Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Short Hiatus

I will be gone a little longer from blogging. My sweet husband came home from the hospital a week ago after six weeks. Our insurance provider immediately opened hospice. We will have a far too short time with Dave. My family is here surrounding him and me with support and love. I will be back to blogging one day soon, but I don't know exactly when. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

To Stay Alive -- Book Review

Thought for the Day:
"Don't just plan to write - write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it,
that we develop our own style."
~ P. D. James ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Janice Hardy always has something great to help us. The post HERE on Endings is no exception. 

Bobbi Miller wrote a wonderful post on the Teaching Authors blog HERE to remind us that Villains are People Too! 

If you are a pantser like me, you probably could use some help with plot. Margie Flinchum Atkins has a terrific post on plotting at the Group Blog. Check it out HERE

Sorry to have been gone so long. My husband's illness has been most difficult. He spent 20 days in the hospital, then was moved to a skilled nursing facility for rehab, but it hasn't gone really well. He has now been there 10 days, and I'm not sure when he will come home. He hasn't really been able to eat, and that has delayed his recovery. He is quite weak and has, at last count, lost over 65 pounds since November when he started having problems. Between trips to the hospital and rehab facility -- two or three a day -- I managed to get a moving company to bring our furniture to our new house (2 Men and a Truck were incredible!) and am still bringing small loads each day and sorting and unpacking. Worst surprise -- water damage behind the washer. Who ever looks back there unless you move, right? Ugh. Now I have to deal with the insurance company and start another construction project before I can sell the other house. The good news is I absolutely love our new house, and I get to see our daughter and grandchildren all the time. I think Dave will love it here when he comes home, hopefully this week. Fingers crossed!

When last I wrote, I promised a copy of Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost to one of you. (I think I actually know where it is!) The winner is Joanne Roberts. Congratulations, Joanne! If you don't know her, she is a children's illustrator and writer. You can find our more about her at her blog, Bookish Ambition, which you can find HERE. Joanne, I will get your book out to you soon. I won't be having a giveaway this week for two reasons -- I don't want to give up my copy, and I have no idea when I might get to the post office.

I was contacted by a publicist not long ago about review copies of several books. I chose a book in verse called To Stay Alive by Skila Brown. One of my favorite books of recent years was All We Left Behind by Nancy Herman which I reviewed HERE. It's a haunting historical novel about the Donner party, and the subject matter is difficult at best, but still fascinating. To Stay Alive is also a story of the Donner party. While All We Left Behind is the story of Virginia Reed, this book focuses on Mary Ann Graves, one of ten children of Franklin and Elizabeth Graves, a family who were part of the Donner party. It is Mary Ann's voice who tells the story of her family's journey with all the excitement, adventure, hardships, and, ultimately, pain and heartbreak she faces. She is brave, smart, and determined. Readers will cheer for her and suffer with her and hope with her even when all hope seems to be lost. 

I thought I would be able to whiz through this book as I often do with verse novels, but I was wrong. The poetry of this book is so rich and layered that it demands and deserves a slow, deliberate read. Sometimes when I read a novel in verse, I wonder what makes it verse and not just an interesting use of white space. I never wondered while reading this book. The writing is spectacular and
Skila Brown
lyrical, the story is powerful and heartbreaking, and the characters are well-rounded and engaging. I think this book will garner a very wide readership, from older, 
sophisticated middle-grade readers to adults and it deserves to. This book won't be out until October, but it is worth your time to pre-order lest you forget and miss out on this one. At least put it on your TBR list right now! 

I hope I will be back here next week, but who knows? Sometimes life gets in the way. Thanks for being patient with me through my crazy life.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Applesauce Weather -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"So you're taking a few blows. That's the price for being in the arena
and not on the sidelines." 
~ The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Janice Hardy again. This time she discusses Story Questions and it’s a good one. Click HERE to read it. 

Anything to make our characters richer is a good thing. Check out this post from Adventures in YA Publishing HERE for some great ideas on building rich characters. 

Writers Helping Writers has a great post HERE on using Twitter as a research resource. Who knew?

I may disappear for a bit. My husband's illness marches on. He had two surgeries last week -- Sunday night they tried to place a stent, but the colon was perforated and Monday morning at about 5:30 they called telling me they would have to operate again and remove his colon. It was not the outcome we hoped for, but we hope it will give him a chance for good health. His recovery is rough. He is still in the hospital, has had some setbacks this week, and when he is able to leave will have to go to a skilled nursing facility for rehab. Our remodel is a day or two from finished, and I need to get us moved to our new house and get this house on the market. So if I disappear for a couple weeks, don't be too surprised. On the other hand, writing this may be good therapy for me, so I might just show up.

This week I'd like to introduce you to a new middle-grade book written in verse. Here is the description for Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost from Goodreads: In a touching poetic novel, a fall apple ritual—along with some inventive storytelling—brings a family together as they grieve the loss of a beloved family member.

When the first apple falls from the tree, Faith and Peter know that it’s applesauce weather, even though Peter is getting a little old for such things. It also means Uncle Arthur should be here to tell his stories, with a twinkle in his eye as he spins tales about how he came to have a missing finger. But this is the first year without Aunt Lucy, and when Uncle Arthur arrives, there’s no twinkle to be found and no stories waiting to be told. Faith is certain, though, that with a little love and patience, she and Peter might finally learn the truth about that missing finger. Paired with warm, expressive illustrations by Amy June Bates, this heartfelt tale by award-winning poet Helen Frost highlights the strength of family and the power of a good story.


I love this little book. It's only 112 pages and you can read it in no time at all. It has quite a lot of illustrations, perfectly charming ones at that, and looks like a book for very early middle-grade readers, but the richness of the story and the complexities of the characters and the mature issues discussed along with the beautiful, lyrical writing may well garner some older readers as well. I particularly love the inclusion of a verse from Aunt Lucy, the great-aunt who has passed away and who was so important to the characters, at the beginning of each chapter. It really gives texture to the story to have some of her memories woven throughout. I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book won't be out until August, but you can surely pre-order it, and it's
Helen Frost
worth doing. Heck, the cover alone is worth it! This book is simply lovely. 
I have a gently-read ARC 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, March 13, 2016

The Adventures of Hamish and Mirren -- Review

Thought for the Day:
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane
takes off against the wind, not with it.” 
~ Henry Ford ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
This is such an important post on point of view. Janice Hardy at Fiction University discusses the significance of prior knowledge HERE as it relates to point of view. Don’t miss this one. 

Need to cut words? I know I do. The post HERE on Adventures in YA Publishing will help you get there. 

The Editor’s Blog has a great post HERE called Piling On - Frustrate Your Characters. This is a good one. 

Things have been difficult this week. My husband, who came home from the hospital last Saturday, went back into the hospital on Friday for an even more serious problem, an obstructed colon, which will require at least one surgery.   The good news is I have great confidence that a terrific team of doctors and nurses has been put together to deal with this issue, and Dave will come out of this much healthier. Feel free to send healing thoughts. I will take all the help we can get. This week's quote is really for me, but I hope you all find something in it for you as well.

Last week I offered an ARC of The Terrible Two Get Worse to one of you. This week's winner is Jenni Enzor, an Oregon writer of YA historical fantasy, middle grade mysteries, and historical non-fiction. If you aren't familiar with her, hop on over to her blog HERE and check it out. You will find some great reviews there. Congratulations, Jenni! I will get your book out to you as soon as I can. 

I don't have a giveaway this week. Most of my books are packed away for the move (will that ever happen????), but I do have a review of a very fun book for you. I love folk tales and fairy tales and I LOVE the British Isles, so when I ran across The Adventures of Hamish and Mirren: Magical Scottish Stories for Children as a choice for the Manhattan Book Review, I jumped on it. Here is my review for them.

Hamish lives with his old mother on a farm by a silvery loch, near the small village of Camusbuie, on the west coast of Scotland. Mother tells Hamish a lot of stories, but he doesn’t believe all that nonsense. One day, a big wind comes and steals his hay stacks. Hamish goes after the wind to get them back. Not only does he bring back the hay, but he brings back a wife as well. Mirren and Hamish are often warned by Mother about the Wee Folk, as well as the fairies, witches, and all kinds of personified creatures and natural objects. But they don’t always listen to the good advice of Mother, and find themselves in strange difficulties, sparring with weird and wondrous beings. Fortunately, Mother knows a lot about how to overcome these dour happenings.
“Before Mirren could stop them, the Wee Folk had eaten and drunk everything they could lay their hands on. Even the porridge that Mirren had put to simmer for breakfast by the side of the fire had gone.”
Moira Miller has written a delightful collection of Scottish tales for youngsters,
Moira Miller
and anyone else who is a fan of folktales and myths. They are magical, funny, and absolutely charming. The writing is superb. Illustrator Mairi Hedderwick augments the fun with simple, but enchanting, drawings throughout, to add life to an already lively book. 
Don't forget to check Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviews. Always worth your while.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Terrible Two Get Worse -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their
greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.” 
~ Peter S. Beagley ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Ruth Harris did a post on Anne R. Allen’s blog that is one of the richest posts HERE for writers I’ve ever seen. It is about hooking readers and getting them to turn the pages and it is full of links. I may feature some of these links once I get a chance to look at them all. 

This is just plain fun. We all know writers have great imaginations. If you click HERE you can see some inventions writers came up with. 

Janice Hardy discusses the Internal Core Conflict and the External Core Conflict HERE. This is important stuff! 

I spent a lot of time at the local hospital with my husband this week. I had to take him to the emergency room because he was so sick. He had an extreme lack of potassium due to an intestinal infection called C Diff. I had a battle royal with the doctor assigned to him to keep him there for three days. I felt she was much more interested in getting the bed emptied out than in his health and well-being. Grrrr. But he is home now and on the mend.  I hope this is what has kept him down for so many weeks and that there isn't anything else going on! Now maybe I can get back to packing for the move.

Last week I offered an ARC of Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart to one of you and this week's winner is Susan Olson. Congratulations, Susan! If you don't know her, Susan is a North Carolina writer and blogger. You can read some great reviews of time travel books HERE on her blog, Time Travel Times Two. Susan, I will get your book out to you very soon. For the rest of you, I have another giveaway, so keep reading. 

Just over a year ago, I reviewed HERE a really funny middle-grade book called The Terrible Two. When I saw a follow-up book come up for review, I grabbed it. It's called The Terrible Two Get Worse, and it is a really good one as well. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review

Miles and Niles are back at their pranking best in this new chapter of their story. The prank they have come up with for Principal Barkin and his son, Josh, is simply a stinking piece of beauty. But there is trouble ahead for the boys, and they never see it coming until it is too late. The father of Principal Barkin, Principal Barkin, manages to get Principal Barkin fired and take back his old job. And this Principal Barkin is not going to put up with any pranking under his watch. In fact, he sets up a calendar at the school to count the days to the end of the school year they can go without having any pranks. He has a method that is nearly impossible to overcome by pranksters.  Can Miles and Niles get back to their prodigious pranking procedures?

“All right, it was time to make this official. He reached over the desk and removed the brass nameplate that said PRINCIPAL BARKIN, replacing it with a brass nameplate that said PRINCIPAL BARKIN.”

Jory John and Mac Barnett have another winner on their hands with the second book in this very funny series. Kevin Cornell’s illustrations just make everything funnier. Middle-schoolers will cheer for the boys and their clever antics and keep on turning the pages, becoming kids who love books because of books like this.

I have a gently-read ARC 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, February 28, 2016

Avenging the Owl -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Maybe you’ve made something mediocre–there’s plenty of that in any artist’s cabinets–but something mediocre is better than nothing, and often the 
near-misses, as I call them, are the beckoning hands that bring you to perfection just around the blind corner.” 
~ Sally Mann, Photographer ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Alex Limberg did a guest post on Kristin Lamb’s blog that is worth your time. He talks HERE about making every page interesting. Check it out. 

Writers Helping Writers always has such good stuff. The post HERE is the first post I’ve seen in a long time on pacing. Don’t miss it. 

I tend to write in close third person PoV and often my critique partners think my stories would be better in first person. I am not comfortable with that PoV, but maybe I should try harder. Anyway, it’s something I think about a lot. Janice Hardy at Fiction University has a really useful post HERE on this very subject. 

Thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes. We had a nice quiet family evening, which is exactly what I wanted. My sister and brother-in-law were here almost a week and we got so much done! Now I feel like the move is doable. Before, I was, frankly, really freaking out. My husband's health has not improved, but we continue with tests but no answers. And of course, there is a lot of brownie baking for my contractor. I do what I have to do to get that remodel finished. 

Last time I wrote, I promised an ARC of Gary D. Schmidt's fabulous Orbiting Jupiter. The winner this week is Natalie Aguirre. Congratulations, Natalie! If you don't know Natalie (have you been living in a cave with no wifi?), she is a writer and blogger extraordinaire. You can find out more about her HERE at Literary Rambles, a blog which should not be missed. Natalie, I will get the book out to you this week, assuming I haven't packed it already. For the rest you, please keep reading. I have another terrific book for you this week.

I had an email a few weeks back from author Melissa Hart asking if I would be interested reviewing in her middle-grade novel, Avenging the Owl. I am something of a bird lover, so found the premise interesting and requested a copy. I'm glad I did. Let me tell you about it. 

Solo Hahn, whose mother was a big Star Wars fan, has a perfect life in Southern California. Nice house near the beach, terrific friends, and plenty of time to surf. But the wheels are about to come off. Solo's father, a writer, falls into depression and tries to kill himself. Solo's parents decide the best thing to do is to move to Oregon where they can get a fresh start, but nobody bothers to ask Solo what he thinks. The next thing he knows, they are having a big yard sale and everything is being sold. The only good thing to come out of it is a little stray kitten Solo finds while they are having the sale. The family moves to a trailer house in the middle of nowhere (nowhere near the beach, that is) and Solo and his kitten begin their new life. What keeps him going is his plan to run away back to Southern California to stay with his best friend. 

But when you live in the backwoods, sometimes nature has a way of changing everything, and when an owl snatches Solo's beloved kitten, he loses it. He grabs a gun owned by the father of the only friend he's made and goes after the owl, but injures his friend instead. He is assigned to community service working with raptors at a rescue center. Solo is angry and afraid -- afraid of the birds, afraid his father will try to kill himself again, afraid he will never see his surfing buddies or the ocean again, afraid he will be sent to juvenile hall if he doesn't succeed at the raptor center, and more. It's a lot for a kid to deal with and it makes for a rich, complex novel. The cast of characters is filled with diverse, fully-rounded people who readers can relate to and care about. Melissa Hart's
Melissa Hart
writing is crisp and polished and her story is very compelling. The book won't be out until April, but I suggest you put it on your TBR list and keep an eye open for it or, better yet, pre-order it. It's worth it. And look at that cover. How can you resist? 

I have a gently-read ARC 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, February 14, 2016

Orbiting Jupiter -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that makes us more alive than the others."
~ Martha Graham ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Writers Helping Writers have a terrific post on Mastering the Art of the Cliffhanger Chapter Ending HERE. Don’t miss it. 

The Editor’s Blog has a fun post HERE with lots of good reminders of how to engage readers. 

Anne R. Allen always has good advice. HERE you will find a good post on editing your first chapter. C’mon. We all have to do it! 

Just a heads up. I probably won't be here next week. My sweet sister and brother-in-law are coming to celebrate my birthday and giving me the best birthday present ever -- helping us sort out and pack up as we get closer to our move, which will happen after the world's longest renovation is done -- soon, I hope. But I will be back and when I write next, I will be seventy. Yup -- the big seven-oh! Holy smoke but I'm getting on. I'd like to thank all you young whippersnappers for sticking around and reading.

Last week I offered my gently-read copy of Nanny X Returns by Madelyn Rosenberg to one of you. This week's winner is Suzanne Warr. Congratulations, Suzanne! If you don't know her, Suzanne is a North Carolina writer and Tae Kwon Do Black Belt who blogs at Tales from the Raven. You can find her blog HERE. It's worth checking out. Suzanne, I will get your book out to you this week. For the rest of you, I have another giveaway, so please keep reading.

cannot believe I haven't written about this book before, but it's another book I ran across as I sorted and packed books. If you have read my blog for awhile, you probably know I think Gary D. Schmidt is one of the best writers around. I have reviewed a couple of his books before, Okay for Now HERE and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy HERE. This week I'd like to tell you about Schmidt's latest book, Orbiting Jupiter. It's simply terrific. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review

Jack gets the news his parents are taking in a foster child, a boy Jack’s age who will share his room and chores on the farm. They will also both be going into sixth grade. But when Jack finds out Joseph had spent time in juvenile hall for trying to kill a teacher and that he is a father, Jack wonders what they’ve gotten themselves into. There are no secrets that last very long in a small-town middle school, and word about Joseph soon travels through the halls, and bullies get to work. But Jack has Joseph’s back, even though it costs him. As time goes on, Jack learns Joseph’s whole, heart-breaking story and meets his abusive father. Then everything changes.
“That was how Joseph heard for the first time that he never would see Madeleine again, never touch her again, never talk to her again, never walk through the woods with her again.”
When Gary D. Schmidt has a new book come out, it is cause for celebration in
Gary D. Schmidt
the world of middle-grade readers. His sense of story and his elegant writing carries readers through even the most difficult of subjects, and Schmidt never shies away from honestly examining the difficult things young people face. This moving coming-of-age tale is one of his finest books and deserves readership far beyond the middle-grade crowd.
I have a gently-read ARC 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, 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.