Interview with Author Lisa Orchard about her book series, The Super Spies!

23 Jul

Howdy, Readers! Have I got a treat for you guys! Not only do I get to tell you about a great, or should I say, SUPER series, I also get to enlighten you with a thrilling interview with the author!

What series is this, you ask? What author is this, you also ask? Why, it’s none other than the Super Spies series, and its author, Lisa Orchard!

lisaor

Ms. Orchard writes wonderful mysteries for middle grade readers.

Book 1
Book 1
HSbomb
Book 2

 

Book 3
Book 3

The Super Spies are about a group of girls (Sarah, her sister Lacy, her friend Jackie), but they do sometimes team up with Scott – the police chief’s son. They all work together to solve mysteries that are happening in their small town. They have plenty of adventures, and always get more than they bargained for. They have had a total of 3 adventures so far (see my review of book 1 HERE) and I have reviews of books 2 and 3 posted on Amazon and GoodReads. Check out Ms. Orchard’s Amazon author page HERE and her GoodReads author page HERE.

These books are amazing and full of adventures, and mysteries that kept me guessing “who did it?”!

Now, onto the interview! :)

bloglogoWhen did you get into writing thrilling mysteries? Is that your genre of choice?

piedpiperI became interested in mysteries at a very young age. I started writing my own in fifth grade, but didn’t pursue publication until I stayed home with my kids.

bloglogo Your stories remind me of a modern-day Nancy Drew. What were some of your favorite mysteries to read while you were growing up? Why did you like them?

piedpiperIt’s funny you should mention this because I devoured Nancy Drew books along with the Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden when I was younger. These books stand out as my favorite when I was growing up and I liked them because they had strong female characters in them. I’ve always liked a strong female who’s a bit of a rebel. ;)

bloglogoI like a good Nancy Drew mystery too. :) How did you get the idea for Scoop Davis, the veteran, retired investigative reporter (he’s possibly one of my favorite characters) for your Super Spies series?

piedpiperHe’s one of my favorite characters too. I felt the girls needed an ally who could travel through the adult world and gather information or act as a chauffeur and chaperon. I liken him to a kindly uncle who’s a kid at heart himself.

bloglogoScoop is one of my favorites too. The characters and plots are very believable in your books. How do you research your books? Do you look at real-life crimes or police work?

piedpiperYes, I do. I do quite a bit of research on the internet, but nothing compares to running my ideas by a detective with the State Police. When I get to a scene that needs some input, I give her a call and she tells me if my scene is accurate or not. If it is, I’m good to go. If it isn’t she tells me the info I need to make it accurate. She’s a great source and I appreciate all the help she has given me on the Super Spies series.

bloglogoThe research sounds cool! Your 3rd Super Spies book (The Pied Piper) ended very well and thoroughly. Do you plan on writing a 4th book? I really liked the series and think it ended well, but I just don’t want to leave the characters!

piedpiperYes. I’m planning on a fourth book and I have a couple of ideas that I’m mulling over. I’ve been so busy with the coming of age novel that I just finished that I haven’t had time to write it out yet. J Once, I decide on the idea, I’ll start writing it.

bloglogoAwesome! Any other projects you would like to share with us?

piedpiperYes. I just completed a coming of age novel that my publisher is dividing into three separate books. I’m really excited about this series. It was a lot of fun to write and I’m currently working on the next one in the Starlight Chronicles (that’s the name of the series).

 

Thank you Ms. Orchard!

To learn more about Ms. Orchard and her books, visit her website HERE!

Follow Ms. Orchard on Twitter HERE

Like her on Facebook HERE

Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell by Jen Barton

22 Jul

fiona thornFiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell

By Jen Barton

201 pages – ages 9+

Published by Flickerfawn on September 3, 2012

It wasn’t Jaydin the fairy prince’s fault. He was framed. Fiona Thorn, his best friend, knew that. She was going to break him out – ER rather BLOW him out of jail. After all, she IS an explosive worker. Taught by the Demolitions master McClane, Fiona knows just about everything about explosives. She’ll use that knowledge to bust Jaydin out. Riding her trusty Bright Eye horse (Bright Eyes are extremely smart animals, as in that they can talk to humans), Manzanita Rose (or Manzy, for short), Fiona knows that nothing can stop her. What she didn’t expect was 3 princesses to get in her way. 3 spoiled princesses, at that. Soon Fiona finds herself (and the royal pains) on the run from the King because of a misread letter, which made it seem like Fiona kidnapped the princesses. It doesn’t help that there is a murder plot against the king, his brother, and Jaydin. What will Fiona do?

This was a fun book. I think that Ms. Barton did a great job of creating this fantasy world. I really felt like I was there. I loved the sense of adventure and the fact that Fiona is a demolition expert. The magic in it was pretty cool. I loved the “gifts” that the 4 girls got. Fiona is a great female heroine for this book. I loved that she always kept her cool (despite her being hotheaded) and knew what to do. Manzy is a great supporting character. The book is a good reading level for middle grade readers or young advanced readers. At 201 pages, the book was a quick read for me but the story felt very complete. I would really like to read another book by Ms. Barton.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

The Dark Eagles Book 2: Wells In Desolation by David R. Smith

21 Jul

wellsThe Dark Eagles Book 2: Wells In Desolation

By David R. Smith

320 pages – ages 12+

Published by Vrigham Distribution on February 13, 2014

Kief and his friends are back in an all new adventure. After breaking Flinch, a friend, out of jail, Kief and Tarc, along with Flinch flee their country, which was invaded by soldiers from Gar. They are going to Gar to find Kief’s father, who had been held captive there for a long time. When mysterious “Stone Hunters” start chasing Kief, going after the mysterious stone that his grandfather gave to him, the friends get reckless and get a job on a ship that will take them to Gar. Little do they know that they will soon become prisoners for no good reason. Making a friend with a fellow prisoner, they escape. The man joins them and they head towards the Wells In Desolation – where Kief’s father is being held. But will they make it there, and back, ALIVE?

This was an action-packed book, much like the first book (to read my review of it, click HERE)! I love the thrills. Mr. Smith has got the fantasy world down! I love the descriptions and the humor in the dialogue. At first I was confused at the beginning of the book because it didn’t recap the first book (and I read the first book a while ago), but I soon got past it and just enjoyed the story. Kief is a great main character. He acts like you would expect him to act. At first I wasn’t sure about his age, but apparently, because Fundautum is a different planet, they age differently. That really helped, it’s just that it explained the aging differently at the end of the book – I wish it was sooner. I DO think that it was cool and nice of the author to have information about Fundautum at the beginning and end of the book – nice touch. The story is good and the plot is solid. I really like how the characters get along with each other. The book is a tad violent but not graphically. It is a great read for middle graders.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Check out Mr. Smith’s website HERE!

 

 

MINION by John David Anderson – BLOG TOUR!!!

14 Jul

minion1

 

Have I got a treat for you! Not only do I have a review of a great superhero book, but I also have videos of the author, John David Anderson, reading aloud from it!

 

minion2MINION

By John David Anderson

288 pages – ages 9+

Published by Walden Pond Press on June 24, 2014

My Summary – New Liberty. The city that nobody’s ever heard of. The town with two rival crime bosses (Tony Romano and Mickey “Six Fingers” Maloney). The town with no Super. The town that Michael Marion Magdalene Morn lives in, with his adoptive father, Professor Benjamin Edson. They make electronic boxes with unique powers, and sell them to the highest buyer. They do small crimes, only stealing what they need. It may help that Michael has a hypnotizing “gift”. Surprisingly, the town’s crime rate isn’t out of hand (a few banks robbed, a couple of houses broken into, etc.). That is, until a supervillain calling himself The Dictator shows up, with henchmen in bullet-proof outfits and silver masks. And, as most things happen, when a supervillain comes, a superhero soon follows. The Comet. A bullet-proof, super-strength, flying superhero who leaves a blue streak in the air when he blasts off. The Comet may ruin everything that Michael and his dad have built (literally and figuratively). And it doesn’t help that The Dictator has taken an interest in the Edson family…

THIS IS AN AWESOME STORY!!! Mr. Anderson is an awesome author of superhero stories! At first, reading the summary for Minion, and seeing that it is a companion to Mr. Anderson’s book, Sidekicked, I thought the superhero would be The Sensationalist (Sidekicked’s Main Character), but I was pleasantly surprised to see a new superhero. Michael Morn is a great character. I like how this book isn’t about good or evil. It’s about doing what you believe in. It’s about being true to yourself. Michael and his dad aren’t bad, but they aren’t completely good either. They’re… neutral-ish. Mr. Anderson handles these subjects very well. New Liberty is actually nice. The crime bosses aren’t tyrants to the people – in fact, I think that most people don’t really know that they exist (except from what they read in newspapers). They’re just rivals to each other. This is an extremely well-written story, especially for us Middle Graders. I really like the world Mr. Anderson has created. The book is pretty much everything I want in a story. I can’t wait until his next book comes out!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Now, onto the fun stuff!

I asked Mr. Anderson if he’d read an excerpt from Minon for my wonderful blog readers as part of the blog tour! He agreed to do it! :) Plus he sent a hysterical version of it in which he has a “chipmunk voice.” :)

Check them out!

Normal Voice:

Chipmunk voice. (Mr. Anderson wanted me to share this too, for “people with not a lot of time on their hands” ;) )

Who is this John David Anderson?!?

John David Anderson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, IN HIS OWN WORDS:

John David Anderson writes novels for young people and then, occasionally, gets them published. Besides Minion, he is the author of Sidekicked, and Standard Hero Behavior. He lives with his patient wife and brilliant twins in Indianapolis, Indiana, right next to a State park and a Walmart. He enjoys hiking, reading, chocolate, spending time with his family, playing the piano, chocolate, making board games, chocolate, not putting away his laundry, watching movies, and chocolate. Those aren’t his real teeth.

To find out more: www.johndavidanderson.org

Check out the book’s trailer too!

 

Follow Walden Pond Press on Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Check out the other stops in the blog tour!

June 23 Maria’s Melange

June 24 The Library Fanatic

June 25 The Next Best Book 

June 26 Jean Book Nerd

June 27 Book Egg

June 28 Word Spelunking Book Blog

June 30 Ms. Yingling Reads

July 1     The Book Monsters

July 2     The Book Monsters

July 3     Read Now, Sleep Later

July 6 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

July 7 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

July 8 Candace’s Book Blog

July 9 Middle Grade Mafioso

July10 Librarian’s Quest

July 11 Unleashing Readers

July 12 Trisha Perry

July 14 This Kid Reviews Books

July 16 Charlotte’s Library

July 17 Literacy Toolbox

Go to Mr. Anderson’s website HERE!

Wish You Weren’t by Sherrie Petersen

11 Jul

wishyouWish You Weren’t

By Sherrie Petersen

138 pages – ages 8+

Published by Intrepid Publications on March 15, 2014

Marten couldn’t believe it. A wish he made on a star actually came true – and he feels awful about it. He wished that his little brother, Aldrin, wasn’t there. While at a museum, Aldrin just… Faded away. Marten and his best friend, Paul, meet a strange man named Tör, who says that he will help them get Aldrin back. Using watches that can control time, Tör, Marten, and Paul go through time, trying to undo what happened. When Tör’s star he comes from starts to die, and signs of Aldrin start disappearing, it’s up to Marten and Paul to stop Aldrin from disappearing forever.

This was a very good time travel book. Ms. Petersen’s plot has no holes and her description of the story puts the reader right in the middle of it. I like books like this – a little bit of magic, a little bit of time travel, a lot of adventure. It was a great read. I like Ms. Petersen’s writing style. She gets into the mind of an 11 (almost 12!) boy very easily. Marten is a great character and, speaking as a 12 year old boy, he acts very realistically. I understand why he does everything he does. I also like Tör – he is mysterious and I love the idea of him being in charge of making sure the wishes made on his star come true. The book was appropriate for all ages. I think a lot of kids (and adults) will love this story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Fish Finelli Book 2: Operation Fireball By E.S. Farber

9 Jul

fish2Fish Finelli Book 2: Operation Fireball

By E.S. Farber

Illustrated by Jason Beene

177 pages – ages 7+

Published by Chronicle Books on April 1, 2014

Fish Finelli and his friends have to beat the school bully, Bryce Billings, in a boat race, due to a dare made at the end of book one. There is just one problem – that Bryce has a new boat with a 9.9 horsepower (which is the limit for the race) and Fish and his friends have an old whaler with a 5 horsepower motor. Will they beat Bryce?

This was a fun book. I didn’t read book 1, but Ms. Farber brings the reader right up to speed so I totally understood the back-story (As a note, I love it when an author recaps the previous book(s) in a series really well).  Fish is a great character, and I like how he solves his own problems. He is also devoted to sailing and I enjoyed reading about a kid who likes to sail. Ms. Farber has an enjoyable writing style. I love all of the humor she put in the story. I really enjoyed the little fact boxes and diagrams about things in the book. (like some about oysters, planing on a boat, etc.). That was a nice touch. The illustrations scattered in the book were great too. They had a very cool style. After reading this book, I’m going to go back and read the first one in the series. I like a good story. :)  This book is a great read for young advanced readers, reluctant readers and kids looking for a fun story!

I give “Operation Fireball” four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Check out Book 1 in the series! I am!

fish1

Elementary, My Dear Watson: The Astounding Adventure of the Ancient Dragon by Jose Prendes

8 Jul

elementaryElementary, My Dear Watson – The Astounding Adventure of the Ancient Dragon

By Jose Prendes

174 pages – ages 9+

Published by Curiosity Quills Press on March 3, 2014

12-year-old John H. Watson was distraught. His mother was dying, his father was depressed because of it, and he was going to Candlewood Boarding School for Boys and Girls because his home was not a happy environment (and because he was neglecting his studies, of course). When a bully, calling himself Moriarty, orders Watson to hand over his money, a young boy, Watson’s age, saves him from Moriarty. The boy introduces himself as Holmes, Sherlock Holmes. When classmates start disappearing, Sherlock starts investigating, along with his new friend. Where are all the missing students going? And who is responsible for it?

First of all, I am a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books. Sherlock Holmes never ceases to amaze me.I was a little worried that reading about a young version of Sherlock would not live up to what I would expect. This book however, was a great read (cool cover too)! I really like how Mr. Prendes mixes up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters and jumbles them into middle school. It was marvelously done. I especially like the irony in one scene, where Holmes, Watson, and another student are investigating the case, and the Head Mistress of the school walks in on it. Holmes says that they are acting out a play with 3 characters from Shakespeare’s plays. When the Head Mistress points out that they aren’t from the same play, Holmes states that it is pretending if the characters had met each other in Middle School – just like they are in this book! ;) Mr. Prendes also included of the thrill from Doyle’s mysteries, and I loved every second of it. The book was a very fast read for me. I read this book in less than a day. The plot of the story kept me on the edge of my seat, and I immediately liked John Watson. Mr. Prendes has written a great book. I would like to read other books written by him, especially from this series.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

June 2014 UBFP Column – The Benefits of Bilingual Picture Books

4 Jul

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY USA! WOO! :D

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

 

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the July 2014 issue! The print version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (check out page 16), or read it below!

I hope you like it!

The Benefits of Bilingual Picture Books

I got the idea for this article when I reviewed C.L. Murphy’s picture book “The Adventures of Loveable Lobo: Lobo visits the Barnyard” and saw that the book is also available in Spanish (“Las Aventuras Del Adorable Lobo: Lobo visita la Granja”). In the book, a friendly wolf is visiting one of his friends at the barnyard. He proceeds to get a tour of the barnyard and meets lots of animals. I looked at both English and Spanish versions of the book side by side and before you knew it, I was learning the Spanish words for barnyard animals. Because of this, I did some research on using picture books to learn other languages. I found that learning a second language can really help kids in the future. An article on Scholatic.com states the importance of learning a second language. It says; “Research shows that students of foreign languages tend to score higher on standardized tests and demonstrate improved school performance overall. Additionally, evolving opportunities in the global workplace make knowing an another language a significant advantage.” Learning a foreign language gives kids more opportunities.

lobo

Picture books are a great tool for helping kids learn to read in any language. An article on the Reading is Fundamental website says “Picture books help young children understand that words convey meaning, well before they are aware of the text. Pictures can help increase vocabulary, an important building block for reading. Books can help young children identify colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, as well as names of people, places, animals, and everyday objects.” Because of this, picture books are especially helpful to learn a foreign language no matter what age you are.

Bilingual picture books can help make this happen. Picture books are usually less than five hundred words long and therefore can be used to learn simple phrases and words in a foreign language. A pamphlet published by the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR) called “How to Use Bilingual Books” names three types of bilingual books that are useful for teaching second languages. One type has the words in both languages next to each other in the text. This type of book may have a line that reads “Bonjour!” dit la fille. / “Hello!” said the girl. Another type of bilingual book is having the same book printed in two languages (like the Adventures of Loveable Lobo books I wrote about earlier). I find having the same picture book in two languages is very helpful in learning words from a foreign language. The third type of bilingual book is one where there are some words in another language sprinkled within the story. For example, “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of acqua” (Italian for water).

A 2007 study published by the National Education Association called “The Benefits of Second Language Study” shows that exposing kids to bilingual books and other languages helps them become better learners in all kinds of subjects. The study shows that teaching kids a foreign language helps “higher order, abstract and creative thinking” and achieve higher scores on standardized tests.

Teachers can use bilingual books in their classrooms, too. The NCCLR pamphlet suggests that teachers can pick a paragraph from a picture book or even just one or two words from a foreign language and read and talk about the words in the foreign language as an introduction for students to different languages.

Even if it isn’t the goal to become fluent in the language, exposing kids to words and phrases from different languages helps them become better learners. Picture books can help you do that.

For more on books and reading go to / For mer om bøker og lesing går til (Norwegian)

ThisKidReviewsBooks.com!

Paddington Bear Comes to the Big Screen!

3 Jul

paddington

 

This Christmas, a small bear will make a big splash.

From the beloved novels by Michael Bond and producer David Heyman (HARRY POTTER), PADDINGTON tells the story of the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he  begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined – until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you,” and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.

paddington2paddington3

Director: Paul King
Written by: Paul King
Screenplay by: Henry Paul King
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and Nicole Kidman

I am excited to watch this movie. Paddington is so cute. It’s been a while since I read the stories, I’ll have to re-read them. I think the movie looks hilarious (but I like goofy movies ;) ). I think Paddington looks a bit tall, but I like the animation and the details in him. I’ll have to do a book vs. movie post after I see it. :) I hope you all get to see this movie when it comes out on Christmas Day, 2014!

Check out the trailer and tell me what you think of the movie Paddington.

 

Learn More About the Movie -

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

#PaddingtonMovie

The Dragon Hollow Trilogy by Christy Bower

2 Jul

Before I get to today’s review – I get to tell you Stephanie The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog (Click HERE to go THERE) won my give away copy of The Starburst Juju (see my review HERE). Congratulations! I will be emailing you to get your mailing address. :)

juju

HELLO BLOGOSPHERE! :D

Happy Wednesday to you! Today I have not one, but 3 books to tell you about! An exciting and fun TRIOLOGY!

The Dragon Hollow Trilogy

By Christy Bower

draghol1Book 1: The Legend of Dragon Hollow

212 pages – ages 9+

Published by CreateSpace on May 25, 2013

Summary (From the back of the book): When an enemy army attacked Mirabeau, Peter and his friends, Sebastian and Alexandra, lost their parents, their homes, and their city. They set off in search of the dragon’s treasure that Peter had read about in his favorite book, The Legend of Dragon Hollow.

On their journey, they encounter all sorts of people and adventures, and they learn valuable lessons that will help them fulfill their destiny – a destiny that is greater than dragon treasure.

draghol2Book 2: The Secret of The Sword

186 pages – ages 9+

Published by CreateSpace on September 23, 2013

Summary (From the back of the book): [SPOILER ALERT] After Peter learned he was the rightful heir to the throne, he returned to Mirabeau to discover a tyrant had made himself king. When Peter and his friends, Sebastian and Alexandra, try to spy on the tyrant king, they are captured as traitors. It looks as if things will end badly for the three young people, especially when an invading army attacks the city, complicating the situation.

draghol3Book 3: The Rise of The Dragon King

196 pages – ages 9+

Published by CreateSpace on October 8, 2013

Summary (From the back of the book)[SPOILER ALERT] In this third book in the Dragon Hollow Trilogy, young Peter Cole has just taken the throne of Mirabeau, but being a king is not what he expected. In addition to the city’s financial crisis that left knights and workers unpaid, King Peter is also faced with the disappearance of a friend; a dragon bent on revenge; a call for help from an ally; and a horde of barbarians on the march for his city. Meanwhile, his two friends, Sebastian and Alexandra, face problems of their own. Alexandra is coming to grips with being scarred by the dragon burns and Sir Sebastian is learning to be a knight while dealing with a bully in Knight School. Peter’s destiny as the foretold Dragon King is liked to whether he can navigate these difficulties and fulfill his calling.

What I Liked About the Trilogy: This series was action-packed, hilarious, and great for kids. The books are full of “references to fairy tales, fables, fantasy fiction, classic literature, nursery rhymes, and children’s songs”. I laughed at “The Three Musket Deer”, a tyrant king named Ham Burger (or King Burger), King Cole, and his wife’s name, Nat (some kids may not get some of the references – I didn’t get a couple and asked my parents about them), and so much more! I think I fell off my beanbag chair a couple of times laughing at the book! The story, itself, very good. Ms. Bower’s writing style is enjoyable and the self-published book is edited well. I liked the story-line a lot. Peter was a great main character. He was brave (for a kid), smart (for a kid), and awesome (for anybody). He handles situations very well. Donkey Oatie was hilarious too. In the book, there is a** repeated, but it is normally talking about Donkey Oatie (as in Donkey Oatie said things about him, like his mother always said that he was a “smart a**”). The theory that geckos, when put in water, turn into dragons, was a great one (and was a TOTAL surprise to me *Note to self – get geko). The books were quick, fun reads for me and I think they’d be great to bring along in the car on summer trips. If the series went on, I’d gladly read the next book, but sadly, trilogies end at three.

I give this series four out of fie bookworms!fourbooks

To learn more about Ms. Bower and her books, please visit her website HERE.

Follow on Twitter HERE.

Follow on Google+ HERE.

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