Monday, January 20, 2014

Kirkus Best MG Adventure Fiction of 2013

More ideas on what to buy for the children in your life. Here is the Kirkus best adventure fiction of 2013 for middle-grade readers

The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell (pub. by Dial Books)
Age range: 9–13
“Skillfully blending facets of classic high fantasy, this debut novel will captivate readers with its rich plot and detailed worldbuilding”

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt (pub. by Atheneum)
Age range: 10–14
“When rogue feral hogs and a greedy developer threaten to wipe out Sugar Man Swamp, two raccoons know it’s time to rouse the legendary Sugar Man.”

Doll Bones by Holly Black (pub. by McElderry)
Age range: 10–14
“A middle-grade fantasy dons the cloak of a creepy ghost tale to deliver bittersweet meditations on the nature of friendship, the price of growing up and the power of storytelling.”

Jinx by Sage Blackwood  (pub. Harper/HarperCollins)
Age range: 10–12
“Making unusually entertaining use of well-worn elements, this series opener plops a dense but promising young wizard-in-training between a pair of obnoxious rival mages.”

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore (pub. Walker)
Age range: 10–14
“Weaving legacy and myth into science and magic, old into new and enemies into friends, Blakemore creates an exquisite mystery.”

Texting the Underworld by Ellen Booraem (pub. Dial)
Age range: 10–14
“Fantasist Booraem (Small Persons with Wings, 2011, etc.) turns her attention from art to another great human endeavor: death.” 

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (pub. Candlewick)
Age range: 8–12
"When a cynical comic-book fanatic discovers her own superhero, life becomes wonderfully supercharged ... Original, touching and oh-so-funny tale starring an endearingly implausible superhero and a not-so-cynical girl."

Monster on the Hill by Rob Farrell (pub. Top Shelf Productions)
Age range: 9–12
 "Just plain monstrous fun"

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks (pub. Harcourt)
Age range: 10–13
"Jinks opens her projected trilogy in high style, offering a period melodrama replete with colorful characters, narrow squeaks and explosions of ectoplasmic goo ... Child-eating bogles infest Victorian London, providing work aplenty for “Go-Devil Man” Alfred Bunce and his intrepid young apprentice, Birdie."

The Watcher in the Shadows by Chris Moriarty (pub. Harcourt)
Age range: 10–18
"The magic is darker in this intense sequel to The Inquisitor’s Apprentice (2011)."

East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris (pub. Frances Lincoln)
Age range: 10–15
"Reimagined for the 21st century, a familiar folk tale becomes a haunting love story and a reminder that first love may not last a lifetime."

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (pub. Simon & Schuster)
Age range: 9–12
"Brava! This witty, inventively poetic, fairy-tale–like adventure shimmers with love, magic and music ... 'Never ignore a possible.' Sophie takes her beloved guardian's words to heart and never gives up on finding her long-lost mother. "

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli (pub. Knopf)
Age range: 10–13
"A masterful, bittersweet recognition of coming-of-age," and "an inventive modern fable."

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake  (pub. Knopf)
Age range: 9–12
"Georgie's story will capture readers' imaginations with the very first sentences and then hold them hostage until the final page is turned." (historical fiction) 

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool (pub. Delacorte)
Age range: 10–14
"Returning to themes she explored so affectingly in Moon Over Manifest (2011), Newbery Medalist Vanderpool delivers another winning picaresque about memories, personal journeys, interconnectedness—and the power of stories ... Navigating this stunning novel requires thought and concentration, but it's well worth the effort." (historical fiction).

This list with the full review and publication details can be found at:

The full list of Kirkus Reviews Best of 2013 can be found at:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

MG Books I Read in 2013

The following is a list of some of the middle-grade books I enjoyed reading in 2013. I've included a link to my review on Many of these books may have special appeal for boys, and some should attract reluctant readers.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues series) by Rick Riordan

Taconi and Claude: Double Trouble by Margot Finke

Loser by Jerry Spinelli

Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda series) by Tom Angleberger

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Books that may appeal to middle-grade reluctant readers

Mr. Macky Is Wacky (My Weird School series) by Dan Gutman

Ms. Coco Is Loco (My Weird School series) by Dan Gutman

Case File 13: Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage

Flat Broke: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed by Gary Paulsen

How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (How to Train Your Dragon series) by Cressida Cowell

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pot Pourri of Writing and Marketing Resources

This week I'm adding to the blog's resources for writers who want to improve their writing and book promotion.

Book promotion plan - detailed strategy

Facebook customization and other social network marketing 

Facebook marketing—fan engagement

PR—Free help with writing attention-grabbing headlines

SEO—A simple step by step guide
Social media marketing tips

Blog marketing tips

Twitter workshop

Virtual book signings made easy

Writing and critique help (includes online crit groups)

Fast way to check Amazon ranking