Sunday 31 October 2010

Now You See Me - Jane B. Mason & Sarah Hines Stephens

Now You See Me
Jane B. Mason & Sarah Hines Stephens

Poison Apple Book 4

An Imprint of

ISBN 9780545215138

This fourth book in the new series, Poison Apple Books from Scholastic, is not as dark as the previous book, but it was a great read. These books are geared for readers who enjoyed the softer and gentler Candy Apple Books but are looking to read something with a little more edge. This book is, in part, the story of best friends, Abby and Lena, and they are thrift store junkies. Lena has been searching for a Polaroid Impulse, a treasure she had been looking for because her cousin gave her a whole case of film for it. But shortly after getting it, strange things start happening. Things start showing up in the pictures that are not really there. First a water tower and then a boy, and with each succeeding picture the boy is clearer. But Lena is being haunted and haunted through her new prized camera. She needs to find out what the boy wants or needs because her life is starting to fall apart. Can she figure out the hints in the pictures and solve the mystery?

This story was really fun to read. The story told from a photographer's perspective, with how to frame photos and compositions was an interesting twist. It is another good book in a great series.

Poison Apple Books:
The Dead End - Mimi McCoy
This Totally Bites! - Ruth Ames
Miss Fortune - Brandi Dougherty
Now You See Me
- Jane B. Mason & Sarah Hines Stephens
Midnight Howl - Clare Hutton
Her Evil Twin - Mimi McCoy
Curiosity Killed the Cat - Sierra Harimann
At First Bite - Ruth Ames

Rotten Apple Books:
Mean Ghouls - Staci Deutsch
Zombie Dog - Clare Hutton

Friday 29 October 2010

City Of Ashes - Cassandra Clare - Mortal Instruments Book 2

City Of Ashes
Mortal Instruments Book 2

Cassandra Clare

McElderry Books an imprint of

Simon and Schuster

ISBN 9781416972242

When I sat down to write a review of this book, I ran into a problem. First City of Bones was so good I bought and read this book before reviewing it. I am even a third through City of Glass before coming back to review this one. The writing in this series is just so good, I did not even want to stop and write a review but keep reading.

This book continues almost immediately after City of Bones, The conflict and tension between Clary and Jace is at a new high. The triangle of Clary, Jace and Simon has new and interesting twists. Alex is accepting his sexuality and though many react negatively to his being homosexual, Clare does a good job of handing the subject matter. The battle between Valentine and the Clave takes a dark and deadly twist. Down Worlder children are being murdered and their blood drained. The Inquisitor has been sent to investigate Jace and his father Valentine. Valentine's quest for the Mortal instruments is intensifying. But questions about who is more unstable arise - The Inquisitor of Valentine?

I can only say this is a great book in an excellent series by and amazing author. I cannot recommend her writing enough.

Books by Cassandra Clare:

Mortal Instruments:
City of Bones - Book 1
City of Ashes - Book 2
City of Glass - Book 3
City of Fallen Angels - Book 4
City of Lost Souls - Book 5 (May 2012)
City of Heavenly Fire - Book 6 (September 2013)

Infernal Devices:
Clockwork Angel - Book 1
Clockwork Prince - Book 2
Clockwork Princess - Book 3

Bane Chronicles:
1. What Really Happened in Peru
2. The Runaway Queen
3. Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale
4. The Midnight Heir
5. The Rise of The Hotel Dumort
6. Saving Raphael Santiago
7. The Fall of The Hotel Dumort
8. The Course of True Love (and First Dates)
9. What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You're Not Officially Dating Anyway)
10. The Last Stand of the New York Institute

The Dark Artifices Trilogy
Lady Midnight
Prince of Shadows
The Queen of Air and Darkness

Magisterium Series: (with Holly Black)
The Iron Trial 

Vacations From Hell
Eternal Kiss
Zombies versus Unicorns

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Cynthia Leitich Smith - Author Profile

Cynthia Leitich Smith is an author with something to offer for everyone. She is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author. Her gothic trilogy consisting of Eternal, Tantalize and Blessed are all from Candlewick Press. She is an award-winning author for her books for younger readers which include Holler Loudly, Jingle Dancer, Inidan Shoes and Rain Is Not My Indian Name all from Harper Collins. She is also a member of faculty at the Vermont College M.F.A. program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her web presence is extensive, her website is listed as an ALA Great Website for Kids and was also named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer's Digest. She can also be found online at her blog Cynsations is listed as among the top two read by the children's/YA publishing community.

1. Your earlier books (Jingle Dancer, Rain Is Not My Indian Name and Indian Shoes.) were centered around the lives of modern day American Indians. Do you have more stories to tell in that genre?

My recent Native fiction has been in the short form. I had a story, "A Real Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate" published in Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, edited by Lori M. Carlson. It's set in Austin, and though realistic fiction, fans of my Gothics may recognize a certain fictional costume store that appears in the story.

I also look forward to the publication of "Mooning Over Broken Stars" in Girl Meets Boy, edited by Kelly Milner Halls, which will be released in spring 2012. My story is a companion to one by Joseph Bruchac. Joe is an icon in Native youth literature and a great guy. Early in my career, we appeared at a couple of the same library conferences, and I was too star struck to say "hi." I'm so honored to have our work featured together.

2. Your third book in the trilogy of Tantalize, Eternal and Blessed is due out early next year, do you plan on writing more books in this world?

Yes, I'm working on another novel that involves the four main heroes and finishes the conversation of sorts between my books and Abraham Stoker's Dracula. First, though, Blessed will be out January 25th.

I also have graphic novel adaptations in the works. Tantalize: Kieren's Story will be out next August. Eternal: Zachary's Story will follow.

I've had the chance to pour over Ming Doyle's interior illustrations for the Tantalize graphic, and I'm thrilled with how she's brought the characters to life. I can hardly wait to see it inked.

3. What is it like being a husband and wife writing team? You have worked on a few projects together Santa Knows and your contribution to Geektastic. Do you have any future collaboration projects planned?

"Fun" is the first word that springs to mind. Greg and I typically begin by brainstorming the story, taking turns on revisions, and then reading aloud together until we've settled on the final version.

Right now, we're busy with our own projects-me with my Gothic fantasy series and him with his upcoming tween novel.

Greg's The Chronal Engine: Ahead of Time will be out in 2012. It's a mystery-adventure time-travel story about three teens who use their reclusive grandfather's time machine to travel back to the Age of Dinosaurs to rescue their kidnapped sister and solve a family mystery.

So, at the moment, we don't have a joint manuscript in the works. But I suspect that we will again in the future. That said, we serve as each other's first readers and most candid critics. A manuscript may come back with the note: "This isn't ready to leave the house with the family name on it."

4. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

First, Greg. I quit my day job to write full time without so much as a manuscript in progress. (Don't try this at home). At the time, we were carrying a heavy student loan burden from law school and relocated from Chicago to Austin in part because of its lower cost of living. Talk about a huge show of faith! I'm so pleased that he's writing and publishing stories of his own.

Kathi Appelt was my children's writing teacher. In the late 1990s, I took a transformative workshop at her family's limousine cattle ranch in La Grange, Texas; and then taught with her both locally and, later still, at the low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Meanwhile, Jane Kurtz-likewise now on the VCFA faculty-encouraged me professionally, offering career insights and introducing me to my one-time online critique partner (and current pal) Toni Buzzeo.

Beyond that, the Austin area youth writing community was a godsend. Anne Bustard, Betty X Davis, Meredith Davis, Lindsey Lane, and Jerry Wermund have been there from the beginning. On the Chicago front, authors like Sara F. Schacter, Franny Billingsley, Carolyn Crimi, Gail Giles (now outside Houston) and Esther Hershenhorn all offered support, early on.

5. Your books are taught in public, high school and university courses, have you ever taught them yourself?

I've referenced them in teaching, but for the most part, I leave that to other folks. That said, I do offer teacher guides, discussion guides, and other related support materials on my author website.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

I'm afraid every book has had its own process.

Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, began as scribbled notes on the back of an envelope. Over the course of 80-plus drafts it evolved from a sister story to one about a girl who brings together her jingle dance regalia with the help of women of each generation of her family and intertribal community and then dances to honor them.

Rain Is Not My Indian Name had a previous life-including a different plot and characters-in a manuscript called "Two Wings to Fly," which thankfully never saw publication. Rain took about a year and a half to write, much of which was spent listening to Meatloaf.

Indian Shoes began as a short story, "Something Bigger," which my Harper editor passed on. It ended with the sun coming up, an overdone picture book convention. Then I wrote another story about those same characters and a pair of moccasins, "Indian Shoes," that worked for her.

When she took the manuscript to committee, the suggestion came back that it might be better served as a short story collection. I agreed. So I revised "Something Bigger" into "Night Fishing," turning the sunset into a meteor shower, and then wrote four more stories to complete the bunch.

The Tantalize series began with world building. I read Gothics published for teens and grown-ups from modern day to the old-school classics and then took a look at the folklore from around the world that preceded those.

All of this took time. I began making notes on the story in late 2001/early 2002 and didn't finish revisions with my editor until 2006.

The first draft was from Kieren's point of view, and then it occurred to me that Quincie was in more jeopardy and switched to her perspective. By the time I wrote the graphic adaptation, though, I had a better sense of Kieren and his own story to tell.

World building has continued with each of the books as I stretch to incorporate new settings, creatures, and characters.

Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott, has the distinction of being my longest book in the making. The first draft is dated 2002 and the last 2008. It began as a contemporary realistic story and ended up a historical tall tale. I "gave up" on it two or three times but along the way greatly benefited from editorial letters on a couple of near-miss submissions, editor (now agent) Mark McVeigh's insights, and a lecture on the picture book by editor Melanie Kroupa at VCFA.

7. What of your books was the hardest to write and why?

Each of them came with its own challenges. Especially because I write across formats and age levels, it's tough to compare. I will say though that my greatest obstacle now is time, balancing the business responsibilities of Author Cynthia Leitich Smith against the creative needs of Writer Cyn.

8. What of your books is your favorite and why?

It's always the book I've just finished, so right now that would be Blessed. In Tantalize, the protagonist Quincie P. Morris is an unreliable narrator, made unstable by the magic and unholy blood contaminating her. In Blessed, she's (mostly) more in control of her mind but also must battle to maintain that.

In nodding to Stoker, I took some risks with the structure and theme. It's smarter, funnier, more romantic and horrific than the preceding books. I'm happy with how the novel came together and eager to share it with YA readers.

9. Some of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

My understanding is that it's arguably easier to scan in a hard copy and distribute that online. That said, I do routinely patrol the web for illegal copies of my books, pass on the information to my agent, and in such cases, my publishers are equipped to deal with them (and do).

My advice to fellow authors is to be diligent and proactive, especially those of us who aren't independently wealthy.

10. You spend a lot of time on your blog and website. Yet you always seem ready and willing to interact with your fans, forums and chats. Between writing books, teaching and your web interactions, do you have time for any other hobbies?

First, my web designer, Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys, keeps the website updated on a monthly basis and is the genius behind the design. Greg writes most of the recommendations that appear on the bibliographies of the Children's-YA Literature Resources section of the main author site.

That said, I'm a children's-YA author married to a children's-YA author. Most of my friends are fellow writers or other youth lit professionals. I frequently entertain the local creative community and sponsor workshops out of my home. My cats even have a couple of web pages where they recommend Kit Lit.

On those rare occasions where I take a few hours or even a whole day off (the latter of which happens once or twice a year), I love to visit museums and small-town downtowns and, yes, bookstores. My favorite current TV show is "Bones," though I'm trying "Glee" this season and so far seem to be sticking with it.

11. You spend a lot of time promoting other authors, new authors continually through your blog and on twitter. Did you have such support in your corner when you were starting out? Who and how?

I had personal support from people like Greg, Kathi, Jane and the others I mentioned above. But when I was starting out, the whole idea of authors on Web was new. I recall the Publishers Weekly article announcing that a handful of children's authors had-gasp!-websites. In fact, I may be the first person to interview children's-YA authors online and share their insights with a wide audience.

Early on, it became clear to me that support systems for Native youth literature were minimal, and that the best way to raise awareness was to take responsibility for making some positive noise.

Because I'm a person of varied interests in the field, over time, I steadily built my Web presence into a portal to the body of youth literature and publishing as a whole.

12. One of my goals in life is to find balance between body, mind and spirit. You seem to have achieved that balance in both your work and your life. What do you do to maintain your balance?

You may give me too much credit. I don't try for balance. For me, the secret to happiness is to give myself permission to follow my dreams and succeed. I get out of my own way, compete only with myself, and embrace new challenges.

13. What were some of your favorite books and authors when you were younger?

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I also adored the Nancy Drew series, many titles by Judy Blume, and voraciously read both superhero comics and any tie-in to "Star Wars."

14. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?

I'll highlight a few 2010 releases:

Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences by Brian Yansky
The Mary Quinn Mysteries by Y.S. Lee
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Soar, Elinor! by Tami Lewis Brown, illustrated by Francois Roca

15. What are some of your favorite films?

"Blast from the Past," "The Blues Brothers," "My Fair Lady," "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Fright Night," "Galaxy Quest," "Jumanji," "Kate and Leopold," "My Cousin Vinny," "Lost Boys," "Men In Black," "Misery," "The Mummy," "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," "Pillow Talk, "Pleasantville," "The Princess Bride," "Ratatouille," "Shakespeare in Love," "Spiderwick Chronicles," "Stand By Me," "Star Wars" (1977-1983), "Teen Witch," and "Xanadu."

16. What current projects are you working on or are in the back burner in some stage of development?

As I mentioned, I'm writing the Gothic to follow Blessed. I expect a revision letter on the Eternal graphic novel in early 2011.

Beyond that, I have two additional Gothics in mind, one of which is fully drafted but in need of revision and the other of which consists only of notes.

17. Are there any plans for translated editions of your book?

Tantalize is available in French from Intervista, and Eternal is available in Polish from Amber. I hope to announce more markets soon.

In addition to Candlewick Press and Listening Library (audio) in the U.S. and Canada, the series is also available from Walker (UK) and Walker Australia and New Zealand.

18. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee (PB)
Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause (YA)
Chance by Dian Curtis Regan (PB)
Every Time a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia (YA)
Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi (PB)
How Not to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler (Tween)
Marly's Ghost by David Levithan (YA)
Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Tween)
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Tween)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (MG)

19. What advice would you give to teens today, to your readers, what gems of knowledge have you gleaned in life that you would pass on?

Most of what springs to mind sounds like it came from a fortune cookie. So I'll try to personalize a bit:

Adopt a Han Solo ("never tell me the odds") attitude when it comes to pursuing your dreams. You'll never have to wonder, what if?

The sexiest, most romantic thing a love interest can do is consistently treat you well. Never stay with someone because you're afraid to stand on your own.

In the future, when you're mostly settled in one place, get two cats. Or get four. And keep them inside so they're safe from motorized vehicles.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

Read, write, draw, paint, play, share, and rejoice.

Fail spectacularly, forget to comb your hair, take dance breaks, celebrate often, be the hero of the story of you.

Cynthia is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, her books are widely available and incredibly entertaining. She is an expert in Children's literature, which is reflected in her own writing and in how much she promotes new authors and books on her own blog. Give her books a try you will not be disappointed.

Books by Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Young Adult Books:

Cat Calls - Short Story
Tantalize Kierens Story - Graphic Novel
Haunted Love - Short Story

Books for Kids:

Holler Loudly
Santa Knows
Indian Shoes
Rain Is Not My Indian Name
Jingle Dancer

Monday 25 October 2010

City Of Bones - Cassandra Clare - Mortal Instruments Book 1

City Of Bones
Mortal Instruments Book 1

Cassandra Clare

McElderry Books an imprint of

Simon and Schuster

ISBN 9781416955078

Having already read the first book in the new prequel trilogy to this series, The Infernal Devices, I starting reading this book with some preconceived notions. Cassandra Clare blew them completely out of the water. The world was familiar, the weapons, the battles and the environment. Humans, werewolves, vampires, warlocks, Shadow Hunters, down worlders and mundane all mixed up in events together. But being set in our time was an amazing new twist on something I was familiar with. And yet something so new and unique I found myself picking up the book again and again when I should have been doing other things, and saying to myself just one more page, or till the end of this section or chapter but could literally not make myself put the book down.

The characters are amazing and the world creation so complete, so seamless, and so believable, that, as a reader, you feel as if it might not be fiction but a clearer view of reality than most of us have in our day-to-day life. The books in this series are so well-written that you will read the books back to back and maybe even read them again and again. This book was the first one published by Cassandra Clare and the skill shown, and mastery of the writing craft, is amazing for a first novel.

It is set in a world with a battle between light and darkness, and a group of humans who try to keep that which is evil from destroying our world. These shadow hunters are humans who have been blessed with the blood of an angel. They have claves around the world and work to keep the peace between other species and with each other, and to protect humans. The major players seem to be warlocks, vampires, werewolves, fairies and the shadow hunters, also known as Nephilim. Our main character is Clary Fray, a young girl who finds herself mixed up in a world that she never knew existed, but that she was destined to be a part of. She is a strong character who is learning who she really is and what she will do with her life.

This world by Cassandra Clare is one I will visit again and again, as new books come out and rereading the ones I have read over and over, and I cannot give books a higher recommendation than that. They made my to-be-read-again list.

Books by Cassandra Clare:

Mortal Instruments:
City of Bones - Book 1
City of Ashes - Book 2
City of Glass - Book 3
City of Fallen Angels - Book 4
City of Lost Souls - Book 5 (May 2012)
City of Heavenly Fire - Book 6 (September 2013)

Infernal Devices:
Clockwork Angel - Book 1
Clockwork Prince - Book 2
Clockwork Princess - Book 3

Bane Chronicles:
1. What Really Happened in Peru
2. The Runaway Queen
3. Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale
4. The Midnight Heir
5. The Rise of The Hotel Dumort
6. Saving Raphael Santiago
7. The Fall of The Hotel Dumort
8. The Course of True Love (and First Dates)
9. What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You're Not Officially Dating Anyway)
10. The Last Stand of the New York Institute

The Dark Artifices Trilogy
Lady Midnight
Prince of Shadows
The Queen of Air and Darkness

Magisterium Series: (with Holly Black)
The Iron Trial 

Vacations From Hell
Eternal Kiss
Zombies versus Unicorns

Saturday 23 October 2010

Ready For Takeoff! - Lego City Adventure - Sonia Sander

Ready For Takeoff!
Lego City Adventures
Level 1 Reader
Sonia Sander
ISBN 9780545219860

Follow a young boy and his family as they prepare for a trip, from arriving at the airport to check in to security to boarding. Follow them through the airport, and during the flight to their vacation destination. These books are not only fun and colorful, with amazing illustrations but they also teach children about events they might be able to do. The whole series is wonderful.

The Leveled readers are great books for young children. They are designed to progress as a child's reading improves. There are hundreds of titles in these formats, even across different publishers. What makes this particular series, The Lego City Adventures so good, is that little kids will be attracted to them because of the format and style. These books are bright, vibrant, and colorful stories with fun illustrations. As a Level 1 reader geared for Kindergarten to Grade 1, this book is intended to help with sight word recognition, sounding out simple words and sentences.

Lego City Adventure Books:
Fire Truck To The Rescue
Help Is On the Way!
Calling All Cars
All Aboard!
Ready For Take Off
Build This City
City Adventures Sticker Book

Work This Farm
Fight This Fire!
Lego City Heroes!
Trucks Around The City
Escape From Lego City
3, 2, 1 Liftoff
All Hands On Deck
Fire In The Forest!
Catch That Crook!

Lego Star Wars Books:
Save The Galaxy!
Anakin: Space Pilot 3D
Darth Maul's Mission

Friday 22 October 2010

ARX2 Ab Ripper X2 - Tony Horton One on One Volume 3 Disk 2

Tony Horton
One on One
P90X - MC2
Volume 3 Disk 2
ARX2 - Ab Ripper X2

I was very disappointed with Chest Back and Ball; so much so I was not sure I was going to keep reviewing each of the Tony Horton's One on One P90X-MC2 workout videos. I like the idea of watching the progression of Tony creating a new program. But paying each month for such raw material was starting to look pointless. I was even more disappointed with Ab Ripper X2 than Chest Back and Balls. And to be honest, a 45 minute Ab workout seemed a little absurd. Tony takes us through 20 exercises but there are lots of breaks as Tony makes notes, recovers, chats with Mason. Some of the exercises are great. The end product will probably be amazing, but even trying to do this with a remote handy to skip ahead, hardly seems worth it.

The Exercises are:
Banana, Two Crunch
Scissor Twist
Oblique Roll Crunch
Side Arm Balance
Bug Bicycle Crunch
Row Your Boat
Scissor Clapper
The Abrinome
Draw Bridge Lift
Phelan Twist Lifts
Elbow to Knee Crunch Straight Leg Toe Touch
High Low Open Close
Corkscrew Crunch
1-Kick 2-Kick V-Crunch
Roll to Boat
Superman Banana X
The Tornado
Banana Roll Up Toe Grab V-Boat
Through The Legs & Behind the Back (with Ball)
Bicycle 100

Equipment Needed:
Medicine Balls
Exercise Matt or Exercise Mat
I really wish they had two versions of this on the disk - the full one with Tony making notes and such, and an edited version with just the exercises; get it down to 20 minutes and it would be a great workout. But the next workout Shoulders and Arms MC2 restored my faith in this series and now I am looking forward with expectation instead of dread to next month's workout. To find out more about this series or other workouts in the collection, follow the links below. I have created a random workout generator that uses 1 on 1's and P90X if your interested.
Volume 1, Disk 1: Plyo Legs
Volume 1, Disk 2: Power 90® Road Warrior
Volume 1, Disk 3: Killer Abs

Volume 1, Disk 4: Just Arms
Volume 1, Disk 5: 30-15: The Upper-Body Massacre
Volume 1, Disk 6: Fountain of Youth
Volume 1, Disk 7: Super Cardio

Volume 1, Disk 8: Mammoth UML
Volume 1, Disk 9: Bun Shaper
Volume 1, Disk 10: Medicine Ball Core Cardio
Volume 1, Disk 11: Recovery 4 Results

Volume 1, Disk 12: Diamond Delts
Volume 1, Bonus Disk - Holiday Workout
Volume 2, Bonus Disk - Pay It Forward
Volume 2, Disk 1: Cardio Intervals
Volume 2, Disk 2: Core Ball Sandwich
Volume 2, Disk 3: Patience "Hummingbird"
Volume 2, Disk 4: 10-Minute Crusher Pack

Volume 2, Disk 5: Butt and Belly (I Dare You)
Volume 2, Disk 6: Back and BellyVolume 2, Disk 7: On One Leg
Volume 2, Disk 8: Iso Abs
Volume 2, Disk 9: Cardio Confusion - Mason's Choice
Volume 2, Disk 10: 100/30/20
Volume 2, Disk 11: On One Leg 4 legs
Volume 2, Disk 12: Upper Body Balance
Volume 3, Disk 1: Chest, Back & Balls
Volume 3, Disk 2: ARX2 (Ab-Ripper X 2)
Volume 3, Disk 3: Shoulders and Arms MC2
Volume 3, Disk 4: Base and Back
Volume 3, Disk 5: MC2
Volume 3, Disk 6: Plyocide
Volume 3, Disk 7: Stretch And Recovery
Volume 3, Disk 8: V Sculpt
Volume 3, Disk 9: Core Synergistics MC2
Volume 3, Disk 10: UBX
Volume 3, Disk 11: PAP
Volume 3, Disk 12: Total Body X

I am asked frequently if I am a Beachbody Coach, no I am not, I am just some one who has used their products, P90X, 1on1 with Tony Horton and more and liked them and achieved good results. I am not paid by Beachbody or any of their affiliates. You can see my full disclaimer here.)

Thursday 21 October 2010

Peg and the Yeti - Kenneth Oppel and Barbara Reid

Peg and the Yeti
Kenneth Oppel (Author)

Barbara Reid (Illustrator)

Harper Collins
ISBN 9780002005388

Two of my favorite Canadian authors co-wrote a book and I only just found it. With a story by Kenneth Oppel and her trademark plasticine illustrations by Barbara Reid, this is an amazing story. Young Peg has grown up in a fishing community, fishing with her mom and dad, so this is an adventuresome 8 year old. She decides she has spent her whole life sloshing around on the sea so she decides to climb the highest mountain. She encounters storms, avalanches and even a Yeti. She has a wonderful adventure and returns home with lots of stories and even a new friend. The dust jacket on the hard cover edition even unfolds into a wonderful poster.

Books by Kenneth Oppel:

Half Brother (2010)
The Devil's Cure (2000)
Dead Water Zone (1992)
The Live-Forever Machine (1990)

Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
This Dark Endeavour (2011)
Such Wicked Intent (2012)

The Silverwing Saga
Silverwing (1997)
Sunwing (1999)
Firewing (2002)
Darkwing (2007)

Airborn Series
Airborn (2004)
Skybreaker (2005)
Starclimber (2008)

Children's Fiction:

The King's Taster (2009)
Peg and the Yeti (2004)
Peg and the Whale (2000)
Emma's Emu (1995)
Galactic Snapshots (1993)
Cosmic Snapshots (1993)
Follow That Star (1992)
Cosimo Cat (1990)
Colin's Fantastic Video Adventure (1985)

Barnes and the Brains
A Bad Case of Ghosts (1993)
A Strange Case of Magic (1994)
A Crazy Case of Robots (1994)
An Incredible Case of Dinosaurs (1994)
A Weird Case of Super-Goo (1997)
A Creepy Case of Vampires (2002)

Book written and illustrated by Barbara Reid:
Zoe's Year (2012)
Picture A Tree (2011)
The Party (2010)
Perfect Snow (2009)
Sing a Song of Mother Goose (2007)
Fox Walked Alone (2009)
Read Me A Book (2004)
The Subway Mouse (2003)
Zoe's Rainy Day (1992)
Zoe's Sunny Day (1992)
Zoe's Windy Day (1992)
Zoe's Snowy Day (1992)
The Golden Goose (2000)
Fun With Modelling Clay (1998)
The Party (1997)
First Look Board Books: Acorn to Oak Tree (1999)
First Look Board Books: Seed To Flower (1999)
First Look Board Books: Caterpillar to Butterfly (1999)
First Look Board Books: Tadpole to Frog (1999)
Two By Two (1992)
Sing A Song of Mother Goose (1987)

Book illustrated by Barbara Reid:

Peg & The Yeti (2004)
Gifts (1995)
Effie (1990)
Have You Seen Birds? (1986)
The New Baby Calf (1984)
Jenny Greenteeth (1983)
Mustard (1983)

Books contributed to:
Read Me A Story (2010)
Dream; a Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes (2004)
Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler (1994)

Author Profile and Interview with Barbara Reid

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Tony Abbott - Author Profile

Tony Abbott is an author with over 80 books to his credit and numerous awards and nominations. He has completed degrees in music psychology and English. He took some time to answer 20 questions for Book Reviews and More, we thank him for taking the time and hope you enjoy the interview.

1. You have published over 80 books in 16 years and the few I have read were amazing, to what do you attribute such copious output?

I suppose I established myself early on as someone who could write series books. I don't think everyone jumps at the chance, because deadlines are many and fairly severe. You have to be able to promise a finished book every few months, to keep the publishing schedule going. My first book, Danger Guys, back in 1994 was the first of a series, and for a while, that's all I wrote, for various publishers. That's why so many books over a relatively small time period. It's not something I'm especially proud of, that number. It's just something that happens with series.

2. I have read that over 12 Million copies of your books have been sold worldwide and published in over a half dozen languages (Italian, Spanish, Korean, French, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, and Russian). That is amazing success in a relatively short time. Are there any other translation projects currently in the works?

Thanks. There are some odd ones - Slovene and Czech come to mind. It's a wonderful feeling to think that children in other countries are picking up your books, just as we in North America read, say, Cornelia Funke or some other European writer. It is a privilege to be read so widely.

3. With so many books published do you have a favorite book you have written or a favorite series?

The Secrets of Droon will always be my favorite series, I think, because it's gone on for eleven years and over 40 books, all of which I've written myself. There is something wonderful that happens over such a long run. The characters become family in a very deep way. Of the novels, perhaps Firegirl is my favorite, because it's a personal story. Although, favorites change from time to time. The Postcard, too, because of the two main characters, Jason and Dia. They are, to me, very funny together. I love the life they have.

4. You have mentioned that your writing was sparked by reading books to your own children, what were your favorite books to read together as a family when your girls were young?

We did read a lot. James Marshall and William Steig. William Joyce. The sorts of picture books that you can read over and over because there is real wit behind it. Parents are also being written to in the best of these stories: the Fox books, The Cut-Ups (I love those books). Brave Irene, Doctor DeSoto. At Christmastime, we would read from Washington Irving's Christmas stories, and, of course, Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I'm lucky enough to have an 1846 edition of that book.

5. Danger Guys was your first published book, but you have elsewhere mentioned previously written books. Have any of them since been published or with your popularity would you like to go back and publish them now?

When one starts writing, there are a lot of things that seem not terrible, but that probably shouldn't be brought into the light. I would rewrite anything from the early days, in the light of my experience. It would probably become a completely new work.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

Big question. I have found that most books come about from a collision of several ideas. One idea does not go far, there has to be a tension, and interaction of several, and then something wonderful begins to happen. Life grows on the page. I will sketch out a story on paper, with pencil, for the longest time, until it seems right to begin typing it all into the computer. Then I print it out and start again on paper, honing down the initial mess of a first draft into something that looks like a story. There is a succession of drafts like this, drafts that I wouldn't want anyone ever to see, before I get to a place where the story begins to work on its own. Then the draft changes dwindle and finally I polish the manuscript to a point at which my editor can see it. There are additional, and sometimes many, changes after that. Maybe two more drafts before the book is ready for typesetting (if that's still what that procedure is called). Initial pages come next. Sketches of the illustrations and cover. Final pages. Then the book. We are talking at least a year from the beginning to the end of what I've described here.

7. Your books and series cover such different topics, worlds and characters. How do you come up with so many different worlds and series ideas?

As I often tell school children, the problem is not where to find ideas, it's that everything IS an idea. What you see, hear, feel, think about. What you read. What happens in your world. What happens in the world of your imagination. And once the characters come to life on your desk, the ideas come even more quickly and interestingly.

8. What of your books or series are you most proud of and why?

Well, the 44 Droon books, of course. They are a major achievement, if only for me. Of the novels, Firegirl is probably the best. But I have a new book coming out next year, Lunch-Box Dream, from Farrar Straus Giroux, and I am very proud of this story. I've just seen the advance reading copies, and they are lovely. I'm proud and excited about the whole package.

9. You books are published and marked for children and teen, and yet I have recommended The Haunting of Derek Stone to about a dozen adults who have all loved it. Have you considered remarketing some of your books as omnibuses for the adult market?

Wouldn't that be fun? I confess that I write books I, as an adult, would like to read, so it's no surprise that adult readers sometimes find them appealing. I have thought about reworking Derek Stone into a single fat volume for older, perhaps adult, readers. But my publisher is not as interested in the idea as I am. In fact, the novel coming out next year, Lunch-Box Dream, for the longest time seemed to me an adult book. We'll see if there is any crossover of readership for that one.

10. Have you ever considered publishing some of your poetry?

11. You have stated one of your biggest inspirations for writing is "I love being with the characters I create and seeing what kind of adventures they get into (and out of!)" I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Does that same sort of thing happen to you? Can you give us an example?

It does feel that way. There are characters that continue after the stories are written, just because of the very realness of them. I wish I could come up with an example. Perhaps the best I can do is to say that the main character of Lunch-Box is one I will write about again, and I have begun sketching out the story, which will be a lighter look at the person who is somewhat dark in the original book.

12. You have mentioned have a long term story arch for the Secrets of Droon book? Do you have a feeling how many more books might occur in that world?

I could have gone on for some time, but in fact the final book appears this year. It's called The Final Quest, and is Special Edition #8, the 44th book. Last year, the publisher and I talked, and they told me that it was probably time. Series of any kind, television included, don't often go as long as Droon has, so it has been a great run. In that last book, I tried to bring in as many of the favorite characters and places and storylines as I possibly could. It was a task, and a sort of melancholy task at that, but the book is one that I am very happy with. You know, it's like sending your child out into the world. I view it as that.

13. There are rumors that your book Kringle is in preproduction for a film to be released in 2011, have any of your other works been optioned for either the large or small screen?

Well, the movie thing is dead. Kringle was optioned, twice, for a period of about three years. Progress was being made. Then - poof. Nothing. The option expires, the director, writer, producer go their separate ways, and the ground is raked behind them so that you can't read any of the footprints. That's Hollywood. Some of my work has been optioned, but nothing has come of it. The story I would probably most like to see on the screen is The Postcard. It's very visual. A Florida mystery over six decades.

14. What are some of your favorite films?

Chinatown, The Thief of Baghdad (the Steve Reeves version), there are others that escape me.

15. Who were some of your favorite authors or books in your youth?

Well, The Wind in the Willows takes first spot. Johnny's Space Trip, a very unpolitically correct tale. Huckleberry Hound Builds a House. Hardy Boys, of course. I read dozens of them.

16. Who are some of your favorite authors or books now?

I don't read many children's books, but I do like people like Kevin Henkes, Karen Hesse, and Walter Dean Myers, real writers. Adult writers include William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Richard Wright, Tonie Morrison, Truman Capote, Flannery O'Connor, James Agee, Ralph Ellison; mostly Southern writers, for some reason. Also Terry Pratchett, Charles Dickens, and P. G. Wodehouse. Oh, and Robert Frost, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, John Updike, Langston Hughes.

17. As a former librarian what ten books would you recommend for teen readers?

Of course, I have never been a librarian, as one of my bios happens to state. I worked in a college library for several years, but not in a professional position. And ten books! Gosh, that's a hard one. Well . . .

The Member of the Wedding (McCullers) The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee) Witness (Hesse) Out of the Dust (Hesse) The Golden Compass (Pullman) Lily's Crossing (Giff) All We Know of Love (Baskin) Mexican White-Boy (de la Pena) Small Gods (Pratchett)

18. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

Another list of ten!

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (McCullers) Breakfast at Tiffany's (Capote) The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner) As I Lay Dying (Faulkner) Other Voices, Other Rooms (Capote) A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man (Joyce) Station Island (Heaney) Bleak House (Dickens) Invisible Man (Ellison) Beloved (Morrison)

19. What advice would you give to teens today, to your readers, what gems of knowledge have you gleaned in life that you would pass on?

Try to do everything (non-risky), read everything, open your mind to the possibilities of life and people, imagine a better world, love the world in all its beauty and horror.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

Same as above.

Tony live in Connecticut with his wife and daughters. With his success and scheduled he is still very approachable and always willing to interact with his reads, fans and students. You can find out more about him and his ever increasing number of upcoming projects on his website Though his books are published for children and young adults I am sure readers of all ages will enjoy them so pick one up and give it a try. Thank you again Tony for taking the time to respond.

Books By Tony Abbott:

1. The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder (2012)
2. The Startling Story of the Stolen Statue (2012)
3. Superhero Silliness (2012)
4. The Mysterious Talent Show Mystery (2013)

5. The Scary Story of the Ha-Ha-Haunted House (2013) 

1. The Battle Begins (2012)
2. When Monsters Escape (2012)
3. Revenge of the Scorpion King (2013)
4. The Ice Dragon (2013)

Danger Guys
1. Danger Guys (1994)
2. Danger Guys Blast Off (1994)
3. Hollywood Halloween (1994)
4. Danger Guys Hit the Beach (1995)
5. Danger Guys on Ice (1995)
6. Danger Guys and the Golden Lizard (1996)

Time Surfers
1. Space Bingo (1996)
2. Orbit Wipeout! (1995)
3. Mondo Meltdown (1996)
4. Into the Zonk Zone! (1996)
5. Splash Crash (1997)
6. Zero Hour (1997)
7. Shock Wave (1997)
8. Doom Star (1997)

Weird Zone
1. Zombie Surf Commandos from Mars (1996)
2. The Incredible Shrinking Kid (1996)
3. The Beast from Beneath the Cafeteria! (1996)
4. Attack of the Alien Mole Invaders! (1996)
5. The Brain That Wouldn't Obey! (1996)
6. Gigantopus from Planet X! (1997)
7. Cosmic Boy Versus Mezmo Head! (1997)
8. Revenge of the Tiki Men! (1997)

Secrets of Droon
1. The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet (1999)
2. Journey to the Volcano Palace (1999)
3. The Mysterious Island (1999)
4. City in the Clouds (1999)
5. The Great Ice Battle (1999)
6. The Sleeping Giant of Goll (2000)
7. Into the Land of the Lost (2000)
8. The Golden Wasp (2000)
9. Tower of the Elf King (2000)
10. Quest for the Queen (2000)
11. The Hawk Bandits of Tarkoom (2000)
12. Under the Serpent Sea (2001)
13. The Mask of Maliban (2001)
14. Voyage of the Jaffa Wind (2002)
15. The Moon Scroll (2002)
16. The Knights of Silversnow (2002)
Special Edition 1. The Magic Escapes (2002)
17. Dream Thief (2003)
18. Search for the Dragon Ship (2003)
19. The Coiled Viper (2003)
20. In The Ice Caves of Krog (2003)
21. Flight of the Genie (2003)
Special Edition 2. Wizard or Witch? (2004)
22. The Isle of Mists (2004)
23. The Fortress of the Treasure Queen (2004)
24. Race To Doobesh (2005)
25. The Riddle Of Zorfendorf Castle (2005)
Special Edition 3. Voyagers of the Silver Sand (2005)
26. The Moon Dragon (2006)
27. The Chariot of Queen Zara (2006)
28. In the Shadow of Goll (2006)
Special Edition 4. Sorcerer (2006)
29. Pirates of the Purple Dawn (2007)
30. Escape from Jabar-Loo (2007)
31. Queen of Shadowthorn (2007)
Special Edition 5. Moon Magic (2008)
32. Treasure of the Orkins (2008)
33. Flight of the Blue Serpent (2008)
34. In the City of Dreams (2009)
Special Edition 6. Crown of Wizards (2009)
35. The Lost Empire Of Koomba (2009)
36. Knights of the Ruby Wand (2010)
Special Edition 7. The Genie King (2010)
Special Edition 8. The Final Quest (2010)

Don't Touch That Remote
1. Sitcom School (1999)
2. The Fake Teacher (1999)
3. Stinky Business (announced, not published)
4. Freak Week (announced, not published)

Cracked Classics
1. Trapped in Transylvania: Dracula (2002)
2. Mississippi River Blues: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2002)
3. What a Trip!: Around the World in Eighty Days (2002)
4. Humbug Holiday: A Christmas Carol (2002)

5. X Marks the Spot: Treasure Island (2003)
6. Crushing on a Capulet: Romeo and Juliet (2003)

Haunting of Derek Stone
1. City of the Dead (2009)
2. Bayou Dogs (2009)
3. The Red House (2009)
4. The Ghost Road (2009)

The Copernicus Legacy
The Forbidden Stone (2013)
The Serpent's Curse (2014

Kringle (2005)
Firegirl (2006)
The Postcard (2008)
Lunch-Box Dream (2011)

Author profile interview with Tony Abbott.