MoonShadow: The Nightmare Ninja by Simon Higgins – Giveaway

Today is clear the shelf day. I’ve had Moonshadow: The Nightmare Ninja (Little, Brown, 2011) on the shelf for quite awhile and, while it might be a great book, I’m just not hearing it call me. So, no review today – just passing it on to someone else who might be interested. On the related note of not judging a book by its cover – that’s really what I’m doing here – even though I KNOW that is often a way to miss out on a great story.  However,  I don’t particularly care for martial arts combat and the cover just yells that out to me – what do you think? Nightmare Ninja is the second book in the Moonshadow series. The first is titled Rise of the Ninja.

At any rate, it may be a great book, especially for kids who are into the action/thriller type of drama – and all those ninja-o-philes out there. It garnered some nice review blurbs from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

So, to win this ARC, leave a comment on this post by October 31st and you’ll be included in my random drawing. If this is your first comment to my blog, the comment will not post until I approve it.

Post Conference Goodies

Last week’s Texas Library Association conference was absolutely wonderful. I got to visit with the great students at Baranoff, sign books at my publisher’s booth, and hang out with a whole bunch of authors – some were old  friends, and some new friends. I especially enjoyed meeting Tricia Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson’s fellow Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels at their ice cream social.

But the best part of conferences for me is the books I bring home. I acquired several ARC’s and some off the shelf copies of quite a few books. I’m reading them now and will post my reviews as I finish – and then I’ll give them away. I love giving books away after I’m done with them. Someone else gets to read them and I get more space on my shelf.

I just finished Dry Souls from debut novelist Denise Getson. It’s the newest release from CBAY – coming out this May. I was able to spend a little time with Denise at the conference and she is a lovely person. I’ll post that review soon, along with a giveaway.  Some of the other ARCs I’m looking forward to reading include:

Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson

Sir Gawain the True by Gerald Morris (one of The Knight’s Tales)

Middle School: The Worst years of my Life by James Patterson (with Chris Tebbetts)

Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose

I’ll be posting reviews soon!

Visiting with an Old Friend

Favorite authors. Do you have one? I mean the one you read over and over and over again. I have two. First is JRR Tolkien. I cannot say how many times I’ve read through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it is many. Of course, because Tolkien no longer walks the earth, he’s not producing any new fiction, unless you count The Children of Hurin, the unfinished epic that was edited and brought to publication in 2007 by his son Christopher Tolkien. But Frodo and Sam will not grace the page again for any of us. If Tolkien had any other stories to share with us sadly, we will never know them.

My other favorite author, who is alive and well, is Orson Scott Card. When I discovered his work in my young adult years, I rejoiced.  I have subsequently read everything he’s written.  While I don’t universally like all of his work, I always enjoy reading his stories – because he is such a craftsman when it comes to creating a science fiction/fantasy story. So whenever any new Card comes along, I am pleased as punch.  I confess to not always keeping up with what’s new, so when I found TWO new Card books while Christmas shopping, I nearly salivated. I immediately added them to my order.

Pathfinder is a new science fiction story that debuted in November of 2010.  It has all the classic Card features fans have come to love: space travel save-the-earth plans, young heroes with exceptionally special mystical talents, corrupt government officials bent on keeping or gaining power, good people who act selflessly, and fantastic technology.                                                                                     

The Lost Gate, which arrived on my doorstep in early January 2011,  is more straight fantasy. It borrows from legends of old and reminded me of Rick Riordan’s books with the “orphaned god who doesn’t understand his destiny” set in today’s America.

Id give Pathfinder my nod for favorite between the two stories, although Card fans, or any science fiction/fantasy fans, would like either of them. A good audience for either of these books would be junior high and up. I was quite pleased to be able to spend a couple of afternoons reading them. It was like catching up with an old friend. I hope their sequels get here soon – I can’t wait for another visit.

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry

Today I’m presenting a midgrade contemporary fiction novel by my fellow 2k9 classmate, Rosanne Parry. Heart of a Shepherd tells the story of Brother and his ranching family. Set in rural Oregon, this book transmits a deep spirituality that is not often found in chidren’s novels today. Brother is raised in the Catholic tradition and spends a great deal of the story trying to keep a promise he made to his father before his father leaves to serve in the war in Iraq. Brother and his grandparents hold down the family ranch and life continues with its small triumphs and disappointments. When tragedy does visit the family, it is the strength of family relationships that holds everyone together and allows each of the characters to continue with hope for the future.

Things to like about this story:  beautiful prose,  strong male characters, complex supporting characters, positive role models, real relationships between grandparents, parents and children and a satisfying (if not entirely happy) ending.

Audience recommendations: independent reading for any middle schooler, classroom reading for fourth through eighth grade in literature or religion classes, adult reading.

Rosanne has created an enduring story that will provide satisfaction for many years. This novel has become one of my favorites to give to boys in the 11 to 14 age bracket.