Monday, December 26, 2011

FRIGHT FLIGHT by Lisa Ard: Book Review and Giveaway

Imagine how sweet it would be if you could have all of the ice cream you ever dreamed of. For twelve-year-old, Patrick, dreams like that are a reality. Dream seekers don’t feel like they’re in dreams, they are in them. It’s not fun waking up with a stomach ache from eating too much food or opening his eyes to a painful sunburn. Patrick must slowly learn the dream rules and learn how to exit his dreams at the right time.

Patrick finds himself captain of a starship. When he lands at the docking station, he finds his two best friends and his Mom. He discovers they are under attack. It is up to him to find a way to save the crew before awakening.

FRIGHT FLIGHT by Lisa Ard is book one in the Dream Seekers Series. The book bridges the gap between the chapter book and middle grade. The fast action appeals to those reluctant readers with short attention spans. The book is short, but filled with great vocabulary for the early middle grader. I would have loved to had a little more development of the what or why of becoming a dream seeker. At the same time, I think the length of the book attracts the reader who isn’t quite ready for something longer, but still has a relatable older central character who will make the reader feel like they aren’t reading below grade level. Fright Flight would make a good addition to the 2nd-5th grade classrooms. Ages 7-10.

  • Publisher: Puddletown Publishing Group, Inc.
  • Date: November 11, 2011
  • Pages: 64
  • ISBN: 978-1-61413-024-6
The book is available through the following retailers

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Review: Jingle Bells: How The Classic Came To Be

Jingle Bells: How The Holiday Classic Came To Be written by John Harris and Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

It's hard to believe Christmas is only a month away when it's sweltering hot in Savannah, Georgia. James Lord Pierpont struggles to get his mind off the heat and the conflict of his Unitarian church's anti-slavery and focus on the task of writing a song for the annual Christmas concert.

When his daughter asks him what snow is like, Pierpont receives the inspiration he needs to start his song. He wants his congregation to know what it is like to go for a sleigh ride as he did during his childhood in Boston. With the sound of jingling bells on his mind, Pierpont ends up writing the classic, "Jingle Bells."

Author John Harris explains in an imaginative and believable way of how he came up with the fictional account of the writing of "Jingle Bells." The lively illustrations by Adam Gustavson fit well with the upbeat music of the beloved song. I love holiday books that make reading aloud fun. This book does just that. Recommended holiday read for anybody who loves the Christmas classic, "Jingle Bells." Ages 4 and up.

Publishing Information

  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (October 1, 2011
  • Pages: 32 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1561455903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561455904   

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island Book Giveaway

One lucky winner will get a paperback copy of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island by C.K Volnek.

Find out more about this book by reading my book review HERE.

Learn more about the author, C.K. Volnek HERE.

Contest Details:  Use the Rafflecopter form for all entries. Contest ends Dec. 21, 2011 at 10:01 MST. 
**Disclaimer: The book has been provided at no charge by the author and/or publisher for review and giveaway purposes only. This in no way influences my opinion of the book. No compensation has been provided for book review, giveaway or author interview.                      

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Author Interview: C.K. Volnek

C.K. Volnek, Author of The Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

Hi Trudy,
Thanks for having me here today. It’s wonderful to join you and your readers and visit about my book Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.
Where did you first learn of the "lost colonists of Roanoke Island and what made you decide to write a book about them?
I admit I never thought I would write a ‘historical’ fiction story. I hated history as a kid. Too many dates to remember. Besides, what did history have to do with what happens today? Now I understand, history has EVERYTHING to do with what happens today.   
The idea for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island came after I read a news article about the Lost Colony. I was so intrigued with the mystery, I continued to research to find out more about this mystery. How could all these people just disappear? Then I read about how Richard Grenville and Ralph Lane destroyed a Native American village just because they thought one of the Native Americans stole a silver cup. My muse was so appalled she had to come up with her own version of what happened to create a story evoking the value of acceptance and tolerance and the power of forgiveness.
How long did it take you to do the research for The Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island?
The research was the fun part of this story. I spent about two months researching the information before I began writing. But I continued to research as I wrote, even adding actual names I found from the manifest of the original colonists and other valuable information regarding the history of Roanoke Island.
What was the hardest thing you encountered in writing your debut novel?
The hardest part of writing is my own self-doubt. I love to write, but like many authors, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to doubting oneself. That little internal editor in my head sprouts horns and pokes at me with his sharp pitchfork. I’m blessed to have not succumbed to him this time. 
Why did you choose a mastiff as the ghost dog?
That is a great question. The reason I chose a Mastiff is during my research I read an article about the dogs that came over on the Mayflower. A Mastiff and Spaniel are mentioned in historical documents of that voyage. Mastiffs were quite revered by the English and I was impressed how they would have brought one over to the New America. I have met several Mastiffs and they are the most loyal and trustworthy dogs as well as strong and the breed was the epitome of what I wanted my dog character to be like. So, for me, there wasn’t a choice what dog I would choose, it was determined by history.
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
My favorite part was weaving the folklore and the true mystery together. It was a bit of a challenge, though a fun challenge at that, and the pieces fell together like a puzzle.  
Have you always been interested in history and historical legends? If so, tell us some of the others you are fascinated with.
As I mentioned, I used to hate history. But now I am so intrigued with it. I recently was asked if I could go back in time, where would I want to go. It was so hard to choose one time! What was it like to live as an early colonist? What was ancient Rome like? How did the shepherds feel when the angels filled the heavens with song at the birth of Jesus? So much fascinating history.
I also love a good mystery. And history is abundant with wonderful mysteries. One legend I am working on researching is the ‘ghost dog’ of Saint John Bosco. This dog appeared from nowhere and protected Bosco when needed, only to disappear until his protection was needed again.  
Have you traveled to Roanoke Island as part of your book writing and research?
I admit, I have not traveled to Roanoke Island, though I did research the geography, flora and fauna of the island. I have tried to stay as true to the facts as I can, though I did add a small rise in my story to allow for the cave. Most of Roanoke Island is very flat so this was a small author liberty.
Growing up, which authors inspired you the most and why?
I loved to read as a kid. But it was after reading Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, I knew I wanted to become the next great writer. It’s taken me a little longer thank I had planned to be published, having to set my goals aside for my family, but I’m glad I never gave up on my dream.
Did you dream of becoming a writer when you were younger or decide you wanted to do it later?
I have always wanted to write. But life took me in another direction for a while. I got married and had children and my writing was limited to short stories and articles. I needed the security of a regular kind of job so I used my creative abilities and became a commercial artist. I never gave up on my passion of writing and as my children grew, I began to writer longer pieces. One Christmas, my children gave me my very own laptop so I didn’t need to compete for time on the only PC in our home. They were the first ones to believe in me and my stories and I am forever in their debt.
Are you planning on writing another novel and if so, could you tell us a bit about it? 
I’m so glad you asked. I have my second novel coming out this week! A Horse Called Trouble is a tween horse story about a girl who must overcome her abusive past to save the defiant horse who has taught her to love and trust again.
A Horse Called Trouble
Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Tara Cummings has been passed from foster home to foster home; not wanted anywhere by anyone. At thirteen she’s skeptic and suspicious, with no family, and no friends.

Horse therapy “will teach trust, perseverance, respect, and the value of teamwork,” or so says the program’s instructor. Tara is unconvinced. Trust only broke her heart, perseverance meant more failures, and no one respects or wants to team up with the misfit foster kid. 

At the farm, Tara meets Trouble, an angry and defiant horse, bent on destroying everything and everyone around him. Tara is frightened of the enraged horse, until she realizes Trouble is as misunderstood and untrusting as she is. Pushing aside her fear, a special bond is formed, much to the surprise of everyone at the farm. Trouble trusts Tara, and Tara in turn finds hope and acceptance as well as the will to love and trust again herself.

But, Tara’s confidence is shaken as an even greater challenge looms ahead. Trouble’s mean and manipulative owner is the one and only Alissa, Tara’s nemesis. Can Tara overcome her own limitations and fight to save the horse who freed her heart and gave her life value and meaning? Or will Alissa destroy them both? 
I also have a third novel coming out in April. The Secret of the Stones is another tween fantasy. Merlin’s magic, enchanted stones and a mysterious prophecy thrust Alex into mystical mayhem with humorous consequences. This is the first of a series titled, The Lost Diaries of Northumberland.
Thanks so much for inviting me here today, Trudy. It has been great fun visiting with you. Great questions! I am so thrilled you enjoyed Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island and I hope you like my new books just as much.
Thanks again.
C.K. Volnek

Would you like to learn more about author, C.K. Volnek? You can visit her website at

Thank you for the wonderful interview. It is always so fun to find out what really goes into writing great children's books. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island by C.K. Volnek

In 1587 over 115 colonists disappeared without a trace from Roanoke Island, North Carolina. When twelve-year-old, Jack Dahlgren, moves to Roanoke Island with his family, he is thrust in the middle of the the evil legends and forces that caused the disappearance of the colonists.

After his little sister is severely injured in a terrible accident and taken to the mainland, Jack ends up alone in the middle of a hurricane. Battling his guilt about the accident and his desire to be grown up, he discovers a real life monster intent on killing him.

With the help of a ghost dog, a huge mastiff, and a Native American shaman named Manny, Jack must figure out the meaning behind the clues he's given, battle the evil forces and save his family.

 Jack's bravery in the face of nail-biting danger had me so engrossed in the story I could hardly put it down. C.K. Volnek does an excellent job weaving the history and legends of the "Lost Colonists" in a spell binding story. I was so fascinated by the book I had to do my own research on the "Lost Colonists" and found Ms. Volnek's novel to be well researched and a scary twist on the legends. Great character development lends The Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island into a strong debut novel. Highly recommended for boys and girls who love ghost and other scary stories.Ages 8-12 but will appeal to older middle school children as well.

Publishing Info.
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Spark Books
  • Publishing Date:November 30, 2011
  • ISBN-10: 0615568351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615568355 
 Available as paperback and Kindle editions.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

The lives of three poor children intersect in a bond of friendship which promises to help each one in an unusual way. Told in third person narrative from each child's point of view, the harsh realities of late eighteenth/early nineteenth century America, are woven together with a hint of fantasy.

Giuseppe is an orphaned street busker from Italy who is forced to work for a harsh padrone who mercilessly takes the boys earnings, giving him little in return. When green violin washes up on shore, Giuseppe finds the violin offers more than charming music.

Frederick is rescued from an orphanage by a clockmaker and becomes his apprentice. With his ingenuity and determination, he builds an automaton of a fascinating clockwork man.

When Hannah's father suffers a stroke, she is forced to work as a maid in grand hotel to help her family make ends meet. She becomes the personal assistant of an elusive and fascinating guest. In the course of her work, she learns of a mysterious treasure and dreams of what it could do for her and her family.

As the children's lives come together, they discover they each hold a key that can help another. In his debut novel, Matthew Kirby delivers a strong steampunk story in beautifully written prose in which he skilfully builds the world and characters. The author also builds some interesting minor characters who, much to my disappointment, nearly disappear without warning near the end of the novel. The action of the story comes late in the novel and I would have loved to have the fantasy elements last a little longer.  The recommended age is 8-14. I recommend THE CLOCKWORK THREE for the older end of the age limit as my twelve-year-old son thought it was slow, but my seventeen-year-old son loved it.

Publishing information
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • Date published: Oct. 1, 2010
  • Hardcover 392 pages
  • ISBN 978-0-545-20337-1

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Contest Details: 

Winner will receive an author signed hard copy.

Use the Rafflecopter form to enter and follow instructions on the form. Click HERE if the form prize does not say The Clockwork Three and the right form will load. Please be patient while the Rafflecopter form loads. This contest is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Twitter or Facebook and entrants agree to release Facebook, Twitter and blog owner from liability. Contest ends December 16, 2011 at 12:01 a.m. EST

**Disclosure:  I did NOT receive  a copy of this book from the publisher or author. The book for the contest was provided by me and purchased at The King's English Bookshop, my local independent bookstore.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Love My Local Bookstore: The Kings English Bookshop

The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City
                     1511 South 15th East 

 I recently had the privilege of visiting The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was so excited with the wonderful gem I found, I wanted to share in hopes you will find your local bookstore and support it. The bookstore is located in the middle of a quaint Salt Lake neighborhood and maintains the charm of the community. It was evident by the number of customers on a Monday that the locals support and love the bookstore. I could easily see why.

Nathan and Vivian
Upon arriving, I explained to the employees at the desk that I was a local blogger and was interested in what their store had to offer for children, especially boys. I was introduced to Nathan Spofford, a national board certified teacher in early adolescence and English Language Arts. How cool is that? A bookstore that goes out of the way to hire somebody qualified in education. Nathan took me on a tour of the children's book area. When I told him I had a special interest in books for boys, he showed me whole section dedicated to what he liked to refer to as "the books for reluctant readers; boys and tomboys." What was especially cool is that you could pick up signed copies of many titles thanks to the wealth of local talented authors including, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, Michael Kirby, Ann Cannon, and Jennifer Nielsen. For a complete list of local authors from Utah click HERE.

Nathan gave me his picks on the best current books for boys and/or the reluctant reader. His picks are at the end of the post.

A whole table and section for "boy" books.
Children's Book Area

One of my favorite things about The King's English Bookstore is their eagerness to host children's activities. When I asked about what activities the bookstore offered, I was given an impressive list longer than my local library.

Some of the fabulous activities great for boys The King's English Bookshop is participating in:
  • A guest appearance and signing by Christopher Paolini.
  • A reading and book signing by debut author Keir Graff. 
  • An appearance by the Salt Lake Acting Company for a sneak peek preview of the upcoming children's production of "How I Became a Pirate."
  • Visits from Santa on Saturdays from 12-2 p.m.
Sue and Anne
Another great thing about The King English Bookshop is the awesome staff. Many of them have worked at the bookstore for years. They care deeply about their clients and know many of them by name. Anne spoke warmly of the many talented local authors and it was apparent she esteemed many of them as her friends. I was impressed with how the store promoted books by their local authors and how the authors in return loved to visit the store. The customer service is superb.

Want to learn more about The King's English Bookshop? Visit them online at

Nathan's Favorites for Reluctant Readers, Boys and Tomboys

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz

Return to Exile by E.J. Patton (not pictured)

H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden

Icefall by Matthew Kirby (not pictured)


   Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick                                                                                                                                                     

Check back as I will be reviewing and giving away an autographed copy of Utah author Matthew Kirby's, The Clockwork Three. Book was purchased by me through The King's English Bookshop.

Do you have a favorite local bookstore? Leave me a comment and tell me what you love about them.

**Disclosure: This is not a paid post. I went to the King's English Bookshop on my own with the idea to feature them on my blog. They did not give me any free product or payment of any kind. My impressions were based on my good experience in both past and current interactions with the staff.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka


 I'm always excited to receive a book installment from the Guys Read Series of short stories. With ten short stories in each collection, there is sure to be at least one any boy would love. Volume Two, GUYS READ: THRILLER, edited by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Brett Helquist, is no exception.

 The short stories are written by top notch middle grade authors and include, M.T. Anderson, Patrick Carman, Gennifer Choldenko, Matt De La Peña, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Bruce Hale, Anthony Horowitz, Jarret J. Krosoczka, James Patterson, and Walter Dean Myers

From scary ghost stories to mystery and even a teenage terrorist, GUYS READ: THRILLER is full of thrills. With ten good short stories, it is hard to pick out the best.

When Paul's dad drags him along to film inside of a haunted house, Paul tries to stay out of the way of two feuding psychics. While nobody is paying attention to him, Paul goes on a hunt through the house to try to find the Smitch family fortune. Instead, he finds ghosts and tries to flee until he realizes the one who calls himself the Old Nuisance might have information which could lead him to the treasure. If only the psychics would stop fighting long enough for him to find it. The Old, Dead Nuisance by M.T. Anderson is spooky, but not too scary, and humorous. A fun ghost story for bedtime that won't cause nightmares.

Nothing could be worse than having to live with the least effective detective in North London unless that detective happens to be your big brother. What ensues in The Double Eagle Has Landed by Anthony Horowitz is a boy who tries to help his dim witted brother in a mystery that is both charming and funny.

Perhaps the most thought provoking of the short stories is Pirate by Walter Dean Myers. Abdullah is a teenage terrorist from Somalia who has been recruited to work as a modern real life pirate. He is forced to keep watch over Erica, a  twelve-year-old hostage, until a ransom is paid. The fictional story gives a real life glimpse into the Somalian pirate crisis and why young Somalian's are willing to risk their lives in a dangerous endeavor. The story is sure to leave the reader on the edge of his seat.

I was absolutely thrilled to find one of the stories was in the form of a comic. I'm a firm believer in letting boys read whatever they want, including comics, as long as they read. What happens when your friends warn you not to eat the fried pudding at the carnival? In Pudding by Jarret J. Krosoczka, the protagonist is about to find out, in a comic strip full of action.

If I had to choose a favorite it would be Ghost Vision Glasses by Patrick Carman. Ten-year-old, Kyle Jennings liked to use his money for candy, action figures, and weird stuff. The weird stuff is what appeals to him the most and he gladly limits his spending on candy and action figures so he can acquire the best weird stuff around. Scotty Vincent is the neighbor who antagonizes Kyle, often taking his weird stuff and breaking it. When Kyle's parents buy a cabin on Lake Lenore, he finds a stack of old comic books with advertisements for fascinating weird stuff. The endearing and quirky Kyle can't resist sending away for every weird item he reads about. The only item that shows up is a pair of Ghost Vision Glasses. The Ghost Vision Glasses are so scary and powerful, they may just help Kyle take care of his bully problem.

I highly recommend GUYS READ: THRILLER for the reluctant reader. The collection of short stories works great for the reader with a short attention span. It is easy to finish a story in a reading session and have a new story to look forward to the following day. Ages 8-12  Grades 3-7

Publishing Information
  • Publisher:  Waldon Pond Press
  • Released:  9/20/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • ISBN:  978-0-06-196375-9
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**Disclosure: In accordance with FTC regulations, I have received a copy of the book at no charge from the publisher for review purposes only. I have not received payment of any kind in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the author or publisher in any way.

Book Giveaway: I am giving away my advance reader's edition of Guys Read: Thriller in paperback version. To enter: Use the Rafflecopter form. Please click HERE to load the right form if it does not load correctly. Contest ends WED. DEC. 7, 2011 at 11:59 EST.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Giveaway: Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon Autographed Copy

One lucky winner will receive an autographed paperback copy of Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon.

Click HERE to read my review of this book.

Visit the author's website HERE to learn more about the book and the author.

Contest details: Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter and follow the instructions there. Please be patient while the form loads. If the right form does not load correctly, please click HERE. Contest ends WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 30, 2011 at 11:59 EST. Contest winner will be notified by email within 48 hours of contest end and will have 48 hours to reply with contact information or a new winner will be chosen. Contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
** Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book at no charge from the author for review and giveaway purposes. I did NOT receive any financial compensation for the review or giveaway. My opinions were not influenced in any way by the author.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon

After the death of his father in a mountain biking accident, twelve-year-old Kevin Tobin creates an fantasy world to help him cope with his loss. The retreat into his imagination add stress and confusion for his mother and sister.
When a package is sent to Kevin by mistake, he finds a dangerous electronic device inside which sends him, his best friend Tony, and the pizza delivery guy, Scratch, to the hospital. Instead of going home to recover, Kevin and Tony are sent on a wild ride for their lives as the evil protagonist, Devin and his thugs hunt them down in pursuit of the time altering device, the influxitron.

Kevin and Tony are thrust into one nail biting crazy escape after another. They receive help along the way when Kevin's older sister, Betsy and her pizza-delivery boyfriend, Scratch, nearly run over them during one of their wild escape attempts. What starts our as a confusing imaginary world for Kevin, becomes a clear way for Kevin to gain the courage he needs to face his pursuers and save his sister and their friends.

Though it starts out as Kevin's point of view, the other characters broaden the perspective. Kevin's best friend, Tony adds sarcastic humor to the ever thickening plot which ends in Kevin's point of view again in a clever and surprising unexpected twist.Ages 8-12 though I recommend it for the older middle grade reader ages 10 and up. It will appeal to teenagers as well with the addition of the two teenage characters.

Publisher Details
  • Publisher: Flatiron View Books
  • Pages: 402
  • ISBN-13: 9780615401232
 ** Disclaimer: I received this book at no charge from the author for review purposes only. My opinion was in no way influenced by the author. 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Author Interview: C. Alexander London

C. Alexander London on his own accidental adventure
Interview with C. Alexander London: Author of An Accidental Adventure Series Books 1 and 2


I love author interviews. It is always fun to find out what goes into creating a great piece of children's literature. Mr. London's interview was especially fun because he has had his own accidental adventures which led to the creation of his Accidental Adventure series, We Are Not Eaten By Yaks  (Book 1) and We Dine With Cannibals (Book 2). C. Alexander London was very gracious to take the time to answer my questions. Read on to see what he had to say.

1. What is your favorite real life accidental adventure?

The funny thing about adventures is that they usually happen when things don’t go as planned. Some of the adventures I’ve had have been scary (On my 22nd birthday I was in the city of Goma, in the Eastern Congo, when Mt. Nyiragongo erupted, forcing a rapid evacuation across the border into Rwanda) and some of them have been fun (I got lost in a village in Burma and ended up witness a festival to celebrate the arrival of a new abbot at a buddhist monastery…the whole village came out for a parade). I don’t know that I could pick a favorite real life accidental adventure, however, as each one has its own charms and its own perils. The ones I like best are the ones I share when friends and family. I used to travel alone, but now, I much prefer good company. With someone to share it with, any adventure can be a lot more fun.

2. You mention on your blog you are more like your book characters, Oliver and Celia, and would rather be watching TV. Is there one place you still want to see that would get you willingly off the couch?

There are many places! I have always wanted to visit New Zealand and also Nepal and Fiji, Japan (I’ve only ever passed through the airport) and China. The world is big place and there is much to see. I hope I’m never too much like Oliver and Celia. I want to get out and explore!

3.  You also mention you don’t like lizards. What animals from your adventures do you like?

I’d love to meet a yeti! But other than lizards and bugs, I like most animals. I find tigers, while scary, also stunning and beautiful. Yaks are great creatures and who doesn’t like a friendly monkey?

4.  What are some of your favorite adventures within the confines of your home city? What types of adventures would you suggest children look for close to home?

Those are the best adventures! I love exploring my own neighborhood, finding new nooks and crannies. I love playing the woods (I live in New York City, so there aren’t a lot of woods to play in), and I think every childhood needs a little wilderness from time to time, even if it’s the wilderness of skyscrapers and sidewalks. Of course, the library contains infinite adventures in its collection of books, and I can’t overpraise the power reading has to take you anywhere.

5. Oliver and Celia are siblings who fight, but still look out for each other. Do you have a sibling like that? If so, tell us briefly about him or her.

Celia is based very much on my sister (who is actually four years older, rather than three minutes and forty-two seconds). We never argued as much as Oliver and Celia do, but mostly because my sister always won! She and I remain very close and our disagreements often help bring new ideas to each of us, just like Oliver and Celia’s arguments do. I think arguing can be great fun and great for learning, as long as it comes from a place of respect and love.

6.  What is the scariest thing you have ever encountered on an adventure?

Well, the strange bite on my toe in Thailand was pretty scary. My foot swelled up and hurt and I complained even more than Oliver Navel would have! The erupting volcano in the Congo was scary, because the lava moved very fast and put a lot of people in danger. Personally, I was more afraid of the rebel army in control of the city at the time, than of the volcano itself, but overall, it was not an experience I’d like to repeat.

7. What country is your favorite to visit and which one is your least favorite?

I’m not sure I can choose a favorite or a least favorite! Everywhere in the world has its unique character, its charms and its challenges. I guess, though, my favorite would have to be where I live, New York City. The whole world comes here and there are endless new discoveries to be made. I like the old saying, if most cities are nouns, New York City is a verb. It’s not just a city where you live, it’s a city that’s a character, everyone who lives here has a relationship with it.

8. Were you an avid reader growing up? If so, who were some of your favorite authors?

I was actually not an avid reader growing up. I was what would now be called a reluctant reader and came to reading much later. But there were a few books that sparked my imagination and made me want to become a story teller. I loved Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet and Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (in fact, Milo’s ennui probably influenced Oliver and Celia’s general attitude of being just so over it all). Most of all though, I loved Redwall, by Brian Jacques. It was the first big book I read on my own and I loved it! The action, adventure, and heroism, the richness of his imagination. I wrote to Brian and much to my surprise, he wrote me back! I was 11 years old, and I don't recall what I said to him, but in his response, he wrote: "I hope you will grow up to be a writer, and remember, you need to use your imagination, a writer needs to have a vivid and lively imagination." That letter played a large role in setting me on a path to become a reader and writer. I hope to live up to the vividness of his imagination and to his generosity of spirit with my own readers.

9. What is the one author who has inspired you the most and why?
See above! Of course there are many others, authors for adults that I admire and find regular inspiration from…Wade Davis, an explorer and nonfiction writer, David Mitchell, one of the finest living novelists today, and journalists like Sebastian Junger, Ryszard Kapuscinski and Philip Gourevitch. I also love some of the classics, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson are two of my favorite adventure writers of times gone by.

10. My goal is to get boys to read more. What suggestions do you have for boys to get them to read more?

Meet them where they are. Sometimes that means finding ways to bring in nonfiction and books facts, sometimes that means fart jokes and wedgies, or video games and sports. It won’t always be the literary novel and that’s okay. There are lots of ways to experience the joy of reading, to create and receive stories and we do readers a disservice to privilege the literary novel over all other forms of reading. At the same time, there is a lot of joy and inspiration to be found in some of those great books, so read-alouds can expose boys to books they might not be inclined to pick up on their own. We also have to remember that some boys do indeed like literary novels and poetry and romance…we need to be sensitive to the wants and needs of each reader as an individual and avoid forcing them into broad categories of boy books and girl books.

Thanks to C. Alexander London for a great interview. If you would like to find out more about him, please visit his website.
For a chance to win both books in An Accidental Adventure series click HERE.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Giveaway: Books 1 and 2 of An Accidental Adventure by C. Alexander London

Book Giveaway: One lucky winner will receive the following two books by C. Alexander London.

 Autographed Hard Copy

Book One in An Accidental Adventure Series: We Are Not Eaten by Yaks
 by C. Alexander London.

The first book is signed by the author and is in hard back form.

  Book Two in An Accidental Adventure: We Dine with Cannibals
   by C. Alexander London

This is a paperback.

Click here to read the book review.

One lucky winner will receive both books. A great addition to your child's library.

**Disclaimer: This giveaway was made possible by the publisher who sent the books to me free of charge for review and giveaway purposes. It in no way influenced my review of the book. I was never asked by the publisher or author for a positive review. Thanks goes to the author for signing the book for giveaway purposes.

To enter to win both of these books, please use the Rafflecopter form at the end of the post. If the right form does not load, please click on the post title to reload the right form. It may take a few seconds for the form to load, please be patient.

Contest ends Tues. Nov. 22. at 11:59 EST. 

If you would like to purchase the books, you may use the links below.

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Book Review: An Accidental Adventure #2: We Dine With Cannibals

                  We Dine With Cannibals (An Accidental Adventure #2) by C. Alexander London

Fresh off a Tibetan adventure in which they barely escaped alive, 11-year-old twins, Oliver and Celia Navel, find themselves in the indentured service of Sir Edmund Titheltorpe-Schmidt III during their summer vacation. If only they could spend their vacation in front of the television watching reality shows instead of being forced into searching Macchu Picchu for the Lost Library of Alexandria.

Oliver and Celia never wanted to be explorers. That is something they would rather leave up to their parents. All they want is to look forward to starting sixth grade. (Too bad sixth grade ends up a disaster.) After the twins are kicked out of school, they end up on their way to the ancient ruins in the Amazon on yet another unwanted adventure. The family is hired as consultants for the hit show, The Celebrity Adventurist, where the twins are teamed up with their favorite teen TV actor, Corey Brandt (or so it seems). When their Dad, Dr. Ogden Navel, and Sir Edmund are kidnapped by a group of cannibals, Oliver and Celia must use their reality TV survival skills to rescue them (and hopefully be rewarded with cable TV).

We Dine With Cannibals is filled with nail biting adventure and even funnier than the first book in the series. Definitely a humorous must read series with the promise of a third installment Atlantis adventure. Highly recommended. A series both boys and girls ages 8-12 will enjoy.
  • Publisher: Philomel
  • Release Date: November 14, 2011
  • Reading level: Ages 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399254888
 **Disclosure: I have received a copy of this book free from the publisher for review purposes. I have not been asked by the publisher for a positive review. My views are not influenced by outside sources.

Click the advertiser links to purchase this book.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

eBook Review: Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb by MJA Ware

When their parents ground them and cancel their annual camping trip, longtime friends, Nathan and Misty, run away rather than miss out on the camp out. After one night, they decide to return home only to find the military has destroyed the bridges and blocked the roads out of their small town, Indian Springs. They also discover the residents have fled, leaving a horde living dead, flesh eating zombies.

Nate and Misty take up residence at the local Walmart where they discover that a mix if citric acid juice will destroy the zombies. While they are trying to figure out how to get rid of the zombies with lemon juice, a nerdy genius, Kali, shows up and helps them formulate a plan to annihilate the zombies and dodge the military bombs. Kali's entrance is where the action really picks up and where the reader can see the personalities of main characters develop. Kali's heroic actions are admirable.

For the reader who likes zombie books, MJA Ware's Super Zombie Juice, has action without too much gore, but enough to keep it creepy. A good introduction to the horror book without being too scary. It's a fast read for the YA audience and would also appeal to children over the age of 10.

Click the retailer links to purchase the eBook.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giveaway: Give a Child a Book This Holiday $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Help me promote literacy for children this holiday season.

To kick off the holiday shopping season, I am giving away a $50.00 Barnes and Noble gift card so you can buy a child a book for the holidays. This event is not sponsored by Barnes and Noble. It is my gift to my readers and followers for helping make my literacy blog,, a success and to help promote my new blog,


How to Enter:
Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Please click on the blog title post to get the right Rafflecopter form to load. Please be patient while it loads. Please follow the entry instructions on the form. Contest ends Friday November 25, 2011 MST just in time to kick off your holiday shopping.