Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Perfect Scoundrels: A Review

Ally Carter is quickly moving from my favorite YA author to my favorite author in general. This book moves her to that spot for good. Perfect Scoundrels has all readers expect from Carter: action, a tightly written plot, and a hint of romance. 

In the first two books, I enjoyed the fast-paced action, but this third book in the Heist Society kicks it up a notch with the character development. When Hale's grandmother dies, he is named the heir despite his young age. When his grandmother's longtime friend questions the will privately to Kat, she and the team are on a mission to save the family company. Through Hale's loss and Kat's attempts to console him while not quite being accepted by his family and his world, their motives and characters are flushed out, and I love them even more. 

Fans of Carter will enjoy this latest spy adventure, and people who aren't fans should be.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Now What?

Back in November, I began writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. I finished the book in January (70,000 words), and sent it to Betsy St. Amant for advice and editing. She just sent me back her corrections, and I'm tackling them.

Here's the tough part: what to do next. I spent several hours yesterday researching agents and their guidelines, query letters, proposals, cover letters, and synopsises. There is so much, and each agent wants something different.

I am preparing myself for rejection as I know most authors write several books before gaining an agent or having their book published.

However, there are a few things I can do while I wait. First, I joined ACFW, which I've heard nothing but wonderful things about. I'm hoping to go to their conference in September. Until then, I can join writing circles and loops to learn more tips. 
Second, I'm reading writing books and focusing on their tips while I finish editing this first story and starting my next.

While I edit the remaining chapters, I plan on sending in my proposal to a few agents by Spring Break. I'm so excited....and nervous.

What about you? Have you ever sent in a query letter or proposal?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Origami Yoda Series

This series is really popular in the library, so I decided to use the newest one as a book club. Since I had never read them, I had to read them in order before our meeting. We had a great time discussing the book and making origami Yodas and Wookiees.

In book one, readers are introduced to the cast: Tommy, the guy behind the files, and Dwight, the creator of the Origami Yoda. Things are weird at school, and Origami Yoda seems to have the answers. The book is told from the different perspectives of students, creating a case file compiling answers to question that everyone has---Is Origami Yoda real?
Funny and full of Star Wars puns, this book starts what could be the next big series. The characters are funny, and the pace is fast.

Origami Yoda's one disbeliever, Harvey, has created his own origami--Darth Paper, who is determined to prove that Origami Yoda is nothing more than a piece of folder paper.
After a series of mishaps, will the student body be able to save Dwight before Darth Paper and the school board expel him from school?
I enjoyed this book more than the first one--probably because Darth Paper was a funny addition and because by the second book, I knew the characters a little better. (It's hard to get to know characters when each chapter is from a different person's perspective.)

Dwight has been expelled and sent to a private school, leaving his Origami Yoda in a photo frame displayed in his room. At his new school, Dwight now fits in and becomes boring. Everyone at Tommy's school is floundering, not sure what to do without Origami Yoda's wise advice. But, never fear, Sara has brought Fortune Wookiee to school to save the day. Dwight gave her the wookiee to help out his old classmates. Fortune Wookiee holds a secret, and readers may be surprised by who figures it out first.

I loved this book. I missed weird Dwight, but I enjoyed the Wookiee and Sara's increased role in this book as she steps into Dwight's shoes as resident advice giver. Readers will be surprised by the end and look forward to book four with the hints of what's to come.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Chance: A Review

The Chance is classic Kingsbury: full of dramatic, traumatizing events and the chance that faith and love give.

Despite being only 15, Ellie is sure of one thing: she loves Nolan. When her family falls apart, and her dad takes her away to another state, she and Nolan bury letters to each other under their favorite tree. They know they'll stay in touch, but promise to come back in 11 years and read the letters for the first time. Eleven years have passed, and the two haven't spoken since the night at the tree, but both are drawn back to their first love, their true love, their only love.

I enjoyed this story. Ellie is a sympathetic character. My heart broke for her when her parents separated and for the years that followed. Her feelings were authentic and open. I also loved the parts of the book from her parents...showing relationships and marriages for what they often are--tough and sometimes messy.

While I liked Nolan, I felt his character was a little unrealistically written. There are great guys out there, he was so "good" to the point of being boring. If he had had a little more spark to him, I would have loved this book instead of just enjoyed it.

I recommend it to fans of Kingsbury and to Christian fiction fans who like a lot of turmoil that ends in happiness.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Talk of the Town: A Review

I think I've figured out what I love most about Lisa Wingate's writing: her ability to capture a small town and its eclectic members. City girl Mandalay has no clue what's waiting for when she goes to Daily, Texas, to get ready for the homecoming episode of a TV singing contest. The quirky old ladies, small-town rumor mills, and the handsome stranger sharing her "suite" in a bed and breakfast are a bit much for her to control.

Seeing the town through Mandalay's eyes shows the quirks that make small towns unique. Seeing Mandalay through Imagene's eyes helps develop her as a character. The chapters go back and forth between their points of view, and it creates a nice flow for a fast read.

Fans of Christian fiction will enjoy a visit to Daily, Texas. 

Monday, February 4, 2013


I'm not a huge graphic novel fan. I LOVE it for the  kids and promote it to them, but I don't read it for my own enjoyment.

Two weeks ago, I read this book with my second graders for our genre study.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Who doesn't love a fun girl who daydreams and wears a cute dress with a heart. Some of the boys weren't too happy when I passed out the pink books, but once they realized Babymouse wasn't too girly, most of them said they would read another book about her.

Even though I enjoyed the book, I was even more surprised I picked up another book to read.
I think if I had read this one to my second graders, the boys would have liked it even more. Unfortunately, I only had a class set of Queen of the World.

Although the Babymosue books were popular before, I really can't keep them on the shelf now that we've read them as a group.

As our activity, we made our own comic strips. It was fun to read the kids' stories, and many kids told me how much they liked writing a story when they could draw mostly pictures and just add a few words when necessary.