Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fake ID -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

"I write when I'm inspired and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning." 
~ Peter de Vries ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends: 

Rick Riordan wrote a terrific post on getting published. You can find it HERE.

Have you ever wondered about what makes great writing? You might be surprised. Click HERE to find an excellent article on that topic.

Great stuff from Martina Boone at Adventures in YA Publishing on the old bugaboo of showing vs. telling. Click HERE to see it. 

George & my sister Nance
I have had a down and up weekend. Yesterday morning, I heard my sweet brother-in-law, George Docken, had finally lost his battle with Parkinson's Disease after a very, very long fight. I will miss him very much as will anyone who knew him. That was the down. Today my grandson Gehrig played in his first Little League All-Star game for this season. He caught four innings and had two throw-downs at second for outs. Then he moved to third base. There he made a magnificent bare-handed catch and throw
Gehrig, my All-Star
to first for an out while on the run. His whole team played really, really well and beat a tough team 9-6. That was a tremendous up to end the weekend.  

Speaking of baseball, last week I offered a copy of Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick for one of you. I am happy to announce the winner this week is Joanne Fritz. Let's hear it for Joanne!! WooHoo!! Joanne writes picture books and middle-grade novels and writes about this business at My Brain on Books which you can find HERE. I try to never miss it. I have another giveaway, so stay tuned. Joanne, I will be sending out Screaming at the Ump to you this week. I was doing some of my own screaming at the ump today. I don't like it when the strike zone is different for the two teams. A woman came by selling tickets for a raffle. She announced they were raising money to send the umps to the Western Regionals. I must say, I feared for her life there for a minute. You don't often here a raffle-ticket seller roundly booed at a baseball game!

Since I have had a ridiculously busy and somewhat stressful weekend -- I also
had a workshop on Saturday on revision and a critique group meeting today -- I am going to post a review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review a while back. It's a terrific book and I never got around to reviewing it here. The book is Fake ID by Lamar Giles. Here is my review.

Being the new kid at school is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult in high school, especially when you’re busy learning a new identity. Nick Pearson is not the first identity he has had to learn. At least Nick seems to have made a friend at his new school, but it’s clear he has made some enemies as well. The family is in Witness Protection, and the guy Nick makes friends with, Eli, runs the school newspaper all by himself and happens to have the hottest girl in the school for a sister. Eli is a true investigative reporter and is about to blow the lid off the little town they live in and, Nick realizes, will blow his family’s cover at the same time. Before that can happen, though, Eli is dead. The official story is suicide, but Nick and Eli’s sister, Reyna, know it isn’t, and they intend to find out what happened and who did it. Terrible things start happening around them and to them. Eli is not the only one to die.
“Truth: growing up around the people I’d been around, being part of a family like mine, I used to think being dragged to a police station was cool—a rite of passage. I heard my dad’s friends tell jail stories like they were vacation memories.”
This debut novel by Lamar Giles is full of tension and mystery with lots of twists, turns, and dead ends.

I liked Fake ID a lot. It was really hard to put down. It should be very popular
Lamar Giles
with the middle-school crowd and those in high school. I have a gently-used ARC for one of you. All you need do is have a US address, be a follower or email subscriber (Let me know which and if you haven't signed up yet, check the right-hand column. Free and easy. ), and leave a comment. Your name will go in a drawing. If you would like extra chances, spread the word about the giveaway by Tweeting or posting on Facebook or your own blog. Let me know what you have done, and I will give you extra chances. 

Be sure to wander on over to Shannon Messenger's Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday list for more reviews and maybe some giveaways there as well. Click HERE to make that journey.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Screaming at the Ump -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage.”   
~ Charles De Secondat  ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Shaping sentences and choosing just the right word is explored nicely HERE in a post from The Editor’s Blog.

There is a great list of books HERE that every creative person should read. I have much work to do! 

K. M. Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors has an interesting post HERE on bringing minor characters to life.

When we last met, I offered a signed copy of Sherrie Petersen's wonderful new book, Wish You Weren't to one of you.  This week's winner is Claire M. Caterer, a writer of middle-grade fantasy and you can read about her book, The Key & the Flame, by clicking HERE. She also writes  blog I try to never miss. You can find that HERE. It's worth your time. Congratulations, Claire! WooHoo for you! I will be mailing the book to you this week. If you didn't win, hang on. Read to the end. I have another great giveaway this week. 

A few months ago, I received my list of books available for review for the San Francisco Book Review. I spotted one I had to read -- Screaming at the Ump written by Amy Vernick. I laughed out loud when I read the title. Now there is something I do every week of my life. And I loved the concept of the book. Believe me, this book does not disappoint. Since it's summer, I will be a little lazy here and simply reprint my five-star review they published. I hope you enjoy it.

Casey Snowden has spent his entire twelve years steeped in baseball, but not in the usual way. Sure, he played a couple years of Little League, but most of his baseball knowledge comes from growing up at Behind the Plate, an umpire school that trains umpires for the big leagues. One might think such a boy would have dreams of playing in the bigs or taking over the school, but Casey wants neither. He just wants to become the best sports reporter ever, and reporting has amazing parallels to umpiring. Casey is surrounded by interesting characters – his best friend Zeke, a bit of a geek, who is funny, smart, and a true friend; Sly, an eight-year-old girl, who is annoying, bright, and dedicated; Ibbit, Casey’s father and head of Behind the Plate and many other clever characters. There is also Casey’s mother, Mrs. Bob the Baker, who bailed on the family and the school, but now wants a relationship with Casey.
“You couldn’t say, I did it because everyone was doing it. Rules govern the fame of baseball – rules govern everything! – and you don’t get to pick which rules you want to follow. There’s integrity to the game. And the rules apply to everyone.”
Audrey Vernick has written a complex, many-layered story that will satisfy readers from ten up. Both boys and girls and many grown-ups will find this a fun and heartwarming story, and if readers are baseball fans,
Audrey Vernick
that’s a bonus.

I am offering my gently-read hardback copy of Screaming at the Ump to one of you. All you need to is  have a US address, leave a comment below, and be either a follower or subscriber to my blog and tell me that in your comment. If you spread the word by posting the link to this post on Facebook or your own blog or if you Tweet it, let me know and I will give you extra chances. Thanks for being here. 

Don't forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews at Shannon Messenger's blog by clicking HERE.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wish You Weren't -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness.”  ~ Allen Ginsberg, poet ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Martina Boone from Adventures in YA Publishing wrote a GREAT post on getting an agent. This is a must read. Find it by clicking HERE

Having trouble with your opening? Click HERE to see what M. Blount Christian has to say about openings. 

The ladies at Writers Helping Writers have a great post HERE entitled 4 Reasons Why Your Hero Needs a Special Talent or Skill.

When last we met here, I promised a signed ARC of Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer to one of my readers. This week's winner is Sue Heavenrich. Congratulations, Sue! WooHoo for you! I will get your book in the mail this week. For those of you who might not know Sue, she is a science and environmental writer and manages three blogs. You can find her wonderful blogs by clicking on the titles: Archimedes Notebook, The Marcellus Effect, and Sally's Bookshelf. I don't know how she does it. I have another wonderful giveaway this week, so please read on to the end.

I have often said on this blog that I really don't read fantasy. And that's true, until I find a good fantasy, then I find the time. Over the last several weeks, I have been reading about a new middle-grade book, Wish You Weren't by Sherrie Petersen. I really, really wanted to read it. It sounded so good. Well, I got a copy on Thursday and read it right through. 

Marten is eleven. His family is moving from California, where they have always lived, to Texas. He will be leaving all his friends behind. His family -- Mom, Dad, and annoying little brother, Aldrin, six annoying years old -- take a trip to Texas before the move, and they take Marten's best friend, Paul, along. One night while on that trip, Marten's mom takes all the kids out really late at night to lay on the lawn and watch the Perseids meteor shower. Aldrin pulls out one of Marten's very collectible Star Wars action figures. Marten is livid and tries to get it back, but Aldrin doesn't give it to him and the head comes off in the struggle. Mom tries to calm things down, When a huge meteor streaks across the sky, Marten wishes a terrible wish -- that his brother weren't here.

Of course, nothing happens. Nothing, that is, until the next day when they are at a
Sherrie Petersen
museum. Marten's parents are going to meet with some of the museum staff and ask Marten to watch his brother for just a little while. Aldrin is as annoying and bothersome as he can be, but then he suddenly disappears -- right before Marten's and Paul's eyes. While they are searching for Aldrin, a really strange guy shows up in the bathroom. Everyone in the museum is frozen in time, and the man, Tör, whisks the two boys away with him. He explains there might be a way to overcome the wish Marten had made, but time was of the essence. The adventure begins. Marten has a particularly steep learning curve. And let me say, it does not all go smoothly. 

This book is absolutely pure fun, with a few scary moments and a lot of uh-oh happenings. One of my all-time favorite movies is Back to the Future. This book has some similarities to some of the best of its moments. I loved every word of Wish You Weren't. Middle-graders will surely love it, but I think the rest of us who might like a quick read to escape from real life, this is a good one. 

I kind of hate to give this one up, but I think someone else would should enjoy it, and I honestly will probably not get around to reading it again. So, I have a signed copy to offer for my giveaway. If you have a US address and are a subscriber or follower (if you aren't yet, look near the top of the right hand column -- it's free and easy to become one), leave a comment. Your name will go into a drawing. If you want more than one chance (and who wouldn't?), Tweet about the giveaway, post the link on Facebook or your blog, or some other such thing, and let me know in your comment. I will give you extra chances. 

Don't forget to check the original Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday blog for more such reviews. You will find it at Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wanna Be Scribe blog by clicking HERE