Tag Archives: author interview

Blog Tour! Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren with Interview and GIVEAWAY!!!

11 Apr

Prisoner of Ice and Snow
By Ruth Lauren
288 pages – ages 9+
Published by on April 4, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher-She’ll do anything to break her sister out of prison–even get arrested on purpose.

When thirteen-year-old Valor is sent to jail, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s twin sister, Sasha, is serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family, and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.

Never mind that no one has escaped the prison in centuries. Valor has a master plan and resources most people could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make some unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.”

What I Thought- This is probably one of the best debuts I’ve read in a while! The world is beautifully crafted, and there is a fascinating culture created. I am a fan of how the country appears as a nod to ancient Russian culture, and how the characters adapt to that. Which is another thing I loved – the characters are clever and they can think their way out of a problem. The ever present love for Sasha keeping Valor going is a nice touch as well – you would think it’d get annoying sometimes, but it never does. Lauren knows how to spin words in a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat – I read this entire book in one day. It’s not often that a debut author can do that. I cannot wait to see more books from Lauren!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Now for an exclusive interview with author Ruth Lauren!

1. Congratulations on your debut novel! I really enjoyed the action in it! How long have you been writing? Is this your first book ever written?

Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. I’ve been writing for just about seven years now. PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW wasn’t the first book I’ve ever written, or even the second, or third. But it was my first fantasy book and the first with action/adventure in it. I had more fun and did less worrying (and actually less planning) than I’d done before.

2. How did you get the unique plan to have the main character be very talented, but who wants to go to a prison no one has escaped from?

I was actually watching the TV show Prison Break (which starts with a man robbing a bank in order to get arrested) with my son and I wondered what that sort of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead. The Russia inspired fantasy land part of the idea came soon after as I thought about where I could place the sisters to make their escape even more challenging.

3. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking of Russian traditions and aspects – or at least that is the imagery that popped into my head – even though I know the world you created is not that. I am wondering if you did any research for the fabulous world building you did in this book?  If you did,  how did you decide to differentiate between fact-based and artistic liberty when creating your setting: place, culture, etc.?

There is definitely a Russian feel to the book, although I did take a huge amount of artistic liberty. I never intended any of the aspects to be fact-based, but I did look at maps as inspiration for the made up place names I used. I also used mainly Russian names for characters—although I took liberties with changing their use of patronymics to matronymics (surnames based on the character’s mother’s name) to match with the matriarchal world where power is handed down from mother to daughter.

I imagined a very cold and unforgiving climate and terrain for the setting and when I looked at images on Pinterest, a lot of Russian landscape came up. I make boards for every idea that I have and I find it really helps me to visualize the world and individual scenes if can link them to a picture. For this book, I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison.

4. One of the things I liked was that there is no magic prevalent in the story. I often think magic is an easy fall-back for authors when they get stuck. Instead you create quick thinking and daring characters that move the plot along. Did you enjoy the challenge of creating a world where magic is not a deus ex machina?

I enjoyed writing this book and figuring out a fast moving plot immensely, but I actually think including magic might have made it more difficult to write rather than easier. I find the idea of inventing a magic system that makes sense quite daunting!

5. Your heroine, Valor, is a wonderful character that I think both boys and girls will relate to.  How did you come up with Valor? Is she based on anyone?

Thank you! And I do hope so.

Valor was the first character I really thought about within the story, with her apprenticeship to her huntswoman mother as the reason she’s so adept with her bow and with so many other physical challenges. Her character built from her skills and her interest in being outdoors, reacting quickly to situations and therefore maybe not always thinking first—especially when it comes to saying the right thing. She’s fiercely loyal and determined but that sometimes prevents her from understanding other people’s points of view when she’s launching headlong into action. She’s not really based on anyone, but there are aspects of me in her (not the brave parts) and aspects of me in Sasha too.

6. Was there something I should have asked you but didn’t?

I don’t think so. But I would like to say thank you very much for having me!

7. Is there anything in the works you would like to tell the readers about?

I’m excited to say that there is! There’ll be a sequel to PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW. It’s called SEEKER OF THE CROWN, coming from Bloomsbury in April 2018. No spoilers, but I can’t wait to go back to Demidova with Valor and Sasha for more adventures. I’m also currently outlining a middle grade sci-fi standalone set on another planet, which I hope you’ll get to read one day.

You can have a chance at winning a copy of this book!

Just click HERE for the Rafflecopter. (Only open to US/CAN addresses)

Only available for four more days!!

Choose Your Own Adventure Blog hop! Tony the Phony and the Northern Woods by Kid Author T. Man

1 Feb

Hi everyone! Today, I have a treat for you! I get to share an interview with a kid who wrote his own Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story!

T. Man, the author, wrote a first book, along with his brother (M. Man), and mother – author Michelle Isenhoff. The first book, Tony the Phony and Cursed Mansion, was a success.

The next book is “Tony the Phony and the Northern Woods”. T. Man went solo (but has a little help from his mom). You can follow along with this read along adventure by clicking over to the Story Boys Blog – click HERE!

Tony the Phony and the Northern WoodsTony the Phony and the Northern Woods

Series: Tony the Phony #2

Written by T. Man with Michelle Isenhoff

21 pages – ages 7+

Published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on January 13th, 2016

Synopsis- Tony the Phony is back in another adventure! Tony and Ed are going to Tony’s grandpa’s house for a weekend fishing trip. Only, that Tony’s mom doesn’t know that they are flying in a plane to Canada to get there, when Tony is [supposedly] at Ed’s house. What will happen next? You decide!

What I Thought- This was a fun Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. It is perfect for reluctant readers, as it is a short story that is fun and interactive. I enjoyed reading the variations of what happened to Tony and his friend, Ed, and the fact that they incorporated some fantasy, and a lot of adventure. Kids will love this book. T. Man did this mostly by himself (with help on the sidelines by his author-mom) and there is a quality to the work which makes it an enjoyable experience! I love to read works by kid authors! Keep on writing!


Now, onto a special interview with T. Man himself!

Erik- What do you like the most about writing Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories?

T. Man- I like to have a whole bunch of endings, so some of them can be funny and some of them not. I like to write something for everyone.

Erik- That is always a good idea, T. Man. What is your favorite ending to the story?

T. Man- The one with the police car, because I know that’s exactly what my mom would do if I left in a plane.

Erik- It’s good to know that you can imagine what would realistically happen if the story took place. When are you planning a new Tony the Phony book?

T. Man- I don’t know. Maybe in a year or two. I’d like to do the next one with my brother because it’s a lot easier with two people thinking up the story.

Erik- I see what you mean. You did a good job on your own, too. If you had a choice, would you choose to travel by plane (like Tony did)?

T. Man- I’ve never traveled by plane before, but I probably would since it’s very rare that they crash. My grandpa is a pilot, and he said he’s been up so high he’s seen all of Michigan like a big mitten. I think that would be cool. 

Erik- That’s cool that your grandpa is a pilot. I bet it would be amazing to see the entire state. You get to choose the ending of your day today – what would it be?

T. Man- I already have a snow day. I’d also like to have my new air soft gun delivered today. So I can join the neighborhood air soft wars.

Erik- Thank you very much for letting me talk with you, T. Man!

Thanks for stopping by! No go check out the hop! 😀

July 2015 UBFP Column

6 Jul

NOTE: I will be away camping this week, so I won’t be able to answer comments, until I get back (unless there is internet connection in the campground) 😉 . Have a nice week!

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 2015 issue! The street and online version were just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE or you can read the whole story below! I am especially happy about this article because my special interviewee is SUSANNA LEONARD HILL!!!
I hope you like the article!

So You Want To Be A Picture Book Author?

by Erik Weibel


Have you ever seen something so wonderfully simple you thought to yourself, “I can do that!”?  If you’ve ever read a 300+ paged novel, you probably have thought about how hard it must be to write one, right? All those words, plots, subplots, that would be impossible to tackle. And then you look at a 30-paged picture book and think, ‘boy, this book must be easy to write! It’s 30 pages, and mostly pictures!’

I was stunned to learn how incredibly difficult it is to write an effective picture book. To learn more about this grueling writing process,  picture book author, and creator of Making Picture Book Magic, an online teaching course about writing picture books, Susanna Leonard Hill, has thankfully agreed to answer a few questions of mine!

Erik: What do you think is the most difficult part in writing a picture book as opposed to a novel?

SLH: I think the most difficult part of writing a picture book is the distillation.  Novels are difficult in their own way – longer, more complicated, with multiple layers and subplots – but a novel writer has a little more leeway, a little more room to maneuver.  In picture books literally every word counts because the word count is so limited.  A picture book writer must tell an entertaining, compelling, emotionally rich story… in under 500 words.  And that’s not easy!

Erik: No, it most definitely is not! In your opinion, what are some of the best picture books out there (well, besides yours, of course!)?

SLH: (Aw shucks, aren’t you nice?! 🙂 )  I like that you asked “in my opinion”, because writing is so subjective!  “Best” for one person isn’t always best for another.  But some of the recent books I love (as opposed to many older titles…!) are Z Is For Moose by Kelly Bingham, Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zeitlow Miller, Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison, and I Am Cow Hear Me MOO by Jill Esbaum.

Erik: I LOVED Sophie’s Squash! You developed a course that teaches people how to write a picture book, called Making Picture Book Magic. Is there a certain writing formula you teach to your students or is it more of a process?

SLH: Writing is definitely a process.  There is no formula that I know of.  If there were a formula, chances are that anyone who followed it would produce a story that was… well… formulaic. 🙂 I try to teach my students about all the important elements of a story – character, conflict, emotion, etc. – and offer them different ways to think about how those elements might work together to make an enjoyable, satisfying story.  There is a lot of writing and revising, going back and forth as ideas develop and the writer experiments with the best way to tell their particular story, work-in-progress until the story is finally told in a way that the writer is happy with.

Erik: That was really well put. In a word (or not!), how important is word choice in picture books?

SLH: In a word? Crucial!  A picture book writer has so few words to work with.  Every single one must carry its weight.  Today’s marketplace supports picture books that are 500 words or fewer.  Preferably fewer.  (Although there are always exceptions.)  Writing a picture book is a bit like managing a budget.  A writer has only so much to work with, and once it’s spent, it’s gone.  In addition, in picture books, the illustrations are meant to tell half the story, so the writer must choose the words that convey the story while simultaneously bringing to life the elements that the illustrator can’t show, such as sound, touch, taste, and smell.

Erik: I’ve never thought of the word count like a budget. That’s a great analogy. What is your best advice to someone who wants to write a picture book?

SLH: Read picture books – lots and lots of current picture books – so you get a feel for what makes a picture book work today.  The picture books we read growing up had a different feel, longer word counts, and in many cases the illustrations supported the story but were less critical in terms of telling half the story.  So it’s very important to familiarize yourself with what works currently.

          Educate yourself.  Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing picture books.  Read books.  Take classes online or in person.

          Immerse yourself in the writing community.  Picture book authors and illustrators are among the most genuine and generous people out there.  They are always willing to lend a hand, share what they know, help others along the road to success.



Write some more.

There is no substitute for practice.

Thank you for being an interviewee, Ms. Hill!

Susanna Leonard Hill is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice),No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.  Her newest book, Alphabedtime!, is forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, in Summer 2016.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs. Find her on the web at Susannahill.com

April 2015 UBFP Column – AND GIVEAWAY!!!

2 Apr

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 April 2015 issue! The street and online version were just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 8 ) or you can read the whole story – plus some extra things I’ve thrown in – below! 😀

I hope you like the article!

Meet Bucks County Author Donna Galanti

By Erik Weibel

Author Donna Galanti was raised in England but she now finds her home in Bucks County! She has just written an exciting, middle grade action-adventure story called “Joshua and The Lightning Road”. The book will be released on May 15th of this year. The story follows twelve year-old Joshua’s quest into another word to find his friend that had been kidnapped by a mystical being during a lightning storm. Joshua realizes that all the crazy stories his grandpa told him about lightning storms are terrifyingly real and he soon finds himself up against terrible creatures determined to stop him.

DGalanti_JATLR_eCover_900x1350 (1)

I was fortunate to read an advanced copy of this book and Ms. Galanti has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions!

Erik: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Ms. Galanti! The first line on your book is awesome: “I never knew lightning could zap you without burning you to a crisp.” I love it when a book hooks you from the beginning. How important to you was this first line?

Ms. Galanti: I’m so glad I hooked you! For me, the first line or paragraph in a book must grab me in order to keep reading. I often buy the book based on that emotional connection from the first page and hope the author follows through on their promise (and hope I can too!).

Erik: Having read the whole book, I can say that yes, you did! When I was reading the story I was wondering if you were afraid of lightning storms when you were younger or maybe a huge mythology fan, or both?

Ms. Galanti: I always loved summer lightning storms as a kid and would sleep on the screened-in porch to watch the big show. On the other hand, my dad has been struck by lightning three times on the golf course (and lived to tell the tales)! I’ve always loved the stories of the Greek Olympians. They are big and scary and full of power – and that drives my imagination.

Erik: Hit three times by lightning? I think I’d give up golf! Scents and smells play a big part in your descriptions, more than I usually find in stories. I think it made your settings even more realistic. When you say “He smelled like a wet dog that had been swimming in sour milk,” I know exactly how revolting that is! Did you use scents on purpose, or is that typical of your writing style?

Ms. Galanti: Smells can hold powerful memory triggers. I wanted readers to see Joshua’s world as he experiences it. When you first smell a new scent, you link it to a person or event. Like the scent of fresh cut grass can remind you of a summer day, even if it’s the end of autumn. And when you happen upon that smell again, the link is there, ready to pop that memory open.

Erik: That is a very interesting point! Your story has just the right amount of scariness and tension for an MG book. Did you intend to write this an MG book and have to keep that in mind as you were writing?

Ms. Galanti: Thank you! This book was always intended for middle grade readers. My son (the perfect audience for this book) helped me with plot issues along the way, and that was super fun! As far as scariness and tension, I love it when an author takes my beloved characters to the edge of no return and gives me that spine-tingling rush of “oh, nooo!” This is what I aim for in my own stories.

Erik: You sure do a good job of it! Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
Ms. Galanti: Joshua and the Arrow Realm, book 2 releases December, 2015. In the book Joshua is called to free his friend, who’s been enslaved as a power pawn in a queen’s quest to rule all. But when Joshua becomes bait in her hunting game, loses his powerful lightning orb, and his friends turn on him, he wonders if he can survive on wits and instincts alone and not only save his friend—but himself.

I’m plotting out book 3, Joshua and the Fire Realm, right now! It’s more adventure set in a volcanic landscape, filled with lots of friendships, battles, and bad guys.

Erik: I am looking forward to the rest of this series!

For more information on Donna Galanti, please visit her website at DonnaGalanti.com

For more on books and reading, visit my blog, ThisKidReviewsBooks.com


About Ms. Galanti:

Galanti, Donna 2 small (1)Donna Galanti attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is the author of the Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Book 1, May 2015, Month9Books) and blogs at Project Mayhem. Visit her at www.donnagalanti.com or on Amazon.

Praise for Joshua and The Lightning Road:
“Vividly imagined characters in a gripping action fantasy that never lets you go until the very last page.” ~Jenny Nimmo, New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Bone series

Website: http://www.donnagalanti.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20983429-joshua-and-the-lightning-road


Ms. Galanti has provided the chance for one lucky commenter to win a galley print copy of “Joshua and the Lightning Road”! (US only please)

The winner will be announced in one week’s time, on Thursday, April 9th, 2015. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entries.

And, in case if you don’t happen to win, you can pre-order the book!

Here are links to go pre-order your copy now!!!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Iu6ETw

Barnes & Noble : http://bit.ly/1DBVtc9


Here’s my review!

DGalanti_JATLR_eCover_900x1350 (1)Joshua and the Lightning Road

By Donna Galanti

Series: Lightning Road
278 pages – ages 9+
Will Be Published by Month9Books, LLC on May 19, 2015 – you can PRE-ORDER NOW!

Summary (from GoodReads) – “Stay away from the window, don’t go outside when it’s storming and whatever you do, do not touch the orb.

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings as anything more than the ravings of an old man with a vast imagination. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever.
To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy, as Joshua must face the terrifying Child Collector and fend off ferocious and unnatural beasts intent on destroying him.
In this world, Joshua possesses powers he never knew he had, and soon, Joshua’s mission becomes more than a search for his friend. He means to send all the stolen children home—and doing so becomes the battle of his life. ”

What I thought – The descriptions in this book were so vivid I could feel, smell and envision the setting. The characters were solid. Joshua was totally believable. He had all the right characteristics of a great main character – brave, smart and kind, but he also acted like the kid he is. The world Ms. Galanti created can be totally frightening at times, but it is done in a way that is kid-friendly. I personally found the whole idea of a “child collector” terrifying, but also intriguing. Ms. Galanti’s writing style pulls the reader along, answering questions about the story but then revealing new questions. It really keeps you reading. The story has a lot of action but also a great plot line that strings everything together. The ending is satisfying but leaves the reader wanting to get into the next book in the series.

Five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

June 2014 UBFP Column – Meet Bucks County Award-Winning Author Sherrill Cannon

1 Jun

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 June 2014 issue! The print version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (okay the online version isn’t up yet (the paper version is out) but as soon as it is, I will update the link 😉 ). 

I hope you like it!

Meet Bucks County Award-Winning Author Sherrill Cannon


Bucks County author Sherrill S. Cannon’s books have won over twenty national awards. The former teacher, mother of four, and grandmother to ten, writes books that “try to teach something, like good manners and consideration for others.” According to Ms. Cannon’s bio, “all of her books are also part of a fund-raising effort: for the CureJM Foundation (sbpra.com/curejm), to help find a cure for Juvenile Myositis, an incurable children’s disease.” In addition to her children’s books, Ms. Cannon writes plays for elementary school children. Her plays have been performed world-wide. “She is a resident of New Hope, PA and travels with her husband of 53 years throughout North America in their RV, sharing her books along the way!”


Ms. Cannon’s latest book is called “My Fingerpaint Masterpiece.” It is about a grade-school age student (boy or girl, you aren’t told) who loses their finger-painting to a gust of wind. The student is surprised when he/she sees it in an art gallery and it won first place in a professional art contest! When  the student tells everyone that he/she painted the picture, no one believes it. Ms. Cannon let me ask her some questions about her new book.sherrillcannon2

 Erik – “Was Fingerprint Masterpiece” inspired by a true story?

Ms. Cannon – Not a true story, but more of an attempt to help children look at, appreciate and interpret “art” according to their own perception and perspective – influenced I must admit by my own reaction when I am told that paint thrown on a wall, dripping down, is a work of art worth millions.  It is not meant to be a critique of abstract art, but rather it asks children to evaluate what they feel and see when they view a painting or other work of art.  My signature for this book includes the phrase “See art with your heart”…

Erik – Your new book, “Fingerprint Masterpiece” is described as “An Emperor’s New Clothes” type story. Is the message, don’t always believe the experts / don’t follow the crowd or is it that kids can create beautiful art that can be enjoyed?

Ms. Cannon – Clever of you to ask this question, since I think it captures the essence of the book! My message is a little bit of both of those: ‘Don’t always believe the experts/don’t follow the crowd;’ and ‘that kids can create beautiful art that can be enjoyed.’  You will notice in the book’s illustrations that there is indeed a lot of “masterpiece” involved in this painting – with hidden objects within, depending on how one looks at it.  But I feel that true artistic talent and effort is needed to qualify – not just random splashes of paint. This entire book is written from the point of view of the child narrator, with the story seen through his/her eyes depending on the reader’s opinion of whether that child is a boy or girl! The main point truly is to use one’s own judgment – which translates to lots of things in life! In art, I don’t think that age, sex, race, religion or political preference should have much to do with determining who can paint a masterpiece… nor who can be a good book reviewer!

Erik – You’ve written six children’s books but you also write plays for school children. How do those writing experiences differ? Which is your favorite play?

Ms. Cannon – My children’s plays are written for elementary school classrooms.  They are usually rhyming as well, incorporating familiar suggested songs, and are all based on the requirement that each child has at least one line in the play (although combined with a friend if the child is too shy) so that each child has that one “shining moment”.  As mentioned earlier, most were co-authored with my daughter who is a teacher in Bucks County, and were first produced at Churchville Elementary School for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade Students.  My favorite is “We Have Character” which incorporates evaluations of many recommended children’s books, showing how they contribute to developing good character traits. They are all available at lazybeescripts.co.uk for anyone interested!

Erik – What do you hope children learn from your books?

Ms. Cannon – In addition to acquiring a love for rhyming books, I hope that children learn to be polite, have good manners, and especially to have consideration for others.  This also contributes to prevention of bullying, or at least illustrates ways to cope with it.  I try to implant the “do unto others…” theme throughout all of them – and to always try to “Pass It Forward!”

To learn more about Ms. Cannon and her award winning books, please visit her website at http://www.sherrillcannon.com.

For more on books and reading visit ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

Sidekicked by John David Anderson, Plus Interview and GIVEAWAY!!!

24 Jul

Sidekicked - Blog Tour Banner

Happy Wednesday! I am VERY excited to be part of the Sidekicked blog tour! Check out all the stops on the tour by clicking HERE! I am also super excited that I get a chance to give away a copy of Sidekicked (read to the end for details). Most of all, I am extremely excited that author John David Anderson did an interview with me about his book Sidekicked! 😀


By John David Anderson

384 pages – ages 8+

Published by Walden Pond Press on June 25, 2013

Middle schooler, Andrew “Drew” Macon Bean couldn’t decide if it was good or bad to be a sidekick. His superpowers (super senses – extra good hearing, taste, touch, sight, and smell) make him super sensitive, so Drew thinks they are super lame. His Super, that he is a sidekick to (The Titan), is a super-drunk. Plus Drew is super-tired of keeping his super-secret identity super-secret. Drew thinks his Super is good for nothing, especially when The Titan doesn’t come to save him when Drew almost died. Instead Drew’s best friend’s Super rescues him. It all gets super worse when The Dealer (The Titan’s arch-nemesis who was thought to be dead) comes back and starts terrorizing the city and The Titan can’t be found. Supers are being kidnapped, and until the only Supers left in the city are The Fox and Mr. Masters (The Sidekick trainer) and the Sidekicks. Drew knows there is a mole in the few good-guys left, so Drew isn’t sure who is trustworthy.  Drew has to call on the Super in him to try to save the day!

This book is AWESOME!!! I love superheroes!  This was one of those books I couldn’t stop reading and I got in trouble for not listening to my parents because I couldn’t put it down (sorry mom and dad). The city that Mr. Anderson created for the story, Justicia, was an awesome setting and it was described very well. There was a bunch of action in this book and the plot was excellent! I was on the edge of my seat – 12 times (maybe more)! 😉 Drew was a great character and I could totally understand how he feels. I love characters that have to challenge themselves to do something they think they can’t. I also think Drew was totally believable as an ordinary kid… with lame super powers. 🙂

I give Sidekicked 5 out of 5 book worms!fivebooks

Now for my interview with Mr. Anderson!

bloglogoHow did you come up with the idea to have a world full of heroes – and one who has the “lamest” powers possible?

sidekickedauthorIt all started with the lame character, actually. I had to build the world around Drew and it took a couple of drafts and guidance from my trusty editor, Jordan, to fully create Justicia and the crazy, tights-wearing kooks that populated it. It was important that Drew not be too powerful—that he actual struggle with his dual identity as a middle-schooler and budding superhero. By granting him the power I did, I made it as much a curse as a blessing, which makes it even more rewarding when he learns how to manage it.

bloglogoWhich character of yours did you have the most fun writing about?

sidekickedauthorBeing the narrator and the driving force of the novel (not to mention having my sense of humor) Drew was undoubtedly the most fun to write. But I also enjoyed exploring the Titan’s character as well. This idea of the “washed up” superhero intrigued me. Juxtaposing the Titan, who obviously has the power but has just stopped trying, with Drew, who is trying so hard but lacks the ability and experience, was one of the joys of writing the book. They both have a long way to go from the first page to the last.

bloglogoIs there going to be a sequel to Sidekicked or are you working on another project?

sidekickedauthorI’ll be visiting the world of superheroes and villains again soon, though it won’t be from Drew’s perspective. This isn’t to say that I won’t ever revisit the H.E.R.O. program. I know “The Sensationalist” is out there, watching, listening…smelling, and I have no doubt he’d be game for another adventure. I just have to make sure I am.

bloglogoWhat superpower would YOU like (the most)?

sidekickedauthorNothing too powerful. I don’t have time to go around saving the world and all that nonsense (unless it was the power to stop time, but even then I’d probably just play more video games or catch up on my reading). Let’s say Food Flavor Transference.

That’s the power whereby I make celery taste like pepperoni pizza and everything else taste like mint-chocolate-chip ice-cream. I would call myself The Flavornator and would build my headquarters beneath the Food Pyramid where I would monitor mealtimes and make sure everyone ate their lima beans. Parents everywhere would worship me. And I’d be skinnier.

bloglogoBatman or Superman?

sidekickedauthorBatman has better movies (mostly). Superman has a more colorful wardrobe and generally better hair. I’m going to cop out, though and go with Man-Bat, a not-so famous villain that Batman has faced on a number of occasions, making one wonder how hard it is to come up with new supervillain ideas. Man-Bat? Seriously?

Find out more about Sidekicked and its author at his website http://www.johndavidAnderson.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JohnDavidAndersonAuthor . Thanks for the great questions, Erik!

bloglogoNo, Thank YOU Mr. Anderson!

And, now, the moment I’ve been waiting for! The part where I take a break and  Super  Reader  comes!


Illustration by Suzanne Bloom!

Why hello there fellow readers! You are now in the presence of the most amazing reader ever – ME! SUPER READER!

I’m supposed to give the rules for a giveaway.

You gotta comment, leave your email address in the little box where it asks for it, and say how awesome Super Reader is… okay they are telling me you DON’T have to say how great I am but you should say what super power you would like… or just leave a nice comment and you will be entered to WIN! The contest is open until July 29th and I will announce the WINNER of the copy of “Sidekicked” on the 30th!
Good Luck!
Good Reading!
Super Reader – OUT!


 If you miss my give away – Walden Books is having their own where you can win  an e-reader of the winners choice, a selection of superhero-themed e-books and signed copies of Sidekicked. It’s called “The Sidekicked Summer of Superheroes Sweepstakes”. Click HERE to go THERE!




“Here Comes Mr. Trouble” Book Review and Interview with Brett Battles!

30 Aug

Today I am excited to share with you an interview I had with Brett Battles. Mr. Battles writes adult thriller novels and he recently published his first novel for children (and young adults). The book is called “Here Comes Mr. Trouble” I was very happy to find this book because it is sometimes hard to find this type of thriller novel that is appropriate for young kids like me. PLUS read on after the interview to see my review of Here Comes Mr. Trouble.

 I noticed on your website that “Here Comes Mr. Trouble” is your first book you wrote for kids. I really like intense action stories but sometimes it’s hard to find books like that appropriate for younger kids like me. “Here Comes Mr. Trouble” is really exciting and it is written well for kids. How did you like writing for a younger audience?

I loved it! The only thing I did different than what I do in the adult books I write was let my imagination stretch a little farther. Otherwise telling a good story is telling a good story no matter which age group it’s for. I knew I had a good story with “Here Comes Mr. Trouble.” Writing it was a ton of fun from beginning to end!

You told me that you are going to write a sequel to “Here Comes Mr. Trouble”. Will it be about Eric, the Trouble Family, or both? When will it be out and do you have a title yet?

I am. Eric (sorry about the spelling), won’t be in the next book, but will most likely be making a reappearance later. In the meantime, there are other kids in need of the Trouble family’s help, plus there’s a lot of stuff for them to figure out after their experience in “Here Comes Mr. Trouble.” The next book is tentatively called “You’re in Big, Mr. Trouble.” Hoping to have it out at some point in the first half of next year. (No exact date yet.)

  I really liked the Uncle Colin and Mr. Trouble (Ronan) characters. Do you make your characters like people you know (or yourself) or are they all made up?

Pretty much made up. Occasionally, I’ll take little traits from people I know and give them to characters in my books, but never make a whole character based on someone I know. I do, however, use a lot of friends’ names, which is fun. That said, I think there’s a lot of every author in the characters they create, especially their heroes. We can’t help but give them
some of our own traits.

 What kind of book did you read when you were a kid? Did what you read as a kid make you decide to become an author?

I was about your age when I decided I want to write novels (I was 10 and in fifth grade. I remember it clearly.) I just loved stories and reading so much I wanted to do it myself! While we had a lot of reading choices when I was young, I think the choices these days are broader, and, often, written considerably better, too. The series of books I read that sticks in my mind was one called “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators.” It was about these three middle-school aged boys who, with the occasional help of the movie director Alfred Hitchcock, solved mysteries. The coolest thing was their clubhouse built in the middle of a junkyard owned by one of the boy’s uncles (I think.) They had secret tunnels, and all sorts of crazy things that helped my imagination run while. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend going back and reading them yourself. They’re nowhere near as good as some of today’s books. I took a look at one a few years ago and thought, “I used to like this?” But back then they were gold to me.

Thank you Mr. Battles!


Here Comes Mr. Trouble (The Trouble Family Chronicles)

By Brett Battles
Published in 2011 by Crate Space (Kindle Version Reviewed)
252 pages -ages 9+

Eric was having a bad day. Actually he was having a bad week……make that two weeks. He seems to be having the worst luck of his life. What makes maters worse is that he thinks his mom is missing. Eric’s dad just thinks she’s on a business trip but his mom is a hairstylist and she’s NEVER been on a business trip. Eric begins to think he is going crazy. It all starts to make sense (well….sort of) when a phonebook pops out of nowhere open to a page with an ad for a business  that promises to help you with your troubles, he decides to call. Who answers the call? The Trouble family! The Trouble’s promise to help Eric get his life back to the way it used to be. What Eric finds out  is things are a lot worse than he thought!

I like suspenseful action-packed books and it’s really hard to find books like that for young kids  like me. Here Comes Mr. Trouble is a great book for kids who want an exciting story and parents will approve of it because there is no foul language or extreme violence. The reading level was perfect for me (not too hard and not too easy). The story kept me reading it because I wanted to know what happens next. I really liked the Mr. Trouble character (and Uncle Colin) but the other characters were awesome too. I am happy that Mr. Battles is writing a sequel with the title “You’re in Big, Mr. Trouble” which will come out sometime next year. I think adult readers would also like the story because the plot is pretty involved and the story is full of action!

Here comes Mr. Trouble is available in regular book form and also in ebook form (I read the Kindle version and you can buy that  HERE). To learn more about Mr. Battles and his other books please visit his website by clicking HERE.

I give Here Comes Mr. Trouble five out of five book worms!

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