Monday, September 25, 2017

Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami

* Current Giveaways*

Middle-Grade Monday Time! Today I am reviewing Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami and published by Tu Books.

The Story-
It is 1945 and World War II is happening in Europe. Fifth grader, Maria Singh, wants to play ball, just like the women in the All American Leagues. Her chance becomes reality when her teacher puts together an all girl softball team. However, Maria's Papi from India does not want her wearing shorts, and her Mama from Mexico, wants her to keep an eye on her little brother Emilio.

Determined, Maria sets out to follow her dream, but life is not so easy. Her father is not allowed to become a citizen of the US and thus, can't buy land. When the owner of their farm decides to move, Maria's family needs to come up with a plan, and fast. As her father fights for his rights in the US and for the rights of his people against the British in India, Maria must learn to deal with the hatred of people who don't understand people who are different, whether in religion, color or country.

Maria takes a risk and steps up to the school board, asking for a ball field for kids to play in and sports for girls. At home, her Mama and Papi also fight, for their land and freedoms.

My Thoughts-
This book is a treasure trove of the American immigrant experience. Previously, the Indian/Mexican interracial couples of the 1940's and their experiences were unknown to me. This book does a great job highlighting the differences between the cultures and the loving ways they fit together.

Maria is just like many other girls. She wants to be herself and break free from the rules of her parents. Of course, her journey comes full circle when she realizes that her problems involving softball are actually small compared to the world problems of war and freedom. The author combines all of the problems, big and small alike, into a seamless story.

I really enjoyed Maria's inner dialogue. She is smart for her age, and unravels words and feelings of hate and revenge for what they really are, fear and insecurity. Maria is able to make mistakes, learn from them, ask forgiveness and then move on. She faces the racism and sexism in stand up ways and learns to move beyond the aggression their feelings cause, and actually search out solutions.

This is a great read. I'm giving it 5 stars!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fall Into Books $250 Giveaway!

Fall Into Books

$250 Giveaway

September 23rd to October 15th

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The winner of this giveaway has the option of receiving a $250 Amazon Gift Card or $250 in Paypal Cash. Sponsor List – Thanks to this fabulous group of bloggers and authors for sponsoring this giveaway! I Am A Reader Lori's Reading Corner Helen Smith B. Kristin McMichael Kasey's Book Reviews Simple Wyrdings Dorine White- author Author Dorothy Dreyer Author Inger Iversen Krysten Lindsay Hager author Author Crystal Marcos JeanBookNerd AuggieTalk Stacy Claflin, Author Charissa Stastny Books Caroline Clemmons Laurie Here - Cont Fiction and MORE BookHounds Laurie Treacy Geybie's Book Blog The Late Bloomer's Book Blog Every Free Chance Books Jennifer Faye ~ Romance Author Diana's Book Reviews Laurisa White Reyes, Author Author Candy Atkins and The Lost Knight Dawn Malone, Author Bound 4 Escape The Readers Realm Spirit Filled eBooks Glistering: B's Blog S.T. Bende

Giveaway Details

$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 eGift Card Ends 10/15/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via 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 and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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The List by Patricia Forde

* Current Giveaways*

I've got a new book for YA Friday. It is The List by Patricia Forde, and it hit shelves last month.

The Story-
In the future, a group of people have survived the climate apocalypse by settling in Ark, a safe town founded by John Noa. The people of Ark are controlled by Noa and his rules, the number one being that words are bad. Young Letta is the apprentice wordsmith, one of the few who are allowed to speak more than the 500 words of the List.

When Noa decides to shorten the List, Letta is left with many unanswered questions. When she rescues a Desecrator named Marlo, she learns that people outside Ark still have access to language, art, and music. When her master Benjamin goes missing, Letta turns to the Desecrators for help. Together they uncover a plot by Noa to turn all the people in the area Wordless. Letta must stop him and save humanity.

My Thoughts-
I really enjoyed this book. The premise is very interesting. Do words make man? This book's answer is yes. Noa blames language, spoken, written and thought, for all the previous problems of mankind. Humans should be no better than animals in his mind, and he has a chemical weapon to do the deed. Wow, the insanity of this man is astounding, and the people that follow him, what are they thinking? What the reader learns, is that when a man is subjected to this chemical, within weeks they kill themselves do to lack of hope. So, cool and original plot points.

Letta is a determined individual who right away shows a spark of courage when she rescues Marlo and evades the Gavvers. The entire book Letta seems to be in danger, but she persists. Even in the end, when she must face her fear of heights and battle Noa alone, she does not give up. One issue though, we never learn how old she is. My guess is 16, but that is only because she once remarks that she is not quite 18 yet. It was annoying trying to figure it out. In the beginning, I was thinking tween, but then there seems to be some interest in Marlo, so teen?. Oh well.

My only other criticism is that because the book is written from Letta's POV, and because she has a limited vocabulary, though one much better than other townies, certain words the author uses probably would be unknown to her character. But, after a bit I let that slide because I was enjoying the story and truly appreciating the value words have in a society. I'm giving this book 4 stars!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cover Love! Freaks Alive, On the Inside

* Current Giveaways*

Welcome to Cover Love! Today I am sharing another one of my library finds. This is a YA that was published back in 2007, Freaks Alive, On the Inside by Annette Curtis Klause.

Cover Design by Greg Stadnyk
Cover Illustrations by James Jean

There is just something about this cover that drew me to the book. I love the circus/freak show motif with the strange and creepy head shots that surround the dagger throwing show. Some of the head shots appear to be crawling or looking off the page. The center of focus is the entwined couple in the middle, the teen boy romantically holding the willowy figure of a women, his arms supporting her, and his eyes drawn to her lips. The green ring on his finger immediately draws my attention and I have to wonder if it is important to the plot.

One other fun aspect is that it resembles a segment of an old fashion Carnie poster, with the title, FREAKS, cut off on top. Kudos! I would pick this one up!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lisa Mangum- Managing Editor Shadow Mountain

* Current Giveaways*

Welcome to Inside the Publishing World Wednesday. Today I have an interview and other tidbits from Lisa Mangum, Managing Editor at Shadow Mountain. I had the oppurtinity to chat with Lisa and attend some of her classes at the ANWA conference last weekend.

First, Shadow Mountain is a general trade publisher best known for their children’s fantasy series including the bestselling Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull and the upcoming sequel series, Dragonwatch. They are also known for cookbooks by mega-bloggers such as Six Sisters’ Stuff and Our Best Bites, and New York Times bestsellers, like Christmas Jars. Find more info HERE.
Lisa Mangum herself, has worked in the publishing industry since 1997. She is currently the Managing Editor for Shadow Mountain Publishing and works with many New York Times best-selling authors. She loves fiction and is obsessed with the TV show, Supernatural. Though fiction is her first love, she also has experience with nonfiction and some children's picture books. By the way, she is also the author of four YA fantasy novels. Here is a picture of Lisa leading my critique group at the conference. It was awesome having an editor go through the first pages of my MS.

1. What is your current manuscript wish list?
*Proper romance in an exotic location or uncommon time period.
*General fiction- bonus points if its based on a true story.
*YA with a killer voice

2. What are some things you are sick of seeing?
The prophesied orphan boy who is destined to defeat universal evil.

3. What are some Do's when querying you?
*Do follow the posted guidelines.
*Do tell me the ending of your book.
*Do tell me about the character and the choices s/he makes.

4. What is your current favorite book?
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

5. Do you have any advice for up and coming authors?
*Don't quit.
*Don't worry
*Dream Bigger

You can find her on twitter @LisaMangum

Interested in submitting? Shadow Mountain does not require that you  have an agent. Check out their submissions page HERE. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The 25th Annual ANWA Writers Conference

* Current Giveaways*

Over the weekend I had the best time at the ANWA (American Night Writers Assoc.) Writers Conference in Arizona. If you are a writer you need to attend conferences! RWA, SCBWI, etc... Writing is such a solitary endeavour, and when you go to a writing conference you put wind in your sails and find a tribe to belong too. Of course, it is also a way to pitch to editors and agents.

Conference included three days of fun. On Thursday, we started off with a motivational speech from Joshua Perkey. He had the entire room standing up and shouting "I am a creator!" Then we had the most amazing session with Shadow Mountain senior editor, Lisa Mangum. She actually went through first pages and then edited them live on the big screen.  Wow, what a peek into the mind of an editor!
Later on we had writing sprints, first page critique groups, and then a pitch session demonstration from Agents Lisa Rodgers (JABerwocky) and Catie Flum (Liza Dawson Associates).

Friday and Saturday were full of classes and intensives, with a keynote address from author Julie
Berry.  Friday night was the big conference gala, where I won a prize for best Haiku about writing! (see picture)Which was awesome, because I kind of wimped out and didn't wear a costume when everyone else did.(See next picture.) Saturday for me was the highlight of the conference. Why? Because I had two pitches scheduled, one with an agent and the other an editor. All writers get nervous before a pitch, no matter how many times you do it.
 I began feeling the pressure before my last pitch, and left class early to take deep breaths before waiting for my turn. I'm so glad I made it, because my full manuscript was requested! Then, I went to my room and lay down, lol.

It was such a wonderful experience. I'll be highlighting advice from the editors and agents that spoke during the next several "Into the Publishing World Wednesdays". Tomorrow, I'll be spotlighting Shadow Mountain editor, Lisa Mangum, who I interviewed during a book signing. (next pic)

For now, enjoy some pictures of all the fun.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Invisible Cat Activities by Cate Anevski

* Current Giveaways*


Hey all! Something a little different today for Middle-Grade Monday! I am looking at an activity book that looks to me like something elementary kids would love. It is called Invisible Cat Activities by Cate Anevski.

So, inside the book are illustrations of cats engaged in invisible pastimes and activities, just waiting for a child to complete the picture and finish each scene. It looks adorable to me. Now, I know this isn't a novel, but it is something that will help children develop creativity and skill. Plus, Chronicle Books is hosting a GIVEAWAY HERE!