Dead Voices Blog Tour

One question to the author: Why spooky for middle grade readers? 

Kids really like scary books. Why? Who knows. I think it’s because scary stuff goes straight for the lizard brain, grabs it, and gives it a shake. People of all ages like having a shortcut to their most fundamental emotions. For a kid, a good scare is a safe way to get that. Emphasis on safe. Safe fear is fun. You get the thrill, you get your heart racing, your fight-or-flight instincts going. But when the story is over, you put it away, and snuggle up in the covers and all is well.

Why did decide to write kids’ horror? Well, I had an idea for a book (what eventually became Small Spaces), and I didn’t think it would work as an adult book. So I tried writing the story for kids, and it worked quite well. Writing middle grade horror was a fun exercise for me because of course, in middle grade horror, you don’t have as big of a “scary stuff toolkit” as you have when writing for adults. A middle grade author cannot employ some of adult horror’s stock in trade like gore, torture, explicit violence, etc. The scares have to be achieved solely through creating and sustaining an atmosphere of dread. That is a wonderful challenge for a writer and one I have really enjoyed.

Why middle grade horror more broadly? Well—why not? Always assuming the book is put in the right kid’s hands (and I am the first to say that not every kid is ready for scares and educators need to be cautious with sensitive kids) horror can be a lot of fun. And I am a big believer in books being fun. 

Dead Voices is the sequel to Small Spaces which was a huge hit in my classroom last year! I couldn't tell you how many of my 52 students read it, I know WAY more than half, but I CAN tell you they all LOVED it. It comes highly recommended to the incoming 5th graders that I have. The spooky story trend has definitely become a huge hit in my classroom over the last few years and I am so excited to share with them Dead Voices, because it did NOT disappoint. 

Dead Voices takes you on a journey with Coco, Ollie, and Brian as they go to the woods to a ski resort that Ollie's dad had won. As they are traveling to the resort they are managing their way slowly, but safely, through a horrific snow storm. During the drive to Mt. Hemlock Resort, Coco falls asleep and experiences a dream of which a young girl is telling her things that don't seem real. Not to listen to the voices. Determined to arrive, Ollie's dad makes it finally, but as he is pulling in Coco sees a young man standing in the entrance drive out in the snowy, cold weather. As Coco yells for Ollie's dad to stop, nobody else had seen this young man. This was just the start of the spookiness that follows them to the ski resort. 

As you read on, you start to learn that those who you think you can trust, can not be trusted, and that in the end friends who have been through the worst with you will do anything to protect you. During this story, it's Coco's turn to be the brave one, it's her turn to be the one to ensure everyone is safe. It's also her turn to fight for Ollie. I truly hope there is a next story and that it's Brian's turn and that all of the kids are returned back safely home....

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One
August 19 – The Midnight Society – Inspiration Collage
August 20 – Fangirl Fury – Review + Inspired by the Book: Baking Recipe
August 21 – Teachers Who Read – Reviews + Author Guest Post: Why spooky for middle grade readers?
August 22 – Bookishgals – Creative Instagram Picture
August 23 – Liezel and Angie’s Book Blog – Review

Week Two
August 26 – Word Spelunking – Inspired by the Book: Baking Project
August 27 – By Hook or By Book – Review
August 28 – Vicariously & Voraciously  
August 29 – The Book Deviant – Review

    Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

     Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie's watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

     With Mr. Voland's help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help--or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

     Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.

Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crepes to guiding horse trips. Currently, she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.



The Beginner's Guide to Winning an Election Blog Tour

Welcome to our blog! I'm excited to review The Beginner's Guide to Winning an Election by Michael R. French. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for a chance to win a copy!


Brit Kitridge’s plan was just to get her high school diploma and head to college and med school, but nobody can escape from fate, or is it history? The Beginner’s Guide To Winning an Election reveals our main character’s love for history, and after a summer reading books that fuel her passion for politics, Brit decides to join TM (Team Mathew), a fourteen-member group that has helped Mathew Boltanski win every election he’s ever entered. Now he’s going for the big one—student body president. By orchestrating brilliant campaigns one after the other, TM has made Matthew a national young star and promising politician who could even run for higher office in Washington. When Brit is accused of sabotaging the team, she realizes that Hawthorn High has its secrets, and someone needs to shed some light on them. The story is set in a world six years ahead of our time. Security is a constant issue. Politics isn’t black-and-white, it’s not even gray anymore. Inflation is out of control and the educational system is in crisis. But what happens when you find out what’s really going on? What do you do with secrets no one but you wants to hold up to the light?


This book takes place in the near-future-2025. The U.S. is entrenched in wars, cyber attacks, and economic crises. And in a small Indiana town, a girl named Britain is hoping to win the student body president election at her high school. But her opponent Matt, plays dirty. In this fast-paced plot, Brit struggles until a mysterious person begins helping her with her campaign strategy.  

This is a true underdog story. Matt is the stereotypical popular kid, with a wealth of resources at his disposal. Brit wants transparency and learns that it will come at a cost. I loved Brit's platonic relationship with her history teacher, and the focus on a strong public school system. At it's core, this book is about using your political voice by voting-something our teenage population needs to read about.  Be sure to add this to your classroom libraries for grades 7-12!

About Michael R. French

National best selling author Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid mountain trekker, likes to visit developing countries, and with his wife, Patricia, started a 501(c) 3, Dollars4Schools, to support public school teachers in Santa Fe.

He has published twenty four books, including fiction, young adult fiction, biographies, and art criticism. His novel, Abingdon’s, was a bestseller and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection. His young adult novel, Pursuit, was awarded the California Young Reader Medal.

Purchase Links


Enter Giveaway for an ARC

Upcoming Releases

I'm not typically one to pre-order books. Not since Harry Potter have I pre-ordered books this consistently, but I've had the chance to read a ton of phenomenal books this summer.  Some-like Count Me In-deserve a place in your read aloud list. Others are written by my students' favorite authors (looking at you Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander). 

Has anyone else already ordered any of these? ?

Summaries from Amazon


Author Interview: Lindsay Currie

Author Interview

Q: Tell us about your book, specifically the story behind the title?
Hello! Thanks for hosting me, Andrea! My upcoming release WHISPERS FROM THE DARK (Fall 2020)  follows the story of Claire Koster, a 7th grader in Chicago who adores science, but does not adore her father’s obsession with ghost stories. Thomas Koster is a historian and novelist with a budding ghost-tour bus profession on the side, which Claire wants nothing to do with. After all, scientists don’t believe in ghosts, right? Unfortunately, when her father’s regular driver becomes ill and there’s no one else to help out on the bus one evening, Claire is asked to ride along and assist the passengers.

*cue creepy happenings*

Unfortunately for Claire, surviving the tour bus is more complicated than pulling a baseball cap over her face and hoping no one from school recognizes her. The stories her father weaves at each location are darker. . . scarier than she anticipated.

When a mysterious boy shows up on the bus, then vanishes with nothing but a tattered piece of paper bearing the number 396 found lying on his empty seat, it sets off a chain of bone-chilling events in her house. Maybe Claire brought back more than chilled fingers and numb toes from the tour that night.

Maybe she brought back a ghost.
Q; What is your inspiration behind The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street storyline?

Ahhh, PECULIAR INCIDENT is inspired by a specific ghost legend - a legend buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago! If you’re not familiar with Graceland, it’s over one-hundred acres in the middle of the city (about five minutes from Wrigley Field) and filled to the brim with history. While on a walk through the cemetery several years ago, I spotted an absolutely mesmerizing grave. While I don’t want to give anything away (authors hate spoilers!), I will say this: the grave is unusual, creepy, and most importantly - mysterious. The second I got home, I started researching and uncovered an equally mysterious legend! Voila! Tessa Woodward’s story ignited in my mind and the journey to writing PECULIAR INCIDENT began!

Q; What are some challenges unique to writing mystery fiction?
A; Great question! I love reading and writing mysteries, but there are some specific challenges associated with this genre. For one, I truly feel that setting is a critical element to my books. I want my readers to feel as though they are standing in that spooky house, or darkened graveyard. I want them to be in the moment, and I can’t do that unless I’ve set a properly eerie tone! Pacing is also important. Without good pacing, you’ll lose your reader before they even begin unraveling the mystery. Finally, knowing how many hints/clues to drop is important. Sometimes it’s a trial and error thing for me where I write a few scenes and then run them by my critique partners before moving on. I want my readers to be able to sort through the clues and get close to solving the mystery (with the help of some external research, too!), but I don’t want to give it away.

Q; What makes this book a perfect fit for middle grade classrooms?
A: I think both WHISPERS and PECULIAR INCIDENT are great fits for middle-grade classrooms because they’re a fun blend of mystery and history! I love to incorporate little bits of actual Chicago history in my books, and all the settings I represent are real places in my city. Plus, I think the pacing and mystery aspect makes them a good choice for reluctant readers.

Q: What made you want to become a writer and what’s the best thing about being a writer?
A:  I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. When I was young, I tried writing everything. Poems, short stories, songs, fake commercials . . . you name it and I wrote it. Not well, mind you. But that’s not the point. The point is that I knew I loved to write even before I knew I’d pursue publishing. It’s a part of me and I can’t imagine my life without that creative outlet.

Beyond childhood though, I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with friends and family who support me and my craft! Publishing is a challenging industry filled with a lot of ups and downs, so having a supportive inner circle is a must. And as for the question regarding what the best thing about being a writer is? SO HARD. I love pretty much everything about my job, but especially the opportunity to do what I love for a living, and connect with readers all over the world! Hearing from readers that my story or character resonated with them is so special. Magical, really. This year I’ve been lucky. PECULIAR INCIDENT is nominated for a Children’s Book Award in Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Rhode Island and China (!!!). The only thing I can say to that, is thank-you. Thank you for making this author heart very happy.

Q: What does your daily writing life look like? (Do you set a word count for yourself daily? Or a page goal? Where do you write? How often if not daily?)

Ooh, tricky question! My schedule varies and rarely looks the same from one day to the nextI have three kids, so my home life is busy! I don’t set a word count for myself, or even a page goal because I actually find that a little stifling. Instead, I try to work for at least two hours. That two hours might not be writing, though. It might be pre-writing activities like brainstorming, researching, or plotting. It’s all part of the big picture, so it’s all productive.
Q: Future projects you are working on?
A: Currently, I’m finishing up the proposal for book two for Sourcebooks. That book should get a green light soon-ish, then I should be able to dive further into writing the actual book, which will release in Fall 2021! I’m SO excited about the concept, guys. I can’t wait to share! After that, I’ll begin working on a proposal for the option book - hopefully something that would be acquired for release in Fall 2022.

In the meantime, keep your eyes open for more details about WHISPERS FROM THE DARK, including a cover in early 2020. I haven’t seen any mock-ups yet, but the team at Sourcebooks is extremely talented so I have high hopes that it will blow us all away!

Q: What else would you like us know?
For one, I’m a huge fan of school visits (both in-person and Skype), so don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any interest in bringing me to your school! Also, I’m very approachable online. I’m happy to make connections with teachers, librarians, and readers on any platform you can find me on! Lastly, I’m so grateful to all of my readers, friends, colleagues and of course, my agent/editors for all their support. This is not a job you can do on your own. It truly takes a village and every one of you is part of mine! Thank you!

Looking forward to seeing more by Lindsay Currie!!!!!