Feature Book of the Week Paranormalcy by Kriesten White

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.


Kiersten White has one tall husband and two small children. She lives near the ocean, where her days are perfectly normal. This abundance of normal led her to a fascination with all things paranormal, including but not limited to vampires, faeries, and pop culture. She is the author of Paranormalcy.

I enjoy reading, writing, and blogging. I used to enjoy napping, but my kids have taken that joy out of my life. Good thing they're cute. I love listening to music and marveling at how lyrics and melody can capture an entire story in under five minutes. I have converted to liking the beach, although I still miss the mountains I grew up next to. I love good conversations where you learn new things and manage to say a few clever things yourself, and friends who keep me on my toes. I also enjoy research and learning new things about different cultures, mythology, or history. Nerdy, isn't it?

Kiesten attended Brigham Young University and has her own blog Kiersten Writes

Feature Book of the Week Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Tuesday, December 11, 2012



Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.

Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!


Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert honors; Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist, and Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book.
Jack was born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the nearby town of Norvelt. He remembers playing a lot of “pass the chalk” in Mrs. Neiderheizer’s class in first grade. He was in the Bluebird reading group, which he later found out was for the slow readers. To this day he’d rather be called a Bluebird than a slow reader. His favorite game at that time was playing his clothes were on fire and rolling down a hill to save himself.
When he was seven, his family moved to Barbados. He attended British schools, where there was much emphasis on reading and writing. Students were friendly but fiercely competitive, and the teachers made learning a lot of fun. By fifth grade he had managed to learn 90 percent of what he knows to this very day.
Jack Gantos in First Grade
Jack in first grade at Norvelt Elementary
When the family moved to south Florida, he found his new classmates uninterested in their studies, and his teachers spent most of their time disciplining students. Jack retreated to an abandoned bookmobile (three flat tires and empty of books) parked out behind the sandy ball field, and read for most of the day. His greatest wish in life is to replace trailer parks with bookmobile parks, which he thinks will eliminate most of the targets for tornadoes and educate an entire generation of great kids who now go to schools that are underfunded and substandard.
The seeds for Jack’s writing career were planted in sixth grade, when he read his sister’s diary and decided he could write better than she could. He begged his mother for a diary and began to collect anecdotes he overheard at school, mostly from standing outside the teachers’ lounge and listening to their lunchtime conversations. Later, he incorporated many of these anecdotes into stories.
In junior high he went to a school that had been converted from a former state prison. He thinks the inmates probably fled for their lives once the students showed up. Again, he spent most of his time reading on his own.
In high school he decided to become a writer. But he would have to wait another three years, until he went to college, before he could actually meet other writers and study with teachers who thought writing amounted to more than just cribbing book reports and composing sympathy notes.
Jack Gantos in Fourth Grade
Jack in fourth grade
While in college, he and an illustrator friend, Nicole Rubel, began working on picture books. After a series of well-deserved rejections, they published their first book, Rotten Ralph, in 1976. It was a success and the beginning of Jack’s career as a professional writer. This surprised a great many people who thought he was going to specialize in rehabilitating old bookmobiles into housing for retired librarians.
Jack continued to write children’s books and began to teach courses in children’s book writing and children’s literature. He developed the master’s degree program in children’s book writing at Emerson College and the Vermont College M.F.A. program for children’s book writers. He now devotes his time to writing books and educational speaking.
His publications can take a reader from “cradle to grave”—from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults.
Mr. Gantos is known nationally for his educational creative writing and literature presentations to students and teachers. He is a frequent conference speaker, university lecturer, and in-service provider (biography retrieved from author's website).

Unfortunately, Mr. Gantos did not respond to our request for a author post, which I am sure would have been as entertaining as his book.

Feature Book of the Week Hide and Seek by Katy Grant

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Katy Grant

Thirteen-year-old Chase, a geocaching enthusiast, must constantly rely on his wits to solve unexpected problems. This outdoor adventure and boy's coming of age story is set in the remote, rugged mountains of northern Arizona.

Author Guest Post 

As a writer, I often feel like a pack rat.  Pack rats will grab anything interesting they find to take back to their nests—shiny pieces of metal, bits of string, a scrap of cloth.  They never know when they might use it later.

That’s how I write.  And writing Hide and Seek was definitely a pack rat kind of experience.  It started with geocaching.  My older brother first introduced my sons and me to this fun outdoor treasure hunt about ten years ago.  My boys were twelve and eight at the time.  He told us we were going---geo whatting?  Geo cashing?  I had no idea what we were about to do.  But he had a handheld GPS, and we set off in the car, looking for hidden treasure.

My kids loved it!  Complete strangers they would never meet had hidden a secret container somewhere outside in a park near my brother’s house.  With the coordinates on his GPS, we could find the general location of their hidden cache.  Oh, and we had to bring some trinkets along for exchange. Once we found the container, we could take away any little treasures we found inside, as long as we left behind some of the trinkets we had brought.  And people all over the world were doing this!  Playing this fun treasure hunting game, either leaving containers, or looking for hidden containers, or both.  All you needed was a GPS and access to the geocaching website.

Every time we went on a geocache, I kept thinking, this would make a great story.  But besides geocaching, what else would the story be about?  I didn’t know yet.

Then my husband, our two boys, and I took a trip during their fall break.  Living in Phoenix, we love getting out of the desert and going away to the cool mountains in the northern part of the state.  And we took Dexter, our German Shepherd mix, along. 
When we were on our trip, we did a couple of geocaches.  One afternoon, we went out late.  Being city dwellers, we didn’t think to bring flashlights.  It took us much longer to find the cache than we expected, and we were losing daylight fast.  I realized once the sun went down, we would be in complete and total darkness.  We had a tense hike back to our car, but along the way, we saw a herd of elk, so it was worth it that we almost got stranded!

We also saw deer—a buck, a doe, and their little fawn—and at night, inside the cozy cabin we’d rented for the weekend, we could hear coyotes howling in the distance.  Dexter had the time of his life!  He got to run through the open fields without a leash, ride in the car, hike with us in the woods.  The one scare we had was when he stepped on a fishhook one afternoon when we were fishing.  Luckily, he wasn’t really hurt.

When we got home from that trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about writing a book that would feature geocaching.  I started asking myself, what if.  What if the geocacher is a teenage boy who finds a mysterious note? What if he tries to figure out who wrote the note?  What if the person who wrote the note really needs help?  I had to answer all those questions one by one, and gradually, the story started taking shape. 

My favorite part of the book was making my very own dog Dexter a main character.  It’s the only time I’ve ever put someone I know well into one of my books without changing a single thing.  He was right for the part, and he’s taken his fame quite well. 

Once the book was finished, I realized it wasn’t just about geocaching.  It was about families, about growing up, about change.  It was about being tested and not being sure if you’re up to the challenge. 
That often happens with writing.  You start off with one idea, and it grows from there.

I had so much fun writing this book, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.  There’s no better place to get lost than in between the pages of a book.  You don’t even need a GPS to find your way back.


I was born Katy Arbuckle in the very small town of Lewisburg, Tennessee. I vividly remember sitting in front of the bookshelves in our den and looking at the covers of children's books that belonged to my older brother and sister. I couldn't read yet, but I would stare longingly at the covers and look at the pictures. My heart ached to be able to read the words on those pages.Those books contained amazing stories, if only I could read them.
I was so happy to start first grade because I would finally, finally learn to read! By second grade, library day at school was my favorite day of the week. Every week I would check out a new book to read.
When I was eight, I read Louisa May Alcott's biography and decided that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. From that moment on, I never gave up my dream of being a writer.
In many ways, I had a deliriously happy childhood. My neighborhood was full of kids my age. We spent the whole summer riding bikes, playing kick ball, hide-n-seek, and freeze tag, with anywhere from ten to fifteen kids joining in. It was a kid world where grown-ups left us alone and let us play by ourselves.
But I also had a tragic childhood. My mother suffered from depression and was often in and out of hospitals. My older sister Nan had rheumatoid arthritis and had been in a wheelchair since she was twelve. Two weeks after my tenth birthday, my mother died suddenly. For my birthday that year, I had received the four Borrowers books by Mary Norton. They immediately became my favorite books during that very sad time of my life.
I now live a happy and tranquil life in Mesa, Arizona with my husband Eric and my two teenage sons, Jackson and Ethan. Over the years, I have taught English classes at Arizona State University, Mesa Community College, and Rio Salado Community College. I started writing my first novel in 1992, and much, much later – in 2006! – I got a contract to publish that novel and two other novels that would be in the same series.
Since I was eight, I have dreamed of being a writer. And now I can finally say that I am living my childhood dream. (biography retrieved from author website)

I want to apologize to Mrs. Grant.  

When I first posted this week's Feature Book, I did not realize that she had sent me her post. Consequently, I did not post it. Thankfully, she graciously resent it along with a picture of Dexter. I hope you will all enjoy reading her post as much as I have.

Thank you so much for your participation, and your generous spirit!

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