Monday, June 11, 2018

Hope to see you at Denver ComicCon!

I'm going to Denver ComicCon! This is my first ComicCon of any kind, so it'll will be extra fun. I'll have to keep my inner fangirl in check, because there will be two Doctor Whos there.

On a more professional note, I'll be speaking on these panels; come find me if you're there:

80s Resurgence in Books and Movies - Friday, 6/15, 11:00am, Keystone City Mile High Ballroom DCCP4

Creating Believable Monsters - Saturday, 6/16, 12:30pm, Room 405

Why You Should Have Villains of All Stripes - Saturday, 6/16, 4:30pm, Room 405

Not Just Novels - Saturday, 6/16, 5:30pm, Room 405

I promise to try to remember to take pictures...

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Reluctant Readers, nErDcampKS, and Graphic Novels

I'm about to pack up and make my way to Kansas for nErDcampKS, a get-together of authors and educators I'm really excited about. I get to meet fellow middle-grade and picture book authors, and find out what's happening in the classroom straight from the source (teachers and librarians). It's so easy to get caught up in talking to each other as writers that sometimes we forget who we're actually writing for: the kids.

I'm leading a session on reaching reluctant readers, and I always end up talking about graphic novels when I do. They're not comic books, thought they look like it, and they're a great bridge for those visual learners who may have given up on books altogether.

Wimpy Kid, Raina Telgemeier are my standby recommendation, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, a recent graphic novel about going to camp, and being different (she's Russian). This was such a great addition to the graphic novel MG department--it really gets how it feels to be different, and how sometimes you're not sure if you're still a kid or should act like a teen. Funny, and easy to read, I highly recommend it for your summer reading list, even if you're not a reluctant reader.

How about you? Have any reluctant reader books to share for me to take to Kansas?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Congrats to the Edgar and Agatha Award Winners in #YALit and #MGLit!

I'm emerging from my winter writing cave to announce the Edgar winners and Agatha winners! For this blog (since we're YA Sleuth and all), I'll post the YA and Kid winners below:

The Edgars:

Best Juvenile

Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson (Scholastic — Scholastic Press)
Vanished! by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster — Aladdin)
The Assassin's Curse by Kevin Sands (Simon & Schuster — Aladdin)
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens (Simon & Schuster — Simon & Schuster BFYR)
NewsPrints by Ru Xu (Scholastic — Graphix)

Young Adult

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (Macmillan Children's Publishing Group — Feiwel & Friends)
Grit by Gillian French (HarperCollins Publishers — HarperTeen)
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster)
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster — Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (HarperCollins Publishers — Balzer + Bray)


Best Children’s/Young Adult

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino  (Polis Books)
**Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead by Cindy Callaghan  (Aladdin)
The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson  (HarperCollins)
Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson  (Scholastic Press)
The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley  (Scholastic Press)

You can find the Edgars winners for all categories and Agatha winners (announced at Malice Domestic) at their respective websites.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wednesday Picture Book Review: The Funeral by Matt James

Publication Date: 3 Apr. 2018

From the Publisher:

Norma and her parents are going to her great-uncle Frank’s funeral, and Norma is more excited than sad. She is looking forward to playing with her favorite cousin, Ray, but when she arrives at the church, she is confronted with rituals and ideas that have never occurred to her before. While not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing — Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral.

This sensitive and life-affirming story will lead young readers to ask their own questions about life, death and how we remember those who have gone before us.

My Thoughts:

Such an unusual concept: a Fun-eral (get it? it's fun). I was surprised by the unique concept when I saw this picture book at ALA, and picked up a copy.

Great illustrations, and the text was just right. This book shows the remarkable perspective kids have on a day, and how we could all stand to be a little more child-like in our perspective.

One of those books that becomes part of your permanent collection of picture books.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday YA Book Review: Subway Palliatopia by S.W. Lothian

Publication Date: 04 Apr. 2018

From the Publisher:


In a world that’s self-obsessed, every moment is shared and every move is posted. If you don’t follow you don’t care. Those who don’t care aren’t worth the time.

The city of New York grows by half a million people per annum. Each year over 20,000 go missing - that's more than 50 per day. Of these, 6,500 are runaways, 12,700 are found alive, and 1,400 are never found.

Does anyone notice?

What happens to them?

My Thoughts:

I really liked S.W. Lothian's books for younger readers, so I was very happy to hear this long-awaited YA was finally available for me to read.

I was not disappointed. S.W. Lothian knows just how to suck you right into the story, setting the scene for this eerie scenario where the population is so enthralled with their FEED, they don't even see what's happening under their noses.

We follow Wil, whose girl Cas has disappeared, a scary trend that has largely gone unnoticed in the city. In his search for the truth, Wil quickly gets into what seems to be a terrible subway accident, which in turn has him captured by a mysterious organization. He's trapped in Subway Palliotopia, where nothing is as it seems.

I don't want to spoil the plot, so I'll just sum it up this way: readers of The Hunger Games and Scott Westerfeld's novels will like this YA dystopian. The writing is superb and very accessible, the characters so relatable--I can't wait for the next in the series to come out. Subway Palliatopia is one of those books that transcends the YA genre. Highly recommended.

Check out the trailer for Subway Palliatopia:

You can order the book right here 

And find out more about S.W. Lothian here.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Cozy Mystery Review: Cinco de Murder by Rebecca Adler

Publishing date: Apr. 3rd 2018

From the Publisher:

ex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan serves up more Lone Star justice in this spicy mystery from the author of The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole.
It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.

My Thoughts:

This was my first time reading a book in the A Taste of Texas Mystery series. At first, my head was spinning a bit, getting to know all the characters in the series, and following along. But I quickly felt at home in Broken Boot, Texas, as setup began for a chili cook-off and Josie has to solve the murder of a chili cook.

I really liked Josie and her little dog, and enjoyed following along as she solved the murder mystery. As in any cozy mystery, some of the typical challenges writing an amateur sleuth who is solving a crime alongside police are there, but the author navigates the genre perfectly. The mystery is solidly plotted, and the supporting cast is just quirky enough to enjoy--I really felt like I wanted to live in Broken Boot, Texas.

What I loved most was exactly this: the different setting. Where so many cozy mysteries are set in a quaint New England town, this series really embraces and celebrates its small town Texas setting.
I'll be reading the first two, and hope there will be more books in the A Taste of Texas Mystery series.

**NetGalley provided copy for review**

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Cozy Mystery Review: Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson

Publishing Date: Apr. 1, 2018

From the Publisher:

Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion—cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives.

But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears—perhaps to silence the new chef forever.

My Thoughts:

Oh, this one was just a lot of fun to read. The opening was a bit rough, but once Dani sets up her Chef-to-Go business and the college girls move in, we're off to the races.

The romantic elements are a bit stronger in this cozy mystery series than I like, and some of Dani's actions made me frown, but other than those few bumps, this was a really fun new series. I liked the details about Dani's chef business, and her interactions with the upper crust of the small town she lives in. The addition of the college girls who live with her and help her with the business makes the series feel a bit younger and edgier--a welcome new take on the cozy mystery genre. The mystery wasn't too tough to figure out, but still well-plotted for the avid mystery fan.

Recommended if you like cozy mysteries, but are looking for something a bit edgier and fun.

*NetGalley copy provided for review**