Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review and Giveaway of Ice Dogs

Thought for the Day:

"Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it." ~ Oscar Wilde ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
There is a great post by Maureen Doyle McQuerry on Kirby Larson’s blog all about subtext. Check it out HERE. It is worth the time.
This post from Writer’s Digest, entitled Persistence Doesn’t Matter if You Make This Common Mistake, is quite good. Check it out HERE
The ladies at Writers Helping Writers have the best post I’ve ever seen on avoiding clich├ęd characters. And they have some gifts for writers inside! Check it out HERE

New Book on My TBR List:
Martina Boone is part of a wonderful blog called Adventures in YA Publishing. I never miss it. First of all, they have lots of writing craft posts and TONS of giveaways. Every week they give overviews of what's coming out. I never miss it. If you are not familiar with it, check it out HERE. Anyway, Martina has a book coming out in October, Compulsion, that sounds terrific. You can check it out HERE on Goodreads.

I hope none of you thought I fell off the face of the planet. No, we just suffered from a particularly bad computer crash. It turned out we had an encounter with some serious malware that not only messed up the computer I use to write my blog, but it went through our little local area network in our house and messed with all our computers. It was not pretty. We are still recovering in some ways, but we were completely off the air except for cell phones for several days. But I'm back and ready to get to work.

When I last posted, I offered a copy of Stained by Cheryl Rainfield to one of you. Our winner this week is Greg Pattridge! Congratulations, Greg! You can find Greg's blog, Always in the Middle, by clicking HERE. He teaches middle school (talk about courage!) and blogs mostly about middle-grade teaching and books. Greg, I will be sending Stained to you this week. I wouldn't suggest it for your students, but it is an excellent read for YA and adults. 

I am back to middle-grade reading this week and have a really wonderful adventure to write about.  I have been hearing for several months about Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson. I am a huge fan of adventure stories for middle-grade kids. I came to this fairly late in life. I never read this kind of books as a kid, but when I started teaching and needed to find books for my boy students who simply didn't read. Even though they were in high school, middle-grade books were what I needed for these boys. I discovered Gary Paulsen's books. Hatchet was the first one I found and I loved it. So did my reluctant boys. I taught some Jack London stories in class and loved those as well. I reviewed Will Hobbs book Never Say Die for the Sacramento Book Review about a year ago. Fantastic book. You can read my review HERE. When I had the chance to get my hands on Ice Dogs, I grabbed it, and I'm really glad I did.

Victoria Secord is fourteen and lost her father not long ago. She is a musher -- driving sled dogs in races over sometimes-brutal Alaskan open land. Her father taught her to take care of herself in the wild and to take care of her dogs which might mean her survival. Victoria thinks her mother doesn't understand or appreciate what is most important to Victoria. She also carries a load of guilt, thinking
Terry Lynn Johnson
if she had just been with her dad, he wouldn't have died. One day when her mother is gone, Victoria decides to take her sled several miles overland to see about getting a couple of new dogs. Since she won't be gone long, she doesn't take much in the way of supplies. Unfortunately, she doesn't bother to check the weather. She finds herself in a storm when she discovers an injured boy lying near a crashed snowmobile. She needs to get him to where he can get medical help, packs him into her sled bag, and keeps going. The storm turns into a blizzard, the boy turns out to be a handsome city boy, and they have the fight of their lives on their hands. 

Terry Lynn Johnson has lived the life and it shows in this book.This much excitement might not be good for an old lady like me, but I enjoyed every word of it. The story is well-crafted, the characters are fresh and interesting, the setting is a perfect antagonist. It is so refreshing to find a female protagonist in such a great adventure story. There is a touch of romance, but just a touch, and it never gets in the way. Both boys and girls will be completely engaged by this story, and I think adults will as well. 

I have a nice hardcover copy of Ice Dogs for one of you. To have your name in the drawing, you need to be either a subscriber or follower, have a U. S. address, and leave a comment. If you aren't one of my regulars, please tell me if you are a subscriber or follower. If you are neither, just sign up for a subscription or become a follower and let me know. It's free and easy! Check the right-hand column. If you want an extra chance, spread the word. Post the link to this post on your own blog or on Facebook or Tweet about this and tell me you have done so, and I'll put your name in the hat an extra time.

Make sure you visit Shannon Messenger's Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday blog for more reviews and giveaways. You can find it HERE.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stained by Cheryl Rainfield -- A Review and Giveaway and Overview of A Bird on the Water

Thought for the Day:

“I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.”  ~ Vladimir Nabokov ~

Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Kathleen Temean gives us a story that is particularly motivating and interesting. All writers should read this one. Click HERE

We all know we have to make readers care about our characters or all is lost. You can find a great post HERE about making your readers care.

Anne R. Allen has a not-to-be-missed post HERE that examines the changing role of agents in this digital age. 

New Book on My TBR List: 

I am adding a new section here. There are so many great books coming out that I hope to get to soon, but don't know just when I can. But I think these sound interesting enough to mention here. So, for the first book in this section, I'd like to mention A Bird On Water Street by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. This middle-grade book is based on a fascinating (and scary) piece of history and is a cautionary tale everyone should read. This is what Goodreads has to say: A Bird on Water Street is a coming of age story about Jack, a boy growing up in a Southern Appalachian town environmentally devastated by a century of poor copper-mining practices and pollution. Jack is opposed to the mine where so many of his relatives have died, but how can he tell that to his Dad who wants him to follow in the family trade? Jack just wants his dad safe and the land returned to its pre-mining glory with trees, birds, frogs, and nature—like he’s learning about in school. After Jack’s uncle is killed in a mining accident and the Company implements a massive layoff, the union organizes and the miners go on strike. It seems Jack’s wish is coming true. But the cost may be the ruin of his home and everything he loves.

Last week I posted an offer to one of you to win a copy of Shane, the best western ever, in my humble opinion. The winner this week is Anne R. Allen! Congratulations, Anne!! Anne is a writer of romantic-comedy/mysteries and blogs about writing. I often link to her blog posts in my Gifts to My Writer Friends section. Coincidentally, I mentioned her posts both last week and this week. Anne is getting a lot of love around here! You can learn more about her (and about writing) by clicking her link above. Anne, I will get your book out to you this week.

Yesterday was our regional SCBWI conference and it was TERRIFIC. Great line-up of speakers and workshops. If you missed it, save May 2 for next year. The big thrill for me was a little visit at my critique group table from Melani Grube, who told me she loves my blog and never misses it! WooHoo! Made my day! (Hi, Melani!) I'm one of the volunteers, so I had a loooong day yesterday. This morning I had two airport runs for conference speakers -- at 4:00 am and 8:00 am -- and then my grandson had a double-header at noon. That said, I am merely going to run a review here I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review. The book is Stained by Cheryl Rainfield, and this is 5-star review I wrote. 

Sarah has lived all her seventeen years with a rather large port-wine stain on her face. Now, when she
Cheryl Rainfield
is finally to begin treatments to erase it, her father’s business has been ruined by an embezzler. They don’t have the money for the treatments. She is devastated. She really believed she could be normal, that the bullying and meanness could be gone from her life. She can barely get through the day, but after school faces the worst bullying incident she’s ever faced. Her best friend turns against her and joins the bullies. When Nick, a really amazing guy who is one of her few friends, offers to walk her home, she kind of blows him off. Brian, a handsome young guy who works for Sarah’s father, offers her a ride home. She refuses, but he drags her into his car and ties her up. Her life becomes hell and makes her earlier problems look like nothing. It will take all her strength and will to survive, and that may not be enough.

“I think I was trying to punish myself by staring at all those perfect faces. Punish myself for how I look, and for the way people treat me.”
Cheryl Rainfield has written a dark, edgy, realistic fiction that plumbs the depths of human evil and, at the same time, depicts what really defines heroes.

If you would like to win my gently-read hardback of Stained, all you need do is be a subscriber or follower, have a U.S. address, and leave a comment. Please tell me in your comment if you are a subscriber or follower so I can put you in the drawing. I'll put your name in my proverbial hat. If you want extra chances, post this link on your blog or Facebook or Tweet about the giveaway and tell me that in your comment and you'll get your name in the hat an extra time. Thanks for reading. I hope to see you here again soon.

Please visit Shannon Messenger's blog (HERE) for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.