Obsidian Mask! 

About The Book:

An exciting desert adventure, where Natasha and her brother are kidnapped with two Italian teens, for a priceless Mesopotamian artifact unearthed by their archaeologist parents from an ancient Warrior-Queen’s tomb.

Natasha and Alex imagined their long awaited trip from London to visit their archaeologist mother’s excavation would be amazing. After all, the team was uncovering the tomb of an ancient Mesopotamian Warrior Queen and her fascinating, precious possessions. But almost immediately upon their arrival in Medinabad, they are ambushed at gunpoint en-route to the camp, and the shaken children doubt things could get any worse.
But they are wrong.
Reluctantly thrown together with two Italian teens visiting their father at the dig, the four embark on a thrilling desert adventure that will tie them together… in more ways than one.

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Infinity Publishing |IndieBound Goodreads

Up Close & Personal with Caroline Ludovici

Favorite Desserts:

I love cooked apple in any kind of dessert, like strudel, hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream is to die for, apple crumble and custard.

Movies I Would Watch Over & Over:

The Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia, (these I have)

Pieces of Advice to Teen Me:

Don’t worry about the spelling, one day there will be a machine that will do it for you! So write, study archaeology and do your thing!

Favorite Cities:

Bath is my favorite city. It is architecturally stunning, historically fascinating, interesting, surrounded by beautiful countryside simple seeped in 200 years of documented history. The people are diverse, intelligent, inquisitive, artistic, and there is so much to do. There is a great little theatre where new try out the audience before they hit London’s West End. Great museums, galleries, the Georgian Jane Austen aspect of it, medieval cathedral, parks, gardens, great shops, and tourists, which is always a good sign! The down side is the price of the houses… I would need to sell quite a few books!

Favorite TV Shows:

Downton Abbey, Who Do You Think You Are, Time Team, BlackAdder

Favorite Literary Characters:

Jane Eyre springs to mind first. She is strong, patient, intuitive, loyal, proud, intelligent, bilingual, and artistic. She would be a good friend had I known her.

Things That Bring a Smile to My Face: 

Children playing, baby animals annoying their parents

Books I have in my Library

History, archaeology, explorers, biographies. Books on certain countries, books fro researching my next book, books on Victorian artists to the origins of man.

Follow The Tour:
August 10thLady Reader’s Bookstuff – Launch post w/teasers
August 11th Pixie Vixen Book Reviews   Q&A 
August 12th Reads All The Books – Review
August 13th Anything But Vanilla Book Blog – Author Interview
August 14th An Unconventional Librarian – Review
August 14th Heather Ann’s Book Reviews – Review
August 17th Cabin Goddess – Review & Recipe
August 17th Chosen One – Review
August 18th Anything But Vanilla Book Blog – Promo / Guest Post
August 18th Books and Bling – Author Interview
August 19th BAPS Book Blog – Review
August 20th My Reading Reality – Author Interview
August 21st The Power of Three Readers – Review / Promo
August 21st Triple
– Review / Guest Post 
The Book Trailer:
About The Author:

Caroline was born and raised in central London, and from a very early age, she developed a hunger for adventure and hot, desolate places. She loves to learn about different customs, peoples, and to go off the beaten track wherever she can. She has been lucky enough to have traveled extensively throughout the world, spending considerable time in many countries of diverse and interesting cultures, soaking in the history. Caroline has also lived in Sweden and spent a year in New Zealand and Australia, taking six months to get there and back.

However, her dream is to spend a few months following the ancient trade routes, from China across to the Mediterranean Sea. Caroline especially loves the Middle East, and as well as exploring Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran, where her parents lived for a couple of years when she was in her late teens and early twenties, she spent ten days in the Jordanian desert, following the footsteps of T.E. Lawrence. Her passion is archaeology, and wherever she goes in the world, as well as visiting ancient sites, Caroline absorbs herself in the local customs and history, avoiding the hordes of tourists where ever she can.

The Obsidian Mask is Caroline’s first book. The sequels, Secrets of The River, and The Irish Queen of Algiers, also reflect her love for travel and history, as well as giving her readers a fun and exciting adventure to enjoy. It has given her much pleasure writing these books, and she hopes you enjoy reading them as much as she has enjoyed writing them!

Caroline has also written some short stories for pre-teen readers, and a collection of short stories for women in a series called, Coming of Age. When she is not writing she is either playing tennis or volunteering her time running a store/art gallery that dedicates itself to local artists.

She is married and has two children, and she spends a lot of time on airplanes hopping back and forth from England to America, which is where she currently calls home.

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What Remains by Helene Dunbar

About the Book:

WHAT REMAINS by Helene Dunbar
Release Date: May 8, 2015
Publisher: Flux Books
Pages: 288

In less than a second…
… two of the things Cal Ryan cares most about–a promising baseball career and Lizzie, one of his best friends–are gone forever.

In the hours that follow…
…Cal’s damaged heart is replaced. But his life will never be the same.

Everyone expects him to pick up the pieces and move on.

But Lizzie is gone, and all that remains for Cal is an overwhelming sense that her death was his fault. And a voice in his head that just…won’t…stop.

Cal thought he and his friends could overcome any obstacle. But grief might be the one exception.

And that might take a lifetime to accept…

I asked my 8th grade students to check out the cover and read the synopsis above,

G-says, “I would totally read this book! Can I read it now? Wait, you asked me about this awesome book and you don’t have a copy?! (Walks away shaking her head. I’m in trouble now).

E-says, “Ummm, I probably wouldn’t read it because it sounds super sad. I don’t know if I can handle that right before summer break!”

A-says, “Ooohhhh, sounds like mystery and she’d like to know how it ends.

G-says it sounds GREAT & probably full of awesomeness.

C- says, “Oh, yes!

Purchase the Book:
Follow The Tour:
May 11thRamblings of a Perpetual New Girl – Review
May 11thRadical Reads Book Blog – Guest Post
May 12th ~ Reads All The Books – Review
May 13thJ & J Book Bangers – Guest Post
May 13th ~ The Reader and The Chef – Review 
May 13thHeather Ann’s Book Reviews – Review
May 14th ~ Bookish – Review
May 14th ~ Book Chic Club – Review
May 15th ~ Books and Bling – Review
May 15th ~ Lady Reader – Tiffany – Review 
About the Author:

Helene Dunbar usually writes features about fiddles and accordions for an Irish Music Magazine, but she’s also been known to write about court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She’s amazed that she has a day job that pays her to spend time on Facebook and Twitter, and that, on a good day, gives her time to let the voices in her head out into the world to tell a story.
If she had to put money on it, she’d bet that if music didn’t exist, she wouldn’t be able to write.

 She’s lived in two countries, six states, and is currently holed up in Nashville with her husband, daughter, two cats, and the world’s friendliest golden retriever.

Find The Author:

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100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Every Tuesday morning from 8:15-9:00 our whole school reads. Everyone. Teachers, too! It is beautiful. We can read whatever we want to read. We also get to talk about what we are reading. Really, it is beautiful. A whole middle school reading makes my book loving teacher heart so happy! My 8th grade monsters love to read, too! It’s all win, really! As soon as I got my hands on Andrew Smith’s latest, I knew what I’d be reading in class. I knew that 100 Sideways Miles was the perfect Tuesday book! Except I was wrong.

It wasn’t a good choice to read in class. Why? Because I couldn’t stop laughing. And the monsters shushed me. A lot. They were not amused. I tried again the next week and it wasn’t any better. I would point to my book and smile, but they were annoyed. I mean, I am the teacher, after all. When it was time to book-talk, I had to explain myself, but I didn’t want to give anything away. You try telling a room full of monsters that you were laughing because this kid named Finn who has seizures because a dead horse fell on him. Or that his mom died when the horse fell on her. And the cussing. Don’t even get me started on the cussing. My inner Jersey girl just dies laughing when I read about Cade’s Stop Trying to Make Us Stop revolution. Let’s just say there are a lot of perfectly placed f-bombs and it only gets better. Once Julia enters the story, it gets even more interesting. True love, a rough past, intense teen longing, and a road trip. 

Yeah, I’m used to getting ‘the look’ from them when I talk Andrew Smith & it’s pretty epic! Then I show them the picture of us and tell them he signed the book for them. It usually goes something like, “This book is completely messed up & so freaking awesome. I just can’t tell you anymore. Yes, I know it’s signed & you need to read it immediately!” Then I make some obnoxiously annoying gesture indicating my head has exploded. Works every time. I keep buying more copies of his books. They get passed around like contraband and it makes me insanely happy. Do they make “I Heart Andrew Smith” t-shirts? Because I need one.

Here is the epic picture of us from the Decatur Book Festival this year. I know I’m smiling like a crazy person. I was so fangirling!


So, yeah, this wasn’t a typical book review. I get that & I’m fine with it. Let’s call it an OMG Read All the Andrew Smith Books post, that happens to feature 100 Sideways Miles. Go read it right now!




Talk about BLING!
I’ve signed up to be an independent consultant for Jamberry Nails!
Why? Because I believe in the product (who doesn’t want super cute nails that are easy to apply & last for weeks!) and all of the profits go directly into our baby fund. We believe with all our hearts that Baby J will become a reality. Our hearts, our faith, our prayers, and our dreams are leading us towards adoption. We are excited, but we need to raise a large amount of money to make this dream a reality!

Jamberry came along at just the right time!


I’m excited to share these nail wraps with you! My friend Cayla applied these yesterday and she’s in love!

Aren’t they the cutest!!

Please check out my site:
Mandee J Nails

Jamberry nail wraps are always buy 3 get 1 free! Isn’t that awesome!

You can order directly from the site or host an online party and earn free wraps! If you decide you love Jamberry as much as I do, you can even sign up to be part of my team!


Almost Night by Emily White

Oh my LOVE! And not only because Almost Night rhymes with Emily White (I love rhymes!). There are dragons, unicorns, good, bad, evil, and a whole bunch of awesome! Fantasy meets up with reality for an epic battle in Almost Night and I can’t wait to read more from the Tales of Morcah!

ALMOST NIGHT by Emily White
Release Date: May 5, 2013
Paperback, 303 pages
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Fiction

Fourteen-year-old Lilly Grey exists in two worlds at the same time. She just doesn’t know it.

As the only albino in a million mile radius, Lilly is used to being different. Pink eyes and white hair aren’t exactly the best camouflage in the harrowing jungles formally known as high school. And yeah, she’s used to being an outcast and seeing the world in a slightly different way, but she never guessed how literally “different” applied to her.

Not until a clan of shape-shifting dragons tell her she’s not just albino. She’s a unicorn and the only mortal alive who can live on both Earth and its antithesis, Morcah. Now all those times she thought she saw a floating brown blotch in the sky or eyes peering out at her from the bark of trees make sense. She’s been seeing Morcah, a land that exists in the exact same spot as Earth, just in a different phase.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for this unicorn. As the only one who can live in both phases, she’s also the only one who can bring Morcah–and all its inhabitants–to Earth. And creatures who’ve been trapped on Earth since the Dark Ages are willing to do worse things than kill to make that happen.

May 5th Chelsea’s Reading Adventures – Review
May 5th A Diary of A Book Addict  – Review
May 6th The Happy Booker – Review
May 7th Books and Bling  – Review
May 8th Like A Bump on A Blog– Review
May 9th I Am A Reader – Interview/Guest Post
May 14th – Karin Baker – LRB Guest Post – Review
May 19th DanaSquare– Review
May 21st Painted Words– Review/Guest Post
May 22nd Bookish– Review
May 23rd Books Complete Me– Review/Playlist
May 26th Booksniffer Book Reviews– Review
May 26th wicked Readings by Tawania– Playlist/Spotlight
May 27th Live To Read– Review
May 27th The Cover Contessa– Interview/GP
May 29th Curling Up With A Good Book– Guest Post/Interview
May 29th Offbeat Vagabond– Review
Emily White is a nerd. 
She prefers her men fully clothed and donning bow-ties, her commas British, her books cheesy with big, overly-dramatic explosions, her characters awkward and endearingly real,* and watching her movies in authentic turn-of-the-century theaters. When not exposing her nerdy self to the world, she’s creating her own friends and putting them in horrible, yet sometimes humorous situations.
Check out her YA Space Opera series starting with Elemental (Spencer Hill Press, 2012), continuing with FAE (February 2014), and ending sometime in the near future with a book she has yet to write. She’s also authored a collection of Steampunk (zombie, werebot romance) flash fiction, if you’re into those kinds of things, titled “To Love or Die in a Steamy-Reamy World.”

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Should Have Been Day


Today is our Should Have Been Day.
The day that we should be celebrating.
The day we will never get to celebrate.

April 8, 2011 should have been the birthday of our first child.

We only made it 14 weeks. Only, only, only.

Those were the best 14 weeks of my life. The 14 weeks that I felt happiest. Most hopeful. Most proud. Most strong, capable, right. The only time I ever felt that way, that secret special way that only being pregnant can make you feel.

We were so filled with excitement and anticipation and love. We were parents and it was beautiful.

Then it stopped. Everything stopped.

No heartbeat. No heartbeat. No. Heartbeat.

The worst two words. October 1, 2010.

Then screams and tears and broken. Broken. Broken. Broken.

Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing. Not ever.

We made it through the dark times. We survived. But we are different. We are changed.

Years keep passing. Those two dates come and go every year. Friends build their lives and their families. Their children grow. Some feel loss and heartache, too, and we mourn with them. We pray and hope and get discouraged. I cry and rage and get caught in that evil loop of why and what if. Others get tired of my grief. I feel those get over its and not agains. I feel the distance and the endings and the breaking and it hurts almost as much as the loss. It is too much for me. Too much for us. I know it is too much for them. Our grief is big and dark and it hurts.

I dream about her. Sometimes she is a baby. Sometimes she is running and sassing. Throwing fits and laughing. She’s always beautiful. We are always hopelessly in love. I don’t ever want to wake up from those dreams.

We pray, we hope, we try to keep our faith pure and strong, that someday we will be a family of three.

Happy Should Have Been Day, Baby Hope. We love you.


photo by Earl

Creative Crush

photo (1)

I’m constantly inspired by so many amazing people online. From artists, to bloggers, to designers, and writers. There is just so much awesome creativity going on in the world!

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and trying to figure out the best way to share these things with you.

It finally came to me: Creative Crush is a way to share sites, work, and whatever else that makes me say oooooooohhhhhhhhh! I hope you enjoy!

Lately, I’ve had a major Creative Crush on Jenny and Aaron from Everyday is a Holiday! I found Jenny’s Instagram one day and have been in love ever since (and not just because they live on the Jersey Shore!) Their style is AMAZING! It is classic, yet somehow fresh and new at the same time! They have this way with pinks and aquas that totally makes me sigh. Pops of colors, fun cupcakes, bunnies, and adorable 50ish looking girls…just so much love!

I ordered a “workshop in a box” called Lovely Ladies, Layers, and Lines from them over the summer and had so much fun with it. They even put some adorable presents in the box. I learned so much and totally apply it to a lot of my art. Jenny and Aaron are just so classic and awesome! (See why I’m calling this a Creative Crush!)

When I heard they had a book coming out, I immediately put it on my wish list! I couldn’t wait to get my bling on it! I wasn’t disappointed! I devoured it and even bought a copy for my Mama for Christmas. She loved it, too!


This book is filled with tons of adorableness! I want to stay home in my jammies and create everything in this book at least a zillion times! Major Creative Crush here!

I love their super cute coupleness (is that word), too! They work together and enjoy it so. True love is pretty important in my life and I love to see other couples who have found their soul mates! It makes my Schmoopy loving heart gush!

I find myself falling in love with their style over and over again. Just this morning, I sketched this cutie girl after a few minutes on their blog. I think I’ll draw her in my art journal soon and give her the candy pink hair she deserves!

photo (2)

I hope you check out these to super adorable artists! I’m sure you will develop a Creative Crush of your own!

Check out the Everyday is a Holiday blog here

Check out the Everyday is a Holiday shop here

Don’t forget to check out their super awesome book, too!

That Shady Kind of Book Pass

  reality GrasshopperJungle June 27 13

This week I’ve been proudly watching the monsters pass around A.S. King’s Reality Boy and Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle. They get that kind of shady, far away look in their eyes as they hand it off. They start to whisper without meaning to, because they have the best secret in the whole freaking world,  right in their hands. They act they are doing something so wrong it just has to be right. It’s totally epic. I get it. It’s real. In my head they are passing secrets and truth and everything that really matters when they start that shady kind of book pass.

I remember passing books just like that. The ones that were so amazing they made you feel like you were punched in the face, but somehow in a good way. Books like this are raw. They hurt. You ache when you read these books and you want everyone to read them. You need to share these words with the world.

They really yelled at my teenage brain. The ones that  me feel a little less crazy or weird or unusual. Or, even better, that made me feel that my kind of crazy-weird-unusual wasn’t so messed up after all. These are the kinds of books that made me feel like if “they” knew we were reading books like these, they’d take them away or I’d be in big trouble. These books make us think about our demands, because good books really are about everything.

I’m so freaking proud to be a teacher every day! But, damn, on days like these, I want to scream and yell to anyone that will listen, “LOOK AT THESE AMAZING SASSY HUMANS! They are everything that is everything the world! BE AMAZED BY THEIR AWESOME!”

A bit much? Nope! My monsters are really are that epic.

Thank you, A.S. King. Thank you, Andrew Smith.

You are pretty freaking epic, too!

// ]]>

There are other things that get lost

“But when we miscarry, and little ‘evidence’ is available to support a life existed, the support disappears—leaving the mother grieving and treated as neurotic for mourning the very same ‘baby’ who’d been exuberantly cheered for all over Facebook just an hour before.”

This post from Still Standing punched me right in the heart!

I know loss isn’t fun, I get that. I’m not always happy. I don’t always feel things the way people who haven’t had their world crushed, multiple times, mind you, act. It isn’t happy. It isn’t polite dinner conversation. I’ve lost a dear friendship, too. Loss leads to loss, it seems. I don’t blame anyone, but it makes me so sad. It hurts in a different way, but almost as badly. It is, in fact, one of the worst things in the word. Being broken sucks. It is like being consumed by something so like the Nothing from The Neverending Story. Not being able to fill the kind of emptiness that just grows deeper and blacker all the time is the most urgently painful thing I’ve ever felt.

I know I’m not that fun all the time. I wish I was more fun, too.

Believe me. I want to be.

I want to BE happy.
I want to BE a Mama.
I want to BE able to make my husband a Daddy.
I want to BE the kind of friend that doesn’t cry when she finds out you are pregnant.
I want to BE in love with myself and not hate all the parts of me that don’t know their effing job.
I want to BE.

It’s one of the many other things that were lost along with those tiny heartbeats that don’t mean as much to you. The ones that leave me empty and broken.



Grasshopper Jungle…because #unstoppablecorn is history!


Author: Andrew Smith
Genre: Fiction | YA | LBGT
Release Date: 2/11/14
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.
To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He is stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann.
Ultimately, it is up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.




This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.

February 3rd – The Midnight Garden
February 3rd – The Story Siren
February 4th – Good Choice Reading
February 4th Bookish
February 5th – I Read Banned Books
February 5th – Jenna Does Books
February 6th – Bibliophilia, Please
February 7th – Scott Reads It
February 7th – Live to Read
February 10th Alice Marvels
February 10th The Society
February 11th Lexi Swoons
February 11th A Reader of Fictions
February 12th Roof Beam Reader
February 12th Forever Young Adult
February 13th The Compulsive Reader
February 13th Books and Bling
February 14th Book Chic Club
February 14th The QQQE
February 17th JeanBookNerd
February 17th Ticket to Anywhere
February 18th Sleep Eat Read Books
February 18th Read Now Sleep Later
February 19th Anna Reads
February 19th Word Spelunking
February 20th Books With Bite
February 20th What A Nerd Girl Says
February 21st Wastepaper Prose
February 21st LRB – Guest
February 24th We Are Word Nerds
February 24th Cabin Goddess
February 25th Ex Libris
February 25th Cari’s Book Blog
February 25th A Good Addiction
February 26th YA Reads
February 26th The Young Folks
February 27th Novel Thoughts
February 27th Fangirlish
February 28th Once Upon a Twilight
February 28th Naughty Book Kitties

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).


He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, coming February 11, 2014, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.

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