Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Secret at Haney Field -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Mistakes are part of the dues that one pays for a full life.”
~ Sophia Loren ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:

The Editor reminds us HERE that our characters do not live in a vacuum. Not only does nature abhor a vacuum, but our readers do as well. Read this one.

Such a great post on dialogue on Adventures in YA Publishing. You really must read this one. Click HERE to see it. 

Darcy Pattison has a great post, Tea Party or Fist Fights? Why Action Scenes are Hard to Write!, on her blog. Click HERE to read all about it. 

Our trip to Cooperstown, NY was a great deal of fun, but honestly, I am exhausted. A delayed flight on our way home made an already long trip just a little too long. But here we are and now, maybe I can start getting caught up. I have well over 300 unread emails (the internet was not good where we stayed) and, of course, there is unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. lurking in the
wings. The tournament was fun. Our boys played brilliantly four of their seven games, really well but not well enough in two of their games, and seemed to forget everything they had ever learned in their final game. (sigh) That's kids' baseball. The highlight of the trip? Seeing our grandson Gehrig's happy birthday message on the big board at the Mets' game and the huge smile on his face at the game we attended on his 13th birthday. Our granddaughter Gracie's highlight? Getting a shirt that said, "I have no life. My brother play's baseball." Sad, but true! It's good to be home, but I can't wait for the next tournament! Yeah. Really.

I did have some time to catch up on some reading and want to recommend a
couple of books that have been around for awhile, but I didn't get to until very recently. If you have not read Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, you have missed a truly great book. It is amazingly moving and absolutely unique. For those who love fairy tale retellings, you must read this. Even if that is not your cup of tea, this book is so worthy of your time. Just brilliant. I also read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. I don't know how I missed reading this one. It has been on my radar for years. I really liked it. If you love to be told a story, this is a wonderful, moving story told perfectly from 13-year-old Salamanca's point of view. It is a story of love and longing and is a true coming-of-age story. 

Last time I was here, I promised a copy of Say It Ain't So by Josh Berk to one of you. The winner this week is Kathy Speggen! Congratulations, Kathy. I will be sending the book out to you this week. If you aren't Kathy, keep reading, I have another giveaway this week.

To finish off my baseball-themed posts for the end of summer, I have another baseball-themed book. The Secret at Haney Field by R. M. Clark is a perfect mystery novel for middle-graders, third through fifth grades. The main character is 12-year-old April O'Day. Her real love is baseball,
and she really understands the game. When she wins a stint as bat retriever for the local minor league team, the Harpoons. She makes herself so invaluable with her great advice to the players, she is kept on through the summer. She even gets her best friend, Darren, a job retrieving bats for the visiting teams. But there is a mystery at Haney Field, ghosts of a time past, that few can see, but April is one of those few. She and Darren are determined to figure out what is going on, but obstacles are everywhere, and when the kids are fired, it seems the mystery may not be solved. 

The author, R. M. Clark, was kind enough to give me a signed copy of the book for my giveaway. I really like this book for a lot of reasons. First, I love the strong, smart, female protagonist with a wealth of baseball knowledge. She is someone a lot of kids, both boys and girls, will enjoy reading about, and readers will also enjoy beefing up their own baseball knowledge. Clark clearly has done his homework. He includes a nice glossary in the book chock full of interesting information. The mystery is not scary, but fun and interesting. This is a real
R. M. Clark
winner and any fan of baseball will like it. 

If you would like to win this signed copy (gently read by me) of The Secret at Haney Field, 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 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. And don't forget to check Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways. Click HERE to visit.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Say It Ain't So by Josh Berk -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already 
mastered you will never grow." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Janice Hardy’s Fiction University has an interesting post called Why Should Anyone Help Your Protagonist. This will give you much to ponder. Click HERE to read it. 

The Editor’s Blog has a wonderful post on what doesn’t belong in your writing. Click HERE to read Exclude Us from Novels. Isn't that a great title?

An interesting article in the New York Times by Aimee Bender suggests what all writers can learn from Goodnight Moon. Click HERE for this fun and interesting article. 

Gehrig with Trophy
This is baseball week here at The Write Stuff. Actually, one of many baseball weeks for me. We spent this weekend at a baseball complex in 95 degree heat watching our grandson, Gehrig, and his team win a local championship. It was a great warm-up for the big tournament next week in Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yup. We are all trekking to New York to watch kids play baseball. I think this week's Thought for the Day is as apropos for baseball players as it is for writers. If I don't get around to posting next week, don't be surprised. I will be jet-lagged and baseball busy.

Last week I had two posts with a giveaway on each. First, the copy of Goldie Takes a Stand by Barbara Krasner will be going to Claire M. Caterer. Claire is also a writer and has a great blog you can check out HERE. Congratulations, Claire! The copy of Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo will be going to Michael GG. Michael has a blog with the interesting title of Middle-Grade Mafioso you can check out HERE. Congratulations to you, Michael. I hope to get these in the mail before I leave town. 

Sticking with the baseball theme this week, I have a nice little middle-grade baseball mystery. Say It Ain't So by Josh Berk is a book I reviewed for the San Francisco Book Review a couple months ago, and since my brain is baked today, I will simply reprint the review I wrote for them. Josh Berk is a funny guy. I reviewed his earlier YA, Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator, on my blog a couple years ago. If you missed it, you can see it HERE. Here is my review of Say It Ain't So.

Lenny, Mike, and Other Mike are in the glory that is seventh grade, when Mike decides he has to go out for catcher on the Schwenkfelder Middle School team. The fact that Davis Gannet, the biggest and meanest eighth grader, is the catcher doesn’t faze Mike. His dad builds a pitcher’s mound and backstop in their backyard, and Mike recruits Lenny to train him. Why? Because Lenny has the worst arm on the planet. If Mike can catch or block everything Lenny throws, Mike will have a shot. Not only does Mike make the team, but Davis Gannet is caught stealing a cell phone and is kicked off the team! Then it’s discovered that the Griffith Griffins are stealing signs. This doesn’t pass the smell test. Lenny decides to put his detective hat on to see what he can uncover. He is attacked at Griffith Middle School and the librarian’s niece, Maria, rescues him, and a partnership is born, and maybe a little romance as well.
 “Who wouldn’t get a little angry about that? You’re framed for a crime and kicked off the team. The guy who got you booted takes your place and gets all the glory.”
Josh Berk
Josh Berk has a winning formula with the middle-school setting and his wisecracking trio of characters, Lenny, Mike, and Other Mike. This will be a welcome addition to his middle-school baseball mystery series.

I have a gently-read hardback copy of this book for one of you. 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 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. 

For more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews, check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog by clicking HERE.