Monday, April 16, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Goddess Girls: Medusa the Mean

I know, it's been awhile---life, right? But I have been reading. I found my MMGM pick from the constant nagging of my daughters. Medusa the Mean is the newest book in the Goddess Girls series.

Goddess Girls #8: Medusa the Mean by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Published in April 2012

Other books in the Series:

Athena the Brain #1
Persephone the Phony #2
Aphrodite the Beauty #3
Artemis the Brave #4
Athena the Wise #5
Aphrodite the Diva #6
Artemis the Loyal #7

The Hook: Medusa, the mean girl in all the other books, finally gets a chance to tell her side. She's tired of being the only mortal at Mount Olympus Academy, so when she discovers a necklace that will help her to be immortal, she jumps at the chance.

Why I love the Book/Series: Tone and Characters. This series is pitch perfect for middle grade voice and the characters are entertaining. It was really fun to read the side of Medusa in this book where she's been such a brat in the other books. Lauren loved this book as well. She read it first and gave me chapter by chapter summaries and highlights. She thought Medusa was a magnet for bad luck and was really funny. This series is perfect for girls.

My other daughter Bryn, 8 and the reluctant reader, just finished the first book in the series and jumped right into Persephone the Phony. This is a huge sign of a great series for reluctant readers. I've mentioned before how Bryn will put down a book if it doesn't hold her interest on each page. Up until Goddess Girls, Wimpy Kid was the only series she wanted to read. I've been recommending this series to a lot of parents who are looking for a good series for girls. The books are creative and fun as well as a blend greek mythology. My girls and I are continually discussing the different characters and how they compare to the original myths. There's also nothing too intense in this series, so they are great books for younger middle graders like Bryn.

What middle grade mythology books do you love?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable

BUT first the winners of the MG Mash up Giveaway:

The Cabinet of Earths goes to:

Barbara Watson

The Invisible Tower goes to:


cheers ladies.

I found my MMGM pick on my last book binge. I needed to get Dan Gutman's chapter book series My Weird School and found The Genius Files. While I read it this week, my girls were constantly asking about the characters and wanted to know what was happening. I wouldn't answer directly because I want them to read it. Lore is loving The Invisible Tower but she wants to read this book next before
. I can understand why, the cover is intriguing and the book doesn't disappoint.

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman
Published in 2011
Other books in this series:
Never Say Genius (#2) releases Jan 24 2012 (I must have just missed it during my binge)

Other books by this author:
My Weird School series (chapter books)
The Million Dollar series
A Baseball Card Adventure series
The Homework Machine
The Kid Who Ran for President

The Hook: Just before summer break, mysterious men attempt to kill the twins, Coke and Pepsi. Why? That's what Pep and Coke want to know. As their family travels across country the twins narrowly escape many attempts on their life and discover they are recruits for a top secret government agency TGF: The Genius Files.

Why I loved it: Adventure and characters. When the main characters are named Coke and Pepsi McDonald, do I really need to say anymore? Still, Gutman delievers relatable, lovable characters. My daughters could not get over the names, they thought it was so funny and would want me to tell them more about the kids. Plus the story is a rolling adventure and completely entertaining. Gutman also throws in lots of random facts about different places and things in America--educationally entertaining. I would recommend this to boys, girls and, more importantly, reluctant readers. The action and pacing will keep kids reading. And the best part is the second book in the series just released, so I guess I'll have to go by the bookstore this week.

Want More? Visit Dan Gutman's webpage. It has a fun Genius Files book trailer on the homepage.

So here's a deep thought for you (since the kids are genius smart and my husband and I just watched Limitless on Netflix this weekend): if you could use 100% of your brain, essentially becoming a super genius, but would be crippled by some sort of physical deformity (think Stephen Hawking), would you still do it?

Do you like my term "super genius," clearly I fit into that category (wink). I'm not going to lie, ultimate brain power and knowledge is on my wish list, I think I would take it with the deformity. My husband thinks I'm crazy. But a little crazy is a good thing, right?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Middle Grade Mash Up + Giveaway

What is the Middle Grade Mash Up? I'll pick two books published in 2012 in a similar genre and then review and pick a winner at the end of the month.

I'm pitting The Cabinet of Earths vs The Invisible Tower in this month's mash up: magical realism. Then at the end of the month I'll review them both with my daughter and we'll pick a winner. If you want to read along, please do.

Which would you want to read first?

I picked Cabinet of Earths. Lore picked The Invisible Tower.

To make the mash up interesting, I'm giving away a copy of each book. So leave a comment (with your email if I can't get it from your profile) to enter to win. I'll draw two winners super randomly. Good luck. I'll pick the winners on Saturday Feb 4.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Fluffy Book Club Needs Your Help

So besides reading middle grade, I'm in two book clubs (a regular read-it-all and a fluffy). My Fluffy book club reads books that fit in the thriller/YA/Mystery/ChickLit categories. You know, the books you read and love but there's no discussion except: Did you read? Can you believe? That was awesome.

So we're putting together a list of books to vote which ones to read. This is where I need your help, I need to know what fluffy books you are drooling over. I've been out of it and offline. I'm trying to unplug from the Internet more this year and complete the stories that tug at me each night. HELP ME PLEEEEAAASSE. please.

What YA/Thriller/Mystery/ChickLit books would you want on the fluffy book list?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

She's Crafty: Pacing

Yeah, it's almost 2 in the morning, I've been writing my brains out. Then I powered up with a burrito and thought I would break for second to talk about pacing.

What is pacing? It's the flow of your story (that's my late night opinion). What does it mean for my writing? Specifically, it means my story starts too slow. My story definitely picks up in the middle but I need to drive the first fifty pages with higher stakes and more action to keep my reader invested.

In order to up the stakes, I've slashed chapters, cut character backstory and woven character decisions into the action (that hopefully develop my characters more than the slashed backstory). I'm not going to lie, it was messy. I didn't like myself in the morning sometimes, but it had to be done.

So how do I decide if my pacing is okay? It's all about the stakes and whether I feel genuine concern for my characters. My story is an adventure, so I want to feel peril, anxiety, stress, or adrenaline on every page. It should read like a roller coaster, saving the biggest drop/loop till the end. If I don't feel it on the page, I evaluate what is lacking.

Why is pacing so important? Because kids will stop reading.

I was talking to my sister today and we were talking about what page number we stop at if the story doesn't hold our interest. I used to give a book 100 pages before I put it down, now it's twenty. Yup, Girl with the Dragon Tatoo is a drink coaster at my house. Seriously, what is up with its crazy boring beginning? Props to those of you who hung on for the whole thing. My sister stops reading at 80 pages, she's kinder than me.

My daughters: Lore (9) stops at page 30 but she drags her feet if it doesn't pick up. She put down Mockingbird at page 10. Who wants to read about a dead brother, Mom?

Bryn (almost 8) stops at page 5 if it doesn't amuse her or make her laugh. And she's still in the reluctant stage where she won't finish the book if a chapter gets mildly boring. It's frightening how quickly she can become uninvested.

When do you stop reading?

And how do you keep your pace strong and stakes high in the beginning and/or middle of your story?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I binged on middle grade

And I just realized I forgot to do MMGM yesterday. These weeks are flying. Anyway, I had to go to the bookstore for something small and came home with a stack.

What I bought:
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Wyss (Classic)
  • My Weirder School #1: Miss Child Has Gone Wild! by Gutman (the destination book)
  • The Invisible Tower by Johnson-Shelton
  • The Cabinet of Earths by Nesbet
  • The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Gutman
  • Snow in Summer by Yolen
  • Tuesdays at the Castle by George
  • Winterling by Prineas (I heart the cover)
  • The Last Musketeer by Gibbs
  • Hallowed by Hand (my YA splurge)
Ten books: that's not too bad, right?

Which would you want to read first?

I'm kinda leaning toward The Last Musketeer. I'm a sucker for Dumas-inspired stories.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Shadows (The Book of Elsewhere #1)

I bought this book because I heart the cover. Seriously, heart it. So I thought I would start the year with cover love and title love and story love too.

My MMGM pick:

The Book of Elsewhere (#1): The Shadows
by Jacqueline West
published 2010

Other Books by this author:
Spellbound (The Books of Elsewhere #2) 2011

The Hook: When 11 year old Olive moves into an old mansion she discovers the house is hiding secrets and that she can enter the paintings that are stuck to its walls. She uncovers a power that wants to destroy her and the house, and it is up to her to stop the dark shadows.

Why I loved it: Characters and imagination. The story is very clever and I love the fantastical element of the paintings, Elsewhere, and the plot. The story can be a bit scary at times but it is a fabulous adventure. I haven't got to book 2 yet but want to--it is definitely on my to-buy list. This is a great book for both boys and girls. I would also recommend this to reluctant readers; the story moves quickly and should hold their attention.

So I'm trying to decide what books to pick for this month's middle grade mash up, what new middle grade new releases are you most excited to read?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year and the Ebook Surprise

Yes, I took an extended blog vacation from Thanksgiving till now. What can I say? I love to party...and write. I wrote a ton over the break. I read a ton over the break too.

But now I'm back and full of thoughts and book recommendations. Plus I'm a goals girl, so I have a new idea for the new year.

A Monthly Middle Grade Mash Up
I will pick two new release MG books at the beginning of each month. Then I will read said books during the month and determine a winner. Then if you choose to read along with me, you can comment on my judging skills. (So now I've said it out loud, I've got to do it.)

Now for the Ebook surprise...

This Christmas, most of my (9 yr old) daughter's friends got Ereaders for Christmas. What, What?!?! 9 year olds. So I take back what I asked a few months ago about whether middle graders had e-readers, because now my daughter is one of the few without. From a marketing perspective (yes, I was a marketer before a stay-at-home mom), that means e-readers are no longer in early adoption but early majority.

And with Kindle's library enabled readers and possible rent-a-book system that works like Netflix, what does that mean for middle grade authors?

Should we continue to seek traditional publishing? I still think yes to this because it comes with a marketing team but only from the big houses.

What does this mean for small publishers? I know a girl that just got dropped from her small press and is now shopping her polished manuscript to other publishers.

As a hopeful debut author, the temptation to self publish is growing. I still want to get an agent and a house just to say I did it the hard way.

I don't know, what do you think?