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Saturday, July 23, 2016

An Audio Interview with Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, author of The Smell of Other People's Houses


Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, an author whose debut YA novel is now one of my favorite books of 2016 and, honestly, all-time.

The American Booksellers Association, in conjunction with Indies Introduce, coordinated an interview between myself and Bonnie-Sue, which I think gives a bit of a sneak peek into the magic of this novel. You can check out the short audio interview below! You can also check out my written interview with Bonnie-Sue here.

If you haven't already read this book, please, please do. It's one of those quiet YAs, a hidden gem, just waiting to be discovered.



About the Book
Goodreads 

In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled.

About the Author
Twitter / Website
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock was born and raised in Alaska. She worked many years fishing commercially with her family and as a reporter for Alaska Public Radio stations around the state. She was also the host and producer of “Independent Native News,” a daily newscast produced in Fairbanks, focusing on Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Canada’s First Nations. Her writing is inspired by her family’s four generations in Alaska.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Interview with Rebecca Maizel, author of A Season for Fireflies




 YA author Rebecca Maizel is at The Hiding Spot today! Check out her most recent release, A Season for Fireflies, which is on shelves now!

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In A Season for Fireflies, the main character’s memory is lost, leading to second chances after a tumultuous year. Can you share your inspiration for this premise?  
I think that mainly I was inspired by the idea of second chances. How many times have you made a decision that was a monumentally BAD idea? Sometimes those choices come from a place of pain and we can’t share why we do what we do. I was interested in exploring those kinds of decisions. There's that old adage – “you might not remember what someone said but you’ll always remember how they made you feel.” I think this is true for our deepest, youngest memories and traumas. What if your memory was erased? You could potentially still access the way you felt or the pain you experienced. Penny has to heal herself emotionally first – only then can the rest of her life fall into place. Also, I loved the imagery of a fireflies taking over a town.

Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?  
This book started out a LOT darker than the finished product. My amazing editor, Jocelyn Davies, at Harper helped me parse out the real story/through-line. Maybe one day I’ll write the darker version of this book, but I feel very much that this story expressed the emotional experiences I wanted to explore and what so many teens experience. I guess that’s my long winded answer. I start from the emotional place of the character. If your character doesn't have an emotional conflict that he/she has to work out then they don't have anywhere to go in a scene. You could put a character in any scene but if they don't have an emotional view on the world, even quite a flawed view, then the scene just won’t hold water.

I start non-linearly. My mentor, A.M. Jenkins is really the one who showed me the importance of this (if you don’t go out and read her books, Damage or Beating Heart right now, yer nuts!). Sometimes we think we HAVE to write in the order that the book is happening, but that’s limiting. If you have that scene inside you, the one that’s DYING to come out, but you say, “oh no, no, you wait while I write this OTHER scene that I HAVE to write, which I’m not that into right now” then you are delaying the emotional power that could charge that scene. Follow the character. Let the character dictate which scenes you write first.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity.  
People: Two people:

1. AM Jenkins - this woman changed me forever. She's a kick ass writer. Can I say ass?

2. My sister. She claims she’s a horrible writer but she’s actually one of the most sensitive, poetic writers I know. I keep trying to convince her to write a book with me. Maybe you can help me convince her to do so.

Places: Chatham, Cape Cod also Nauset Beach. With the exception of this newest book, A Season for Fireflies, every single book has been set on Cape Cod or in Chatham, MA. It remains an important place in my life.

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
I love your blog’s premise. Books can save lives. A book can literally transport you away from the things that hurt, the people who don't understand, and the places in real life where you cannot hide (whether that be figurative or literal). It’s really hard to pick one book.

As a kid: Sideway Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar, Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin (Claudia 4-ever!) 
As a teen: In the 90’s I didn't have the kind of access to books that young people do today. One of the most satisfying experiences is watching a young person walk through the YA section of a bookstore and have hundreds of books to choose from. I would say the book that had the biggest impact on me was Tim O Brien’s The Things They Carried, which I read in high school. It was the first time I read a book that taught me about the emotional toils of war.

Adult: Adult fiction: Anything Amy Hempel

YA: Looking For Alaska – John Green

MG: Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban (the best example of plotting ever)

What can readers look forward to next?  
Right now I just sent a synopsis (which I suck at writing) and a creative sample to my editor of my newest story. It’s untitled, but like Fireflies it deals with some supernatural elements. I really hope my editor loves this new idea as much as I do.
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About the Book
 
A story of second chances from the author of Between Us and the Moon, which Kirkus Reviews called “what first love is meant to be.”

A year ago, Penny Berne was the star of her high school’s theater department, surrounded by a group of misfit friends and falling in love for the first time. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, her new best friend is the most popular girl in school, and her first love, Wes, ignores her. Penny is revered and hated. Then, in a flash, a near-fatal lightning strike leaves Penny with no memory of the past year—or how she went from drama nerd to queen bee.

As a record number of fireflies light up her town and her life, Penny realizes she may be able to make things right again—and that even if she can’t change the past, she can learn to see the magic where she never could before.

This captivating new novel about first love, second chances, and the power of memory is perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Katie Cotugno’s How to Love.

About the Author 
Rebecca Maizel hails from Rhode Island, where she teaches high school literature at her alma mater the Wheeler School. She tries not to force her students to read her books, though. Rebecca is the author of several published novels for young adults, and recently achieved an MFA in Writing for Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She also enjoys Indian food, her dog Georgie, and running moderately long distances.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cover Reveals - Middle Grade (79)



The Adventures of Henry Whisters by Gigi Priebe
Goodreads

Henry Whiskers must face his fears and rescue his little sister from the scary Rat Alley in this fun, fast-paced debut chapter book set in Queen Mary’s historical dollhouse at Windsor Castle.

Twenty-five generations of Whiskers have lived in Windsor Castle’s most famous exhibit: Queen Mary’s Dollhouse. For young, book-loving Henry Whiskers and his family, this is the perfect place to call home.

But when the dollhouse undergoes unexpected repairs and Henry’s youngest sister, Isabel, goes missing, he risks everything in a whisker-whipping race against time to save her. His rescue mission will take him to the murky and scary world of Rat Alley, and Henry will have to dig deep and find the courage he never knew he had in order to bring his sister back home.

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold
Goodreads
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a stray baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

From acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold comes a story of first friendship starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum.

Dreaming the Bear by Mimi Thebo
Goodreads


"When I get up, there's nobody home. Even Mum has gone out. The note says, 'I have to check my emails. I'll snowmobile to the meltline and be back soon. XX Mummy'.

And I think, 'Good. I can feed my bear...'"

Darcy's life was never exactly simple, but it was about to become a lot more complicated.

Recovering from a distressing illness in her parents' cabin surrounded by looming pine trees, Darcy spends most of her days alone, warming herself by the log fire. That is, until she ventures into the woods hours before a heavy snowstorm, and finds herself face-to-face with a grizzly bear. Their encounter takes a surprising turn when it flourishes into a warm and caring companionship.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of the snowy Yellowstone National Park in Montana, Mimi Thebo's poetic tale inspires compassion and friendship, sensitively focusing on how the seemingly impossible can become the achievable.

The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley
Goodreads
WATCHER. SHADOW. FUGITIVE.

Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family's bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can't tell anyone who she really is. Elvin's living on Harlem's cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.

When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin's grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune-one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don't find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved
neighborhood will ever be the same . . .

In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home.

The Homework Strike by Greg Pincus
Goodreads
Now in seventh grade Gregory K. is frustrated by all the homework that leaves him no time for writing, which is what he loves to do--so he decides to go on a homework strike, and with his history teacher's encouragement he learns a valuable lesson in civics and standing up for what you believe in.

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
Goodreads

Obe Devlin has problems. His family's farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy abandoned him for the development kids. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn't like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the creek by his house, in the last wild patch left, picking up litter and looking for animal tracks.

One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog, or maybe a small boar. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags... No one has ever seen a creature like this before, because there's never been a creature like this before. The animal--Marvin Gardens--soon becomes Obe's best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.

In her most personal novel yet, Printz Honor Award winner Amy Sarig King tells the story of a friendship that could actually save the world.

The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals by Jordan Stratford
Goodreads


This winner ("School Library Journal") of a history-mystery-science series continues as the Wollstonecraft Detectives--Ada Byron Lovelace and Mary Shelley--take on a case from the celebrated dinosaur bone hunter, Mary Anning.

The Wollestonecraft Girls embark on their most important case yet--the famed dinosaur fossil hunter Mary Anning is being blackmailed. Her precious dog has been snatched and the kidnappers are demanding that Miss Anning authenticate some fake dinosaur bones up for auction at the British Museum in order to get him back. Ada and Mary have just three days to track down the fossil fakers, find the dog, and save the integrity of science!

The game is truly afoot in this quirky caper involving blood-sucking leeches, an asthmatic pug, smoke bombs, secret elevators, diabolical disguises, and wicked word-play.

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue
Goodreads

The Lotterys Plus One introduces Sumac Lottery, a girl with six siblings, two moms, two dads, and a tranquil cloud-painted room in the big Victorian house they all call Camelottery. When her racist, homophobic grandfather nearly burns his house down, he has to move in with the Lotterys, a volatile situation about which no one is happy, least of all Sumac, who has to give up her room. The Lotterys Plus One is a funny, sensitive exploration of family, the limits of tolerance, and the possibilities of love.

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
Goodreads

The story of 13-year-old Matthew, who suffers from severe OCD that renders him a virtual recluse. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window. When a boy staying next door goes missing, Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of the boy's disappearance.

The Wizard's Dog by Eric Kahn Gale



For fans of "The Hero s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom" comes an offbeat, comedic spin on the Excalibur legend told from the point of view of a talking dog who wants to be a magician!

Meet Nosewise. He’s spunky. He’s curious. And he’s a dog who can’t understand why his pack mates Merlin and Morgana spend all day practicing magic tricks. If it’s a trick they want, he’s the dog to ask! He can already Sit!, Stay!, and Roll Over!
But there’s no way Nosewise is Stay!ing when his master and best friend, Merlin, is kidnapped. There’s nothing Nosewise won’t do to get Merlin back, even if it means facing the strange Fae people and their magic-eating worms, or tangling with the mysterious Sword in the Stone. But it may take more than sniffing out a spell to do it!

The Impossible Clue by Sarah Rubin
Goodreads
Math whiz Alice Jones has already cracked a mystery or two. She's smart and she's fearless, so who else would her classmates turn to? But when a famous local scientist vanishes from a locked room, Alice and her detective skills graduate to the big leagues.

Dr. Learner had been working on a top-secret invisibility suit that everyone wants. Rumor has it he's disappeared under suspicious circumstances . . . literally. But is wacky science really behind his vanishing? Or is it something more sinister? Alice won't stop until she knows the truth . . .

The Impossible Clue is a middle-grade story whose appeal is no mystery, with a protagonist whose charm needs no magnifying glass to detect.
The Icaraus Show by Sally Christie
Goodreads
Alex has worked out a foolproof way to avoid being picked on. Don't React. It's so simple, it's brilliant! David does react and becomes an outcast, nicknamed Bogsy. He's branded a weirdo and Alex is determined to avoid the same fate. But one day, Alex gets a note in his bag that forces him out of his safe little world. Who sent the note? And is it true - will a boy really fly? A powerful story about friendship, loneliness and a strange kind of genius.

Otherwise Known as Possum by Maria D. Laso
The next breakout star in the grand tradition of southern literature! A debut that introduces the most charming, mischievous, unforgettable heroine since Scout Finch.

Possum Porter has had it with change. First she lost Mama, leaving a hole nothing can fill. And now, instead of trying to return to some kind of normal, Daddy's sending Possum to school. A real school, where you have to wear SHOES. Where some Yankee teacher will try to erase all the useful things Mama taught Possum during their lessons at home.

So Possum comes up with a plan. If she can prove that she already knows everything worth knowing, Daddy will let her quit school and stay where she belongs. She won't have to deal with snooty classmates, or worry about tarnishing Mama's memory.

But unfortunately, Possum doesn't shoot to the top of the class like she expected. Even worse, the unmarried Yankee teacher seems to have her eyes on someone . . . Possum's Daddy. With time running out, Possum decides to do something drastic to get away from school -- and get Daddy out of Ms. Arthington's clutches -- or risk losing everything that's keeping her broken heart glued together.

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw
Goodreads

Following the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is a new, very personal story to join Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan's fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.
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Do you have a favorite recent new cover? Or a favorite from this list? Let me know in the comments!