Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Tour Stop for The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow with Chapter Excerpt and a Giveaway

 Today it is my great pleasure to be featuring a chapter excerpt from The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow in celebration of its release on December 1st 2015. Be sure and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a signed hardcover of the book! 

by Jessica Haight Stephanie Robinson
Release date: DECEMBER 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press/ Random House Kids Books 
                   MIDDLE GRADE/ ages 10 and up
Illustrator: Roman Muradov
Pages: 272

Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom.
As if leaving New York City and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad (DMS), weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past.
Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that takes the members of the Detective Mystery Squad on an amazing adventure. 

                            Goodreads / Amazon Random House/ Book Depository

The Morrow family is taking over the infamous Begonia House December 1st, but here's a glimpse into the mystery...

Fact or Fiction?

“Ding-dong! Witch is dead. Old witch? Wicked Witch! Ding-dong! Wicked Witch is dead!” Margo belted out the lyrics to The Wizard of Oz sound track that was playing in the Morrow family cruiser.

“Wow, she really gets into the music, doesn’t she?” Lizzy said.

“This is her favorite song,” Fairday replied, smiling, as the car pulled up in front of the library.

“How fitting,” Lizzy murmured, glancing at Fairday.

“She’s on her way to becoming the next pop sensation, aren’t you, my little snookykins?” Mrs. Morrow piped up proudly, looking back at Margo, who was still bopping to the beat. Her tone became more serious as she addressed Lizzy and Fairday. “Now, girls, here’s my old phone. Fairday, put it in your backpack. I have some errands to run, and then I’ll be at the town hall around noon. Lord knows I’ll probably be there forever, filling out paperwork for all the permits we’re going to need on the house.” She rolled her eyes and sighed as she added, “Just call or text me when you’re ready to leave.”

“Okay, mom,” said Fairday, taking the phone and securing it in a side pocket of her DMS pack. She and Lizzy climbed out of the car and onto the sidewalk. They waved goodbye to Mrs. Morrow as she pulled out into traffic, honked twice, and then disappeared through a green light.

Faiday glanced up at the wide, double-glass doors of the library. An old man, using a cane and sporting a golf cap was just opening the door. She pulled on the strap of Lizzy’s pack. “Hey, do you think that’s Larry Lovell?” she asked, nodding towards the doors.

“Could be,” Lizzy said as he disappeared into the building. The bell on the clock tower announced with its tenth chime that it was definitely ten o’ clock. 


The Begonia House keeps its secrets. Everyone knows that. Everyone, that is, except for clever eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow, whose family has just moved in. Being the Senior Investigator in the Detective Mystery Squad, more commonly known as the DMS, she’s ready to uncover the mysteries hidden within the strange manor. As the investigation gears up and the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, the three young sleuths enter into a world where anything is possible, and the danger is most definitely real. Can they piece together the puzzle before it's too late? Or will whatever's causing trouble find Fairday and her friends first?
Catch the Book Buzz...

"I really enjoyed this book. It was a marvelously done, debut, thriller novel. Ms. Robinson and Ms. Haight are great authors that really pull you into their story. I couldn’t get out until that final sentence. And, by then I wanted more. To say I want a second book is an understatement. The writing style is compelling, and makes me feel as if I was there with Fairday and her friends. I really like the illustrations in the book. They are like the ribbon on a present, or the icing on the cake. I give this book five out of five bookworms!"
~ Erik Weibel/ This Kid Reviews Books  

"Mixing realism and fantasy, Haight and Robinson’s debut opens with 11-year-old Fairday’s move from Manhattan to a small town in Connecticut, where her relentlessly cheerful parents plan to turn a dilapidated Victorian into a bed and breakfast. No sooner has the family arrived than eerie sights and sounds begin to haunt Fairday. The house turns out to hold dark secrets that everybody in town suspects but nobody can explain: a perfect mission for Fairday and her best friend Lizzy’s Detective Mystery Squad (DMS)."
~ Publishers Weekly

"Fifth-grader Fairday Morrow's new home lives up to its spooky reputation, but she and her companions in the Detective Mystery Squad find out why. At Begonia House, strains of bagpipe music issue from behind a padlocked door, grains of sand in an hourglass have stopped falling, and a malevolent weeping willow looms in the backyard. A magic mirror shows an invisible door; a wardrobe hides secrets and a portal. Ruby Begonia vanished more than 50 years ago. Is there also a ghost? Fairday has a new, helpful friend in classmate Marcus, and her best friend Lizzy can visit on weekends to help solve the mystery. What more could readers want?"
~ Kirkus Reviews

JessicaHaight is a true New Englander, with a deep desire to be near the ocean and a love of the four seasons. She enjoys drawing while standing up and cultivating magic in her garden. She easily floats away in the pages of a good story and is still waiting for her owl from Hogwarts.

StephanieRobinson lives with her husband in a quiet town, though not as quaint as Ashpot. After teaching fifth grade for almost fifteen years, she is now enjoying her role as a school media specialist. 

Giveaway code for 1 signed hardcover edition of THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Mini updates from my Cybils reading

I've been busy as a bee reading for the Cybils, for which I'm a round one judge for Middle Grade Speculative Fiction.  Unfortunately, this means my poor old blog has been gathering dust while I've been catching up on all my book reading.  And how did it get to be 10 days til Christmas??  So, I thought a little update was in order.  

23507745Published by: Disney Hyperion July 14th 2015
Genres:  Fantasy
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover 
Source:  Library
Series:  Book 1 in the series with the sequel, Serafina and the Twisted Staff coming August 2016

Blurb from Goodreads "Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.  But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity . . . before all of the children vanish one by one.  Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past." 

My Thoughts:  I enjoyed reading about Serafina and her father and their life living in the basement of Biltmore estate. There are quite a few historical aspects about the setting giving it a sort of Victorian feel, although the setting is Asheville, North Carolina.  The mystery surrounding the disappearing children and the means in which they disappeared certainly held my interest.   Serafina is an intriguing girl and I couldn't help feel for her in her desire to make friends and to be seen.  There is also a nice mystery surrounding Serafina's mother and how Serafina came to live with her father.  Nice blend of mystery, historical fiction and a little paranormal thrown in.  

23309533Published by: Aladdin June 9th 2015
Genres:  Fantasy
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover 
Source:  A review copy was received from the Publisher for the Cybils
Series:  Book 1 in the series with the sequel, The Circle of Lies to be released February 16th, 2016
Blurb from Goodreads:  "Four girls at a southwestern boarding school discover they have amazing feline powers and must unite to stop an ancient evil in this riveting adventure.  Ana's average, suburban life is turned upside down when she's offered a place at the exclusive boarding school in New Mexico that both of her late parents attended. As she struggles to navigate the wealthy cliques of her new school, mysterious things begin to occur: sudden power failures, terrible storms, and even an earthquake!  Ana soon learns that she and three other girls - with Chinese, Navajo, and Egyptian heritages - harbor connections to priceless objects in the school's museum, and the museum's curator, Ms.Benitez, is adamant that the girls understand their ancestry. It turns out that the school sits on top of a mysterious temple, the ancient meeting place of the dangerous Brotherhood of Chaos. And when one of the priceless museum objects is shattered, the girls find out exactly why their heritage is so important: they have the power to turn into wild cats! Now in their powerful forms of jaguar, tiger, puma, and lion they must work together to fight the chaos spirits unleashed in the ensuing battle... and uncover the terrifying plans of those who would reconvene the Brotherhood of Chaos."

My Thoughts:  I really liked the diversity in Hunters of Chaos with the introduction of the four girls coming from differing heritages,  Mayan , Anasazi (Navajo ancestors), Egyptian and Chinese.  Although, there isn't a lot of historical information given about each, there is some mention of artifacts and bits about excavating a site that appears after an earthquake.  The setting of a boarding school, was fun to read about.  I also enjoyed the shape shifting abilities that the girls had, even though there are a few gory instances of their "cat like skills" being used to tear up their opponents.  Nice mix of action and it includes the character of Anubis, which is always a bonus for me.  

Disclaimer Both of these books were nominated for the Cybils award and my reviews reflect my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.