A Spooky Summer Read

If you’re an upper middle grade reader with a need for mystery and magic, you’ll enjoy Josh Roberts new spooky story:


Click on the link above to read my interview with Josh for Spooky MG Authors latest blog. Josh’s story is a fresh take on the Salem witches, set in modern times. The characters are current, as are their issues dealing with middle school friendships and budding romantic relationships. Josh kept the story moving at a quick pace with the problems–and the mysteries–mounting. In fact, he’s at work right now on a sequel to the story–which means the troubles aren’t over yet.

Josh Roberts

To find more information on Josh Roberts, check out these links:

Website: https://www.willowcove.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49395271-the-witches-of-willow-cove

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshwhowrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joshwhowrites/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joshrobertsbooks/

The Artifact Hunters

Coming August 2020

A magical, page-turning, spooky escapade!

I had the opportunity to devour an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this Viking publication. The sequel to THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE combines historical fiction and adventure in a sure-to-please middle grade novel. Most of the original characters are back, along with a new lead character, Isaac–a Jewish boy from Prague. He’s trying to escape both the Nazis and the evil spirits chasing him. I love how the author, Janet Fox, combines elements of fantasy and history to create an intriguing, fast-paced plot for young readers. I certainly learned a few interesting facts and would gladly join the charmed crew for the next time-travel trip. And it does appear there might be more artifact hunter adventures ahead. I certainly hope so!

SCRITCH SCRATCH by Lindsay Currie

I was lucky to have an opportunity to read a preview copy from one of my Spooky MG author friends, Lindsay Currie. Her ghostly book, SCRITCH SCRATCH will release in September of this year. Truly, I found myself listening for strange sounds and shying away from dark closets while gobbling up this creepy read. My review is below.

Scritch Scratch

In SCRITCH SCRATCH (Sept. 2020 from Sourcebooks), Lindsay Currie has created a creepy, keep-the-lights-on, MG adventure with haunted seventh grader, Claire. She’s a scientific sort—not one prone to spectral encounters. So how can she explain the unexplainable events she’s suddenly encountering? She uses her scientific principles–along with some much-appreciated help–to reach a conclusion. The story explores family and friendship, in addition to a sprinkling of Chicago’s spooky history. I kept turning the pages to uncover the ghostly mystery, while keeping an ear open for any strange bumps in the night. I rooted for Claire to discover the secrets of true friends too. The story is both entertaining and uplifting, providing a thought-provoking and satisfying read. You’ll certainly want to add this book to your personal, school, or classroom library. 

Summer of a Thousand Pies

Today is the BOOK BIRTHDAY of Margaret Dilloway‘s wonderful new Middle Grade novel!

I had the awesome opportunity to read a review copy of this contemporary book, and I am very pleased to share my thoughts on this uplifting, fun, and truly sweet story.

Summer of a Thousand Pies

San Diego girl, Cady Bennett is only twelve but she’s already had more than her fair share of troubles. Her mom died when she was five. Her dad had a meltdown that’s lasted years, leaving the two of them homeless. Now as the story begins Cady finds herself alone, her dad in jail, and a stranger who says she’s a long lost aunt stepping in as foster guardian. Soon a bewildered and frightened Cady finds herself whisked away to a small California mountain town, living with two aunts, two dogs, a cat, and assorted chickens. Cady takes a chance and makes a friend. In fact, as she learns to trust, she makes a townful of friends, and she accepts the challenge to master pie making. But when her aunt’s pie shop faces hard times, she accepts an even greater challenge to garner the needed support to keep the pies coming. This truly heart-warming story of trials and determination highlights issues of at-risk youth, as well as the plight of illegal aliens—especially the young DREAMERS facing such an uncertain future. This book is a truly scrumptious treat for middle graders, filled with heart, humor, and characters who will earn a sweet spot in your heart. Don’t miss it!

Summer Update

I don’t know about you, but for me the summer is flying by! I can’t believe it’s half over. Hopefully you’ve been up to plenty of fun, whether it’s outside or inside. I’m trying to learn some new things this summer. One is outside–golf. The other is inside–piano. Both require a lot of practice, but I am seeing some improvement at both of them.

Are you trying some new adventures this summer?  Even reading a new type of book–like a mystery, or historical fiction, or SciFi, or nonfiction–can be a new adventure.

Yesterday, I visited my local library and found plenty of interesting titles to choose from there. Here are some of the middle grade books I’m going to dig into:

SAVE ME A SEAT by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan, about a new kid at school. I can relate to that, since this was my experience several times as a child.

ROSETOWN by Cynthia Rylant, about a young girl dealing with the death of her dog and her parents’ divorce. Big changes in our lives can be tough. I’m looking forward to meeting this character and seeing how she deals with her problems.

STINKBOMB AND KETCHUP-FACE AND THE BADNESS OF BADGERS by John Dougherty, a totally off-the-top fantasy which I will share with my grandson. I think he’s going to laugh-out-loud at this one.

And yes, I am writing as well this summer. I’m editing a middle grade novel as well as a nonfiction picture book. Plus, I’m writing a fun picture book that’s hopefully quite moo-velous!

One other summer adventure I had a few weeks ago was an evening at our local butterfly house with camera in hand. It was incredible to closely observe so many beautiful butterflies and try to capture them with my camera. I am only a beginner at photography but our instructor, a professional photographer, gave me some pointers. I’ll share a few of the photos here.

Keep me posted on your summer adventures and your summer reads!


Ready for Summer Reading?


by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

I just finished an Advanced Reader Copy of this amazing middle grade story by one of my Sweet 16 writer pals. I suggest you add it to your Summer Reading List. It’s great fun!

Below is my review.

THE FRAME-UP is a truly clever story, woven with art, magic and issues from contemporary life. The setting itself is a bit magical, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with its wide array of paintings—including a portrait of Mona Dunn, a thirteen-year-old from the early twentieth century. When twelve-year-old Sargent Singer arrives for a summer visit with his estranged father, he soon discovers the magic within the museum’s artwork and befriends Mona who has a life within the frame. As Sargent and Mona build their friendship, so too does Sargent learn to reach out to new contemporary friends he meets through the summer art program. He and his father make some progress toward repairing their rocky relationship but face complications when events put them at odds. Things also take a turn for the worse for Sargent and Mona when evil plans threaten to upend their friendship along with the museum’s artworks. The author has filled this story with great imagining, skillful plotting, and endearing characters. The mystery will keep readers turning the pages, and the ending will leave them feeling more than satisfied. Highly recommended for middle grade readers who love mystery, magic, and an artfully grand read! [Release date: June 5, 2018]

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine

Mystery, Suspense, and Brotherly Love Add Up to Intriguing Middle Grade Historical Fiction

I had the privilege to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this story by one of my favorite current historical fiction authors, Caroline Starr Rose. It’s the summer of 1897 when news of the Klondike gold rush finally reaches Washington state, where Jasper and his older brother Melvin live. Both are eager to escape a dysfunctional home. After their beloved mother died from influenza, their father has become a drunk. Lured by stories of instant wealth and grand adventure, Melvin sneaks away to seek his fortune, but Jasper soon catches up to him. The boys quickly encounter dangers along the way, losing all their money and supplies. Still they refuse to give up, even if it means teaming up with a less-than-desirable crew like the Therouxs to navigate the Klondike trek or scrubbing laundry to earn a little money. Outlaws like Frank Hazard also pose a major problem, especially for inquisitive Jasper. When Jasper finally uncovers the location of the elusive Riley’s Mine (whose legend claims that it holds wealth for whoever can find it), Hazard forces Jasper to show him the mine and nearly kills Jasper in the process. Rescue and revelations come with the story’s exciting climax. This is a historical adventure that is sure to keep middle grade readers entranced, as they try to solve the riddle and spur Jasper on. The story showcases strong young characters faced with numerous challenges. They discover the true meaning of “wealth.” The brothers maintain their ties and commitment to each other. They also demonstrate generosity toward others along the way. While the story has its sad elements, fortitude and resolve prevail in the brother’s quest to find their way in the world.

What a wonderful present this would make for a young reader! Coming February 2017–but you can pre-order now!

Don’t miss the chance to win some great prizes!

It’s Time to Pre-Order Jasper! Two Exciting Giveaways – Caroline Starr Rose




Frankenstein ALIVE

Who wouldn’t love a face like that?

Okay, so I’ve been hanging around with monsters for much too long–and I LOVE IT!

AUGUST 30 is Frankenstein Day!

So you still have time to put on your costume and monster mash the night away!


FRANKENSTEIN FRIGHTFACE GORDON from my upcoming MG fantasy novel FROM THE GRAVE (October 18, 2016) is not a typical Frankenstein–he’s blue, prefers a crisp white button-down shirt, and the quiet life.

Still he’s full of surprises, the best of friends, and can certainly pull his weight in a tough situation. BLUE is COOL!

Preorders are happening right now–and an amazing giveaway! Don’t miss your chance to win a MONSTER OR DIE T-shirt.


Follow the link and learn how to make a FRANKENSTEIN CAKE–perfect for today’s celebrations or anytime you want to Monster On!!!


And if you want to make your Frankenstein cake look like my character FRANK, just switch blue icing for the green. Remember, BLUE is COOL!

Lizzie and the Lost Baby

Middle Grade Historical Fiction

10-year-old Lizzie and her 7-year-old brother Peter are forced to evacuate wartime London, due to the threat of bombs. They and a multitude of other children ride a train out to the distant country, where waiting families take the children into their homes. Some of the families are more welcoming than others.

Lizzie and Peter find themselves boarding with Elsie, a depressed woman who has lost her infant and husband. They are supervised by unfriendly Madge (Elsie’s sister who lives next door) and Madge’s friendlier husband, policeman Fred. Although they miss their mother, their Nana, and their absent father—who is away at war–Lizzie and Peter begin to settle into the routine.

The plot thickens when Lizzie finds a baby abandoned in a field. In her quest to find the baby’s origin, she learns of a band of gypsies, camping nearby. Young Elijah, one of the gypsies and the baby’s brother, is intent on finding his lost sister whom he left under protest. Lizzie, torn between helping her hosts who’ve taken her in and returning the baby to its rightful family, must face numerous obstacles in an attempt to do what is right.

The author, Cheryl Blackford, does a splendid job creating a rich period setting. Young readers will be intrigued by the children’s wartime story, told in such lovely lyrical style. They will cheer on the two main characters and be pleased with the satisfying ending.