New Release Tuesday!

Tuesday is my favorite day of the week.!

And this is something only an author would say. That’s because Tuesday is the day publishers release new books. I often highlight the titles I’m most anticipating on social media but I’m going to list them here as well. Sticking to new middle grade fiction with the occasional oldy but goody thrown in for fun. (All book descriptions are lifted from Amazon.)

Happy reading!

Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee

Rick Riordan Presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.This sci-fi adventure with the underpinnings of Korean mythology will transport you to a world far beyond your imagination.

Ultraball, by Jeff Chen

Enter the exhilarating game of Ultraball—fly over pass rushers and explode into slingshot zones—through Jeff Chen’s dazzling future world on the moon. Here Ultraball is life, and survival is all that matters. Perfect for sci-fi and sports fans alike.

Strike Sazaki loves defying gravity on the moon in his Ultrabot suit. He’s the best quarterback in the league, but while Strike’s led the Taiko Miners to the Ultrabowl three years in a row, each one has ended in defeat.

This year, Strike thinks he’s finally found the missing piece to his championship quest: a mysterious girl who could be his new star rocketback. But Boom comes from the Dark Siders, a mass of people who left the United Moon Colonies to live in exile. And not all his teammates are happy sharing a field with her.

When rumors surface of a traitor on the Miners, Strike isn’t sure who he can trust. If Strike can’t get his teammates to cooperate and play together, they’ll lose more than just the Ultrabowl. The stake of the colony’s future is on his shoulders.

Two More Books!

Happy 2019!! Fingers crossed your year is full of good books, good company and drama only when you want it.

I’m super excited to be working with the talented folks at Aladdin/Simon & Schuster again on a new series! A whole new cast of characters and all new adventures, coming summer 2020.

I can’t give too much away but imagine if Indiana Jones had a twelve year old daughter named Lola and then he got lost (or kidnapped??) and Lola had to find him. Yeah. Things are going to happen. I can’t wait. I’m completely in love with Lola already and we haven’t even spent that much time together! She does not have any interest in saving the world, but sometimes what we have to do overrides what we want to do.

In the meantime, Abby and friends are back on August 6th with a new adventure of their own.In Double Cross, things get a little crazy over at Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls and you might begin to wonder if our junior spies are going to make it out of this round in one piece. (Hint: mostly)

And how much do I love this cover? Abby is practically jumping off the page! I keep winning the cover art lottery.

Anyway, that’s all the news for now. Stay tuned for more details on Lola as they roll in.

Thank you, A Mighty Girl!

I’m a huge fan of the Mighty Girl website. They highlight the accomplishments of great women, living and gone, many of whom might otherwise go unrecognized. Check out their 2018 Books of the Year list  – it’s a great one to keep on hand as we charge into 2019. Many of my favorites on here and I’m so excited that Power Play is among them.

So bookmark this and you will never be caught out when the young reader in your life asks for a recommendation!

Creepy! Scary! Chilling!

I love scary books and movies and I hate scary books and movies. At the same time. For example, I’m watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix but I’m mostly doing it through my fingers which are plastered over my eyes because I’m too afraid to look. I bet I’m not alone in this.

Scary books have a way of soaking into your life. This morning I woke up to a loud banging outside my bedroom window. Of course, my mind went immediately to wicked witches, ghouls with ghastly intentions and spiteful spirits. My heart raced. Sweat broke out on my forehead. It was the unlatched gate to my front walkway, of course. And a little wind. Still….

But scary is fun, isn’t it? I’m sure there is a good psychological explanation for why but maybe, in this Halloween season, let’s just go with it. To that end, something for your middle grade readers that like a little creepiness baked into their reading. (all book descriptions lifted from Amazon/GoodReads)

(And if you are an adult or have an advanced reader, I recommend Shirley Jackson, the master of modern horror.  We Have Always Lived in the Castle  is so freaky and one of my all time favs.)

The Gravedigger’s Son, by Patrick Moody (Sky Pony Press)

Ian Fossor is last in a long line of Gravediggers. It’s his family’s job to bury the dead and then, when Called by the dearly departed, to help settle the worries that linger beyond the grave so spirits can find peace in the Beyond.

But Ian doesn’t want to help the dead—he wants to be a Healer and help the living. Such a wish is, of course, selfish and impossible. Fossors are Gravediggers. So he reluctantly continues his training under the careful watch of his undead mentor, hoping every day that he’s never Called and carefully avoiding the path that leads into the forbidden woods bordering the cemetery.

Just as Ian’s friend, Fiona, convinces him to talk to his father, they’re lured into the woods by a risen corpse that doesn’t want to play by the rules. There, the two are captured by a coven of Weavers, dark magic witches who want only two thing—to escape the murky woods where they’ve been banished, and to raise the dead and shift the balance of power back to themselves.Only Ian can stop them. With a little help from his friends. And his long-dead ancestors.

Equal parts spooky and melancholy, funny and heartfelt. 

The Rise of the Jumbies, by Tracy Baptiste (Algonquin Young Readers)

Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea.

The Mesmerist, by Ronald L. Smith (Clarion Books)

Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London’s supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces? And will the group of strange children with mysterious powers she befriends be able to help? As shy, proper Jess transforms into a brave warrior, she uncovers terrifying truths about the hidden battle between good and evil, about her family, and about herself.

The Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, by Jonathan Rosen (Sky Pony Press)

Twelve-year-old Devin Dexter has a problem. Well, actually, many of them. His cousin, Tommy, sees conspiracies behind every corner. And Tommy thinks Devin’s new neighbor, Herb, is a warlock . . . but nobody believes him. Even Devin’s skeptical. But soon strange things start happening. Things like the hot new Christmas toy, the Cuddle Bunny, coming to life. That would be great, because, after all, who doesn’t love a cute bunny? But these aren’t the kind of bunnies you can cuddle with. These bunnies are dangerous. Devin and Tommy set out to prove Herb is a warlock and to stop the mob of bunnies, but will they have enough time before the whole town of Gravesend is overrun by the cutest little monsters ever? This is a very funny “scary” book for kids, in the same vein as the My Teacher books or Goosebumps. (and don’t miss the sequel, From Sunset till Sunrise! Vampires!)

Guest Blogger and Debut author Lisa Schmid talks GHOSTS!

by Lisa Schmid

There is no such thing as ghosts. Right? I must admit when it comes to the subject, I’m a bit conflicted.

I love visiting “haunted” places like the Whaley House in San Diego.  Rumored to be the most haunted house in the United States, I have toured it a couple of times, hoping to see a chandelier sway or a spectral vision glide across the room. No such luck. But, to be perfectly honest, if I did see a ghost, I’d probably Scooby Doo it right out of there.

Another fun fact about me, I don’t want to see ghosts on my home turf or where I am spending the night.

For example, a couple of years ago I attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The first night while serving up scary banquet food, our waiter served up scary stories about ghosts who inhabit the hotel. One tale, in particular about a creepy ghost girl residing on the ninth floor totally freaked me out. Why? Because I, of course, was staying on the ninth floor. Go figure. So I did what any brave soul would do, I slept with the lights on. All. Four. Nights. 

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James Ponti is here! Yes, I’m shouting…

I read Framed! in one sitting. Then I immediately leaped from my chair and ran to the library where I insisted the children’s librarian put the book on the shelves right away. She, being a genius in all things books, was way ahead of me. I sighed with relief. I did not want to be the only one having so much fun. 

(Buy the books: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound)

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You survived the cuddle bunnies. But what about the vampires?! A chat with Jonathan Rosen…

My daughter had an animatronic stuffed Elmo when she was little. I was convinced it was possessed – it would turn itself on at random times and twitch around in wacky, demented circles. It showed up in my nightmares. It whispered in my dreams. For sanity’s sake, in the dead of night, I introduced it to the dumpster. What is meant to be cute can also be…well…not. But writing horror is no easy thing, especially when it is meant for kids. So let’s talk to the man who delivers chills, thrills, heart and humor and see how it’s done.

(Buy the books: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound)

Continue reading “You survived the cuddle bunnies. But what about the vampires?! A chat with Jonathan Rosen…”

An interview with debut author Mae Respicio

One of the many things I love about Mae Respicio’s debut novel, The House that Lou Built, is how she creates a character who so thoroughly plays against type and yet is relatable and familiar. For readers unfamiliar with Filipino culture, as I am, Lou is the best kind of guide. Experiencing the world through her eyes was a delight from start to finish. Middle grade readers are in for a real treat.

(Buy the book: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound or order from your local indie!)

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Cover reveal for….(drum roll)….Jenny Lundquist’s The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams

I had the great good fortune to spend several days with Jenny at a book festival earlier this year and I could not be more excited about her forthcoming novel! The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams is a hopeful middle grade story of three former friends who must come together at their annual town carnival to heal and reconnect after a tragedy.

Continue reading “Cover reveal for….(drum roll)….Jenny Lundquist’s The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams”