Monday, February 25, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Bliss

Look at that cover! Yumminess everywhere. Just don't read this little gem when your stomach's growling. Bliss, written by Kathryn Littlewood and released in 2012, is an inventive blend of magic, baking, and doing the right thing. If you can remember what the right thing is . . . 

The premise: Rosemary Bliss belongs to a family of magical bakers whose secrets have been compiled for generations in the Bliss Cookery Booke. When Rose's parents leave town, she is called upon to keep the book safe and locked up tight. But when Aunt Lily shows up, Rose and her siblings experiment with the forbidden recipes. 

What keeps readers reading: The mystery. Questions such as 'just who is Aunt Lily?' and 'what is she after?' ring through readers' minds and keep them turning pages. And the idea that magic is baked into glorious bakery goods is just divine. 

What I loved: The growth and development of Rose's character. She's tried and tested and so badly wants to do right . . . but when what's baked into the baked goods by Aunt Lily turns right and wrong upside down, Rose is challenged to hold tight to the truth. Her family's secrets depend on it.

I read Bliss sometime last summer and have had it on my to-share list ever since. Just two weeks ago, the second installment in The Bliss Bakery series released -- A Dash of Magic. I'll be biting into that one very, very soon.
 I'm sure it's just as delicious as the first.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Kindness Project

Please visit me on The Kindness Project today! Grocery shopping, toddlers, and onlookers are key words in my post.

Here's the link: The Kindness Project.

Hope to see you there,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Is it MG or YA?

Some books just can't wear typical middle grade clothing but neither do they look natural in young adult's teenage digs. So . . . where do these books belong? Where should they be shelved in the library? In what section of the bookstore will they get the most attention? How do you properly target market these books? And what in the world books even fit this category?

A few I've come across are these. I'm sure you know others.


Most are books whose main characters are thirteen or fourteen, older than typical MG main characters but younger than most YA main characters. Some of them explore issues that may be tough for middle graders (abuse in Okay for Now, a sister who died in a terrorist bombing and a drunken dad in My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, and dating relationships in many). And the storyline of each is elevated above the normal middle grade book.

So, what to do?

The librarian at my local library houses each of these books in the YA section, all except The False Prince. The Cabinet of Earths moves around; I've spotted it in both the MG and the YA section. So maybe the librarian is trying to figure this whole thing out too. The covers of these books may draw a middle grade audience more so than a YA one. And what's under these covers is somewhere between MG and YA.

So, my knowledgeable blog readers, solve the conundrum. Where do books like these fit? Do they need a label all their own? Often they're called upper middle grade books, but YA readers may ignore them just because anything determined middle grade is, in their minds, for kids. Hmmm. It's worth discussing. What's your take? And what other books fit this conundrum?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Summer at Forsaken Lake

The kind of summer depicted in Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D. Beil is the kind of summer I would love to have -- the lakeshore, sailing, time in the sun. Ahhh. And it's also a book I read last summer and have been wanting to share for quite awhile. Finally, I am!

The premise: Twelve-year-old Nicholas Mettleson and his younger twin sisters are spending the summer with a great uncle they hardly know at a lake house they've never seen. But when Nicholas's dad tells him, "...that old house...and the lake--they're both full of secrets. You just have to know where to look," Nicholas starts to think maybe things won't be as boring and bad as he has anticipated. And meeting a girl named Charlie brings something Nicholas really didn't expect.

What keeps readers reading: The mystery! It involves an old letter and an old reel of movie film. That's right, film. It gives today's readers a little taste of how much film making has changed! Together, the letter and the film reel make the perfect summer adventure. I won't say anymore because, well, it's a mystery, and I can't give it away.

What I loved: Okay, I'm a parent, so I'm allowed to love this part of the story--Nicholas and Charlie uncover secrets about their parents when they were kids! It's fun and fascinating and such a neat twist.

For more middle grade recommendations, visit the links at
Shannon Messenger's site.
Happy middle grade reading! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Wrestling

Today's one of my non-Monday, special event posts--because I love the IWSG! If you write, Alex J. Cavanaugh has provided a monthly meet-up for writers in the blogosphere each first Wednesday. Sign up right here if it sounds like something for you.

At the start of January I wrote a post where I was all giddy about starting a new writing project. A few weeks later I posted that my project was still not underway because it was quite beastly and I knew writing it would be a struggle.

Today I'm thrilled to announce that the beast has taken shape. I STARTED IT! Finally. It's not a fast write, I backspace constantly, delete more words than I keep, but it's growing. And when I'm patient with this story, the fog dissipates, and a scene bursts through the gloom.

The story is acting the way I knew it would; I'm not surprised one bit. But I'll wrestle through, and one day it will shine. Maybe even extra bright because because of all the wrestling.

Got any great methods for writer's wrestling? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Changes and Donations

Keeping a schedule is important for me. It's how I'm wired. And organization is one thing that keeps me glued together -- to a fault, probably. At least that's what my husband and kids might tell you. So just don't ask them. Because they'll tell you wildly falsified stories about how I charitably donate items they still use, want or wear in order to keep our home organized. And those stories just aren't true.

My husband's favorite example is the canvas fold-up chair he got for free at some football clinic he attended. Kind of like the blue one in this photo. It sat in our storage area for TWO YEARS. Never was it removed from its original packaging. Never was it unfolded. Never was it sat upon. So I donated it. But now, every Fourth of July before venturing to fireworks (or any other outdoor festivity the rest of the year), my husband asks where his canvas chair is. "Oh, that's right. You donated it," he says, eyeballing me.

Well, so I don't freak out and come unglued, an organized blogging schedule is important to me. And I'll be making a change to posting just once a week, on Mondays. Some of my Mondays will still feature middle grade books with the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday-ers, and some of them will be my whatever-I-want-them-to-be Mondays. Occasionally, I'll pop in on another day for special events.

So, are you a scheduler and an organizer? Or do you fly with the moment? Or are you somewhere in between? And . . . have you ever donated something a family member insists they would use if it were still around?