Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth E. Wein

code name verityWow. Simply wow.

I was actually disappointed when I first opened this book. The heroine, she calls herself “Queenie”, admits right away to being a Nazi collaborator. She’s spineless, cowardly, and terrified. And she swears. A lot. But this book won several awards last year (Printz Honor Book, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book, Shortlisted for the 2013 Carnegie Award, Golden Kite Award Honor Book), so I pushed through my initial disgust. Turns out you can’t take the narrative at face value.

The first half of the book is the written confession of a female “wireless operator” who has been caught by the Nazis in France. She’s agreed to reveal all the code she knows in exchange for her life. It is an ongoing account, written over a period of six weeks, that gives her current situation while also revealing her past.

However, the second half is an accompanying account written by Queenie’s best friend, the female pilot who delivered Queenie to France before crash landing and becoming an unintentional player in the French resistance. This second account gives a more complete perspective, giving us the whole truth and painting Queenie as the clever, courageous young woman she truly is. So don’t give up on Queenie until you find out what she’s really doing! By the end, you will have a thorough respect for the brave men and women who often gave up their lives to oppose Hitler’s evil regime as special operatives.

This book is brilliantly written and I highly recommended it to older readers with two strong cautions: there is a good deal of language, and many Nazi atrocities are detailed. In this case, I feel the historical authenticity and literary quality warrants a recommendation despite my “mom” concerns. However, I would give it a high school (14+) minimum age limit. It’s emotionally gripping as well as eye-opening, easily the most powerful book I’ve read this year.

Grab an Amazon copy here.

Read Tuesday…oops!

Oh man! Because I was gone to Charleston for an extended anniversary-slash-research trip, I missed Read Tuesday, yesterday’s huge ebook sale. I didn’t remember to set my sale prices the evening I got home–did it yesterday mid-day–so I missed most of the sale. But since they are now set, I’ll leave them that way till tonight. If anyone has been wanting to grab one of my books, everything is on sale for .99 today only. My freebies are still free, of course.


Newbery Challenge Update

I grew up reading Newbery books, and my writing has been strongly influenced by them. The Newbery is the highest American award given for children’s literature annually. It began in 1922. These books helped cement my love of reading, fueled my choice to go into children’s education, and pushed me to try my own hand at writing. They taught me how stories work and gave me something to emulate.

I created this list of Newberry winners several years ago when I set myself a challenge to read them all. (I’ve copied it below.) I’m up to 42 now. How many have you read?

Here are the Newbery honor books from 1990-1999, 2000-2010, and 2011-2020.

My favorites from earlier years:


Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan

sarah plain and tallI have wanted to read Sarah, Plain and Tall for years and years. Decades. It just never got onto my reading list till I stumbled across it this summer and it came to memory again.

This one is well-decorated. It took the Newbery, Scott O’Dell Award, and Kite Award in 1986—all prestigious honors. Did the book live up to its reputation? You bet it did. I LOVED this one.

Patricial MacLachlan has a sweet, eminently readable style. She makes you wish you were there on the great big American Plains and able to comfort the two young characters, Anna and Caleb, who lost their mother when Caleb was born. Their father writes away for a mail-order bride, and the woman who answers is able to fill the void left by his wife as well as carve a niche of her own the hearts of all three family members.

Squeaky AwardThis was a short read, barely an hour of my time, but those brief pages are filled with more love, more discovery, more joy than many tomes. Set in approximately 1910, it is driven by characters, relationships, and interaction, not plot. Sarah is a full, huge, wonderful personality. She’s warm and eager to please, yet she’s stubborn and unafraid to maintain her habits and opinions even in someone else’s domain. It is her laughter, her song, her wonder, and her willingness to live life fully that endear her to her new family as well as to readers.

This one reminds me a great deal of Anne of Green Gables. I highly recommend it to anyone who might have missed it thirty years ago as well as to a whole new generation of readers.

It’s available for Kindle for only 3.21!

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So You Want to Read Historical Fiction? Featuring Carrie Gelson and Maria Selke

Michelle Isenhoff:

I didn’t have a post ready for tomorrow, partly because I’ve been meeting new people on Twitter this afternoon. I don’t do that very often. Luckily, I stumbled onto this great post on children’s historical fiction–my favorite genre to read and write in–by educator Elisabeth Ellingon (whom I just followed on Twitter). It includes a super list of tween titles. Hope you find a few newbies to add to your tbr list!

Originally posted on the dirigible plum:


This post is the second in a new “So You Want to Read” series designed for my students in Children’s Literature. My course is online this semester, which means that many of my students are learning at a distance and I can’t do what I like to do best to grow readers: show up to class with a big stack of books specially chosen for each student. This “So You Want to Read” series is an attempt to bridge that distance and make personalized recommendations for each student that might also be valuable for other readers. The first post in the series is So You Want to Read Wordless Picture Books?.

Shay requested recommendations for historical fiction. I have a few favorites to recommend, but because this is not an area of particular #booklove or expertise for me, I turned to my wonderful PLN and asked for some help…

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Action Kids’ Club, by Lydia Howe

I have a guest post and blog tour stop for you today from Lydia Howe, aka Aidyl Ewoh, author of the Action Kids Series. Make sure you don’t miss the link to Lydia’s Rafflecopter giveaway. My freebie blog won’t let me embed the actual contest, so I made the link to it big and red. :) And now, take it away Lydia…!

AK cover TIFF 4

Back Cover Blurb:

Twelve-year-old Olivia Hall’s dream of a friends’ club ends when she finds out her family is moving. Her parents assure her it’s a good thing, opening a new world of possibilities for the Halls. But going from ‘miss popular’ to ‘the new girl’ won’t be easy, and Olivia is not convinced.

Soon she begins to realize that although her life has suddenly changed, there’s plenty of adventure to keep her on her toes. From making new friends at Forward Focus, to hanging out at the world-renowned Kids Zone, to meeting the curious head chef, she discovers that there’s much more to life – and her new surroundings – than she ever imagined. How will she make the most of these new opportunities? Or will she let them slip away?


Welcome, Friends!

This is the 8th stop in the Action Kids blog tour celebrating the release of the first book in the series, Action Kids’ Club. Yea! Thank you so much for celebrating with me! Read the last post in the tour at this blog and enter to win a pretty amazing giveaway.

The answer to yesterday’s quote puzzle is:

Adversity causes some people to break; others to break records. -William A Ward

For Today:

John Maxwell. Chances are you’ve heard that name before. Leadership expert, author of more than 70 non-fiction books with sales ranking up in the twenty millions. Speaker and guest to the elite.

I think I was 15 when I read my first book by him and 17 when I saw him in person for the first time. I was 18 (and the youngest person there!) when I went through his classes to become a certified John Maxwell Coach. I was also 18 when I was privileged to join a group of his other coaches at his house and get a tour of his office.

It was during the time I was taking the classes that I began brainstorming the idea of using success/self-development principles to write a fun series of books for kids. Over the next four years the idea was honed, ran into huge roadblocks, started over, narrowed down, worked on and finally… On November 10th, 2014 I released my very first Action Kids book. I’m thrilled, excited, enthusiastic and a firm believer in the series.

Ok, so you might be asking what’s so special about reading books on self-development? I’m here to tell you it’s life changing. There is no way everyone can learn all they need to on their own, so why not let other people’s experiences help you out? Instead of having to wade through the ocean of life on my own, I can pull from other people’s lives to help me grow. I can read out how important goals are, how time management works, the benefit of a healthy lifestyle and the necessity of a good attitude instead of having to learn through my own mistakes.

I know I’ve been given a huge head start in life because of my parents teaching me success principles from a young age and I want to help other kids have that same head start. I’m excited about this venture and I’m hoping y’all will join in and explore success with me!


To help you get started, I’m really excited to announce that y’all have the chance to win John Maxwell’s book The 360 Degree Leader. While this book is valued at almost $20, the information you’ll discover in it’s pages is invaluable. And, just to make it even more exciting, we got this copy of the book signed by John Maxwell!

(Sorry but the giveaway prizes can only be sent to address in the USA!)

Here is the link to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

About The 360 Degree Leader:

Don’t wait for that promotion! Start leading NOW…right where you are!

What’s the number one question leadership expert John C.Maxwell is asked while conducting his leadership conferences? “How can I implement what you teach when I’m not the top leader?”. Is it possible to lead well when you’re not the top dog? How about if the person you work for is a bad leader? The answer is a resounding yes!

Welcome to The 360° Leader. People who desire to lead from the middle of organizations face unique challenges. And they are often held back by myths that prevent them from developing their influence. Dr. Maxwell,one of the globe’s most trusted leadership mentors, debunks the myths, shows you how to overcome the challenges, and teaches you the skills you need to become a 360° leader.

If you have found yourself trying to lead from the middle of the organization, as the vast majority of professionals do, then you needMaxwell’s insights. You have a unique opportunity to exercise influence in all directions—up(to the boss), across (among your peers), and down (to those you lead). The good news is that your influence is greater than you know.

Practice the disciplines of 360° leadership and the opportunities will be endless . . . for your organization, for your career, and for your life.

And here’s your quote riddle for today:

Figure it out and leave the answer in the comments section and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a great prize! And, check out my blog to find out about the $50 gift card I’m giving away!

(Answer Key)

A B C D E F G H I  J   K L M N O P Q R  S T  U V W X Y Z

D E F G H I  J  K L M N O P Q  R S T  U V W X Y Z  A B C


Wkh rqob gliihuhgfh ehwzhhq vxffhvvixo shrsoh & xqvxffhvvixo shrsoh lv hawsdruglqdub ghwhuplqdwlrq. -Mary Kay Ash

Make sure you visit this blog tomorrow for the next stop on the tour where you’ll find out what the Kids Zone is, the answer to today’s quote puzzle and yet another giveaway!


About the Author:

Lydia in AsiaLydia Howe (aka Aidyl Ewoh) is a twenty-something adventurous author who enjoys hiking in the mountains of Asia and South America, building life-size models of dinosaurs, taking road trips across Europe and cooking for large crowds.

Lydia grew up in a barn and has always dreamed of living in a tipi. She is trained as a John Maxwell coach and her passions include self-development and Christian apologetics. One of her life-long dreams was realized when her first book, Cave Secrets of the Pterodactyl, was published by Answers in Genesis in 2013. Find her online at her Blog, Facebook, Twitter,  Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.


Legend of Monster Island (Monster Moon, 3), by BBH McChiller

Just a reminder…the Emblazon Rafflecopter is going on till Monday. There’s still time to enter to win a Kindle loaded with 52 books. Or drop by the live Facebook party happening all day today for lots of smaller prizes. Okay, carry on…

monster islandThis series is a favorite with my boys. They like the books because they’re creepy in a fun, adventurous sort of way. They make very enjoyable read-alouds, especially at Halloween. I had hoped to finish this review in time to post the week of the holiday, but this third book was substantially longer than the others. But anytime is a great time to write up a super story.

Monster Island was another kid-pleaser. It’s very suspenseful, more so than the first two. And it has a nautical element to it that I enjoyed. AJ and his friends chase down buried treasure referenced in an ancient journal and get tangled up with an infestation of Krakens who come back to Craggy Cove each century to spawn. The results are definitely lively.

My fellas gave this another five-star rating. They were fully into the adventure and especially enjoyed Vlad’s character, as always. I would probably rate it a four-star, personally. The adventure at sea got quite lengthy, with an overdose of Kraken fighting while the storyline took a backseat. Still, it was a fun read.

I’ll give my blog audience a minor caution that did not influence my rating but is worth mentioning. At one point, eccentric Aunt Zsofia gets out her crystal ball and has a séance-type moment with changed voice and manners. It’s a brief scene used to amplify the quirkiness of Zsofia’s character and set up her affection for the crystal that is later stolen. In our case, however, it prompted a discussion with my naive boys about both spirits and charlatans.

Even so, I give Monster Island another thumbs up. The authors obviously take pains to keep their stories young kid-appropriate, with an overwhelming absence of gore, violence, language, and other questionable content. They leave in the fun. And any series that keeps my boys’ attention through three installments is tops in my book.

My other reviews in the series:
Curse at Zala Manor
Secret of Haunted Bog

Buy links:
Curse at Zala manor – 1.99
Secret of Haunted Bog – 2.99
Legend of Monster Isand – 2.99

Also available in paperback.