Monday, March 1, 2021
Monday, February 15, 2021
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
In New York City, lights twinkled across Sam’s ceiling all night long. She had never felt lonely there,
knowing the city was awake with her. She could already tell Foggy Harbor was different. It looked like
the loneliest place ever. Why would anyone live here on purpose? she wondered.
The driver pulled into the bus station. A neon sign that should have flashed Foggy Harbor Parking
was missing most of its letters. BOR . . . ING. Some sign, she thought. I’m already bored here.
“You got someone picking you up, Miss?” the driver asked as he pulled her suitcase from the luggage compartment.
Her t-shirt clung to her in the heavy, muggy air. Sam checked her phone for the address Mom had given her: 1 Foggy Way.
“My uncle lives a block from here,” she said, pointing at the street sign.
The driver nodded and pulled out of the station, leaving her under the broken sign. Sam texted Mom one word out of duty: ARRIVED. With no choice but to find her new home, she adjusted her backpack and popped up her suitcase handle, dragging it along. It clickety-clacked all the way down the quiet street.
Uncle Mitch’s stone house sat at the end, alone and secluded, hugging the ocean. Its sloped roof pierced the murky sky. One light glowed in a back window. Crickets trilled around the house, creating an eerie buzz as waves lapped the shore.
Sam crunched over the walking path made of shells, then thumped up the front porch steps and rang the doorbell, eager to escape the empty night.
After a few minutes, the door was yanked open. A tall man with curly black hair and a bushy mustache loomed over Sam, the porch light deepening his frown. “Yes?”
Sam swallowed hard. “Uncle Mitch?”
His eyes grew wide and he pulled her inside, slamming the door. “Samantha? What are you doing here?”
Cool air washed over her from a ceiling fan that whirred above, and she shivered, shrinking under his glare. Then she remembered what Mom had said: He’s the only family we’ve got.
One winner will be chosen at random within 48 hours after the contest ends. The winner’s first name and last initial will be posted on the contest page automatically and the author will email the winner to get their address to ship the prizes.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Today I'm excited to be hosting a spot on the SOL INVICTUS by Ben Gartner Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my guest post, the links to other interviews and guest posts and make sure to enter the giveaway while you're here!
Title: SOL INVICTUS (The Eye of Ra #2)
Author: Ben Gartner
Pub. Date: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Crescent Vista Press
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Siblings John and Sarah barely made it home
last time, but in their next time traveling adventure the challenge really
heats up. Surrounded by clashing cultures on the ancient Roman frontier, they
must fulfill their quest to unite the emperor with his enemy, an Alemanni
barbarian, or risk being stuck in time forever.
An action-packed fantasy full of sword fights, chariot chases, fearsome wild animals, and high mountain survival. For graduates of the Magic Tree House looking for a thrilling middle grade page-turner, read Sol Invictus, book two of The Eye of Ra series!
⭐️Gold Recipient, Mom's Choice
Awards Honoring Excellence
"Once again, Gartner deftly weaves real-life history into a compelling adventure, offering high-stakes, realistic danger and vivid scene-setting."-Kirkus Reviews
"Gartner has a knack for action and creating compelling historical personalities . . . Middle [grade] readers who treasure ancient history with a side of adventure will welcome this fantasy story."-BookLife Reviews by Publishers Weekly
⭐️ Gold Recipient, Mom's Choice Awards; ⭐️ Silver Medal in Children's Adventure, 2020 International Readers' Favorite Awards; ⭐️ Finalist, Next Generation Book Awards; ⭐️ 1st Place in both Children's Adventure AND Grades 4th-6th, 2020 TopShelf Awards
Why Action Adventure for Middle Grade?
Action adventure is exciting. I think we can all agree on that. And kids love exciting books. Yes. But that would be too easy an answer for a whole blog post! So, the top-secret reason I like to write action adventure for middle graders? Well, I have ulterior motives…
I think the nooks and crannies of history (which is really just the story of people) are where the important details lie, the real meat of who we are as a species—our shared desires, motivations, hopes, and dreams. We all know the shared, massaged, refined stories taught in textbooks. But what an ancient Egyptian ate for dinner and what they might have discussed with their family while they ate can tell you just as much about them as people as studying the pyramids. Perhaps even more so!
How did this post on action adventure turn to the mundane topic of eating dinner? Well, the collision of those two things is my ulterior motive. I want to spur kids to imagine themselves in a different time, a different family, a different skin—this builds empathy, for which middle graders are primed. And what better way to encourage that imagination than to suck them in with a good, exciting, action adventure plot! If they truly feel the excitement of time travel and wandering around lost in an ancient Egyptian village, or trapped in a gladiator ring with only a spear against wild animals, they’ll become viscerally involved in the story and care for the characters. They’ll want to hang out with them.
Action adventure is great for teaching facts without it feeling like teaching facts. For example, in Sol Invictus, Crocus has a tattoo on his face along his jawline of the letters “LIV.” John and Sarah, the main characters, assume it’s a girl’s name. But it turns out it’s not. It’s… well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But there’s action and teaching involved. ;)
About Ben Gartner:
Ben Gartner is the award-winning author of The Eye of Ra adventure series for middle graders (ages 8-12). His books take readers for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something in the meantime. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.
1 winner will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, International.
1 winner will win a finished copy of SOL INVICTUS, US Only.
1 winner will win an eBook of SOL INVICTUS, International.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Sixteen-year-old Ana immigrated from Argentina to New Jersey with her mother, finally reuniting with her father, who had been living alone for the past few years before bringing them to the United States. Despite having studied English in Argentina, Ana doesn't feel confident enough with the language to be starting her junior year at her new American high school. She does know enough English to comprehend a word or sentence here and there, but speaking conversationally still makes her feel like she's grasping for just the right words to convey her thoughts. At first all Ana can think about is trying to convince her parents to let her return to Argentina, but then she meets Harrison, a cute American boy in her math class and is instantly infatuated. Ana is also partnered with Neo, a Greek boy, in ESL and begins to see that they have a lot in common. Especially when it comes to understanding the idiosyncrasies of the English language, and 80's movies. Finally there's Altagracia, or Gracie as everyone calls her because they don't know how to pronounce her name. Gracie is fluent in Spanish, has a huge Instagram following, and has taken Ana under her wing to help her acclimate to her new high school. The story follows Ana through her junior year as she juggles learning English, falls in love and tries to fit in at her new school, while also struggling to live up to her parents expectations.
Love in English is the kind of story that instantly spoke to me, one I could relate to and had an instant personal connection to. Coming from a background in speech language pathology, I've always been interested in words, languages and how we combine those words to communicate our thoughts and ideas. Words have always been very important to me and I love the way that language and culture was expressed in the story. English is often considered to be a challenging language to learn, when compared to other languages. The way two words are spelled differently, have different meanings, yet sound phonetically the same, like knight and night. English contains many slang words and is filled with expressions that are more figurative versus literal in their translation. While my experiences didn't include ESL, I've spent a large part of my career on communication, written expression and improving social communication. After reading Andreu's introduction, I was very touched by her inspiration for the story and knew this would be a special kind of read. The author met and exceeded my expectations. Andreu prefaces the story by explaining that she was born in Spain, lived in Argentina and later came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant across the US-Mexican border at the age of eight. She drew from her own personal experiences and difficulties in understanding the English language to write Love in English.
I enjoyed the way Andreu used ###'s for the words that Ana didn't understand, the reader is forced to fill in the gaps similar to the way Ana did during conversations. It really drives home the importance of not speaking quickly and allowing enough time for an ESL learner to ask questions or to process what the speaker has just said so that breakdowns in communication will not occur. Andreu also included Spanish excerpts so that readers who are not native Spanish speakers may develop empathy for what it might feel like to not comprehend what is being said, while also encouraging the reader to explore the Spanish sentences for themselves. I also so loved Ana's poems, especially the ones with English expressions that are commonly used and don't translate very well, for example something like "the right to bear arms." The author also interjected humor as she explored the complexities of the English language, especially when Ana and Neo analyzed Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Love in English was a truly delightful and creative read inspired by the author's own experiences learning to speak English, and a book that I know I will return to quite often.
** Thank you to Balzer + Bray and BookSparks for my review copy. **