Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat with Brandon Mull Books

Have you heard of Brandon Mull? Well, he's kind of a wickedly awesome author of a few of my favorite books, like Fablehaven!

I received Brandon's latest picture book, PINGO and the Playground Bully illustrated by the talented Brandon Dorman and my kids loved it.

You know what? I loved it too, because there are several books out about bullying, but Brandon put a new spin on this age-old problem. PINGO helps even very young kids see how important it is to recognize talents and abilities in ALL of us and that we are all different and it's OKAY!

Who has the best imaginary friend? Is it Gary, who protects the galaxy with Sparky the robot? Or Tiffany, who helps save the day with Awesome Girl? Or Dustin, who can hide Mr. Bob in his pocket? During recess, Chad and Pingo are invited to participate in the contest to see which imaginary friend is the smartest or the strongest or the sneakiest. But when Jeremy, the schoolyard bully, and his imaginary friend, Grunt, barge into the contest, demanding to be included, no one expects what happens next—or how Pingo saves the day.
Pingo and the Playground Bully is a delightful, full-color picture book about the power of kindness and the importance of including others.

So where's the Trick or Treat? Well, I'm pretty lucky because I also received Brandon's latest novel Book 2 of THE CANDY SHOP WAR-- Arcade Catastrophe. What better way to celebrate Halloween than by giving away a free copy of this delicious book?!
It will take more than magical candy to win this war!
Something fishy is going on at the new amusement center in Walnut Hills. The trouble seems linked to the mysterious disappearance of Mozag and John Dar, who have spent their lives policing the magical community. When Nate and his friends are asked to help investigate, they discover kids feverishly playing arcade games in an effort to win enough tickets to redeem one of four stamps: jets, tanks, submarines, and racecars.
Rumor has it that the stamps are definitely worth it. But what do they do?
The kids soon discover that the owner of Arcadeland is recruiting members for four different clubs. When each club is filled, he will begin his quest to retrieve a magical talisman of almost unimaginable power. With John Dart and Mozag sidelined, will Nate, Summer, Trevor, Pigeon, and their new friend Lindy, find a way to save the day? Find out in this sweetest adventure ever!

I read lots of books aloud to my two older daughters while my hubby reads to the little boys each night. The girls are so excited about reading this new series together!

If you haven't read one of Brandon Mull's books yet, then I encourage you to pick one up and I'm even giving you a chance to win one for free! Yes, you can win Book 2 of The Candy Shop War! Enter away and read a good book with lots of tricks and treats!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Evertaster Giveaway

I'm reposting my review of Evertaster today and highlighting the awesome giveaway below! C'mon, you know you want to win!

I received a review e-copy of Evertaster by Adam Glendon Sidwell and my kids and I quickly found out why this novel is an Amazon Best-seller!  We were laughing by the first page and gasping by the third as we followed the pickiest eater in the world (soon to be known as Evertaster) Guster Johnsonville. My kids could relate to this eleven-year-old's selective tastebuds and learned a few things about being picky and picking trouble. :)
My 9 year old especially wanted me to tell my readers that she loved this book because it had so many interesting parts and it was fun to read about Guster escaping the bad guys.

Here's the back cover blurb:

When eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville rejects his mother's casserole for the umpteenth time, she takes him into the city of New Orleans to find him something to eat. There, in a dark, abandoned corner of the city they meet a dying pastry maker. In his last breath he entrusts them with a secret: an ancient recipe that makes the most delicious taste the world will ever know — a taste that will change the fate of humanity forever.
Forced to flee by a cult of murderous chefs, the Johnsonvilles embark on a perilous journey to ancient ruins, faraway jungles and forgotten caves. Along the way they discover the truth: Guster is an Evertaster — a kid so picky that nothing but the legendary taste itself will save him from starvation. With the sinister chefs hot on Guster’s heels and the chefs’ reign of terror spreading, Guster and his family must find the legendary taste before it’s too late.

If there's a kid in your life--get them this book, and read it with them! You won't want to miss out on this new creative venture. Sidwell takes us into a new realm of middle-grade fiction--tastebud adventureland!
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Nightingale by David Farland, Book Review

I'm happy to be the next stop on David Farland's blog tour today for this incredible book.

The multi-award winning novel, Nightingale by best-selling author, David Farland is available in hardback, ebook, and now in a special iPad enhanced version. This young-adult fantasy novel has already been turning heads.
Grand Prize Winner of the Hollywood Book Festival, placed first in all genres, all categories.

Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel of the Year!

Finalist in the Global Ebook Awards

I read this book on my iPad--a first for me--and I have to say that the experience was like nothing I had imagined. The samples from the soundtrack blended seamlessly with the storyline. I'm not one who listens to music while I read, I like it quiet, so I was a bit skeptical. But the music was amazing and left me wanting the full soundtrack so that I could play it while I continued to read.
On the iPad enhanced version, there are also several author interviews with Dave. He is a master storyteller, teacher, and sharer of little-known facts. I enjoyed every one of his interviews and look forward to listening to them again. The artwork included was also fantastic, keep reading to see a sample.

Here's a description of the book: 

Some people sing at night to drive back the darkness.  Others sing to summon it. . . .

Bron Jones was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he was rejected by one family after another, until he met Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognized him for what he really was--what her people call a "nightingale."

But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know.  Bron's secret may be the most dangerous of all.

In his remarkable young adult fantasy debut, David Farland shows why critics have called his work "compelling," "engrossing," "powerful," "profound," and "ultimately life-changing."

"Superb worldbuilding, strong characters, and Dave's characteristic excellent prose.  --Brandon Sanderson, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

*So aside from the enhanced effects, why did I like the book? I'm always intrigued when an author can set a story in our world, but introduce a new species. So in Nightingale, we have this inter-weaving of humans and Bron, who is the Nightingale, a baby abandoned by its species and he has wicked awesome powers.  
Farland has a gift when it comes to creating characters. Each one walks off the page. We know the main characters, but we can feel the secondary characters standing next to them. The plot line is engrossing and I was rooting for several of the characters, worrying over what might happen to them.

"A wonderful tale of a young man trying to find his humanity, even though he's not quite human.  One of Farland's very best!"--#1 International Bestseller Kevin J. Anderson

About the author: 

David Farland has written and edited fifty published books. These include novels for adults, young adults, anthologies, middle-grade readers, and picture books. He often teaches writing workshops, and has trained a number of people who went on to become international bestselling authors—people like Brandon Sanderson in fantasy, Brandon Mull in middle-grade fiction, and Stephenie Meyer in young adult fiction.

As part of his dedication to helping other writers, David writes the David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants, an email bulletin for writers or those who would be writers. Many authors rave about how it has helped them. Out of devotion, he provides the Daily Kick free. You can register to receive it at
Farland has plans for three more books in the series: Dream Assassin, Draghoul, and Shadow Lord.

You can learn more about Dave and his books/writing seminars here:

Twitter handle @DavidFarland

David Farland Amazon Page

 Blog Tour Schedule for Nightingale by David Farland 2012

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nothing is More Important

--Unknown source

I've seen this quote in a couple places recently and it impressed me so much that I added it to my vision board. It's a great reminder for me to stop and look at the moment that I'm in--whether I'm frustrated with my children and tired of the yelling/screaming/tantrum/mess capades or I'm questioning the worth of how I'm spending my time and what will come of it. Nothing is more important than this day--thinking that has helped me grab onto some pretty spectacular moments before they slipped through the walls of time.

Today I let my girls sleep in and they were about two minutes late to school, then I went for a walk with friends, talked about great books, played with my boys, I'll be making brownies for the teachers at the school tonight, cooking dinner, outlining a new novel, working on social media, AND I'm going to make some time to call a dear friend, then curl up on the couch with a good book. I'm doing all this with a different perspective because I realized that right now, nothing is more important than this day.

How important is your day today?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Hop Giveaway Including CALLER ID

I love this time of year! What better way to celebrate than to join a hop with over 400 blogs! Boo!
Hosted by The Diary of a Bookworm and I am a reader, not a Writer

I'm giving away a Spooky Book Bundle which includes Haunts Haven by Joan Sowards, Bloodborne by Gregg Luke, and Free Men and Dreamers by Laurie Lewis, PLUS a DVD of Fantastic 4, some great book swag featuring Caller ID (notebook, pen, bookmark) and an autographed copy of my second suspense novel, CALLER ID by Rachelle J. Christensen!

Here's what Sheila Staley had to say about Caller ID:
Caller ID has a great storyline with a strong female protagonist. Also, one of my favorite characters from Rachelle's book, Wrong Number, is back in this book, FBI agent Jason Edwards. This book will keep you reading and gripping the cover. There are also some wicked twists and turns that will leave you shaking your head. Rachelle is a talented writer and has a great handle on the craft of writing a good mystery/suspense novel. There is also a little bit of romance included that is always nice! I would recommend this book to anyone that loved a good mystery, full of tension.

Enter to win here and then scroll down to visit the Linky list of over 400 blog giveaways! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 18, 2012

GG. Vandagriff Guest Post-- My Soundtrack

My Soundtrack by G.G. Vandagriff

Right next to my love of writing is my love of music. In fact, as I look at my novels, I find that music is inescapably woven through them. I take my literary cues from the music I listen to.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major was the inspiration behind my women’s fiction: Pieces of Paris. My heroine, Annalisse, is stuck in the Missouri Ozarks with her Quixotic husband who thinks he has found the Garden of Eden. However, she grew up on a farm and knows that a farm is just a farm. She is overcome by PTSD and finds herself immersed in flashbacks of another life her husband knows nothing about. Before that life ended tragically (thus causing her to bury the memories deeply), she was a concert pianist (Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Chopin’s etudes figure here). More importantly, she was passionately in love with a brilliant violinist consumed by Tchaikovsky. In creating that character, I also became consumed—both with him and with that amazingly complex composition. I played it as I wrote, and Jules became one of my most memorable characters. The concerto is vastly yearning, longing for resolution. Jules’s character development traced the concerto’s. In the same way, as I wrote this book during my twenty-five year apprenticeship, I was yearning for the completion that only writing could give me. I was stretching, as the violinist stretches in this composition. It was plainly the soundtrack for my literary life.

In another book, The Only Way to Paradise, a tale of four women who find hope and healing in Italy, two of my “crazy ladies” are violinists. Arthritis has stricken Georgia, ending her career as a violin sensation. The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto was her signature piece, and she played it “like silk.” As I wrote of Georgia and her memories, I played the concerto as my “soundtrack.” When she thinks she wants to end her life, she hears through her window in Florence, the sound of the Dvorak violin concerto played by an anonymous virtuoso. The Slavic melody of the music echoes her mood, but saves her life. The violinist turns out to be one of her companions, whom she undertakes to mentor.

Just today, I was writing the penultimate love scene in my latest Regency romance, Miss Braithwaite’s Secret. To put me in a sweepingly romantic mood, I put Pandora on Giacomo Puccini, my favorite composer of opera. It worked! Anyway, I think so. You will have to judge for yourself when the book comes out next month!

It is one of life’s great ironies that I understand music, but cannot play a note, nor even read it! However, I cannot live without it.

G.G. Vandagriff is the author of fifteen books and an inveterate genre hopper. She has a series of five mysteries, two suspense novels, one award-winning historical epic, two women’s fiction, and two non-fiction. Her most recent project is a trilogy of Regency romances: The Duke’s Undoing, The Taming of Lady Kate, and Miss Braithwaite’s Secret. She is also a journalist, writing for an on-line magazine and Deseret News. Educated at Stanford, she studied music at Stanford-in-Austria. Though published by Deseret Book for years, she has published her last four books as an Indie publisher. Visit her website at to read about and order her books.

G.G. Vandagriff Amazon Page

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by Donna Weaver from Weaving a Tale or Two to participate in The Next Big Thing. As part of the tag, I'll answer some questions about my current WIP (Work in Progress). I'm excited about this project because I've worked so hard on it and I can't wait for you to read it!

1. What is the working title of your book? 
Fitted to Kill

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
 I was brainstorming ideas for a wedding planner who solves mysteries and jotting down plot lines. I wanted to turn the classic murder-find-the-killer plot on its head and I came up with something that I think is pretty great and unexpected. The cool thing is that my particular plot twist was inspired by my grandma's emerald ring--one that I often admired and she gave to me about ten years ago.

3. What genre does your book fall under? 

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
 I'm a big fan of country music, so let's make this easier for me and I'll pick some singers for inspiration.
Carrie Underwood would be a great one for my main character, Adri.
Easy Hairstyles for Long Hair
Luke Bryan fits my description for my character of Luke--and yeah, they share the same name, so that really works. :)
 Daniel Henney is an actor, now that's a smoldering pose. He is perfect for Adri's squeeze, Dallas Reynolds.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 
Adrielle Pyper is a wedding planner with a penchant for crafting and solving mysteries, but when it involves stolen wedding gowns and murder, she might not have a Pinterest board to cover her latest troubles.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
I'm repped by the incredible Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary. She's ready to go on submission as soon as I get through this last round of revisions--I'm so excited!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
 Two months. Editing/Revising = forever.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'm saying this story is like the Diane Mott Davidson of Pinterest with some killer bridal couture.

9.Who or What inspired you to write this book? 
I set this book in Idaho--my homegrown roots infiltrated the story somewhat and I enjoyed creating a multi-faceted character that is affected by her country upbringing. 

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think people will enjoy the unique setting of Sun Valley, Idaho. It's a small tourist town a neat ice-skating rink where tons of the top figure-skaters around the world have come to visit.

I'm tagging 5 people because I want to know more about their next big thing or WIP!

Connie Sokol
Nichole Giles
Sheri Larsen
Jessie Humphries
Erin Summerill

The Reluctant Bachelorette Book Review

Rachael Anderson has written another great contemporary romance. I like her fresh writing style. Her characters pull you in and make you root for them. She has a knack for making you laugh and sigh on the same page. I was lucky enough to be included on the blog tour for her latest novel.

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson

Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go.

Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

Rachael was kind enough to share an excerpt of her book. I love this part!

“So relieved to know you keep everyone’s orders private.” Taycee leaned across the table and whispered loudly, “Because I’d die if anyone found out I’d ordered a chicken salad sandwich with curly fries.”
   “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that then,” a deep voice spoke from behind. “I’d hate to see you die before we have a chance to catch up.”
   Taycee froze even as her heart pounded. No. Not now. Not here. Not when she was wearing her oldest jeans and rattiest T-shirt and arguing with none other than Liza Woolrich. It wasn’t right.
   Slowly, Taycee twisted around, and then clenched her jaw to keep it from dropping. It was like watching the Captain America movie where the scrawny guy goes into the machine and comes out looking . . . well, everything but    scrawny. Not that Luke could have ever been called scrawny before. Skinny, maybe, but that was about it. Now, he looked toned. Robust. Solid. And drop-dead gorgeous. His dark, wavy hair was shorter now, but his eyes—those amazing, beautiful eyes—were still that rich coffee color that used to melt her heart.
   Used to. Used to, Taycee! Get a grip. It’s been ten years for Pete’s sake.

I love Rachael's style and I enjoyed reading two of her previous novels, Luck of the Draw and Minor Adjustments. You can get her latest novel for a great deal here The Reluctant Bachelorette (A Romantic Comedy)

About the Author:
Rachael Anderson is the author of four contemporary romances: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She's the mother of four, can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

FB fan page:
Amazon author page:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kids Can Book Blast!

It's Time for Good Manners!

Part story book, part practice book, all parts fun! Children will learn about good manners -- and how to tell time -- with this colorful, engaging book.
They'll spend the day with Torie, Tad, Tessa and Tyler and discover how it's time for good manners all day long. And then they'll get the chance to practice telling time -- all while enjoying the cute clock designs, and without realizing they're learning!


"It's Time for Good Manners" is a great package workbook for children ages 4-7, combining learning twin virtues of considerateness and courtesy and punctuality."

“If ever a book was needed for this time, then this is it.”

“A fun way to learn how to tell time.”

“…good book for introducing time to students in earlier grades.”

The Kids' (and parents', too!) Book of Good Sportsmanship 

Do you have little athletes in your family? Then this colorful, engaging book is the perfect way to help them understand what it means - and how important it is - to be a Good Sport. Soccer? Dancing? Swimming? Whatever sport they do, they'll learn easy, basic sports manners through reading familiar situations featuring kids just like them. Parents, you'll also find handy reminders for you with each tip, so that the entire family can learn to be Good Sports together.


“This is a great easy read that reminds not just the kids in your family but also parents, and in my case, grandparents how important it is to be a Good Sport. Basic sports etiquette that works just as well with Dad's Sunday Soccer game as with the munchkin's is presented in an engaging and entertaining way. Memorable reminders teach this important etiquette and keep it top of mind and simple for the whole family!”

“The Kids' (and parents', too!) Book of Good Sportsmanship” is a guidebook for raising winners, both on and off the field!"

“Children need more books like this, to teach important lessons. Parents are as big a factor in a child's perception of sports as the children themselves, and the parents attitude becomes the children's. This book teaches children that no one should take sports so seriously that they get angry, be rude, but instead, be gracious, respectful and have fun with it.”

About the Author:

Leslie A. Susskind lives with her husband, daughters and two cats outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she writes children’s books while working in marketing and trying to keep up with everyone’s activities.

She is a BIG bookworm and loves to read just about anything she can get her hands on. She also loves to watch home improvement TV shows (and tries to convince her husband to do the projects), sing in choirs, and watch movies (especially anything Jane Austin). Sometimes she can even be found cooking without a microwave.

Leslie is the author of several manners-themed books, including “The Kids’ (and parents’, too!) Book of Good Sportsmanship,” and “It’s Time for Good Manners!” She is also the of the middle grade fantasy series, The Zephram Tales, which include “The Month of Zephram Mondays” and “The Tale of Time Warp Tuesday.”

1 lucky winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card compliments of author Leslie Susskind.
Ends 10/23/12

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Things My Kids Say

I've been working this year on finding more joy in the small moments. It's tough when there is so much work to do, crying babies, dirty laundry, homework, housework, etc. but that's why I needed to put more effort into smiling at those in-between moments.

I thought it'd be fun to share a few of the things my kids have said lately that made me smile.

9yo Miss G: "Mom, I think you're smarter than Dad."

7yo Miss M was scheduled to get her braces and would have to miss 4H at school. After I told her, she said her prayers, "Please bless that we won't have to miss 4H."  I called and rescheduled the appt. for the morning. The receptionist laughed and said, "We don't want to interfere with prayers."

I asked my 4yo, Mr. D if I needed to trim his nails. He looked at his hands and said, "Nah, these are just my claws." Hmm, I'll go get the clippers.

There have been so many flies lately and my kids know they drive me nuts. My almost 2yo squeals and tries to say "Fly" every time he sees one on the ceiling. In fact, when he's having a tempter tantrum, that's how I distract him. I say, "Oh no, I saw a fly." He stops and starts looking around for one.  

Mr. D (4yo) and the neighbor girl were playing. They came in the house and she held out her fist. "Look, we caught a little rat!" 
When I saw the tail wriggle, I screamed and hurried them out of the house. I asked her how she got the mouse and she said the cat was playing with it! Ewwww! We gave it back to the cat.

When I made the kids keep going back to clean their room because it didn't pass inspection they said, "You're a mean mom."  But when I gave them ice cream in our glass sundae dishes, they said, "You're the best mom ever!"

There are so many moments that make me laugh or smile. Sometimes writing them down helps me to pay attention to them more. Everyone tells me these years go by fast--I want to remember to hold onto the best parts of them.

How about you? Are you finding joy in the small moments?


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