Two for Tuesday! (new #mglit releases for March 19th)

I went through a time when I devoured everything related to Henry VIII so I’m super excited for Kathryn Lasky’s new book. And Kevin Henkes wrote one of my favorite picture books, Kitten’s First Full Moon, which I read about 8000 times to my kids. I can’t wait to see what his middle grade fiction holds!

(Next week I will be in Japan so there will be no Two for Tuesday – I’ll be back the following week!)

Tangled in Time: The Portal, by Kathryn Lasky

For fans of the Royal Diaries series and Gail Carson Levine, Newbery Honor-winning author Kathryn Lasky delivers the first enchanting adventure in a compelling new middle grade series about a newly orphaned girl who finds herself time-travelling between the present day and the court of the two most memorable English princesses in history.

Life used to be great for Rose: full of friends, a loving mom, and a growing fashion blog.

But when her mother dies in a car crash, Rose is sent away to live with astrange grandmother she hardly knows and forced to attend a new school wheremean girls ridicule her at every turn.

The only place Rose finds refuge is in her grandmother’s greenhouse. But onenight she sees a strange light glowing from within it. She goes to investigate…and finds herself transported back five hundred years to Hatfield Palace, whereshe becomes servant and confidant of the banished princess Elizabeth, daughterof King Henry VIII.

Rose soon discovers something else amazing—a locket with two mysterious images inside it, both clues to her own past.Could the greenhouse portal offer answers to the mysteries of her family…and their secrets?

Sweeping Up the Heart, by Kevin Henkes

Amelia Albright dreams about going to Florida for spring break like everyone else in her class, but her father—a cranky and stubborn English professor—has decided Florida is too much adventure.

Now Amelia is stuck at home with him and her babysitter, the beloved Mrs. O’Brien. The week ahead promises to be boring, until Amelia meets Casey at her neighborhood art studio. Amelia has never been friends with a boy before, and the experience is both fraught and thrilling. When Casey claims to see the spirit of Amelia’s mother (who died ten years before), the pair embarks on an altogether different journey in their attempt to find her.

Using crisp, lyrical, literary writing and moments of humor and truth, award-winning author Kevin Henkes deftly captures how it feels to be almost thirteen.

Two for Tuesday! (new #mglit releases for Feb. 26th)

Two I’m excited for this week! The return of Kiranmala and dragons! Have a look…

Game of Stars, by Sayantani DasGupta

Saving the multiverse is no game

When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a terrible game show reigns supreme, and friends and foes alike are in danger. Everyone is running scared or imprisoned following the enactment of sudden and unfair rules of law. 

However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again solve riddles and battle her evil Serpent King father — all while figuring out who her true friends are, and what it really means to be a hero.

Rise of the Dragons, by Angie Sage

Once our world was full of dragons who lived in harmony with humans. But after a group of rogue dragons, the Raptors, tried to take over Earth, all dragons were banished to another realm.

Most humans forgot about the dragons, claiming they never existed. Eleven-year-old Sirin knows the truth — she grew up with stories passed down through the generations. However, when her mother falls ill, even Sirin has trouble believing in magic . . . until she sees a mysterious streak of silver in the night sky. 

Sirin becomes the first child to “lock” with a dragon in centuries — forming a deep friendship unlike anything she’s ever imagined. But Sirin learns that not all dragons returned with good intentions, and soon she finds herself at the center of a battle between the dragons who want to protect the humans . . . and those who want to destroy them.

Two for Tuesday! (new #mglit releases for Feb. 19th)

Sequel mania!! Two I’m excited for that are out in the world today. All descriptions from Amazon.

Revenge of the EngiNerds, by Jarrett Lerner

Ken and his EngiNerds crew return in a new, nutty and nerdy adventure that’s the perfect follow-up to EngiNerds.

When last we met, the EngiNerds were battling a horde of ravenous robots, but in this latest caper, they’re on the hunt for just one rogue robot. But who knows what kind of mayhem one mechanical creature can cause? And why is Ken the only EngiNerd who’s worried about the runaway robot?

The rest of the crew seems be missing in action and Ken fears it’s because of Mikaela Harrington. She’s the new girl in town who’s UFO and alien-obsessed and wants to join the EngiNerds. But as far as Ken is concerned, the EngiNerds are Y-chromosome only, no X’s allowed!

Will Ken allow a rogue robot and a know-it-all, genius girl to wreak havoc on the entire universe? He just might not have a choice!

Secret in the Stone, by Kamilla Benko

Claire Martinson and her sister Sophie have decided to stay in Arden–the magical land they discovered by climbing up a chimney in their great-aunt’s manor. If what they’ve learned is true, the sisters are the last descendants of the royal family, and only a true heir of Arden–with magic in her blood–can awaken the unicorns.

Since Sophie has does not have magic, the land’s last hope rests on Claire. The sisters journey to Stonehaven, a famed Gemmer school high in the mountains of Arden, so Claire can train in the magic of stone. As Claire struggles through classes, Sophie uncovers dangerous secrets about the people they thought they could trust. With Arden on the brink of crumbling, can Claire prove she is the prophesied heir and unlock the magic of the unicorns before it’s too late?

Two for Tuesday! (new #mglit releases for Feb. 12th)

Tuesday comes around so fast, doesn’t it?! And my TBR list grows and grows but I’m the kind of person who gets anxious if I don’t have at least ten books lined up to read next. A few new releases I’m excited to get my hands on below. (All descriptions from Amazon)

The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams, by Jenny Lundquist

In the tradition of Wishtree and You May Already Be a Winner, this hopeful middle grade novel tells the story of three former friends who must come together at their annual town carnival to heal and reconnect after a tragedy.

The small town of Clarkville has seen better days. Ever since the Cohen factory burned down a few years ago, jobs are scarce and unemployment is high. But each year for one night the Carnival of Wishes and Dreams comes to town and everyone gets to indulge in a little wonder and delight. And for three girls who each receive notes asking them to meet the anonymous sender at midnight at the Ferris Wheel, it’s an evening that promises to be truly magical.

Audrey McKinley can’t believe someone would ask her to ride the Ferris Wheel. Everyone in town knows she’s afraid of heights; the last time she rode the Ferris Wheel it ended with her having a panic attack. But ever since her dad lost his job after the Cohen factory burned down he’s been working too little. The carnival gives him a chance for some seasonal work, and she plans to spend the evening checking up on him and making sure he does his job. Maybe she’ll face her fears tonight, after all.

Grace Chang isn’t supposed to go to the carnival. It’s too close to the burned remains of the old Cohen factory—the place where her firefighter father lost his life. And they always rode the Ferris Wheel together, so that’s also something Grace isn’t supposed to do. But since her mom just announced they’ll be moving away from Clarkville the day after the carnival, Grace is sick of only doing things she’s supposed to do. She’ll be at the carnival. And she is definitely riding that Ferris Wheel.

Harlow Cohen is surprised anyone would want to ride the Ferris Wheel with her. Harlow used to be popular. But ever since her grandparents’ old factory burned down and so many people lost their jobs, many of the kids at school blame her—and her rich family—for their own parents’ worsening economic situations. Harlow can never resist a dare, but when a note arrives asking her to meet an anonymous person at the Ferris Wheel at midnight, she’s far from certain it will be a friend waiting for her.

Can these three girls put their differences aside long enough for their wishes to come true? And is it possible to save a friendship that once seemed lost for good?

Watch Hallow, by Gregory Funaro

Deep within the enchanted woods in the town of Watch Hollow stands the once-grand Blackford House, whose halls hold a magical secret: a giant cuckoo clock that does much more than tell time. But when the clock’s gears cease to turn, an evil presence lurking among the trees begins to come out of the shadows.

When Lucy and Oliver Tinker arrive in Watch Hollow, they have no idea that anything is wrong. A mysterious stranger has made their father an offer that’s too good for him to refuse. All Mr. Tinker needs to do is fix the clock at Blackford House and fistfuls of gold coins are his to keep.

It doesn’t take long, however, for the children to realize that there is more to Blackford House than meets the eye. And before they can entirely understand the strange world they’ve stumbled into, Lucy and Oliver must join forces with a host of magical clock animals to defeat the Garr—a vicious monster that not only wants Blackford House for itself, but also seeks to destroy everything the Tinkers hold dear.

Spy Runner, by Eugene Yelchin

In Spy Runner, a noir mystery middle grade novel from Newbery Honor author Eugene Yelchin, a boy stumbles upon a secret that jeopardizes American national security.

(the description of this one is brief but that just adds to the intrigue, don’t you think? No matter – I’m all things spies so I’m digging in!)

New Release Tuesday – Feb. 5

Two new titles I’m excited for, both sequels!

(descriptions from Amazon)

Swap’d, by Tamara Ireland Stone.

After her Click’d catastrophe, Allie Navarro is determined to redeem herself. So when the class gets an assignment to create a mobile game from recycled code, Allie pairs up with Courtney, her best friend from CodeGirls camp, to create the perfect app: Swap’d.Kids buy, sell, and trade stuff at school all the time. Candy. Clothes. Video games. Slime. Why not make a fiercely competitive, totally anonymous, beat-the-clock game out of it?Once Swap’d is in full-swing, Allie is certain that it’s the answer to all her problems. She’s making quick cash to help Courtney buy that really expensive plane ticket to come visit her. It’s giving her an excuse to have an actual conversation with her super-secret crush. And it looks like she might finally beat her archenemy-turned-friend, Nathan. She’s thought of everything. Or? has she?The second book in the Click’d series by New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone weaves together middle school friendship, first crushes, and serious coding skills in another fun, fast-paced, and empowering novel that will have readers cheering Allie on from the first page to the last.

Love Sugar Magic: A Sprinkle of Spirts, by Anna Meriano.

Leonora Logroño has finally been introduced to her family’s bakery bruja magic—but that doesn’t mean everything is all sugar and spice. Her special power hasn’t shown up yet, her family still won’t let her perform her own spells, and they now act rude every time Caroline comes by to help Leo with her magic training.

She knows that the family magic should be kept secret, but Caroline is her best friend, and she’s been feeling lonely ever since her mom passed away. Why should Leo have to choose between being a good bruja and a good friend?

In the midst of her confusion, Leo wakes up one morning to a startling sight: her dead grandmother, standing in her room, looking as alive as she ever was. Both Leo and her abuela realize this might mean trouble—especially once they discover that Abuela isn’t the only person in town who has been pulled back to life from the other side.

Spirits are popping up all over town, causing all sorts of trouble! Is this Leo’s fault? And can she reverse the spell before it’s too late?

Anna Meriano’s unforgettable family of brujas returns in a new story featuring a heaping helping of amor, azúcar, and magia.

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!)