Wednesday, September 28, 2011

From My Bookshelf To Yours: 101 Ways To Bug Your Friends and Enemies by Lee Wardlaw

101 Ways To Bug Your Friends and Enemies is a must read! It is a hilarious story about middle school love. It is so funny. I was giggling frequently. My daughter kept trying to "steal" the book from me. "Hands Off!" The main character, Sneeze, is constantly coming up with crazy inventions. He makes a fool of himself around his crush who is crushing on someone else.  He comes up with a plan to let her know he "loves" her but it is destined to fail. His friend, Hiccup, is obsessed with diseases. If the names don't tell you how fun this book is, I don't know what will!)

I loved the book because it had adventures, "bad guys", puppy love and pranks. This book will be a favorite with your middle schooler. This story is witty and exciting. I can't believe I have never read the other ones. I will be reading them soon! Lee totally grasped the akwardness of middle school life and wonderful and not so wonderful feelings of first love. Everything about it is believable and reminded me of my own escapades in middle school. Way to remain a kid at heart, Lee!

Want to buy her books?
First, check your local independent bookstore, either in person or online at:
If they don’t have her books in stock, ask them to order them! They’ll be glad to!  You may also find her books at or http://www.b&

Lee Wardlaw's web page & fan page   

If you want to learn 101 Ways to Bug an Author visit:

Other Books in the series are

 Want to win a free copy? Go to Wild About Reading
*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with Lee Wardlaw, Author of "101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies"

Tell us a bit about you…
I’m the author of close to 30 books for young readers, including the multi-award-winning novels  101 Ways to Bug Your Parents and 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher.  I’m also former teacher…a current mother (I have one son; he’s 15)…I speak fluent ‘Cat’ (I have three)…and I’m in constant pursuit of the perfect chocolate-chip cookie recipe.

What inspired you to write 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies?
The short answer: My fans told me to!

The long answer: my all-time favorite play is Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.  It’s got everything:  War, mystery, humor, heroes, villains, romance, suspense, sword fights, philosophy, poetry, pastries – you name it, it’s in there!  I’d always wanted to write a modern-day version of this story, and This. Is. It.

What is "101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies" about? 
How first love can change your friendships – and your life.  It’s also about Sneeze Wyatt, a 13-year-old whiz-kid-nerd inventor, who falls head-over-heels in love with his best friend, Hayley, who has fallen head-over-heels for someone else who has not fallen head-over-heels for her. In fact, he doesn’t even know she’s alive.  To save Hayley from the wrenching pain of unrequited love, Sneeze pretends to be the Other Guy, writing her astounding love letters from ‘him’ via email. And yes, humorous and heart-squishing chaos ensues…

What do you hope children learn from your book? 
First and foremost, I write to entertain – both myself and my readers.  So my greatest hope for my fans is that while reading this book they laugh so hard they squirt milk out their noses!  (Provided, of course, they’re drinking milk at the time; otherwise, milk-out-the-nose might signal a more serious symptom that requires the immediate services of a doctor.  Or a farmer.)

Beneath the obvious humor, however, there is a lot here for my readers to ‘get’, such as:

1.  People aren’t mind readers.  You won’t know if the person you like likes you back unless you tell that person how you feel.
2.  Yes, confessing your feelings does involve risk. The object of your affection might laugh you out of the school or throw up on your shoes.
3.  But this risk is worth it.  Great achievement and great love always are.  (And you can always buy new shoes.)
4.  Just because one person doesn’t love you, does NOT mean you are unlovable. 

Are you planning to write any new books in the future?  Can you give us a sneak peek?
I’m revising a sequel to my picture book Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku (Holt).  I’m also making notes for the fourth and final novel in the 101 Ways series: 101 Ways to Bug Your Brother and Sister. For years, my fans have been sharing with me the creative ways their siblings have bugged them.  A few favorites:
1.  Touch her with bologna.
2.  Sneak icky food off your plate and slip it onto his plate.
3.  On long car trips, fall asleep leaning against her.  Extra points if you’re hot and sweaty.
4.  If you’re a girl, put your underwear in his underwear drawer.  If you’re a boy, do the opposite!
5.  Rip all the heads off her Barbie dolls. (My brothers used to do this to me!)
6.  When his friend come over to your house, follow them around everywhere.
7.  When she and her friends are sunbathing, squirt them with your water cannon.
8.  Poise your finger 1/8 of an inch from her and repeat:  ‘I’m not touching you!  I’m not touching you!’
9.  Hog the TV remote.  Then ‘lose’ it.
 10.    Every time she says: ‘Guess what?’, shout:  ‘Chicken butt!’

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
I love beach combing for sea glass.  I read.  (A lot!)  I snoop in antique stores for old Hawaiian hula dolls.  (I have a collection; one doll dates back to 1900.)  I read.  I get together with friends.  Then I read.  I play with my cats.  I swim.  Oh, and I read, too!  (And  my most favorite thing to do in my free time is…write!)

Who was your favorite author when you were young?
There were so many authors!  I loved Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  In second grade, I wrote a book report for that title every week for about two months – until my teacher finally demanded I pick a different book.  I also loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.  Oh, and Helen Keller’s Teacher by Margaret Davidson and The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom. I read those books over and over and over again. Same with the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne, which I found absolutely hysterical.  Such wry and clever wit!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Every day.  Repeat.

Describe yourself with 5 words.
Exuberant.  Secretive.  Storyteller.  Funny.  Calliope. (Okay, okay. I know the last word isn’t a descriptive, but it’s one of my favorite nouns because I adore the sound of it:  kah-LIE-uh-pee, kah-LIE-uh-pee. In ancient Greece, Kalliope was the muse of heroic poetry.)

How did you get interested in writing children's books?    
I don’t really think of myself as a writer of ‘children’s books’.  I have stories to tell, and those stories just happen to be about children and tweens and teens. I got interested in writing, though, as soon as I became a reader. The first book I could read all by myself was P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog, Go. Wow. I was woozy with pride!  I mean, what an accomplishment to read that book over and over and over read again to my little brother, Scott!  (And he didn’t even like dogs!)  I couldn’t imagine a better feeling than that, except maybe writing a book all by myself.  So, at age seven, I gave it a try. I’ve been writing ever since.  (P.S. The first book my son could read all by himself was also Go, Dog, Go!)

Where can people buy your books? 
First, check your local independent bookstore, either in person or online at:
If they don’t have my books in stock, ask them to order them! They’ll be glad to!  You may also find my books at or http://www.b&

Do you have a web page or fan page?    

Anything else you would like to share?
1. I like iced tea with lemon and mint and Splenda.
2. When I do school visits, there is always one fan who comes up to me and says:  “Hey, you’re a girl!  I thought you were a guy!”  (Because my first name is Lee.)
3.  Dr. Maria Montessori is one of my heroes.
4.  I went back to college at the age of 53 to get my master’s degree in Education.
5.  If you want to learn 101 Ways to Bug an Author (aka ME!), visit:
6.  The first person to email me at and tell me that I do NOT look like a woman in her 50’s, will receive a free, autographed, paperback copy of 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies.
7.  Oh, and thanks for interviewing me!

Visit Wild About Reading for a chance to win a copy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

From My Bookshelf to Yours: Hexult by Perry Aylen

Are You Looking for a Book for Your Tween?

What a exciting change from the vampires and werewolves I have been reading lately. This book was a wonderful and entertaining adventure. Hexult is the story of two teens who are shipwrecked and saved. They are brought to a land where they are very different from the people around them. They are attacked verbally and physically due to fear and ignorance. The teens bring with them knowledge and information on how to build helpful items that are considered "magic".

I am always looking for a lesson learned and this story has a few. Perry expertly weaves in a lesson about predjudice. We learn along with the characters that just because someone or something is different doesn't make it "bad". Secondly, there were bits of science woven throughout the story.  I found myself wanting to build an ice tower! 

This story is aimed at ages 12-15 but I believe that it can be read aloud to younger children. Even adults will like it. Although it took me a chapter or two before I "got into" the story once I was in I didn't go to bed until I finished the book!

You can find this ebook in the U.S. at Amazon  Apple Diesel Barnes & Noble Sony Reader Store

U.S. paperback CreateSpace

Ebook in the U.K. at Amazon Apple

U. K. paperback Gadget Tree

Want to win a free copy? Go to Wild About Reading
*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

From My Bookshelf to Yours- Nate Rocks the World by Karen Toz

Nate Rocks the World  is a fantastic and imaginative story that will keep your child engaged. Nate is a fourth grader who daydreams of being a hero. He escapes the trials and tribulations of his life by drawing. Karen does a wonderful job of blending his fantasies with his reality. The characters are so real and likeable. I love the conflict between him and his older sister. 

The lesson in this story is that dreams can come true and that there is hero inside of even the most unlikely source. Although girls will love it too (my 9 year old daughter did) if you have a boy between  8 and 10 years old buy this book right now!  We can't wait for the next book in this series!

Connect with Karen on her website: and on Facebook: Nate Rocks the World is available on-line at and most other on-line retailers. It is available in print and in digital form for your e-readers. For more detailed purchase information, please visit     

Want to win a free copy? Go to Wild About Reading
*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Interview with Karen Toz Author of "Nate Rocks the World"

Tell us a bit about you.

I'm a happily married mom of three great kids aged 5-14 and one extra furry kitty. I tell my kids all the time to 'dream big.' This year, I decided to take my own advice, and I published my very first novel - a children's book geared toward 7-12 year olds. I also enjoy to blogging about my chaotic life with a teen, tween and little one. Besides writing, I love to spend time with my family, cook, and garden.

How did you begin your writing career for children?

I began quite recently actually. About a year and a half ago, I sat down with an idea I had been carrying around for a while for an adult contemporary novel and quickly discovered that I love to write! The book, although about an adult, has several flashbacks back to the main character’s childhood. It did not take long to discover that I preferred writing in a child’s voice.

Was there someone or some event in your life that inspired you to write Nate Rocks The World?  

At about the same time I started writing, I noticed that my two older children (aged 13 and 10 at the time) were becoming less and less enthusiastic about reading. Getting them to read anything beyond what was required for school was torturous. They complained there was nothing FUN to read. I decided to prove them wrong by writing a book! The main character is inspired by the two of them, as well as my youngest who was 4 when I started writing.  My oldest son is the cartoon artist of the family. My daughter is a dancer and very creative, and my youngest son loves to role play as a super-hero. I rolled them all together to create one fabulous Nate Rocks!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Actually, I have a part-time day job as a tax accountant! I’ve been an accountant for many years now and I enjoy working clients. I’m fortunate that I have enough time to both work in my field and write.

What feelings or lessons do you hope your book leaves its readers?

The message I hope to leave readers with is that anyone and everyone can accomplish great things.

Describe yourself in five words

Wow - this is harder than being limited to Twitter’s 140 characters! Let’s see:
driven, compassionate, emotional, fulfilled, inspired

Is there a children’s book that you have read that you wish you had written?

Absolutely - I wish I had written the Harry Potter series. I think it is just brilliant.

Whats next for you?

Well - I’m in the editing stages of that adult contemporary novel I started last year, and I also am part way through the next book in the Nate Rocks series!

Do you have any advice for others interested in writing books for children?

Take the advice of my own children: kids want to read books that are fun! Writing for children is the best - you get to live your inner childhood all over again. Enjoy your characters - allow them to grow and blossom and take the opportunity to send a message to your readers.

Do you have a website or a fan page?  Where can we find your books to buy?

Yes - readers can connect with me on my website: and on Facebook: Nate Rocks the World is available on-line at, and most other on-line retailers. It is available in print and in digital form for your e-readers. For more detailed purchase information, please visit            

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From My Bookshelf to Yours: “Cedric and the Dragon"

Cedric and the Dragon is a sweet fairy tale about a gentle prince that is a little different than everyone is used too. Although everyone loves him they are a little disappointed in his lack of skills. His father wants him to be a dragon slayer.  Cedric brings down the terrible beast but not the way everyone thinks he should.

This captivating story has a message of kindness and peace. It also teaches that everyone is special in their own way with their own talents and skills.

Nina's beautiful illustrations are done in pastel colors and brings a calm and captivating magic to the story.  Her whimsical characters help bring life to this fairy tale. Your children will not only love to hear the story but will want to study each illustration in detail. 

My daughters loved the book. My four year old wants to watch the "cartoon" (there is no cartoon). She giggled at the pictures and I had to wait to turn the pages until she was done inspecting each one. This book has it all. A wonderful story and charming illustrations that are sure to make this a favorite in your home.

You can buy this book on Amazon
Visit Nina's web page, blog and fan page.

Visit Wild About Reading for a chance to win a copy.

*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Interview with Nina Crittenden Illustrator of "Cedric and the Dragon"

Tell us a bit about you.                     
I like to drink hot tea with half & half and plenty of sugar.

What is your favorite style of illustration/animation?
I don't think I could choose a favorite style. Simple artwork has an undeniable charm, and incredibly intricate art is marvelous. I love it all.

What made you decide to be a children's book illustrator?
Illustrating books was always a dream of mine, but I never really thought it would happen. I have to credit my dear friend, Jennifer Dewing, with talking me into joining the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators with her. Jen has become an award winning author of books for kids, and she helped me find courage I never knew I had.

If you couldn't draw what would you do instead?
Care for animals. Before I became and at-home mom/illustrator, I used to work as a certified veterinary technician in small animal surgery at the University of Minnesota.

If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead who would it be?
My parents (and I'd talk my Mom into making bread pudding for dessert).

What are your favorite children's books?
Owl at Home, Frog and Toad, The Story of Ferdinand, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, George and Martha, The Tales of Two Bad Mice and Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Armitage Queen of the Road, Chicken Soup with Rice, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Pippi Longstocking, Dotty, Piggy and Dad Go Fishing, The King Who Rained, The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, Swimmy, and Pickle, Pickle, Pickle Juice.

How did you get started in the illustration field?
I didn't have any formal training in art, so I just started drawing in hopes that I'd eventually be able to piece together a portfolio. Attending SCBWI conferences and workshops helped a ton, and I was also lucky to have the very kind and talented illustrator, Christina Rodriguez, mentor me for a year. After my website was up and running, I started sending out promotional postcards to publishing houses. Visiting websites and blogs of other illustrators has also been incredibly helpful, it is so inspiring to see what other artists can do. Being a part of the kidlit community has been one of the coolest things ever, in my book...

What has been inspiring you lately?
My kids, random conversation, all things vintage and retro, and music. I love, love, love to draw and listen to music (current faves: Jeremy Messersmith, Vampire Weekend, The Cars, Jackie Wilson, OK Go, and Artie Shaw).

What advice would you give other aspiring illustrators/animators?
Let others inspire you, but always be yourself.

What do you do for fun/when you’re not working?
I love to watch movies, read books, go for bike rides with the fam, and knit scarves.

What is the best part about what you do?
Seeing what the things I imagine turn into when I put them on paper.

Give us 5 words that describe you.
Sensitive. Quiet. Mom. Artist. Nerd.

What was your inspiration for Cedric and the Dragon?
I spent my childhood drawing horses and princesses, and absolutely fell in love with the story Elizabeth wrote. IllustratingCedric and the Dragon was really a wish come true.

What other books have you illustrated?
I just finished illustrating the first book in a series of piano music books for kids, which I am super excited about. Also working on illustrating a book that I have written and hope to submit to publishers someday (fingers crossed!).

Anything else you would like to share?
Love Dr. Pepper,
hula hoops, frogs, silly puns,
and writing haikus.

Where can people buy books that you have illustrated?

Do you have a web page or fan page?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Here is the cover of my book!

Here it is the cover of "The Day No One Played Together" I can't believe it is time to go to the printing press! It is exciting watching your dreams come true and seeing your imagination brought to life by illustrations. Just a few more weeks and I will be holding a copy in my hands! Yay!

From My Bookshelf to Yours: “I Love You More Than Rainbows" by Susan E. Crites

"I Love You More Than Rainbows" is a mesmerizing rhyming story that you can read to your children. My youngest, who wiggles when we read sat absolutely still. When I was done reading she demanded, "Read it again!" Each page tells your little one how much you love them. It is spectacularly illustrated. I especially love the diversity of the characters.

Watch out! If you are an emotional person you might even get a little dewy-eyed (they didn't drop though). I couldn't have expressed the love I feel for my children better if I had written it myself!  This is another perfect bedtime story. We can never express how much we love our children but if you are like me you definitely try! This book will leave you with a smile.

You can buy "I Love You More Than Rainbows" at Amazon and  Barnes and Noble .

Want to win a free copy? Go to Wild About Reading
*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

From My Bookshelf to Yours: “In Memory of Dad" by Maranda Russell

“In Memory of Dad" by Maranda Russell

This beautiful short story was definitely written from the heart. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. You could feel Kayla's love, grief and triumph through Maranda's eloquent descriptions. This is a wonderful story that shares a message of dealing with grief. The lesson that you can go on living life after you lose someone. So many times people feel guilty to feel joy after they have lost a love one. I have been looking for stories to share with my clients about coping with grief. Maranda shares this message effortlessly and in a way even young children can understand!

This can be bought on Smashwords for only $2.99
In Memory of Dad, an Ebook by Maranda Russell
Also on Amazon for only $2.99
Visit her at her facebook page Maranda Russell: Writer, Book Reviewer and Literature Geek Extraordinaire

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Interview with Susan Crites author of "I Love You More Than Rainbows"

Tell us a bit about you?
A bit about me . . . I live life at a slower pace than most in a quaint, small town with my husband, Jeff, and our 2 sweet dogs, Emma and Sophie.  My favorite subject in school was math and my least favorite was most of Social Studies.  The extent of my artistic ability is not much more than drawing stick figures.  Swimming was my sport of choice from age 5 through college and I feel like a fish out of water if I'm not in a pool regularly.  I have a huge sweet tooth.  I love going for a drive on a nice day with the windows down.  I have a big soft spot for animals, kids, the elderly, as well as those who are physically or mentally challenged.  I'm incredibly grateful to our military.  I love to observe life around me and I find it very important to stop for ice cream, just because.  :)

What inspired you to write I Love You More Than Rainbows?
I rarely have just one thing that inspires me.  I get ideas anywhere and everywhere, but I wanted to write a book that could be a bedtime favorite.  I wanted a book that allows little ones to have that safe, warm feeling as the lights get turned out.  This quote from former First Lady Barbara Bush says it pretty well for me:  
Reading helps us grow, head and heart. It gets children ready for school and helps them do better once they get there. It's a special time for children to be close to grown-ups who care for them - a wonderful way to feel loved. -Barbara Bush
What do you hope children learn from your book?
I believe it's so important for children to hear "I love you" and I have yet to discover a child (young or older) who has heard it more than needed.  That knowledge and security provide confidence and encouragement, allowing them to thrive whether life is going well or is hard.  To know they have a support system gives them hope and joy, even when life is uncertain.  That's my number one goal, but I also hope readers learn to savor the every day things.  The every day things keep life special and remind us all that it's not material objects that keep us happy, but the joy we find in the world around us, wherever that may be.  When adults walk away with those points as well, that's the icing on the cake for me.  

Are you planning to write any new books in the future?  Can you give us a sneak peek?
Currently, I have 5 manuscripts in the hands of a potential agent.  I also have several others close to finished where I'd feel comfortable sending them to be considered for publication.  A few are follow ups to "I Love You More Than Rainbows" so I have a series of "I love you" books, but each with its own personality.  I have a variety of different little tales that hopefully will put a smile on many children's faces, most of which involve an animal as one of the key characters.  I also have ideas for a couple of different series.  It's a tough market, but I look forward to seeing where this journey will take me.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
I love taking walks, stopping to smell the roses as the saying goes, spending time with my husband, our two dogs, as well as friends and family.  A good book of any kind can't be beat, especially pool side or on the beach.  I enjoy being outdoors all times of the year and I love watching movies, particularly in the theater because somehow their popcorn always tastes better than popcorn at home.  

Who was your favorite author when you were young?
I loved (and still do) so many different books and enjoyed so many different authors, but the one that comes to mind quickly is Beverly Cleary.  I could relate to her characters so well and her books were ones I could read over and over.  I still do, in fact!  My favorite illustrator has always been Sandra Boynton.  Her work ignites creativity for me.  Now that she writes board books, I of course have a nice collection of those.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read, read, read.  The more we read, the more we notice writing styles, find what we like, what we don't like and why we have that opinion.  Our vocabulary expands, an appreciation for words comes and knowing why a person likes certain books / authors can really help him/her find their style of writing.  Also, don't be afraid to just write.  Like anything else, the more you do, the better you get.  Not everything you write is going to get published, but it will help you on your journey.  Don't let "writer's block" hit you.  If the words aren't coming for what you planned to write, write what is coming to mind.  I typically have a half a dozen manuscripts I'm working on at the same time.  Sometimes I even come up with an idea out of the blue and am able, from that idea, to write a full manuscript easier and quicker than an idea I've been working on for years.  I can't remember ever writing any of my manuscripts from beginning to end.  I write parts and piece them together, then edit, edit, edit.  Again, it's what words are flowing.  A little bit of writing at a time is just fine and let your work sit for a while.  When you come back to it you'll have a fresh set of eyes to help with revision, finding the strengths and weaknesses of your writing, sometimes realizing you need to start over, and sometimes surprising yourself that what you've written is pretty darn good.  

Describe yourself  with 5 words.
goofy, grateful, happy, driven, loved
How did you get interested in writing children's books?    
I'm going to put the blame on my husband. :)  I love being with kids and when they "get me" and my goofy-ness (is that a word?) it only eggs me on to have even more fun with them.  My husband suggested I put some of that onto paper, so after a while of tinkering, I just had fun with it and it has become one of my favorite things to do.  Not everything I write will be published, but the possibilities are endless and the beauty of the imagination is you can go anywhere and do anything.
Where can people buy your books? 
Right now it's not that easy to find a hardcover version.  If you look on Amazon, you can find some from other sellers that are in good shape and frankly, at a terrific price.  Amazon has the small board book version in stock which is nice for the "excited page turners" or those who always want a book handy.  "I Love You More Than Rainbows" is also available on the iPad, Barnes & Noble's Book Nook and Kindle.  
Do you have a web page or fan page?    
I do indeed have a website and I'm on Facebook.  
My website is  (I'm looking forward to putting a new site up.)
I have an author Facebook page: Susan Crites Facebook Page 
I have a book page on Facebook:  I Love You More Than Rainbows  
I'm on Twitter and Linked In and I love having folks on my journey with me!
(FYI - In your search, I'm not the Susan Crites who writes ghost stories. Strictly picture books for me.)  

Anything else you would like to share?
Thank you for the privilege of sharing my book with all of you!  Whatever your choice of books, I encourage parents to take the time and energy to read with their kids.  I think you'll find the rewards are tremendous!