw-ups and they’ll put you in that special class.

This was very much my life as an undiagnosed child synesthete. And this was very much Jack’s life before he came to London in search of his father—before he discovered his gift had a name.

By the way, that name is not synesthesia, not in my world.

Jack isn’t deficient. He doesn’t have an underdeveloped brain. Jack Buckles is a tracker.

Child synesthetes can have a birth defect, or they can be super heroes. Let’s start the conversation. Let’s give them the choice.

Addendum: We (the publisher and I) just received an advance review from a respected journal that illustrates my point. In the review, amid some nice compliments, the librarian/reviewer diagnoses Jack as “exhibiting behaviors on the autistic spectrum” even though autism is never mentioned and synesthesia is explained right there on the back cover. This innocent and well-intentioned mistake is a prime example of why this book is necessary, and why we need to talk about children and synesthesia in this country.

 

About the Author

james r. hannibal
James R. Hannibal is the author of the 2016 BEA Buzz Book The Lost Property Office, a middle grade mystery/adventure coming from Simon and Schuster Young Readers November 8. As a former stealth bomber pilot and drone pilot James has been shot at, locked up by a surface to air missile system, and aided the capture of High Value Targets. He is also the Thriller Award nominated author of the Nick Baron series from Berkley Books.


Giveaway

Thanks to James for being a part of Tweens Read August and doing this guest post! It was definitely thought provoking, and it made me think about the way I consider disabilities and superpowers in books and other media. Enter the giveaway above to enter an ARC of The Lost Property Office, a $25 bookstore giftcard, and other awesome swag, and be sure to add The Lost Property Office to Goodreads! You can also pick it up from stores on November 8th, 2016. The author being featured tomorrow is Brooks Benjamin!

Tweens Read August Day 6: Bridget Hodder & The Rat Prince

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the sixth day of Tweens Read August, and Bridget Hodder is here to share ten ways that her debut, The Rat Prince, is different than the original Cinderella story (and why you’ll love it!).

Here’s a little bit about it:

the rat prince by bridget hodder

Release Date: August 23rd, 2016

Add to Goodreads

The dashing Prince of the Rats–who’s in love with Cinderella–is changed into her coachman by the Fairy Godmother on the night of the big ball. And he’s about to turn the legend (and the evening) upside down on his way to a most unexpected happy ending!

Description taken from Goodreads.

 

Top Ten Ways The Rat Prince is Different from the Original Cinderella

1) More Scenes Featuring Fresh, Crusty Bread.

2) Unlike the original “Cinderella”, beauty isn’t the point in THE RAT PRINCE. Brains, loyalty, courage, and inner strength are.

3) More Sword Fights.

4) Cinderella isn’t angling for a rich guy in THE RAT PRINCE. We leave that to her wicked stepmother.

5) More Scenes Featuring Tasty Appetizers.

6) In the original, you never understand why Cinderella’s father would put up with her being abused by the stepmother and turned into a servant. In THE RAT PRINCE, it’s sad…but it makes sense.

7) More Daring Adventures.

8) In the original “Cinderella”, the Wicked Stepmother and her daughters are just stereotypes. In THE RAT PRINCE, they’re real characters, good and evil. You’ll uncover the mystery of the Stepmother’s first marriage..and find out what actually happens after the night of the big ball.

9) More Truly Happy Endings You Can Feel Good About.

10) Did we mention the food?

About the Author

bridget hodder
I’m a dreamer and a do-gooder. When I realized (around age 9) that my efforts to make this world a better place were falling pretty flat, I decided to make up entirely different, better worlds of my own, and ask readers to join me there.


Giveaway

Number 6 and number 8 especially caught my attention. I’m interested to see what The Rat Prince will be like! Ooh, and the food. To make sure you catch a copy of this great book when it releases later this month, be sure to add The Rat Prince to Goodreads. The author being featured tomorrow is James R. Hannibal!

Tweens Read August Day 4: Claire Fayers & The Voyage to Magical North

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the fourth day of Tweens Read August, and for today, I interviewed Claire Fayers on what sounds like the most epic fantasy read of the year: The Voyage to Magical North.

Here’s a little bit about it:

the voyage to magical north by claire fayers

Release Date: July 5th, 2016

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Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past–if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.

When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

Description taken from Goodreads.

 

Interview

What’s so great about Magical North?

According to the great scientist Aldebran Boswell, who know about these things, magic flows in a northerly direction and there are three north poles – geographical north, magnetic north and magical north. Magical north represents the greatest concentration of magic ever and because magic has flowed in from all over the world, anyone who stands at magical north can see the whole world.

The whole area is also supposed to be covered in treasure, though this has never been confirmed.

How do you get inspired for your story ideas?

I generally come up with some vague concept first, and then add in characters. In the case of Voyage to Magical North, I wanted to write something fun with sea monsters and magic. Brine and her quest to find out who she is came last, and it seems so obvious now I can’t believe I didn’t think of it straight away.

If I get stuck for ideas, I’ll go away and do something else for a while. My family can always tell when I’ve been working on ideas because the house is full of freshly-baked cake.

What was the hardest part of debut year?

Starting work on the second book! Switching between a very polished first book and a completely new draft made me horribly aware of how bad my writing is at the outset. But then the story started to come together and it didn’t seem so bad after all.

But really, I’ve loved every minute of the past year. I’ve given up work and I’m writing full time, something I’ve always dreamed of, and the children’s book world is such a wonderful, friendly place. I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

What kind of research did you do for Voyage to Magical North?
Not that much, to be honest. I went around a couple of old ships, and I did a ‘walk with the fish’ experience at SeaLife. Apart from that ‘research’ was working out how the various details of the fantasy world fit together. How magic worked, for example, and how long the Onion would take to sail between islands.
What do you love most about your main characters?
I love the way they reverse expectations – my own expectations as well. It’s a bit of a cliché that authors are surprised by their characters, but I was. Brine’s the one who really drives the story. Peter spends the first part of the book following her around complaining that she’s going to get them into trouble. And then he tries to carve out a place for himself on board the pirate ship, and it doesn’t entirely go well.
Did you find any aspect of creating the world of Voyage to the Magical North difficult?
Spellcasting was a challenge. I didn’t really think about how magic worked until my editor asked for details and I came up with spellshapes. And the geography takes a bit of work to keep straight. There are eight oceans, only one ocean is really a pair of seas, and then I have to remember where all the islands are and how long it takes to get from one to another. I’ve drawn myself a map, but I still keep forgetting where things are.
Is there anything you want readers to know before reading Voyage to Magical North?

We all have stories to tell. Some are quieter than others, but they’re no less important. And, when we start listening to one another’s stories, that’s when friendships begin.

Also, I know penguins don’t live at the north pole in the real world, but I love penguins so I put them in anyway.

What’s one item on your bookish bucket list?
I’d love to go for a trip on a real sailing ship before book 2 comes out. It’d have to be a short trip though as I have a tendency to get seasick. While I’m sitting on deck enjoying the sun, I will catch up on my reading of all the great debut books out this year.
Do you have any advice for authors trying to write middle-grade fiction?
Think back to what you were like at that age and capture that voice. Then be very clear about what your main characters want and what is stopping them from getting it. That’s the main conflict of your book. Finally, write what excites you – find the story that you alone can tell.
What’s one of the best middle-grade novels you’ve read this year?
Only one? I’ve read so many terrific books this year. But, if you liked Voyage to Magical North, you will love SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB by Patrick Samphire. It’s like a combination of Jules Verne and Jane Austen and it’s set on Mars, with dinosaurs.

About the Author

claire fayers

Claire Fayers lives in South Wales with her husband and as many cats as she can get away with.  She used to work in a science library, but now writes full-time, which is the best job ever.  She likes skiing, kite-flying, playing the cello and dinosaurs.


Giveaway

Thanks to Claire for taking part in Tweens Read August! I loved her responses, and I’ll definitely have to check out Secrets of the Dragon Tomb. You can add it to Goodreads here, and while you’re there, be sure to add The Voyage to Magical North as well. The author being featured tomorrow is Lee Gjertson Malone!