Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1) by Adrienne Kress

Today I am taking part in a blog tour, thus the middle grade post on Wednesday instead of Monday. The book I'd like to share with you is The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1) by Adrienne Kress.

The Story-
Sebastian is a very straight cut twelve-year-old. He does everything he's supposed to do and follows all the rules. A wrong turn one day leads him into an alley where he sees a lonely door with a sign that reads, "The Explorers Society."

Inside the building he finds a bizarre landscape of odd rooms and a giant tree that grows straight up the middle of the building with a tree house at the top. He is caught immediately and as punishment for being where he is not supposed to be, is asked to spend his free-time as an errand boy for the society.

Evie is a twelve-year-old orphan who wishes for family. Once a month she has dinner with a kind old couple, the Anderson's. During dinner they are attacked and only Evie escapes. She flees with the last word's of Mrs. Anderson ringing in her mind, find the Explorers Society. When she finds it and asks for help, she is kicked out.

Sebastian finds Evie and she explains her troubles. The Anderson's had a letter from her grandfather, whom she never knew about, and he is in trouble. The letter asks for the Anderson's to guard the key and then send help for him. Evie's grandfather was once a member of the Society and went on incredible adventures with a group of colleagues, but that all ended twenty years ago, and now every member of the group has disappeared. It is up to Sebastian and Evie to find the missing members so they can learn about the key, protect it, and then rescue her grandfather.

My Thoughts-
I have mixed thoughts on this one. First off, the premise is great and I knew I wanted to read the book just based on the description. A secret society of explorers whose most famous members have gone missing are a great hook and throw mystery right into the mix. Sebastian and Evie having to uncover clues and find people, while being chased by bad guys, is exciting. The weird rooms and odd behaviors of the society members are just funny. Overall, great ideas and plot.

The unrolling of these ideas however, are rough. The author uses very long and wordy paragraphs full of details and very few dialogue breaks to ease things up. The story takes a long time to get into, and we don't even get to the main plot until about a quarter of the way in. There is a lot of telling, not showing. Perhaps this is because the author uses a narrator to interject comments and elaborate descriptions? The comments are often funny, and the use of foot notes are cool, but the clunky paragraphs were a pill.

Now, the main character is Sebastian, and even though he is a character that definitely changes over the story, he is still a bit boring. I really loved Evie. She comes in about a quarter of the way through and is full of excitement, courage and wit. The whole reason the plot happens is because of her connection to her grand father and the explorer group he belonged to. Sebastian seems to just be along for the ride. I personally would have flipped flopped the main character and supporting character.

The end of the story leaves us with the promise of a sequel and more fun explorer related stuff to delve into. There are continual hints throughout the story of somewhat magical occurrences and I hope the next book brings these more into the main story. So, I'm giving this one 3 stars! It is definitely worth looking at just for the fun premise and quirky characters.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

And the winner is...

Congrats to Linda for winning my ARC of The Hush by SKYE MELKI-WEGNER!

Friday, May 19, 2017

STARR FALL by Kim Briggs

One Starr falls, and a killer rises
Book Cover
Kim Briggs
Series: Starr Fall, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult, YA Contemporary, YA Romance
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Publication Date: November 4, 2016
On the run from the Organization, Starr never planned on falling in love.
Starr Bishop’s the complete package. A perfect smile, brains to match, and a winning attitude. Boys want to date her and girls want to be her. She’s the type of girl you want to hate, if only she wasn’t so damn likable. But don’t worry, she’s not interested in your boyfriend. Boys are one complication she can live without.
When the Organization decides she’s not only the model student but the ideal assassin, Starr’ll need a lot more than high test scores and extracurricular involvement to get herself out of that commitment.
Dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood is the last person she’d expect—or even want— to come to her rescue. From opposite ends of Webster High’s social hierarchy, their lives collide in one electrifying moment. Christian isn’t the Goth loner he pretends to be, he’s a part Cherokee, All-American boy who wants to be a hero, Starr’s hero. Christian makes Starr forget that the Organization is after her, but nothing will stop the Organization from collecting their top recruit.
By the way, the spot for junior class president just became available.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cover Love- The Sin Eater's Daughter

These are my personal choices, books can be published traditionally or self-published- I'm only interested in the art choices. I would love to hear what you think of these covers, so please leave comments.

Today's pick is a library find...

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. Jacket art by Jacey and Jamie Gregory.

Just look at how beautiful it is! A gorgeous green background behind an eye catching potion bottle holding a girl in a blood red dress, imprisoned in liquid and blood. The golden filigree around the bottle adds a touch of elegance and richness. Wow, I loved it as soon as I saw it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Agent Danielle Smith, Lupine Grove Creative

Looking for an agent? For Inside the Publishing World Wednesday I am looking at Danielle Smith, agent and creator of Lupine Grove Creative.  I was blessed to listen to her three times at the Spring SCBWI WWA conference and have some great things to share.

Lupine Grove Creative is a  boutique literary agency for children’s book authors and illustrators that also packages books for publishers. She is interested in picture books through young adult as well as illustrators. She is constantly looking for diversity. That's why she comes to conferences.

In regards to taking on clients, she says she wants not just one project, she wants an author with a career. She only has so much time and doesn't want to spread herself too thin, so she's looking for passion. So, when you pitch make sure there's something special. Like the personal touch that you've researched her and paid attention to things she's said. Once she takes you on she'll be over committed to you, Skyping, connecting, and having some face to faces.

Her advice to writers?
1. Don't go on Goodreads :)
2. Have passion and understand what you're doing. You're going to inform children, enlighten and shape their future. It is a big responsibility. Be serious about it. Kids count on the things we're creating.
3. Read current books.
4. Write what you like.
5. Put your favorite elements in your books.
6. Make her cry. "I'm a sucker for books that make me cry."

Some don'ts-
1. Don't do your query in your character's voice.
2. Don't include questions about your book in the query. For example, "Will she survive the quest?"
3. No Bodily function books, they aren't for her.
4. Don't address her as sir.
5. Don't say your book is going to be the next best seller.
6. Don't write to trends.
7. Don't say your agent works for you. It is a collaboration!

For more information and submissions guidelines check out Lupine Grove Creative.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Chester Raccoon and The Almost Perfect Sleepover by Audrey Penn

Today I am focusing on a cute picture book from the Kissing Hand book series, Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson.

This is a great Mother's Day picture book. Chester Raccoon is off for his first "dayover" or sleepover in our world. He has a lot of fun with his friends, but when it is time to sleep he realizes he is home sick. And guess what? He goes home. Yep, nothing wrong with that and I'm so glad this book captured that aspect of things. When I was little I got scared at sleepovers and went home too. I used to get embarrassed until I learned it was okay. This book has Momma Raccoon welcoming home her cub and letting him know that home is always there when needed and so is family.

This book is delightfully illustrated with big pictures and interesting scenes. My favorite ones are when the skunk gets excited, he lets out a plum of purple gas he calls a "stinky puff." Too cute! Children will enjoy the pages and relate to the story. 5 stars!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cover Love- Monsterville

These are my personal choices, books can be published traditionally or self-published- I'm only interested in the art choices. I would love to hear what you think of these covers, so please leave comments.

Today's pick...

Monsterville by Sarah S. Reida. Jacket illustration by Susana Diaz.

I like the big, in your face cover here. It called out middle grade to me and the images fit the bill. The girl looking through a video camera to find a little monster, background pictures of mummies, werewolves and a yeti. I'm thinking a girl gets more than she bargained for when she tries to make a movie. It shows a touch of humor among the scary. I think kids would grab it.