Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MIDDLE GRADE BOOK REVIEW: Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage

ZOMBIE KID
Case File 13 Volume 1
by J. Scott Savage
HarperCollins, 2012
ISBN: 780062133250
Middle Grade Fantasy
Reviewed from purchased copy. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

You hold in your hands a very dangerous record.

I have collected every side of the story and every piece of evidence on case number 13. Now, in this file, you will find all you need to follow the dark adventures of Nick, Carter, and Angelo, three boys who possess an unhealthy obsession with monsters, in a town so grisly, so horrific—

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're telling it all wrong, dude. You make it sound like it's a scary story.

Ahem. Well, Nick, it is a scary story. In this volume alone, there are voodoo queens, graveyards—even the dreaded Zombie King himself.

Yeah, but there's also the part where Angie gets mashed potatoes all in her face, and the part where I use my cool zombie powers to—

All right, point taken. Now, if you don't mind . . .

You hold in your hands a very dangerous, very funny record, detailing the hilarious adventures of three boys who have an awesome obsession with monsters. This is the first volume. Read on if you dare. . . 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Scott Savage is the author of the Farworld series and the Case File 13 middle grade series. He grew up in Northern California and now lives in Utah with his wife and four children.

Scott has held too many jobs to count, including: a mall Santa, French chef, CEO of a dot com, plumber, radio station talk show host, and the guy who sits in the little photo developing booth. He has completed one marathon and hopes to complete another when the memories finally fade away. He loves reading, writing, camping, playing games with his family, and especially hearing from and meeting his readers. To e-mail him or schedule a visit, come to his website www.jscottsavage.com
.


REVIEW

Now I'll admit right off the bat that I am not a huge fan of zombie/werewolf/vampire stories.  It's the one genre I usually stay far away from.  But with Scott coming to my school for an author visit, I felt like I should read Zombie Kid, since that would be the focus of his presentation.  Surprisingly, I quite liked it.  Now the book does have a strong gross factor (we are talking zombies here, not to mention 6th grade boys), especially once Nick turns into a zombie.  But it wasn't too bad and none of the kids I shared it with seemed bothered by it.  I liked the three main characters, who had enough depth to be interesting, but the focus here is on plot, which for most middle grade readers is exactly where the focus ought to be.  Not only does Nick have to deal with his body falling apart, but he also has a bully after him and three girls who are very suspicious about his changing behavior/appearance.  I liked the strong element of humor inserted throughout the book, it lessened the creepiness of the book, making it appropriate for most middle grade readers.

 

Monday, February 25, 2013

BLOG TOUR INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron

THE DOGS OF WINTER
by Bobbie Pyron
Arther A. Levine Books, 2012
ISBN: 9780545399302
Middle Grade Adventure
Grades 3 and up
Print copy received as part of blog tour in return for honest review.
All opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A small boy, a cruel city, and the incredible dogs who save him.

Based on a true story!

When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form: Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs, and the dogs quickly become more than just his street companions: They become his family. Soon Ivan, who used to love reading fairytales, is practically living in one, as he and his pack roam the city and countryside, using their wits to find food and shelter, dodging danger, begging for coins. But Ivan can’t stay hidden from the world of people forever. When help is finally offered to him, will he be able to accept it? Will he even want to?

A heart-pounding tale of survival and a moving look at what makes us human.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Bobbie was born in Hollywood, Florida and spent her growing up years up in the panhandle, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and dreaming of being a mermaid.  She has degrees in Psychology and Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Library Science, and has worked as a librarian for over twenty-five years.

Her first book, a novel for teens titled The Ring (WestSide Books), was published in October of 2009. Her second book, A Dog's Way Home (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books), was published to starred reviews in March of 2011. The Dog Writers Association of America recently awarded Bobbie the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award.  It was also named a Banks Street Best Books of the Year.

Her new book, The Dogs of Winter (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic), came out October of 2012. The Dogs of Winter is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Kirkus Best 100 Children's Books of the Year. Bobbie lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, three dogs, and two cats.

Bobbie's Website. Be sure to check out her biography, lots of fun information. Also be sure to check out my review here.

INTERVIEW



What is the 'story behind the story'?  

THE DOGS OF WINTER was inspired by the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a 4-year-old boy in Russia who lived homeless on the streets of Moscow in the mid 1990s. For two years, he survived brutal winters, starvation, and the ever-present threats of gangs of older children, because he was adopted by a pack of feral street dogs. I first read about Ivan’s amazing story back in 2005, in a magazine article on feral children. I was completely blown away. First of all, I couldn’t imagine a child that young living (much less surviving) on the streets of Russia; secondly, when I read that he was just one of tens of thousands of children homeless in Moscow at that time, I couldn’t understand it. I mean, this wasn’t after WWII or after the Russian revolution—this was recent! So, being the good librarian I am, I started doing research. One of the many things I learned was the fall of the Soviet Union was absolutely devastating to the people of Russia, on a socioeconomic level. We tend to think of it in this country as the fall of the Evil Empire. But say what you will about the Soviet Union, there were lots of safety nets in place for those living on the edge and the elderly. Those all went away after the fall. Within a few short years, there were an estimated 80,000 to 1 million children and teens living on the streets, trying to survive. Ivan was just one of those children.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and what would you do there?   

For some reason, I’m really drawn to Mongolia. I don’t know why! Perhaps it’s the light on the vast plains, perhaps it’s how little the life of the nomads has changed in the last 400 or so years. I’ve been to many of the places I’ve dreamed of going: Scotland, Ireland, Nepal, Bhutan. But Mongolia calls to me. What would I do there? Watch and listen.

What is something that most people don't know about you?   

My great, great aunt was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. My grandfather used to say that’s where I got my “troublemaker genes” from.

What do you especially enjoy about writing? 

I love creating characters! I love letting them do whatever they want and see where they lead me. It’s magical and I try not to analyze it too much. Or at all, really. I also love connecting with readers, getting those fan emails, meeting them at book signings or on Skype visits. Writing for kids is the best because they are so very passionate about what they love!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?   

When I’m not at my desk writing or working at the library, I’m out with my three dogs. I am passionate about being outdoors with them, whether it’s hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, or just meandering along a stream. I have to be out in Nature every day. I have a wild heart.


GIVEAWAY

Rules:
  • You must be at least 13 years old.
  • US resident
  • If you win must respond to email within 48 hours, otherwise another winner will be chosen.
  • Void where prohibited.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Friday, February 22, 2013

BLOG TOUR: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Tour Schedule

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson 

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

REVIEW

An entertaining and amusing new take on the Cinderella story.  I thought it was clever how the author focused on someone besides 'Cinderella' and how Mattie decided to fight for her own place in her world rather than continuing to let others tell her what to believe about herself.  It's a real struggle though, after being told for so long about all her weaknesses and what she isn't doing right (supposedly), she has a hard time stepping out from her sister's shadow and away from her mother's constant criticism.  It does have happily ever after ending which I always like.  A fun twist on the original story. Recommended.

Purchase

Praise
“My top pick of 2012 YA… This book is just. plain. fun.”
~Jordan McCollum, author of Saints & Spies and I, Spy

“Sariah Wilson's new book, The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back, is hilarious…What follows is a story of fun and romance with some good non-preachy life lessons thrown in.  The voice in the main character, Mattie, makes the whole thing.  I thought it was definitely a book I'd recommend to anyone with teenagers or who just want to read a good teen romance.”
~Julie Coulter Bellon, author of All Fall Down and All’s Fair

“Sariah [Wilson] has written one of the funniest stories I've read in such a long, long time. I literally couldn't put it down. Yes, my poor Kindle's battery died and I was attached to a short power cord, contorted in a very uncomfortable position while I read to the end…. Sariah Wilson captured the back-biting, insecure, hormone-driven, clique-riddled high school atmosphere so perfectly you'd think she never grew up. I dare you not to laugh as you read this witty and oh, so, romantic story.”
~Debra Erfert of Windows into Writing

“Sariah Wilson writes like the best of/most popular YA teen fiction/teen romance authors - Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Echols, Susanne Collins, Cassandra Clare.  She sucks you in and never lets you go.  I finished the ~194 novel in one night because I just couldn't go to sleep without knowing the ending!  I hope that Sariah comes out with more novels, I know I'll be re-reading this one all the time!  She's extremely talented and needs to be talked about.  I highly recommend The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back! to anyone (over the age of 12) who wants a YA novel that's a real modern-day fairy tale.”
~Hilary at Novel d’Tales

“This was such an entertaining story! I shouldn't have started reading it so late in the evening, because I didn't want to put it down to go to sleep…This is a book I can see myself reading several times. It's a fast, clean read with great characters, and I highly recommend it.”
~Andrea of Literary Time Out

The book is wonderful.  It’s quirky and fun.  The story makes you laugh and you fall in love with the characters right from the beginning…This is a well-written book.  It is one that will make you smile and sigh as you remember your first love.  And it has a moral…be yourself, believe in yourself and maybe, just maybe, your fairytale will come true.  Pick up this book.”
~Ana of The Book Hookup

Author Sariah Wilson

Sariah Wilson has never jumped out of an airplane, never climbed Mt. Everest, and is not a former CIA operative. She has, however, been madly, passionately in love with her soulmate and is a fervent believer in happily ever afters—which is why she writes romance. The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back is her fourth happily ever after novel. She grew up in southern California, graduated from Brigham Young University (go Cougars!) with a semi-useless degree in history, and is the oldest of nine (yes, nine) children. She currently lives with the aforementioned soulmate and their four children in Utah, along with three tiger barb fish, a cat named Tiger, and a recently departed hamster that is buried in the backyard (and has nothing at all to do with tigers).


Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 3/10/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BLOG TOUR: The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron

THE DOGS OF WINTER
by Bobbie Pyron
Arther A. Levine Books, 2012
ISBN: 9780545399302
Middle Grade Adventure
Grades 3 and up
Print copy received as part of blog tour in return for honest review.
All opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A small boy, a cruel city, and the incredible dogs who save him.

Based on a true story!

When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form: Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs, and the dogs quickly become more than just his street companions: They become his family. Soon Ivan, who used to love reading fairytales, is practically living in one, as he and his pack roam the city and countryside, using their wits to find food and shelter, dodging danger, begging for coins. But Ivan can’t stay hidden from the world of people forever. When help is finally offered to him, will he be able to accept it? Will he even want to?

A heart-pounding tale of survival and a moving look at what makes us human.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobbie was born in Hollywood, Florida and spent her growing up years up in the panhandle, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and dreaming of being a mermaid.  She has degrees in Psychology and Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Library Science, and has worked as a librarian for over twenty-five years.

Her first book, a novel for teens titled The Ring (WestSide Books), was published in October of 2009. Her second book, A Dog's Way Home (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books), was published to starred reviews in March of 2011. The Dog Writers Association of America recently awarded Bobbie the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award.  It was also named a Banks Street Best Books of the Year.

Her new book, The Dogs of Winter (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic), came out October of 2012. The Dogs of Winter is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Kirkus Best 100 Children's Books of the Year. Bobbie lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, three dogs, and two cats.

Bobbie's Website. Be sure to check out her biography, lots of fun information.  Including the following:

Ten Things You Don't Know About Me:

  • I once stuck a piece of popcorn up my nose (because I didn't like the babysitter) and never got it out!
  • My sister, mother, and I lived for two weeks on The Queen Elizabeth II, a very famous and historic ocean liner.
  • My great-great-great aunt is Harriot Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • My favorite word is “wilderness”
  • I've never ridden a roller coaster
  • Given a choice, I'd rather have popcorn than chocolate
  • I cannot for the life of me whistle
  • The town where I live, Park City, is at an elevation of 7,000 feet!
  • Some of the more unusual jobs I've had are: dog trainer, gladiola harvester, wilderness education instructor
  • I have never ever changed a diaper
REVIEW

Bobbie Pyron has a gift for creating characters that live in my heart.  She did it with A Dog's Way Home and she's done it with this one, The Dogs of Winter.  Mishka won me over in the first few pages and my heart ached for the little boy's suffering and confusion.  When his mother takes up with a 'bad' man who uses and abuses them both, Mishka (Little Bear) continues to believe in his mother's love and devotion even when he is forced to sleep in the pantry and goes hungry.  But when his mother 'leaves' and the bad man tries to put him in an orphange, he runs away and lives on the streets, first with other children and then a group of dogs.  When someone finally steps up to help, he doesn't want to leave his dog family and must face the challenges of learning to be around people again.

I'll admit right out that this story broke my heart, mostly because it's based on a true story and because there are undoubtedly many children like Mishka who struggle to simply get enough to eat and yet yearn for love and family.  I wanted to dive into the story, take Mishka in my arms and just love him.  Pyron has created an emotionally powerful story about survival, love, and healing.  This is not a story I will ever forget.  Her love for dogs comes shining through loud and clear.  I am not a huge dog person, but her books make me love and appreciate the good that dogs can do.  I highly recommend this story for those who are emotionally mature enough to handle it.  It is a truly thought-provoking and unforgettable read.

NOTE: Be sure to come back on Monday for my interview with Bobby Pyron and a giveaway of the book! 




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

BLOG TOUR, AUTHOR INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Red Madrassa by Terah Edun

Tour Schedule


Red Madrassa by Terah Edun

A magical accident threw them together. But when Fate holds all the cards, it can be impossible to tell the difference between pure chance and Destiny...

The Madrassa, a magical school for mage practitioners, is the stuff of legend. With selective entrance exams and quotas for only the most advanced of mage children, it's almost impossible to attend.

When Allorna, a guardian trainee for the royal family, ends up on the doorstep of the citadel on the eve of the final day of a recruitment ceremony, she decides it must be fate.

She was sure she knew the path her life would take before she enrolled. But sometimes life has a way of throwing in magical curveballs and strange friends, just to see if you’ll trip up.

Oh, and one of those friends is a mage accused of murder, another is a slightly psychotic dragon, the third a healer facing an existential crisis, and the last is a female storm-caller with more hidden secrets than a thief lord.

Do they all belong at the new school they call home?


Author Terah Edun

Terah Edun is a young adult  fantasy writer born and raised in the Atlanta metropolitan area, who transplanted to the Northeast region for college, and now lives in South Sudan. She writes the stories that she always loved to read as a young girl.

She prefers tales of adventure, magic, fellowship and courtship – in other words high fantasy. But she’s not adverse to the occasional contemporary fantasy coming her way. Sometimes you’ll see cloaks, daggers, independent and strong girls, independent and strong guys, sweet and soft spoken girls, sweet and soft spoken guys, markets, cute guys, sparkly magic and irritatingly know-it-all boys. The book she’s currently working on is SWORN TO RAISE,  the first in the Courtlight series.

Outside of writing, she’s a international development professional with a penchant for Starbucks.



AUTHOR INTERVIEW



What is the 'story behind the story’?



It’s been a story in the making for over a decade. I knew the characters and their quirks in high school. But it was until the past year that I really got a vision for the world that the characters lived in. Since then it’s been a roller coaster ride.


Who is your favorite book character and why?


I’d have to say Briar from Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series. He had a hardscrabble life on the streets but didn’t let that shape who he was. He took chances, made friends and grew into a better person and a better mage.


If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and what would you do there?


I’ve always wanted to see East Asia and in particular go to Thailand. So I would go there and see everything the country has to offer! I’d love to spend a month exploring and then base a book off everything I’ve see.


What is your favorite thing to eat/drink?


Fancy macaroni and cheese! I love taking box Kraft macaroni & cheese adding spices and half and half to make it thick, creamy and delicious!


What is your favorite/least favorite thing about writing?


Favorite thing is getting lost in a new world! Least favorite thing would be keeping up with a character storyboard – i.e. which character has red hair, the family lineage, where they’ve been, where they’re going etc.


How do you put together your stories?
 
I’m a fly-by-the-seat of my pants type of author. If I had to outline and plot arc I think I would go crazy.


Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card & Red Madrassa Ebook
5 Ebooks of Red Madrassa

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

KID LIT BLOG HOP #10

Welcome to the 10th Kid Lit Blog Hop. Wow!! What a fabulous turnout in the last Hop with 110 links! . I am so excited for all the wonderful books and articles that were linked in the last Hop and I look forward to hopping around through the links this week. A big thank you to everybody who linked into the last Hop and I hope you will join us all again this week. Enjoy the Hop!
Kid Lit Blog Hop
<div align="center"><a href="http://motherdaughterbookreviews.com/category/kid-lit-blog-hops/" title="Kid Lit Blog Hop"><img src="http://motherdaughterbookreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Kid-Lit-Blog-Hop-Button-Sep-2012-e1349976901756.jpg" alt="Kid Lit Blog Hop" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
 

Suggestions For How to Participate:

1. Although not mandatory, we ask that you kindly follow your hostesses and co-hostesses. You can follow us any way you choose (Email, GFC, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, etc.), butwe've added our preferences below. If you could just give us a quick "follow" or "like" that would be much appreciated! Make sure to leave us a message if you are following us (i.e., on Twitter or Facebook or on our websites) and will be sure to follow you back. Thanks! :-)

Hostesses:


Our Co-Hostesses for This Week:


2. Link up any Kid Lit related post. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.

* Don't link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post*
* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one *
* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*
* Feel free to link more than one post.*

3. Check out some other books. Don't be a stranger, go see what books other families are checking out, and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you! 4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you're linking up. If you'd prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links! 5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!

Interested in co-hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop? Please email renee @ motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com and put Co-Hosting Blog Hop in the subject line.

Happy Hopping!
 
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