North of Nowhere (MMGM)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hi everyone! Sorry about not posting last week--I was super busy with a Memorial Day barbecue and also 2--yes, 2--birthday parties, so I wasn't able to actually finish the book I was planning to review. Speaking of which, did everyone have a nice Memorial Day?

This week I'm featuring another one of Liz Kessler's books, North of Nowhere. (I loved the cover and I think you'll agree...)

  • Age Recommended: 9 - 12 years
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (August 6, 2013)

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?

Here are: 

5 reasons why you should read NORTH OF NOWHERE: 

  • The plot. (*in singsong*) Time travel! I can't tell you much about the time travel because it would be giving away too much, but this book has the same main idea as A YEAR WITHOUT AUTUMN, but instead of just getting mislead by her best friend, the main character's grandfather goes missing. The ending almost made me faint. At that point, everything was revealed. And I bet you--no one saw it coming. 
  • The actions. There's no stopping Liz Kessler! This story is up and down. It's crazy one second, peaceful another, and then back to crazy! There's stuff going on the whole story, making sure that you're NEVER, EVER bored. 
  • The first few chapters. Um, YES! The second you open the book, the conflict is already there. The actions are already there. The main idea is already there. You can easily tell that Liz Kessler is all business. There's no time for intro's! And besides, you don't need an intro. The characters make sure that you know them right from the beginning. This is my favorite reason because the book is in a format that makes it very, very easy to understand. 
  • The friendship and family. This easily makes the book lovable because at the beginning, Mia is all "ugh" at the idea of spending her spring break at her GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE, but at the end of the book she learns that you have to value and appreciate everyone while they're still here. (It's so heart-warming!!!)
  • Because Amazon rated it 5 STARS. They did. They really did. Not many books get 5 stars, especially not on Amazon. A lot of my favorite books only got 3-4 stars so if this one got 5 stars... Don't believe me? Go see for yourself. Click here. (Disclaimer: The rating was 5 stars while I was writing the review, so if it goes down when you read this, then ignore this reason.)
My rating: Honestly? I give this book a 4.9 just because there will never be a perfect book. And if there were, NORTH OF NOWHERE would be it. (In general though, this book would be 5 stars.)

Opening lines from NORTH OF NOWHERE: 

"I need to write it all down. That's the only way I'll believe it's true. 

Spring break, eight grade. All those incredible, impossible things. Did they really happen? I've tried a million times to tell myself that they couldn't have. That none of it is possible. And I'm right; none of it is possible. 

But that doesn't change the fact that it is true. Everything did happen, exactly as I'm going to tell it now." 

About the author: Liz Kessler is the author of best-selling Emily Windsnap series, the Philippa Fisher series, the novel A Year Without Autumn, and the first book in a series of early readers about Poppy the Pirate Dog. About North of Nowhere, she says, "Many years ago, I visited a town that had been partially destroyed by a storm, and it sowed the seed of a story in my mind. When I came to write this book, years later, I had visited a different town--this one had been completely destroyed by a storm about a hundred years ago--and that was the inspiration for Porthaven. The magical element comes from my fascination with ideas about slipping through time--the past, present, and future affecting one another in circular ways and the results that could come about in the present day is we had the chance to go back and change the past." 

Thanks so much for joining me for MMGM today! I hope everyone has a fantastic week! 

To visit Liz Kessler's website or to get more information about her books, click HERE

To go back to Shannon Messenger's website and check out all the other MMGM's click HERE

***Sorry if there are any errors. Bear with me!***

~Cindy :-)

#Quick Post

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Quick post. 

This might just become a regular thing, since I don't actually have time to do this thing called a "post". 

First things first. I got an Instagram! Yes. I did. I really, really did. You can find me by searching: cindyissweeterthanfiction or by checking out the gadget thing on the sidebar. Just click on on it an you'll get to my homepage. 

The only followers I have are my friends, so make a little girl happy and follow her. I know it's weird to refer to yourself in the third person, but bear with me. 

Next thing. Music. I won't have a lot of time to explain this to you, but here:

It's "Stitches", by Shawn Mendes. My favorite song for now. :-) Hope you like it! 

Time to end this quick post. TTYL


*Sorry if there are any grammar-y errors. :-)

Every Soul A Star (MMGM)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Welcome to MMGM, people! I'm really, really happy right now so let me just say this: Oh. My. God. Legit. EVERY SOUL A STAR is such a good book. I can't even. Like, after reading it, I was so attached to the characters. There is no possible way that those characters aren't real, right? You see what I mean? The story is so detailed and you can totally see what is happening. I can't even. Like dude, check out the cover: 

  • Age Level: 8 - 12 years
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)

Dude, it's super simple, but. So. Breath taking. (I feel like a surfer. Duuuuude...) The cool thing about this book is that it switches point of view every chapter, so you can see the story from every person's point of view. You can also see everyone's story before they meet each other. This book is definitely ranking up there with the best. Make room for the top, people, because this one's taking over. 

"Ally has lived at the Moon Shadow campground for as long as she can remember. Her parents, dedicated star watchers, bought the campground when they discovered that it would be ground zero for an upcoming total solar eclipse. Over the years, they created a stargazer-friendly atmosphere and now are expecting over a thousand people to spend time at their campsites. Ally can hardly wait to welcome the crowds and observe this amazing act of nature.

Bree is into make-up, nail polish, and clothes. She keeps a scrapbook of clothes and pictures of models and studies it faithfully, since her life's dream is to become a runway model. She is incredibly popular at school and can't understand her younger sister, the science geek. Bree's life comes crashing down around her when her scientist parents announce that the family is moving to the Moon Shadow campground. They will be living there for at least the next several years, since the family currently running the place is relocating to the city. How can they be serious? Bree can't imagine life without the mall, tons of friends, and TV.

Jack is pretty much an outcast at school. He's overweight and not at all interested in sports. He's smart enough, but he'd rather listen to his music than pay attention in class. When he is offered another option instead of summer school to make up his failing grade in science, he finds himself boarding a tour bus filled with science nerds all headed to the country to witness some crazy eclipse."

Not sure about the book yet? Here are: 

5 Reasons Why You Should  Read EVERY SOUL A STAR: 
  • The characters.  Every character had flaws, some were obvious, and some were carefully hidden. That is, until the end where everything was revealed and I was like, "WHAT? How did I not realized that?" 
  • The point of view. I think YES. There were three ways the story was portrayed. It was either from Ally, Bree, or Jack. It was cool to see the story from a different person's point of view because you could see their thoughts and say, "Oooh, now I understand why he/she did that." It's cooler this way than having one person's point of view for the entire story because let's be real. That'd be boring. 
  • The things you learn. Science geeks beware. (I'm one too, so this book was perfect for me.) This book is all about solar eclipses and watching as it happens. If you want to see a solar eclipse, but have never gotten your chance to, READ THIS BOOK. I'm serious.
  • The details. There are so many details in this story. And when I say that there are many details, I don't mean run on details that make you want to go to sleep! I mean details that support the story and make it imaginable. These details are the good kind, so no need for sleeping! 
  • The plot. This is the BEST reason why you should read this book. Yes. The plot. The beginning was like how everything is fine and dandy, people at home, people getting ready to go, and so on. It's not until the middle and end that there's action, but it's good that nothing SO intense is happening yet because getting to know the characters is super important. I'll admit, I was really confused at first because the story kept changing point of view, but like I said before, it's good that the author gave us time to get to know the character's before it gets too complicated for us to understand. It's kind of like easing us into the story. (And then trapping us and never letting us out. :-))
My Rating: 4.5/5 only because I wish there were more chapters in Jack's point of view. By the end of the book, I felt like I could be best friends with Bree and Ally, but I wanted to get to know Jack a little more. Another reason is because I wish the story continues. I wish it was longer. I wish there were more to learn about the group. I wish. 

Still not sure? (Man, are you hard to persuade! But don't worry. By the end of this post, I'll have you running to the bookstore.)

Here are some quotes from EVERY SOUL A STAR: 

"And as streams of light fan out behind the darkened sun like the wings of a butterfly, I realize that I never saw real beauty until now."

“I am not plain, or average or - God forbid - vanilla. I am peanut butter rocky road with multicolored sprinkles, hot fudge and a cherry on top.” 

“The trick is that as long as you know who you are and what makes you happy, it doesn't matter how others see you.” 

So quickly before I end this awesome review, here's a bio of EVERY SOUL A STAR's author. WENDY MASS!!!

Wendy Mass is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen novels for young people (which have been translated into 14 languages and nominated for 74 state book awards), including A Mango-Shaped Space (which was awarded the Schneider Family Book Award by the American Library Association), Leap Day, the Twice Upon a Time fairy tale series, Every Soul a Star11 Birthdays, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and FinallyThe Candymakers , and 13 Gifts. Her latest books are The Last PresentPi in the Sky, and a new early reader series called Space Taxi. Wendy wrote the storyline for an episode of the television show Monk, entitled “Mr. Monk Goes to the Theatre,” which aired during the show’s second season. She tells people her hobbies are hiking and photography, but really they’re collecting candy bar wrappers and searching for buried treasure with her metal detector. She lives with her family in New Jersey.

Thanks so much for joining me today for MMGM! Have a nice week!  


To go back to Shannon Messenger's website, click HERE
To visit the author's (Wendy Mass) website, click HERE


Indigo Blue (MMGM)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Welcome to MMGM! Today, I'll be featuring a book called "Indigo Blue", by Cathy Cassidy. I thought that this book was perfect for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday because, well, Cathy Cassidy has created these characters who are FAR from perfect--in the best way possible. It makes things more...real. In many stories, things are so unrealistic. The plot of an unrealistic story goes a little like this: Happy. Happy. Sad. Issue solved. Yay. The end. Okay, I have to admit...BOOOOORING. Unlike those stories, Cathy Cassidy has created the perfect blend of a suffering family, with a single mom, and her daughter's struggle to keep the family together. A REAL plot looks like this: 

     "Indigo's mom has had it with her boyfriend, and has moved her girls out of their cozy home and into the worst place ever. Indie is not about to show anyone how it really feels, especially not her so-called best friend, Jo. But the truth is, the neighborhood's bad, the heat's useless, and there's little to eat. It's hard for Indie to ignore such a drastic change, but with a little sister who's too small to understand, and a mom who's feeling desperate, Indie's the one who's got to take charge." 

*Summary from flap

What I Liked About The Book: Like I said before, the book was REALISTIC. It wasn't fake, which is one of my pet peeves. Another thing that I like about the book was that it was rather short and I was able to read it in one sitting--but if I weren't able to read it all at once...then things would've gotten a little crazy. That's about it. The book was fully awesome, if you ask me. 

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars, only because of strong language and a little violence. Every-thing else was pretty good. 

About Cathy Cassidy: I was born in 1962. (It's scarily ancient...) I went to Art College in Liverpool, then got a job as fiction editor on the fab and legendary Jackie magazine. Later, I married my boyfriend Liam, went back to college and trained to be an art teacher. I taught in a Coventry secondary school for a few years, which I loved, then moved to Scotland with Liam to start a family. For 12 years I was the agony aunt for teen mag Shout, as well as teaching art in several local primary schools, but these days the books take up pretty much all of my time and attention.

My kids are almost grown up now, and after many years living in the beautiful Galloway hills in Scotland, we now live on Merseyside in a cool Victorian house that looks out over a park. When I look out of my writing room window I can see swans and geese on the lake... awww!

I've been veggie for over 30 years, and was vegan for 8 of them - a chocolate-eating vegan, like Storm! Recently I've gone vegan again... yikes! I love old clothes, old toys, cars, books. We have two dogs called Kelpie & Finn and a cat called Pepper.

I love my family, I love my home and I love my work. Of all my jobs, writing has to be the best - it's the perfect excuse to daydream, after all! 

Wait, Hold On: This is a real emergency. Did anyone notice my new look?!

My computer dudes--who just happen to be my uncles. :-)

Linky Stuff: If you'd like to go to Cathy Cassidy's website, click HERE. If you'd like to go back to Shannon Messenger's website or check the rest of the MMGM's click HERE

Have a nice week, everyone!


Breaking the Ice (featuring an interview with Gail Nall!) MMGM

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Gosh. It feels like the week has gone by SOO quickly. I totally forgot about doing a book review (*mental face palm*)! Yes, for reals. Um, a little while ago, I was able to do an interview with a middle grade author, GAIL NALL! (Yes, the real one!!!) In case you don't know her--well, first you should be ashamed of yourself (Go look her up online! GO!)--she is the amazing person behind the amazing book called "Breaking the Ice". 

As a special treat today, everyone gets to meet her!

Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. She grew up figure skating, and her very first job was serving nachos and renting out skates at the local rink. 

Since then, Gail majored in history at Bellarmine University in Louisville, earned a masters degree in US History at the University of Louisville, and graduated from the Brandeis School of Law at UofL. Gail always wrote stories growing up, but didn't rediscover her love of writing until law school, when she could often be found typing away on her first novel in the law library instead of working on her Constitutional Law outline. After graduating from law school, Gail worked as a personal injury attorney and a business law attorney. She currently writes grants for a local homeless shelter. When she's not writing or at work, she's taking care of her young daughter, reading, planning travels to amazing places, camping, watching too much TV, skating, and avoiding cleaning her house.

Gail is the author of the middle grade novel, BREAKING THE ICE (Aladdin/S&S, 2015) and the co-author of the YOU'RE INVITED books with Jen Malone (Aladdin/S&S, May 19, 2015 and February 2, 2016). Gail's young adult debut, EXIT STAGE LEFT, will be published by EpicReads Impulse/HarperCollins in Summer 2015. Another middle grade novel, OUT OF TUNE, will follow in Fall 2016.

She is a blog contributor at Kidliterati and the Fearless Fifteeners. Gail is a PAL member of SCBWI. She is represented by Julia A. Weber of J.A. Weber Literaturagentur.

*Bio from her website

I bet a lot of you are dying to know more about her. Let's start the interview!

1. How did you come up with the plot for "Breaking the Ice"? Was it based on your experiences? 

I grew up in skating, so I knew I wanted to write a skating book. The plot for Breaking the Ice came while I was watching Nationals one year. One girl skated a really tough program, and received horrible scores -- on national TV. She and her coach pasted on smiles and pretended everything was okay, because that's what you do. So I wondered what would happen if a skater really said how she felt in that moment, and then what would happen as a result.

2. I heard that you used to work at an ice skating rink. Why an author? 

I did work in a rink! I was there all the time, so I think they figured they might as well give me a job. :) That was my first job -- I was 14. I wrote stories all the time when I was younger, and even a little during high school. But it was years later, while I was in law school, that I decided to write a book. It ended up being the most fun thing I'd done in a long time!

3. Are there any other authors that inspire you as you write? If so, who are they?

I love (love, love, love) Meg Cabot's books, especially with how rich her main character's voice always is. Also, my good friend Jen Malone writes some seriously funny books. She inspires me to keep the humor! (Jen and I wrote a book together that will be in bookstores next month!) My all-time favorite books are the Little House series from Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and the All of a Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor.

4. What was your favorite subject in school? 

History! I loved history. It almost read like fantasy to me -- except it really happened. I loved to imagine myself living in a different time, wearing fancy clothes and seeing exciting things happen. And, of course, I always loved English. :)

5. Where do you usually write? 

On my couch. I wish I could say I had a fun writing office, but even if I did, I'd probably end up on the couch. It's really comfy.

6. Is there going to be a series to "Breaking the Ice"? Or is it just a stand-alone book?

Right now, it's a stand-alone. But who knows what could happen . . . fingers crossed, as Kaitlin would say. ;) In the meantime, I do have a series that starts next month called You're Invited, that I co-wrote with Jen Malone. That one is about four very different girls who are best friends that start a party-planning business.

7. For you, what is the most difficult thing about writing? Why?

For me, the hardest part is revision. I love to write a story, but struggle with making big changes to it, even when I know the changes will make the story better. 

Are you guys ready? Book review time!

Figure skating is Kaitlin’s passion, but she lands on thin ice after a meltdown in this funny, touching story. Because when you fall down, you have to pick yourself up—even if it’s in front of judges and a crowd.

Kaitlin has always dreamed of being a champion figure skater, and she’s given up a lot to pursue her passion. But after she has a totally uncharacteristic tantrum at a major competition, she’s dropped by her coach and her prestigious skating club.

When no other club will have her, she’s forced to join the ridiculed and run-down Fallton Club, jokingly referred to as the “Fall Down Club.” At first Kaitlin thinks this is a complete disaster, but after meeting some of the other skaters—including a boy who happens to have the most perfect hair she’s ever seen—she realizes it might not actually be so bad.

Yet learning a whole new program right before regionals is a huge challenge, and when she realizes that all the other area skaters target Fallton for pranks, she begins to wonder if joining the Fall Down Club has any upsides.

What I Liked About The Book: A lot of books have a cheesy plot. "Breaking the Ice" didn't. While I was reading this story, some scenes made me think: WHY WOULD SHE DO THAT? WAS SHE ABDUCTED BY ALIENS? IS SHE OKAY? I think you get the point. Basically what I'm saying is that--even at the beginning of the book--he character has HUGE ups and downs and her choices aren't always the best ones. But you can definitely see that she's trying to fix her mistakes and get everything going smoothly. Now THAT'S a good plot. 

What I Didn't Like About The Book: Let me be honest. There was a character in there that I just didn't like. Even from the beginning. I didn't understand why he had to be in the plot. He did some pretty awful things to the main character and argh, I just hated him. But when I finished the book, I understood why Gail put him in the story. It was just part of the drama that made the book something that you'd want to read over and over again. The story was definitely dramatic, but not overly-dramatic. Although I still don't like that character, I think he played a pretty important role in the story. :-)

Before ending today's MMGM I just wanted to let you guys know some awesome things that are happening today. 

-Today is May 4, 2015. May the fourth be with you. (Get it? If you don't, no worries. It's just some "Star Wars" humor. Carry on.)

-HUGE shout-out to Vanessa DoVale! Happy birthday! You official are a teenager! Enjoy your first day being 13! Man, being 11 makes me feel so young. :-( I know I just met you this September, but it feels like such a long time. Thanks so much for staying by my side and being my bestie. I'll SO miss you when we go off on our different ways. (*sniffles*)

Thanks so much for all of your love and support! Comment and follow me! 

If you'd like to go back to Shannon Messenger's website or check out the other MMGM links, click HERE.

If you'd like to check out the awesome Gail Nall's website, click HERE

If you missed last week's MMGM, click HERE

Have a nice week!!!