Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating early

Navigating Early by Clare Vnaderpool, a 2014 Printz Honor Book, is a moving novel of friendship, forgiveness, and moving on.

After the death of his mother, Jack Baker’s father moves him from Kansas to a boy’s boarding school in Maine. His life turned upside down, Jack makes friend with an odd boy named Early Auden who only attends class when he wishes, lives down in the basement, and listens to a variety of records depending upon the day and the weather.

Inadvertently left alone at school over the break, Jack and Early embark upon a journey by boat to find the Great Appalachian Bear. Fraught with danger and numerous surprises, the boys learn  a great deal about themselves and each other in the process.

Throughout the story runs the mythical story of Pi, an adventurer whose journey closely relates to Jack’s and Early’s.

I don’t often listen to audio books, but for this grade level they are fun. The variety of characters portrayed in this adventurous tale is superb. The narrator was fabulous! I don’t want to give away too much because the surprises along the way are worth picking up this book, but let me say that even though there are down times in this book, the pace is fairly steady.

Navigating Early is filled with engaging characters whose story will captivate you fully. Not only is Jack coping with the death of his mother, but he has a difficult relationship with his military father. Both Jack and Early Auden are odd men out when it comes to school. Early’s ties to the school hero who went off to war and Jack’s inability to row at a school where rowing is a right of passage, bring them together. But it isn’t until the journey they take while alone at school that Jack can appreciate Early’s friendship.

I loved everything about this book: the plot development, the character development, the hooks, the shocks, and the tears. The mythical story of Pi ties in nicely and connects the boys in more ways than one.

If your middle grade reader only picks up one book this year, it should be Navigating Early.

Highly recommended!

 

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Age Range: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 and up
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Yearling (December 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307930653
ISBN-13: 978-0307930651

 

I borrowed this book from the library. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Kindle Freebie: The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series) by Sarah Renee

tiger

Ten years ago, the tiger King and Queen of a vast forest disappeared in a mysterious fire.

No one knows how the fire started. In ten years, the truth has never been discovered. But now, ten years later, their orphaned daughter is determined to solve the mystery…

Ten-year-old Saderia has led a life of luxury as the Princess of the forest under the care of her persnickety aunt and uncle – though it has always had its flaws. But when her nights are troubled by terrifying dreams of the fire that took her parents, her comfortable life is turned into a race to find the truth. On a quest to solve the mystery of who killed her parents, she stumbles upon bewildering clues, secretive allies, and even magic.

Saderia is determined to solve the mystery, but as she uncovers more clues, her own life is drawn deeper and deeper into danger. She must find out the truth before time runs out – and her own fate is sealed.

File Size: 3497 KB
Print Length: 342 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 146990263X
Publisher: Tiger Print Books; 1 edition (January 8, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B004W3L5DM

PURCHASE HERE!

Guest Book Review: The Shadow of the Pyramid by Wendy Leighton-Porter

porterPublisher: Mauve Square Publishing (February 4, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1909411043
ISBN-13: 978-1909411043
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Ages 8+
Fantasy/Adventure/Action

Five Stars

Jemima, Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie are off on their adventures again, searching for Jemima and Joe’s parents (somehow trapped in the past) and this time they are headed for ancient Egypt. Using their magical book, the poem containing clues, and Jemima’s necklace with the key, the kids and Max are transported back in time, arriving in the middle of an assassination plot to murder the young king Tutankhamun. Alas, Max has a morbid fear of mummies, having glimpsed a ghastly sight of one on Joe’s XBox game and he’s not too keen on this part of their adventure. They meet Ankharet, the gorgeous cat belonging to Tut’s young wife, Ankhesenamun. Max is totally smitten, but unfortunately Ankharet (who is jealous of Max’s instant popularity) doesn’t feel quite the same way about him. As the adventure unfolds, the kids and the cats, along with Tut’s wife try to stop several attempts on the young king’s life. Max even manages to foil two attempts, displaying a kind of unintentional bravery. The king is entranced with Max and names him “Max, beloved of Amun.” What an honour! Alas, despite their best efforts, once again the kids and Max are unable to change the course of history and cannot prevent the young king’s fate, a mystery which remains to this day. The end of the book is absolutely delightful and kids will just love the twist in this tale.

Max’s fear of mummies and the like afford some absolutely hilarious moments, especially since all his apparent heroics and saving the day are by accident. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has woven a marvellous mixture of suspense, adventure, history, geography, and culture into an intriguing tale. Using real historical figures, she captures the feel and flavour of ancient times, and puts forward some quite viable theories for exactly what might have happened to Tutankhamun. As in previous books, the kids and Max are totally immersed in history, and this tale will definitely draw eager young readers to join them in the adventure. There are some interesting facts at the end of the book which will no doubt stimulate young time travellers to go and do a bit more research. Learning history the fun way is becoming the mark of this captivating series.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

“The Story Behind my Queen Vernita Series,” by Dawn Menge

coastlineQueen Vernita is based on my Grandmother Vernita.  Every character in the book is someone in my life.  My illustrator takes a picture I have of them and creates a character of them doing an activity.  Queen Vernita’s adventures are based on my real travels.

Each book is based on repetition and the math concepts of years, days, weeks and seasons.  Each year Queen Vernita chooses a destination and twelve wonderful friends to visit, one for each month of the year.

Queen Vernita visits the Blue Ice Mountains is based on my trips to Alaska.  Queen Vernita and her friends learn about crabs, glaciers, seals, otters and more.  They ride horses, kayak, and snorkel in the cold glacier waters.

Queen Vernita visits the Islands of Enchantment is based on the Hawaiian Islands, Sea Captain Jeff and Enchantress Carrie. The adventures swim with dolphins, sharks, eels, they learn to fish and explore lava caverns.

Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer is co-written with my brother Heath Rhoades who participates in asteroid and comet astrometry. The visitors learn about the planets and comets in the solar system. They learn how to make a sun dial and tell time using it.

Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline is about her yearlong coach travel.  She and her friends learn about jellyfish, Stalagmites and Stalactites, they explore caves and camp in the Redwood forest.

Queen Vernita visits Gator County is currently being published.  Queen Vernita travels down south where she gets to hold a baby alligator , ride in the bayou, she learns about the Underground Railroad, visits plantations and the Mardi Gras.

Queen Vernita explores Baja Quails takes her further south to learn new languages and dances.  She visits a crystal cave, learns to surf, rides a new invention along the beach and visits a blowhole along the ocean.

More books in the series will include; Queen Vernita visits Volcanic Island with Sea Captain Jeff, Queen Vernita visits the Great White Mountains, Queen Vernita explores Paradise Reef, Queen Vernita sails the seas with John Alden and many more adventures soon to be written.

 ————————————–

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
dawn
   Dawn Menge is the author of the Queen Vernita’s educational series.  There are currently five books published.  Queen Vernita’s Visitors, Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer and Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline.  Dawn Menge’s series has won nineteen literary awards.
     Dawn Menge has been teaching severely handicapped students for fourteen years. She holds a Masters and clear credential as an Educational specialist.  She is currently working on her PHD in Curriculum and Instruction.
     Dawn Menge is the mother of three and the grandmother of five beautiful children.
PURCHASE HER BOOKS ON AMAZON
CHECK OUT HER LATEST BOOK: 
 
Title: Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline
Genre: Children’s literature
Author: Dawn Menge
Publisher: Outskirtspress

A Sandy Grave by Donna M. McDine (Giveaway)

A Sandy Grave cover

Leah is eager to catch up with her friends Nicole and Hayley at the beach this summer. When a dead whale washes up on shore and some mysterious men start hanging around, the girls aren’t quite sure how they can help.

Award-winning children’s author Donna McDine tackles the issue of poaching in this entertaining tween chapter book. A Sandy Grave finds a group of friends meeting up at the beach for the summer. But their fun is interrupted by a dead whale washing up on shore and some mysterious men hanging around. The girls then learn about the illegal practice of poaching and Leah is concerned those men hanging around the beach are up to no good. There must be something the girls can do to help out.

A book like this empowers children to make a difference while educating them about their world in a fun way. The delightful illustrations by Julie Hammond are the perfect complement to McDine’s story. This is a quick read that will leave a lasting impression.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

PURCHASE AT:

GUARDIAN ANGEL PUBLISHING: http://guardianangelpublishing.com/sandy-grave.htm

AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Sandy-Grave-Donna-M-McDine/dp/1616334541/

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sandy-grave-donna-m-mcdine/1118285403

Title: A Sandy Grave
Author: Donna M. McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
Genre: Tween chapterbook
Format: Paperback, hardcover & eBook

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzzVjJWd4hM

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Donna McDine HeadshotLiterary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership. 

Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.

Terms & Conditions

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A SANDY GRAVE TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, March 3

 

Book trailer reveal at If Books Could Talk

Tuesday, March 4

 

Interview at As the Pages Turn

 

Wednesday, March 5

 

Guest post at My Sister Is My Best Friend

 

Friday, March 7

 

Book review at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

 

Monday, March 10

 

Guest post at Literarily Speaking

 

Tuesday, March 11

 

Book featured at The Writer’s Life

 

Wednesday, March 12

 

Interview at Rebecca’s Writing Services

 

Thursday, March 13

Book review at Rebecca’s Writing Services

Book review at Farm and Fru Fru

 

Monday, March 17

Book feature and giveaway at My Sister Is My Best Friend

 

Wednesday, March 19

 

Interview at Straight from the Author’s Mouth

Friday, March 21

 

First chapter reveal at Read My First Chapter

 

Monday, March 24

 

Book feature at Between the Covers

 

Tuesday, March 25

 

Book feature and giveaway at The Busy Mom’s Daily

 

Wednesday, March 26

 

Interview at Nancy Stewart’s Books

Guest post at Mayra’s Secret Bookcase

 

Thursday, March 27

 

Book review at My Devotional Thoughts

Friday, March 28

 

Interview and giveaway at PUYB Virtual Book Club

 

Tuesday, April 1

Guest post at Strands of Thought

Wednesday, April 2

Guest post at Lori’s Reading Corner

Thursday, April 3

Character interview at Beyond the Books

Book trailer reveal at A Leisure Moment

Friday, April 4

Book review at A Leisure Moment

Monday, April 7

Book review at Blooming with Books

Tuesday, April 8

Interview at Blooming with Books

Wednesday, April 9

Book feature at 4 the Love of Books

Thursday, April 10

Guest post at The Story Behind the Book

Friday, April 11

Book review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, April 14

Book trailer reveal at 4 the Love of Books

Wednesday, April 16

Book feature and giveaway at Blooming with Books

Thursday, April 17

Book review at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Friday, April 18

Book review at By the Book

Monday, April 21

Book feature at Plug Your Book!

Wednesday, April 23

Book review at 4 the Love of Books

Book review at Mymcbooks’s Blog

Thursday, April 24

Book review at WV Stitcher

Friday, April 25

Book tour highlights at The Book Rack

I received a free digital version of this book. The author paid me to promote this book through a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

A Sandy Grave Banner

The Bifrost Bridge by James Bradley Clarke $25 Book Blast

About the Book

The Bifrost Bridge by James ClarkTitle: The Bifrost Bridge | Author: James Bradley Clarke | Illustrator: Marcus Gran | Publication Date: January, 2013 | Publisher: Wynwidyn Press | Pages: 92 | Recommended Ages: 8+

Summary: The Bifrost Bridge is a Viking princess fairy tale intertwined with Norse mythology. Silya, the feisty ten year old Princess of Norway, eagerly awaits the arrival of her cousin and best friend, Princess Hedda of Denmark. The princesses are both looking forward to the summer solstice celebration, but trouble lurks in their future as magical villains see the girls as being vital for their deadly conspiracy. Hedda and Silya find themselves cast into a dangerous adventure filled with fire giants, female warrior angels and the God of Thunder.

Purchase

Amazon | Wynwidyn Press Books

The Buzz

“A delightful and endearing adventure that winds Norse mythology and two young girls through a whirlwind of danger, friendship and standing up to evil-doers. The Princess heroines, Silya and Hedda, engage the reader with their charming day to day life at the celebrated summer solstice festival in ancient Norway… The book moves along easily and the characters are likable at once. A fun read for the parents, and challenging enough for the children because it may have a few new words and characters they may not know. It is an adorable story that will soon become a favorite.” ~ 5 Star Review, Janet, Amazon

“Bifrost Bridge is a beautiful fairytale, mixing legend and adventure and creating a wonderful reading experience for both children and adults alike. I read this to my 7 year old daughter, and my 10 year old daughter read it for herself; both of them were captivated by the story. My 7 year old loved the idea of two princesses being such close friends, and my 10 year old loved all of the action and suspense in the story. I enjoyed the Norse mythology woven into the tale. It’s a wonderful family story. I will be reading it to my sons next!” ~ 5 Star Review, Rebecca F., Amazon

“When I first looked into this book, I was sure that the world of fairy tales had been overdone so many times that I wouldn’t see much difference between this one & my other classic favorites that I enjoyed over the years with my children… However, I was proven wrong.. This is such a beautiful and entrancing fairy tale! Mr. Clarke takes the often repetitive world of fairy tales and adds an elegant, dramatic twist to it, producing an epic and moving adventure that children will forever cherish! My daughter and I read it together and had many nights where we just didn’t want to put it down! His characters, including the feisty Silya, are memorable and seem so very real! It’s a hard thing to do that with children’s fairy tales and again, I commend Mr. Clarke for releasing a wonderful new fairy tale to pass on to generations to come!” ~ 5 Star Review, Vicky R., Amazon

About the Author: James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke is a graduate of Hiram College, The University of Houston, and the University of Michigan. He currently resides in Oxford, Ohio, where he works as an academic librarian for Miami University. He grew up near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he has spent most of his life in the Great Lakes region.

The Bifrost Bridge is Clarke’s first work of fiction. The children’s book was first developed as stories Clarke started telling to his two daughters back in the summer of 2003. Both girls shared a love for classic princess fairy tales, so he invented original princess characters for both of them. As residents in Riverside, Illinois, Clarke’s family lived in walking distance of the Brookfield Zoo where the girls regularly admired the Norwegian fjord horses. When he learned this ancient breed of horse was used by the Vikings, a specific medieval setting for the stories came into focus.

As a Hiram College student, Clarke had developed a love for the epic poems of Homer and Virgil, so he chose to borrow from mythology to provide magical elements. The girls became instantly enamored with these stories and they insisted on developing new adventures for the two Nordic princess characters. The first draft of a manuscript was produced during the summer of 2005. Clarke’s daughters were delighted with the bound copy they received as a Christmas gift later that year, so he began the process of becoming an author. Clarke has a love for history and a taste for plot driven stories about extraordinary individualism. Themes of fortitude and self-determination lay at the heart of Clarke’s writing interests.

Facebook (Book Fan Page) | Facebook (Author Fan Page) | Goodreads

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: February 10 to March 9, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, James Bradley Clarke and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Services

Pi-Rat! by Maxine Lee

pi-rat

Pirate-loving youngsters will enjoy meeting Pi-Rat and his brave, swashbuckling crew. They aren’t afraid of sharks and crocodiles. But there might be one thing that frightens them a little.

In this zany, funny pirate adventure, youngsters find a silly story about pirates who will eat your food and steal your booty. They aren’t afraid of anything–or so they say. But even brave pirates must be afraid of something. Kids will love this crazy story and its vibrant illustrations. The partially 3-D image on the front cover as Pi-Rat pops out of the porthole is a nice touch. I plan to pass this book off to my little nephew who will be three next month. He’ll enjoy this one.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589251431
ISBN-13: 978-1589251434

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Guest Book Review: Princess Madeline and the Dragon by Kirstin Pulioff

madeline

Book Review: Princess Madeline and the Dragon by Kirstin Pulioff
Series: Princess Madeline Series
Paperback: 118 pages
Publisher: Caliburn Books (December 10, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1623750709
ISBN-13: 978-1623750701
Genre: Fantasy/magic/adventure
Ages: 10+

Five Stars

All is well in the Kingdom of Soron; at least, that’s what everyone thinks. The village has been rebuilt since Prince Paulsen’s disastrous attack the previous autumn, and preparations are underway for the Spring Faire – a very important occasion. Princess Madeline is also preparing for her upcoming wedding to Daniel, and the prospect of establishing a new home in the North. The wizards, now welcomed back after their timely assistance during the previous troubles, have a new role to play. Madeline has been having strange dreams, and the Elder Wizard, in fact her Uncle Elias, is trying to teach her to harness her magical powers, inherited from her mother. Then things turn horribly upside-down, as we have been warned via the prologue, where Lord Hawthorne (hunting for dragons’ eggs) stumbles upon a rare clutch of these magical eggs. Amazingly, a green dragon appears and begins to ravage the kingdom. The fiery attack ends with King Theodore being badly burned to the point where he insists on Madeline’s marriage to Daniel right away; and he appoints Madeline’s twin brother Braden as King of Soron. The dragon is fast becoming a huge and dangerous problem. Will Madeline and Braden be able to decipher the clues left by their mother that spoke of the Age of Dragons? And why is the dragon suddenly attacking the kingdom?

Kirstin Pulioff has cleverly sown the clues to the final book in the first and second books, where seemingly innocuous items hold the key to solving the mystery of the green dragon. Braden, somewhat neglected in books one and two, comes into his own and pulls the readers’ focus as he takes charge of the kingdom, and finds the path of love not as smooth as he had hoped. Madeline has really grown up here, and her thoughts on resolving the kingdom’s dilemma differ greatly from her brother’s. Her way is based on love, reason, reconciliation, and truth. The wizard Elias also has a lot to teach both the characters and young readers and his words of wisdom are beautifully woven into this rich fantasy tapestry. Again the author’s gift for description stands her in good stead as the dragon, in all its flaming fury, is brought vividly to life in the pages of this magical fairy tale. Princess Madeline and the Dragon is well worth the wait as there is something for everyone: romance, love, enchantment, magicality, wizards, action, adventure, and of course … here be dragons!

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Interview with Alinka Rutkowska, Author of Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Alinka Rutkowska

Alinka Rutkowska is a “Reader’s Favorite” Five Star Picture Book Author. She writes the “Maya & Filippo” Book Series for Children – travel books for kids with a positive attitude. She takes inspiration from her own travels while cruising with her husband and daughter around the world. She is positive, appreciative and happy 95% of the time and during the miserable 5% she thinks to herself quickly: “things always work out for me” and they do.

Alinka’s doesn’t really have a “to do” list but she does have a “fun things to do” list. It usually consists of writing, reading, reading her writing, writing in her diary, blogging, reading other blogs, commenting, breathing deeply, meditating, feeling the warmth of the sun on her skin, closing her eyes, breathing some more and thinking what a wonderful world she lives in.

Sometimes she takes a few minutes to pause and instead of doing something from her “fun things to do” list she just daydreams a little. She thinks of all the great things that she wants for her to happen and imagines how wonderful it will feel to be interviewed about them in the future. She’s already preparing the answers to those interview questions in her mind. She especially loves the part, in which she says that she achieved all these things because she spent a considerable amount of time visualizing them first.

Alinka loves to ski while listening to music at the same time, she enjoys an occasional glass (or bottle) of Barolo with dark chocolate, she loves cuddling with her husband and daughter. Alinka really likes tea, especially that last sip which is usually the tastiest.

Alinka blogs daily at www.mayafilippo.com for parents, travelers and authors. She loves to connect with like-minded individuals on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mayafilippo), Twitter (https://twitter.com/AlinkaRutkowska) and Linked-In (http://www.linkedin.com/in/alinkarutkowska).
Alinka’s books are available through her Amazon Author’s page at http://amzn.to/1eQNlcZ

When did you begin writing?

In primary school. As a school girl I used to carry a notebook and I would fill it with poems of my own production, whenever I felt inspired. I think I might still have it somewhere:) I was also founder and editor of the school newspaper. I loved writing and publishing since I remember. I wrote my first published work in 2010 and it was an incredible success! I still haven’t quite figured out how that happened but I sold thousands of copies in the first months after launch. That was the moment that I decided I had to quit my corporate job and think what I really wanted to do in life. After a few years of searching what my life’s purpose truly is, the Maya & Filippo picture book series were created. It’s now a brand and I am very excited about it.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I’m a mom and a writer. In that order. This means that I can write when my daughter is asleep. I always make sure that I’m undisturbed, centered, relaxed and that I have a clear mind. I usually spend several days (or weeks!) letting the idea for the book marinate in my head and when the right moment presents itself, I pour it all on paper (or screen!). A picture book is only about 1000 words long and it takes me about an hour to write it. It’s a very intense hour – I usually type like crazy with only brief pauses to read what I wrote. That’s how the first draft is born.

What is this book about?Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is the first of the Maya & Filippo series and it’s about two children discovering the world on a cruise ship. They explore both the sights and the world inside their minds. They dock in Auckland (New Zealand) and have a rough morning, they then go to see the city and notice a very strange thing – the more positive they are, the better their day becomes. They soon take advantage of this new law and make sure that some amazing things happen before the sun sets.

What inspired you to write it?

Back in 2011 I stepped out of my comfort zone, quit my corporate job and took off for the other side of the world – New Zealand. I was all by myself and I soon noticed that the better my attitude was, the better my experiences. I took advantage of this knowledge. I went on a cruise expecting the best and it did turn out to be the best decision of my life. I met my now husband on board and now we cruise together around the world. This gives me plenty inspiration for new Maya & Filippo adventures.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I had already published several books in the past so this was smooth sailing. The challenge was to find a reliable team. It took me a while to find passionate people to work with. It’s important to me that they care for these books, for the characters and the philosophy they convey. Luckily, after a few months of searching everything is in place now.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/IszTxo) and in any major book store. I’m also very active in promoting this book to libraries, book stores and tourist centers in Auckland and I will soon be able to announce that you can get it there. There’s one more thing and this one is huge – it might still be confidential and I’m not sure if I can tell, but one of the big cruise lines will be carrying my titles in their on board boutiques. That for me is a dream come true!

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes, I think that video trailers are a great addition to an author’s marketing campaign. Here’s my video for Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWUZbn8vb7A

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The best investment was a review copy I gave as a gift to a Vice President of one of the biggest cruise companies. She wrote back to me saying that she LOVED the book and wanted to sell copies on board. Sometimes a small gift goes a long way! The truth is that I give out plenty of review copies – to anyone who would write a review in exchange. I send my books out to people who have a large following and can make an impact on sales. I also like giving my books to friends who have children. I give, give, give! And then every now and then – I get back big time.

What is up next for you?

Writing, publishing and promoting. I love what I do and I want to do more of it. I will be writing more Maya & Filippo episodes.

The first batch to be published will be books from my travels in New Zealand:

Maya & Filippo Play Chef at Sea
Maya & Filippo Look for Happiness in Tauranga
Maya & Filippo See Impossible Things in the Garden City
Maya & Filippo Learn about Careers in Dunedin
and Alaska:
Maya & Filippo Talk Business in Seattle
Maya & Filippo Look for Whales in Ketchikan
Maya & Filippo Visit a Glacier
Maya & Filippo See Things Differently in Skagway

I’ve already written these and the artwork for the covers is also complete, so they will all have been published by mid 2015.

I am now going to Hawaii and I will definitely not come back empty-handed. I think I will also include a few European ports in my future books. We are talking about 2015-2016 here.

Each book requires copy-editing, illustrations, coloring and graphic design. I have a team of people with whom I work closely to get each book ready for publication. After that I spend my free hours spreading the word out. I want this series to get to people who will appreciate it and that’s a full time job!

Maya & Filippo banner 7

Guest Book Review: The Battle for Princess Madeleine by Kirstin Pulioff

princess

Book Review: The Battle for Princess Madeline
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 21, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1482790085
Genre: Fantasy/magic/adventure
Age: 12+
Five Stars

In book two of the Princess Madeline series we’re back in the Kingdom of Soron, in the midst of the Fall Festival. Apart from the fun and activity of this festive event, there is a special significance: Princess Madeline’s betrothal to her Champion Knight Daniel, who saved her during her previous escapade. Princess Madeline is starting to grow up as well, and apart from making her tutor’s life a misery with her questions, is taking a great interest in the kinds of things necessary for running a kingdom and being responsible for people. It seems that nothing will spoil this idyllic time, except the reappearance of the sly Prince Paulsen, making outrageous demands on King Theodore. Paulsen demands Madeline’s hand in marriage and when the king reminds the prince that although he rid the country of brigands, he did not actually save the princess himself, this leads to terrible events. War ensues, and at the same time Madeline must decide how she can help save the kingdom. The banished wizards risk the wrath of the king by appearing, with messages, clues, and advice. While Theodore and Daniel face Paulsen’s ravaging troops, Madeline makes her own decisions.

Kudos to author Kirstin Pulioff for introducing more entrancing back story regarding magical choices that Madeline and her twin brother made without knowing it. Fragments of their mother’s story come through, adding to the wizards’ role in this book, and indeed in the prehistory of Soron. I loved the element of magic and mystery that the wizards bring, with suggestions of building onto forthcoming events, when the Age of Dragons looms over Soron. Madeline develops a sense of maturity about life, and her relationship with Daniel. She also uses her wits and embarks upon a daring plan, so courage is part of her nature. The battle scenes and the grim results of Paulsen’s invasion are brought to life by the author’s gift for description. In fact, description is part of what makes the series so appealing. One can hear the clash of swords, the shouts of the soldiers or (on a more peaceful note) almost rub shoulders with Madeline as she gazes at a beautiful view. There is much to entice young readers in this tale of the Princess: action, adventure, a charming romance, magic, and of course, the promise of dragons to come. I am looking forward to book three.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.