Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blogging Break

The winner of my ARC of Beneath the Slashings by Michelle Isenhoff is:

Hooray! Email your mailing address to barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com.

And, in other news . . . my daughter turns thirteen. Tomorrow! That means TWO teenagers will live in my house (my son is on his way to fifteen). And because we make a big deal about kids' birthdays around here (often with three or four different celebrations by the time it's over), I figured a blogging break would be a great idea. (Yep. I'm brilliant like that.)

It's also a good time to share this cool photo I snapped off my deck a few months ago. The English teacher in me wants to talk symbols concerning this photo, but the writer in me
will let you imagine all the photo's possibilities.

I'll be back on Monday, November 5th.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Beneath the Slashings (with ARC giveaway!)

The winner of my (beloved) hardcover of The Universe of Fair is:

Heather H!!

Yippee! Email your mailing address to barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday features the writing of a regular MMGMer,
Michelle Isenhoff!

Beneath the Slashings is the third in Michelle Isenhoff's Divided Decade Trilogy, but it is also a stand-alone novel. The trilogy centers around the tumultuous U.S. Civil War era. And since I have an ARC, I would like to give it away to one of you. This ARC, however, contains notes Michelle jotted before the book's final printing, and you get to see the author's mind at work. Pretty cool stuff.

The premise: Upon return from the Civil War, Grace Nickerson's pa decides to sell the family farm and run a lumber camp in Michigan's wilderness. And Grace is furious. This rough life away from the family and friends Grace loves, the harshness of the loggers, and someone sabotaging the lumber camp are all parts of Grace's new--and very unwanted--life.

What keeps readers reading: The growth of Grace's character. Grace changes and learns and becomes more than she ever thought she could. By delving deep inside tough issues and situations, Michelle Isenhoff challenges readers to be more than they think they can be too. 

What I loved: The friendship Grace forges with an old Ottawa Indian woman. This woman knows what loss and sadness are and helps young Grace heal and grow past the bitterness that has taken root deep inside Grace's heart. She also helps Grace understand what true forgiveness is--something Grace needs in order to mend her relationship with her father.

To enter the giveaway for my ARC, comment on this post by 10pm CDT Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Blog followers receive two entries in the drawing. U.S. mailing addresses only, please. Winner announced on Thursday, October 25th.

For more middle grade goodness, check the links on Shannon Messenger's blog. 
Happy middle grade reading! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn and Birthdays

Autumn is definitely here--at least where I live. Much cooler days. Way cooler nights. Colorful trees. Leaves blowing across my driveway and crunching under my feet like cornflakes.

There's lots to love about autumn around here, but I don't love it--because I love summer so much, I suppose. The colors even look like this in my backyard (this photo was taken off my deck), but I still don't love autumn.

Autumn is, however, the season of my birthday.

And my birthday is tomorrow!

I tell you that because a wise friend once told me, "On my birthday, I am Princess for the Day. If I don't celebrate, who will?" And ever since then, that's what I am on my birthday. Princess for the Day. Celebrating the time I've been given, the life I've been allowed to live, and looking forward to what else is to come.

What about you, do you celebrate your own birthday?

Proudly growing older,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Universe of Fair

The winner of my ARC of Keeping Safe the Stars is:

Woot! Email your mailing address to barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com.

For today's feature, I'm joining the blog tour for Peachtree Publisher's new middle grade book . . .

The Universe of Fair by Leslie Bulion!

This book takes readers (in a very up-close way) to main character Miller Sanford's favorite place on earth -- the Holmsbury Fair. When combined with Frank W. Dormer's fun drawings, it all pulls together for an entertaining, fun, and  adventurous middle grade read. And because Peachtree provided me with a hardcover for giveaway, I have one copy to give away! (This is quite hard for me to do, however. You all know how I love hardcovers.)

The premise: It's Fair Friday, the day Miller Sanford looks forward to more than any other day of the year. And this year, Miller is eleven -- old enough (he's hoping) to spend the day alone with his best friend Lewis. But a bunch of mishaps later, Miller ends up in charge of a group of first graders, has ruined his dad's prize lemon meringue pie, and starts investigating ghosts.  It's not quite the day he had planned.

What keeps readers reading: Miller's determination. As readers walk alongside Miller, we keep hoping that now will be the moment, now will be the time, that he is free of his first graders and will be able to enjoy the Fair on his own. Every one of us, regardless of age, knows what it's like to have your best-laid plans fall flat. And it's what we do next that shows character. And character is something Miller is loaded with.

What I loved: Miller. He's real and rounded. He so badly wants to be on his own at the Fair, but even when his dreams snag on every possible thorn around, he comes through for the reader. And there's so much to love (and relate with) concerning Miller's relationship with his pesky first-grade sister Penelope--or as Miller likes to call her, Pain-elope.

To enter the drawing for the hardcover of The Universe of Fair, just comment on this post. All comments posted by 8pm CDT on Sunday, October 21, 2012, will be entered. Blog followers get their name in the drawing twice. U.S. mailing addresses only, please. Winner announced Monday, October 22nd.

For more middle grade greatness, visit the links put together by Shannon Messenger. 
Happy middle grade reading! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Kindness Project has its own blog!

Kindness should live in the blogosphere much more than once a month (said The Kindness Project organizers). So, rather than once-a-month, every-second-Wednesday blitzes, The Kindness Project launched its VERY OWN BLOG! Just yesterday. Right here:

From now on, that's where my kindness posts will be, and you can catch all the other Kindness Project contributors there too. There is a M/W/F posting schedule, with guest posts on Saturdays (you can sign up for that right here). Or grab the button and post on your own blog any time. Kindness knows no bounds. At least it shouldn't.

This whole thing is quite exciting. And inspiring. The Mission Statement of The Kindness Project says it like this:

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one blog post at a time.

Visit The Kindness Project blog and be encouraged that kindness doesn't have to be a random act.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Keeping Safe the Stars (with ARC giveaway!)

The winner of No-Name Baby by Nancy Bo Flood is:

Hooray! Email your mailing address to barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com.

And today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday feature . . . 

Sheila O'Connor's Keeping Safe the Stars releases on October 11th, and to celebrate, I can't think of a better way than to share my ARC (which I won from Joanne Fritz) with one of you! Details on the giveaway are at the end of this post.

The premise: When Pride's grandpa, Old Finn, falls gravely ill, Pride takes charge in order to keep her siblings together. She won't let herself and her brother and sister fall into foster care or an orphanage ever again. Especially not after Old Finn rescued them. But keeping safe the Stars (Star is their last name) turns out to be a big job and things begin to unravel.

What keeps readers reading: Pride's plan for keeping safe the Stars. Younger siblings Nightingale and Baby sometimes follow Pride's plan, but sometimes they have a plan all their own. The addition of several other interesting characters make Pride's plan even harder to keep together. In an inventive way, Sheila O'Connor brings a dad, his daughter, and a woman known only through letters into this family-centered tale. And set against the frame of President Nixon's resignation brings another story element as Old Finn has a past that is woven through these times and the Star siblings spent time in a commune with their mother.

What I loved: As a parent, reading this book was hard, I have to confess. Hard because I so badly wanted to make everything right for the Star siblings. And all through the story, I kept urging Pride to "please tell somebody what's going on." But as a reader, I know Pride and her brother and sister need to find their own way. It is this contradiction of emotions that I loved--because it indicates a well-told story.

To enter the giveaway for my ARC just comment on this post. Blog followers will get their name in the drawing twice. Only U.S. mailing addresses, please. Comment by 8pm on Sunday, October 14th, 2012. Winner announced on Monday, October 15th.

For more middle grade recommendations, follow the links on Shannon Messenger's blog. 
Happy middle grade reading!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group: The Initial Blank Page

First Wednesday of each month. Share your writing struggles or successes. Or writing whatevers. Join the IWSG right here.

I have a new story rattling around in my brain. I've even jotted some notes about this new story as ideas whirled through my mind. But since I can only work on one project at a time, I forced the new story to wait its turn.

And it's almost time.

A few more weeks revising my other project and I'll be ready for the new one. But that means opening a new document--a blank new document--and allowing ideas to pour out and become something.

No matter how many stories I've started, that initial blank page, staring back in all its white emptiness, is a very creepy thing.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shannon's Book Releases Tomorrow! And . . . It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: No-Name Baby (with giveaway!)

Shannon Messenger's very own middle grade book officially releases tomorrow!!!! *lots of whooping and hollering all over the world* Shannon is a champion of middle grade books, in addition to writing them herself. She is also the brains and fun behind Marvelous Middle Grade Monday as well as writing YA! If you haven't ordered your own copy of Keeper of the Lost Cities, the very best place to do that is right here because it involves a signed copy, purchased from an indie store, with another copy donated to Kids Need to Read! But I know Shannon would be thrilled if you purchased her book wherever it is sold.

Secondly, the very lucky winner of my ARC of Button Down is:

WooHoo! Email your mailing address to barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com so I can mail it to you.

Thirdly, today's MMGM feature . . . 

No-Name Baby by Nancy Bo Flood came across my radar because Rosi Hollinbeck reviewed it a few months ago and passed it along to me. Now, I'd like to share the copy with one of you. Giveaway details are at the end of this post. No-Name Baby is a thought-provoking, family-oriented book that answers the question, "Just who is my family?"

The premise: Thirteen-year-old Sophie awaits the birth of her brother or sister. This baby must live--for her mother's last three have died. Each born too early. But when Sophie's mother begins premature labor, Sophie blames herself. And then Aunt Rae tells her something that shakes the very foundation of Sophie's whole world.

What keeps readers reading: Discoveries. Each page turn and each word deepens Sophie's understanding of family, what it means to love them, and what family will do for one another.

What I loved: Set in 1932--a time between wars--this Italian immigrant family seeks to mourn those they lost in The Great War and deal with the challenging times and circumstances in which they live. The strength with which this family loves is what I loved most about this book.

To enter the giveaway, comment on this post by 8pm CDT on Sunday, October 7th, 2012. Blog followers will be entered in the drawing twice. Winner announced on Monday, October 8th. Only United States mailing addresses, please.

For more middle grade recommendations, check the links at Shannon Messenger's website. (If she had time to put them together, that is. A book launch is a pretty big deal.) :-) As for me, I'm awaiting my signed hardcover of Keeper of the Lost Cities and will read it aloud with my daughter after it arrives. Expect an MMGM on it when we are finished!
Happy middle grade reading!