Review: The Crowd by Alleece Balts

The Crowd by Alleece BaltsThe Crowd
Alleece Balts
Available January 10, 2016

Amazon | Goodreads | Author web site

Ella’s excitement over her acceptance into a prestigious school quickly fades when she has her first run-in with the Crowd. These future politicians and business leaders possess the power to make life miserable for the other students. When Jackson, the Crowd leader, turns his attention to Ella, she wants nothing more than to slip back into anonymity. Only her friendship with Lucas, a boy from another school, gives her any joy. With each new challenge the Crowd tosses her way, Ella reminds herself of her father’s words: be kind. Her mother quotes Eleanor Roosevelt, Ella’s namesake, and Ella strives to live up to those lofty words. But … Continue reading

Top Ten Middle Grade Reads

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Top Ten Middle Grade Reads (2015-2016)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today, my spin on the topic is this: middle grade reads. As the parent of an enthusiastic middle grade reader, I’m always looking for books that will spark conversations, explore interesting ideas, or generate all those deep emotions as only a well-written book can. Here are the best of the middle grade books I’ve read in the last couple of years.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I loved the way the author used information about jellyfish in this … Continue reading

Review: Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

towersfallingTowers Falling
Jewell Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Available July 12, 2016

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When Deja’s family loses their home and are forced to move to a shelter, she starts fifth grade at a new school. She’s embarrassed by her family’s situation and braced for judgment from the other kids. Instead, Ben, also a new kid, and Sabeen, a sweet girl who covers her hair with a scarf, become Deja’s new friends. As their teacher, Miss Garcia, begins a unit about history connecting to the present, the class learns about the World Trade Center towers falling on September 11, 2001. The material covered in the classroom is gentle and oblique, but Deja feels there’s a … Continue reading

Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire by Rachel CainePaper and Fire
Rachel Caine
New American Library/Random House
Available July 5, 2016

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Jess survived induction into the Library, but life as one of their soldiers is far more grueling than he expected. The girl he loves is locked away forever, and his best friend is lost. When rumors bring Jess’s old classmates together again, they face a terrible choice: a rescue mission that would mean living the rest of their lives on the run from the Library, if they manage to escape. Jess promises refuge with his family, but even he isn’t sure he can count on his father to hide them without having something valuable to offer in return.

Continue reading

Review: Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard

Lucky Strikes by Louis BayardLucky Strikes
Louis Bayard
Henry Holt and Co Books for Young Readers
Available July 5, 2016

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Fourteen year-old Amelia’s mother dies, leaving her and two siblings alone in the world. Amelia’s determined to run the family gas station and keep her siblings together until she comes of age. When the town learns of her mother’s death, Amelia and her siblings face being split up in foster care, and Harvey Blevins, who owns all the other gas stations in the area, sees the chance to snatch that last station he covets. What she needs is a parent figure, and the moment the bum falls off a coal wagon, she hatches a plan. If … Continue reading

Author Jaimie Engle Talks Bullying and What You Can Do About It

Several years ago, I reviewed a book called Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light by Jaimie Engle. Since then, I’ve been impressed with Jaimie’s passion to educate kids about standing up against bullying. Her book addresses the issue, but she doesn’t stop there. Jaimie also visits schools to speak about bullying and how to combat it. I asked her to share some of her insights with us here today.

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About Jaimie Engle

Jaimie Engle is an award-winning author of fantasy, horror, and science fiction books from the Space Coast of Florida. Her passion is talking to kids about writing and social issues because words have power. Her first novel, an anti-bullying fantasy adventure, was written after her own son was bullied in school. She took him to archery club, where she … Continue reading

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel CaineInk and Bone
Rachel Caine
New American Library/Penguin/Random House

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

The Great Library controls all knowledge in a world that’s never known the printing press. Jess believes in the rule of the Library, even though his family has built their fortune selling forbidden books on the black market. When he’s sent to join the Library as a spy for his family, his passions only become stronger: to protect knowledge, to serve an agency created to bring that knowledge to the masses. But something dark and twisted has taken root at the core of the institution Jess loves, and as he’s faced with the horrible truth of it, he must decide where his true loyalties lie, … Continue reading

Review: When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell

whenmountainsmoveWhen Mountains Move
Julie Cantrell
David C. Cook / Thomas Nelson

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Millie and Bump set off for Colorado and a new life together. Leaving Mississippi is all Millie ever wanted, but it seems the dark memories she thought to escape have followed her. With the memory of what Bill Miller did still hanging over her, Millie isn’t sure she can ever accept her husband’s love, and she’s not sure the past will stay buried long enough for her to try.

As Millie’s new life begins to unravel, her Choctaw grandmother arrives. She anchors Millie with the roots of family and tradition and teaches her the healing power of forgiveness.

Just like Cantrell’s debut, Into the Free, this … Continue reading

Author Interview with Jeff Wheeler

Author Jeff Wheeler joins us today to talk about his new Kingfountain Series. If you missed my review of The Queen’s Poisoner, the first book in the series, you can check it out here.

Jeff Wheeler-Photo-KimBills

About Jeff Wheeler

Jeff took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to become a full-time author. He is, most importantly, a husband and father, a devout member of his church, and is occasionally spotted roaming hills with oak trees and granite boulders in California or in any number of the state’s majestic redwood groves. He is also one of the founders of Deep Magic: the E-zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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Review: The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

The Queens Poisoner coverThe Queen’s Poisoner
Jeff Wheeler
47North

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When his father betrays a dangerous king, Owen is forced to leave his family and live in the castle as a hostage to ensure his family’s loyalty. If his father’s loyalty falters again, Owen will be cast into the river to die, as his eldest brother was. As the youngest son of the Duke of Kiskaddon, Owen is alone in a castle full of spies. To survive, he must discover allies and prove himself valuable to the king.

The storyworld in The Queen’s Poisoner was simple yet vivid and believable. I loved the way water factored into the lore and traditions of the kingdom. Someone with a … Continue reading

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