Cover Reveal: The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine by Frank L. Cole

Happy Monday, friends! Today, I’m very excited to announce that I have the pleasure of hosting the exclusive cover reveal for Frank L. Cole’s forthcoming 2017 middle grade release, The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine! Coming to a bookstore and library near you August 8, 2017 from Delacorte, The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine tells the story of a roller coaster like no other and the four kids who are about to experience the unforgettable ride of their lives. The cover of The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine was designed by Kate Gardner and Katrina Damkoehler and illustrated by Elizabet Vukovik. Please read on to learn more about this fascinating and creative upcoming middle grade release, including an exclusive cover reveal, a personal note from the author about the story’s origins and an opportunity to win an advance reader copy of The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine!

The inspiration for this book came right after I had submitted an idea to my agent and started writing on it. I proposed a story about a boy who crosses over into a world where stuffed animals live. It was so bizarre and I had written some sample chapters only to hear back from my agent that they needed a ton of rewrites. As I sat at my computer, wondering how to fix those chapters, I realized that I didn’t want to write a book about stuffed animals! Maybe it could be cool, but I didn’t think I was at a point in my career where I could pull something like that off. So, I panicked and I took a shower. And while in the shower, the initial concept for The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine hit me square between the eyes. I feel a great concept comes from asking lots and lots of questions. What if there was a roller coaster that was the fastest, scariest, most exciting ride ever? Not only that, what would it be like if this machine could tap into your mind and project your fears out in front of you while you were on it? And then, what if the ride required a way to harness the minds of all four participants to create an authentic experience every time? I thought this was a fun and interesting idea, but it wasn’t enough. I then asked myself what would happen if one of the participants couldn’t feel fear and because of his unique condition, he and the others found themselves unable to get off the ride as unthinkable disasters begin to happen all around them, forcing them to leave the safety of their vehicle, while terrifying creatures stalk them from the shadows? And then, to top it all off, what if the other ride participants were keeping secrets of their own?

This book, by far, is my favorite creation. I can’t wait for people to read it!

About Frank L. Cole

Frank L. Cole was born into a family of southern storytellers and wrote his first book at age eight. Highly superstitious and gullible to a fault, Frank will believe in any creepy story you tell him, especially ones involving ghosts and Big Foot. Currently, along with his wife and three children, he resides in the shadow of a majestic western mountain range, which is most likely haunted. The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine is Frank’s 9th published book.

Find Mary on: WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramGoodreads

Title The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine
Author Frank L. Cole
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
To Be Published August 8, 2017 by Delacorte
Find It On Goodreads

CastleCorp and the famous Castleton brothers are unveiling the World’s Greatest Adventure Machine! The roller coaster is an experience like no other, and four lucky kids have won the chance to be the first to ride it.

There’s Trevor, whose latest stunt got him in trouble at the school again. There’s Devin, whose father is pushing him to be the next Internet sensation. Nika’s wealthy grandfather isn’t too pleased about her participation. And Cameron, he’ll be the first to tell you, is a certified genius.

The whole world is watching. But as the kids set off on their journey, they begin to realize that there is perhaps more to their fellow contest winners than meets the eye. And the Adventure Machine? It might just have a mind of its own.

Join the kids on their wild ride if you dare. Your adventure starts now!

As an extra, exciting bonus, Frank has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a advance reader copy of The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine! This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and the prize will be distributed once advance reader copies become available. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Raise Your Voice 2016 with Amy Spalding

Raise Your Voice is a special annual month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in literature, with a particular emphasis on #OwnVoices stories. In it, authors recommend books with sensitive, positive and accurate representation that will help to create a resource of diverse books that marginalized readers can turn to when they need them most. Your voice matters. Raise it! For a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates, click here.

About Amy Spalding

Amy Spalding grew up in St. Louis, but now lives in the better weather of Los Angeles. She received a B.A. in Advertising & Marketing Communications from Webster University, and currently works as the Senior Manager of the Digital Media team for an independent film advertising agency. Amy studied longform improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and can be seen performing around L.A.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

(You can add Dumplin’ to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

I’m fat.

It really isn’t a big deal, is the thing. And yet I wouldn’t write any other descriptor of myself, such as “I have glasses” and then step back to let you absorb it. It might not be a big deal, but society doesn’t always agree with me there.

Like, I look in a mirror and I’m not kidding you or myself to say that I generally am neutral-to-OK with how I look. Sometimes great, in fact! I spend too much of my budget on clothes and accessories, and therefore I’m often really excited every morning to get dressed.

But then I have to go out in the world, where my body is considered, for some reason, everyone else’s business. Even a stranger might suggest I lose weight. If I do lose any weight, I’m treated to a variety of compliments. It’s as if appearing smaller is the best thing I could ever hope for.

People often have no idea how to react to me when I refuse to act ashamed of my size, my appearance, or my love of carbs. (Carbs are delicious!) I feel like of course I’m allowed to be part of society — as long as I’m making it known that I hate myself. And I hate that it’s revolutionary that I don’t. I hate even more that this can pile on enough that sometimes, I do.

Trying to find myself in pop culture hasn’t been easy, often for these exact same reasons. Fat girls are often treated like the prologue to a story, the first sad act in order for redemptive weight loss. But I don’t want to live my life like a prologue! Sometimes you might luck out and get a fat sassy best friend, you know, the type who’s often slapping her own fat and saying something cute about cheesecake. But I think we’re all trying to be the leads in our own stories, not just the sidekick in someone else’s story.

And so I was actually nervous to read Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’. The buzz on this fat girl YA novel was overwhelming, and I worried I needed it too much. Had I built up the idea of this book to be everything and anything? What book can actually be all of that?

Willowdean, Dumplin’s main character, is fat. She doesn’t hate herself — except for when it’s hard to drown out society. She’s fierce but vulnerable, brave but looking for the easy way out, trusting but protective. She’s a mess of contradictions, like any person. She’s not perfect, but I didn’t want her to be. She felt real, and she felt like me. And when you see yourself on the page, you feel in your gut how representation matters.

Title The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions)
Author Amy Spalding
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Published April 5th, 2016 by Poppy
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

A ridiculously cute, formerly-famous new guy dropping into your life? It’s practically every girl’s dream.

But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.

I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn’t get to be the editor of my school’s long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year – early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college – and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to “live a little,” or boys.

At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.

And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.

I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don’t understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I’m not going down without a fight.

* Okay, I sort of did. But it’s a sore subject.

** I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two years ago, Alex Powell was famous.

*** Some people think I’m overreacting. But this. Means. War.

Raise Your Voice 2016 with Angie Thomas

Raise Your Voice is a special annual month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in literature, with a particular emphasis on #OwnVoices stories. In it, authors recommend books with sensitive, positive and accurate representation that will help to create a resource of diverse books that marginalized readers can turn to when they need them most. Your voice matters. Raise it! For a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates, click here.

About Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University but can still rap if needed. Her debut Young Adult novel, The Hate U Give, will be published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins on February 28, 2017.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramTumblrFacebookGoodreads

All right, confession:

When I was first approached to do this post, I panicked.


Because I could not think of a diverse book that truly “changed my life” as a child.

Don’t get me wrong – there were diverse books and authors that I enjoyed. I still remember reading Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry and being excited because the main character, Cassie Logan, was a black girl in Mississippi, and I was a black girl in Mississippi. But it was historical. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because it helped me see where my folks had been and what I could overcome…but I wanted more options. Sometimes, my only other options were the “sassy black sidekicks” who were tossed into narratives just to add a speck of pepper to the salt shaker. That was even worse — the equivalent of telling me that I could only be a minor role in someone else’s story; the black girl who provided the wisdom or comedy to the protagonist who had all of the fun.

Why couldn’t black girls go on their own adventures? Why couldn’t they be the heroes? Why couldn’t they solve puzzles and mysteries? Why couldn’t they be protagonists in fantastic worlds?

You see, I grew up in a neighborhood that I desperately needed to escape sometimes, and books allowed me to do that when my family’s budget didn’t. I’m forever grateful that I became a bookworm, because it gave me the chance to see that there was more to the world than just my piece of it. But there’s something about seeing yourself in those other worlds that can change your life.

And then, I met Storm.

Yes, the superhero. Ororo Munroe: member of the X-Men, weather manipulator, the one Halle Berry portrayed in the films.

Now, you may be thinking — “How in the world did you see yourself in a superhero who could control the weather?” But that’s the thing — take away the “super” and Storm was a hero. Knowing that a black person could even be a hero and not a villain in a society that so often said otherwise was incredible. And a black girl as a superhero? Life changing. Storm went on adventures, she overcame ridiculous odds, and she saved the day, melanin in her skin and all. She was #BlackGirlMagic before the hash tag was created.

And she gave me hope. I knew that if Storm could survive half the stuff she did, I could survive hearing gunshots at night and all the other ills that came with my neighborhood. I could be a hero, even without the superpowers.

So while I probably sinned here by discussing a comic book character in a feature that’s supposed to be about book recommendations, I hope it shows just how much we truly need diverse books. When kids see themselves in characters, they don’t just see what they are but what they can be. It’s our job to give them as many options as possible. The Storms are just as important as the Cassie Logans.

Title The Hate U Give
Author Angie Thomas
Pages 464 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
To Be Published February 28th, 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does — or does not — say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Raise Your Voice 2016 with Lily Anderson

Raise Your Voice is a special annual month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in literature, with a particular emphasis on #OwnVoices stories. In it, authors recommend books with sensitive, positive and accurate representation that will help to create a resource of diverse books that marginalized readers can turn to when they need them most. Your voice matters. Raise it! For a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates, click here.

About Lily Anderson

Lily Anderson is a school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California, far from her mortal enemy: the snow.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterTumblrFacebookGoodreads

(You can add Too Many Tamales to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

As an adult, I refer to myself as Afro-Latinx, but growing up I always dutifully listed my ethnicities like they were a check list, “Black, white, and Puerto Rican.”

On my mother’s side, we’re all mixed race. And, among the cousins, we’re all girls. My grandmother, an elementary school teacher, always had quality kids books around: books I recognized from Reading Rainbow and Coretta Scott King award winners, books that we’d now call diverse, but back then were just new and exciting. It was thanks to my grandmother’s picture book selection that I never had to hunt for books about other children of color. There was Mary Hoffman’s Amazing Grace and John Steptoe’s Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters and Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly, but there was one story in particular that stood out most: Gary Soto’s Too Many Tamales.

Too Many Tamales is a fairly simple Christmas story. While helping make tamales for Christmas Eve, Maria tries on her mother’s diamond ring and loses it in the masa. She doesn’t realize her mistake until the tamales are already cooked, so she enlists the help of her cousins to eat all of tamales until they find the ring. Hijinks ensue, lessons are learned, the end.

Unlike the book, there weren’t actually tamales at my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve. Usually we had gumbo. And there wasn’t snow. We were in Vacaville, California in the early 90s, where the creeks flooded sometimes, but it never got much colder than fifty degrees. But the characters in Too Many Tamales looked like us. The girls are all wearing holiday dresses with lace collars, just like the ones my cousins and I all ended up inheriting from each other. Their shoes are patent-leather. Their hair is pulled back with big bows and headbands. It’s the early 90s, baby, and everyone’s clothes are ruffled and itchy.

Truly, Too Many Tamales could be an episode of a sitcom of the same era – Michelle from Full House loses something precious and resorts to shenanigans to fix it, ultimately learning her lesson as synth music plays – except that it’s not about white people. It’s a Christmas book where literally everyone is a person of color. And, in 1993 when it came out, that was totally revolutionary to me. There was no codeswitching, no unfamiliar white American dishes (marshmallows on sweet potatoes? what the what?), and no Christmas miracle ending.

What it had was a family that felt like my family, my first inkling that there were other people like us – big families full of brown girls wearing ridiculously fancy dresses and getting in trouble and then eating something homemade and yummy and decidedly non-white.

It felt like being seen.

Title The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You
Author Lily Anderson
Pages 352 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Published May 17th, 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West – and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing – down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben’s, including give up sleep and comic books – well, maybe not comic books – but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it’s time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie’s for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben’s cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie’s best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they’re on – and they might not pick the same side.

Raise Your Voice 2016 with Justina Ireland

Raise Your Voice is a special annual month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in literature, with a particular emphasis on #OwnVoices stories. In it, authors recommend books with sensitive, positive and accurate representation that will help to create a resource of diverse books that marginalized readers can turn to when they need them most. Your voice matters. Raise it! For a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates, click here.

About Justina Ireland

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows, both currently available from Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. Her essay “Me, Some Random Guy, and the Army of Darkness” appears in The V-Word, an anthology of personal essays by women about having sex for the first time, published by Beyond Words (S&S). Her writing has appeared in Story Magazine, Book Riot, and Fireside Fiction. And her forthcoming book Dread Nation will be available in 2018 from the HarperCollins imprint Balzer and Bray.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterTumblrGoodreads

(You can add The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

It was the cover of N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms that made me pick it up. The book was on the shelf of my local library: golden and eye-catching, a too big for the mass market paperback shelf where the librarians had placed it, an outdated unicorn and castle sticker on the spine marking it “FANTASY”. A quick read of the blurb and I figured what the heck, might as well pick it up. I could always skim it if it blew.

But a few pages in I began to realize I was in unfamiliar territory: this was a book about a black woman. A biracial black woman (this is how I understood the book and I’m not open to discussing this, thanks) navigating two very different worlds. This was a character I could relate to not on a superficial, let’s-read-a-story level. This was a character I worried about when I’d set the book down.

This was a character who was real.

Yeine was a character I could see myself in: not some small piece, but ALL of myself.

That was new. And terrifying.

Sure Yeine is for all intents and purposes a princess. Sure she spends time making out with a super hot god of darkness. Sure she lives in a palace built inside a huge tree. It didn’t matter.

When I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms I was Yeine and she was me.

I understood her fear and confusion at being thrust in a place that had claimed her but didn’t seem to want her. I could feel her yearning to satisfy the grandfather who wanted nothing to do with her and wondering why her mother had chosen an improper man and a life of hardship. Because Yeine’s struggles and indecision had so closely mirrored emotions I’d at some point felt myself (there were no enslaved gods or castles in trees, though) I had no trouble understanding the decisions she made, even the terrible ones.

This is the power of representation. Sure, it’s fine and necessary to be able to read across lines of identity, but being able to sink wholly into a character, to be able to see yourself in a book, is priceless. It’s like finding the perfect sweater, one that isn’t too scratchy or too bulky, but just the right amount of flattering and soft and warm. It’s like seeing the person you are in your head out in the world for the first time.

Consider: when I was in basic training we had no full-length mirrors, and even the mirrors we had were warped, cloudy and distorted. I went two months without seeing myself, and when I saw myself for the first time after basic training I was surprised at my lean face and the hardness of my body and the newness of me. I was surprised by the realization that I could exist in a way I had never existed before.

This is what it feels like to read a story that reflects your identity for the first time. It feels like finally being able to finally come home.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms did that for me.

Title Dread Nation
Author Justina Ireland
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Historical Speculative Fiction
To Be Published 2018 by Balzer + Bray
Find It On Goodreads

A YA duology set in a post-Reconstruction America beset by an undead plague that rose from the battlefields of the Civil War. The book follows Jane, the daughter of a plantation-owner mother and enslaved father, who is training as an attendant in Baltimore to protect well-to-do white folk from the undead.