Monthly Archives: June 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: From the Mixed-Up Files

Middle Grade Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.

From Goodreads: When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere— to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

From Vicki: While narrated by Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who occasionally breaks into the story to talk directly to her lawyer in a voice that constantly left me chuckling, I could still picture Claudia and Jamie bathing in the food court fountain, and hiding in the bathroom stalls, and sleeping in the giant, dusty bed of a past monarch. The dialogue between the siblings was realistic, even all these years later, and also usually left me chuckling.

This was one of the best books I’ve read all year, despite having been published in 1967! It even inspired our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art during Spring Break. My kids were quite impressed with the Egyptian exhibit and the huge temple. I thought they might enjoy the Greco-Roman wing as well, because of their interest in Percy Jackson. They were less impressed.

But they got a kick out of some of the statues. My 6-year-old announced in the clear, piercing voice that only innocence lends, “Mommy, I can see the statues’-” and then he leaned back a little and pointed repeatedly at the front of his pants, with the kind of grin that says, “I just saw something I’m not supposed to.”

It was a proud moment.

What books have inspired your travels?



Filed under Reading, The rest of my life

Cover Reveal: Shades of the Future by Suzanne Lilly

This isn’t my usual posting day, as you know, but I’m so excited to be part of the big reveal for author Suzanne Lilly’s debut, Shades of the Future, due out July 2012 from Honey Creek Books. Suzanne has been my friend and critique partner for more than five years and I couldn’t be happier for her!

Here it is:

Gorgeous. I love it!

From Suzanne:

I’m doing a simultaneous cover reveal here, at the Honey Creek Books blog, and on my Suzanne Lilly author webpage. Thank you to Kim Jacobs for designing such an eyecatching cover.

You can be one of the first to read an excerpt from Shades of the Future by sending a blank email to

Now here’s the blurb from the back cover:

What would you do if you could see your future? Would you try to change it? What if you couldn’t? Sometimes this thing we call “the gift” is really a curse.

Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future.

When she glimpses a disaster looming, she tries to avoid it but fails. She has a car accident that lands her in a wheelchair, smashing her hopes for a running scholarship to the veterinary program at Ohio State University. She pushes Kevin away, thinking he’ll want to end their relationship now that she can’t walk.

Will she ever learn to trust and love again? She could search for an answer in the sunglasses. But she’s afraid what they reveal might destroy her.

I’ll be on book tour in July, and I’ll be giving away a pair of designer sunglasses to one lucky commenter. Subscribe to my blog so you’ll be able to follow me on tour and enter every day to win.

Wishing you many hours of happy reading!

Doesn’t it sound amazing? And how cool is that picture-in-the-shades thing?


Filed under Getting Published, Reading

Reading to Write

At the beginning of the year, I posted my top ten list of favorite books I read in 2011. Today I’d like to look at why those were my favorites.

So, here’s what I posted:

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (Mar 2010)

Savvy by Ingrid Law (May 2008)

Elliot and the Goblin War by Jennifer Nielsen (Oct 2010)

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf (Jul 2011)

Divergent by Veronica Roth (May 2011)

The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan (Jun 2011)

Red Glove by Holly Black (Apr 2011)

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton (Feb 2011)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (Mar 2010)

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (Feb 2010)

If I do my top 10 YA books of 2011, I would replace the 3 MG books (the first 3 listed) with:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Jan 2011)

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker (Mar 2011)

The Shattering by Karen Healey (Sep 2011)

Okay, right off the bat I can see that I favored middle grade books with an unusual voice. With Origami Yoda, the unusual structure was as much a part of the voice as anything.

However, with my favorite young adult books, it was more about plot, setting, and/or character arc than voice. I connected in some way with each of those main characters, and the plot kept me turning pages. The settings are all over the place—from outer space to New Orleans to New Zealand.

Now, very few of these are contemporary fiction, but that has to do with what I was writing in 2011 (which I mentioned in my previous post). For all of that year, I was working on manuscripts with some kind of fantasy element. 2010 was my year for contemporary. This year is also about fantasy elements, so we’ll see what 2013 holds for me.

How do you choose the books you read? What are your favorite genres? Does this reflect what you write?


Filed under Reading, writing

MMGM/A-Read’s Recs: Peter Nimble

In honor of A-Read’s birthday last week, I present his latest recommendation.

This series is based on the Book Talks my 9-year-old son writes for school. As you’ll see, he is not ready for publication, but he knows what he likes.

As for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, see the blog of MG and YA author Shannon Whitney Messenger for more MG book recommendations.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

I was inspired to read this book because it looked interesting because it said “His Fantastic Eyes.”

The story takes place in the vanished kingdom.

The main character in the book is Peter.

Here is how I would describe the main character: A 10 year old blind boy who is a master thief and is very brave.

Another important character is Sir Tode.

Here is how I would describe this character: A small insulting human/cat/horse that insults people because he is mad.

The story is about Peter and Sir Tode trying to save the vanished kingdom from the evil king Incardine.

The main problem is they cannot be seen because if they do they will be servants.

I liked this book because it was very adventurous because they went on a long boat ride, and faced evil thieves and Incardine.

A connection I made while reading this book was I wouldn’t want to live in the Just Deserts.

I would recommend this book to people who like adventurous stuff because it is very adventurous.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5.


Filed under Reading