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 www.kingsenglish.com

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. 

To purchase this book, please click on the following retailer links.

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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. http://www.calexanderlondon.com/
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.

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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, http://www.boystobooks.com, a success and to help promote my new blog,  http://www.madeonlyinusa.blogspot.com.


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. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: The Monster Who Ate My Peas

By: Danny Schnitzlein
Illustrated by: Matt Faulkner

Attention veggie haters everywhere:
What would you do to get out of eating your vegetables? The young boy in The Monster Who Ate My Peas would do just about anything.

When a monster, who looks like a cross between an octopus and an organic waste pile, shows up and drives a hard bargain, the boy loses his soccer ball, and then his new bike in exchange for the monster eating his peas.

The boy comes to regret his choices when his friends stop inviting him to ride bikes with them. He swallows his pride, I mean peas, and fights off the roaming tentacles of the monster to save his most prized possession and makes a surprise discovery as well.

The whimsical verse flows well with the outrageously fun illustrations, making this a must read for any child who hates his greens. My twelve-year-old son read this and laughed out loud. When he was finished he said, "Oh my gosh, this boy is so stupid." It's not very often I get such a strong reaction from a boy who thinks he has outgrown picture books, but loved this one. Ages 5 and up. Highly recommended.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Peachtree
ISBN:  978-1-5614533-1 Paperback

**Disclaimer: I have received a free book from the publisher for review purposes. I have not received monetary compensation. My opinions are in no way influenced by the publisher nor has the publisher asked for a positive review.


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CONTEST DETAILS: Contest is sponsored by the publisher and the book will be shipped by them. Please follow instructions on the Rafflecopter form to enter. Contest ends Sunday, November 13 at 10:00 MST. Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. You must click on the blog title to get the rafflecopter form to load properly.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Giveaway - Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows

My friends at Raintown Press have sent me another copy of Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows to give to one of my lucky readers. Thank you Raintown Press for hosting another giveaway.  I absolutely loved this book. It was very funny. In honor of my new blog, http://www.madeonlyinusa.blogspot.com, I will be hosting the giveaway there as well to celebrate U.S. author, Molly E. Johnson. You may enter from both sites by using the Rafflecopter form found on either site.

Click here to read the review.

Click here to read the author interview. 

Can't wait to win? To purchase this book from your nearest independent bookstore click the link below:
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Instructions for Rafflecopter form:

You must click on the title of the post to get the right Rafflecopter form to post. Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form. Contest ends Saturday November 12, 2011 at 10:00 MST


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Zeke Bartholomew always wanted to be a spy. Instead, he is just a dorky middle school kid with one smart, but shy friend, Kyle. When new neighbors move in next door, Zeke is convinced they are spies. Determined to find evidence of his neighbor’s secret life, Zeke goes through their garbage can and finds nothing, but an old pair of sunglasses. His dream of being a spy turns into a nightmare when he puts on the sunglasses and is mistaken for his neighbor, Derek Lance.

A wet escape from his kidnapper sand a fiery attempt at his life leads Zeke to an albino hulk intent on killing him. Zeke also meet a girl names Sparrow who happens to be a spy for SNURP, The Strategic National Rennaisance Project. Together they have to find Mr. Le Carre, the mastermind behind an evil scheme to rule the world with sound waves embedded in a music video.

During their escape and quest to stop the evil thugs, Zeke leads Sparrow to an underground hideout where he and Kyle keep their cool techno gadgets. It's hard to believe Zeke was ever a thoughtless dork when glimpsing into the hideout and the ingenuity of his inventions. He really seems more like a young James Bond which makes ZEKE BARTHOLOMEW: SUPERSPY a fun spy thriller for ages 11-13. Recommended for older child who enjoys adventure and cool gadgets. A sequel is planned which will give the reader a new adventure with Zeke to look forward to.

**Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the author for review purposes. I did not receive monetary compensation for my book review. In no way were my opinions influenced by the author.

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Publishing Information

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Sourcebooks