Sunday, February 7, 2016

Nanny X Returns -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“The writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than simply to reveal to them the infinite possibilities of their own souls.” 
~ Walt Whitman ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Steven Pressfield has some great stuff on his blog. HERE, HERE, and HERE you will find a three-part series on making your hero suffer. I think he may have added a couple more posts to this series after I put this in my file, so you might want to check at his blog. Enjoy! 

Writer’s Digest has a good post HERE with 10 Habits of Highly Effective Writers by Robert Blake Whitehall. 

Tara Lazar has a terrific post on Writing for Kids (while raising them) that will help explain the language in those pesky rejections. Check it out HERE

Last week I offered my copy of My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder to one of you. This week's winner is Violet Tiger. Congratulations, Violet! I wish I could tell you something about her, but she is a wee bit secretive. That said, she has a book review blog that is worth checking out. It's called Reading Violet and you can check it out by clicking HERE. She is featuring a book by one of my favorite writers this week. Violet, I will get the book out to you this week. 

About a year ago, I reviewed a book called Nanny X by Madelyn Rosenberg. If you missed that review you can see it HERE. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed this first book of a series for the younger middle-grade readers. When I had a chance to read the second in the series, Nanny X Returns, for the Manhattan Book Review, I asked for it right away. I wasn't disappointed. Here is the review I wrote.

Alison and  Jake walk home from school with Nanny X and they discover their grandmother broke her leg. The kids’s parents leave town, and before you know it, Nanny X has a new case from NAP — Nanny Action Patrol. Someone has threatened the president. If he doesn’t place a large fish sculpture on the White House lawn, national treasures will be damaged or disappear. Nanny X takes the kids fishing where they meet their friend Stinky and his nanny, Boris, also a member of NAP. When they catch a robot fish, they know they are onto the villain they have dubbed The Angler. The chase ensues through Washington D.C. and there is plenty of excitement and danger.
“Jake pulled out his stink-bomb pacifier. He 
squeezed the nub and threw it.
Hard-boiled-egg smoke poured out.”

Madelyn Rosenberg has created a fun series for the middle-grade set. This
Madelyn Rosenberg
second book doesn’t have quite the excitement of the first book since the kids have already discovered all the mysteries of Nanny X, but it is still a fun mystery for the group to figure out. Excellent writing and terrific characters carry the day. Being set in Washington D.C. has the added benefit of mixing in a little American history for readers to learn.
I have a gently-read hardback copy of this book for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Secret Guide to Paris -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"Nurture yourself. Read a great book. Sit in the back yard for ten
minutes and listen to all the sounds. What rests you? A rested writer
can tackle any problem, including schedules!"
~ Joan Broerman ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Every now and then I get a post from Writer’s Village that is pretty helpful. The guest post HERE by Renee Vaughn has some interesting ideas. You might get some good hints. 

James R. Tuck has a great guest post on Fiction University HERE on how to add tension. 

If you are doing re-writes, and who isn’t, You need to read The Editor’s post HERE to help you with that. 

Last time I wrote, I promised one of you my gently-read copy of My Teacher is an Idiom (LOVE that title!) by Jamie Gilson. This week's winner is Patty Hawthorne. Congratulations, Patty! Patty is an aspiring children's writer and lives in Grass Valley, CA. Patty, I will get this out to you very soon. For the rest of you, read on! I have another giveaway this week.

We are getting closer and closer to our move. The demo has finally been done at the new house, the cabinets are being made, the appliances ordered, and I feel like this is finally going to happen. Things are a bit stressful though. My husband has been sick for a couple weeks with something that is to date unidentifiable. I can't seem to find much he feels like he can eat, and I'm feeling kind of helpless to do anything more than take him to doctor appointments and to the lab to get work done. When I'm not doing that, I am trying to sort things out and pack things up. One good thing that comes out of this, though, is rediscovering some books that somehow ended up in the wrong place and were overlooked. That happened with the book I'll tell you about this week. It came out nearly a year ago, but I liked it a lot and want to share it here. It is My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder. If you missed it, you should really check it out. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review.

Twelve-year-old Nora has dreamed of going to Paris for as long as she can remember. For a long time the plan has been in place that her Grandma Sylvia would take her, since Sylvia goes to Paris a couple times each year on business. When Sylvia dies suddenly, Nora is devastated. Nora goes with her mother to clean out Sylvia’s apartment and finds a stack of letters and a treasure map for her, along with three plane tickets to Paris for Sylvia, Nora, and Nora’s mother—odd because Nora’s mother and grandmother had been estranged for years. Her mother’s idea is to sell the plane tickets, but Nora talks her into taking Nora and her older brother and going on the trip. She keeps the letters a secret until she discovers her grandmother has left gifts for her she cannot claim without her mother. 
“It could have just been my imagination. Or maybe
Paris really was magical, just like Grandma had
made it sound when she shared her stories.”

Lisa Schroeder has written an engaging story middle-grade girls will find
Lisa Schroeder and friend
fascinating. The family dynamics are completely believable, the characters are realistic and well-rounded, and the writing is lovely. This could well garner readership beyond the middle-grade audience for which it is intended, and readers may feel a trip to Paris is mandatory after reading it.

I have a gently-read hardback copy of this book for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Teacher is an Idiom -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?"
– Anne Lamott
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
In honor of the great David Bowie who, it turns out, was quite a reader, HERE is the list of his 100 favorite books. What an extraordinary list! 

Have you been dangling modifiers lately? If so, Janice Hardy’s post HERE will help you out. 

Do you ever struggle with setting? K. M. Weiland has an excellent post HERE to help you out. 

Now a quick report on my experience with the amber glasses from the link last week. I got mine on Monday and tried them three times this week. I got such a colossal headache from wearing them, I couldn't sleep!  8-(

Last week I offered a copy of The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall to one of you. This week's winner is Mima Docken. Congratulations, Mima! Thanks for reading and commenting regularly. I do appreciate it, and I will get your book out to you this week. For the rest of you, please keep reading for another giveaway this week. 

There are a lot of different triggers for me as I decide what books to read. When I get the list of available books for review, I'm like a kid in a candy store, but I never quite know what it is that will attract me. When I was going through one list a few months ago, I came across a book called My Teacher is an Idiom by Jamie Gilson. The word Idiom is what caught my interest. I love idioms. I love finding out about them and how they come about. We have had five exchange students over the years, and I had a boatload of students for whom English was their second language. Idioms were always part of fun conversations with them. So, when I saw the title, I had to choose that book. I'm glad I did. It's very cute. Here is the review I wrote for the Manhattan Book Review.

Richard is having lunch, but it isn’t much fun since he lost both of his front teeth just the day before. It was because Patrick tricked him into biting into a gummy octopus. Now, Patrick is back, and Richard knows not to trust him. There is no one left in the lunchroom, except the two boys and the new girl, Sophie, who just moved from France. Patrick talks Richard into eating his soft gelatin through a straw, and to say it doesn’t go well would be an understatement. Things are at their worst when the vice-principal shows up. In the discussion that follows, Sophie gets an introduction to American idioms. Things get more interesting when the boys’ punishment is meted out.
“Patrick and I were standing in the lunch line. It wasn’t
moving. Some kid threw up, and they had to call
a custodian to bring a mop and pail.”

Jamie Gilson has written a fun story for early-elementary schoolers. The first-
Jamie Gilson
person narrative is pitch perfect with details — burps, bugs, and barf —  that will make youngsters laugh. Paul Meisel’s cute, cartoonish illustrations are a perfect complement to this funny story. The lesson in idioms will have kids learning an important language lesson without them ever knowing it, and a lesson in manners is equally well-hidden. A perfect chapter book for young, independent readers.
I have a gently-read hardback copy of this book for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Seventh Most Important Thing -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” 
~ Mark Twain ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
You never know what you will find on writing blogs. I have a LOT of trouble sleeping — getting to sleep, staying asleep, getting back to sleep if I wake up in the night. When I read Marilyn Knowles post on Writer’s Rumpus I knew I had to try what she has to say HERE. You might want to check this out. 

Janice Hardy at Fiction University always has such good advice. HERE you can read her suggestions on showing vs. telling. 

K. M.Weiland has a post HERE full of good examples and great reminders about the use of “said” in our writing. 

Last week I offered a copy of Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff to one of you. This week's winner is Cindy Tran. Congratulations, Cindy! I will get the book out to you this week. If you don't know Cindy, she is a 12-year-old reader and blogger who runs a lot of book reviews. Check out her blog HERE. For the rest of you, I do have another wonderful book to give away, so keep reading.

This week I want to tell you about a terrific middle-grade novel that was a real surprise to me. It is The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall. When I read the description of the book, I asked the San Francisco Book Review to hang onto it for me. Here is the review I wrote for them.

Arthur Owens loses his father the same year Kennedy is killed. Life isn’t easy. His mother works two lousy jobs to keep things going. Arthur, 13, is angry when his mother gets rid of the last of his dad’s things, but when he sees an old junk picker wearing his father’s hat, without even knowing what he is doing, Arthur picks up a brick and throws it at the old man. Facing a long time in juvenile hall, he tells the judge what set him off. The old man he had hit stands up in court and asks to speak to the judge. The next thing he knows, Arthur is working for the junk picker with very strange assignments to find particular junk each week. Still, it’s better than going back to juvenile hall. Then something extraordinary happens, and Arthur’s life is changed.

“As they stood there in the darkness, with little sunbursts 
of light from the tree shining on their clothes and faces, 
Arthur felt strangely hopeful for a minute. It was as if 
their old life had briefly flickered back on, like an old 
movie—as if none of the bad things had happened to 
them yet.”

This amazing coming-of-age story will enthrall middle-grade readers and anyone
Shelley Pearsall
else lucky enough to come across it. Shelley Pearsall’s writing is lovely and her story compelling. All the characters are fully formed and relatable. And what a delight to discover there is a strong connection to a real person with a most interesting history. 

I have a gently-read hardback copy of this book for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lost in the Sun -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.” 
~ William Faulkner ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Janice Hardy has a guest post by James Tuck on her Fiction University blog HERE that will give you tips to make your writing life easier. 

K. M. Weiland has so many good things on her blog. The one HERE is on creating multiple antagonists. Check it out. 

I don’t know if I have linked to any of Randy Ingermanson’s posts here, but now and then he has a really good one. HERE you will find a helpful post on backstory and flashbacks. 

I have just spent hours on the phone trying to get our main credit card straightened out. I received a text as we were coming home after the theatre and dinner with our daughters and grandkids when I got a text from Citibank asking if we had charged almost $300 at Sheikh Shoes in Hayward, California -- about 115 miles from where we live. Someone had been busy around the Bay area with our credit card and, thanks to Citibank's vigilance, we stopped them in their tracks after only five fraudulent charges. Check your accounts often. There are bad people out there.

When I last posted, I promised one of you an ARC of Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock. This week's winner is Greg Pattridge. If you don't know Greg, he is a writer of middle-grade novels, a brave middle-school teacher, a Cybils judge, and blogs twice a week at Always in the Middle with lots of excellent books reviews and other good information. Check it out HERE. Congratulations, Greg! I will get the book out to you this week. For the rest of you, please keep reading for another giveaway.

Some time ago, I won a copy of Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff. Sure wish I could remember where I won it. (Blushing here.) I've had it in my TBR pile for months, but I didn't have time until we went with our kids and grandkids to Lake Tahoe for four relaxing days this week. Three books and two jigsaw puzzles is a perfect mini-vacation for me. This book came out last May, and I know I'm late to the party, but I'm sure not everyone has read this wonderful book, so I'd like to tell you about it. 

Trent Zimmerman is about to start sixth grade and is sure it will be a better year for him. He wants it to be. It almost has to be. His fifth grade year is marked by -- no, emblazoned with -- one horrible moment during a pick-up hockey game when a puck came off Trent's stick and hit Jared Richards in the chest, discovering a heart defect no one knew Jared had until he died that day. That alone is enough, maybe too much, for most kids to handle. But Trent's father has left his mother and married a much younger woman who is about to have a baby. Trent has two brothers and the younger one has become close friend of Jared's sister who radiates hatred toward Trent, or so it seems to him. Trent is carrying so much anger and guilt inside, it's amazing he can function. 

Sixth grade turns out not the be the fresh start Trent is hoping for. His homeroom teacher seems like an old crone and his gym teacher isn't much better. There is a school bully who likes to pick on him. But there is one bright spot -- Fallon Little. She has a horrible scar across her face, but she has a great smile and an even better attitude. She decides she and Trent are going to be friends and, as much as Trent pushes her away, that's just how much she pushes her way in. And this is just what Trent needs. 
Lisa Graff

Lisa Graff somehow manages to channel a twelve-year-old boy and lets Trent tell his own story in an absolutely true voice. It's an amazing coming-of-age story of loss, anger, and friendship that will resonate with anyone lucky enough to get their hands on this book. To facilitate that, I am offering my own gently-read ARC to one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ruby Lee and Me -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
~ Jack Kerouac ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
K. M. Weiland has a very good post HERE on avoiding the deadly anticlimactic ending. Check it out. 

Janice Hardy will help you avoid too much backstory with her post HERE

Kim van Alkemade has a terrific guest post on The Writer’s Dig about research for writing historical fiction. Click HERE to read it.

Let me start by wishing all of you a happy Christmas and wonderful New Year. I doubt I will be here for the next two weeks, but who knows. Sometimes I think I won't have the time or energy to write a post and then everything changes. In any case, I will be back soon.

When last we met, I offered a copy of Big Top Burning by Laura A. Woollett. The winner this time is Jess Haight, one of the authors of The Secret Files of Fairway Morrow and someone who happens to live in Connecticut, where Big Top Burning takes place. You can find Jess at her blog HERE and read more about her book, answer some riddles, and other fun things. Congratulations, Jess. I will get the book out to you this week.

I fell in love with the writing of Shannon Hitchcock a couple years ago when I read her debut novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, which went on to win a Crystal Kite Award. I wrote about it HERE on my blog if you happened to miss it.  It's a terrific book. So I was very excited when I heard she had a new book coming out. I was not disappointed. I lived it just as much. Here is the review of Ruby Lee and Me I wrote for San Francisco Book Review.

Sarah is supposed to be watching her little sister, Robin, when she hears screeching brakes and screams. Everything changes. Robin is in the hospital, and Sarah moves to her grandparents farm while everyone waits for Robin to wake up. Granny’s neighbor Miss Irene’s granddaughter Ruby Lee is Sarah’s best friend. Being with her makes waiting tolerable. Robin’s healing is long and hard. Hospital bills mount, and Sarah’s parents sell their house and move near the farm. Sarah will have to start a new school. At least she will have her best friend. But Granny warns Sarah since she is white and Ruby Lee is black and North Carolina schools are just integrating (it’s 1969), their friendship best be kept at home.

“This house was like opening a box of underwear on 
Christmas morning. It wasn’t a present I would have
pick out, but I’d put it to good use anyway.”

Shannon Hitchcock has written a rich, complex story set in a time and place
Shannon Hitchcock
filled with tension. The first-person narrative in the voice of 12-year-old Sarah is pitch perfect, the characters are well-rounded and absolutely believable, the story is compelling, and the writing is beautiful. This is the kind of coming-of-age story that should become a staple in middle-grade classrooms. Kids will love it, but it deserves a much wider audience.

I have an ARC of this book I would be happy to send to one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Big Top Burning -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else 
who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. 
Imagination should be the center of your life." 
~ Ray Bradbury ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
We can all learn from the masters. HERE is a list of 36 Killer writing tips from Stephen King. 

Cutting scenes is really hard to do, but Erika Wassall has an excellent post HERE on Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating to help you with that. 

Anne R. Allen, along with Catherine Ryan Hyde, has a terrific post on rejections — how to handle them and what you can learn from them. Click HERE to check it out.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday and we had lots of good food and family time. Now comes the quick march to Christmas. We will all be busy, I know, and I will be particularly so with the move and all, so I will be here when I can and hope for your patience when I can't.

Last time, I offered an ARC of Mister Max: The Book of Kings by Cynthia Voigt to one of you. This week's winner is Elizabeth Varadan. If you haven't met Elizabeth, she is the author of Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls which I reviewed HERE. Elizabeth also writes two blogs -- Elizabeth Varadan's Fourth Wish and Victorian Scribbles. If you click on the titles, you can visit them. Congratulations, Elizabeth. I will get your book to you soon. For the rest of you, I have another terrific giveaway, so please keep reading.

If you have read my blog for awhile, you know I love history. I have been reading quite a bit of middle-grade and tween non-fiction lately, The book I will tell you about this time falls into that category and it is terrific. Big Top Burning: The True Story of an Arsonist, a Missing Girl, and the Greatest Show on Earth by Laura A. Woollett is a fascinating story. Here is the review I wrote for the Manhattan Book Review.

It was a hot July afternoon in 1944 when the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to Hartford, Connecticut. Even as World War II raged and many fathers were gone, this was an exciting day for many. Since the circus train had been late, the Saturday matinee was cancelled.
Consequently, Sunday’s matinee was a full house with over 6000 people crowded into the big top. Because of the lateness of getting the tent up the day before, some things were left undone. Perhaps most importantly, fire extinguishers were not placed around the arena. Some of the staff had to leave their posts at the seats to help move chutes blocking exits after the animal act. Suddenly, flames appeared high up on the side of the tent. Thus began the worst circus tragedy to date.
“Donald was safe in the comforting arms of his aunts and uncles. 
Doctors and nurses cared for Mildred at Municipal Hospital, and 
Edward had gone to a place where pain could no longer touch 
him. But where was Donald’s sister, Eleanor?”

To write a book about such a terrible event that is for young readers is a difficult
Laura A. Woollett
task, but author Laura A. Woollett has used impeccable research and personal stories of people involved to tell the story in a way young people will find fascinating and will inspire them to learn more. This is non-fiction at its very best.
I have a hardback copy of this book I would be happy to send to one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mister Max: The Book of Kings -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for 
a few minutes. Even you.” 
~ Annie Lamott ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Stephanie Gayle did an interesting guest post on The Writer’s Dig that outlines seven fatal flaws that will tell you your novel isn’t ready to submit. You can find it HERE. Number four is one I really need to watch for. 

Mary Blount Christian has a terrific post on Keeping Viewpoint Straight HERE. She always has very good advice for writers.  

Janice Hardy at Fiction University has a great post HERE on creating more depth in your story. 

With the holidays upon us and with my move finally starting to move (we closed on our new house last week a month later than we had hoped to and will now start renovations), don't be too surprised if the occasional week goes by without a post. Just saying'.

Last week I promised an ARC of The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy to one of you. This weeks winner is Mimadocken. Congratulations, Mima! Thanks for spreading the word on FaceBook and getting an extra entry. It paid off for you. I will get the book out to you this week. Stay tuned, everyone. I have another giveaway this week.

Cynthia Voigt has written plenty of books for teens and tweens and middle graders. I have enjoyed all I have read. Her latest series is the Mister Max books and I have read and enjoyed two of the three books in the series. I reviewed the first book in the series a couple years ago. You can read that review HERE if you like.Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review of the third book, Mister Max: The Book of Kings.

Max has been on his own since his parents disappeared a few months earlier. Max kept himself busy with his business as a Solutioneer, finding solutions for client’s problems. Now he receives coded messages with buttons attached that seem to be from his father. Max finds out his parents, well-known stage actors, are living as king and queen of a small South American country, Andesia. Max can only believe they are there against their will, and he needs to rescue them. He comes up with a plan to take an embassy to Andesia, but first he must convince the king of his own country, whom he has never met, to help.
“His thirteenth birthday had been not-celebrated in the Estrella’s large first-class dining room. There had been no candles on no cake, no wrapped packages, and no singing of the traditional birthday song.”
This final book in the Mister Max trilogy by Cynthia Voight is a satisfying
Cynthia Voigt
conclusion for all questions raised in the three books. The characters are interesting and well-rounded, the story has lots of adventure and excitement, and this will be a very gratifying read for those who have read the earlier two books, but as a stand-alone, it makes some assumptions of prior knowledge. The more mature and patient of middle-grade readers will be the audience for this somewhat overly-long, detailed story.
I have an ARC of this book I would be happy to send to one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Disappearance of Emily H. -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very;’ otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
-C.S. Lewis

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Feeling a little delusional about your writing? Maybe we all are a little delusional about our work. Anne R. Allen has some great advice HERE about dealing with those delusions.

Another great post from Janice Hardy HERE on Fiction University. This one is about characters that are too perfect, a problem my critique group can attest I often have. 

Stephanie Gayle did an interesting guest post on The Writer’s Dig that outlines seven fatal flaws that will tell you your novel isn’t ready to submit. You can find it HERE. Number four is one I really need to watch for. 

When I last wrote, I offered an ARC of Lincoln's Spymaster by Samantha Seiple to one of you. This time, Janet Smart is the winner. Congratulations, Janet! If you don't know Janet, you should check our her blog, Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch, HERE. She is a West Virginia writer specializing in children's stories and writing about Appalachia. I will be getting your book out to you this week, Janet. For the rest of you, please keep reading. I have a wonderful book to give away.

I don't read a lot of fantasy. It just isn't my cup of tea. But I do like books that are set in the real world and have some fantastic elements. When I read about The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy, I asked the Manhattan Book Review to get it for me for review. I'm really glad I did. Here the the review I wrote. 

Raine has a special ability. She can see sparkles on people or things and, when she picks them up, can read memories from them as her grandmother had before her. She is starting eighth grade at her third middle school and fifth school over all. As she is picking up her schedule, she meets Shirlee who is also new, having only been homeschooled. Before long the newbies are targeted by the mean queen of the school and her minions. Raine discovers she and her mother are living in the house of a girl who had recently disappeared and is thought to be dead. When Raine steals a sparkle, she discovers the mean girls may have had something to do with the disappearance. At the same time an arsonist is on the loose. And there’s more that creates real danger for Raine and others.

“Jennifer uploads a few more videos on YouTube about me, then stops. It’s not really her thing. She prefers to bully in real life, up close and personal. She wants to see her victim’s reaction.”

Barrie Summy has created a delicious mystery with some magic added in that
Barrie Summy
will have readers turning the pages as quickly as they can read. The writing is excellent, the characters real and sympathetic, and the story compelling. It deserves to be read well beyond the tween audience to which it is marketed. 

I have an ARC of this charming book I would be happy to send to one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.