Children’s

New Release Tuesday: August 6th

Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 in Children's, Genres, New Adult, New Release Tuesday, Reading, Young Adult | 0 comments

New Release Tuesday: August 6th

  It’s Tuesday! Do you know what’s good about Tuesday? It’s not Monday. And books are being released. I hope you’re looking for some new books to get lost in, because that’s what we’re bringing you today.     Children’s/Middle Grade North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler Blurb: From the New York Times bestselling author of the Emily Windsnap series comes a captivating adventure about family, friendship, and the bonds that bridge time. The sleepy seaside village of Porthaven hides a mystery: Mia’s grandad has vanished, and nobody knows why. When Mia and her mom rush to Porthaven to help her grandmother, Mia imagines long dreary days with no one to talk to except for the old-time fisherman at her grandparents’ pub. But that’s before Mia finds a diary on an empty, docked fishing boat and starts exchanging notes with a local girl named Dee, a girl who seems much like her. Mia is excited about having a new friend, but why do their plans to meet each other never materialize? And why does Dee claim to be stuck at home due to violent storms when Mia sees only sunny skies? Will Mia be able to solve the mystery of where — and when — her grandfather and friend might be before time and tide forever wash away their futures? KJ note: Okay…so this is one I’ve been meaning to review, but haven’t found the time to write a full review.  Short thought: It’s light, fun, and perhaps poetically poignant. I giggled. I smiled. I enjoyed.   My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  by Dr. Martin Luther King III Blurb: What was it like growing up as a son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? This picture book memoir, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III, provides insight into one of history’s most fascinating families and into a special bond between father and son. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King III was one of those four little children mentioned in Martin Luther King’s groundbreaking “I Have a Dream” speech. In this memoir, Martin Luther King Jr.’s son gives an intimate look at the man and the father behind the civil rights leader. Mr. King’s remembrances show both his warm, loving family and a momentous time in American history.   Young Adult  Gated by Amy Christine Parker Blurb: Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in? In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned: Pioneer is her leader. Will is her Intended. The end of the world is near. Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound’s underground fortress–the Silo. Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she’d rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to...

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Reader review: Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb by Ally Malinenko

Posted by on Aug 4, 2013 in Children's, Genres, Reading | 0 comments

Reader review: Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb by Ally Malinenko

A while back we were lucky enough to have Ally Malinenko guest post on Pen and Muse. She wrote a fantastic post called Stomaching Rejection or How Not To Give Up When The Big Houses Say No Thanks and Potentially Stomp on Your Dreams. As you can imagine, we were excited to check out her middle grade fantasy novel called Lizzie Speare and the Cursed Tomb. In case you haven’t heard of it, check it out below! Meet Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb MEET LIZZY SPEARE… …a normal twelve year old girl with a talent for writing, who has a very not normal family secret. And when Lizzy’s father vanishes, that secret will change her life in ways unimagined. (Spoiler Alert! It turns out that Lizzy, or Elizabeth S. Speare, is the last living descendant of William Shakespeare. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody!) Then Lizzy and her best friend Sammy are kidnapped, awakening in the faraway land of Manhattan. Their host is Jonathan Muse, whose job is to protect Lizzy from becoming the latest victim in a family feud nearly five hundred years old. Could that be why the mysterious, eye patch-wearing Dmitri Marlowe is after her? (Spoiler Alert 2—he’s the last living descendant of Christopher Marlowe, a friend and rival of Shakespeare’s. But keep it to yourself!) Is Marlowe after Lizzy’s family fortune rumored to be kept in Shakespeare’s tomb? Does he seek artistic immortality? Or Revenge (with a capital R) for a death long, long ago? In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Lizzy and Sammy are thrust into the realm of the mythical and fantastic—from satyrs and Cyclopses to Middle Eastern cab drivers and Brooklyn hipsters—in what is truly “an improbable fiction” as the Bard himself once wrote.       Who this book is for Anyone who likes middle grade books, Shakespeare, and magic!  What others are saying “I love Shakespeare and Greek mythology so imagine my delight when I heard of a book that mixed the two.” – Patrice Caldwell “I’m no Shakespeare scholar or fanatic, but I do enjoy his work, and author Ally Malinenko has done something quite extraordinary with her book Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb…she’s made Shakespeare fun! Fantastically fun, in fact! This adventure filled middle-grade surpassed my expectations and turned out to be an excellent read.” – Aeicha “Lizzy Speare and The Cursed Tomb is part mystery, part mythology, part history, and a whole lot of non-stop action! Within the pages of this book, there is a story which features a strong female main character and her loyal friend Sammy…” – Renee  Favorite Quote “People are creative, but they lack drive, ambition. They stray and wander. And they give up so easily, falling prey to outside distractions. A Muse is there to keep them going.” What I liked about Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb I came into this novel with no expectations. I don’t normally read middle grade novels (not because I don’t like them, but because I tend to buy YA and NA instead). I’ll tell you one thing, I am a HUGE Shakespeare fan and I absolutely loved the concept of this novel. In fact, I can’t think of a single story out there that is like it. Go Lizzy! Another thing I really liked about this novel is that Lizzy is a strong female protagonist. There’s nothing worse than opening a novel and starting to read it, only to find that the main female character is dependent on a male for happiness, or afraid to take action, etc. But this isn’t the case with Lizzy! Even though she...

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The Muses Read (And Praise): Disneylanders

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Children's, Reading, Young Adult | 4 comments

The Muses Read (And Praise): Disneylanders

There’s something you guys may not know about me. Ready for a secret KJ confession? I love Disney. Not like “oh, it makes me happy.” Like wears a tiara or mouse ears in DisneyWorld, squeals when DVDs get released from the vault, and you can tell my mood by seeing whether my watch is Tinkerbell or the Evil Queen kind of love. If I could have a Disney room in my house, I would. Clearly I was going to have some crazy high hopes for Disneylanders. I was so right. Disneylanders by Kate Abbott   Extended blurb: Casey (short for Acacia, but don’t call her that) is spending a few summer days with her parents at Disneyland. Just like they do every summer. Except this summer is different. Casey’s best friend has dumped her. She starts high school in the fall, and she’s tired of following her parents’ rigid schedule and putting up with their embarrassing behavior. She’s miserable. Even Disneyland can’t make her happy. Then, standing in line for the Indiana Jones Adventure, she bumps into Bert. A year older. Tall. Brown eyes. Nice. But Bert’s parents are mysteriously absent. And he wears an old, broken Mickey Mouse watch. Bert has secrets. When Casey ditches her parents to run off with Bert, those secrets are revealed in the darkness of a Haunted Mansion Doom Buggy, aboard a rocket ship hurtling through Space Mountain, and in the cramped confines of a Matterhorn bobsled. Is Bert really as cool as he seems? Could he become Casey’s first…boyfriend? To make matters worse, Casey must also fight off her parents’ attempts to ruin her relationship with Bert and fend off a pack of selfish, rowdy girls—the “Bra Strap Girls”—who seem intent on sabotaging her vacation and stealing Bert. Casey can’t stay in Disneyland forever. When she leaves, with or without Bert, she’ll have left behind her childhood and learned some important lessons about what it means to grow up. Disneylanders is available in print and for the Kindle:   Muse Kristen’s Thoughts If you haven’t been to a Disney resort, they’re the happiest place(s) on Earth. I’m not even kidding. Disney is where you go to have that brief refuge of no concerns, no worries, and simply joy every single moment. For Casey, Disney is the magical place you go to where bliss is always possible, no matter what is happening in her life. It would be better when I was in Disneyland. Everyone was happy in Disneyland. I just had to get there. She can forget her problems with her ex-BFF, her shifting world (and body!), and forget that her parents aren’t as hip as they’d like to think they are.  Until she can’t. See, her family has forgotten one little thing: that she’s getting older. She’s still treated like a child…which could be why her BFF said sayonara and skipped out on the annual vacation. This Disney trip, Casey can’t shake her feelings she had outside the gates, and has to decide whether the magic still exists or if she’s bittersweetly too old for Disney joy any longer. If you haven’t gotten the hint, this isn’t just the fluffy novel someone might expect from the title. Disneylanders is a fun yet poignant story of a girl finding herself, coming to terms with her own coming of age story, and discovering how that affects how she views the world. Has she been looking at life with rose colored glasses before, only to have them smashed in the happiest place on earth? Character wise, I found Casey to be very realistic and likable.  Bert is without a single doubt adorable. He has his...

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New Release Tuesday: 3/19/2013

Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 in Children's, Genres, Mystery, New Release Tuesday, Reading, Young Adult | 0 comments

New Release Tuesday: 3/19/2013

Apparently this week is the week of mystery! There seems to be a ton of it going on for all age ranges! Woohoo. I love me some mystery. Also, I’m absolutely loving the cover for “Marco Impossible”. Isn’t it awesome? Check out the new book birthdays below for New Release Tuesday.     Mystery Deadly Virtues by Jo Bannister Goodreads blurb: In this fast-paced thriller, Deadly Virtues, acclaimed writer Jo Bannister proves once again why she is considered “one of the genre’s best” (Booklist) The town of Norbold, England is famous for its low crime rate, thanks to the zero-tolerance policy of Chief Superintendent John Fountain. And Norbold’s newest police recruit, Hazel Best, is happy to help keep it that way. But numbers never tell the whole story, do they? Jerome Cardy knew he was going to die. He also knew that it would be made to appear like an accident. He might not be able to prevent it, but Jerome was determined to make sure that someone knew what was going to happen—even if that someone was a man with a concussion lying with his dog  in a jail cell next to him. After Jerome is found beaten to death by a fellow inmate in another cell, Ash is unable to forget Jerome’s last awkward words to him: “I had a dog once. Othello. That was its name. Othello.” Certain there is a hidden message in these words, Ash is determined to discover the truth. But it won’t be easy—no one believes his account of that night. And Hazel Best must decide whether pursuing the truth is worth her career. Where to buy: Amazon / Barnes and Noble Six Years by Harlan Coben Goodreads blurb: Six years have passed since Jake Sanders watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for . . . but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for more than a decade, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life—a time he has never gotten over—is turned completely inside out. As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart—and who lied to him—soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction. Where to buy: Amazon / Barnes and Noble Contemporary Family Pictures by Jane Green Goodreads blurb: New York Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed. From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling...

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Basic Story Plots- Quest

Posted by on Feb 21, 2013 in Basic Plot Points, Children's, Genres, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, New Adult, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / Fantasy, Thriller, Westerns, Writing, Young Adult | 2 comments

Basic Story Plots- Quest

There comes a time in every writer’s life where you’re about to start another project and you’re faced with a tough question: Which plot am I going with? Is your new project all about revenge? Is it a story about a change or metamorphosis? Is it a Romeo and Juliet story about a forbidden love? Either way, welcome to the second installment of Pen and Muse’s Basic Story Plots project. Each week we want to introduce you to a different plot point. Hopefully we can help and be that swift kick in the inspiration booty that you need.  It doesn’t matter if this is your 20th novel, your first novel, or your very first flash fiction. If there’s no plot, there’s no story. This week’s basic plot point is: Quest Details: Quest plots involve your protagonist / main characters being on the search for something. Whether it be person, place, thing, animal, or mineral, your protagonist will not rest until it’s found, obtained, or resolved. Traditionally, the quest story has three facets that seem to be ever-present: The Motivator or motivating situation- In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry gets his Hogwarts acceptance letter. In The Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers as tribute after her sister’s name is picked. It’s always a good idea to start your story as close as possible to the starting action. The Journey- This is where everything takes place. This is the part that will hopefully ensure your reader can’t put your book down. Your reader at this point should understand that the journey is about to take place, and should understand why this journey is happening / where the protagonist is going. They may have no clue about all the hardships you’ve planned for your MC or who dies (if anyone), but they need to know the journey has commenced and why it’s important. Tell the story. Make your protagonist wallow through that swamp of sadness, barely escape pirates, or be pursued by crooks in search of treasure. In Defiance, the journey begins when Rachel and Logan head into the Wasteland. In Harry Potter, the journey starts at Harry’s term at Hogwarts for the school year. In The Hobbit, this is when Bilbo Baggins decides to go along with Gandalf and the other dwarves. The Goal- Normally at the end or towards the end of your book, the goal needs to be addressed. Did the protagonist meet their goals? Did they fail? Did they realize that they only accomplished half of it? Or does the protagonist have multiple goals, accomplishing one and ending the novel one step closer to the other goal? For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry finds the Sorcerer’s Stone. He thwarts Voldemort’s evil plan but he doesn’t destroy Voldemort. This leaves his stretch goal still unfulfilled and perfect for a sequel, but his immediate goals and journey were met.   Other reading material with a Quest plot: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein (Fantasy) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (Fantasy) The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordon (Fantasy) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Urban Fantasy)   What are your favorite quest plot novels? What tips do you have for someone writing a quest novel? Let us know in the comments below!  ...

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#PitMad

Posted by on Jan 25, 2013 in Children's, Contests, Genres, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, New Adult, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / Fantasy, Thriller, Westerns, Writing, Young Adult | 0 comments

#PitMad

What is #PitMad? First off, if you don’t already follow Brenda Drake, you need to. She is brilliant!!! She is a middle grade and young adult writer who also happens to be a fantastic literary resource and organizer of amazing writerly contests. Recently, she hosted Pitch Wars over at the YA Misfit’s website  where certain writers were selected and mentored to get their pitches and manuscripts ready for agents. So if you’re reading this Brenda, thank you SO much for everything you do! For those not chosen or anyone who desires, Brenda Drake is also hosting #PitMad over on Twitter today. What is #PitMad?  #PitMad is a twitter pitch party that uses the hashtag #PitMad. You pitch your book in less than 140 characters (not easy, but it’s fun to be creative) and agents stop by to peek. Normally, if an agent or editor likes your pitch they will favorite it, meaning they would like to see more. Check out their twitter feeds to see what they’re looking for. Normally the agent or editor will tweet something earlier saying, “If I like your twitter pitch, send me the query and first ten pages” or whatever it is that they would like to see. Agents can also @ reply to you and tell you exactly what they want from you. It varies per person. Don’t forget to check the feed too. Some agents will post things like, “if it’s a contemporary YA novel about dinosaurs” please pitch it directly to me.” Pay attention. You never know what agents or editors may be looking for. And please,  for the sake of writerly love, do not forget to root for your fellow writers. Offer them encouragement! We’re all in the trenches together. If things don’t work out today, remember Pitch Madness is coming up again in March! We’ll keep you informed! There’s still time today to get your #PitMad pitch in!...

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