29 July, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway - Last few hours!




Welcome to our Kindle Fire HD giveaway!
(giveaway widgets deactivate at midnight)

Today's the last day to enter! We just want to make sure everyone knows you can also win 5 middle grade paperbacks from Nancy Tandon. You don't need to do anything special, just enter the Kindle Fire Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below (US mailing addresses only). Oh and make sure you follow Nancy on Twitter!



Sponsored by 
Kid Lit Frenzy
Read Now Sleep Later
Nite Lite Book Reviews
The Windy Pages
The Book Pixie
There's a Book
The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
Teach Mentor Texts
The Reading Date
Nancy Tandon
Read Write Mom

Show our blogger friends some love and at the same time earn entries into the giveaway!

The Kindle Fire HD winner (US only) will also get their choice of

1 July or August Kindle eBook from Kid Lit Frenzy
1 YA Kindle eBook from Read Now Sleep Later
1 MG Kindle eBook from There's a Book

If you are not from the United States, use the second Rafflecopter to enter to win

up to $20 worth of books from BookDepository.com 
and an ARC or signed copy of a book from Kid Lit Frenzy
(A list of possible prizes will be posted after July 14, so check back!)

If you are a blogger, you can earn an extra entry by re-posting the giveaway. Copy the HTML from this page and paste it into a new post. We cannot count your entry unless you leave us the link, so remember to paste the link into the Rafflecopter widget. If you cannot embed the Rafflecopter widget, here is the Share Link for the Kindle Fire HD (US only) and the Share Link for the International $20 bookdepository.com widgets.

Rules:

1. You must be 13 years of age or older to enter, or have a parent/guardian enter for you. All entries are subject to verification.
2. We will notify the winner via email within 48 hours after the contest's end (11:59 pm on July 29).
3. The Kindle Fire HD winner must have a mailing address in the United States. The International ($20 bookdepository.com books) winner can be anywhere except the United States.
4. The winners will have 48 hours to reply with their mailing address or another winner will be chosen.
5. Contest sponsors are not responsible for items lost in the mail.
6. We love comments, but please do not leave personal information such as email or mailing addresses in the comments! We are using Rafflecopter because it will keep your information private.

Questions? Please email the organizer, Alethea, at frootjoos at gmail dot com.

Good luck!






Inspired by Kathy at I am a Reader

Please check the links at the top of the page for more giveaways!

27 July, 2013

We have an Events page!


Regular readers of this blog know that we here are Read Now Sleep Later love to promote local Southern California book events. We usually have a monthly post where we round up all of the local events that we can find so that you don't miss out on them. While we think those posts are great, we felt that we needed a page dedicated to just events that people could find quickly and easily. So we have created an Events only page. You can find it in the top tap of this website (right next to the Home page tab). Or you can go straight to the link for that page at http://rnslevents.blogspot.com/.

Don't worry - we'll still have a monthly events post on this blog as well as individual event posts from time to time. The Events page will be author events only for those who just want to find out what bookish events are going on near them. We'll have the monthly roundup and we'll also be posting as soon as we hear about them. We are hoping that this page will bring greater awareness to local events and will be easier for readers to find.

The page has it's own RSS feed and you can subscribe to if via email, RSS, and any other way you want. Posts will also have easy to search for tags including author name (RichelleMead), book titles (TheWigInTheWindow), event venues (Vromans) and dates (July2013).

This page is for those who want to be the first to know about all the latest SoCal events. We hope you find it useful. Thanks for reading and we hope to see you at a local event soon!

<3 the Read Now Sleep Later team

25 July, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess - Giveaway (US ends 8/5)

Thanks to Egmont USA, we are giving away a hardcover of A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin!

About A Really Awesome Mess:

A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom. 
Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog--and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook. 
Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.

A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.


About the authors:



Trish Cook is the author of Notes from the Blender, So Lyrical, and Overnight Sensation. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and daughters. You can visit her online at www.trishcook.com.

Brendan Halpin is the author of Notes from the Blender, How Ya Like Me Now, Forever Changes, and Donorboy, an Alex Award Winner. He lives in Boston with his wife, Suzanne, their three children, and their dog. You can visit him online at www.brendanhalpin.com.

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

24 July, 2013

LA Teen Author Reading Night at Los Feliz Library


Please join us for July's Teen Author Reading Night! We're taking the show on the road! This July 25th we're at the LOS FELIZ library! 6:30 PM

Los Feliz Branch is 1874 Hillhurst Ave

with Francesca Lia Block Jessi Kirby Marni Bates, EJ Altbacker, Eve Silver moderated by Cecil Castellucci

Check out the Facebook page for more info.


I can't make this event but everyone else should go. Cecil is a great moderator and these authors are all fantastic. 
 



21 July, 2013

San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Recap - The Books


San Diego Comic-Con was tons of fun, but I'm so happy to be home. Four days of waiting in lines and hiking up and down the convention center with a backpack was quite enough for me, until next year, anyway. It was the first time my husband and I went for more than 1 day (last year was our first time going to SDCC ever) and I think we did a pretty good job of planning it. 

First of all, we stayed at The King's Inn Hotel, which was inexpensive, small but clean, and most importantly only 50 feet from a shuttle stop. I would totally stay there again next year. We brought lots of snacks (cereal bars, meat jerky, and even some pre-made steel cut oats we kept in the fridge for breakfasts) and ate a few convenient, cheap prepared foods from Ralph's grocery so we could splurge a little on delicious meals at Chocolat and Extraordinary Desserts. The snacks really came in handy since many of our panels were back-to-back in the same rooms, which meant we didn't have much time to run out and get hot food for lunch. Actually, I once had a cheeseburger from the Cafe at the back of the Exhibit Hall and though it was really expensive and nothing special (think triple-size McDonald's cheeseburger), it really hit the spot.

But enough about me! On to the books!



First up, Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, Book 2) by Gail Carriger. I just adore Gail and her writing. Thanks to Little-Brown Books for Young Readers and the kind sales reps at Hachette for making it possible for us to surreptitiously snag these advanced copies at the show!




Nancy Farmer's award-winning The House of the Scorpion's long-awaited sequel is coming soon! The Lord of Opium drops September 3rd from Atheneum Books. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for calling attention to this highly-anticipated book in their preview panel.




The Simon & Schuster panel also highlighted The Monstore, written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by James Burks. I just love it--so bright and playful! As the jacket copy says, The Monstore is a one-stop shop for all your monsterly needs in this enormously funny story that’s full of friendly, kooky creatures. I picked it up at James's booth along with his own Bird & Squirrel on the Run, published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic. 




This isn't out yet, but I cannot resist Scott C.'s artwork. It makes me want to grin like a fool and skip gaily down the street. You can find the words beforehand, after all, Bob Dylan's song has been around since 1970, but the illustrations will delight kids, kid-parents, and dog-parents the world over and let their imaginations run free as a... dog. If you're lucky enough to be in SoCal on August 24th, there's a launch party for If Dogs Run Free at Nucleus in Alhambra, CA. This was featured by S&S, too.


Now, a sentiment I heard at least a few times per day was that Comic-Con isn't really about comics any more, which is a shame--it's a medium that combines two things I love, writing and art, into a super-storytelling method with appeals that are all its own. I hope attendees in future years will make more of an effort to recognize that SDCC isn't just a giant celebrity swagfest, but a chance to learn from expert artists and writers. My husband and I mostly focused on attending comic and animation panels instead of the blockbuster movie and TV ones (which also saved us about 2 days worth of waiting in hopelessly long lines) and came home with some great graphic novels.




My husband and I both adore Bone by Jeff Smith, and he always has a booth at SDCC with his friend Terry Moore. We were able to sit in on a couple of Smith's panels and meet him at a signing. I almost bought the Bone cousins plushies too--Fone Bone!--but I know my cats would probably tear them up. Maybe next year when they've mellowed out a little... For young adults and grown-ups, my husband highly recommends RASL, Smith's noir-sci-fi graphic novel, which buzzes with speculative science (some of which is coming true! eek!), folklore, and philosophy. At his spotlight panel, Smith also talked about his new project, Tuki, which will be released first as a free web comic before coming out in print. I'll post more info when it launches. He also edited this year's Best American Comics, so all-in-all it's an exciting year for Jeff Smith and eager fans like me.




At one point, hubby and I split up to cover more ground, and he went to track down David Petersen while I paid a visit to James Burks. We now proudly own a signed copy of Mouse Guard: The Black Axe, a prequel to the graphic novel series. I can't wait to dig in!



Oh my gosh! My husband just wanted to swing by for the Zombie Bacon SDCC Exclusive toy, but I had to pick up the comics available from Mr. Toast too (#1 isn't available any more, but you can read them on the website). I settled for a Vampire Candy Corn doll but I really want ALL THE TOYS. (Please keep that in mind for my next birthday, friends.)




Last but certainly not least, I picked up a copy of Curiosities Junior, a new story from the makers of Curiosities: author Jonathan Ying and illustrators Victoria Ying and Mike Yamada. Check out their Extracurricular Activities online shop--it's full to the brim with adorable books, prints, and gifts! Oh how I wish all self-publishing were this well-designed. Keep an eye out, I'll be posting a giveaway for a signed copy of this very soon!

I had a great experience at SDCC 2013, and I'm looking forward to going again next year!


That's it for me! I'd love to hear what everyone else got at Comic-Con (or even just what you are reading if you couldn't go).

Viral Nation - Character Profile and Giveaway (Intl ends 7/29)

Thanks to Shaunta Grimes for including us in her blog tour for Viral Nation!

Today you can learn more about one of the characters from her guest post (highlighted below). You can also enter to win a copy of her book. This is open internationally since I will send the copy to the winner. Giveaway ends 7/29/2013. Be sure to check out the rest of the book tour at Rockstar Book Tours.


Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes
Publication date: 2 July 2013 by Berkley Trade
ISBN 10/13: 0425265137 | 9780425265130

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound
Read an Excerpt

After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever. 

Meet West Donovan

West Donovan is 19 years old. He lives in the Walled City of Reno with his younger sister, Clover. He's been Clover's main support and caretaker since he was 16 and she was 13, when their father was made an executioner and had to start living away from them. Clover has autism, and West has fears about her ever being able to be truly independent. He has sacrificed his own education and hopes of doing work more fulfilling than being a farmer on a local cantaloupe farm in order to care for his sister. When she's accepted into the Waverly-Stead Academy, he's overjoyed and immediately signs up to train for a position as a guard with the Waverly-Stead Company.

West is such a great character. He's got a romantic streak that causes him to see things through the lens of how they could be. He could have a life with the Headmaster's daughter. He could be a guard. His sister could be trained to do work that will make her happy and allow her to be independent of him. When things start to fall apart, it's his romantic optimism that carries everyone through. He's a natural leader, in part because he has the ability to recognize the strength in others. Because he can see how things could be, he's able to push people to work toward that end.

West is willing to do what's right over what's easy, and I think readers are going to love coming along for the ride as he figures out what that right thing is. 

About the Author

Shaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada. Viral Nation is her debut traditionally-published novel. 

How to Connect with Shaunta:
Twitter: @shauntagrimes




a Rafflecopter giveaway

18 July, 2013

AFK - I'm at Comic-Con 2013


So yeah, as much as I would love to live-blog everything from San Diego Comic-Con, you should know that as soon as I enter the convention center, my phone crosses its arms and goes "Nuh-uh" even when I try to sign it on to the free Teen Wolf Wi-Fi. sigh.

Anyway, assuming I occasionally end up near a doorway to the outside world and some kind of data escapes from my phone and onto the Internet, it'll probably be on Instagram (and Tumblr / Flickr) or Twitter.

I'll technically be back Monday BUT that's the day I get to see John and Carole Barrowman up close and personal! Also, don't forget to sign up for to hang out with a great bunch of YA authors at Barnes & Noble Americana on Saturday the 27th -- Summer of YA! Click here to see the author list.

You can also check out a guest post and giveaway from Shaunta Grimes on Sunday the 21st, so we're not totally in the dark all weekend.

Of course there are also these great giveaways going on -- Kindle Fire HD, anyone?


I'll miss you guys on the blog, but if you recognize me (or my co-blogger, Thuy -- say twee!) out on the #SDCC floor, hit us up for a bookmark :)

Alethea
Be back soon!

15 July, 2013

Nantucket Blue - Review


Publication date: 7 May 2013 by Disney Hyperion
ISBN 10/13: 1423160517 | 9781423160519


Category: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: Beach, Summer, Beach Read, Romance
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Source: Netgalley




From Goodreads:


For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.
Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.
But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality. 
A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue...

Review:

Nantucket Blue is a light beach read many will enjoy. Cricket Thompson has always dreamed of going to Nantucket with her best friend Jules and her family. This year, she finally gets her wish! But when a personal tragedy strikes, Cricket is uninvited and left without a place to stay. On willpower and bravery, Cricket finds a job with room and board, meets an array of new friends and possibly finds love in an unlikely place. But as her relationship with Jules turns sour, Cricket is in danger of losing more than she thought.

Cricket is a loyal, patient and true friend. I like that about her. She wants to be there for Jules, even though Jules is not acting like herself at all. And through the book, while she is in Nantucket and her friendship with Jules is disintegrating, Cricket does try to be the better person and a good friend. That said, I felt like Cricket lacked the passion, the drive, the fire to be a really interesting main character.

Jules could have been the most interesting one. After the tragedy, she lashes out. She becomes someone almost unrecognizable to Cricket, withdrawing into her self and away from her best friend. But this is barely touched upon. I would have liked to see more about Jules and what challenges she was going through. It's lightly touched upon, but the story is more focused on Cricket's side and her loss of her best friend. Not only would this have made Jules a more sympathetic character, more layered and interesting, but I think it would have added a much needed weight to the plot.

The love interest is cute and sweet, but I felt like this character wasn't substantial enough for me to be emotionally invested in. The romance reminds me of summer love, which isn't a bad thing considering this is a beach book.

Overall, I liked Nantucket Blue. It's a fun story to relax with by the beach or the pool.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.



Find out more about the author at leilahowland.tumblr.com and follow @leilahowland on Twitter.

You can find more reviews from Kimberly at The Windy Pages.

11 July, 2013

It's My Birthday!

My favorite profile pic, in which I am wearing a panda suit
and getting a hug from my friend Drew. I was 32.

Woop!

So, never mind how old I am. In my mind, I will always be sixteen going on seventeen, and not just because I love musicals. Or wearing panda suits. Actually, it's awful sweaty in there; I hate wearing panda suits, but I do love hugs, and I love Drew's laugh because you can hear it a mile away. (It's true!)

I'd love to stay home and read all day on my birthday (after making a trip to the bookstore of course) but I do have to work today because I hate leaving my coworkers in the lurch unless I am ill or have no way to be online for 8 hours (like I will be at ComicCon next week!). At least I get to use some vacation time and get out a little early to watch The Lone Ranger with my pal David, before I get my husband to take me out for sushi. (Fingers crossed on the sushi part.)

On my birthday, I spend $1 to buy a lottery ticket. It's the only one I buy all year. I haven't won anything so far, but I do get a free Slurpee at the same time, so it's not bad. And you already know that if I ever win even a few million I am totally going to spend it on books (whether for myself or for others).

So if you're near a 7-11, have a Slurpee and think of me! Sweating away the pounds in a panda suit.


10 July, 2013

Interview with John David Anderson - Sidekicked Blog Tour


Thanks to John David Anderson and Walden Pond Press for including us on the blog tour for Sidekicked! The author weighs in on the graphic novel series Astro City, his most and least favorite sidekicks, great book recommendations, school lunch, heroes, fatherhood, and what inspired his new book.






Podcast Powered By Podbean


Music: "mont" (Gablé) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


Hit the play button on the widget, stream the podcast for free from iTunes*, or visit our Podbean page to hear the interview with the author. While you're listening, scroll down and enter the giveaway to win a copy of the book!

*available 24 hours after original posting






Remember to check back over the next few days as more tour stops publish their posts! 

Monday, 7/8 - Ms. Yingling Reads - A Collection of H.E.R.O. Haiku
Tuesday, 7/9 - There's a Book - An Interview with the Author
Wednesday, 7/10 - Read Now Sleep Later - A Podcast Chat with the Author
Thursday, 7/11 - Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia Top Ten Lamest Superpowers
Friday, 7/12 - Word Spelunking A Comment on Superheroes Today
Saturday, 7/13 - A Reader of Fictions - A Chat with the Cover Artist
Sunday, 7/14 - Library Fanatic - An Interview with Andrew Bean
Monday, 7/15 - Heise Reads and Recommends - Editor Jordan Brown Interviews the Author
Tuesday, 7/16 - Literacy Toolbox - The Writing of Superhero Novel
Wednesday, 7/17 - The Brain Lair Posts - A Review of SIDEKICKED
Thursday, 7/18 - The Brain Lair - A Never-Before-Read Scene
Friday, 7/19 - Maria's Melange - The Top Ten Innocent Bystanders
Saturday, 7/20 - Unleashing Readers - A Review of SIDEKICKED
Sunday, 7/21 - I Run Read Teach - A Review of SIDEKICKED
Monday, 7/22 - Librarian in Cute Shoes - A Review of SIDEKICKED
Tuesday, 7/23 - Book Egg - A Review of SIDEKICKED
Wednesday, 7/24 - This Kid Reviews Books - A Review of SIDEKICKED & an Author Interview
Thursday, 7/25 - Small Review - The Titan
Friday, 7/26 - Wastepaper Prose - A Review of SIDEKICKED
Saturday, 7/27 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia - An Interview with the Author


08 July, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway - July 2013 (US/Intl ends 7/29)




Welcome to our Kindle Fire HD giveaway!
(giveaway widgets activate at midnight)

Sponsored by 
Kid Lit Frenzy
Read Now Sleep Later
Nite Lite Book Reviews
The Windy Pages
The Book Pixie
There's a Book
The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
Teach Mentor Texts
The Reading Date
Nancy Tandon
Read Write Mom

Show our blogger friends some love and at the same time earn entries into the giveaway!

The Kindle Fire HD winner (US only) will also get their choice of

1 July or August Kindle eBook from Kid Lit Frenzy
1 YA Kindle eBook from Read Now Sleep Later
1 MG Kindle eBook from There's a Book

If you are not from the United States, use the second Rafflecopter to enter to win

up to $20 worth of books from BookDepository.com 
and an ARC or signed copy of a book from Kid Lit Frenzy
(A list of possible prizes will be posted after July 14, so check back!)

If you are a blogger, you can earn an extra entry by re-posting the giveaway. Copy the HTML from this page and paste it into a new post. We cannot count your entry unless you leave us the link, so remember to paste the link into the Rafflecopter widget. If you cannot embed the Rafflecopter widget, here is the Share Link for the Kindle Fire HD (US only) and the Share Link for the International $20 bookdepository.com widgets.

Rules:

1. You must be 13 years of age or older to enter, or have a parent/guardian enter for you. All entries are subject to verification.
2. We will notify the winner via email within 48 hours after the contest's end (11:59 pm on July 29).
3. The Kindle Fire HD winner must have a mailing address in the United States. The International ($20 bookdepository.com books) winner can be anywhere except the United States.
4. The winners will have 48 hours to reply with their mailing address or another winner will be chosen.
5. Contest sponsors are not responsible for items lost in the mail.
6. We love comments, but please do not leave personal information such as email or mailing addresses in the comments! We are using Rafflecopter because it will keep your information private.

Questions? Please email the organizer, Alethea, at frootjoos at gmail dot com.

Good luck!






Inspired by Kathy at I am a Reader

Please check the links at the top of the page for more giveaways!

The Glass Puzzle Blog Tour - Guest Post by Christine Brodien-Jones


Today we welcome Christine Brodien-Jones as we kick off the blog tour for her new book, The Glass Puzzle! Make sure you read all the way to the end to see the trailer and enter to win her novels, including The Owl Keeper and The Scorpions of Zahir! (Giveway open to US only - ends 7/15)

Be sure to visit the other stops on Christine Brodien-Jones’s The Glass Puzzle blog tour in the coming days.

Mon, July 8: Read Now, Sleep Later - http://www.readnowsleeplater.com/
Tues, July 9: Sharpread - http://sharpread.wordpress.com/
Wed, July 10: Once Upon a Story - http://www.novalibrarymom.com/
Thurs, July 11: The Book Monsters - http://www.thebookmonsters.com/
Fri, July 12: I Read Banned Books - http://www.jenbigheart.com/
Mon, Jul 15: Children's Book Review - http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/
Tues, July 16: The Book Smugglers - http://thebooksmugglers.com/
Wed, July 17: Cracking the Cover - http://www.crackingthecover.com
Thurs, July 18: Mother Daughter Book Club - http://motherdaughterbookclub.com/
Fri, July 19: Hobbitsies - http://hobbitsies.net/




Fantasy and the Power of Place
by Christine Brodien-Jones

When I first open a book I always want to know right away where I am. It’s the same when I’m writing a novel: place has power. Place is crucial to the story because it grounds the characters and conveys the mood of the book. With the exception of Max and Rose in The Owl Keeper, all my characters start out in the “real world.” Then something unexpected happens—a puzzle acts as a portal to a drowned island or an ancient stone conjures up an extinct oryx—and they slip into a fantastical world they never dreamed existed.

Actual places and real-life experiences have inspired my middle-grade fantasy novels; I like to ground my world in as much reality as possible while weaving magical elements into the narrative, balancing the ordinary with the extraordinary, the supernatural with the natural. Of course, the illusory world I create has to be believable: I can’t just make things up without considering rules and consequences. Readers are willing to suspend belief and accept that this world follows these new fantasy rules—as long as the rules are consistent. 

While doing research for The Glass Puzzle and The Scorpions of Zahir, I made all kinds of surprising discoveries. I set these two books in places where I’d spent time in the past.

I’ve visited the Welsh seaside town of Tenby three or four times. With its medieval history and maritime roots, Tenby turned out to be the perfect setting for the The Glass Puzzle. Pirates, many of them Welsh, plundered the coast in the eighteenth century and reputedly used the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the town for smuggling—the same tunnels where Zoé and her cousin Ian fear the monsters are hiding. 

Wales is myth-haunted and steeped in folk and fairy lore; some contend that ancient wild magic still holds sway. For The Glass Puzzle I read fairy tales and myths and studied old maps. Borrowing from the country’s rich mythology, I used the Welsh dragon in my story, and also Arianrhod, a goddess from the ancient tales of The Mabinogion. I collected photographs, articles, illustrations and long lists of names. The website for the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery was a treasure-trove of information. I also read about nearby Caldey Island, with its Viking past and dark legends and ties to infamous pirates; I watched an interview with the monks who live there. My husband Peter, who grew up in Wales, helped me get the Welsh phrases and idioms right.

Sometimes I’d find that fact and fiction overlapped. For instance, after I created The Retreat for the Rescued, the Lost and the Shipwrecked, located on the imaginary island of Wythernsea, I discovered that there actually is a Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society in Britain! Like my retreat, the society helps former merchant seamen, fishermen and their widows and dependents who are in need. 

The impetus for The Scorpions of Zahir goes back to a journey Peter and I made with our two sons through Morocco, renting a car in Marrakech and driving over the High Atlas, the highest mountain range in Northern Africa. We stopped at a cafe in the Tizi n' Tiki Pass and met Mohammed, a Moroccan boy who invited us to his house in a dusty town called Agdz, where we dined with his family. The next day we drove to the edge of the Sahara, to a somewhat stark oasis where we bartered for camels and headed into the desert, sleeping outside under the stars. Zagora in The Scorpions of Zahir, along with her father and brother Duncan, makes a similar journey. Like us, they encounter a Moroccan boy along the way and dine with a Moroccan family and camp out in the desert.

This book required a ton of research: I gathered details on archaeology; Arab customs, language and food; Moroccan architecture (my wonderful editors at Random House sent me a book on Moroccan courtyards and gardens!). I needed to know about camels, deserts, caves, sinkholes, jackals, sandstorms and... scorpions. I read many books, including The Road to Ubar by Nicholas Clapp, which describes the search for the fabled Arabian city of Ubar, and Paul Bowles’ Under the Sheltering Sky, the story of three American travelers adrift in North Africa after World War II. J. M. G. Le Clézio’s novel Desert creates a hypnotic sense of place: in it he relates the last days of the Tuareg, driven from their ancestral lands in North Africa. All three books explore the seemingly infinite emptiness of the desert and convey its impassive cruelty. I started thinking about my own experience in the desert and began wondering whether the desert changes those who go there—a concept that became intrinsic to The Scorpions of Zahir.

As I write this I’m still savoring my last trip, a five-week walk across northern Spain last October with Peter. Perusing through my photos, I think about my next fantasy novel. Dripping Galician forests, crates of red peppers left in the sun, abandoned towns, rolling fields of wheat, gargoyles. Hmm. I flick through the pages of a small notebook, reliving it all: the medieval path through ancient villages; hooded figures stepping out of the mist; a goat herder waving her staff and cursing us. And, oh yeah, what about the time I was attacked by fire ants?  

You never know what might end up in a book...




About the author

CHRISTINE BRODIEN-JONES is the author of three middle-grade fantasy adventure novels, The Glass Puzzle (Delacorte, 2013), The Scorpions of Zahir (Delacorte, 2012) and The Owl Keeper (Delacorte, 2010).

Booklist magazine praised her writing, saying “Brodien-Jones mixes fantasy and adventure in a way that would make Indiana Jones feel right at home.” Ms. Brodien-Jones studied writing at Emerson College in Boston and has worked as a reporter, an editor, and a teacher. She divides her time between Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Deer Isle, Maine. 

Learn more about her life and work and download additional free discussion guides for her novels at her website: www.cbrodien-jones.com







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05 July, 2013

July 2013 Events


Sorry this post is a bit late, everyone. I've been on vacation for the last week and haven't had a chance to get the info for this post together. There are some really fun events happening in July. The only one I have committed to right now is Comic Con. Alethea and I are both going so if you happen to see us, please say hi. We should have some bookmarks to hand out. Or if you want to meet up, just tweet us and we'll see what we can do. On to the events!

02 July, 2013

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop (US ends 7/9)


Welcome to the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop


Today we are giving away Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo (signed!)

Darkness never dies. 
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. 
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Enter to win with the Rafflecopter below, and remember to stop by the other 150+ blogs for more chances to win!

Check out the top of the page for more giveaways on this blog, too. 

Good luck... 


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01 July, 2013

Summer of YA - Save the Date and Giveaway (Local, ends 7/10)



Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Barnes & Noble at The Americana

210 Americana Way 

Glendale, CA 91210

From Paranormal Romance to Action-Adventure join us for a "speed dating" styled event where you can sit down and meet 11 up-and-coming YA authors. 


Jessica Brody (Unremembered)
Stacey Jay (Of Beast and Beauty)
Kathy McCullough (Who Needs Magic?)
Lissa Price (Starters)
Elizabeth Ross (Belle Epoque)
Sarah Skilton (Bruised)
Andrew Smith (Winger)
Ann Stampler (Where It Began)
Carol Tanzman (Circle of Silence
Allen Zadoff (Boy Nobody)

Don't miss this chance to chat with these talented individuals and have them sign your books! All of the authors' books will be available for purchase at Barnes & Noble, Glendale.

The event is ticketed but tickets are free! Click here to sign up

Purchases from the weekend of the event benefit Book by Book; event attendees can recommend which school or library will receive a Barnes & Noble gift card from the fundraiser -- the benificiary will be chosen randomly from all the school/library names submitted! The winning attendee will also win a gift card.

You can also enter to win a gift card right now -- just for helping us promote the event locally! The only catch is you have to be able to come to the Glendale, CA store in person to pick up the prize. 



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Questions? Ask them here and we'll do our best to answer them!

Despicable Me 2 - Giveaway (US ends 7/8)



Despicable Me 2 in theatres July 3!




We have a very “Despicable” prize pack filled with books & movie merchandise to share with our readers!



One (1) winner receives a “Despicable Prize Pack”:

· 3 books: Meet the Minions, Junior Novel, The Anti-Villain League Handbook

· Minion key chain, journal, magnets, squishy minion & tote bag


About the film
Get ready for more Minion madness in Despicable Me 2. Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of (former?) super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions...and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.

About the books
Meet The Minions, Ages 4-8. The Minions have one job, and one job only--they work for Gru! Join Dave, Kevin, Tom, Stuart, Jerry and the rest of the gang as they do everything from stealing the moon to testing jelly recipes!

Despicable Me 2: The Junior Novel, Ages 8 and up. Gru used to be one of the most villainous villains in the world. He and his army of Minions even stole the moon! But when he adopted Margo, Edith, and Agnes, Gru became a dad. Instead of stealing landmarks, he makes pancakes, blows up unicorn balloons, and dresses like a fairy princess! Little does this dad know, though, he's about to make another career change--as a spy for the Anti-Villain League...

Despicable Me 2: The Anti-Villain League Handbook, Ages 8 and up. Do you have what it takes to join the Anti-Villain League? Find out in this hilarious companion book to the animated film Despicable Me 2, which includes never-before-published background on the preeminent anti-villain organization, top secret spying strategies, and a detailed look at the world's most high-tech arsenal.