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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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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.


The Kindle Giveaway is Live

Many of you know I’m a member of the Emblazon authors group. We have a really big, really awesome celebration going on right now. We’re giving a way a Kindle loaded with 50+ books. Today is the first day to enter. I can’t embed the actual Rafflecopter here on my freebie blog, but this is a link to the giveaway sign-up. The info from the Emblazon wesite follows. Good luck!

banner for contest

Attention teachers, librarians, tweens, and parents of tweens! Announcing a contest just for you…

To celebrate our first year and to treat you, our readers, we, the Emblazon authors, are giving away a brand new touch screen Kindle loaded with over 50 of our books. That’s a $300 value and hours of reading entertainment!

The Rafflecopter contest runs November 3 through November 17 and is open to anyone who loves tween literature.

Help Wanted

banner for contestYou guys get the early bird heads up…

The Emblazon authors are hosting the giveaway of the decade during the next two weeks–a brand new touch screen Kindle preloaded with over 50 of our books. That’s a $300 value and hours of entertainment! You are all welcome to enter. I’ll post the Rafflecopter on Monday.

In the meantime, we’re also looking for bloggers to help us spread the word during the giveaway. Anyone want to share with their readers? We have this ready-made banner (top of page) AND a premade post with all the details if you’re interested. All you have to do is copy, paste, and publish! Just email me at misenhoff (at) hotmail (dot) com and I’ll forward the content to you.

And of course, y’all are welcome to use the share buttons at the bottom of this post as well. ;)

Thanks everyone!

The Gypsy Pearl 2: Craggy, by Lia London

craggy gypsy pearl 2I rushed to get a copy of this sequel. Book one is my favorite by author Lia London to date. I liked the space frontier settings, the sensory details, and the humor and spunk of the heroine. Book two has all of the above plus a deepening of the adventure as well as the stakes.

Caz journeys to Craggy, the second of three planets she must visit to cycle the gypsy pearl, free the fanep race, and bring justice to the Granbo system. Her gifts of strength and memory serve her well during several narrow escapes. She must sort through the cast of characters and their intensions. Who is a friend? And who wants her dead?

In particular, I really like the surprises Caz finds hidden within Craggy’s bleak landscape. (I can’t give away more!) I also appreciate the revelation of some of Caz’s history and the way the villain’s plan and motivations begin to make sense, allowing me to begin making some book three predictions.

Craggy did not evoke as much emotional response in me as book one. It’s really, really hard to develop a hero’s character in a sequel. It’s already been established in book one. Caz is so powerful in that story. She maintains her quirky character, and I see hints of a broadening of her bewilderment and dread and a deepening of her commitment to her cause, but her motivating factor is mostly survival. This makes for some great action, but it didn’t leave as much of an emotional footprint. In addition, a certain extremely significant individual makes an appearance, but the backstory lacked the strength to move me toward tears or anger when I think it could have. It does surround the individual with a sense of mystery—and that might have been the author’s intension. Said person feels like a bit of a wildcard who might increase in significance in the trilogy’s conclusion.

All that aside, I have to praise my very favorite element of Lia London’s stories—her writing style. It’s so smooth and eminently readable. And she likes to bury little gems for us to pull out and admire. Like this beautiful description: I couldn’t guess ages of the miners based on their wind carved faces, but their muscles and gaits spoke of tired youth. Or this perfect takeaway thought dropped so naturally in the middle of a conversation: “Haven’t you ever known something without learning it logically?” “Trust,” he said. “What do you mean?” “That’s trust,” he said, looking at me intently. “Trust is when you know—like I know it’s a good idea to stick with you.”

Want a great story with beautiful style? Grab up this series. Looking forward to the third! Recommended for ages 10+

Kindle versions of The Gypsy Pearl:
Craggy (book 2) – $1.99
Caren (book 1) – $.99

In My Inbox

I’m currently working on a few changes in preparation for a new marketing campaign aimed at teachers and classrooms. I’ve had rather poor success at reaching kids directly in the past, but I’m hoping this will bring about a little more interaction. On that optimistic note, I’m beginning an irregular feature called “In My Inbox” where I highlight recent correspondence. With any luck, future IMI posts will highlight kids. In the meantime, I’d love to share a recent review from an Amazon reader.

“I literally cried during and after this book. It is so beautiful & touching. It’s absolutely amazing. Not only did it touch my heart, it also widened my horizons. I would give it many, many more stars if that were possible. Absolutely perfect. I couldn’t think of any way to make it better.”

Thanks “Boooooooo!!!” for your take on The Candle Star. You made my day. :)

New ‘do

I’ve been updating! Yes, when I should have been writing yesterday, I was creating a new blog header and background. I considered changing the name, too, but Bookworm Blather has been around a long time now and I still sort of like the whimsical sound of it. So the name stayed. I might impliment a few more small changes in the next several weeks to make my online hangout a little more kid friendly. I’d like to court some teachers directly over Twitter and interact with more classrooms. I plan to hand out this address.

Song newOne of my books also received a facelift this week. Last spring, I replaced my original (and terrible!) Song of the Mountain cover with a new one of my own design. I loved it! I still love it. It captures Li Min and the mountain setting perfectly. However, browsers on Amazon didn’t seem to agree with me, as “sales” of the free book equaled only one tenth of those by my free historical fiction title, The Candle Star. Part of this is genre-related. Historical fiction is pretty popular. But fantasy shouldn’t lag that far behind. Sigh. Who’s drawn to the image of an old man?

So…you guessed it. I hired it done.

I wasn’t crazy about this new image at first. I still don’t think it captures the spirit of the book as well as the old one. But it’s exciting, and it’s grown on me. With some tweaking, we ended up with a cover that should gather more attention from customers browsing the fantasy category–especially kids. A few days is too small of a sampling to draw sure conclusions, but since swapping it out, daily downloads have increased. So, yay for increased exposure! Maybe more people will go on to purchase Fire on the Mountain, which will be re-covered soon to match.


Yes…sigh…I am one of those people who’s always moving furniture around, too.  How’d you guess?

New cover image by D. Robert Pease of Walkingstick Books.