It's been a while since I've shared a book review here on my blog. I try to keep my Goodreads updated, but I'm not the best at that, either. But there's been a few books I've loved lately.
Today I'll share about the most recent one:
THE HOTEL BETWEEN, by Sean Easely
The Book Blurb:
Twins Cam and Cass have never known their parents. They’ve been told their mother died, and Cass is certain their father abandoned them. Cam isn’t so sure. He wants to prove her wrong; he must.
Cam’s wish is soon granted in the form of a glistening, golden sign with elaborate flourishes that reads: The Hotel Between. With doors that open to countries all over the world, magical trollies, charmed corridors that can be altered on a whim, stone elephants that come to life, sweets made from rocks; everything is possible in the Hotel. Cam has a hunch his father is somehow connected to this magical place, and may even be lost within its hidden halls.
Every journey has its risks, and The Hotel Between is full of dangerous secrets. If Cam’s not careful, his stay may be over before his vacation has even started.
This is a fabulous middle grade adventure with magic and mystery at its heart! There are many twists and turns I didn't see coming, and I couldn't put the book down. Sean Easley did an incredible job with world-building and character development-- I will miss these characters AND the magic of The Hotel Between. Luckily, there's a book 2 and I plan on reading it asap!
f you enjoy fantastical stories with magic, adventure, and twisty turns, get this one today! I mean, just look at that gorgeous cover! It really captures the story perfectly.
I'm so excited to be a part of the Snowy Wings Publishing Middle Grade Blog hop! My World of Aluvia books were re-released with Snowy Wings, and it's been a wonderful experience!
For our blog hop, The Reading Faery asked me a few questions-- and they are some really fun ones. Thank you for such a lovely interview, Moa! You can visit her post for the blog hop here. Her blog is beautiful and offers information on tons of books! I enjoyed our visit. At the bottom of our posts, there are links to the rest of the blog hop, so please be sure to check those out, too!
The World of Aluvia has three books in the series: Fairy Keeper, Mer-Charmer, and Dragon Redeemer. These books are upper middle grade, and a great fit for grades 4th-8th and up. Though the series has a story line that spans all three books, each book can stand alone, each with a different main character and a focus on a different magical creature.
Fairies, mermaids, and dragons, oh my!
Fairy KEePer, World of Aluvia, Book 1
Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects. Still, almost everyone views the fairy keeper mark as a gift, a sign of an ability to attract and even control fairies. Fourteen-year-old Sierra considers it a curse, one that binds her to a dark alchemist father who steals her fairies’ mind-altering nectar for his illegal elixirs and poisons.
But when all the little fairies die mysteriously and the fairy queens go missing, more than just the life of her fairy is in the balance. Sierra will stop at nothing to find the fairy queens, leading her to a magical secret lost since ancient times. The magic waiting for her has the power to transform the world, but only if she can first embrace her destiny as a fairy keeper.
A short EXCERPT from Chapter One
At this point in the story, Sierra has realized she needs to collect more fairy nectar right away, though the fairies are more dangerous at dusk. She and her little sister Phoebe have just reached the fairy field.
When they turned the corner at the clump of blackberry bushes where Phoebe would wait, Sierra paused. A haunting silence sat heavily in the meadow. No bass-deep thrumming of the fairies in their hatch rode along the breeze. No tiny lights like sparks flittered within the darkening trees nearby. Her heart galloped. Where were her charges? Thankfully, her sister hadn’t noticed yet.
“Phoebe, I need you to go back and start cooking, okay? We don’t want dinner late for Jack. This won’t take long, but they get irritated at dusk, and I don’t want you to get hurt.” That last part was not a lie.
Phoebe’s shoulders sagged, but she knew a late dinner meant trouble. She headed back, dragging her feet, head tucked down into her chest. If their mother hadn’t died birthing Phoebe, maybe things would have been different. Whatever kindness had been in their father must have died right along with her. Before Sierra could ache over how much more she wished she could give her sister, she turned her attention back to the fairy hatch.
There were no cages for Sierra’s fairies. No wires, no lids, no glass. Except for the queen, they were so tiny they could fit through most holes, but they didn’t need cages with a fairy keeper around anyway. She was the reason they kept coming back. They did live in a slatted wooden box that allowed easy access to their nectar, but otherwise they were free to come and go as they pleased. Unlike Sierra. She was trapped by her mark, her father, and by her love for Phoebe.
Sierra tiptoed forward. The sky was darkening, but there were no glowing wings covered in the nectar that dripped off them in their hatches. Her skin prickled as it did in that still moment before an earthquake hit.
Next to the hatch, a pile of tiny rainbow flower petals were spread on the ground. For one moment, she didn’t understand. Then her knees gave out when her mind made sense of the sight.
All the fairies were dead. No movement, no noise, no vibration, no light. Sierra searched the pile for her queen, the tiny wings rasping softly as she sifted them through her hands. They were like dry silk as they slid down her palms, which began to shake. She dropped the last dead fairy from her fingers and stood in shock. All dead but the queen, who was missing. Where was the queen?
Thanks for reading! You can check out the rest of the first chapters on Amazon's Look Inside feature, too.
I appreciate your time and am always glad to hear from readers!
About the Blog Hop, from Snowy Wings:
As a thank you for participating in our blog hop, we’re offering a chance to win eight (8) ebooks and two (2) paperbacks from our middle-grade authors!
Hop around and make sure to visit everyone today, then fill out the Rafflecopter!
October 25th – YA/NA Book Divas
October 26th – Selenia Paz
October 27th – Mindy Klasky
October 28th – I Love Books and Stuff
October 29th – Amy Bearce / The Reading Faery
October 30th – Melanie McFarlane / Jenifer Reads
October 31st – Sarah Dale / Sucker for Coffe
There are many amazing books appropriate for 4th-8th graders within the 700-950 Lexile range, to include Newbery winners and best sellers. Lexile only measures text complexity (sentence structure, words per sentence, etc.), not content. Consider that Grapes of Wrath and Charlotte's Web both have a Lexile of 680, which is a "3rd-5th grade" score. With this information, you can ask teachers to reconsider the 1000 point cut-off. I've had some success with that.
But sometimes it doesn't matter. Sometimes, you just have to find a book for class that is over 1000 Lexile. (And sometimes teachers don't have any choice, either.) I recently found a couple of wonderful resources that will hopefully make your life easier.
Here is an excellent collection of books from the Brownsburg Public Library that includes classics, YA, and adult fiction and fantasy. I started reading adult fantasy in 8th grade, and it can be quite age-appropriate. For a 7th or 8th grader, I'd definitely consider Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and maybe try out some of the older fantasy books by classic fantasy authors like Mercedes Lackey (Owl Flight), Anne McCaffery (Renegades of Pern), and Terry Brooks (Sword of Shannara.) The pacing may be slower, but if you like any of these, those authors have tons of other books for you to enjoy, set in the same world.
And the Elkhorn Library has this incredible list for 5th and up of books that are 1000 Lexile and up. It gives a tiny blurb about each one, too, as well as Reading Counts points. Some of these would be fine for fourth graders, as well. If you haven't read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, this is your chance to enjoy a fantastic book that is over 1000 Lexile, along with his biography GUTS! Bad Beginnings by Lemony Snicket is good for those elementary kids being told to read 1000 Lexile, to include fourth graders.
You can also ask for help from your local school or public librarian to find suitable books. Librarians excel at helping readers find the perfect book--and created both of the linked lists from this post. WE LOVE YOU, LIBRARIANS!
Another excellent option for 3rd and 4th graders is The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron, which won the Newbery Award. It's not on these lists, presumably because it's not technically over 1000 on the Lexile site (it's listed at 950L), but it is also sometimes rated as 1010L, as evidenced by its Junior Library Guild page. Either way, it's a fabulous book if you can persuade your teacher to allow that apparent 50 point difference (mention that it was a Newbery Award winner.)
These two lists were more effective for me than searching on Lexile's site, but you can do that, too. Lexile's site is more useful if you have a title that you need to check for its level, rather than searching for a title, in my opinion.
Happy hunting for your next required reading, and best wishes!
Today I shared briefly about what happens after you type THE END on your first draft!
**Please note that this video DOES have closed captioning, but I can't seem to make it work here on the blog right now. Please click through to Facebook (it's also on my Youtube channel) if you would prefer to read along. Apologies and I'll work on that!
I'm so happy to share this news! Jolly Fish Press has signed PARIS ON REPEAT and its sequel (tentatively named WHEN IN ROME)! Right now, it looks like PARIS ON REPEAT may be out next summer, so it'll be here before we know it! More news to come!
Graphic text reads: When one psychic diva clashes with another, sparks fly and threaten to ignite an uncontrollable blaze that could destroy everything Parker and her friends love!
More information to come--stay tuned!
If you are in the San Antonio area, I hope to see you at The Twig Book Shop this Sunday! I'll be hanging out at a table, available to sign copies of SHORTCUTS but also happy to visit with people about their questions on writing, publishing, creativity, and more. Stop on by! There's a farmer's market during that time at the Pearl where The Twig is located, and it's a really fun experience. Make a day of it! Hopefully I'll see you there!
Saturday Oct. 5-- Boerne Book and Arts Fest, between 10-4:30. Exact time TBA.
I'll be on the panel, "The Magic of Children's Books"along with Mari Mancusi and Cori Putman-Oaks. The whole day will be full of speakers, panels, books, and art!
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 10-11am. Banned Book Week expo at Northeast Lakeview College.
The awesome library team has been working with the art and history departments to put on an amazing exhibition including student work and an "Ask the Artist" table and an "Ask the Author/Librarian" table-- that's where I'll be. Come ask your questions on censorship, publication, or writing. All are welcome to this free event!
I will update here as needed. I hope your summer is relaxing and fun!
And if you enjoy the story, please take a moment and leave a review on Amazon, Goodereads, Bookbub, and/or Barnes and Noble. Even a short review helps other readers know if this is a book they would also enjoy, and lets my publisher know that this is a series worth continuing! You can make a big difference. Thanks so much!
There were so many sessions I wanted to attend, but several of them were in conflict with each other or with events I was participating in. I was fortunate to be included in the Texas Authors Speed Dating event, in which authors rotated among tables of librarians to share about books. I loved my table mates, two incredible picture book authors, and I met a room full of fabulous librarians. The next day, I was on a panel with Texas middle grade and YA authors--and the room was bigger than I expected! It was my first panel and I was nervous, but everyone was such fun that the time flew by. Before I knew it, I was running to my book signing! We gave away one hundred signed copies of SHORTCUTS in thirty minutes to librarians and teachers! YAY!!
It was such a dreamy moment-- I had walked by those author signing events at the last TLA I went to, when I was in library school, wishing so much that one day I'd be there as an author. And this week, I was! Thank you SO MUCH for being a part of that!
Here are a few images from the week. If you've never been to a big conference like TLA or ALA, they are hard to describe, but this year, I noticed that being involved in my writing community made a big difference. The last time I went, I saw only a couple of people I knew, briefly. It was great, but a little lonely. This time, I visited with many people I knew from online and real life, and got to meet new friends through those connections, too. Get involved, and you'll find your writing journey a lot more fun!
To those of you in 4th-8th grade and older, I hope I can offer a smidgen of help & encouragement as you traverse the waters of intermediate school, middle school, and high school.