What is Children’s Book Week? Directly from the Every Child A Reader site, Children’s Book Week is:
“Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, young people across the country participate by attending events at schools, libraries, bookstores, celebrating at home, and engaging with book creators both online and in person.”
Maybe your kids will come home talking about it and the wonderful new books they’ve had the chance to read or look at. If you visit your local library this week, it’s likely there will be something fun going in honor of Children’s Book Week as well.
Every week is a good week to read to a child, but Children’s Book Week is definitely one not to miss. Enjoy!
It’s that time of year again. November 1 is not only the day to eat KitKats for breakfast, it’s the official start to what’s known in the writing community as: NaNoWriMo.
NaNo – what mo?
NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth.
NaNoWriMo is the month-long event where writers of all genres write all the words. Okay, maybe not all the words, but on average, about 1,700 daily as a way to reach a goal of 50,000 words. For many, it’s a way to fast-draft a novel in just one month.
Write a book in a month? Yes!
It may sound daunting, but as a writer who has participated in NaNo, I’ll go on record saying, “It is absolutely daunting.” But it’s also challenging and a fun way to connect with the writing community, if you choose to dive in and become a WriMo.
The NaNoWriMo hashtag can be seen across social media, and if you’re on the fence about participating, go for it. It can be an amazing experience. However, if the thought of trying to meet a certain word count every day for an entire month feels overwhelming — skip it. It’s okay not to NaNo.
I’ll say it again. It’s okay not to NaNo.
Seriously. No one’s judging you.
Write at your own pace. Slow, fast, it’s all good.
It took me a long time to realize that I’m not the type of writer who enjoys the fast draft. It brings me a certain level of anxiety to draft without doing some level of editing. So for me, it’s no NaNo and that’s just fine. I’ll be spending the next several weeks weaving clues and red herrings in my YA murder mystery while querying my MG fairy tale-esque story: THE THIEF, THE COOK, & THE WITCH’S BOOK.
But if you’re a writer who feels left out seeing all those NaNo word counts and sprints posted, why not try your own version? Do a MiNiWriMo like author Lisa Schmid. Strive for a more manageable word count that won’t stress you out.
And if you are doing a full NaNo this month, go you! I hope your month is filled with words, fun, and writing mojo. Maybe, like me, you’re slow-drafting. Or maybe, you’re thinking about dipping a toe into the wonderful world of book writing. That’s awesome too. Dive it. Do it. We need your story.
Several years ago I downsized my book collection, and then regretted that action. Not right away. At first, it was like, “Oh hey look at all this lovely bookshelf space” and I took the opportunity to add new books to the shelves.
Fast forward to about three years ago when I found “Until the End” the trilogy that is Christopher Pike’s three books “The Party”, “The Dance”, and “The Graduation.”
Once I reread it, I wanted the other Christopher Pike books that I had let go, but I wanted them with the original covers that I had as a kid. I’ve been on the hunt ever since. Antique shops are a great place to find books like this, and I’ve added “Chain Letter” and “Remember Me” to my collection.
But the one I really wanted was LAST ACT. And now I finally have it. It arrived today — I ordered it online from a bookseller, because I could not find it in any of the used bookstores or antique shops that I’ve explored.
It’s been a couple of decades since I read LAST ACT and I’m looking forward to the reread. Will it be nostalgic? Probably. Will it be as good as preteen Barb remembers? Maybe not, but you never know. I’m still looking forward to it.
Recently, someone asked me if I read every day, and I said, yes.
They seemed surprised. So I asked them if they watched TV or a movie every day.
They said yes, and seemed surprised that I’d ask that.
I said I don’t see any difference between picking up a book and reading for 30 minutes or sitting down and watching a sitcom for the same amount of time. I like to read. I also like to watch TV shows, movies, and other programming. But I usually feel like I relax more when I read.
I don’t think reading every day is strange, just as I don’t think watching TV daily is strange. Or listening to music.
Reading makes me happy (most of the time). So yes, I do read every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
What am I reading right now? The GONE series by Michael Grant. It’s a reread for me, and I’m currently on book three: LIES. It’s a YA series that can be quite disturbing in parts, but it’s one of my favorites because of its complexities.
I have a few other books that I will be starting soon, in particular an ARC that I’m excited to read (keep an eye out for a post about that) and a beta read of an MG book written by one of my critique partners.
If you need me, I’ll be over here writing and always reading.
It’s Halloween week, but I enjoy a good spooky story any time of the year!
I’ve read several fantastic middle grade spooky stories this year, both in print and on my ereader, which include Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko, The Stitchers and The Collectors both by Lorien Lawrence. I totally recommend each and every one.
Here’s my Spooky MG list based on what I currently own and have read this year (it’s in no particular order.) Click on the author’s name to go to their website or book links. Add to your TBR and get ready to enjoy some creeps, chills, and thrills.
The last three in the list are not in the above pic because my copies are digital, but I’m thinking I’d like to add the print versions to my shelves. They’ve all got great covers!
This is just one small list of MG spooky books — there are so many great ones out there! Go visit these authors on their sites, check out their books, give them a read. It’s worth it. Looking for other titles? Head to your local library and ask a librarian for recommendations. Your librarians can help you find the perfect book to fit your mood any day of the year.
I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I did! And if you have any recommendations you want to share, let me know. Tweet me your favorites. Find me talking books, writing, and more on Twitter at: BarbH2014.
I have always loved libraries. If you follow me on any of my social media, you’ve seen countless posts about the absolute awesomeness of libraries. Today is one of my favorite days of the year and it’s totally library-related. It’s my local library’s FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY BOOK SALE!
Books! Tons of wonderful used books, all for sale! And the best part?
The money goes back to the library to buy MORE BOOKS!
That is truly pure awesomeness. I love the anticipation of going to the annual book sale. You never know what’s going to be there. I may find dozens of books to add to my collection or it might just be one. It doesn’t matter. It’s more than just acquiring new books. For me, it’s the joy of walking into this massive space filled with tables and tables of books just waiting to find a new home, new hands to hold them, and new imaginations to entertain.
And as I go on and on about libraries, I’m happy to report I FINALLY set up the free app on my ereader and TV to be able to check out ebooks, audiobooks, and digital programs/movies.
Why or why did I wait this long??? Don’t be like me. Take advantage of all these amazing and free services your local library has. You won’t regret it!
I’ve always enjoyed book recommendations from other readers and writers. It’s fun to see what you’re reading, and it’s a great way to add new-to-me authors and books to my TBR. Last year, I logged in 59 books read over at Goodreads and you can see those books here: Barb’s 2020 Goodreads Challenge.
What I’m going to do is go back and pick a few of my favorite reads from last year, and post them here on the blog under Book Reviews. Up first is: SCRITCH SCRATCH by Lindsay Currie.
I read “Scritch Scratch” by Lindsay Currie in September 2020. Fantastic middle-grade ghost story!
I had been looking forward to reading SCRITCH SCRATCH by Lindsay Currie for months (I had my preorder in back in January) and I’m super excited to report that I loved this book every bit as much as I thought I would when I first read its blurb! I thoroughly enjoy a good spooky ghost story, and always have.
This is totally a book 11-year-old me would have devoured in one sitting (took adult me two because life/responsibilities) and then pre-teen me would have gone back at reread it a week later (I’m thinking I’ll do my reread in October on a dreary day while snuggled under a blankie & sipping some hot chocolate.)
[And did she actually reread it in October? Yes. Yes, she did, enjoying it just as much the second time.]
SCRITCH SCRATCH is set in my favorite city: Chicago! Author Currie gives a well-constructed story told from the POV of 12-year-old, budding scientist Claire who has a mom with a baking business, older brother who can be annoying, and a dad who’s obsessed with Chicago ghost stories. It’s her dad’s obsession and job as an author of historical ghost books and the operator of a ghost-themed Chicago bus tour that throws Claire into something that takes her out of her comfort zone. One night when helping her dad during the ghost-themed bus tour, Claire actually encounters a ghost.
When that ghost begins to haunt her at home and at school, she’s faced with a tough decision: tell her dad and suffer the world’s worst embarrassment when he makes a huge deal out of an actual ghost (something she does not want her classmates to know) or try to figure out why she’s being haunted by a little boy ghost dripping with water before the spooky stuff hurts her or her family.
There’s so much to like about SCRITCH SCRATCH–from the haunting scenes that took me straight back to my own kid fears of being alone in my room thinking I wasn’t actually alone to the family dynamics, on-point middle school anxieties and friendships, and Claire, a character that I genuinely liked and who kid-me would have loved to hang out with years ago.
Lindsay Currie has a distinctive writing style and I thoroughly enjoy her books. If you’ve not read her PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET, grab a copy. There’s even a nod to its ghost in SCRITCH SCRATCH. You can feel the love Currie has for Chicago and its rich history, in particular some of its forgotten history. I highly recommend SCRITCH SCRATCH for kids who love to read spooky stories and for adults too–totally a book that should be on the classroom fiction shelf and in the school library.
AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by B. B. Alston officially ranks as one of my fav middlegrade books. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent reading it and when I finished, I wanted more—so glad it’s the first book in a series. Its title is listed by HarperCollins as Amari and the Night Brothers: Supernatural Investigations: Volume Number 1.
There was much to like about the book, so here’s a bit of the what’s-what:
Amari Peters isn’t from a posh neighborhood and is on scholarship to her private school, a place where she’s bullied. Her older brother Quinton has gone missing, and now she’s in trouble at school for standing up to the bullies. Things are a mess. But when she receives a strange briefcase from her missing brother and a nomination for a place in the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, Amari goes on the hunt for Quinton.
At the Bureau, she’s enrolled in the summer tryouts for Junior Agent and learning all about the supernatural and magical world that’s filled with magicians, dragons, fairies, sasquatches, and even talking elevators with their own distinct personalities. She’ll compete for a spot in the program against kids who’ve grown up in this fantastical world, while dodging enemies, and learning who she can and can’t trust. Not everything or everyone is as they seem.
Amari worries she won’t have what it takes to make it through the Junior Agent trials, stand up to the bullies in her training class, learn how to use her own magic, and find her missing brother.
So why did I like the book so much?
As I’ve said in my social media posts, I think AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS is immersive, imaginative, and thoroughly engaging to read. I was drawn in from the opening pages and had to read more. Amari is a kid I would have loved to have had as a friend when I was a kid. She’s smart, brave, compassionate, and fun.
The magical elements in the book were fun and unique. I particularly fell in love with the elevators and I love Amari’s roommate’s inventions, especially the sneakandle.
I most definitely recommend reading AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by B.B. Alston. You can read more about the book here.
I started reading The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith today. I’m about 100 pages in and loving it. This young adult novel is an alternate history story described as:
“Inglourious Basterds meets Stranger Things in this dark and thrilling tale of power, shadow, and revenge set during World War II.“
The first pages completely sucked me in and I’m anxious to see where it’s all going to go. I’ll let you know my final thoughts when I’ve finished. In the meantime, I highly recommend hopping over to author Lindsay Smith‘s site and checking out this book and her other work.
Last year at this time I had just been through the Pitch Wars Showcase and was beginning a journey querying my first middle-grade book. Then the pandemic hit full force. Everything seemed to come to a screeching halt. Like many of you, my focus shifted. There was so much uncertainty and worry.
I decided to stop querying my book and focus on work and family. In the interim, I sought and received editorial and agent feedback. With that feedback, I took the book back into deep revisions. It has finally re-emerged! Shiny new words, deeper POV, and even a new title.
Between last March and today, here are just a few highlights:
Joined a new critique group (virtually) with members from my regional SCBWI
Attended several webinars for writers via SCBWI (a great way to connect with others during the pandemic)
Completely rewrote my Pitch Wars book
Started writing an adult cozy mystery (my first!)
Outlined and began writing a new middle-grade fairy-tale retelling (I’m so excited about this one!)
Had the privilege to read several ARCs as well as beta reading some books that I can’t wait for you all to be able to read as well
During it all, I continued to write as a freelancer, although by the end of 2020 I had significantly scaled back the amount of work I contracted. I much prefer fiction writing and am all in on this publishing journey.