Sunday, June 30, 2013

Calvin Coconut: Extra Famous -- Review and Double Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” ~Anne Tyler~   


Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Here are some links I think you will find interesting and useful. Enjoy!


Writer's Digest's article Seven Reasons Writing a Book Makes You a Badass (their word, not mine 8-)) can be found HERE


Chicken Soup for the Soul emailed me an article called Lessons Learned in Writing My First Novel. You can find it HERE. I hope you enjoy it. 


If you don't read Adventures in YA and Children's Publishing, it's a blog you shouldn't miss. They recently had a post by Charles Price called What I Might Say to You if We Were Sitting Together Having Coffee. You can find it HERE and it's worth your while. 


Last weekend I was in New Mexico for a family reunion, so I had no time to post. When I last posted, I offered a copy of Anna Olswanger's wonderful book Greenhorn to a follower who left a comment. I'm happy to announce (imagine trumpets blaring here) Carol Baldwin is the winner! WooHoo, Carol. Congratulations. Carol is a teacher and writer and blogger. Right now she is running a series of posts about a book by Strom Thurmond's illegitimate, African-American daughter. Fascinating stuff. You can find Carol's blog HERE.


 While we were on the road, I got a LOT of reading done. I finally got around to reading Gone Girl. I might be the last person on the planet to read it, but I'm glad I got to it. It's pretty amazing. So many twists and turns. I wouldn't say I loved it, but it was riveting and well written. If you like adult mysteries, you will certainly like this one. I also read Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. I won an autographed copy recently. It's a book I had never read, but it is my daughter's favorite book, so I finally got around to it. What a wonderful book! I loved every word of it and am very excited there is a recently-published sequel, Hattie Ever After. I sure hope I can get to it soon. I read a book by Jason Sonnenblick called Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip. If you love baseball, as I do, and if you are a fan of great middle-grade writing, as I am, you will love this book. I know I did. Lots of layers to this one.


Now on to the main fare. I did a review for the Sacramento Book Review not long ago of Calvin Coconut: Extra Famous by Graham Salisbury. I discovered it is one of a series, but it certainly stands on its own well. Here is my review:


Calvin and his best friend, Julio, are hanging out together when Benny Obi shows up. They haven’t seen Benny in quite a while, since he changed schools. Benny tells them he is helping his uncle, a Hollywood millionaire, make a Zombie movie, and he can get parts for Calvin and Julio. They aren’t
quite sure they believe Benny. He tells them he can get them jobs as extras and they will be paid. He also needs to find a teenage girl and some other extras. Calvin suggests Stella, a girl who lives with his family and babysits his younger sister, Darci. They all troop down to the beach for auditions, and Benny really delivers, getting them all in while hundreds are turned away. Even Darci ends up in the movie.

“Mr. Purdy shuffled. He raised his claws and drooped his face. ‘Feed me,’ he slurred in a deep voice. ‘Brains or guts, gimme soy sauce and I don’t care.’”

Kids will be fascinated at this behind-the-scenes look at the making of a horror film while being thoroughly entertained by Calvin and his friends’ antics in this ninth in a series of comic novels by Graham Salisbury. Jacqueline Rogers’s fun illustrations are a nice addition. Even the most reluctant readers will whiz right through this one.

This is a really fun book. I highly recommend it and hope I get a chance to read more of the series. I am offering a gently-read hardcover copy of this book and, to show my appreciation for you who read my blog, I am offering a bonus of a paperback copy of Lisa Williams Kline's final book of the Sisters in All Seasons series, Season of Change. All you need do is leave a comment and be a follower. If you are not yet a follower, just look on the right and join up. I will draw a name from those who qualify the next time I post -- probably two weeks hence. This giveaway is for U.S. only. Sorry, I just can't send books out of the country.

Don’t forget to stop by Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday links. Click HERE to find it.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger -- A Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.”  ~James M. Barrie~

Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Here are some links I've run across recently that I think you will enjoy. So, enjoy!

This is just fun -- for some wonderful words we should resurrect, click HERE.

Click HERE for an article on Seven Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block. I sure hope some of these will work for me!

There is a good article HERE from Writer’s Digest on Five Ways to Make Your Novel More Suspenseful.

On my last blog post, I had a drawing for copies of Below and Dead River. The winner of these two books is (Drum Roll Please!) Nancy!!  WooHoo. Nancy, I will be getting those books to you this week. Congratulations and enjoy!

I was contacted recently and asked if I would be interested in reviewing Anna Olswanger's new book Greenhorn. Well, I certainly was interested. I know of her work and was thrilled to be asked. I wasn't sure when I would be able to get to it, but when it arrived last week, I found it was very short. I decided to make the time to read it right away. 

Greenhorn is the story of boys who attend a boarding yeshiva in New York in 1946. Aaron, who has a bad stuttering problem does not have an easy time in school because of his speech difficulty. 0f course, Aaron has had to learn to live with teasing. A group of boys arrive who have survived the holocaust arrive at the yeshiva. One of these boys, Daniel, is assigned to share the small room Aaron, Ruben, and Bernie already share. Daniel has only one possession, a small box, which he keeps with him at all times. He will show it to no one. He even keeps it in his bed when he sleeps. He hardly ever speaks.

Aaron tries to befriend Daniel and keeps trying even though Daniel does not open up or reciprocate. He keeps to himself and protects his box and his privacy. Some of the boys decide he must be hiding candy from them in his box and knock him down, taking the box and opening it. What they find inside is something that focuses the horror of the holocaust for all to see. 

This is a remarkably rich and powerful book. It would be wonderful to use in a classroom as students could read it in its entirety in a couple of class periods. The world of a 1946 yeshiva is well drawn and very real. The story of Daniel, Aaron, and the other boys is one that young
Anna Olswanger
readers will remember a long time and from which they will learn a great deal. There are a 9-page discussion guide for families reading this book together as well as a 21-page classroom guide for those who decide to teach it. You can find the links to download those for free by clicking HERE. I hope all of you will find this little gem of a book and read it for yourselves. The characters and their story will stay with you for a long time. I will be giving away my gently-read hardback copy of Greenhorn to one of my lucky readers. Please be a follower and leave a comment. Your name will go in a hat and Greenhorn just might come your way.

Don’t forget to stop by Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday links. Click HERE to find it.

On the book giveaway, this is for U.S. only. Sorry, but it would be too expensive for me to send books out of the country. But please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Remember, if you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom. Also, if you haven’t signed up by email, please do. Just look in the upper right-hand corner of this page, pop your email address in, and you will receive an email each time I put up a new post. Your information will not be shared with anyone.