Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: Bobbie Pyron

Any Pet Peeves?
          The phrase “point in time”, writers who overuse exclamation points! People who don’t treat their animals the way they’d like to be treated, clothing without pockets.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
          Peanut butter. I’m a salty gal.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
          Hummm….that’s a tough question. There’s probably a lot of people out there who think I’m weird, but I, of course, think I’m boringly normal. When I’m intensely immersed in writing a new book, I’ve been known to do some weird things like put my purse in the refrigerator, the phone in the microwave, or sign one of my character’s names on a check. Is that weird?

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
          I have to have music playing when I’m writing, often a certain type of music. When I wrote my first book, THE RING, I mostly listened to the soundtrack to the indie movie Garden State. When I wrote my second book, A DOG’S WAY HOME, I listened to a lot of traditional bluegrass (Allison Krause) and the soundtrack to the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou. A really cool aside: my editor for A DOG’S WAY HOME, Molly O’Neill, sent me a CD of the music she listened to while she was editing my book! With THE DOGS OF WINTER, I couldn’t seem to settle on a certain type of music to listen to while I wrote. At first, that kind of freaked me out. But after a while I relaxed and just listened to whatever I felt like that particular day.

Do you need anything to write?
          I need a cup of hot tea and music.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
          It will hopefully make you look a little differently at that homeless person or animal living on the streets. If I’ve opened a crack of compassion in the reader’s heart, I’m a happy camper.

Author Info:
Facebook-Bobbie Pyron
Goodreads-Bobbie Pyron

Based on a true story.
           When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form: Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs, and the dogs quickly become more than just his street companions: They become his family. Soon Ivan, who used to love reading fairytales, is practically living in one, as he and his pack roam the city and countryside, using their wits to find food and shelter, dodging danger, begging for coins. But Ivan can’t stay hidden from the world of people forever. When help is finally offered to him, will he be able to accept it? Will he even want to?
           A heart-pounding tale of survival and a moving look at what makes us human.

(Ends 3/14)
US Only

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris

Abby and Derick have been accepted to the most prestigious secondary school in the world -- Cragbridge Hall. Due to the inventions of their grandfather, Oscar Cragbridge, they will be able to experience history in 3D, use their minds to literally project visual interpretations of classic literature, and become animal avatars for zoology.
But when their grandfather and parents go missing, Abby and Derick must follow clues Oscar left for them that will reveal a dangerous secret. Along the way, they discover there is much more to one of their grandfather's inventions that anyone has ever dreamed. Saving their family will take all of Derick's mind and Abby's heart as thy come face to face with a crazed scientist who desperately seeks to change the past. If they fail, the world - past and future - will never be the same.
This book is a page-turning, time-travel adventure that teaches powerful lessons about choice and consequence, believing you can do hard things, and valuing your history.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of middle grade. I grew out of the stuff long before I hit my teenage years, and have only revisited it for real gems. But, to put it bluntly, I found the Inventor's Secret to be one of these gems.
Chad Morris' characters were remarkably believable and relateable. I've found a big thing that puts me off about middle grade is that the plot, the world, and the adult characters are all painted in a simplified middle gradish way. But in the Inventor's Secret, the adults weren't simplified. They actually acted like adults. Of course the kids still saved the day, but the adults weren't weak or stupid. And, even better, the kids weren't whiny or stupid themselves. Many times, middle grade author's try to emphasis something by emphasizing their characters' reactions to it (The monster is scary because the kids act really scared of it, not because it actually is scary). I'm happy to say, there was none of that in here. In fact, it may have been one of the main character's normalness that really drew me to this book. Abby (Derick's twin and the main focus of the book) is average. She wasn't a genius like her brother, or all the other kids at her school, and she could never think of witty things to say. But she still was a hero, simply because she was willing to work for what she wanted. And even though her brother Derick was a genius, he was lovable too. Originally I thought Carol (Abby's friend) would get annoying, but she didn't. And her same irritating traits added a nice flavor to the characters' interactions.
Characters: 5 Stars
This was not high fantasy, but it was still a fun journey and kept me reading till the end. I appreciated that the world and the plot didn't revolve around the children. Without them, the world would have been destroyed, but they didn't discover some secret power at the last moment or another VooDoo, easy way out. Every victory was won by them as they were. And time travel. I mean come on, what doesn't grab you about that? At first, the plot may sound unoriginal, but Chad Morris succesfully freshens it up.
Plot: 4.5 Stars
Chad Morris has written a fun story with an aspect about it that makes the adventure genuine entertainment. The action/reaction time throughout the book flowed smoothly, and the end tied up satisfactorily while still leading nicely to a sequel. Quite thankfully, Chad Morris lacks the patronizing tone that so many middle grade authors present to their audience. To sum up, I found it an engaging book and, even though much older that middle grade, was able to enjoy it thoroughly. 
Style: 4 Stars

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Arc from giveaway
Genre: Adventure/Sci-fi
Junior Fiction

Note: The book officially releases March 5, 2013. But it's been spotted in the wild at B&N, so keep your eyes peeled.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: Kersten L. Kelly

      Kersten L. Kelly is a self-published author of narrative nonfiction and semi-fiction books. She grew up in Munster, Indiana and currently works in a sales role based out of Chicago, Illinois. She started writing at an early age and graduated from Indiana University with a dual bachelor’s degree in economics and communication and culture. She then went on to earn a master’s in business administration from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. She has a passion for learning, teaching, and writing. 
      In her spare time, she enjoys international travel with her friends and family and training for running events of various distances. She likes the outdoors, social media, pop culture, and any new technologies that draw the people of the world a little bit closer together.

Favorite reads?
      Freakonomics, A Million Little Pieces, The 50 Shades of Gray Trilogy, and My Friend Leonard

Inspirations for the book? 
      I fly all the time for business, and the number of people that I meet is unbelievable. There are so many unique stories that I've collected over the years that I thought it was unfair not to share them. I wanted an opportunity to provide people with a little entertainment with unique stories that they normally wouldn't read about or experience in another venue.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little? 
      Yes, I spent much of my childhood writing stories about all kinds of stuff. The best part was that my parents, sister, and friends all encouraged me to keep writing. I actually found some of the old scraps of paper with my stories on them and laughed. It's always good to remember where your roots are. My passion for writing started young.

Any Pet Peeves? 
      Non-aggressive drivers. I live outside of Chicago, and I commute to work every day into the city. For anyone who has ever experienced driving in a major city, it's important to be alert and to be quick. I get frustrated with those who aren't.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
      Peanut Butter

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
       The weirdest thing I've done is probably jumped out of an airplane 4 times. Many people think it's crazy, but I love it.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
      There really isn't. I have a very wide mixture of music on my iPhone that I listen to while writing, running, reading, or just relaxing. There really isn't a rhyme or reason to what I choose. Most of the time, one song will be a vastly different genre than the one before it.

Do you need anything to write?  
       The only thing I need to write is time. I am a sales person as well, and sometimes it's hard to find time to write.

How long do you write on any average day? 
      I would say about an hour on average when I do write. I definitely don't write every day just because I don't have enough time.

Author Info:
Twitter: @KerstenLKelly

      In this tumultuous, distinctive memoir, Kersten L. Kelly looks back on the most influential individuals that she encountered while flying through the clouds. Confined in a small vestibule for hours, Kelly identified an opportunity for learning and growth by chatting with the fellow passengers around her. After a few life changing conversations and unforgettable emergencies, she put the in-flight magazines to rest and never looked back.
      She recalls life lessons from perfect strangers about love, family, perseverance
of dreams, and humility through a series of brief anecdotes all taking place on airplanes. Selfless philanthropy was discovered, long-term friendships bonded, and talents unveiled. The book proves the phrase “you never know what you will learn on an airplane” over and over again.
      Every chapter will capture the mind and sometimes the heart of anyone who
jumps into this collection of humanity at its best. The personalities present in this
book assimilate with the intrinsic characteristics all readers can relate to. With a raw authenticity stemming from old notes in a ragged journal, Kelly delivers a personal reflection of unique tales from a mile high.     

(Ends 2/21)