How a Historical Hero Can Inspire Young Readers by Fiona Ingram, Author of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

excalibur front cover final2-2

Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur. However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped. Book extras include some historical background on King Arthur, the Dark Ages, warfare and weaponry during Arthur’s time, and details on Excalibur. A fascinating peek into the life and times of the real King Arthur, perfect for young time travelers and budding archaeologists.

For More Information

  • The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Find out the latest on the book at Facebook.

Guest post: 

How a Historical Hero Can Inspire Young Readers by Fiona Ingram

I’ve always been fascinated with the figure of King Arthur, so much so that when the idea popped into my head to use Excalibur, and thus King Arthur, in Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Before I began my serious research, I had always thought of King Arthur as a kind of hazy figure who was mostly legend. To my surprise, I found enough information to pinpoint Arthur as a historical figure, a Dark Ages king, a Briton who lived and fought around AD 500. Arthur’s biggest achievement in history was turning the tide of the Anglo-Saxon advance at the Battle of Badon in AD 516, keeping Britain safe for the next fifty years. Starting around AD 700, references to Arthur and his brave exploits on the battlefield began to emerge and have continued to the present day.

Even in his own time, Arthur’s name became synonymous with heroic deeds, bravery, and victory on the field of battle. The half-mythical, half-historic nature of the original Arthurian legends developed with the retelling of the tales. With Arthur’s name becoming increasingly more mythologised, it was perhaps inevitable that with the advent of the first ‘fiction’ writing (around the twelfth century) that Arthur would appear in an even more heroic light than before. Following Arthur’s death at the Battle of Camlann (AD 535), his fame spread all over Europe. The Arthurian stories journeyed with merchants and other travelers from country to country, from city to city, from monastery to monastery, and from one royal court to another. The idea of chivalry emerged. This new code emphasized that one should live and conduct oneself with honor, courtesy, and bravery.

Why, centuries later, is the figure of Arthur still so important? Arthur is important to us because he appears as the ideal of kingship during both peace and war. He stands for all that is true and good in a leader. He became a conquering hero, a champion of peace and justice, a king of kings. This is the kind of hero that will appeal to young readers, and perhaps inspire them to emulate King Arthur, to be someone who ‘does the right thing,’ and stands head and shoulders above the rest just because he knows what makes a hero. Being a hero can encompass many things; it’s about standing up for what you believe in; defending someone who is weaker or who may be being bullied at school; making sure you treat people and animals with respect, love, compassion, and that you show the qualities of a young knight of the Round Table. A young reader can easily become a hero to his family, friends, and community by following the ideals that make a good, caring and responsible person.FionaIngram-794310

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in the multi award winning The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has just published the second book entitled The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, a treat for young King Arthur fans. She is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

For More Information

Read my review of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur here.

Read my review of the first book in the series, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab here.


The Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia by Sherel Ott

book coverAll Janai wants is to be just like everyone else. Being the Princess and having to try out for the Warrior Maidens is just part of her problems. She has the present Warrior leader unhappy with the fact that she is trying out, because that means her time is almost up and she enjoys her “status” too much to give it up without a fight. Not to mention someone just froze two of her guards into living statues with the fabled Mist Flowers of Tonga. Now she and a small group of warriors must travel to a forbidden city and obtain the antidote before the two guards are lost forever…all in 24 hours. Is she capable? Will she make it in time?

Where to Purchase:


1st Prize: $50 gift certificate and signed copy of The Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia
2nd Prize: $25 gift certificate and signed copy of The Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia
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An eclectic collector of animation movies, Sherel Ott is a writer of fantasy and romance stories. One day while watching an animated movie, she noticed that DSC_1557 Headshot2athere weren’t a lot of movies or books with girls of color in leading roles…as heroines, adventurers or with strong moral characters and wondered… Where were the influential leaders, doctors, lawyers or royalty of color? Why weren’t there any strong black female characters where a girl of color could be proud of her skin color and the type of person representing and say … “I want to be like her!” Wanting something more for her own nieces to look up to and strive to emulate, other than what girls of color were currently being portrayed as or should settle for is how her book initially took form. She wanted to show that there are black princesses, warriors, adventurers of all walks of life. That she should be and can be recognized for what she does and who her true self is, not be prejudged by what color her skin was.

As a fan of all fantasy, magical, mystical, celestial and other worldly creatures, Sherel began reading sci-fi/fantasy stories at a young age.

“I have always been a sci-fi and fantasy type of person. I always felt as a child that I belonged in those types of worlds rather than here. Reading them had always been my way of escaping from my shyness as a child.” Sherel Ott. She had started collecting fairies of all types and now has a mini collection of collectible faery ornament to decorate her Christmas tree every year.

Sherel creates her stories first by writing them out and then typing them on the computer. She feels she gets her inspiration greatest when she writes and from nature itself. She strives to present her stories in a way that anyone can relate and identify with no matter how old or young…with a little fun, a little action/adventure, yet with a hidden message. Writing since the age of 14, her first published book–Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia — brings a story of strong African American females. It’s an adventure series particularly geared towards girls, although boys will also find it an enjoyable read.

When Sherel is not writing, she is working as a full-time Family Nurse Practitioner and has been so for the past 17 years. She presently resides in Felton, DE.

Social Links:


Facebook:  Sherel Ott Author

Twitter:  @SherelOttAuthor


Okay, Harry Potter Fans, I Get It


It seems crazy to try and write a standard review for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because it is so well known. So, here is how my introduction to the Harry Potter series came about and my admission that it is definitely a worthy read.

For many years now, I’ve avoided the Harry Potter series. Not because I had anything against it, but because I won’t read wildly popular books/series. I’m not much of a follower. My son had read the books when they first came out, but neither daughter expressed much interest until it became a reading assignment for the Lil’ Diva.  As I was browsing the library shelves with her a few weeks ago, I discovered an audio version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. So, I figured, what the heck.

After listening to the entire book read by author and voice artist Jim Dale, it’s easy to see why the Harry Potter series took off like it did. Harry is this young orphan boy who is mistreated by the relatives he is forced to live with. He has no memories of his parents, who died when he was a baby; but he does have this nagging scar on his forehead and recollections of a green light.

When Harry finds out that he is a wizard, his entire life changes. Hogwarts is filled with people who admire the one who survived an attack by Lord Voldemort. Draco Malfoy, however, isn’t a big fan and provides some great conflict. With Hermoine Granger as the know-it-all, good girl and Ron Weasley as the dependable best friend, author J.K. Rowling creates a superb and diverse cast of characters for readers to enjoy.

I have to admit I am wholeheartedly looking forward to the next book. Once and for all: I get it!

New Release: Super Bad by Kai Strand


Super Bad (Super Villain Academy Book 3)

The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing.

Sandra’s concern over finding her brother Jeff, isn’t her only problem. Her pathetic excuse for super powers has left her needing a new ankle. And though she’s still very much committed to her boyfriend, Source, she’s growing unreasonably attracted to Set, the boy who double-crossed Jeff by stealing his girlfriend.

When Sandra is taken and held as bait by some kids who want to unbalance the super world, it becomes the inciting event that changes things for supers everywhere and forces them to answer the question, “Hero or villain?”


Barnes & Noble

Whiskey Creek Press

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was an a061e-kai2bstrandEPIC eBook Finalist. King of Bad soared to the publisher’s #1 spot its second month. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, “Do your dishes!” Kai and her family hike, geocache and canoe in Central Oregon, where they call home.

Kai organized the free, themed, multi-author, short story blog, Lightning Quick Reads. She is available for personal appearances, workshops, and classroom or school visits. Feel free to contact her directly to discuss availability and request references.

Visit Kai online at

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Poetry


For this week’s reading log, the Lil’ Diva had to come up with a narrative poem using certain literary devices–alliteration, assonance, consonance, personification, and simile. It is based upon a scene from the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Harry seeks out Dudley, and Dementors show up. Here is what we came up with together. Let me know what you think.

Sweltering, sticky summer day,
Taunting Dudley makes fun play.
Ickle Diddykins, popkins too,
Dinky Diddydums, to name a few.
Face like a pig, lumbering dude,
Always seems to give me ‘tude.

Whipped out my wand, I’d show him,
My anger bubbling beneath the brim.
Darkness raced in, blackened the sky,
Suddenly, all my happy thoughts died.
Dementors surround us on every side,
Dudley’s afraid, and so am I.

Kiss worse than death, memory gone,
Dreadful thoughts their touch do spawn.
Can’t use magic. What to do.
Spell’s not working, we are screwed.
Slimy hands gripping Dudley’s wrists,
Silver stag, he did persist.

Dementors gone. Magic saved the day.
Whimpering Dudley had nothing to say.
Life and death. This is no game.
Dudley’s looking pretty lame.
Problem is I’ll be expelled.
Gee, my life is really hell.

Interview with K. E. Ormsbee, Author of The Water and the Wild

K. E. Ormsbee

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I was a huge bookworm as a kid, and that love for stories grew, as it so often does, into a desire to tell my own. When I was twelve, I began my first project: an epic high fantasy complete with hand-drawn map. I called my fantasy land Marladia, which I now realize sounds a little too much like marmalade. I only made it four chapters in before abandoning that very ambitious project, but ever since then I’ve been an avid writer.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I’ve wanted to write for children for as long as I’ve wanted to write, period. Growing up, I was deeply impacted by children’s literature. Books like Matilda, Bridge to Terebithia, and Charlotte’s Web—just to name a very few—influenced the way I perceived life, death, and myself. I wanted to write stories that gave young readers the same sense of understanding, hope, and camaraderie I took away from my own favorite books.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

Well, my only experience writing for “adults” was my short fiction creative thesis in college, so I’m not sure I’m very qualified to comment. I will say I’ve found it much harder to write my Middle Grade books than my Young Adult books. Which isn’t to say one process is more enjoyable than the other! It’s just that so far my YA projects have flowed much more easily and quickly. Does that mean it’s harder to write books for a younger audience? Maybe… But I think it’s always worth the effort!

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

Hearing back from young readers and their teachers. I was lucky enough to attend the NCTE Annual Convention last year, where I met some of the most gracious, compassionate, fascinating people. English teachers ROCK, and it’s such a thrill to send a signed book back to the classroom. And I could talk to young readers all day long. Last holiday season, I had a conversation with my cousin, who is in his teens and has long professed his hatred of reading. He was raving about Looking For Alaska and several other YA books he’d recently discovered. “It’s weird,” he told me. “I like reading books now.” I didn’t tackle hug him, because he’s too cool for that, but I was bursting with happiness after that talk. That’s why I write. For readers like my cousin, who just needed to find a book that spoke to him, a protagonist he could relate to, and a plot he could get behind. One book can change everything.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Water and the Wild is the story of a girl named Lottie Fiske, whose best friend Eliot is dying of a mysterious illness. In an attempt to find a cure, Lottie travels through a magical apple tree’s roots into a parallel world called Albion Isle. On her journey, she’s joined by a poetry-spouting boy with untouchable hands, a girl who can hear for miles in every direction, and a royal heir who can taste emotions. As Lottie and her companions make their way to the Southerly Court, where the one healer who can save Eliot is being held captive, they encounter many obstacles, including the sinister wolf-like Barghest, oblivion-filled swamps, and giant spider webs. It’s a story filled with poetry, adventure, friendship, and MAGICAL BIRDS.

What inspired you to write it?Water and the Wild_FC_ HiRes

In the summer of 2008, the image of a white finch in a green apple tree lodged itself soundly into my brain. I wrote down a description of that image, which would eventually become some of the first pages of The Water and the Wild. Then I wrote an outline of the story, which drew some of its inspiration from my love of fantasy, Shakespeare, English Romantic poets, and folklore from the British Isles.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Anywhere books are sold! Here are a few handy dandy links:
Indie Bound (
B & N (
Amazon (

What is up next for you?

Right now, I’m working on four projects. The first is a sequel to The Water and the Wild, which is slated for a Fall 2016 release. The second is my YA contemporary debut, Lucky Few (Simon & Schuster 2016), about a homeschooled girl and her neighbor, a boy struggling with death anxiety. The third is a standalone MG called The House in Poplar Wood (Chronicle, 2017). And the fourth is a Super Top Secret project that’s still under wraps.

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! Keep on keeping on, and live long and prosper.


Coming Soon!


Check out Nikki Maxwell’s ninth diary in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!

Nikki’s diary is up to the month of April, and springtime is sure to bring more wacky adventures with Nikki and her friends Chloe, Zoey, and Brandon!

whatever2The magical seventh installment in this NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series!

This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Beauty and the Beast. When Jonah angers the Beast by picking flowers from his garden, he becomes the Beast’s prisoner! Abby has to save her brother by finding Beauty, whom the Beast will surely fall in love with, right? NOPE. The Beast doesn’t like Beauty, so it’s up to Abby and her brother to match-make this reluctant pair and fix this fractured fairy tale before things get pretty ugly!


The New York Times and USA Today bestselling series soars to even greater heights with a new prophecy and five new dragonets ready to claim their destiny!

Daring mission… or deadly mistake?

Winter has been a disappointment to his royal IceWing family his whole life. When his sister, Icicle, runs away from Jade Mountain Academy, fleeing terrible crimes and possibly planning to commit more, Winter knows that they both need a second chance to make things right — if only he can find her.

Winter’s new clawmates, Moon, Qibli, and Kinkajou, won’t let him make this dangerous journey alone. They don’t seem to understand that IceWings, the most superior of all dragon tribes, can fix their own problems. When their search leads the dragonets straight into Queen Scarlet’s vicious talons, Winter is grateful to have some help. But even the bravest dragons can’t follow him to the Ice Kingdom, where he’ll have to face the greatest threat of all: his own family.


She’s grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.


Jack and Annie are diving into danger when the magic tree house whisks them away to shark-infested waters in this NEW adventure in the New York Times bestselling Magic Tree House series!

It’s a dream vacation for Jack and Annie—or is it?

When Teddy, a young sorcerer, offers to send Jack and Annie on a dream vacation, they can’t wait to go. The brother-and-sister pair wish for a trip to a beach paradise, and the magic tree house whisks them off to the coast of Mexico. Everything starts out perfectly as they raft around a coral reef. But then a hungry shark attacks! And their dream vacation turns into a nightmare!