Hey, y’all! 

It’s been forever (well, about four years) since I last blogged regularly, and so much has changed since then. As a result, my blog posts are changing, too. I’m not in the thick of Houston anymore, so I’ll no longer be blogging about Houston’s weekly author and writer events. Instead, I’ll be focusing on spreading the word about books I’ve recently enjoyed. While the main focus will still be on books for young readers, a few in adult genres might make it onto my blog. Also, most—not all—the books mentioned here will be from smaller publishers or independent authors because that’s what I mostly read these days. Also new and exciting, I’ll talk about some audio books that are in the public domain and have been recorded and made available for FREE by the wonderful folks at LibriVox.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to win a copy of MADDIE MCDOWEL AND THE RODEO ROBBERY by LuAnn M. Rod, the second book from the new middle grade book publisher Chicken Scratch Books. I had read and enjoyed their debut novel, SOPHIE MURPHY DOES NOT EXIST, and was impressed with the quality of the writing and editing, so I was delighted to get the email from Chicken Scratch books announcing I was the winner of their giveaway!

This historical fiction set in the WWI era is about a girl who runs away from her oppressive boarding school to join a rodeo but gets mistaken for the missing star of the show. But though she gets swept up in the mistaken identity, there is nothing passive about Maddie or her new rodeo friends, a brother and sister who do trick riding, rope tricks, and help Maddie figure out who’s been up to dirty tricks. Like the famous Pinkerton detectives, they look for clues to solve the mystery of the missing rodeo star and the $5000 dollars that was stolen from an orphans’ fund. With humor on every page, middle grade readers who were fans of Crystal Allen’s The Magnificent Mya Tibbs  series—older now and but looking for something just as fun—will enjoy Maddie’s story.

For each of their novels, Chicken Scratch Books has an extensive novel study program for teachers, librarians, and homeschoolers. Check out the one for Maddie here

Their next book, DREAD WATCH, is an upper middle grade supernatural thriller by Jared Agard. It won’t be out until September 1, but I have already pre-ordered it. I love supporting this new publishing company, where “our only agenda is good literature.”

I’m sure many of you already knew about LibriVox and I can’t believe you didn’t tell me! If you don’t know, I’ll clue you in on their awesomeness. So, just as Project Guttenberg has the goal of making every public domain book into a FREE ebook available to everyone, Librivox is dedicated to making audio recordings of these books and making the audio books FREE to everyone. They do this through an army of volunteers (I’m a new recruit). Some books are read by several readers, some by solo readers, and some, like this recording of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s ANNE OF AVONLEA, are dramatic readings with a full cast. So many of my childhood favorites have already been recorded, as well as many I’ve always intended to read but never got around to. I read ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, but I never read the sequels, including ANNE OF AVONLEA, which I am listening to now. My personal listening library is now overflowing with great, FREE, literature. Bliss!

Next week, I’m having a special giveaway to celebrate my return to blogging, and of course, to celebrate a great new middle grade book. Tune in next week for a chance to win!

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  1. Thank you, Mirka! I feel a little giddy about it!

  2. Vonna, what a wonderful way to kick off the return to blogging with Maddie and your own news of Librivox. I had no idea. We only really listen to audiobooks on road trips and we haven’t done much of it–just the one for Max’s graduation. FUN!

  3. It’s great to have you back, Vonna! Love your reviews, too! Aloha!

  4. Welcome back to blogging, Vonna.

  5. Vijaya, we listened to tons of audio books while our son was growing up; it was the only way I could rope my family into one of my all-time favorite books, Watership Down. Fortunately, they loved it. I’m looking forward to posting some of my readings here.

    Thank you, Margo and Barb!

  6. Anne Bingham says:

    Adding my “Welcome back,” Vonna!

  7. Thanks, Anne! I’ve still got a few kinks to work out with the new WordPress stuff. Everything has changed in just a few years! Hopefully, I’ll get it figured out soon.

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