Monthly Archives: May 2012

Best of Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

It’s time to wrap-up our May Book of the Month feature on Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin. Here’s a look at some of the highlight’s from this months features:

Poe-Inspired Writing Contest

Write a 250-500 word short story inspired by a short story or poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Submit your entry using the Novel Novice Poe-Inspired Writing Contest Entry Form. See complete rules & details here first!

All About Edgar Allan Poe

Since Masque of the Red Death is inspired on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, we featured plenty of posts about the famous author & poet:

More Educational Tie-Ins

Exclusive Q&A with Bethany Griffin

Book 2 Exclusives

We were able to share with you the exclusive title reveal and a sneak peek at book 2:

See everything from our May Book of the Month posts here!

Exclusive Title Reveal for Masque of the Red Death Sequel

All this month, we’ve been featuring Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin — the first in a two-book series. Today, we are THRILLED to be exclusively revealing the title for book 2, due out sometime next year.

The second book picks up right where Masque of the Red Death left off. Earlier this month, in our Q&A, Bethany had this to say about it:

The rich/poor dichotomy is still there, the inability to hide or buy your way out of sickness and death, and while it isn’t a theme, a huge Masked Ball will be a big part of book 2!

And now, finally, the title of book 2 is …

Dance of the Red Death

Isn’t it just perfect? Look for it sometime next year! Plus, check out an exclusive sneak peek at book 2 here!

For the comments: What do you think of the title? Tell us below!

Breadcrumbs Giveaway Winners!

We are happy to announce the winners of our Breadcrumbs giveway!

Congratulations to Bonnie Regan and Stephanie Parke!

Which fairy tale is most like your life and why?

Bonnie: I’ve always loved the Sleepy Beauty fairytale. I’m a softie at heart and have always loved how romantic it was… shh. Don’t tell anyone.”  

Stephanie: “Sleeping beauty. The reason I feel this is most like my life is because I “Slept” for years after my mothers death when I was in High School. I only ‘awakened’ and started being myself when I met my husband in college.”

Thanks for entering and happy reading!

Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley Int’l Contest

Today, we have a really fun contest (two, actually) for Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley — including an international prize! (Something you know is VERY rare here!) Thanks so much to Kimberly for providing the prizes for both contests.

The Contest:

Write your own cat-related slogan that could be used on a t-shirt for Cat Girl’s Day Off. Need ideas? Check out Kimberly’s shop here.

Besides the prizing below, she’ll design a cat silhouette to go with it!

Submit your slogan & the other required information on the Novel Novice Cat Girl Contest Entry Form for your chance to win!

The Prizes:

One (1) U.S. winner will receive a t-shirt from Kim’s shop

One (1) int’l winner will receive a copy of Cat Girl’s Day Off

The Rules:

  • Use the entry form
  • One entry per person
  • Open to U.S. AND International entries

The Deadline:

All entries are due by Friday, June 8th at midnight (PT)

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Study Guide for Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin

Yesterday, we introduced you to Handcuffs, a novel by Masque of the Red Death author Bethany Griffin. Today, we have an additional feature for you — Bethany’s study guide for Handcuffs!

Discussion Questions for Handcuffs

1. If one of your parents lost their job and did not immediately get another one, how would this impact your family and lifestyle?

2. How do you think modern technology, blogs, myspace, message boards, and email, have changed and revolutionized the art of gossip?

3. What challenges would a middle child face, particularly one with siblings like Preston and Paige?

4. What does Parker believe about her sister Paige’s life, popularity, and happiness, and how are her beliefs challenged by discoveries she makes within the book?

5. Why do you think Parker allows her ex-boyfriend to put the handcuffs on her?

6. Do you think Parker really is an ice princess? If so, what are the characteristics of an ice princess, and how did she become one?

7. Describe Parker’s friendship with Raye. Do you think Raye is a good friend? Explain.

8. Compare and Contrast this book with another book of YA contemporary fiction.

9. Describe Parker’s ex-boyfriend. Include Parker’s impressions and your impressions of him.

10. Is it better for him to lie, or not to say it at all? See the back of the book if you need clarification on this one.

Themes from Handcuffs

1. Obsession- obsession means being totally into someone (or something) so much that you lose sight of yourself. There are several characters who are obsessed in this book. Parker, Paige, Kyle, to name a few.

2. Choices- characters in Handcuffs make choices. Some of them are good and some are maybe not so good or smart. That’s where you get into…

3. Consequences- for every choice there is a consequence. But it isn’t always what you expect.

4. Self Image- or being comfortable with yourself. As a self proclaimed Ice Princess, Parker has decided some things about herself. We all define ourselves in some ways, and it can be hard to break out and change.

See more here.

New Young Adult Book Releases: May 29, 2012

Here’s a brief look at a couple of today’s big new YA releases:

Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Can true love be forgotten?

As the only Scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.

Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out—a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies’ cry for blood is growing louder.

As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen’s sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding as an unforgettable love triangle emerges and the eternal cycle of revenge intensifies. Eagerly awaited, this sequel to the internationally bestselling STARCROSSED delivers a gritty, action-packed love story that exceeds expectation.

For the comments: Any others coming out today you’re excited about? Tell us below!

Snow White & the Huntsman: Movie Countdown Contest

This week, we are thrilled to be hosting a contest in celebration of this Friday’s release of Snow White & the Huntsman, a feature film based on the classic story of Snow White. Not only is a really amazing movie about to hit theaters, but there’s also a novelization coming out, too — for all my fellow readers!

The Contest:

Fill out the Novel Novice SWATH Contest Entry Form, and tell us your favorite fairy tale for a chance to win.

The Prize:

One (1) winner will receive a Snow White & the Huntsman prize pack, courtesy of Universal Pictures, containing:

The Rules:

  • U.S. only
  • One entry per person
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline:

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, June 1st.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply.

Meanwhile, here’s more about Snow White & the Huntsman:

In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart (Twilight) plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen (Oscar® winner Charlize Theron) who is out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, Thor) who was dispatched to kill her. Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) joins the cast as the prince long enchanted by Snow White’s beauty and power.

The breathtaking new vision of the legendary tale is from Joe Roth, the producer of Alice in Wonderland, producer Sam Mercer (The Sixth Sense) and acclaimed commercial director and state-of-the-art visualist Rupert Sanders.

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Toby Jones

Exclusive Q&A with Cat Girl’s Day Off author Kimberly Pauley

After a brief hiatus, we’re continuing our features on Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley. Last week, we featured an interview with Rufus — the cat featured on the cover of the book, and one of the main feline characters in the novel. Today, we’re delighted to bring you an interview with Kimberly, herself!

You’ve gone from vampires to cats! What made you decide to write a book about the goings on inside the minds of cats?

I’ve always loved cats (much more than vampires, actually), though the idea actually started off as simply “teen with a super power they think is stupid discovers it isn’t so bad after all.” There were other possible Talents that I could have gone with that I’d come up with, but I just thought the cat thing would be a lot of fun!

Part of what I loved so much about Cat Girl’s Day Off was that it included such a wonderful homage to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” What is it about that movie that makes it so iconic, even today?

I think most of the movies John Hughes made are like that. They’re real and true. Even if cultural references get dated, there are things that are universal. Behind the manic madcap adventure that Ferris takes his friends on, there’s also the heart and soul of Cameron (his best guy friend) on display. We’ve all felt alienated. We’ve all wanted to be Ferris (or someone like him). We’ve all got some issues with authority figures…

You used to live in the Chicago area, where Cat Girl takes place. Did you ever visit any Ferris Bueller landmarks?

Absolutely! Just about all of them! I actually took the Wrigley Ball Park Tour for research purposes for the movie. It’s the setting that I used the most. I did try and actually get into the high school that was used in the movie too, but it didn’t work out (I offered to do a free author visit but I think that just freaked them out…maybe they thought I was a stalker or something). The restaurant that they went to in the movie doesn’t actually exist, so I didn’t do that and the security at the stock exchange has drastically gone up since September 11th so I didn’t visit there either (didn’t want to have to deal with the security issues in the book).

Are there any traumatic cat experiences in your past we should know about?

Not really any particularly traumatic ones. Normal cat scratches and things like that. A few scars. Mostly, cats and I get along. Though there was the time our cat knocked down the Christmas tree.

Cat Girl reads very much as a standalone novel, yet I see potential here! Any thoughts on another book with Nat and her cat friends? What’s next for you?

It is a standalone novel, though I’d love to write about Nat and her crazy friends (and cats) again. I even have a loose idea for a plot and a working title (Don’t Call Me Cat Girl). If you guys would like to see one…the best thing I can tell you is…buy the book! Tell your friends! Tell your local librarian! Tell your local bookseller! It could definitely happen. Heck, feel free to write my publisher, Tu Books, an imprint of Lee and Low and tell ‘em you’d like to see one. Seriously, all that stuff makes a difference.

As for what’s next…well, I have actually completed another novel that is currently out on submission with my agent. Not sure what’s going on with that yet, but I will say that it’s a much darker and more serious novel than my first three books. And I’m working on a new book that’s probably midway between the serious-ish-ness of the book on sub and Cat Girl. And I have about a million ideas rattling around in my head that I want to get to…


Private concert: who’s playing

Tom Waits! (I could probably pick about a million different people/bands, but he was the first to pop in my head, so I’m going with it)

Pizza toppings?

Sausage, mushroom, and extra cheese (if I’m doing American-style pizza…if we’re talking real Italian style, geez, it’s harder to say).

Book you can’t stop re-reading?

Wow. Um. When I was about 11, that book was Jane Eyre. When I was a 13, it was The Mists of Avalon. When I was 15, it was The Number of the Beast. And somewhere in there it was also The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the only series I ever wrote fan fiction for). It keeps changing. It’s really hard to answer now because I don’t really have the time to re-read things like I used to (you know, 4 year old, writing, promotion, housekeeping, etc. etc. etc.). The last book I re-read was The White Plague by Frank Herbert (the Dune guy) BUT I wouldn’t say that was a book I really love. So…um…how about this one battered collection of short stories I have from Robert A. Heinlein called The Menace from Earth? It’s a perennial favorite of mine and I read it at least once a year.

I’m guessing you weren’t looking for such a long answer there, huh?

Living or dead, who would you like to have dinner with?

Johnny Depp! Just kidding. Um…ALL of the Grandmasters of Science Fiction at one big table! Heinlein, Harry Harrison, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, etc. etc. I wouldn’t say a word, I’d just sit there and take it in. And I know it’d be crazy because I did get to have dinner once with Harry and he was a complete hoot just by himself.

Perfect vacation?

Any vacation where I get to walk and explore, especially an old city with cool markets. Hmm. I guess that makes living in London kind of like being on permanent vacation, huh?

Look at your desk right now. Name five things within reach.

Agh! I have no desk anymore! *sob* That was one of the things I gave up when we moved to London. We’re in a two bedroom flat now. So I usually wind up working at the dining room table. So…right now…

  1. A cup of tea (I made my own blend of English Breakfast tea with Rose tea).
  2. My laptop (doh!).
  3. My wedding ring. It was twisting around on my finger and driving me nuts, so I took it off so I could type better.
  4. The family iPad (because I took a time out to play DrawSomething…if you wanna play with me, I’m KimberlyPauley).
  5. A candle in a bowl I made, next to salt, also in a bowl I made (I took a pottery class about six or seven years ago wherein I made a bunch of pretty bowls, none of which remotely match each other).

Hey, you know what, I’ll give you a picture. Worth a thousand words, right?

Thanks so much, Kimberly, for stopping by!

Exclusive Q&A with BREADCRUMBS author, Anne Ursu

Today we are thrilled to host an exclusive Q&A with Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs, our May middle grade book of the month. Anne shares her journey through the writing of Breadcrumbs, offers some advice for aspiring writers, and even spills the beans on her favorite pizza toppings and books!

And don’t forget to check below for bonus reviews of Breadcrumbs from two of our young readers.


I love that Breadcrumbs is modern interpretation of a classic fairytale.  Many people believe that fairytales tell the story of the human heart – that they are the language our hearts speaks. What role have fairytales played in your life and what do you think is important about them? 

I grew up reading fairy tales. My dad had this great collection of books from when he was a kid, and I read the Grimm volume again and again. When you’re a kid, the world is a strange and unfathomable place and you’re trying to figure it out, all the time. And it gets so much bigger, every day. In much the same way that myths have helped cultures make sense of their world and give it order, fairy tales give kids a language and a system that makes it all much less unknowable.

How did you come-up with the idea for Breadcrumbs?

I was reading some different fairy tales one day, and happened upon “The Snow Queen.” That story is about a young girl and boy who are best friends in the world until the boy gets a shard of magic mirror in his eye. He’s suddenly mean to the girl, and then he disappears suddenly with the Snow Queen, and the girl decides to go rescue him. I was really struck by the story–it seemed to really be talking about friendship and growing up and how sometimes the process of growing up is the process of losing friends. Sometimes your friendships even end overnight. Except in this case, the girl decides to go get her friend back. I loved this idea, and I wanted to tell the story with real contemporary kids. I wanted to use the skeleton of the fairy tale to explore issues of friendship, change, and loss.

What character do you relate the most to in the book?

Oh, it would have to be Hazel. I think we spend so much time trying to get into the heads of our protagonists we can’t help but relating to them. I was not quite like her as a girl–though I read all the time. My last protagonist, Charlotte (in The Cronus Chronicles)–was completely different from Hazel (and from me as a girl)–very sassy, very disgruntled. But I related to her, too. I think we might not start out with our protagonists like us, but by the time we’ve finished we’ve spent so much time with them they’ve informed who we are.

What was your favorite scene/part to write?

There’s a page at the end where Hazel tries to bring Jack back out of the frozen state he’s in. Going in, I had no idea how she was going to save him. I knew she had to convince him–part of him had to want to be free, because part of him had chosen to be frozen–but I didn’t know how she could possibly do that. And the things she ends up telling him seemed to just come from her. I thought it was going to be incredibly hard to write, but it just sort of all came out, and writing it–it just felt right. That was my favorite part of writing the book. (That, and finishing the book, of course.)

You have written for both adults and children, what would you say is different about writing for a younger audience?

I think there’s more freedom in writing for young people. They don’t have the same expectations about what books should and shouldn’t do, so you have so much more room to play. You can really do a lot with form–with structure and narration and point of view. Children, too, don’t have the same attitude toward genre, so there’s so many more stories you can tell. Being able to write fantasy and fairy tales allows you to ask a lot of questions–and also, of course, have fun doing it.

What advice would you give to aspiring middle grade writers?

I think the real key to middle novels is in character. It can be easy to get lost in concepts, worlds, plot–but none of this is really going to resonate with a reader without a real emotional connection to the protagonist, and without a protagonist who has a real process of growth and change over the course of the book. I think the question for a middle grade author isn’t necessarily What story do I want to tell? but Whose story do I want to tell? And then you go from there.

Flash questions:

Private concert: who’s playing?

I might be too shy to have a private concert, but if pressed, I would love to watch Bono sing “One.” I would still be shy, but would probably get over it pretty quickly.

Pizza toppings?

Pineapple, mushroom, and onion. Oddly, no one will eat this with me

Book you can’t stop re-reading?

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Kills me, every time.

Living or dead, who would you like to have dinner with?

Definitely living.

Perfect vacation?

Warm weather, a pool, and a stack of books to read.

Look at your desk right now. Name five things within reach.

Mother’s Day flowers, a valentine my little boy made me, a lamp with a burned out bulb, a pile of mail that needs attention, and a bust of Poseidon carved out of floral foam.

Thanks for stopping by, Anne!

Bonus: Here is what some of our young staff of MG readers are saying about Breadcrumbs: 

“Over the last two weeks, I read the book Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. I think people who loved THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA will love this book too. Ursu also has a White Witch character in her book, although this White Witch does not have a spear that turns other characters into stone. I loved this book because it is a modern day fairy tale, and I love that genre. Anne Ursu did a fantastic job of bringing the fairy tale world and my world together.

If you want to know what happens, you will have to read this book! If I could change anything about BREADCRUMBS, I wouldn’t change anything. Anne Ursu did a great job at writing this book. Have fun reading!”

Drew,  Age 10

“Breadcrumbs was a really great book. I liked that some parts of the story connected when I didn’t expect them to. For example, Ben, someone she met in the forest that had his own problems, ended up being connected to Lucas and Nina, whom she met later and discovered they had secrets of their own. A few things were confusing, like a woodsman and his daughter’s red ballet slippers. I knew there was something magical about them, but I didn’t get what it had to do with the story. Still, I would recommend Breadcrumbs for anyone who likes fantasy and adventure. I couldn’t put it down.”

by Celeste, Age 10

Checking out Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin

Today, we want to feature another novel by Masque of the Red Death author Bethany Griffin: Handcuffs. Here’s what it’s all about:

Parker Prescott is an Ice Princess. Cold, aloof, a snob. At least, that’s what everyone says on Marion Hennessey’s blog. And everyone reads Marion Hennessey’s blog.

Parker Prescott is a middle child. She’s the good one, the dependable one, the one her parents trust. Well . . . she used to be.

Parker Prescott’s parents want her to break up with her boyfriend. But she already did, two weeks ago.

And then she realized it was a mistake. He came over. He had the handcuffs in his pocket. Everything went downhill from there. Sort of.

Parker Prescott’s world is changing and she no longer knows who she is. Does anyone?

Plus, read an excerpt here!

So if you’re a fan of Bethany’s work, be sure to check out Handcuffs as well as Masque of the Red Death!