Sunday, May 18, 2014

Steering Toward Normal -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

"It's never too late to have a happy childhood." Berke Breathed

Gifts for My Writer Friends: 

A good article can be found HERE on 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Dialogue. 

Great article HERE on “Write What You Don’t Know.” 

And for another take on why you should write what you don’t know, click HERE

I didn't have a chance to post last week. I spent Mother's Day with my husband, our younger daughter, and our two grandchildren at a baseball game. I do love baseball, so it was a great way to spend the day. In the evening, my husband and I went to our older daughter's album launch party. If you love beautiful music, click HERE for Amazon or HERE for iTunes to check it out. You can sample on iTunes without buying anything. 8-) Anyway, it was a long, wonderful day with no time for blogging. 

If you are wondering why a couple of things are highlighted in white boxes, I have no idea. Sometimes Blogger just does these things, and I am unable to correct them.

When I did post last, I promised a signed copy of What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wiersbitzky. I am happy to announce that our winner is Carl R. Scott! WooHoo, Carl. I will be sending your book out this week. It pays to tweet the link for extra entries! Carl did and he's the winner. Stay tuned even if you didn't win, because I have another great giveaway this week.

This week I'd like to tell you about another really terrific book, Steering Toward Normal by Rebecca Petruck. First, I'd like to thank Rebecca for naming her book Steering Toward Normal instead of Steering TowardS Normal. (Using towards instead of toward is a pet peeve of mine.) Second, this is a book set in Minnesota, my home state, and made me ever so comfortable. Third, it's just a darned good book with engaging characters and a fabulous, rich, complex story line. Fourth, that cover just cracks me up every time I look at it!

Diggy Lawson is looking forward to his eighth-grade year. He has a great calf to raise to compete for a top prize at the Minnesota State Fair. He has great friends at school and in 4-H, where he gets to spend a lot of time with July, the girl he has a secret crush on. He and his dad, Pop, have a great time together, just the two of them. (Diggy's mom had left when he was a baby.) But the wheels start to come off when a guy from school, one Diggy hardly knows, Wayne Graf, is tossed out in their driveway by his father and told he should live there with his real father. This was news to Diggy and not very good news. Wayne's mother, who had been Diggy's third-grade teacher, had recently died. Now this! Sure Diggy felt sorry for Wayne, but that didn't mean Diggy wanted to share his life and his Pop with Wayne. To top things off, Wayne decides to get a calf of his own when he finds out the prize for Grand Champion is huge. AND July seems to pay a LOT of attention to Wayne now. So does Pop. Suddenly it seems to Diggy, he is on the outside looking in.
Rebecca Petruck

When you get around to reading this book, carve out some time. It doesn't have any lulls or good stopping places. It practically demands to be read straight through. It is fun, funny, poignant, sweet, imaginative, and very real. I am offering my gently-read ARC to one of you. All you need do is have a U.S. address, be a subscriber or follower, and leave a comment. If you are not yet a subscriber or follower, it's free and easy. Check the right-hand column to do either or both. Please let me know in your comment if you are a subscriber or follower. If you would like extra chances in the drawing, you can get the word out and link to this post by Tweeting, posting on your blog, linking on Facebook, or use some other social media and tell me about it in your comment. I will give you extra chances for doing so. It paid off for Carl R. Scott. It can pay off for you.

Don't forget to stop by the lovely Shannon Messenger's blog for links to more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday book reviews. Just click HERE to find your way.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What Flowers Remember -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Only put off till tomorrow what you are willing to die left undone.”  ~ Pablo Picasso ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Kathy Temean at Writers and Illustrators has a great post called 15 Things to Consider When Writing Description. Click HERE to see it. It is really worth your time. In fact, just about everything on Kathy’s blog is worth your time.

Click HERE for an article on how to create an anti-hero from Writer’s Digest.  

And another one also on Writer’s Digest, this one written by Angela Ackerman, on avoiding unlikable characters. It can be found HERE and is worth your time.

Last week, I reviewed Saving Lucas Biggs, one of my favorite books this year, and the publisher was kind enough to offer a book for a giveaway since I absolutely refused to give my copy away. Our winner this week (drum roll please!) is Myra! Congratulations, Myra. I will be in touch about getting your copy of Saving Lucas Biggs to you right away. If you didn't win, stay tuned. I have another wonderful giveaway today.

A couple years ago, I read and reviewed an absolutely charming book called The Summer of Hammers and Angels by Shannon Wiersbitzky. If you missed that review, you can find it HERE. Shannon was also kind enough to do an interview which you can find HERE. I loved the characters and setting of that lovely story. It was one of those books that was simply over too soon to suit me. Shannon contacted me recently and shared the news she had a new book coming out. Would I be interested in having a copy to review on my blog? Would I ever! I loved her writing, so I knew I would enjoy her new book. Imagine my absolute delight when I found the same characters and same small town I had loved in the earlier book.

In What Flowers Remember, we find young Delia a couple years later. She spends a lot of time with a neighbor, Old Red, who has a flower garden beyond belief. He is an absolute wizard with his flowers and is sharing his secrets and knowledge with Delia. He shares something else along the way, and that is stories of Tucker's Ferry and Old Red's life. After Delia sees a woman stop in front of the farm one day and try to steal of seed-laden flower, Delia talks to Old Red about starting a business -- the two of them -- saving and selling the seeds from his heirloom flowers. He agrees and they work hard on this business. But now and then, Old Red seems weak and forgetful. Delia, her best friend Mae, and Tommy Parker, former nemesis of Delia, but now something of a sweetheart, all notice the problem is getting worse and worse. In fact, the whole town is aware, and when Old Red
Shannon Wiersbitzky
has a really bad episode, townspeople contact his son, who takes Old Red for an evaluation. It's Alzheimer's. Delia, along with many others, is devastated by the news. But Delia is bound and determined to save Old Red's memories so he can never forget -- not his stories, not his flowers, and certainly not Delia.

What Flowers Remember is every bit as charming as Shannon's earlier book, though more serious and contemplative. I love it and I think most of you will as well. If you haven't yet read The Summer of Hammers and Angels, do get to it. It's a real treat and will make your experience with What Flowers Remember just a bit richer. But whatever you do, don't miss this wonderful book.

You can have a chance to win a signed copy of What Flowers Remember. All you need do is be a subscriber or follower and leave a comment. If you are not yet a subscriber or follower, check near the top at the right and sign up. Free and easy. If you want more chances to win this book, post the link to this  blog on your blog or Facebook or Tweet about the giveaway. Tell me what you have done, and I will put extra chances in the drawing for you. 

Shannon Messenger is the founder of Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday and has links to many other reviews and giveaways on her blog. Check it out HERE.