Waiting on Wednesday–A Hundred Horses by Sarah Lean

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

One guess why I’m waiting for A Hundred Horses by Sarah Lean…Yup, it has horses!  And magical adventures.  And a lot of fun, I hope!  In stores January 2014

 

From the author of A Dog Called Homeless, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, comes a gentle tale with a touch of magic about the power of friendship, the truth of belonging, and the most special of a hundred horses.

Nell is not happy about spending her school vacation with relatives she doesn’t know. Expecting nothing more than silly little cousins and boring farm life, she sneaks along a special suitcase that once belonged to her father. In it, she knows, are the parts of a music box and sixteen miniature painted horses, and she thinks maybe she can fit them all back together.

But the countryside has unexpected surprises. When a half-wild and mysterious girl named Angel steals Nell’s suitcase, the two girls are tied in an adventure of Angel’s devising. Nighttime meetings and a horse that might just be magical pique Nell’s curiosity, and soon she must put together the mystery of who Angel truly is, understand the legends about the herd of a hundred horses, and also discover something special about herself.

 

What are you waiting on?

Waiting on Wednesday–Moonkind by Sarah Prineas

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

ZOMG!!!!  I just discovered that Sarah Prineas has another book due in stores in December! I loved Winterling, and I have Summerkin on my wish list.  I just added Moonkind to the list, so it looks like I have some awesome MG novels to look forward to at the end of the year.

 

Moonkind, the sweeping conclusion to Sarah Prineas’s fantasy adventure series that started with Winterling, follows Fer, the Lady of the Summerlands, as she attempts to inspire change in the face of great danger and resistance.

Fer, the Lady of the Summerlands, has made a critical mistake. In a world where oath-binding magic runs deep, the consequences of a broken promise can be nothing short of dire. But Fer has not broken her promise-she’s remained true to her vow to rule with honesty and without the disguise of a glamorie. Yet as a young leader, she’s naively trusted others to honor such an oath, too-one that many are unwilling and unable to keep.
With the cost of countless broken oaths weighing heavily on the land, the realm has begun to change. A stillness is creeping in, bringing a silent death to the place that Fer holds so dear. Only Fer has the power to fight it, but she may have to rely on the help of the one boy whose very nature is to deceive her.
Sarah Prineas, the award-winning author of the Magic Thief books, shines in this mesmerizing series conclusion. Praised by Kirkus Reviews for her lush and sensuous prose, Sarah once again takes readers on a breathtaking journey to a land of wildling transformations, magical poultices, shape-shifting troublemakers, and enduring friendships that cannot be broken.

 

What are you waiting on?

Interview with Merrie Haskell, Author of Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Merrie Haskell dropped by the virtual offices this morning to chat up her latest MG release Handbook for Dragon Slayers.  Check out what she has to say about it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

@merriehaskell: author, library paraprofessional; obsessed with herbs, blacksmithing, office supplies, alternate universes, anthropology

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Handbook for Dragon Slayers?

[Merrie Haskell] It’s a 12th century adventure story that takes place along the Rhine, in which a runaway princess with a clubfoot who joins forces with two dragon slayers-in-training; she runs into the Wild Hunt, an evil knight, and several dragons along the way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Merrie Haskell] The broadest part of the concept, a girl who writes a handbook for dragon slayers, actually came to me in drips and drabs over the years.  In college, for a history class, I had to read a wonderful book called A Handbook for William, which was a 9th century German woman’s advice for living at court for her son.  The concept of medieval handbooks actually became a bit of an obsession for me at that point.  How on earth do you make something like that exciting in a fiction book, though? Many years later, I ran across the concept of book curses–notices put at the beginning of books that promised dire consequences for book thieves (explored in an interesting book called Anathema: Medieval scribes and the history of book curses).  I’m not entirely sure when dragons wormed their way in there, other than dragons are so much fun.  When I learned Old English in college, the Anglo-Saxons were sort of obsessed with dragons–it was a big insult to call someone a dragon, because you were a hoarder of gold and treasure, the opposite of what a noble and valiant Anglo-Saxon should be.  Being a giver was important–a ring giver, a bread giver.  It’s so the opposite of how we look at dragons now.  So, these three concepts sort of came together, and I found myself scratching out a book curse:

Whosoever steals this book

shall burn in the

fiery conflagration of a DRAGON’S BREATH

and will ALSO LOSE THEIR NOSE

TO PUTREFACTION.

It is advised, therefore,

that you take your nose home intact,

and leave this handbook

for the study of proper DRAGON SLAYERS

It suddenly seemed very clear to me, that a handbook could be very interesting if it were for dragon slayers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Tilda?

[Merrie Haskell] This is actually something I do while I write: have the main characters and their key character traits written on post-its along my monitor.  Tilda’s said: RESILIENT. 

I would also add either "Dutiful/Rebellious" — this is her main conflict in the book, as she is duty-driven but rebelling against that.

And finally–"Intelligent."

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Parz had a theme song, what would it be?

[Merrie Haskell] Great question!  I would say it’s probably "Good Life" by OneRepublic.  That song just reeks of Parz–a sort of easy happiness and optimism, combined with the joy of adventure and travel.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Judith is never without.

[Merrie Haskell] A personal knife to use for eating.  You always had to bring your own knife to dinner in the Middle Ages.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Tilda’s pockets?

[Merrie Haskell] Well, since she lived in an era in which pockets didn’t exist, this list is sort of endless!  But she has a few pouches and purses and things like that, so I’ll say she’d never carry embroidery needles, thread, or any sort of thimble.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Judith’s greatest regret?

[Merrie Haskell] Judith loves animals, especially baby animals; she comes to regret being a dragon slayer pretty quickly when she realizes that baby dragons are affected!  Otherwise, though, she is not a girl who holds herself back except when prudence demands, so she doesn’t have too terribly many regrets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Merrie Haskell] I would say learning has the biggest influence on my creativity.  When I’m learning new things, I almost can’t stop the flow of story and character ideas–it just rains down.  The most perfect example of this was recently when I started to learn blacksmithing–knowing that I wanted to write about a blacksmith, of course.  I started seeing the world in the colors of heated metal. I would drive over bridges and think about the wealth of rebar embedded in the concrete beneath me.  I was on a long plane flight with a copy of The Art of Blacksmithing and started to read–in 30 seconds, I had a notebook open next to me as I scribbled scene idea after scene idea, just from reading about the details of the things I had learned in a more hands-on setting.  I think that’s my most perfect learning experience, doing followed up by theory. I am similarly stimulated when I travel or learn languages. I love going to a place and then reading about it in detail.  It feels backward–wouldn’t it be better to learn before you go somewhere?–but I think that gives me preconceptions that aren’t helpful for the stimulation of creativity.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Merrie Haskell] A reasonable night of sleep behind me, a writing tool (pen & paper or computer), and ideally, a notebook or a stack of notecards so I can document the things I don’t want to include in the manuscript.  I have been a creature of ritual and habit from time to time, but so often these things get in my way.  Deadlines which are attached to money have a way of clearing a lot of mental fluff from your process, I’ve found.  I occasionally worry that my process is still too dependent on peripheries (really, a computer AND a notebook?), but whenever I forget the notebook, the process suffers, so I think I really do need it. Jotting notes to myself on the computer helps me very little; the notes just get lost in the shuffle. Having that other thing to look at on the desk beside me while my book is still up on the screen is great. And if I need the physical act of writing with a pen to get me out of my typing-mode brain, it’s right there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Merrie Haskell] I couldn’t put down WHEN WE WAKE by Karen Healey, which is about a girl that wakes up from a cryogenic sleep a hundred years after she died and has to deal with all the grief and loss of her old world.  I read most of it during my time on the elliptical trainer at the gym, and it’s incredibly awkward to be brought to tears on an elliptical machine. Other people tend to think you’re having an asthma attack or… who knows.  "Sorry, I’m just reading a very affecting book, go back to your treadmill!"

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Merrie Haskell] Without a question, it was Little House on the Prairie.  I was starting to read a lot already, but when I got that for Christmas in first grade, and it seemed like such a *large* and important book and then I read it all, all by myself, I not only realized how much I enjoyed reading, but I felt smart and capable (no one else was reading books that big in my first grade class).  The escape of reading and the increase to my self-worth? A combination impossible to escape.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Merrie Haskell] I like to read, of course.  I was a huge YA reader when I was a young adult, and never stopped reading YA along the way. I like TV–my Tumblr is pretty much reblogged gif sets from sitcoms and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and not much else.  Oh, and Revenge.  I dabble in a variety of hobbies, like the aforementioned blacksmithing, gardening, calligraphy, drawing…  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Merrie Haskell] I have a Facebook page, but most of the action is on Twitter (@merriehaskell) and my blog (blog.merriehaskell.com).  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Handbook for Dragon Slayers and The Princess Curse from your favorite bookseller or buy clicking the links below:

About the book:

When a runaway princess throws her lot in with a couple of would-be dragon slayers, before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending enchanted horses, battling fire-breathing dragons, and learning more about herself than she ever expected…

About the author

Merrie Haskell grew up half in North Carolina, half in Michigan. She wrote her first story at age seven, and she walked dogs after school to save for her first typewriter. She attended the University of Michigan, where she graduated from the Residential College with a degree in biological anthropology. She works in a library with over 7.5 million volumes.

Her first book, the Middle Grade historical fantasy The Princess Curse, was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her second book is Handbook for Dragon Slayers.  Her short fiction appears in Nature, Asimov’s, and various anthologies. Merrie lives in Saline, Michigan.

Interview with Jessica Day George, Author of Wednesdays in the Tower and Giveaway!

Please welcome Jessica Day George to the virtual offices this morning! Jessica is here to chat about her latest release, Wednesdays in the Tower, and after the interview, she has a copy for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jessica Day George] Redheaded chocoholic bookworm.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Rolf?

[Jessica Day George] Devil-may-care, loyal, tough. (Hyphens make that one word, right?)

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Celie is never without.

[Jessica Day George] Sketching pencils.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jessica Day George] River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ve been a huge fan for many years. He just keeps getting better!

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jessica Day George] It was definitely The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley. I’d never read anything like it, and I swore I would be an author too, when I read it.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Wednesdays in the Tower? Just fill out the widget below to enter! US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win?  Click the links below to purchase Wednesdays in the Tower:

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wednesdays-in-the-tower-jessica-day-george/1112951651?ean=9781599906454

About the book:

A castle that is constantly rearranging itself, and a young royal family sworn to protect it… Celie, Rolf, and their beloved Castle Glower are back in this exciting sequel.

Strange things are afoot in Castle Glower: new rooms, corridors, and even stables keep arriving, even when they aren’t needed. Celie’s brother Bran, the new Royal Wizard, has his hands full cataloguing an entire storeroom full of exotic and highly dangerous weapons, while Celie has her hands full . . . raising the creature that hatches from a giant egg she finds! Will they be able to find out what’s making the Castle behave this way in time?

Review: Coyote Winds by Helen Sedwick

 

 

Title:  Coyote Winds

Author: Helen Sedwick

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

COYOTE WINDS is an historical novel set on the western prairie in the years before the Dust Bowl, a time of optimism and confidence, a time when a man was measured by what he produced, not what he could buy. It explores the American can-do spirit that drew people to this wind-swept frontier and the consequences of that spirit. It asks whether that spirit survives today.

Lexile Score HL 690 (high low book); Honorable Mention 2013 Green Book Festival Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Summary: When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame what should be wild.

Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie.

Inspired by her father’s tales of growing up during the Dust Bowl, Sedwick weaves insight, humor, historical details and unforgettable characters into a coming-of-age story that reminds us that chasing a dream, even if it brings heartache, is far better than not dreaming at all.


Review:

I am fascinated with history, so when I was contacted to review Coyote Winds, I jumped at the chance.  The story is told through alternating POVs (including a coyote’s), and Myles is experiencing the Dust Bowl first hand.  His grandson, Andy, is desperately trying to understand his grandfather’s stories of life on the prairie.  Andy feels like he is nothing but a disappointment to his overachieving attorney parents, and he is struggling in school.  He can’t seem to connect with his peers or his classes.  After his grandfather’s death leaves a hole the size of the prairie in his heart, Andy attempts to reconcile his grandfather’s tales with what life on the prairie in the 1930s was really like.  Conflicting accounts his great aunt told his mother puzzle him, and for a boy who didn’t like reading, Andy was suddenly all about researching what his grandfather and his family endured on their homestead.  I loved how Andy kept insisting that it’s his story, too, and his mother’s story, after she shuts down and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

It took me a while to warm up to Andy and his segments of the story.  But before I knew it, I was invested in the lives of all of the characters in Coyote Winds.  By the end of the book, I shocked by how much I had come to like them.  The more I think about it, the more moved I am by this story.  It is raw and uncompromising at times, and Myles’ accounts of his childhood experiences are unflinchingly truthful.  From brutal rabbit hunts to disputes with the neighbor over proper farming techniques, Myles’ narrative POV is both unemotional and free of embellishment.  He’s just telling it like it is.  As he begins to realize how primitive life on the farm is, with no electricity or running water, he begins to question his father’s dedication to farming.  Is he just stubborn?  Can’t he see how difficult life in the middle of no where is, and how unhappy his mother and sister are?  While Myles loves the land, he longs for something more.

Ro, the coyote pup Myles rescues after a dust storm, also shares the story through his eyes. His point of view didn’t work as well for me, because I was so stressed that Bad Things would happen to him.  His chapters left me sad and depressed, because he kept longing for the things he would never have; a life among his own kind, and his brothers and sisters to play with.  His human pack didn’t understand him, and when Myles, in an effort to protect both his friend and Ro, chases him off, my heart broke for the little guy.

By the end of the book I was sobbing.  I don’t know why, other than each character had come to life for me, and had come to mean something to me.  Even the people I thought I couldn’t stand had shining moments of insight that made me understand their stance on farming and raising their families.  This is a book of broken dreams, but it’s also a story of  hope and the courage to attempt to make changes in your life.  While the farmland was harsh to Myles and his family, it was healing to Andy and his parents, and brought them closer together.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by the author

Interview with Soman Chainani, Author of The School For Good and Evil

Please welcome Soman Chainani to the virtual offices today.  Soman is here to chat about the School for Good and Evil, which releases today.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Soman Chainani] A professional storyteller by trade. Sensitive, intense, athletic, and a lover of all things fantastic and imaginative.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The School For Good and Evil?

[Soman Chainani] THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL is the first book in an epic new fantasy trilogy, which follows two heroines: gorgeous Sophie, with her waist-long blond hair and her dreams of becoming a princess — and her black-wearing friend Agatha, awkward and dour, who everyone thinks is a witch. But when they arrive at the School for Good and Evil, where children are trained to become fairy-tale heroes and villains, they’re put in the wrong schools. Sophie is dumped in Evil to learn Uglification, Death Curses, and other villainous arts, while Agatha finds herself at the School for Good amid handsome princes and fair maidens. But the question remains: Is it really a mistake?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Soman Chainani] I’ve been toying with versions of this story since I was 12. But it finally all congealed in my head one day when I was in London on a film project. I remember walking in Regents Park and I had the image of the two girls, one in pink, one in black, falling into the wrong schools. The entire story just opened up, as it had been there all along. I ended up 30 minutes late to my next meeting, just because I was ambling around, lost in the idea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sophie?

[Soman Chainani] Diva. Iconoclast. Charismatic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Agatha had a theme song, what would it be?

[Soman Chainani] “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sophie is never without.

[Soman Chainani] A homemade honeycream facial scrub

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Agatha’s school bag?

[Soman Chainani] No makeup. No change of clothes (she always wears black). No regrets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Soman Chainani] Madonna. Miyazaki. Classic Disney cartoons. Roald Dahl. Stanley Kubrick.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Soman Chainani] A hard workout before I start. A reclining chair. A lunch I’m looking forward to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Soman Chainani] A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. It made me cry in a café and I remember looking up after the last page and seeing the waiters giving me very concerned looks.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Soman Chainani] From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. I read that book every day for months and months. I loved the idea of being parentless in a museum. I still do!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Soman Chainani] I’m a tennis maniac. On another planet in an alternate universe, I’m a pro tennis player. If I’m not playing tennis or writing, I’m likely reading, watching movies, travelling or having a long dinner with friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Soman Chainani] My website is: www.somanchainani.net

Facebook.com/schoolforgoodandevil

Tumblr.com/somanchainani

Twitter @somanchainani

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The School for Good and Evil by clicking the links below:

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-school-for-good-and-evil-soman-chainani/1113200551

About the book:

At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Waiting on Wednesday – Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters by Diane Zahler

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I adore Diane Zahler’s fairytale retellings, so I had a major geek out when I saw the cover for her next release.  So pretty!  So magical!!  So I must read you now!!  Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters will be in stores August 2013 – I can’t wait!

 

 

Princesses Aurora and Luna have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents, the king and queen. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and, curiously, all sharp objects are forbidden from the castle.

But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.

Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up…for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

 

What are you waiting on?

Waiting on Wednesday–Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 

When a runaway princess throws her lot in with a couple of would-be dragon slayers, before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending enchanted horses, battling fire-breathing dragons, and learning more about herself than she ever expected…

 

What are you waiting on?