Friday, April 3, 2020

The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead Blog Tour With An Excerpt, Audio Clip, & Giveaway!




I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE by Rebecca Stead Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:

Title: THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE by Rebecca Stead
Pub. Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 224

After her parents' divorce, Bea's life became different in many ways. But she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.

When Dad tells Bea that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled. Bea loves Jesse, and when he and Dad get married, she'll finally (finally!) have what she's always wanted--a sister. Even though she's never met Jesse's daughter, Sonia, Bea is sure that they'll be "just like sisters anywhere."

As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy.

Praise for The List of Things That Will Not Change

“An absolute original . . . a story that kids will love.” —R. J. Palacio, bestselling author of Wonder

“No author writing today observes young lives with more clarity, tenderness, and grace than the one and only Rebecca Stead.” —Newbery Medalist Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan

“Stead truly understands the inner life of kids.” —Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly, author of Hello, Universe and You Go First

“From the moon, the wedding, and the cake, to Bea’s mind, Rebecca has captured everything so completely, so beautifully. Truly a wonderful work.” —Patricia Reilly Giff, author of the Newbery Honor winners Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

“This is a story of love that enlarges, even though it is not always easy.  We cheer for and are cheered by Bea’s quiet triumphs because they are triumphs of the heart.” —Gary D. Schmidt, author of The Wednesday Wars and Pay Attention, Carter Jones

“Rebecca Stead’s writing is always infused with the tender minutiae of being alive, with the price we have to pay to be human. This book, along with its perfect title, is ‘Typical Rebecca Stead.’ And that’s a heartfelt compliment.” —Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963 and Bud, Not Buddy

Uplifting without sentimentality, timely not trendy, and utterly engaging.” —Kirkus, starred review

An emotional character journey from a middle-grade master. Booklist, starred review

An affecting story of significant middle grade change. Publishers Weekly, starred review

The angst and worries that middle grade readers experience are brought to life through Bea’s authentic voice in this must-read title.” —School Library Journal, starred review

The strength of this novel lies in Steads authentic, respectful, low-key approach to the emotional life of a ten-year-old as recalled from the perspective of her slightly older self.” —The Horn Book, starred review

  Ultimately, Bea survives, thrives, and grows as love remains constant but her world gets bigger, and readers negotiating their own changing lives will relate to her challenge and applaud her triumph.” — The Bulletin, starred review


Listen to an audio clip of the book!





About Rebecca:


Rebecca Stead has written five novels for young people: WHEN YOU REACH ME (A New York Times bestseller and winner of the Newbery Medal and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Fiction); LIAR & SPY (Winner of the Guardian Prize for Children's Fiction and a New York Times Book Review Notable Book for Children); FIRST LIGHT (a Junior Library Guild Selection and a New York Public Library Best Book for Teens); GOODBYE STRANGER (A New York Times Bestseller and New York Times Book Review Notable Book for Children); and, most recently, BOB (co-written by Wendy Mass). Rebecca lives in New York City with her family.






Giveaway Details:
Three lucky winners will receive a 
finished copy of THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE, US Only.



Tour Schedule:
Week One:
3/30/2020
Excerpt
3/31/2020
Excerpt
4/1/2020
Excerpt
4/2/2020
Review
4/3/2020
Excerpt

Week Two:
4/6/2020
Excerpt
4/7/2020
Review
4/8/2020
Spotlight
4/9/2020
Excerpt
4/10/2020
Review

Week Three:
4/13/2020
Review
4/14/2020
Review
4/15/2020
Review
4/16/2020
Review
4/17/2020
Review

Week Four:
4/20/2020
Review
4/21/2020
Review
4/22/2020
Review
4/23/2020
Review
4/24/2020
Review

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Fang of Bonfire Crossing (Legends of the Lost Causes #2) by Brad McLelland & Louis Sylvester

39280627The Fang of Bonfire Crossing (Legends of the Lost Causes #2) by Brad McLelland & Louis Sylvester
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher:  
Henry Holt & Company
Number of Pages:  464
Published:  
February 19th, 2019
Source:  
Publisher in exchange for an honest review


Opening Line:  "Big Ben Loving gazed across the frozen bog and checked his compass." 

Publishers Description:  Keech Blackwood and his band of fellow orphans demand justice for their fallen families. But the road to retribution is a long and hard-fought journey.

After defeating Bad Whiskey Nelson, the man who burned Keech’s home to the ground, the Lost Causes have a new mission: find Bonfire Crossing, the mysterious land that holds clues to the whereabouts of the all-powerful Char Stone. Along the way, they’ll have to fend off a shapeshifting beast, a swarm of river monsters, and a fearsome desperado named Big Ben Loving who conjures tornadoes out of thin air. It’s an epic standoff between the Lost Causes and the outlaw Reverend Rose, a powerful sorcerer who would be unstoppable with the Stone in his possession.

With the world—and vengeance—hanging in the balance, the Lost Causes are ready for battle."



The Fang of Bonfire Crossing takes up shortly after the events in the last book.  The Lost Causes, made up of Keech, John Wesley, Nat, Duck, and Cutter were disheartened to learn the Char Stone had been stolen by the Enforcer, Red Jeffreys.  They continued to follow Pa Abner's clues to head west and were making their way through Kansas in search of the bending trees Pa had mentioned.   Along the way, they found an abandoned campsite and tracks, unlike any animals they've ever seen before.  Along a ravine, they then encounter a tracker,  Sunrise Albert who's searching for Owen AKA Quinn, a boy who escaped from a slaver named Friendly Williams.  After managing to scare the tracker off, Keech and his crew continue on their way looking to find shelter from an oncoming storm.  Despite running low on supplies, they're determined to find the location of the Bonfire Crossing and prevent Reverend Rose and his gang from acquiring the Char Stone.

 As with the first book, I really enjoyed the action and adventuring of this sequel.  I would suggest starting with the Legends of the Lost Causes otherwise you'll miss out on how the Lost Causes were formed, lots of the early action, plot, and character development that carries over into the sequel.  Keech and his friends suffered some devastating losses in The Fang of Bonfire Crossing.  At one time or another, each one of them tries to put on a brave front, to persevere but the team is really starting to feel the strain of dealing with Rose's men.  Some of the newest challenges sent by Reverend Rose are Friendly Williams, a "Chamelia" or shifter that is hunting them, Big Ben Loving and a man named Coward who has the ability to smell out people's secrets.  The zombie-like thralls from the first book can't compare to the attacks they suffer by the bloodthirsty shifter or even the army of slimy marsh creatures.  Seriously, at one point I was even questioning whether or not they were going to break apart and go their separate ways.  Somehow, despite the losses, setbacks, and deceptions, the Lost Causes come together stronger and more tightly knit, even welcoming Quinn into their fold.  

Another huge part of the fun with these adventures is discovering what kind of magical forces the Lost Causes will face.  Reverend Rose continues to wield his power from afar, using his minions to carry out his orders.  Feeding them "prime" or the power that allows them to wield their magical enhancements.  His crows continue to circle above, spying on the Lost Causes, reporting their every move.  However, this time around there's a Texas Ranger who has magical powers that he uses to cloak Keech and his friend's movements.  This especially comes in handy as they set out on a rescue mission in a town that is almost as impenetrable as a fortress.  Ultimately they've been deceived and instead have walked into a trap.  Luckily the Lost Causes have grit, ingenuity, and the ability to think quickly when faced with danger.  Keech continues to be a valuable member because of the unique teachings or lessons that Pa Abner taught him that help them get out of some of their most difficult situations.  I've grown quite fond of all of the characters and the bond that they share, but Duck is starting to become one of my favorites.  The Fang of Bonefire Crossing is a wonderful sequel, with many intense moments of danger, action, and will certainly not disappoint any western loving adventurer.  I'm really curious about how the story will resolve and am imagining an epic showdown between Keech and the elusive Reverend Rose.  Can't wait to read The Key of Skeleton Peak soon.         

         **A huge thank you to the Henry Holt & Company for the review copy. **       

Monday, March 23, 2020

MG Fantasy review of Polly and Buster: The Search for the Silver Witch (Book 3) by Sally Rippin

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Title:  Polly and Buster:  The Search for the Silver Witch (Book 3) by Sally Rippin
Format:  Paperback
Publisher:  First Published in Australia June 1st, 2019  by Hardie Grant Egmont 
Published in the US:  Sept. 2019 by Kane Miller, a division of EDC Publishing 
Number of Pages:  296
Source:  Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Lines:  "Polly Proggett is a witch and her best friend, Buster Grewclaw, is a monster.  But they live in Blackmoon Coven where witches usually don't mix with monsters, and their friendship has led them into all kinds of trouble."

At the end of book two, Polly casts a spell to put the Gorvan, a creature that had been living in the deepest part of a cavern near Blackmoon Coven back to sleep.  It seemed as if monsters and witches were finally going to put their differences aside.  Buster was about to receive a medal for bravery and hopefully, a new sense of peace would be coming to the witches and monsters of Blackmoon Coven.  Instead, a division seemed to be increasingly growing and Polly's dreams for unity between monsters and witches seemed bleak.  Polly's mother and the witches were even adamant that Polly keeps a distance from Buster, something that tore at her heart because she missed her beloved friend terribly.  Unsure of what she could do to mend the differences, Polly asked for help from the three magical stones given to her by her father and received a message to seek the help of a Silver Witch.  Certain it was referring to her Aunt Hilda, Polly asks Buster to come with to search for her.


I've quite enjoyed reading the Polly and Buster series.  Polly is a loyal friend to Buster, she felt he deserved to receive his medal for bravery and was convinced that it would be a stepping stone to mend fences between the two sides.  Buster is a lovely friend to Polly as well, eager to help her on her quest and selflessly throwing himself in harm's way to protect his dear friend.   The Search for the Silver Witch may be geared toward younger children, but it tackles some pretty difficult topics like prejudice, racism, and the importance of friendship, and standing by your friend in a way that younger children can easily understand.  In the story, there is a purple mist and a Gorvan, or creature that feeds off of the witches and monster's anger and hatred toward one another.  To me, it appeared to represent the misunderstandings, biases, and prejudices that have been brewing between the two sides.  Polly recognizes what is happening and understands the importance of getting the two sides to come together in order to conquer the beast once and for all.   There are strong messages about what kind of person you want to be, standing up for the things you believe in and having empathy towards others.  

*Thank you to Kane Miller publishing for the review copy*

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Blog Tour for Legends of Lost Causes series by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester + Giveaway



Today I'm excited to be hosting a spot for the LEGENDS OF LOST CAUSES SERIES by Brad McLelland & Louis Sylvester Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:

Title: THE KEY OF SKELETON PEAK (Legends of the Lost Causes #3)
Author: Brad McLelland & Louis Sylvester
Pub. Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 464
Dark magic meets the Old West in this third installment of the Legends of the Lost Causes, as a group of vigilante orphans go head-to-head against an outlaw sorcerer in pursuit of an ancient and powerful magical artifact!

Publishers Description:    Keech Blackwood and his fellow Lost Causes have won their share of battles, but the war against the ruthless sorcerer Reverend Rose still rages on.

This time, the Lost Causes face their most perilous trial yet: stopping Rose and his henchmen from retrieving an ancient, powerful object that would help return him to his full, frightening strength. As the vigilante orphans race to the dangerous depths of Skeleton Peak, the sight of the magical object, they’ll have to outmaneuver Rose’s most faithful—and menacing—ally: an inhuman creature spawned by darkness and shadow. But ever in pursuit of justice and vengeance for their fallen families, the Lost Causes won’t give up without a fight.

Grab the first 2 books in the series!




My Thoughts on Book One: 
 Legends of Lost Causes:

  Opening Line:  "Keech Blackwood splashed up from the cold waters of the Third Fork River and blinked at the bright autumn sun." 

Legends of Lost Causes is full-on 100% Western awesomeness.  It made me so nostalgic for the western movies that I used to watch on base as a kid.  There's gunslinging, a telegraph office, the county sheriff, even a huge standoff ending.  There is so much to love about this book and I'll get into the really fun, exciting parts in just a bit cause this ain't no ordinary western.   

The first book begins in the Missouri Hills in 1844.  Keech and his brother Sam are playing down by the river when a stranger named Bad Whisky shows up looking for their Pa.  Not familiar with the shady looking man, they send him off in the wrong direction and hightail back to Carson's Home for Lost Causes, the orphanage they live at with their three siblings, Granny Nell and Pa Abner.  Pa seems disturbed by the news of the man coming around asking for him and sends the boys on an urgent mission to the telegraph office in Big Timber with a message in a sealed envelope that he wants sent to St. Genevieve, Mississippi.  Along the way, the boys become curious about what the telegram says and open the letter finding a coded message, a cipher of sorts that appears to make references to biblical passages.  

In Big Timber, the boys find the telegraph office is under attack and the telegraph machine has been destroyed.  Unable to send their message, they head home.  Once there, they learn that Bad Whiskey has returned and has brought members of his gang with him.  Concerned for their Pa's safety, Keech and Sam hide where they overhear parts of Pa and Whisky's conversation.  Pa Abner insists he doesn't have the Char Stone and Keech hears Whiskey say something about Pa being an Enforcer, and that someone named Reverend Rose is looking for this stone.  Because Pa is unable to give him what he wants, Bad Whiskey sets Keech's home on fire, killing everyone inside and leaving Keech alone.  

In the second part of the story, Sheriff Turner arrives to investigate.  Initially, they plan to go after Bad Whiskey together, but then four children show up who are hunting the same killers.  When disagreements arise between the children and Sheriff, Keech takes off with the four kids instead.  Out on the road, the children begin to piece together that they share a unique connection, that all of their fathers took on new identities and names in order to hide the Char stone from Reverend Rose.  Keech also receives some valuable information about his father and his heritage.    

Okay, now for the things that I loved about this story and there were so many.  Everything from the setting to characters to the none stop action.  There's the brotherhood that these boys share, the way that they have a code and honor about them.  How they bonded over their need for revenge and to bring Whiskey to justice.   I loved how Pa Abner taught his children rules for survival in the wilderness, and how Keech was able to draw from those lessons later as he was hunting after Whiskey.  But as I said before, this isn't your ordinary western, this western has zombies.  ZOMBIES!  I can't state enough how cool that is in a western.  Whiskey even controls these zombie-like thralls who are dead former outlaws forced to do Whiskey and Reverend Rose's bidding.  Did I mention that this is action-packed?  Their adventure takes them through the mountains, into the mouth of a cave, through the forests, while avoiding a quicksand trap and then ends in a creepy boneyard filled with rotting corpses and a huge epic final showdown ensues.  And what a thrilling showdown it is.  I mean seriously this is such an exciting adventure.  I really enjoyed reading Legends of Lost Causes and am so looking forward to continuing with The Fang of Bonefire Crossing.  I need to know more about the elusive Reverend Rose and what his plans are for the Char Stone.    A huge thank you to the Henry Holt & Company for the trilogy and I'll certainly be posting my review of the sequel soon.  


About Brad:

Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.










About Louis:

Louis Sylvester is a professor at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. He teaches courses on Creative Writing, Research Writing, Introduction to Film, Screenwriting, and The Ethics of Art and Censorship.

Together with his wife, he enjoys playing tabletop games from his collection of over 1,000 board and card games.

His two dogs are named Cake and Muse. They are the best.

His writing partner is the talented author Brad McLelland. Their first novel is titled LEGENDS OF THE LOST CAUSES.  Macmillan Website | Goodreads


Giveaway Details:
Three lucky winners will receive finished copies 
of the LEGENDS OF LOST CAUSES SERIES, US Only.


Visit all the tour stops:

Week One:
3/16/2020
Excerpt/Spotlight
3/16/2020
Excerpt/Spotlight
3/17/2020
Review
3/17/2020
Excerpt/Spotlight
3/18/2020
Review
3/18/2020
Review
3/19/2020
Review
3/19/2020
Review
3/20/2020
Review
3/20/2020
Review

Week Two:
3/23/2020
Review
3/23/2020
Review
3/24/2020
Review
3/24/2020
Excerpt/Spotlight
3/25/2020
Review
3/25/2020
Excerpt/Spotlight
3/26/2020
Review
3/26/2020
Review
3/27/2020
Review
3/27/2020
Excerpt/Spotlight