Friday, 30 April 2010

Discussion: Favorite Genre?

What is your favorite genre and why?

I got up thinking about what my favorite genre is these days. Also, what in that genre really gets me going?

Faeries! I love 'em! I just can't get enough. I guess that puts me in the Fantasy genre.

Some good Fantasy novels are:
Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Wings and Spells by Aprilynne Pike
Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

I also love traditional fairytale's as told by Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale. If you haven't read their book YOU MUST! I can sink into one of their books any day and get away!

I want to know what your favorite genre is and why? I don't know what else I might be missing!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Jr Correspondent Review: Gone With the Wand

Title: Gone with the Wand

Author: Margie Palatini

Publisher: Orchard Books

Reading Level: 4-8

4/5 stars


This is a story about a fairy Godmother, Bernice, who is looking for a fairy job because her wand is no longer working right. She tries many different things from cleaning dust to being a snow fairy. Her friend Edith, the tooth fairy, tries her best to help Bernice find the perfect fairy job.


I liked the book because first of all, it is about fairies, and I love fairies. I also like that Edith helps Bernice find a fairy job, and I have best friends that help me. This book was also funny and made me laugh a lot, especially when Bernice tries to become a dust fairy. People who like fairies and magic and friends will really enjoy this book, but it is mostly for everyone.


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Review: Spells

Title: Spells
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reading Level: 11+
Other Title in the series: Wings

Rating: 5/5

Publisher's Summary:
Although Laurel has come to accept her true identity as a faerie, she refuses to turn her back on her human life—and especially her boyfriend, David—to return to the faerie world.

But when she is summoned to Avalon, Laurel's feelings for the charismatic faerie sentry Tamani are undeniable. She is forced to make a choice—a choice that could break her heart.

I've been waiting a year for this sequel and IT IS FINALLY HERE! It is actually not suppose to be out until tomorrow in the UK, but I stopped by the book store on the way to work today to make sure they were going to have it...and was ON THE SHELF! I grabbed it before anyone made me give it back.

I was sneaking peaks all day at work to read this amazing tale. I took trips to the bathroom with the book. Hid it behind anything I could just to read. I truly LOVE this story. Spells is un-putdownable! Sure to be another NYT Best Seller! I'm completely invested. I need to know what is next.

Aprilynne has painted us a very vivid picture of Avalon! I love her writing style and she has such a way to make the story flow and keep you hooked. I read it all today and I work full time. I love books that take me away into another world and this has done just that. Remarkable!

The love triangle is still there and we get to see Laurel start to find her way as a faerie. I could totally live in this world Aprilynne has created. I can actually! Anytime I want to revisit I just need to pick the books up and Aprilynne will take me to Avalon.

I know I'm going to read this book a million times before the next book in the series comes out! We do have quite a cliffhanger! It's killing me!

I did want to strangle Laurel though. I can't believe what she did. I just can't believe it. It has ruined my night actually.

You NEED to pick up this series! You won't be sorry!

Team Tamani FOREVER!


"I can't just storm in and proclaim my intentions. I can't ‘steal' you away. I just have to wait and hope that, someday, you'll ask," Tamani said.

"And if I don't?" Laurel said, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Then I guess I'll be waiting forever."

Monday, 26 April 2010


Who doesn't like a free book? Thanks to The Hachette Group I've got 3 copies of The Cradle by Patrick Somerville to giveaway!

What do you have to do to be entered? It's easy here at The Sweet Bookshelf!

Just enter your name, email, and mailing address in the link below and you'll be entered. Worried about Privacy? Check out my Privacy Policy.

US & Canada ONLY. Sorry my International lovelies, Publisher's made the rules.

Ends: Monday May 10th

In the summer of 1997, a newlywed couple, Matt and Marissa, are living in Wisconsin and expecting their first child. With the baby almost due, Marissa sends Matt on a quest to recover an antique cradle from her mother, who claimed it when she abandoned her family years earlier.

Ten years later, a middle-aged couple, Bill and Renee, are living outside Chicago and preparing to see their only son, Adam, off to war in Iraq. Adam's departure brings to the surface deeply personal memories of Renee's first love, and forces the confession of a long-held secret that brings the two stories together in the novel's powerful climax.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

We Give Books

Penguin Books is giving books for charity but they need our help! We read a book online, they give a book. It is that simple!

Penguin has donated 3002 books so far!

OK, here is the deal. You choose one of their charities. You choose a book. They have several from 0-10 yrs old! Read as many as you can! For every one you read, they donate one to the charity you chose!


I'll be reading all day! Let me know if you're reading for charity too!

Jr Correspondent Review: How to Train Your Dragon

Title: How to Train your Dragon

Author: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Translated from the Old Norse by Cressida Cowell)

Reading Level: Ages 9 - 12

5 stars!


This book chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.


My mom and I started the book together but I thought it was so good I kept reading the book at night by myself. I liked the names the author used in the story, they were really funny. The story was interesting and I liked how caring Hiccup was. The illustrations were great because it looked like Hiccup drew them himself. It’s a really funny and a great family read.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Author Interview: Carmen Reid

I love the chic-lit. I do! Who writes some of the best romantic comedies?? Carmen Reid!! That's who, and she stopped by so we could get to know her a little better. How sweet! Let me introduce you to Carmen Reid (she lives near me **squeel**)!!


Carmen was born and brought up in a chilly and windy corner of Scotland in the depths of the countryside. Her hobbies are cooking, cleaning, arguing about whose turn it is to walk the dog, clean the fish tank, take out the rubbish, do the laundry... and so on.


You have 10 published works! How do you come up with all your ideas?

When I started writing my first book, I worried a lot about this. Now I worry about how will I ever write down all the ideas I have! I think if writers write, painters paint, musicians make music, the ideas will come. It’s all about opening the creative floodgates, tapping into that part of your mind. You will find it limitless!

Tell us about your road to publication.

Compared to the many other stories I’ve heard, it was pretty smooth. I wrote three chapters and a full synopsis of ‘Three In A Bed’ and sent it to six agents. Five said no, one phoned back immediately to say: write this book now! (I do think it helped that I was a national newspaper journalist at the time) I took about 18 months to write the book and it took another five months to sell. I think it went to five publishers who said no and then the sixth loved it. Luckily for me I’ve been with the same agent (Darley Anderson) and the same publisher ever since.

Your novels center a lot on shopping. Are you a shopaholic?

From book five onwards, shopping is the backdrop as the main character, Annie Valentine, is a personal shopper. I’m really interested in the psychology of shopping, all our body issues and very personal states of mind come to the fore when we shop (especially for clothes). Plus that whole idea of re-inventing yourself, dressing for who you’d like to be, dressing in anticipation of an occasion... that’s all very fertile ground for a writer. I love fashion as an art form: Vogue magazine and catwalk shows, the stories behind big designers like Coco Chanel. I find that all fascinating. I’m really tall (6ft plus) and I used to find clothes shopping traumatic, I know what works now but I’m far, far from a shopaholic. My wardrobe is tres minimal and I like it like that.

What is the BEST thing about being a published author?

There are two best things: being paid to do the thing I love and getting fan mail from readers who have loved the books. Sometimes when I do signings, readers bring along a cherished, dog-eared copy which they’ve read over and over. That always makes me feel very emotional.

You write romantic comedies for women and teens. Are there any other genre's you are eager to write?

The strange thing is I never thought I’d write rom com. I thought I was terribly, terribly serious and earnest and literary. But when I write, the romance and the comedy just pour out. Nothing I can do about it! Maybe one day I’ll write that terribly serious and worthy literary work. But no other genre appeals, I’m far too squeamish for horror or crime.

Any advice for new writers?

Read, read, read and write, write, write. We all get better with practise, we all learn from the writers we love. Try and have a fixed time in the day when you write. Get into a regular habit, even an hour every day. Expect loads of criticism and loads of rejections. Don’t send off to literary agents until you’ve created a really credible manuscript. They get HUNDREDS of manuscripts every week. Think of a big character and a big story.

Describe a typical writing day.

As soon as my children are at school, I’m at my desk and getting on with it. I try and put everything else on hold that needs to be done, or else suddenly my writing time will have disappeared. I plan the books out very thoroughly in advance and although some scenes may not work in the writing, I know exactly where the story is going to go. This is hard to do – but very, very worthwhile. If you can’t sort out the plot problems in the plan, you will not sort them in the writing.

Are you working on anything new? If so, what can you tell us about it?

Yes, Annie Valentine Five (we’re working on the title!) She goes to New York with her daughter Lana to help with Svetlana and Elena’s new dress label. Annie lurrrves New York and does not want to leave.

I’ve just finished book four in the teen series, Secrets at St Jude’s – Rebel Girl. It comes out in June.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

I love the French countryside and also, in total contrast, New York City!

Anything you would like to say to The Sweet Bookshelf readers?

Very happy reading! There are so many books that have changed and shaped my life in so many different ways. Books rock!

Books by Carmen:

The Personal Shopper
Up All Night
How Was it For You?
Did The Earth Move?
Three in a Bed
Late Night Shopping

The Secrets at St. Jude's: New Girl
St. Jude's: Jealous Girl
St: Jude's: Drama Girl
St. Jude's: Rebel Girl

Don't forget to check out Carmen's website!

Thank you for taking time for an interview Carmen! I can't wait to read Annie Valentine 5 and I hope to see you at a future signing!!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Secret Life of Bees

Title: The Secret Life of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Publisher: Penguin
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 4

In The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd wraps a coming-of-age tale around a search for one's mother, plunks it down into the racially-charged South Carolina during the civil rights movement and sets it all alight with a dose of feminine spirituality. It is, however, an inspirational feminist tale with strong female characters. And while it has already proven its mettle as a best-selling novel with universal appeal, it will particularly enchant the female reader. And more particularly, female beekeepers.

I just got finished reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd...and I LOVED IT! As I lay reading, I could actually taste the sweet honey and feel the heat of a southern summer day. It is beautifully written and the emotive narrative really is in a class of its own.

I give it 4 stars!! Please go out and read it!!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Discussion: What Book Could You Recommend To a Stranger?

I frequent the book stores. I'm pretty sure some of the employee's at Waterstone's think I'm a stalker. I'm forever perusing the shelves looking for something that calls to me.

Sometimes I just can't help but recommend a book to a stranger near me. If I'm in the Young Adult section and I see a mom and daughter trying to find something, I just can't help speaking up and letting them know about a great book I think they would like. Some of my recommendations have been: Wings by Aprilynne Pike, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Knife by RJ Anderson.

I can't help it. Is that too personal? Probably. I can't help it though. I want them to pick something GOOD! No one has yet to be offended, they tell me I should work there. I think they should tell the manager that.

So have you ever recommended a book to a stranger? What book was it? Has someone been lurking near one of your favorites and you're afraid they will skip by it, so you just HAVE to tell them about it??

I may be the only personal space invading non-employee....but I'm hoping I'm not.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Etsy: The Mod Market

My sister, Becca, has launched an Etsy shop: The Mod Market! I'm so excited!! She makes totally stylish accessories, and she is custom making me some book inspired necklaces! I'm going to be stylin' out with my favorite characters!

Becca is a stay at home mom of 3 of the cutest kids around, and Mom to our Jr Correspondent Lizzy! She made me the cutest apron EVA with cupcakes all over it for Christmas!

Here is some of what I am ordering:

Head on over to The Mod Market and let me know what you think!

Junior Correspondent Review: The Mad Scientist Club

Title: The Mad Scientist Club
Author: Bertrand R. Brinley Publisher: Purple House Press
Reading Level: 9-12 yrs old

Rating: 4/5 stars!


During the course of the books, the boys often use technology (such as ham radios) and science to pull off harebrained schemes. For example, in "The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake," they build a fake sea monster out of chicken wire mounted to a rowboat, and row it out on Strawberry Lake. When it gets too dangerous to take the boat out on the lake themselves because hunters are preparing to shoot it with an elephant gun, they rig a remote control system to operate it at a distance.

My mommy read to me The Mad Scientist Club last summer. She told me that her daddy read it to her when she was a little girl. I love how the boys all work together, their in a club and I love clubs. I love how the author made it into short stories so you can read one a night. I really like how the boys always come up with smart ideas and they think together to make inventions. My mom says that the book is discontinued (whatever that means) so she said you can buy it online. Buy yours today!


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Author Interview: Michelle Harrison

I few weeks ago I picked up a book that just 'called' to me. I was drawn to its pretty cover and when I saw the word 'fairy' I knew this book was for me!! I loved The 13 Treasures and The 13 Curses so much I knew we had to interview her! She's also here in the UK! How lucky are we?! Let me introduce you to Michelle Harrison!

Michelle Harrison is 30 years old and an editorial assistant in children's publishing. She is a former bookseller at Ottakars/Waterstones in Stafford. Originally from Grays in Essex, she is a keen illustrator as well as writer and now lives in Oxfordshire with her partner. Her debut novel THE THIRTEEN TREASURES won the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize in 2009, it's sequel THIRTEEN CURSES published in 2010.

SWEET BOOKSHELF: How did you come up with the idea for The 13 Treasures & The 13 Curses?

Michelle Harrison: I first became interested in fairies when I was introduced to the artwork of Brian Froud, Alan Lee and Arthur Rackham on my illustration course. Their work showed the dark side of fairies and made me think about them in a new light. My niece, Tanya, was the second inspiration. She was, and still is, a bookworm, so I decided to name my heroine after her. The idea of a girl being tormented by fairies that no one else can see stemmed from my sister being told that Tanya would grow up to be psychic when she was a baby. Those were the two starting points and the ideas grew from there. The 13 Curses came from Red being such a strong character in the first book – I knew I had to make the second story hers, and at the end of book one everything was already in place.

My favorite character is Red because of how savvy and adventurous she is. Who is your favorite character and why?

Red is probably my favorite character, too. As soon as I wrote her into the book I knew she had a lot of scope for development and she really added elements of excitement and danger to the story. I also feel that Red sort of saved the book for me as well. She was quite late to make it into the story as part of a major rewrite I did as a result of so many rejections when I was submitting to agents. When I wrote her in something clicked, and I knew it finally felt right. The next agent I submitted to (who I’d previously been too intimidated to approach) took me on.

You also did
the illustrations for the chapter headings. Did you do any more illustrations that didn't make it into the book?

I initially did six sample chapter illustrations. My agent encouraged me to finish the entire set so that all the illustrations were complete for submission to publishers. However, she also advised me to leave out any illustrations with human characters in order to let readers imagine them for themselves. At that point I’d drawn both Warwick and Morwenna, so those never made it into the finished book.

There is a lot of fairy lore in your novels, did you do any research on faeries?

Yes, I did quite a lot of research into fairy folklore and legend as I was writing. It led me to the legend of the thirteen treasures, which mainly appears in Arthurian legend but which I’ve adapted to suit my story. I also read up on changelings, the fairy courts, and the methods of protection people used to keep troublesome fairies away, some of which I’ve written into the book such as wearing the colour red.

Are you currently working on another novel and can you tell us anything about it?

Yes, I’m now working on a third in the ‘13’ series, in which we find out more about Red’s changeling-stealing past, and the people she was connected with. Red is about to find that putting her past behind her isn’t as easy as she’d hoped! It doesn’t have a confirmed title yet but I’ll post it on my website once it does.

You work a full time job in publishing, when do you find the time to write?

Since January I’ve been working three days a week in publishing, I was full-time prior to that. Last year, writing The 13 Curses with a full-time job plus promoting The 13 Treasures was really tough. I was working late into the night most nights to meet my deadline, and even taking my laptop into work to write on my lunch break. Thankfully I now write two days a week, plus at weekends, although sometimes those weekdays are used for other author work such as school visits and answering mail from readers.

What is the BEST part of being a published author?

The two things that are the best for me are fulfilling an ambition to be published after dreaming about being an author since I was young, and hearing from children who have never been keen on reading, but say they’ve changed their views after reading the books.

Are you doing any tours or signing soon?

I’ve recently done a promotional trip to the States, which was fantastic, and also toured schools in the UK in January on publication of The 13 Curses. I’ve got a few school events lined up throughout the year, and I’ll be at the Just So Festival in Staffordshire in August.

Is there anything you wanted to say to The Sweet Bookshelf readers?

Check out my website at, and also the dedicated 13 Treasures website from my US publishers:

Thanks for interviewing with us Michelle! We wish you all the best in your career and can't wait to read what's next!

Check out my reviews for The 13 Treasures and The 13 Curses!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Review: The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Title: The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Publisher: Harpercollins
Reading Level: 9-12 yrs old
Rating: 4

Twelve-year-old Addie admires her older sister Meryl, who aspires to rid the kingdom of Bamarre of gryphons, specters, and ogres. Addie, on the other hand, is fearful even of spiders and depends on Meryl for courage and protection. Waving her sword Bloodbiter, the older girl declaims in the garden from the heroic epic of Drualt to a thrilled audience of Addie, their governess, and the young sorcerer Rhys. But when Meryl falls ill with the dreaded Gray Death, Addie must gather her courage and set off alone on a quest to find the cure and save her beloved sister. Addie takes the seven-league boots and magic spyglass left to her by her mother and the enchanted tablecloth and cloak given to her by Rhys--along with a shy declaration of his love. She prevails in encounters with tricky specters (spiders too) and outwits a wickedly personable dragon in adventures touched with romance and a bittersweet ending.

I really love Gail Carson Levine. She writes the best fairy tales. For kids and adults alike! This proves to be one of my favorites! It's worth the read. I was surprised at how much I really did love this book! I love that it is a coming of age tale. Addie has to go on an adventure to save her sister. She learns about herself and she just might fall in love too...

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Newsstand {11}

  • Maggie Stiefvater released the UK cover for Linger! I love how it will match my cover of Shiver!
  • Sophie Kinsella is coming out with a new book! Mini Shopaholic! Mark your calender for Sept 2, 2010!
  • Want to read a book before its publication date? Check out the Borrow My ARC Tour here at The Sweet Bookshelf.
What news do YOU have for us??

Sunday, 11 April 2010

April Borrow My Arc Tour Book

If you haven't heard about the Borrow My ARC Tour, find out the rules and regulations here.

To sign up for a book just fill out the form below.
By filling out the form you agree to

- Read, review and mail the book with in two weeks of receiving it.
- Become a follower of The Sweet Bookshelf
- Email me when receiving, reviewing and mailing the book.
-You must live in the UK or Europe.

Ten years ago Kate Winters’ parents were taken by the High Council’s wardens to help with the country’s war effort.

Now the wardens are back...and prisoners, including Kate's uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane – the High Council’s most feared man – recognizes Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council’s experiments into the veil, and he’s convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace.

The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft – a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft.

Want to read it before its publication date of May 13, 2010??

Fill in the link below and I'll contact you if you get to borrow it!

All info is REQUIRED
Concerned about Privacy? Check out my Privacy Policy.

Borrow My ARC Tour-UK & Europe

  • To share my ARC's with UK and Europe ONLY bloggers.
  • To get maximum amount of reviews and buzz for an ARC before its publication date, all for the price of ONE ARC.

What is an ARC?

An advance copy, also known as an advance reading copy or ARC, is a copy of a book released by its publisher before the book has gone to press for a complete printing. ARCs generally do not have the final dust jacket, formatting or binding of the finished product; the text of an ARC may also differ from that of the published book if the book is edited after the ARC is produced. ARCs are normally distributed to reviewers, bookstores, magazines, and (in some cases) libraries between three and six months before the book is officially released.

The Rules:

How Does It Work?
  • I'll ship the book to the first person on the list
  • You read it, then review it on your blog. There is a 2 week limit on borrowing the book. You DO NOT need a book blog, just a blog where you can share the review with others.
  • Link the Borrow My ARC Tour to spread the word
  • You have 2 weeks with the book, to keep the book moving.
  • You then mail it to the next person on the list, I will send you the address.
  • You need to be a follower of The Sweet Bookshelf to participate.
  • The Borrow My ARC Tour is currently only taking place for those individuals located in the UK and Europe.
How Do I Sign Up?

  • When I have an ARC available I will post a link (Borrow My ARC Tour Books) for you to sign up. Just fill in the box provided. I will contact you if you get the chance to review the book.
  • By filling out the form you agree to:
-Read, Review, and mail the book within 2 weeks of the receive date.
-Become a follower of The Sweet Bookshelf
-Email me when you receive the ARC, review it, and ship it on.

Want to share your ARC's too?

I would LOVE for you to share your ARCs! Contact me and we'll set something up!

Books Currently Traveling:

Saturday, 10 April 2010


My dear high school friend Dana is giving away a Cook Book on her blog: Mama's Recipe Swap!

Head on over and enter! Good luck!!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Junior Correspondent Review: Martina the Beautiful Cockroach

Title: Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Reading Level: 4-8 yrs

Rating: 4/5 stars!


Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of café cubano.

Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn t know coffee beans about love and marriage. That s where her Cuban family comes in. While some of the Cucarachas offer her gifts to make her more attractive, only Abuela, her grandmother, gives her something really useful: un consejo increible, some shocking advice. You want me to do what? Martina gasps.

At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela s unorthodox suggestion, but when suitor after suitor fails The Coffee Test, she wonders if a little green cockroach can ever find true love. Soon, only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him café Cubano?

After reading this sweet and witty retelling of the Cuban folktale, you ll never look at a cockroach the same way again.

I love Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. My mommy got it from the library and we kept renewing it because the book was so good. I love how she does the voices for all the characters in the book. It’s a really funny book with great pictures. It’s a good book for any age. I love her name. It’s Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha. Finally, I love who Martina chooses to marry, but you’ll have to read the book to find out who.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Review: The 13 Curses

Title: The 13 Curses
Author: Michelle Harrison
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Reading Level: 9-12 yr old, Young Adult
Rating: 4/5
Other titles in the series: The 13 Treasures


The Thirteen Treasures have become the Thirteen Curses.
When fairies stole her brother, Red vowed to get him back. Now trapped in the fairy realm, she begs an audience with the fairy court where she strikes a bargain. Her brother will be returned - but only if she can find the thirteen charms of Tanya's bracelet that have been scattered in the human world. Returning to Elvesden Manor, Red is assisted by Tanya and Fabian and a desperate hunt begins. Soon they make a shocking discovery. The charms now have twisted qualities of the thirteen treasures they represent... and the longer they are missing the worse the consequences will be. Can Red, Tanya and Fabian find all the charms? And even if they do, will the fairies keep their promise?

GREAT book! I love the adventure these kids get into. Red is my favorite character in the series and I was so excited to find The 13 Curses is through her eyes. She is such a courageous, and inventive girl.

I'm a huge fan of all things fey and this series has an interesting twist on fairies. Author Michelle Harrison incorporated a lot of faerie lore into these stories. It is VERY cool!

I can't wait until the 3rd book!!

Monday, 5 April 2010

I Interviewed My FAVORITE Author: Nancy Turner

Oh My Goodness! I had the opportunity to interview my very favorite author of all time, Nancy Turner!! *SQUEEL!!* She is SO nice! I knew she would be! I just knew it!

Many of you know her as author of These is My Words. The most amazing book I have ever read in my life. I've never been connected to characters like this!

Check out the series:
These is My Words
Sarah's Quilt
The Star Garden

I hope you check them out. You won't be sorry. There is even a MINI Giveaway at the end of this post!!

Let me introduce you to my favorite author, Nancy Turner!


Welcome Nancy! Thank you so much for joining us on The Sweet Bookshelf! Let's get this sweet party started.

Sweet Bookshelf: For those who don't know, How did you come up with the idea for These is My Words?

Nancy Turner: Sarah Agnes Prine was my great grandmother. Everything I knew about her when I began writing the short story that turned into These Is My Words could have filled less than a single page. All my life I heard stories about her but the facts were few. So, as a freshman (forty years old) at a Junior College, when I got an assignment to write a short story about someone I wanted to get to know, she was the first person I thought of. The earliest record we have of her she would have been 16. How better to get to know a teenager than to read her diary? The only connection I had to her real life was a memoir written by her brother, several years her senior, that detailed a wagon train trip from the Four Corners area (Cottonwood springs isn't near Cottonwood, AZ but up near Monument Valley) down through central AZ to Benson and east to Texas. I used the information about the trip from Henry Prine's memoir but told the story through the eyes of a 16 year old Sarah. In reality she had nine children who lived to adulthood, and probably two more that didn't. She never went to school but longed to, that much is true; never did anything notable other than work "like two men" according to her children until she died in her nineties. She quit ranching in her mid seventies because she could no longer hit what she was aiming at with a lasso. (I'm amazed that she was on a horse throwing one!) There wasn't a diary - people have often asked where I found it. And I don't know if Sarah did all those things because mostly her life consisted of diapers and babies for about twenty years, but my grandmother read These Is My Words and said it did seem much like her mother, combined a little with her grandmother, Sarah's mother, whose name was Roxie Stockman and was in Sarah's words "a toot."

Tell us about your road to publication.

I was a student at Pima Community College, trying to become a high school English teacher. After the short story class, I signed up for the following semester taught by the same teacher but instead of being about short stories it was about novel-writing, from conception to publishing. Without anyone knowing, my little short story had grown to over 500 pages, so following the teacher's lecture on agent hunting, I started sending out letters to agents in New York. A year and forty letters later, the phone rang and a man said he'd like to read the rest of my story. I sent it to him and he said he wanted to represent my novel. I have worked with the same agent ever since. That was 1994, and I was still at Pima. I was after all a full time wife and mom, working part time, and going to school besides writing novels, so I didn't feel the need to fast pace through college. In fact I'd still be there taking classes if they'd let me major in everything! It took the agent a year and a half to sell the book.. One publisher at a time, he sent it out to all the big companies in New York. At the point of giving up, he called me in the wee hours of a Sunday morning to say he'd met a new editor at HarperCollins at the party he was attending, and she wanted to see the book.

Four days later she made an offer on it, contingent on my willingness to rewrite the entire thing as a third-person narrative in traditional style rather than the diary style.
Luckily, she listened to me when I talked to her about the reasons for the diary and listed several popular books with the same tight first-person Point of View. She did, however, ask me to write in many paragraphs of explanation throughout the book, and halfway through the process she got a job in another company. They assigned my novel to a newcomer who was a very young man. I worried about what it would be like to work with him but all he said was that there was too much explanation in the book and would I tighten it up. So I sent the original version to him and we worked from that, still cutting a few things but I believe it's about 98 percent intact and still the novel I wrote. I do credit him with making it slicker and easier to read than the original, which had much MORE of the rustic language.

Although a work of fiction, are there any events that actually happened in Sarah's life?
Everything that happened in the first 25 or so pages really happened to the family (except the rape of Ulyssa). They did encounter dangerous travelers but no one would have written of such a thing, even the girl it had happened to - people just didn't talk about sex in any way back then. I don't know that it really went that way at all, but the Lawrence girls were real people and Henry's memoir (from which I created the character of Albert, the older brother) said that he fell in love with a girl from "the other" wagon and married her when they got to San Angelo.
As far as the rest of the novel, many things that the characters do are created to depict internal conflict, character depth, and story line, but to also discover the lady who was my great grandmother and illustrate the oral history I'd heard all my childhood about her. The only thing I know about her real husband was that he died 40 or more years before she did. Other than that, his name was Jasper. But, I like a novel with some romance in it, even if it is not a boiler-plate romance novel, so I had Sarah remarry after Jimmy. I created Jack Elliot as the perfect soul mate for her because she was such an independent, strong woman, and would have been either emotionally strangled by a domineering man or bored stiff by a dull one.

Did Sarah fight Indians? Yes, and her mother Roxie carried a loaded rifle everywhere. She and Sarah blended together for the sake of the story. Sarah cooked, rode horses, ranched, gardened, and quilted. She raised cotton and hay, too. Her children said she worked like two men all her life.

The rest of it came from months of research into Arizona history to create as realistic a setting as I could. All the Indian confrontations really happened on those dates, with those Indians and the correct Cavalry units. All the medical information came from the Az Historical Society and even though it was unusual there were actually two hospitals in Tucson during those years, St. Mary's and St. Joseph's hospitals were begun by nuns with great medical skill who came from Louisiana. You can be sure that old Tucson would have been pretty much as it seems, the fort (Camp Lowell) still has ruins that can be explored, and Mr. Fish ran the general mercantile and married the school teacher, Miss Wakefield. I learned about corsets and button-up shoes, Army carbines and horse tack, windmills and gas lamps, plus all the history behind the story. The national and state politics, the coming railroad, the stark weather, all those had tremendous influence on the story, although hopefully it doesn't stick out like a weather report or news flash.

Anyone who has read These is My Words is in love with Capt. Jack Elliott. Can you tell us, is he based on anyone?

Well, yes. I didn't realize as I was writing it how much of my life and my husband's lives are in the novel. John has always been a rescuer. After he got out of the Army and home from Vietnam --I know full well what it's like to wait, unknowing, for word that he's still alive -- he became a police office with the City of Phoenix and then two years later joined the Arizona Highway Patrol. He has pulled people out of overturned, burning cars, given CPR to drowned children, and been hit by sliding vehicles on icy roads while trying to help stranded motorists. He once chased armed kidnappers down the Phoenix freeway at 140 MPH on a motorcycle. He's destroyed both knees, crashed and crushed internal organs, and broke his back, all in the line of duty, and still worked for 33 years trying to help people in the toughest of times. I know he was always the kind of officer who was out there to save people and get drunks off the roads.
The good thing about writing a fictional hero, though, is that in a novel there is less snoring.

Have you ever thought of writing Jack's diary? I know I'm not the only one who would LOVE to read that!

You know I have but only briefly. It would be a real stretch for me to write from "indside the head" of a man. I think I write male characters fairly convincingly, but a whole diary from his eyes? Just not sure I could pull it off. Then again, I like the mystery of him, but I'd never rule out a story idea if I get inspired..

Are you working on anything new? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I'm trying something radically different. I felt really chained to a sort of "type" of book, and the editors want you to just do it again and again, whether you are inspired or not. I simply couldn't go on with Sarah at the time, and some other family issues made it hard to concentrate. So, one day I was fiddling around, wasting time on the internet, and I came across a webpage with guidelines for "how to write a mystery novel in twelve chapters." It had formulas for everything that had to happen, including --I kid you not -- notes like "You might want to have a SUB-PLOT." After I laughed myself out of the chair, I thought it would be a fun gimmick, so I set out to do it. I called my agent and told him about the 12 chapters and said it was a 12-step program for writer's block! Now my 12 chapters of course have grown to 490 pages and there are even multiple subplots and creepy villains, creepier victims, and creepiest murderers. It was fun. My agent is reading it this week and should let me know soon if it is really a novel, or was it just an exercise? Either way, at least I'm writing again after a long dry spell.

I would never say that I won't write more historical fiction, because I love it. And, I might return to the characters in Sarah's books, or take one of them and explore a novel with them in it. However, I believe my very best writing comes not from forcing something but from a real inner need to tell a certain story. I have to first love the character and be intrigued by the tale in order to care about it and write it.

What are your favorite books?
The Grass Harp by Truman Capote
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is the book that made me want to become a writer.
A Painted House by John Grisham
Katherine by Anya Seton
Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
On The Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Oh, Ye Jigs and Juleps by Virginia Cary Hudson
The Shape Shifter and many other mysteries by Tony Hillerman

What is something about yourself that most people would be surprised to know about you?
I once had a job baking pies for a restaurant in a little town in Northern Arizona. When I started they needed three pies a week. In two months I was baking 15 to 18 pies a day and people who were driving across the state called ahead ordering whole pies to go. Chocolate meringue, banana cream, coconut cream, apple, peach, blueberry, and pecan. After that they wanted even more, and I just couldn't keep up but the owner wouldn't let me make just 20 a day, he wanted to fill all the orders or nothing, so I said goodbye. That was the long and the short of my culinary career, though for years I dreamed of opening a bakery and breakfast place. I put a pecan pie recipe in the back of The Star Garden.

What is your favorite sweet/salty snack?

How much time do you have? I lean toward caramel, apple pie, cinnamon flavors. My fave would have to be a slice of hot-from-the-oven homemade cinnamon swirl bread that I make with a yeasty brioche dough rich with real butter. Always use twice as much cinnamon as it calls for...always. Left over it makes phenomenal French Toast for breakfast.

Is there anything you would like to say to The Sweet Bookshelf Readers?

I'm glad you're out there. Writers do worry if the book has become passe, and if we are a slowly dying breed of misfits who love to hold a heavy mound of paper with someone's heart bound in its pages, just to savor the art of putting words together. Truthfully, from everything I hear people read more than ever. I think books like the Harry Potter series jump started a whole new generation of young people who have discovered the treasures of books.

Thank you so much Nancy, this was such a pleasure! We wish you all the best in your career and can't wait to read what's next!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

New Blog Design!

Do you like it? I LOVE IT!!!!!

I spent a long time searching for the right designer and Emily, The Blog Fairy did not disappoint! She is worth the wait folks. She is SO good at what she does!

What do you think?!

Discussion: Do You Re-read?

I love re-reading my favorite books. I'm one of those who really gets good use out of them. I don't buy books to only read them once. I love getting lost in the story over and over. I'm just that kind of girl.

Yes, I know there are so many new books and un-read books out there for me to find. I'm working on those too. But I love re-living the magic of the book again. If it brought me pleasure once, then it will bring it to me again. It is a guarantee. So why not pick it up again?

While I've been on this little break, I thought this would be a GREAT time for me to re-read some of my favorite books. Here is what I've been reading:

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (after watching the film again and realizing how much of a thing I have for Colin Firth I needed to pick up the book again. Can you blame me?)

So, do you re-read?? Or are you a buy and put it on the shelf kind of person? What is your preference and why?

Friday, 2 April 2010

World Autism Awareness Day

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day

Let's talk about what autism is and how books can help.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.

Know the signs: Early Identification can Change Lives!
Autism is treatable. Children do not "outgrow" autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.
  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects
If you suspect a child or loved one with these symptoms, learn more here.

There is a lot you can do to Get Involved!

How can reading/books help Children with Autism?

There are also some books that are meant to help with socialization and language skills. Because many children have problems socializing, and often have communication problems (despite that fact that they might have an extensive vocabulary), these books can really help. There are books written and developed just for children with autism. These books for autistic children can help them understand their world a little better, and will also help them to understand others These books are also made for children who might have a sibling with autism, or if they have someone in their class with this condition. Understanding and knowledge go a long way towards helping these children adjust, and if siblings and classmates understand, they are less likely to pick on them and make them feel like they are different.

A list of books for parents of children with autism

A list of books for brothers/sisters of kids with autism

What are YOU doing to get involved today??

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Junior Correspondent Review: My Secret Unicorn

Title: My Secret Unicorn Series
Author: Linda Chapman
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Reading Level: 9-12 yrs
5 stars!

A special thank you to our Junior Correspondent, Lizzy, for reviewing this series!


‘But unicorns don’t really exist, do they?’

Have you ever longed for a pony? Lauren Foster has. And when her family moves to the country, her dream finally comes true. But when she reads a story about a perfectly ordinary pony who turns into a snow-white unicorn, she starts to look at her own pony, Twilight, and to wonder, maybe . . . Just maybe . . .?


When we first moved to Oregon mommy got me a big stack of books from the library. I looked through to see which ones I liked. I got to this unicorn one called, My Secret Unicorn and I thought I would give it a try. When I read through the first few chapters I ran out of my room and shouted, “This is the book for me!” After reading the first few books quickly I wanted to read the rest but they didn’t have the rest of the series in America . So, my aunt Mary sent me the rest from Scotland . As soon as I got the books I read them so fast. Maybe in a few weeks. I loved the unicorn books so much. Here’s what I loved about them: I loved that it was about unicorns, and I love unicorns. I love how the story changed from book to book. I love how the unicorn has friends and how Twilight helps his friends and is not conceited. My favorite part of book one was when Lauren gets the animal that she really wants, a horse. But the horse is even better than she thought! Read the book to find out what happens.

List of books in the My Secret Unicorn Series:

The Magic Spell

Dreams Come True

Flying High

Starlight Surprise

Stronger than Magic

A Special Friend

A Winter Wish

A Touch of Magic

Snowy Dreams

Twilight Magic

Friends Forever

Rising Star

Moonlight Journey

Keeper of Magic

Starry Skies

Check out author Linda Chapman's website for cool downloads, activity sheets, and more about Twilight and the gang!

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