Welcome! Please sit down, make yourself comfortable, and have a brownie or three...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Release Day~ Waiting for Augusta

It's Pub Day!

WAITING FOR AUGUSTA is officially in the world. This quirky book has been a part of my life for several years now.

It's part journey of a young boy to find out how to stand up for his own beliefs, part tribute to father-son relationships, part tribute to my golfer hubby, and part adventures in chicken-battling/train-hopping/truck-stealing/barbecue-eating/breaking-and-entering. All kinds of fun and tough stuff.

I hope you like it.

If you feel like entering to win a copy, I'll be at the following blogs over the next couple of weeks~ you can leave a comment on the posts to enter:

May 14: Leandra Wallace's blog

May 16: Literary Rambles (this post will include an interview with my agent and a query critique giveaway!)

TBD: Becky Wallace's blog

Best of luck if you enter any of the giveaways! Here's a summary of the book:

Eleven-year-old Benjamin Putter has a lump in his throat, and he’s certain it’s a golf ball. He knows it sounds crazy, but everything’s been topsy-turvy since his father died last month. And he doesn’t know how to fix it.

Then, one day, something starts tugging at Ben, telling him to hurry to Augusta, Georgia—home of the Sistine Chapel of golf courses.

Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea. (And just maybe it will make that lump go away.) As he makes his way to Augusta, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of surprises—and possibly magic—at every turn.

And here are a few review snippets:

Colorful, quirky, and full of heart, with an ending readers won’t forget.”
– Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor-winning author of Savvy, Scumble, and Switch

"A whimsical, heartwarming, multilayered story about finding grace enough to accept the flaws in those we love and courage enough to act from our most deeply held beliefs."
– Kirkus Reviews

"This moving and emotional coming-of-age story tackles themes of racism, friendship, and growing up. . . . An absorbing work of historical fiction."
– School Library Journal

Friday, April 22, 2016

STARS SO SWEET~ Review and ARC Giveaway!

Friends, I've got a delicious treat for you today. The third book in Tara Dairman's middle grade Gladys Gatsby series will be out this July, and I managed to get my hands on TWO advanced copies! I'll give one away this week and one in early June. Just leave a comment to enter and I'll choose a winner next Friday, April 29. UPDATE: The winner is.... Mrs. Kirchner! Congrats, Mrs. Kirchner, please email me a good mailing address at: jessicaselawson{at]gmail[dot]com

I cannot say enough about the delightful Gladys or her growth over the three books that started with the Crystal Kite Award winner All Four Stars and continued with the equally hilarious and yummy The Stars of Summer. I fell so in love with this young foodie and her adventures that I'm holding out for another book after this one.

Tara Dairman is extremely well-traveled (check out her 2 year, 74-country honeymoon HERE) and has sampled local cuisine all over the world~ who better to write the chronicles of a middle grade foodie than an author who loves food and knows first-hand the way it connects people. Her blog even features recipes from the first book.

I'm lucky enough to be able to claim her as a critique partner and cannot wait to get my hardcover of STARS SO SWEET. Tara recently shared some exciting news~ all three books will be available on Audiobook! Release dates for those are May 10 (All Four Stars), June 10 (The Stars of Summer), and July 19 (Stars so Sweet).

Once again, I'll do a seven-word highlight review of the things this book does incredibly well.

Highlights of STARS SO SWEET: Characters, Humor, Heart, Mouthwatering Food Descriptions, Friendships, School Setting, and.... Chapter Titles (seriously, these are so fantastic)!

Here's a summary of STARS SO SWEET:

As the summer winds down and Gladys Gatsby prepares to start middle school, she is nervous about juggling schoolwork and looming deadlines from her secret job as the New York Standard’s youngest restaurant critic. When her editor pushes for a face-to-face meeting to discuss more opportunities with the paper, Gladys knows she must finally come clean to her parents. But her perfectly planned reveal is put on hold when her parents arrive home with a surprise:  her Aunt Lydia, one of the only adults who knows her secret, fresh off the plane from Paris. Gladys and Aunt Lydia try one last ruse to fool her editor at the Standard, but even with her aunt’s help, Gladys just can’t manage the drama of middle school and a secret life. It’s time for Gladys to be true to herself and honest with her friends and family, regardless of what those around her think.

Before I end this post, I thought I'd give you an idea of how long I've been a fan of this series. Here's a picture of my youngest with ALL FOUR STARS at a a local bookstore...

And here she is proudly holding Book #3!

Best of luck in the giveaway!

Tara Dairman's Website
Tara Dairman on Twitter
Tara Dairman on Facebook
Tara Dairman on Instagram

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tricia Springstubb's EVERY SINGLE SECOND: Highlights-Style Review and Giveaway

Hi All!

I've been a fan of Tricia Springstubb's for quite some time, and recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of her upcoming book, EVERY SINGLE SECOND. All I can say is, wow...it's Impressive with a Capital I. Oh wait, that's not all I can say! I can say a whole ton, actually, but I'll try to keep it succinct.

So this is a new idea~  instead of a lengthy review (which I could definitely provide~ this novel has so much to applaud), I'm going to tell you seven things that I think are especially admirable in Tricia Springstubb's latest middle grade novel (and if you need more than one opinion, click on this STARRED review in Publishers Weekly)

HIGHLIGHTS OF EVERY SINGLE SECOND: Heart, Conflict, Tension, Relationships, Authenticity, Voice, Framing/Structure

There you go, folks! This one should definitely go on your MUST-READ lists! A summary of the story is below~ just LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED TO WIN MY ADVANCED COPY (winner picked on 4/20/16) UPDATE: Via Random.org, the winner is ... Joanne Fritz! Congratulations, Joanne, please email me your address or DM me on Twitter (handle @JS_Lawson) and I'll get that book shipped to you!


From acclaimed author Tricia Springstubb comes an incredibly powerful and timely novel about how a single act impacts a community, a city, and the way a young girl views the world around her.

A single second. That’s all it takes to turn a world upside down.

Twelve-year-old Nella Sabatini’s life is changing too soon, too fast. Her best friend, Clem, doesn’t seem concerned; she’s busy figuring out the best way to spend the “leap second”—an extra second about to be added to the world’s official clock. The only person who might understand how Nella feels is Angela, but the two of them have gone from being “secret sisters” to not talking at all.

Then Angela’s idolized big brother makes a terrible, fatal mistake, one that tears apart their tight-knit community and plunges his family into a whirlwind of harsh publicity and judgment. In the midst of this controversy, Nella is faced with a series of startling revelations about her parents, friends, and neighborhood. As Angela’s situation becomes dangerous, Nella must choose whether to stand by or stand up. Her heart tries to tell her what to do, but can you always trust your heart? The clock ticks down, and in that extra second, past and present merge—the future will be up to her.

Tricia Springstubb’s extraordinary novel is about the shifting bonds of friendship and the unconditional love of family, the impact of class and racial divides on a neighborhood and a city, and a girl awakening to awareness of a world bigger and more complex than she’d ever imagined.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Countdown to Becky Wallace's THE SKYLIGHTER & Giveaway!

Just one more week until Becky Wallace's THE SKYLIGHTER hits shelves!

Everyone, I adored THE STORYSPINNER and feel so lucky to have read an early version of this next book in The Keepers' Chronicles! But I haven't read the final version and I'm so stoked about getting the hardcover of THE SKYLIGHTER that I'm giving away a copy! And if you haven't read THE STORYSPINNER yet, I'll give you a copy of that one as well!

*Just leave a comment and consider yourself entered~ I'll announce a winner next Monday, March 21, the day before the book is released.*
UPDATE: Via Random.org, the winner is.... Sara! Congratulations, Sara! Please email me or get in touch via Twitter (handle: @JS_Lawson)

Here's what School Library Journal has to say about THE SKYLIGHTER:

"A compelling, unique world with Portuguese-inspired echoes of Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind (DAW, 2007), this series is a must for fans of fantasy."

Here's a summary:
Johanna and Rafi are in a race against time to save their country before a power-mad Keeper destroys everything they hold dear in the “enthralling magical world” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles) introduced in The Storyspinner.

As the last of the royal line, Johanna is the only person who can heal a magical breach in the wall that separates her kingdom of Santarem from the land of the Keepers, legendary men and women who wield elemental magic. The barrier protects Santarem from those Keepers who might try to take power over mere humans…Keepers who are determined to stop Johanna and seize the wall’s power for themselves.

And they’re not the only ones. As the duchys of Santarem descend into war over the throne, Johanna relies more than ever on the advice of her handsome companion, Lord Rafael DeSilva. But Rafi is a duke too, and his people come first. As their friendship progresses into the beginnings of a tender relationship, Johanna must wonder: is Rafi looking out for her happiness, or does he want the throne for himself?

With war on the horizon, Johanna and Rafi dodge treacherous dukes and Keeper assassins as they race to through the countryside, determined to strengthen the wall before it’s too late…even if it means sacrificing their happiness for the sake of their world.

THE SKYLIGHTER- Other places to read reviews/interviews and win free stuff!

*Again, if the giveaway winner hasn't read THE STORYSPINNER, I'll be shipping a copy of it as well! Here are a couple of reviews to get you salivating:

"This first installment of The Keepers’ Chronicles is as engaging as fantasy gets, full of magic and romance, intrigue and espionage, epic battles and heartbreaking loss. The quicker the second book comes out, the better. This is definitely recommended for public and high school libraries." (VOYA)

"In this beautifully constructed first installment of a new fantasy series, Wallace creates a lush environment, interweaving unique characters. Recommended for fans of classic fantasy (J.R.R. Tolkien) as well as more modern fantasy adventures by Melina Marchetta, Kristin Cashore, and Sarah J. Maas." (School Library Journal)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Midnight Without A Moon- Review and ARC Giveaway!

I was lucky enough to win Linda Williams Jackson's MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON from Caroline Starr Rose's blog (see the excellent interview HERE). In the spirit of sharing excellent literature, I'm going to pass the ARC along to one of you readers, in hopes that you'll read and review it as well. The book doesn't hit shelves until January 3, 2017, but this one deserves all the advanced buzz we can give it. Add it to your Goodreads "Want to Read" list if you have one!

UPDATE: Via Random.org, the winner of the ARC is Melissa Guerrette! Congratulations, Melissa~ please email me your preferred mailing address. You can also get in touch w/ me via Twitter. My handle is JS_Lawson.

My Review (5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads):

This is the powerful story of Rose Lee Carter and her journey to find strength and purpose in a Jim Crow South on the verge of changes, set against fourteen-year-old Emmett Till's murder and trial (among other tragic, bigoted crimes). Vividly drawn characters and scene-setting will put readers right there with Rose, bursting with anger and sadness about the injustices she witnesses and endures, and struggling to make a decision about whether to seek a destiny outside of Mississippi, or to stay and be part of an important movement.

This book has it all from the first page~ setting, voice, character, heart, senses. Linda Williams Jackson's debut is just what Sharon G. Flake said in the blurb on the back of the ARC I read: "... an unflinching bird's eye view of 1955 Mississippi. A magnificent piece of writing!"

Okay, folks! Just leave a comment to be entered to win my advanced copy of MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON! I'll choose a winner on Friday, March 11.

UPDATE: Via Random.org, the winner of the ARC is Melissa Guerrette! Congratulations, Melissa~ please email me your preferred mailing address. You can also get in touch w/ me via Twitter. My handle is JS_Lawson.

As always, happy reading!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016: First 3 Books Read and What's On My TBR List

So we're off to a new year of reading! So far, I've finished one adult book and two middle grades:

THE FAIR FIGHT kind of blew me away. I haven't read something that got me into the head of different characters in that particular way in quite awhile. I recommend it a whole bunch.

ORBITING JUPITER by Gary Schmidt just killed me in the best of ways. I knew it was going to be good after reading this BookPage interview/review, but I wasn't prepared for the raw power of the simple, pure, honest prose. I wasn't prepared for the ending, either. This is a book that I'm glad that I've read. One of those ones that you quietly think about every now and then long after finishing.


I adored RED by Liesl Shurtliff! Her world-building is so rich in the senses. There are scenes full of enchantment and danger, and characters full of humor, heart, desires, and flaws. I can't wait for the next one in this companion novel series (RUMP, JACK, RED). I have an inkling about whose story might be next, but I'll keep it to myself.

More books I'm dying to read this year (please let me know in the comments what's on your list!):

The Skylighter, Becky Wallace  *will be doing a givaway*
Stars so Sweet, Tara Dairman *will be doing an ARC giveaway of this title!*
Booked, Kwame Alexander
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, Janet Fox
Lily and Dunkin, Donna Gephart
The Wild Robot, Peter Brown
Counting Thyme, Melanie Conklin
Hour of the Bees, Lindsay Eager
Grayling's Song, Karen Cushman
A Clatter of Jars, Lisa Graff
Pilfer Academy, Lauren Magaziner
Some Kind of Happiness, Claire Legrand
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price, Jennifer Maschari
Forest of Wonders, Linda Sue Park
Paper Wishes, Lois Sepahban
The Key to Extraordinary, Natalie Lloyd
Pax, Sara Pennypacker
The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society, Janet Sumner Johnson
A Rambler Steals Home, Carter Higgins
The Luck Uglies 3: Rise of the Ragged Clover, Paul Durham

On a 2017 note, I'm already looking forward to Linda Jackson's MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON, which is MG historical fiction. It comes out on January 3, 2017. As I understand it, there will be a cover reveal and giveaway of that over at Caroline Starr Rose's blog soon!

Oh, and I should probably mention that my next book, Waiting for Augusta, will be out on May 10!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: Books Read & Loved

Hello! Hope you're all doing well as the year comes to a close.

Okay, here (in no particular order) are some of the books that I've read and enjoyed throughout 2015. Most of these were first-time reads, others were nostalgic re-reads (e.g., Karen Cushman, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sharon Creech). Feel free to chime in with your favorite books of the year!


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

A Nearer Moon, Melanie Crowder
The Stars of Summer, Tara Dairman (2nd in a series~ Gladys Gatsby is SUCH a lovable protagonist)
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, Kelly Jones
Wish Girl, Nikki Loftin
Switch, Ingrid Law (LOVED this whole series- Savvy and Scumble are the first 2)
Bridget Wilder, Spy in Training, Jonathan Bernstein
The Astounding Broccoli BoyFrank Cottrell Boyce (one of my fav authors!)
Fuzzy Mud, Louis Sachar
Stella by Starlight, Sharon Draper
The Hollow Boy: Lockwood & Co., Jonathan Stroud (LOVE this series)
The Blackthorn Key, Kevin Sands (great start to a new series)
Goodbye Stranger, Rebecca Stead
The Truth about Twinkie Pie, Kat Yeh
Secrets of Selkie Bay, Shelley Moore Thomas
Gracefully Grayson, Ami Polonsky


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Circus Mirandus, Cassie Beasley
The War that Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The Wolf Wilder, Katherine Rundell
Curiosity House, the Shrunken Head, Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester
Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
Love that Dog, Sharon Creech
The Unmapped Sea, Maryrose Wood
The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin
The Friendship Riddle, Megan Frazer Blakemore
Crenshaw, Katherine Applegate
Roller Girl, Victoria Jamieson
Rules for Stealing Stars, Corey Ann Haydu
Lost in the Sun, Lisa Graff
The Detective’s Assistant, Kate Hannigan
The Thickety: The Whispering Trees, J.A. White


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Gone Crazy in Alabama, Rita Williams-Garcia (another series I've LOVED)
PS Be ElevenRita Williams-Garcia
One Crazy SummerRita Williams-Garcia
Arcady’s Goal, Eugene Yelchin
Finding Ruby Starling, Karen Rivers
George, Alex Gino
Sunny Side Up, Jenni Holm
Milo Speck, Accidental Agent, Linda Urban
Moonpenny Island, Tricia Springstubb
Echo, Pam Munoz Ryan
Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans, Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder
A Plague of Boggles, Catherine Jinks
Jinx's Fire, Sage Blackwood (EXCELLENT series!)


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Stella By Starlight, Sharon Draper
Blue Birds, Caroline Starr Rose
The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza, Jack Gantos
Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, Emma Trevayne
Catherine, Called Birdy, Karen Cushman
Alchemy and Meggy Swann, Karen Cushman
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, Bette Bao Lord *Childhood Favorite
Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, Elizabeth Varadan *Wonderful voice!


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

The Storyspinner, Becky Wallace (LOVED this, sequel is out in March)
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby
See No Color, Shannon Gibney
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older
More Happy Than Not, Adam Silvera
Mark of the Thief, Jennifer Nielsen
Boxers/Saints, Gene Luen Yang (got these books signed at an event!)
Instructions for the End of the World, Jamie Kain
American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang
The Hired Girl, Laura Amy Schlitz (MG/YA cusp)
Audacity, Melanie Crowder
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton
I’ll Give you the Sun, Jandy Nelson
Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley
Jumped, Rita Williams-Garcia
Mortal Heart, Robin LaFevers


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh
Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin A. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
Bossypants, Tina Fey
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns), Mindy Khaling
Two Roads to Augusta, Ben Crenshaw, Carl Jackson, Melanie Hauser


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
Pretty Baby, Mary Kubica
Dodger, Terry Pratchett (YA, but I think it's great with any audience)
Chocolat, Joanne Harris
Shopaholic to the Stars, Sophie Kinsella
Queen of Babble series, Meg Cabot
The Martian, Andy Weir
The Fair Fight, Anna Freeman (still reading, but LOVING)

MISC. (not sure where these fit~ loved them!):

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Shaun Tan books- The Arrival, Lost and Found, The Lost Thing

Happy New Year! My next post will be about some 2016 books that I'm looking forward to.