Monday, June 18, 2018

The Un-Friendship Bracelet (Craftily Ever After Book 1) by Martha Maker, Xindi Yan (Illustrator)

Welcome to Middle-Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing The Un-Friendship Bracelet by Martha Maker. This book was recommend to me by my 9 year-old son, so it already comes with high kudos.

The Story-
Emily and Maddie are best friends. They do everything together, even crafting. They each wear a friendship bracelet the other friend made as a sign of their true friendship, or Mad-ily, as they call it. One school day a new student arrives and is assigned to Maddie as a buddy. At first, Emily is okay with things, but as Maddie and Bella grow closer, Emily feels left out. Then, during soccer, Emily loses her friendship bracelet, and she thinks it is a sign of their new un-friendship.

Back at school, Emily begins spending time with Sam, a boy who loves to paint and draw. He tells her to tell Maddie how she feels about being left out. And she would too, but that day, Maddie stays home sick, and Emily ends up spending time with Bella. Turns out she's pretty neat. She has an old work shed behind her new house that she hopes her parents will let her turn into a clubhouse. Together, Emily, Maddie, Bella and Sam end up converting the shed into a craft club where they all have a space to do the special things they love.

My Thoughts-
Great, basic story about friendship at a middle grade level. There are no big surprises to the plot, but it is a good story that kids will enjoy. Both Emily and Maddie love crafts, and at the end of the book there are instructions, easy to follow, that kids can do to make their own friendship bracelets.

I particularly liked that Sam is a character. It is not only girls who love to craft, and by including Sam into the mix, the book is opened up to be a good read for both boys and girls. One critique about the story though, about halfway through the story the author switches for one chapter only, from Emily's POV to Bella's POV. In my opinion, that is a mistake that shouldn't be made.

Overall, a cute and readable story about friendship and personalities. I'm giving it 3.5 stars, Though my 9 year old gives it 5, lol.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Time Zero Series by Carolyn Cohagan

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I am spotlighting the first two books in the Time Zero Trilogy by Carolyn Cohagan. So first, book one-

Time Zero.

The Story-
Mina Clark lives in a future Manhattan that is surrounded by a large wall to kept the Apostates out and the believers safe. Life is control by energy and water, the more you have, the wealthier you are. Women are counted as property, forced to observe severe religious rules like wearing capes, veils, and arranged marriages. They aren't allowed to read or write. They are observed by Twitchers, policemen that will beat or zap them for any infraction.

One day Mina is rescued from a male riot by Juda, a young man who works for one of the wealthiest families in town. They form an immediate, illegal bond. At Mina's marriage negotiation, they meet again, when Damen, Juda's employer's son, decides he wants to marry Mina. Of course, it is only after her mother catches Mina's cloak on fire, severely burning her, but allowing all the men to see her hair and face.

Contracted to marry Damen, but with feelings for Juda, Mina faces a crisis of all she believes. Can she follow the will of the prophet? Add to that the secret fact that Mina's grandmother has been teaching her to read, and the seeds of rebellion are set.

My Thoughts-
A good dystopian view of a severe future where women are suppressed. Actually, it seemed like A Handmaid's Tale at the YA level to me, but with Islamic values instead of Gilead values. Still, it was a good read. I enjoyed following Mina's path to rebellion and her budding love for Juda. What honestly kept me reading was the hint that Mina might somehow escape from behind the wall (yes, a little like Divergent).

I felt like the author took the worst things about many religions and grouped them all together, which makes for a horrifying look, but also negates all the good things of religion. That said, horrifying does keep a reader turning the pages. The book is well written, with interesting characters and a plot that keeps you reading. I'm giving it 4 stars!

Time Next- Book 2

Let's take a look at book 2, Time Next. Don't read if you don't want spoilers before book one. So, Mina, Juda, and her group escape from the Wall, and now find themselves it what seems like the modern world. Track houses, electricity, food, malls, and freedom. But, once again, this group is ruled by their own prophet/leader. We see another form of religious oppression, but this one feels like freedom to Mina, but with the cost of being separated from all her friends.

To stay in this new location, Mina is asked to believe that her old world was full of lies. She finds this hard to do since she believed in her original prophet. I felt this an odd thing because she just left a place full of anger, hatred and repression, but somehow she is shocked when told that it wasn't true. Anyway, now she is a puppet of this new leader, one who thinks Mina and her group, the Manhattan Five, are the answer to prophecy. Get ready for a whole new ride. I love that the author now takes a detour and new view at the same old problem. 4 stars!

Monday, June 11, 2018

MMGM- Book Review- Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet #1) by Roshani Chokshi

Hi everyone, welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet #1) by Roshani Chokshi, a Rick Riordan Presents book. Don't forget to check out MMGM Central at .

The Story-
Twelve year-old Aru Shah lives with her mother in The Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. She is really good at making up stories, so when her schoolmates take off on jet setting vacations while she'll be stuck at home, she tells everyone she's going to Paris.

Everything would have been fine, if she hadn't got caught in her lie. To prove she is cool, she tells her classmates that she will light a forbidden lantern within the museum. Curses are just mumbo jumbo, right?

Not in this case. With the lighting of the lamp a long hidden evil is released and the world around Aru freezes while The Sleeper begins to rampage the world. She is told by a mysterious bird that she is actually a descendant of the Pandava Brothers, ancient heroes, and that her and another descendant must save the world. Easy Peasy, right? Nope, to begin with she must find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers and journey through the Kingdom of Death, and then the real battle begins.

My Thoughts-
Great Book! I loved reading about Hindu traditions and culture. Aru Shah is a fierce character with a major flaw, she lies. The other descendant she is chosen to work with, a girl named Mini, is also flawed. She not only has anxiety and is a hypochondriac, but it was her older brother that is the hero of her family and was supposed to go on the adventure. These two, flawed and funny girls take on the world. Loved it!

I have to give the author kudos for creating a character that I felt angry with, Aru's mother. This women seems to ignore Aru, not even giving her the time of day. The reason Aru lies about Paris is because her mother actually says she'll take her, but then, as has happened many times before, she cancels. I felt so sorry for Aru, alone in a big museum, with no real friends and a mother who seems to be off on big missions, but is failing at her most important mission, being a mother. Huge empathy points for Aru!

As with all good quest stories, this one includes having to find mysterious objects under a deadline. Our heroines not only unravel riddles and conquer friendship issues, but they battle The Sleeper, some Hindu minor deities and discover their true potentials. This story is a real good time, with fun characters, great history and colorful scenes. I'm giving it 5 stars! I can't wait to see where this series goes.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

And the winners are...

I've been gone for a bit. Not out of the Country, just out of time, lol. We got a new puppy 5 weeks ago, and holy moly, I had no idea how much time it would take up. It is like having a new baby, but you have to go to puppy training and take them out to potty every 20 minutes. Needless to say, I've let my reading suffer a bit. However, hopefully now that Summer is coming, and kids will be home to help with the puppy, things will get easier. The puppy is named Percy, and he always wants to be by my side.

So, I have some catch-up to play. Two contests that have gone too long without winners.

The winner of This Heart of Mine by CC Hunter is Calvin Fung! Congrats!

And the winner of 806: A Novel by Cynthia Weil is Bina Edwards! Congrats!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Interview Q&A – Cynthia Weil / 806: A Novel

Today is the last day to enter to win 806: A Novel by Cynthia Weil. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Author Interview- Cynthia Weil

As one of the first women in Rock & Roll, what was that like? Was it more difficult when you started or now? 
Neither Carole King nor I ever thought about our being female standing in our way. We just did our thing! Carole had always been encouraged by her family and it served her well. I had always been discouraged by my mom who wanted me to marry a doctor or a lawyer and throw fabulous dinner parties. I was encouraged to pursue my dreams by my mother’s sister, the family rebel, my Aunt Toni, dancer, choreographer and later a literary agent.

Your new young adult novel, 806, is the story of three very different teens—a songwriter/musician, a golden boy jock, and a magic-obsessed nerd with very sensitive allergies, who are forced by circumstances to band together to find their mutual sperm donor father. Are any of the characters based on yourself or people you’ve known?
None of them are based on me but, of course, KT as a teen songwriter is the closest to me. I often turned to writing to comfort me when I was a teen. I created them from my imagination cause that’s what writers do, however I often think that the search for a father is a part of me because my father killed himself when I was 9.

In general, what inspires your writing/where do you get your ideas? …both lyrics and fiction. 
I often got lyrical ideas from my life and my friends’ lives or something I have read about. I am a voracious reader. I am always inspired by other writers even as a lyricist. As a lyricist I always think “could I have written that?”

Will you share a little about your writing process: what kind of setting do you prefer when you write, do you have a certain room or special place that helps get the creative juices flowing? Do you usually write at a particular time of day, or whenever an idea comes to you?
Once I’ve begun something, I go to my desk first thing in the morning after I’ve fed the dog, as that time is quietest in my household, so it’s about 7ish. Then I wade in and slog on until my brain gives out, and then I rest and return the next day to do it again.

What kind of reader will be drawn to 806, and what do you hope they’ll take away from the story?
I think anyone who wonders about family, the one they have and perhaps the one they don’t have, but have dreamed about, will be drawn to 806. I hope they will take away the idea that people aren’t necessarily the image they present to the world. We are all many layered and so much more than who we appear to be and there are many kinds of modern families. The traditional family doesn’t really exist that often but families of all different kinds can provide a nurturing environment for children, teens, and parents. As some great songwriters once said…”All You Need Is Love.”

806: A Novel
by Cynthia Weil (
Tanglewood Publishing (
March 13 2018 // Ages: 13+
$16.99-Hardcover // ISBN: 978-1-939100-14-6

Friday, April 27, 2018

806: A Novel by Cynthia Weil- Book Review and Giveaway!

Last Day to Enter to Win- This Heart of Mine by CC Hunter

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I have a review of 806: A Novel, a YA contemporary novel by Cynthia Weil. The publisher is offering one copy up as a giveaway. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter. If you don't see it click, 'read more'.

The Story-
KT's mom is too dependant, she is always falling hard for men and then getting dumped by them. When KT learns that her real father is a sperm donor, she heads out to find her bio dad and perhaps some siblings. What she finds are two kids from her own high school, one a swim jock and the other an allergy beset nerd. Together they decide to get to the truth of the matter. Just who is donor 806, how are they like him, and can he help them solve their current life problems?

A road trip is in order, but what they find on the way is not what they expected.

My Thoughts-
This was a fun and easy read that I was able to just chill with and take a break. The story is modern, with a sperm donor hunt and teenagers who feel out of place and unsure of themselves. The real catch is that 806 is not the real donor, and so the three teenagers set out to find their actual donor. Along the way they bond, discover how to just "be", and learn their own meaning of family.

I enjoyed the ongoing unraveling of the mystery of the correct donor. There are definite twists, but they are simple and fun. I really like the hippie dude who seems to be a real psychic. The kids journey takes on the classic tale of, "my donor is really someone rich and famous", but it seemed to fit well with the plot and is not over done. There are no sudden riches or ongoing fame. Instead, each of the kids are able to find a piece of themselves in their bio dad, and that in turn helps them come to terms with who they are as individuals.

I think the best part is the love of music that both KT and her bio dad share. It is a true moment when they are up on stage playing together. I also enjoyed the touch of romance that follows KT around. I think teens will enjoy the story and road trip, so I'm giving this book a 4!

The Author-
Cynthia Weil is best known as the lyricist of such classic songs as "On Broadway," "Just Once," Here You Come Again," "Somewhere Out There," "Don't Know Much," "He's So Shy," "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place," and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," the most played song of the 20th century. Collaborating with her husband, Barry Mann, and others, she has written countless standards. Weil has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (only the 3rd woman to receive this honor in the non-performing category). She has been honored with multiple Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards for "Somewhere Out There," which won the awards for "Motion Picture Song of the Year" and "Song of the Year."

Currently featured as a real-life character in the Tony Award-winning musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Cynthia resides in Los Angeles with her husband and songwriting partner, Barry Mann, and dog, Callie. When not writing lyrics, you can find Cynthia fighting for animal rights, supporting young artists, or crafting her next book filled with music, dynamic relationships, and discovery.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The 2018 Seattle Writing Workshop: April 28, 2018

So, one of my twitter feeds let me know about a writing event coming up in my area-The 2018 Seattle Writing Workshop: April 28, 2018- THIS SATURDAY!!! It is only a few days away, so instead of waiting to post on Inside the Publishing World on Wednesday, here ya go!
Here are the details from the website:

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (200 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2018 Seattle Writing Workshop!

This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Bellevue. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s agent faculty so far includes:

[NEW ADDITION] literary agent Vicki Selvaggio (Storm Literary)
[NEW ADDITION] literary agent Rachel Beck (Holloway Literary)
literary agent Gordon Warnock (Fuse Literary)
literary agent Becky LeJeune (Bond Literary)
literary agent Jill Marr (Sandra Dijkstra Literary)
literary agent Natalie Grazian (Martin Literary Management)
literary agents Brian Tibbetts and Chip MacGregor (MacGregor Literary)
literary agent Kathleen Ortiz (New Leaf Literary + Media)
literary agent Adria Goetz (Martin Literary Management)
literary agent Amy Levenson (Blue Heron Literary)
literary agent Andrea Hurst (Andrea Hurst & Associates)
literary agent assistant Cortney Radocaj (Corvisiero Agency)
and many more to come
By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops.

9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Bellevue, 3225 158th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98008. (425)644-2500.