Tag: Middle Grade

GIVEAWAY, Author Interview and Review: The Wig In The Window by Kristen Kittscher

Posted June 21, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Contests, Interviews / 8 Comments

Title: The Wig In The Window

Author: Kristen Kittscher

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: June 2013

Genre: Middle Grade Mystery

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Grace and Sophie- two peas in a pod.
Best friends till the end.
And now, partners in crime!

One night during their sleuthing, things get real! And Sophie and Grace stumble upon a mystery that could put them both in danger. Something is off about Dr. Agford, the school counselor. And it’s up for Sophie and Grace to figure it out.
Can they solve the mystery before they lose the most important things of all- their friendship and possibly their lives?

So I should probably start off with the fact that I know the author. We’re friends. And now, after reading The Wig In The Window, I’m a fan. A huge fan.

Grace and Sophie come alive on the pages. Their mannerisms and easy going dialogue flow naturally and showcase the best and sometimes, worst parts of each other. I love Grace’s sharpness and fearlessness and Sophie’s vulnerability and self doubt. They are a perfect pair, balancing each other out in the best ways possible.

The mystery is a fun ride with a lot of twists and turns. Seriously, I was reading and thought a couple of times I knew what was going on, only to be surprised!
And while the mystery is intriguing, and moves along quickly, that’s not the real reason I love this book.

It’s the heart.
It’s Sophie’s heart, Grace’s heart. Their friendship and devotion to one another. All friendships are tested and Kittscher does a great job of writing authentic challenges that any friendship will encounter, and hopefully overcome.

Overall, a fun and exciting mystery filled with surprises, friendship and…wigs!

I’m excited to read the sequel!

Author Interview with Kristen Kittscher

What inspired you to become a writer?
I’d long wanted to write—really as long as I can remember—but I lacked the confidence and was too practical to dare. I thought writing was something only mythical, supremely talented beings could pursue, so I did things tangentially related to writing instead. I worked in Hollywood as a story editor, then as a 7th grade English teacher for several years. It was after I read a book a student loaned me, Kirsten Miller’s Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, that it occurred to me how much fun it would be to write something for the funny, precocious students I loved teaching. I admired her high-stakes and the way she avoided condescending to her readers; it inspired me to give writing a shot! It wasn’t until I took an online writing course and connected with other writers that I realized writing a book was something mere mortals with a little passion could accomplish, as well.

What was the last book you read?
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer. Everyone’s reading her latest for adults,The Interestings – but I felt like checking out this rare middle grade book. It so happens that, like Wig, it deals with some friendship angst, as well!

What sparked the idea of your book?
I stumbled across some (heavily autobiographical!) old snippets of a free-writing exercises in which an adult main character reminisces about her time as a childhood spy. It was fun stuff—and I wondered what it might sound like from a kid’s point of view. I scrawled a note then: “Nancy Drew meets Rear Window?” and further down on the page, another, “cozy mystery for kids.” As a longtime seventh grade English teacher, I’d always been impressed by how well kids’ root out adult hypocrisy—so I knew I wanted to create a potential villain that exemplified that falseness. Enter school counselor Dr. Charlotte Agford and her eau de Lysol perfume.

Sophie and Grace are best friends.
What are your favorite things about Sophie and Grace’s friendship?

What a good question! I especially enjoy their wit and wise-cracking when all is going well with their sleuthing—and the way they work as a team when the chips are really down.

Did you want to be a sleuth like Sophie and Grace when you were young?
I didn’t want to be a real spy; I’m far too cowardly for that. However, my childhood friend and I spent a good deal of time pretending our neighbors were dangerous criminals. Didn’t everybody? Our games were more about drawing posters and writing up fake “case files” than actual spying, however.

What came first: the friendship between Sophie and Grace or the mystery? And how did one impact the other as you were writing?
The two really came together as a package. The book started with Sophie’s voice – with this precocious, insecure 12-year-old telling the story of her spy-adventures-gone-terribly-wrong with a friend she idolized. Once I had that voice down, the plot could follow.

How do you like your potato?

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I have a fantasy of being a rare books dealer. Can I do both?

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Oh, I dabble in a little neighborhood crime-fighting. No big deal. Undercover stuff, really. Very hush hush. And when I’m not unmasking villains? I’m usually off hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains with my crazy dog. I can’t figure out whether it’s a terrible thing for a writer to have a dog that needs hours of exercise or a good one—it is certainly never a bad idea to be forced to get away from the computer, that’s for sure.

What are you working on now?
A sequel to WIG is slated: The Tiara on the Terrace. In it, Young & Yang go undercover Miss Congeniality-style in their town parade’s “Royal Court” to stop a murderer. It’s very loosely based on the Tournament of Roses here in Pasadena; it’s such a rich, fun setting, and I’m enjoying slipping in a bit more Pasadena flavor into “Luna Vista,” my sleuths’ fictional town.

Thanks so much for having me at The Windy Pages! I really appreciate the chance to shout from the rooftops about my debut! Hope people will enjoy “wigging out” over Young & Yang’s hijinks.

Thank you for stopping by Kristen!
I love the book and you can follow Kristen here on her website.
Buy the book here

And now, onto the Giveaway!
You can win your very own copy of Wig In The Window by Kristen Kittscher.
And it might even be signed!!

Please fill out the rafflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

Posted June 21, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Contests, Interviews / 8 Comments

Author Guest Post! – Chris Rylander

Posted February 15, 2013 by Kimberly in Interviews / 0 Comments

Author Guest Post!

Welcome Chris Rylander, author of the Fourth Stall trilogy, published by Walden Pond Press.
I’ve been a huge fan since book one. Hilarious, funny and clever, these books are not just for middle graders!

Chris is kind enough to interview Staples, the bully from the original The Fourth Stall book.  Staples is back in book three, with a very mysterious agenda.
Chris, thank you for being so brave and interviewing Staples for us!
CHRIS RYLANDER: Hi, thanks for having us on your blog. I’m Chris Rylander, author of The Fourth Stall triology. I’m here with Staples, the villain from The Fourth Stall, who makes his return in The Fourth Stall Part III. Today, I’m going to interview Staples, to find out what he’s been up to and also talk about his past a little bit. Are you ready, Staples?

STAPLES: Sure, whatever. You know this is weird, right?

CHRIS: Shhh… you’re ruining the interview already.

STAPLES: Whatever, let’s just get this over with.

CHRIS: Okay then. So, Staples, can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to since the events that took place in first The Fourth Stall?

STAPLES: Well, after that little punk, Mac, basically destroyed my business and pretty much my life, I went on a bit of bender doing stuff I shouldn’t have been doing.

CHRIS: Like what?

STAPLES: All kinds of normal troublemaking. You know, like, cutting people’s lawns unevenly without their permission, literally stealing candy from babies, pushing tourists into water fountains, sneezing on random people on the bus, feeding bacon to pigs, wearing a Chewbacca mask to the dentist…

CHRIS: Wait, wait, wait, you’re messing with me, aren’t you?

STAPLES: Wow, it took you that long to figure it out? I thought you were supposed to be smart or something…

CHRIS: Yeah, well, not all rumors you hear are true. Anyway, so what were you really up to?

STAPLES: Let’s try to keep this interview PG. So I’ll just say it was enough to land me back in the slammer for a short stint and we’ll leave it at that.

CHRIS: I’m sure people out there would love to hear more about your past. Any interesting stories you can share?

STAPLES: Something that sticks out to me the most is memories of taking my sister to the zoo. She used to love to go to the zoo when she was really little and since my dad was a complete deadbeat, I was the one who had to take her. She loved it so much, she could literally go every single day and never get tired of it. Her monkeys were always her favorite. But what I really remember is the wasps. There were always so many wasps. And they were drawn to me for some reason. So I would get stung close to a dozen times every single time we went. But you know what? It didn’t matter. Because my little sister always had so much fun that it was worth getting stung by swarms of wasps. In fact, I would give anything to be able to take her to the zoo again one more time, even if it meant I got stung fifty times.

CHRIS: Hey, anything’s possible.

STAPLES: Don’t patronize me.

CHRIS: I was just… never mind. Anyway, what about school, what was school like for you?

STAPLES: How do you think? I hated it. The teachers hated me and I hated them. I didn’t want to be there and everybody knew it. so they didn’t even try. It’s fine, it was better that way. Once I dropped out life was better for everyone, the teachers, the principals, and especially me. Look, I don’t really want to talk about it.

CHRIS: Okay, but what were your friends like in school? Did you ever have a pal like Vince?

STAPLES: Not really.

CHRIS: There must have been someone?

STAPLES: Well, okay, sure, there was this one kid I remember. Back when I was in grade school I had this one friend who used to think he was a dog. I mean, like, really a dog. He would bury stuff all over in his backyard, and liked to gnaw on ham bones. And he would run out of class randomly and then we’d all see him chasing a squirrel around the school’s front lawn. Sometimes he would drag his butt all across the school hallway, and he would scratch his own ears with his feet. Plus he was terrible at baseball, because after he hit the ball he would just chase after it and bark instead of running the bases. His name was Blue. Then later, by the fifth grade, we all realized he acted so much like a dog because he actually was a dog. A retriever-shepherd mix, I think. I still can’t believe we all thought he was a human kid for so long.

CHRIS: That is a pretty funny story. I mean, so funny it almost sounds made up.

STAPLES: Are you calling me a liar?

CHRIS: What? No, no, not all. I mean, of course not. A kid who thought he was a dog but was actually a dog posing as a kid? Totally, completely think that really happened. Why would I think otherwise?

STAPLES: Look, I gotta go…

CHRIS: Wait, just a few more questions.

STAPLES: Fine. But no more questions about school.

CHRIS: So what’s next from you? Are you reformed? Or are you going to be up to your old shenanigans?

STAPLES: You know I can’t tell you that. People will just have to read The Fourth Stall Part III to find out.

CHRIS: What a great teaser. Now even I want to rush out and buy, like, eighteen copies. And I’m the one who wrote it! Is it true that everyone who buys at least fourteen copies of The Fourth Stall Part III will get a free, real live unicorn in the mail?

STAPLES: What in the heck are you talking about?

CHRIS: Never mind. Anyway, thanks again for joining me. And, uh, sorry for having Mac and Vince thwart your tomfoolery in The Fourth Stall and all. It was nothing personal.

STAPLES: It’s okay, I’ll get my revenge on you. Probably sooner than you think.


Thanks for stopping by, Chris and Staples!
You can find Chris at his website here or follow him on twitter @chris_rylander

And in case you missed it, you can find my review and author interview with Chris for The Fourth Stall Part II here.
Thanks for reading!

Posted February 15, 2013 by Kimberly in Interviews / 0 Comments

Review: The Fourth Stall Part III by Chris Rylander

Posted February 13, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 2 Comments

Title: The Fourth Stall, Part III

Author: Chris Rylander

Publisher:Walden Pond Press

Publication Date: February 2013

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book III

Synopsis can be found here.
You can check out my author interview and review of Book Two in this series here.
I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.


Mac and Vince are trying to live a simple, uncomplicated life now that their business is closed. But you know what they say- you can’t ever really leave. Being pulled back into business, a new nemesis from another school, and Mac and Vince are in way over their heads. And it’s not just them who are in trouble. Their entire school has a target on it and the only way to save everyone is by banding together once and for all.

Filled with humor, crazy jokes and a lively cast of characters, The Fourth Stall Part III is a seriously fun ending. Mac and Vince are still stuck like glue- best friends till the end. And when their enemy Staples, from Book One, appears asking them for help, a strange camaraderie ensues, but is it real? Or does Staples have a hidden agenda?

The plot keeps you guessing again and again, leaving you running after Mac and Vince, rooting for them the whole time. Mac’s voice, his observations and narration, are my favorite part, but following closely behind is good ol’ Vince and his grandmother’s ramblings. Even the secondary characters, and acquaintances, have clever nicknames, odd personalities and funny quirks. (At the moment, the new kid Matches, is probably my favorite. Yes, his nickname is Matches. Guess what he likes to do.)

It’s such a great book and a fantastic series.
A sure hit with any middle grade reader, or, ehem, older reader like me.

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted February 13, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 2 Comments