Monday, April 29, 2019

#MMGM book review and ARC giveaway: Choose Your Own Adventure Spies: James Armistead Lafayette

It's Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday! That means you can find a giant list of the latest MG reviews here at Greg Pattridge's blog Always in the Middle

Publication date: May 1, 2019


From the publisher:

Choose Your Own Adventure SPIES: James Armistead Lafayette by Kyandreia Jones takes YOU to the heart of the American Revolutionary War. 9-12 year old readers will enact the life of an actual historic spy, James Armistead Lafayette, whose top secret espionage efforts were instrumental in helping the revolutionary forces defeat the British. And yet his story has been almost entirely left out of history books. Choose Your Own Adventure SPIES: James Armistead Lafayette is an interactive adventure book in which YOU decide what happens next.

The year is 1781 and George Washington is commanding thousands of troops in Yorktown, Virginia, on the brink of the most important battle of the war. You are James Armistead, a brave and literate enslaved person in Virginia. Marquis de Lafayette, one of Washington's key officers, approaches you with the most critical choice of your life: do you join the Revolutionary army as a top secret spy or find freedom on your own terms? As a spy for the revolution, you might change the course of history, but whose liberty will you really be fighting for?

My thoughts: 

I loved choose your own adventure books as a kid, and I'm glad to see these more again now. This book is brilliant in that it has that active element of choosing your own adventure, while teaching you a lot of history along the way. Perfect for reluctant readers, and excellent timing for summer reading.

The back of the book gives you the story of James Armistead Lafayette and his work as a spy, despite his status as a slave. It also talks about his journey to freedom--fascinating and inspiring. I loved how the author really brings history (and James Armistead Lafayette as a person) to life in this book.

The book also gives you a short, by-year summary of the history of slavery and emancipation in the U.S.

I could see this making a great read-aloud for teachers--how fun to choose your own adventure as a class. Highly recommend.

**Publisher provided ARC for review**

GIVEAWAY UPDATE: winner has been chosen, thanks for stopping by!


Friday, April 26, 2019

Congrats to the 2019 Edgar Award winners!

Best Juvenile: Otherwood by Peter Hautman



Best YA: Sadie by Courtney Summers


You can find the full list of nominees and winners here.

Congrats to everyone, nominees and winners alike! The bar for this award is high, y'all...





Thursday, April 11, 2019

Winter, Winter (March/April News)


Happy April, all! Hope your month has been a good one so far, with lots of reading. That’s pretty much all I’ve been doing, and it’s been awesome. I’m not such a fan of winter (too cold, and I don’t ski), so I make the best of the winter months by cocooning. Aside from the occasional school visit, of course.


What I’ve been up to

I had a great school visit at a nearby school—how inspiring are those kids… I was reminded how smart upper-elementary kids can be. Of course, I forgot to take pictures (again), and I promptly caught a cold.

No matter, because Mother Nature decided to drop a pile of snow, keeping me hibernating like a brown bear anyway. I will say, I’ve also been complaining about the snow, unlike a brown bear. This bear would rather be on a sunny beach. Maybe there’s a picture book in there somewhere… Bear on the Beach?



What I’ve Been Writing


I’ve been tinkering with a chapter book series, which has been a lot of fun. I try to imagine what kind of book I would’ve liked during those early elementary school years, and that’s what I wrote. It’s a mystery of course (no surprise there), with a cat in it. Super fun, and a good break between larger novel length projects.


Otherwise I’m brainstorming a YA and a MG, deciding what’s next. It’s a tougher decision than I thought…

For my fellow writer friends: how do you decide what to write next?





What’s on The Nightstand


While I’m pretending to be a hibernating bear, I’m getting lots of reading done. My nightstand is overflowing with books; recently I read Before She Knew Him, a great thriller by Peter Swanson. Lately, I’ve started a few novels by male authors who didn’t quite get the female POV right—but Swanson did a great job in this book. Nice twists and turns; I saw some of it coming, but it was still a great read. Recommended, if you’re looking for a new book to read during the winter.


Because I was working on a chapter book, I read quite a few too… They’re so fun, and remind me why I love writing for kids.



Good News


For some good news: my short story Perfect Alibi was selected for the next Mystery Writers of
America anthology, a collection of solve-it-yourself mysteries for kids. It’s not due out until the fall of 2020, which seems like a long time from now until I realize we’re already well into 2019…
Tempus fugit, y’all.



Where to find me


Aside from a bundle of end-of-year school visits, I’ll be at Pikes Peak Writers Conference May 3-5. If you’re a writer, I hope to see you there!
Also, you may find me in my car, driving to the nearest warm location to escape winter…


How about you? Do you like winter, hate it, or do you ski your way through the snow?


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I'm so excited for the Aug. 25th release if MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL...!  If you want to join the fun, follow along with the bl...