Thursday, May 16, 2013

Middle Grade Madness: THE CIRCLE & Giveaway

MMGM aka Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was created by Shannon Messenger to give middle grade reads the attention they deserve. Though I'm scheduled to release this today, a Thursday, it still will be included in the MMGM lineup. If you'd like to see more MG books on Monday, Click HERE to follow other participants.

 I was thrilled to be invited to join this next blog tour. Author Cindy Cipriano has created an intriguing world for MGers, filled with mystery, THE CIRCLE. Take a peek below for a short excerpt, my thoughts on the story, and a giveaway to enter! Tour Schedule through I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Title: The Circle (Book One of The Sidhe)
Author: Cindy Cipriano
Genre: Children's Fiction; Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pages: 138
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Released Date: June 1, 2013

I'd like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book for an unbiased review.

Description: Calum Ranson is sure of three things: his cousin Finley is alive, Calum will find him, and no one knows Calum and his family are Sidhe. No one until Laurel shows up at his mother’s bookstore wearing a dark clan’s mark.

When Calum learns the details surrounding the disappearance of Laurel’s brother, he suspects the evil Hobayeth clan. Calum and Laurel work together in the Realm of Man and the Otherworld to rescue her brother— revealing a connection between Calum and Laurel that may cost Finley his life.

The Circle is full of magic and mystery. Readers will be engrossed in faerie realms, charming characters, and a state of wonder and imagination. The Circle is for those who delight in reading fantasy and exploring mystical worlds.
                                                            ~Kathleen Fox,

The Circle is the first in a seven-book series.
For more information, visit

An Excerpt

Calum looked at Laurel, trying to measure her sincerity. “Aren’t you a little big for fairy tales?”

“Can you please just tell me if you have any books like that or not? If I don’t hurry up and get over to that realtor’s office, my mom’s gonna freak.” “Sorry.  Yeah.  They’re  over  here.”  He  showed  Laurel  the  Nature  and Folklore  section,  and  tried  to  smooth  things  over.  “I  guess  your  mom doesn’t like you reading about fairies.”

“She doesn’t believe they exist, but I know they do.”

Calum stared at her hard. She didn’t seem to notice. He watched her hand move to her neck. A gray stone with an ill-formed cross hung from a long silver chain. She held onto it as she scanned the titles on the stack, the fingertips of her free hand gliding over the spine of each book.

“I’ll try this one,” said Laurel. She pulled An Encyclopedia Of Fairies And Other Natural Oddities from the stack. “I’d better pay for it now.” She carried the book to the cash register where Calum scanned the book’s barcode.

“That’s seventeen dollars and twenty-five cents,” he said.

Laurel laid down a handful of money. “I have change.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a quarter. There was a spark and a soft pop as Calum took the coin from her.

“Ouch!” he said, quickly withdrawing his hand.

“It must be static electricity,” said Laurel. She tucked the book inside her tote bag along with one of the lavender flyers.

“Yeah, I guess,” said Calum. Static electricity? In the summer?

The shop bell chimed. Andrea Werner was back. “Sorry, kiddo. Your dad wants both of us to look at a house."

“Now?” asked Laurel. “But I didn’t get my books yet, and I only have a few weeks to read them before summer’s over.”

“We’ll have to get them later.” Andrea looked around the shop for Kenzie. “Would you please thank your mom for me?”

“Yes ma’am,” said Calum. “Do you want me to put the books on hold?” “No thanks,” said Andrea, hurriedly. “We’re staying two doors down at the Whitney Hotel. We’ll come back tomorrow.”

Calum drummed his fingers on the desk as he watched them leave the store. He wanted to know more about Laurel, and her interest in faeries. Or maybe he just wanted to know more about her. Calum wondered what Laurel thought about him, although he didn’t know why it should matter. He hid between the stacks, quietly following them through the bookstore, listening to their conversation.

“Well?” asked Andrea, as they approached the door.

“He seems nice,” said Laurel, in a hushed whisper. “Not at all weird like John Phillip said. And, he doesn’t seem to mind that Dad’s going to be the assistant principal. Maybe I could be friends with a boy.”

“Imagine that,” said her mother as they closed the door.

“Imagine that,” said Calum. He watched through the window as a car rolled to a stop in front of the bookstore.

“Imagine what?” asked Kenzie, stepping from behind a nearby stack. Calum jumped at the sound of her voice, knocking several books to the floor. “Geez Mom, don’t sneak up on me.”

“Especially when you’re sneaking up on someone else, right?” A wave of Kenzie’s hand returned the fallen books to the shelf. “You’re right to be curious, though. I’m sure you saw it hanging around her neck. I wonder how that girl got a token from one of the darkest of faerie clans.” Kenzie squinted as she watched Laurel climb into the backseat of the Stanton Realtor car.

“I don’t think she knows what it is,” said Calum. “Either way we’d better keep an eye on her.”

My summer just got a lot more interesting, thought Calum.

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina and has taught middle school science since 2001. She was named a North Carolina Outstanding Science Teacher in 2009 by the North Carolina Science Teachers Association. In 2012, Cindy received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund PRISM award for innovative teaching. Cindy has a M.Ed. and is a National Board Certified Teacher. She is also a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator.

Cindy is a member of the Drawbridge Writers Group, and the Triad Writers Group. Cindy enjoys speaking at conferences and is available for conference presentations, book club meetings, or other author visits. Please contact her at to schedule an appearance.


MY SPLATS: a heartening tale that will sweep young readers into the adventurous world of the Sidhe and the importance of family.

The story opens with a poem, setting up the story perfectly and giving a 'feel' of mischievous play. There is something elfish or fairy-like about it. 

Middle grade voices abound through distinct characters. Calum has the typical MG response to a girl of shyness yet intrigue. He's mature enough to face it head on, though. The friends Cipriano has created for Calum support his personality--both challenging and comforting him--as well as his mortal and otherlyworld. What is absolutely atypically about this story is the names. If you know anything about me then you know I'm a major name buff. Using unusual character names adds flavor and color to the world and mounds of the Sidhe; I found that so Harry Potter-like. Ingenious connections between the Otherworld and the Realm of Man are plausible.

Another aspect that caught my attention was the sweet, caring relationship Calum has with his mom. It builds trust and a strong foundation with the reader. His father is also involved, which is a nice change from a lot of books I've read lately. The family is fully intact; no absent parents here.

Young readers will enjoy piecing the scattered crumbs of mystery Cipriano strategically places throughout the story. As mystery one crumb builds on the next, posing questions as to where and from who Laurel--Calum's new friend--got the stone she wears, the reader is challenged to think and evaluate what he/she has already read. But then a strange reaction from Laurel to old friend/cousin Hagen suddenly turns the story awkward and very normal. When this happens, Calum senses something odd, but doesn't know what it is other than it seems he's crushing on Laurel. As you might have guessed ... well, you'll have to read the story to discover that. 

What do you think? How does this MG sound to you??
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Sounds like a great book. Congrats to Cindy!

  2. It sounds like a delightful read. I love fairy stories.

    1. It really was. I'm glad Cindy and I had a mutual friend who asked if I'd be a part of her tour for her. It's been a pleasure!

  3. Tweeted and shared. Sounds like reads I'd hoard for myself.

    Hugs and chocolate,

    1. Thanks, Shelly. And what's really exciting about his one is that this is book I of seven!!

  4. I agree, it sounds like a delightful read. Have been burning the candle getting stuff done ahead of time for our move to North Carolina next year. Kicking back with a relaxing read would be purrrfect!

  5. ALWAYS love a wonderful fantasy story... CONGRATS CINDY! ALL THE BEST!

  6. Aw, your review was great and makes the book seem so sweet and adventurous for MG readers. Thanks for letting us in on this new release! :-)

  7. Hey, Sheri. This does sound good. Paul nabbed it to review before I did, and I think he's reviewing later today. I also wanted to say thanks for visiting my guest post on Ellie Garratt's blog and for the compliment. I followed you back on twitter. Warm fuzzies!

    1. Oh, YAY!, for seeing you on Twitter now. You are very welcome; the visit and compliment was much deserved.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. I like the description and the cover seems mysterious. Congrats to the author on her upcoming release.

  9. Oops, I lost my comment. :(
    Sounds like a great sweet, MG kind of read. I think it's something I'd enjoy. The cover looks mysterious. Great review, SA!

  10. This book sounds interesting! I like to hear about MG books where the parents are integrated into the story.

  11. Magic and mystery is enough for me!!

  12. It sounds fantastic! I've just started working on my own middle grade novel, and I'm always looking for good books to add to my TBR list. Thanks!

    1. Congratulations on beginning a MG novel! They are so much fun to write; at least I think so. I have the first book in my MG series half written, but I had to put it on hold because of the activity with my YA novel. I'm excited to get back to it!

  13. Thanks everyone! I'd love to hear from those who read The Circle. And, thanks again Sheri :)

    Cindy Cipriano

    1. You're very welcome! It was a pleasure. :)

      Middle Grade ROCKS!


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