Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two Christmas Picture Books for Your Little Violinist

THE DOLL VIOLINIST
Author: Mayra Calvani www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com
Illustrations: Amy Cullings Moreno
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61633-185-6; 1616331852
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-61633-186-3; 1616331860
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61633-187-0; 1616331879
For ages 3-7
Five days before Christmas, Emma is captivated by a doll in a shop window. Each day, she sneaks out of the orphanage to check if it’s been sold, but the shop owner, Madame Dubois, sends her away. Will the magic of Christmas bring Emma, Madame Dubois, and the doll violinist together?
ABC's Children's Picture Book Finalist!
Honorable Mention Award in the 75th Annual Writers Digest Writing Competition!

Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing or Amazon.
Now in enhanced version with read-aloud sound for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-doll-violinist/id560908783?ls=1

The Magic Violin
Author: Mayra Calvani http://www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com
Illustrations: K.C. Snider http://www.kcsniderart.com
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-933090-49-8
eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-933090-62-7
Ages 4-8
Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing or Amazon!
Eight-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem. A mysterious old woman in rags gives Melina some curious advice; a violinist Russian hamster, who happens to live under the old woman’s hat, offers her a virtuoso performance; a shooting star fills her with hope on Christmas Eve. Is Melina actually playing better, or has her violin become magic? Who is the old woman in the town square, and why does she wear the same emerald ring as her teacher Andrea? www.tips-fb.com

Zeppi’s Christmas gift for kids: FREE download on December 25th and 26th of books 1 & 2

The Adventures of Zeppi series    

A penguin named Zeppi makes a boy’s wish for a special friend come true. When young Alesdor finds Zeppi amongst the flowers in the garden, they adopt each other and grow in The Adventures of Zeppi series.
Zeppi and his friend have fun and discover a lot about friendship, tolerance and generosity. As Zeppi adapts to his new life with ecological-minded Alesdor, he will learn about taking care of the planet too.

Book 1 – New Friends

When Zeppi’s cage falls off a truck, he’s found by a kind boy named Alesdor, who teaches him that
compost piles are plant food and not penguin food.

 

Zeppi’s Christmas gift: FREE download on December 25 and 26:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Friends-ebook/dp/B0094KJK1C/

 

Check out the other books in The Adventure of Zeppi series:

Book 2 – Circus

Now living in Alesdor’s teepee in the garden, Zeppi is overjoyed when a circus parade comes down the street. It’s so much fun, until he realizes some animals are caged. Have his parents wound up in cages at the circus? Zeppi decides to find out.

 

Zeppi’s Christmas gift: FREE download on December 25 and 26:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Circus-ebook/dp/B009GMXIFM/

               

Book 3 – Learning

 

Penguins cannot speak human words. Will Zeppi the penguin learn to talk?  

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Learning-ebook/dp/B009QO0984/

 

Book 4 – Greenback Town

During a visit to his favorite toy store, Zeppi decides to snuggle between two plush penguins that remind him of his parents. But everything turns topsy-turvy when a wildlife protection officer wants to take him to the zoo.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Greenback-ebook/dp/B00ABEY9NE/

Book 5 – Cackle Island

Zeppi takes his first swim in the sea, when a storm comes up and takes him to an island inhabited by strange creatures.

Available begin January 2013.

 

 

 

 

www.tips-fb.com

Monday, December 17, 2012

Call for Submissions!


Call for Submissions:

You see it all the time in dedications and acknowledgements of books:  Words like: “To my dear husband, who has supported my writing all throughout the years in spite of the odds,” or “To my wife, who never stopped believing in me.”

But what happens when your ‘significant other’ doesn’t support your writing, either because he thinks you’ll never make it or because she thinks you’re wasting your time and efforts for nothing?

Writers often talk about their supportive spouses/partners, but seldom do we hear about the unsupportive ones—mainly because it is a cause of great sadness and shame to the writer.

I’ve heard of cases where a husband told her writer wife flat out, “You’ll never make it.” I even once heard a story about a husband who was so jealous of his wife’s ‘writing world,’ that he burned her manuscript. 

Though I don’t have a working title yet, I’m looking for 2,500-3,000-word (or longer) honest, poignant first-person accounts in the style of Chicken Soup for the Soul series. That is, true stories that are ultimately inspirational and show a great deal of perseverance and determination from the part of the writer in spite of the odds—in short, essays that will offer hope and moral support to writers who are experiencing a similar situation. The essays will be compiled into an anthology.

  • Does your significant other totally ignore your ‘writing world’ or view it with contempt either because you’re not making enough money or because they feel jealous?
  • Does he/she refuse to consider your writing as anything other than a ‘mere hobby?’
  • Does he/she belittle or demean your ‘writer dreams?’
  • Does he/she believe you’re wasting your time and should be spending that time in something more ‘valuable?’
  • Does he/she make you feel guilty for those hours you spend writing?
  • Does he/she say they understand, but then they put demands on your writing time and don’t respect it?
  • Is he/she jealous of the time you spend writing at the computer?
  • How does their behavior make you feel as a person and as a writer?
  • To what extend do their criticism contribute to your insecurity, anxiety, and maybe even depression?
  • How do you cope with their behavior?
  • What keeps you writing and persevering in spite of all the odds?
  • What would you like he/she to understand about you as a writer?
I talked about this idea with my agent and she’d be interested in representing this type of project providing I come up with a compelling set of personal essays. Of course, submissions will be treated in confidentiality and real names of people and places can be replaced with fictional ones.

Deadline:  March 1st 2013 - EXTENDED TO MARCH 31st!

If you’re interested in submitting or if you have questions, you can drop me an email at: mayra.calvani@gmail.com.

You may pass on the information to people who you think might be interested. 
www.tips-fb.com

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On the Spotlight: The Wishing Well, by Kai Strand



Molly Minstrel is treated worse than Cinderella by her mom and sisters. When Molly meets the magical creature, Unwanted, she wishes her problems away. However, you must first understand what you need before knowing what to ask for. Molly will have to look within for the solution to her troubles.

Author: Kai Strand 
Tour Date: October and November
Book Title: THE WISHING WELL: Another Weaver Tale
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
ISBN(s): hardcover 978-1616333010, Softcover 978-1616333027
Publication Date:  July 24, 2012
Genre of Book: Juvenile Fantasy



About the author

Kai Strand writes fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: www.kaistrand.com. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author. 

Author Website: www.kaistrand.com


Twitter URL: @KaiStrand



Publisher Websites






Click HERE to see Kai's complete World of Ink blog tour! 




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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure, Author of LIFE ON HOLD


When Beverly was a child she hated to read. Even though her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem Stars to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings she hated to write. In spite of her rocky relationship with books, she managed to graduate from high school then attended Midwestern State University, where she read more books than she could count. After four years, she graduated cum laude with, you guessed it, a teaching degree. And somewhere along the way, perhaps reading to her sons or reading great Newbery winners with her students, she discovered what shed been missing: reading was fun. Now she reads most every day. She also writes stories and articles for children and teens.

Beverly lives in the country with her husband, two cats, and a variety of wild critters that stop by for a handout or just to peek in the door. Besides writing, she plays the piano, searches for her ancestors, and teaches a womens Sunday school class. She also has the most beautiful grandchildren in the world.


Congratulations on yet another book release, Beverly! How do you keep yourself so productive?

Thank you, Mayra. It is fun to see a new book, after so many months of writing and editing, finally in the hands of readers. As for being productive, I think as an older writer, realizing Im in those supposedly golden years motivates me to stay busy. Each hour of every day is precious to me. I hate to waste time. Maybe my years as a teacher helps too, since Im used to a schedule. Even though I retired years ago, I still write out my plans for each day, not that I always stick to them, but I try. Also, my sons are grown and away, leaving me time for myself, which is rare when you have children at home. I do not see how writers with young kids and even teens manage to write.

I write at least two hours every morning except Saturday, which is catch up day, and Sunday, church day. Sometimes, my words are not worth keeping. Other times, they flow onto the screen and a story forms.

What was your inspiration for Life on Hold? Sounds like a compelling mystery.

One day, I read an article in the local newspaper about a young couple that had a baby while they were still in high school. The girls parents made her give the child away. The teens eventually went their separate ways, married others, and had other children. Years later, a chance conversation between the boy or girl (I forget which one) and a friend mentioned an 18-year-old boy they knew that had been adopted when a baby. The article went on to tell how the former boyfriend and girlfriend, who no longer were married to their spouses, found each other again and decided to search for the son theyd given up. And, you guessed it, the teen mentioned was their son. They went on to have a wonderful relationship with him. I love stories with happy endings. I also imagine this story happens quite often.

Could you share with us what your process was like during the creation of this novel?

Most of the time, my stories start from something I read about, or sometimes a little voice speaks to me, or an event begs to be told. With Life on Hold, I basically started with the plot of a teen discovering her father really was her stepfather. At first, I wasnt sure how the story would end or even how wed get there. The characters carried me along, occasionally as confused as I was; other times knowing exactly where they were going. Im pretty stubborn when it comes to my writing and try to write a little every day, as I mentioned earlier. My schedule is flexible, but mornings are my best writing time. It took me a bit over two years to write the story, including many revisions and then more edits with my great editor. Yes, Im slow, but like the turtle I eventually reach my destination.

Did you hit any walls while writing the book? If yes, what did you do to overcome them?

Not walls exactly, but the final version had many changes from the original as I got to know the characters better. I keep each draft on the chance an earlier edition might have a scene Id want to add back in. When a scene wasnt working, I rewrote it in different ways to see what worked best. Many times the first thought was the best.

Did you celebrate when you typed The End?

I didnt do anything special, but the words The End are two of my favorite words. They give me a sense of accomplishment, because many times in a story, Ill wonder if it will ever end or if I should scrap the whole thing.  

What do you want readers to get out of this book?

Id like for children/teens who are adopted or those that are step children to realize that bringing a child into the world does not make a man a father. (Or a mother, a mother) Holding, rocking, and whispering gentle words to a child when shes sick make a father. Attending her programs at school, helping her with spelling, taking her to the movies make a father. A father and mother show their love by actions: love, discipline when necessary, and always being there when the child has a crisis, whether big or small.

What do you enjoy most about being a childrens book author?

The most exciting thing about writing for children to me is when a child or teen says he/she likes my books. What greater reward can an author wish for?

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Youve heard it before, but its true. Hang in there. Never give up. I have enough No thank you letters to paper my whole writing room, but some of them also contain a word of encouragement. Cling to those comments. Use them to improve your story. Keep writing. Learn more. Attend conferences, Online ones if you cant get to live ones. Keep writing. Yes, Im repeating myself, but if you stop writing when times are tough, youll never be published. If youre persistent, one day, youll succeed. Hint: Dont expect to get rich, unless you write a blockbuster. Enjoy the writing. For me, the finished story is the reward.

Whats on the horizon? 

My chapter book, Kate, Little Angel Sometimes (title will be changed) is scheduled for a May/June 2013 release from 4 RV Publishing. January 2013 is the release date of my Tween paranormal A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat, MuseItUp Publishing. My orphan train story, Scattered to the Winds, is under contract with Twilight Times, and Guardian Angel has Weird Noises in the Night, no dates set yet.

Is there anything else youd like to share with my readers?

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my thoughts. I hope they help you in some way. Visit me on my blogs. I love comments. If you read my books, please let me know what you think.

Thank you, Beverly!

Thank you, Mayra. It’s been my pleasure, sharing my work with everyone.

Find Life on Hold on Amazon
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Review of Conjure, by Lea Nolan



Conjure
by Lea Nolan
Published by Entangled Publishing
Find on Amazon
Book description: 
Be careful what you search for…
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever.
My thoughts:
Conjure is one of the most entertaining young adult novels I’ve read in a long time. It is a light, fun, and sometimes spooky read filled with sympathetic characters, intriguing hoodoo magic, and turns and twists that will keep you turning pages until the very satisfying ending–one that is open and hints at what will happen in book 2. That said, the novel pretty much stands on its own and only one problem is left unsolved.
Fifteen-year old Emma is an utterly likable character, strong, brave, sensitive, and forever loyal to her beloved twin brother, for whom she will go to he ends of the world for in order to save him from the terrible curse that threatens to destroy him.  Her brother Jack is just as likable but very different from her; he’s quirky and quick-witted and at times impossible and selfish just like brothers usually are. The romance subplot between Emma and Jack’s best friend, Cooper, is sweet and refreshing and adds spice to the main story–not that it needs any extra spice. Plenty of dialogue make the pace move quickly and there’s lots of interesting information about hoodoo.
I usually dislike the use of flashbacks in a story but Nolan did a good job with them. I also enjoyed the Southern setting descriptions quite a lot; they certainly bring to life the South Carolina Lowcountry with its steamy, white-sand beaches and lush vegetation. Adult intrusion is kept to a bare minimum, so the story is centered around Emma, Jack, Cooper, the old hoodoo ‘witch’ who helps them and the mysterious beauty who has suddenly, out of nowhere, appeared in their lives and who has Jack mesmerized.
There are lots of exciting scenes in Conjure, especially when the teens are forced to bend the rules and cross the line for the higher good. Though there’s magic, witchcraft and curses involved, this isn’t a horror story and the tone is kept light throughout. There’s no bad language or sexy scenes either; Nolan keeps everything pretty sweet and proper. I certainly look forward to reading more from this talented YA author.
www.tips-fb.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: HUMBUG WITCH, by Lorna Balian


HUMBUG WITCH by Lorna Balian
ISBN 978-1-932065-32-9
32 pages, 6 1/2"x8 1/8", ages 4-8
Hardback, $12.95
Paperback available
This title is available in: English Spanish
Purchase from Star Bright Books

What can a little witch do when her witchy spells and potions don't turn out right? She just keeps on trying... until it's time for bed.

My thoughts:

This is an ADORABLY CUTE picture book! It kept a smile on my face all the way to the very satisfying, surprising ending. A pity my daughter is already a teenager. I know she would have loved it and asked me to read it to her again and again if she were younger.

Our little witch has everything a horrible, witchy witch should have, from her pointed black hat to her long stringy hair to her ugly black shoes with gold buckles, and more. But the problem is, no matter how hard she tries, she can't get her magic to work. She can't make her broom move an inch; she can't turn her car Fred into an alligator; she can't even make her magic potion to explode. What else is there to do? Well, she starts taking off all her witchy items one by one, until it's time for bed and we realize our witch isn't really a real witch but a little girl who's been playing all along.

Young children 4 to 8 will surely love this story that teaches simple vocabulary and sequencing. They will also have fun identifying the various 'witchy' objects on the page. With Halloween just around the corner, this is the perfect picture book to give to your child as a holiday gift. The illustrations are cute and whimsical and full of Halloween colors. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I was provided this review copy by the publisher via NetGalley.com. This is my honest opinion and I didn't receive any financial compensation. 



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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

“Studying Mythology? Consider Reading These Contemporary Fiction Novels for Added Insight,” by Patricia Garza


From the stories of Hades and the Underworld to Persephone and Zeus.
Thousands of years ago brilliant minds like Homer and Plutarch told and wrote the tales of characters like Zeus, Hades and Persephone. The stories ranged in theme, moral and purpose, but had such far-reaching, universal appeal, many of the motifs can still be found in the literary works of today. At its core, mythology served as a way for humans to analyze both themselves and life as a whole—something people still do—either independently or in classes— to this day.
Humans seem to have this innate desire to make sense of their existence and the world around them, and that is reflected in the arts such as writing, music and dance. That being said, it comes as no surprise to me that several contemporary teen fiction/young adult novels mirror these thoughts and ideals. Below are just some titles to consider if you are looking for some added mythological context. Many of them use the myths and characters in modern settings, which eloquently displays their timeless relevance.
Iris, Messenger
Centered around middle-schooler Iris Greenworld, this book by Sarah Deming puts ancient Greek gods and goddesses like Dionysus, Aphrodite and more in modern day Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Throughout the novel, Iris learns some lessons in self-confidence and strength, while also instilling some morals of her own onto the gods and goddesses. She also learns of various myths. It’s a great take on a traditional coming of age novel as it has an element of escapism I think many adolescents crave, while giving a cool, relevant history/culture lesson all at the same time.
Overall, it’s a story about self-discovery, which, if you think about it, is all the myths really were to begin with. Trying tales of a species trying to make sense of its existence.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Really any book in this series is a great example of the juxtaposition of the modern world and ancient characters from myths of the past—this one just happens to be my favorite. Taking place in New York, the story centers on Percy Jackson—a demigod who is just 12 years old. The ever-present reminders that they are, in fact, in modern times, such as the presence of magical sneakers and references to a Las Vegas Casino, help the reader connect to what might otherwise be a foreign, unrelatable topic.
It keeps readers grounded in reality, while giving them just enough room to slip into the fantasy realm. Overall, just like the other works mentioned, it helps remind people that no matter how far we’ve come as a species, the human experience will remain the same—same hopes, fears, dreams and emotions curse through us as they did through the people around during the heyday of these myths.
Oh.My.Gods
Authored by Tera Lynn Childs, this book examines the life of Phoebe, a high-schooler with dreams of attending USC. When a strange, unexpected turn of events places her on a secret island in Greece, amongst peers who have god-like superpowers, she is forced to find her inner strength in order to persevere. Along the way, she is faced with her fair-share of distractions, because after all, everyone has their own “Achilles heel.”
That is perhaps the biggest take-away from this book, that regardless of era or culture, people are imperfect and must rely on a sense of self and willpower to succeed.
Psyche in a Dress
Call me bias, but this book just might be my favorite on the list. It follows the life of Psyche—a young woman struggling to find her identity. I find it so compelling, because it gets right down to the fact that the struggle of self-acceptance is far from a new concept. It is an age-old dilemma that, women especially, struggle with.
All about lost love, and loving one’s self, this is a great read for anyone trying to have faith in themselves as an individual.
Nobody’s Princess
Written by Esther Friesner, this story recounts the tale of Helen of Troy—only this time from a different perspective. Although unlike the other books listed this novel does not take place in particularly “modern times” its approach is definitely contemporary as it allows the reader to hear and connect with Helen’s inner feminist. Unlike the traditional tale where Helen is seen as an object, she is given real personality and character here. She’s an individual with her own thoughts and feelings and girls everywhere can connect with her.
This is a must-read for anyone who can relate to the feeling of being ignored and overlooked—a timeless emotion far too many people experience….
So, whether you’re studying it for a class, or just interested in it yourself, you might consider reading one of these books. They offer new, fresh perspective on age-old tales we’ve all heard.
Patricia Garza is a freelance blogger and education writer that can offer suggestions on anything from choosing between accredited online colleges to picking a major. She welcomes your comments below.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview with Nicole Weaver, author of My Sister is my Best Friend


Nicole Weaver is an award-winning children's author.  Her love for languages and other cultures resulted in her writing three trilingual children's pictures books, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle, My Sister Is My Best Friend and currently under contract My Brother Is My Best Friend.  Nicole Weaver is  a veteran French / Spanish high school teacher and  adjunct professor of French at Arapahoe Community College in her hometown of Littleton , Colorado. Author , Nicole Weaver donates a large portion of her book proceeds to Mercy& Sharing .  To learn more about Mercy & Sharing please visit:http://www.haitichildren.com/


Do you consider yourself a born writer?

No, I am not a born writer.  I started writing when my two older children left home to attend college.  I experienced some major depression.  A friend of mine talked me into attending a local writer’s conference.  I left the conference with an urgent need to start writing.  I entered a poetry contest sponsored by my local library.  I won first place and from there I branched out and wrote a children’s picture book.  The therapeutic benefits from writing had me completely hooked.  

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

I got inspired to write My Sister is My Best Friend after I met my half sister for the first time in 2008.  We immediately became best friends.  My imagination took off.  I began thinking about what it would have been like if I had grown up with her.  I came up with a very positive story that portrays two twin sisters who get along and enjoy each other's company instead of being yet another typical story about sibling rivalry.  

Tell us about your children's books.

My first book titled, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle is based on true events of my childhood days in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  I lived with my father near the beach.    Sea turtles came to shore to lay their eggs within walking distance from my home.  I loved watching the mother turtles lay their eggs and later return to the sea.  One unlucky turtle was stuck on the beach and much to my dismay; my father and uncles had plans for the poor turtle.  In short, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle is about what happened at the beach so many years ago. 
   
My third book is very similar to My Sister is My Best Friend.  My Brother is My Best Friend is currently under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing.  It is a story about two twin brothers.  A blogger left a message on my blog asking me to write a book about twin brothers, and that is how I came up with the idea to write the manuscript.  Much to my delight, My Brother is My Best Friend came to be.


What was your favorite book as a child?

 I loved The Curious George Series.  I loved the pictures and reading them helped me learn how to read in English.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a manuscript, which is currently being critiqued.  I think the manuscript should be ready for submission soon.  I wrote a story about fraternal twins.  I thought it would be great to complete the series.  My first book is about two twin sisters, second book about twin boys and now the third about a boy/girl twin.

Where are your books available?

Amazon:

My Publisher:


Barnes & Noble:
    
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

Yes, readers can go here:


Mayra , thank you for taking the time to interview me.
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

"The 5 Best Ghost-Related YA for College-Aged, Teen Girls," by Nadia Jones



Vampires are so passé. It’s not all about ghosts now. If you’re looking for a good read to spook you just in time for Halloween this season, you might want to check out some of these great YA titles below. Some are funny, some are spooky, and some are just down right interesting. Either way, none of the titles will make you say “boo”—they’re just that good.

The Summoning is the first instalment of a three-part book series called the Darkest Power, written by newbie author Kelly Armstrong. This coming of age story follows 15-year-old Chloe Sanders who initially starts off as a normal teenager with “normal” insecurities but then realizes she has something else to worry about —she can see the undead. When family and friends don’t believe her, she is sent to a boarding house for mentally disabled and disturbed teens. Soon Chloe learns that many of her new roommates share her same special gifts—but can they be trusted?  The Summoning is definitely a page turner and creepy in its own respect.

Anya’s Ghost is actually a beautifully illustrated and written graphic novel by Vera Brosgol, an author who I praise for her witty and dark-humor style of writing. In a nutshell, Anya is a young Russian teen that feels like an outcast trying to get acclimated to her new America high school. She struggles with common teen issues such as body image and wanting to belong with the “in” crowd. In the end she longs to have just one friend. Her wish finally comes true when she falls down a well and comes in contact with the ghost of a teen who is now long forgotten. But when Anya’s new BFF says forever, she really means it.

Bad Girls Don’t Die is the first installment of a three-part series under the same name by author Katie Alender. The book’s teen protagonist Alexis becomes severely concerned for her younger sister after she becomes obsessed with one of her new antique dolls. Alexis not only notices that her young is changing inside and out, but a bunch of paranormal activities start to occur within the house as well. Alexis soon becomes determined to find out why.

The title is a bit gruesome but foreshadows the intense ghosts and monsters author Kendare Blake attempts to introduce in Anna Dressed in Blood. Its male teen protagonist Cas Lowood comes from a lineage of ghost killers. With the help of his witch mother and special-skilled cat, he battles evil forces on a regular basis. One eerily evening, however, he is sent to vanquish a vicious murdering ghost named Anna Dressed in Blood, a name bestowed to her after she was murdered in a now blood-stained white gown in 1958. She kills all who crosses her path, but for some strange reason she chooses to spare Cas’ life.

Lastly but certainly not least is Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama. This book combines mermaids, ghosts, and a good mystery all-in-one. Similar to Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid a beautiful mermaid falls in love with a male human and trades in her fins for a pair of legs. But there’s one huge difference: a curse is placed upon future generations in her family. Women who fall in love have an untimely death. Will Hester, a great, great granddaughter of the mermaid, see the same fate when she falls for a boy named Ezra?

Nadia Jones is a freelance education writer for www.onlinecollege.org, a website that specializes in online education. Nadia also enjoys covering an array of education-related topics that help college-bound teens expand their minds such as offering book listings. She welcomes your comments. 
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Review: The Adventures of Zeppi: New Friends (book 1)


In the middle of the night, a mysterious red truck races down Happy Town. Its cargo? Cages filled with penguins on their way to be shipped to another country. Suddenly the doors fling open and one cage rolls down the street and lands in a garden. From it, a little penguin steps out fearfully, awed at the world around him. Up until now, he has only known the constraints of the zoo.

In the morning, a boy named Alesdor discovers him and decides to keep him. Naturally, they immediately click and become the best of friends. Though the little penguin, Zeppi, is heartbroken from being separated from the rest of his family, he finds warmth and affection in Alesdor, who is as anxious for a friend as his new companion.

This children’s book by first-time Belgian author C.K. Omillin put a smile on my face throughout; not only because it’s about a penguin (and who doesn’t love penguins?), but because the story is sweet and weaves elements of friendship, family and ecological, planet-friendly values. This is the first instalment in The Adventures of Zeppi series and the beginning of their escapades. The adorable illustrations in soft pastel colors complement the story perfectly. This isn’t the standard picture book for 3-7 year olds that has short text and includes artwork on almost every page, but rather a picture book for slighter older kids (ages 6-9), who can handle longer stories. Still, there are 13 illustrations in this book, many of them spot illustrations.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in the series. The Adventures of Zeppi is sure to become a favourite of children, especially those who love penguins. C.K. Omillin is definitely an author to keep your eye on.

Find out more at www.omillinplanet.com
Rean my interview with author C.K. Omillin on Blogcritics

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