Monday, April 3, 2017

MMGM - 6th Grade Revengers

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

6th Grade Revengers:
Cat Crimes and Wannabes
by Steven Whibley

Jared and Marcus aren't like other 11-year-olds...they're also Revengers. They fix problems and they're awesome at it-at least, they will be if they ever get a chance to show off their skills. What they need is exposure. Luckily, they have the perfect target in mind: Jared's sister's boyfriend. He's a jerky, wannabe rock star, a relentless bully and he smells like old gym socks. Enough is enough. The tone deaf jerk's days are numbered. There's only one hitch: Marcus already offered their services elsewhere. 
A stray cat with serious aggression issues apparently has a whole neighborhood boarding up their windows. What the boys think will be an easy-money job quickly turns into a dangerous game of wits. The cat's a monster. It takes all the ingenuity the boys can muster to deal with this beast. Two targets at once. It's time to prove themselves as the awesome after-school problem-solvers they know they are. That is, if their plan doesn't backfire. Because they'll either be feared fixers or a couple kids who can't even take out a kitten. 

Jared and Marcus enjoy one adventure after another, "revenging" other people's issues in order to make the money they need to go to spy camp. From tackling the evil neighborhood cat to ridding themselves of an irritating sister's boyfriend, the duo are always full of fun. Middle grade readers--boys especially--will enjoy the fun pace and spot on humor of this one!

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.

Monday, March 20, 2017

MMGM -- The Eye of the North

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Eye of the North
by Sinead O'Hart

When Emmeline's scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself heading for a safe house, where allies have pledged to protect her. But along the way, she is kidnapped by the villainous Doctor Siegfried Bauer, who is bound for the ice fields of Greenland. There he hopes to summon a mystical creature from the depths of the ancient glaciers, a creature said to be so powerful that whoever controls it can control the world.

Unfortunately, Bauer isn't the only one determined to unleash the creature. The North Witch has laid claim to the mythical beast, too, and Emmeline along with a scrappy stowaway named Thing may be the only one with the power to save the world as we know it. Can Emmeline face one of the greatest legends of all time and live to tell the tale?

This is the PERFECT middle grade roller coaster ride--one that will appeal to both boys and girls equally. Emmeline and Thing are the perfect pair, complimenting each other's strengths and weaknesses. The reader can't help but cheer them on. Likewise, the mad scientist villain is the perfect recipe for trouble and danger. This should be a hit with readers everywhere! I highly recommend.

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Blog Tour -- Stu Stories

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Stu Stories
by Patrick Hueller

Stu Sanderson is no ordinary eighth-grader. Almost seven feet tall, he vanishes into thin air, duels knights with ninja stealth, lifts the downtrodden, and woos the coolest, best-calved girl in school. Become a middle-grade legend with Stu and his sidekick, Bird Bones, on the journey of a lifetime in Stu Stories.

This book is just  plain FUN! Both of my sons would have LOVED this when they were younger. The antics and adventures of Stu and his sidekick are adorably funny. The chapters are perfectly titled to get your attention--my favorite is "Stu's Head Falls Off". I find it difficult to imagine a single elementary school boy (and many middle schoolers) who would NOT enjoy this super-fun book.

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

MMGM -- Dragonwatch

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

by Brandon Mull

In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens, but prisons and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies.... 
In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.
No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.
As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

Brandon Mull is, without question, among my favorite authors. When I had the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of Dragonwatch, I jumped at it. As expected, I was not disappointed. This is classic Brandon Mull--excellent world building, powerful character development, and loads of page turning entertainment. DO. NOT. MISS.

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Remnant Blog Tour + Giveaway


The Remnant
by William Michael Davidson
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Author William Michael Davidson is on tour with MC Book Tours featuring his new novel, THE REMNANT, being released Feb. 7 by Dancing Lemur Press L.L.C.

You can follow Davidson’s tour schedule HERE for reviews, excerpts, interviews, features, and a chance to win a copy of his book.


One nation, without God...
          Colton Pierce apprehends Abberants—those who display symptoms of faith—and quarantines them on a remote island to ensure public safety.  Years prior, the government released a genetically-engineered super flu that destroyed the genes believed to be the biological source of spiritual experience in an effort to rid the world of terrorism. As an extractor with the Center for Theological Control, Colton is dedicated to the cause.           
But Colton's steadfast commitment is challenged when he learns his own son has been targeted for extraction. An underground militia, the Remnant, agrees to help Colton save his son in exchange for his assistance with their plan to free the Aberrants on the island.           
Colton is faced with the most important decision of his life. Remain faithful to the CTC? Or give up everything to save his son?

Chapter 3 Excerpt


Colton listened to the opening of Brian Barclay’s speech, but his mind wandered. He reflected on the organization he worked for and everything that had led to this point in history. The Super Flu of 2061 was infamous, and skeptics long debated the true source of the illness. Some said the Chinese government engineered the flu and released it intentionally, while others maintained that it was actually a product of the United States, and due to a security breach, accidentally spread amongst the public. Although some still debated its source, nobody debated what the Super Flu of 2061 really was: A genetically engineered virus with a 99.9% communicability rate that quickly and systematically destroyed a host’s VMAT2 gene, the lone genetic reason humans had the ability to undergo spiritual experiences. After a couple days of coughing and a mild fever, a patient was rendered a guaranteed atheist.
Colton had always leaned toward the theory that the Super Flu of 2061 was the result of a United States attempt to infect the Middle East with a hacking cough that would rid the region of religious fundamentalism and, subsequently, acts of terrorism and violence. The United States had done all but admit responsibility for it, and while some conspiracy theorists still insisted it was the Chinese government or some other country, Colton had never given them much credence. But he was glad, like the rest of the population and the CTC, that the virus had been unleashed. Not only had religious fundamentalism and wars dissipated in the Middle East, but religious crime and intolerance had virtually evaporated from the globe.“What we are doing here is one of the most important jobs we can offer society,” Brian said. The audience was rapt. “Since the VMAT2 gene was wiped off the face of the earth, all of you have benefitted from the results. Our great-grandparents could only imagine a world like the one we live in today—where terrorist attacks motivated by religious squabbles no longer dominate the news, and where wars are no longer ignited because of religious intolerance. This is a world they could only dream of, a world that is our reality.“But we must not just remember the global benefits of the Super Flu of 2061; we must also remember the local ones. It may seem foreign to us today, living under the protection of the CTC in the aftermath of the destruction of the VMAT2 gene, but religious belief was one of the main links to violent criminal activity in the modern world. No more mass suicides or people drinking the Kool-Aid. Hey, speaking of Kool-Aid, can someone fetch me a bottle of water? I’m dying up here. Not Jim Jones Kool-Aid either, okay? Don’t need any real life examples up here.”Brian wiped the sweat from his forehead, and some aide in the front row handed him a bottle of water. The crowd laughed while Brian took several gulps. The bottle of water looked unnaturally small in his big, beefy hands.“Now that’s better,” he said, screwing the lid back on his water and placing it on his podium. Maybe it was due to the bright lights on him or the extra hundred pounds he was carrying, but he was dripping sweat. “Now, as I was saying, we live in a world that our great-grandparents simply couldn’t imagine. Sure there’s crime, and too much of it. We’ll never be perfect. But could you imagine all of the out-of-their-wits extremists who would have gone into our schools, our hospitals, our parks, those now abandoned places of worship, and slaughtered us by the hundreds—by the thousands—if things were like they were? Some of you may not even be here. Some of your children may not be here. It’s a sobering thought.

THE REMNANT is available to order in eBook form at the following sites:

The print format of the book is available at these sites:

Be sure to add THE REMNANT to your bookshelf on Goodreads.

About the Author:
William Michael Davidson lives in Long Beach, California with his wife and two daughters. A believer that "good living produces good writing," Davidson writes early in the morning so he can get outside, exercise, spend time with people, and experience as much as possible.A writer of speculative fiction, he enjoys stories that deal with humanity's inherent need for redemption.For more on Davidson and his writing, connect with him on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Amazon Author’s Page.

This is a tour-wide giveaway for two (2) print copies that are available to those living in the U.S. only and one (1) eBook copy available international. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Sunday, Feb. 26. You can enter to win at each stop of the tour.

Thanks for stopping by today. Be sure to visit the other blogs on the tour for more chances to win. The schedule is located HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 23, 2017

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Dogsled Dreams

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Dogsled Dreams
by Terry Lynn Johnson

Twelve-year-old Rebecca dreams of becoming a famous dog sled racer. She's an inventive but self-doubting musher who tackles blinding blizzards, wild animal attacks, puppy training, and flying poo missiles. All of her challenges though, seem easier than living up to the dogs' trust in her abilities.

Through the bond she shares with the dogs, Rebecca learns that hard work, dedication, and living in the moment bring their own rewards.

Exhilarating...It's very easy to get lost in the pages of Dogsled Dreams — Lisa Barker,
Demonstrates the bond between mushers and their dogs, the devotion mushers feel for their dogs, and the lengths to which they will go to ensure their dog's health and well-being — Pam Flowers, Alone Across the Arctic: One Woman's Epic Journey by Dog Team 
A warm, coming-of-age story about hopes and dreams, but most of all, finding the true meaning of family and friends, whether they have two legs or four! — Darcy Johns, Youth Services Librarian, Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
Johnson's intimate knowledge of the dogs she describes is real, heart-warming and often humorous. Both elementary and secondary teachers can use this in their classroom to engage at-risk readers — Teri Treftlin, Secondary School teacher, Geraldton, Ontario
full of rich details and fascinating information about dog sled racing. Rebecca and her dogs not only came alive, but they brought me along on their adventures — Cynthia Chapman Willis, author of Dog Gone
Rebecca's experiences are applicable to any young girl ready to emerge from the security of childhood to the freedom of adolescence. This is a captivating and exciting debut novel — Superior Outdoors Magazine
I was charmed by Becca and her focus on achieving what she set out to do. A great book for moms and daughters to read together and talk about setting goals — Cindy Hudson, Mother-Daughter Book Clubs

Terry's passion for the outdoors evolved while she paddled in Quetico Provincial Park as a Canoe Ranger. One winter she worked for a dogsledding company, and eighteen huskies followed her home. Terry's debut novel features those quirky dogs who entered her life and heart. 

Terry is an award-winning member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada and Dog Writers' Association of America .
  • Selected by the Iditarod Education Department as a Recommended Read
  • For more information visit the website:

Any teacher using Gary Paulsen's WOODSONG would want Terry Johnson's DOGSLED DREAMS. Terry's realistic writing style and word choice bring the reader through experiences that bring emotions to the surface...emotions of real life living with sled dogs. -- Diane Johnson, Iditarod's Education Director

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Blog Hop

WINNER: Heidi Robbins!

Welcome to the
MidWinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop!

I am giving away  a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

To enter, be a follower and leave a comment through December 31st. That's it. Winner will be selected at random. 


**Giveaway Ends 12.31.16 and open to all who can legally enter.
Open to residents of the US Only
Must be over 18 or have your parents permission to enter.
An email will be sent and you have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
The Winner will be announced within 48 hours at the end of the giveaway.
Giveaway is organized by Bookhounds and sponsored by me.
It has no affiliation with Facebook, Twitter or any other entity.
Void where prohibited.**

Monday, December 19, 2016

MMGM - Adrift at Sea

 Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho
November, 2016

It is 1981. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam’s military police for the perilous chance of boarding that boat. Told to multi-award-winning author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by the celebrated Brian Deines, Tuan’s story has become Adrift At Sea, the first picture book to describe the flight of Vietnam’s “Boat People” refugees. Illustrated with sweeping oil paintings and complete with an expansive historical and biographical section with photographs, this non-fiction picture book is all the more important as the world responds to a new generation of refugees risking all on the open water for the chance at safety and a new life. 

This is one of the most beautiful and powerful picture books I've seen in a long time. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy and was blown away by the emotional impact of both the story and the illustrations. It would make a perfect edition to any middle or high school history classroom.

I STRONGLY recommend this one!

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

MMGM - Julie of the Wolves

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

 Julie of the Wolves
by Jean Craighead George

Goodreads Blurb:
Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband's parents' home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her "gussak"-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

We got 4 inches of snow last night and it's still snowing, so this felt like the perfect book for today. It's a classic, and I love it. It's one of my favorite books--not because it's middle grade, but because it's so wonderful. I love Miyax. She is so brave and resourceful. I fell in love with her wolves and her little, odd bird and the way she made a life for herself in the wilderness. This book ripped my heart to pieces, but I still re-read it every now and then because it is just that good.

If you still haven't read this book, YOU MUST. It's one of those special classics that everyone should read at least once

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.

 Happy Monday! 

Monday, November 21, 2016

MMGM - Interview With Henry Neff

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

An Interview with the oh-so-awesome
Henry Neff

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
A: The quick skinny: I grew up in the Chicago area, went off to Cornell University for college, graduated and took about as corporate a path as you can imagine (picture me with hair, wearing a suit and tie, and sitting at a long table where senior executives squint and grimace at PowerPoint slides). The job was challenging and I worked with some truly brilliant and talented people, but I had a nagging suspicion (i.e., would wake up in a cold sweat at 3 a.m.) that I was wasting my life and whatever creative gifts I might possess. A few years later I had a life-changing conversation with my brother, whom I suspect had grown weary of my existential whining. He posed an unexpected question: How would you spend your time if you had all the money in the world? My response was almost immediate: I'd teach high school and write children's books! It's amazing how simple questions can clarify one's values and priorities. Following this conversation, I left my job and secured a position teaching history and fine arts at a San Francisco high school. The day classes let out for the winter holidays, I began writing what would become The Hound of Rowan. I can't overstate the pleasure and fulfillment I felt as I penned those initial, fabulously recyclable pages. The prose was appalling, the ideas half-formed, but I knew that I was embarking on a journey I was meant to take. It was like finding a missing puzzle piece and fitting it into your soul. The experience shaped the way I described Max McDaniels's reaction to the tapestry he finds in the museum. That tapestry shed light on Max's identity and started him on his adventures. Writing did the same for me.

Q: Like me, you are also a teacher. How do you balance your teaching job and family with such a successful writing career?
A: I'm sorry to say I haven't taught since 2009 when I got engaged and moved to New York. I do miss teaching, however, and remain in close contact with many of my former colleagues and students. It's incredibly gratifying to see young people growing up, falling in love, doing meaningful work, and making parole (I kid). I hoped to continue teaching when I moved east but I quickly learned that I'd enjoyed an unusually flexible arrangement in San Francisco. The school where I'd taught was on a block schedule, which meant that classes only met on certain days of the week. The head of school had been kind enough to tweak my teaching schedule so I only had to come in three days per week. That support was invaluable to getting my writing career off the ground. While interviewing at several schools in Manhattan, I asked if they could maybe—just possibly—manage a similar arrangement, The question brought polite but incredulous stares. I doubt some of those eyebrows have ever come down. Given the response and my publishing contract, I elected to write full-time. It's probably a good thing — we now have two young boys and life is hectic enough without throwing classes into the mix. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the profession. Someday, I hope to teach again, even if it's just a class or two.

The Tapestry series includes five books. As an author, how did you manage the progression of your story line from book to book (what was your organizational system or thought process to keep it all together in your mind and smooth from book to book?)
A: The Tapestry was originally intended to be a trilogy. After finishing the second book I realized that I couldn't tell the tale I wanted in three volumes. It simply wasn't enough runway to fully develop the story and character arcs I envisioned without accelerating them to the point of absurdity. Truth be told, The Tapestry should probably be six book. THE RED WINTER is a massive finale and could easily be split in two: Rowan's war against Prusias, followed by our heroes hunting after Astaroth. Why was I so off with my initial projection? I can think of three reasons: 1) Some ideas weren't fully-formed when we pitched the series; 2) I was an inexperienced writer who underestimated the time it would take to develop my larger narratives; 3) Stuff changes while you're writing a series — new ideas pop up, cannibal hags demand more screen time, etc. However, I don't mean to imply that I simply made the story up as I went. I'm a fairly meticulous planner and always knew what The Tapestry's final scene would be—even before I started writing the first book. It's always helpful for writers (especially those tackling a series) to have an idea of how they want things to begin and end. The middle is negotiable. Completing six novels has taught me that ideas, characters, and entire story lines will inevitably change during the writing process. While I try to have enough of an outline to peg how certain characters and narratives will develop, I don't plan to the extent that I'm merely executing a rigid blueprint. That would smother those little, in-the-moment epiphanies that spark many of my best ideas.

Impyrium is set in the same world as the Tapestry books. When did you first get the idea to return to that world? 
A:  The initial ideas for IMPYRIUM came knocking in the wee hours while I was on my honeymoon in Rome. I'd recently finished The Fiend and the Forge and my brain was so fried that my imagination was stuck on overdrive. I couldn't fall sleep and was lying in bed, my mind racing through ideas for Books 4 and 5, when it made an unexpected leap into the future—a future thousands of years after the The Tapestry's conclusion. I don't want to give away Tapestry spoilers but the idea hinged on an empire ruled by dynastic families (several descending from established characters) locked in an uneasy truce with ancient demons inhabiting undersea kingdoms. It triggered an avalanche of ideas so exciting that I barricaded myself in the hotel's tiny bathroom so I could flip on a light and scribble them down in a notebook. My poor wife must have thought I had food poisoning.

Q: How did it feel to change the world you had already created?
A: It was a blast! Enough time has passed (3,000 years) since The Tapestry that the world is really very different. It's bit like comparing the present day to the Iron Age. Most of the people living in Impyrium don't even realize we existed. This is partly due to propaganda, but our entire history and civilization have been consigned to a prehistoric, almost mythic past. New York, Tokyo, and Paris might as well be Atlantis. In this future, mankind has essentially split into two species (an aristocracy of magically-gifted mehr├╣n that rule the world, and the masses of ordinary muir that serve them and do the grunt work). Rowan (The Tapestry's school of magic) still exists but its context and character have changed. Building on the world and mythos I'd created allowed me to really stretch and challenge my imagination, but it also made good use of my time as a history teacher. Good historians don't simply memorize facts; they can identify patterns and forces at work over time. I've always been interested in the life cycle of empires, and how institutions can grow, flourish, and later decay into an echo—even a mockery—of the vision and energy that fueled their creation. These are major themes throughout IMPYRIUM and play a key role in the narrative and character development. Overall, it's been a really fun ride and there's a lot of exciting stuff yet to come!

Check out the awesome book trailer HERE
Purchase your own copy of IMPYRIUM HERE 

  • Follow Henry on Goodreads HERE
  • Follow on Facebook HERE
  • Follow on Twitter HERE 


 Or begin the Tapestry Series . . .

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. For a full selection of MMGM posts, visit her website HERE.

Monday, November 7, 2016

MMGM - Lodestar by Shannon Messenger

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Keeper of the Lost Cities
by Shannon Messenger
Release date: November 1, 2016

Dark schemes unfold--and Sophie's loyalty is pushed to the limit--in this thrilling fifth book in the best-selling KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES SERIES.

Sophie Foster is back in the Lost Cities--but the Lost Cities have changed. The threat of war hangs heavy over her glittering world, and the Neverseen are wreaking havoc.

The lines between friend and enemy have blurred, and Sophie is unsure whom to trust. But when she's warned that the people she loves most will be the next victims, she knows she has to act.

A mysterious symbol could be the key--if only she knew how to translate it. Every new clue seems to lead deeper into her world's underbelly and the Black Swan aren't the only ones who have plans. The Neverseen have their own Initiative, and if Sophie doesn't stop it, they might finally have the ultimate means to control her.

This is among my all-time favorite MG series.  I LOVE THESE BOOKS! I have read books 1-4 multiple times already and will likely devour book 5 this weekend. All three of my children have read them, and they each love the series as much as I do. Additionally, I have copies in my classroom, but I never see them because they are always being read. Shannon Messenger is also one of the friendliest, most generous, and utterly sincere authors I know--and the founder of MMGM! You cannot go wrong with any of her books, including her oh-so-awesome young adult series, Let the Sky Fall. But you all know that already.

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. For a full selection of MMGM posts, visit her website HERE.

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