Sunday, January 14, 2018

Spy on History: Victor Dowd and the World War II Ghost Army -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in
any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you
are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
~ Dr. Seuss ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Strengthening your verbs is always a good idea. Susan Uhlig has a good post HERE to help you do just that. 

Anne R. Allen can help you evoke emotional responses in your characters by using historical details. Check it out HERE.

We all fear readers won’t want to keep reading our stories. Janice Hardy at Fiction University has four reasons HERE readers stop reading. 

I have a little writing news. I entered a haiku in a writing contest and won first place in the poetry category! WooHoo! I received a phone call from the woman running the contest this week with the good news. They will be sending me a check, but I don't know how much. All I know is I WON FIRST PLACE and the check is for more than nothing. Pretty happy here! AND I just watched my beloved Minnesota Vikings pull out an incredible win. It's a good day.

Last week I offered a gently-read hardback of When the Sky Breaks. This week's winner is Danielle Hammelef. Danielle always shares my link for extra points and I appreciate that, and sometimes it pays off. Congratulations, Danielle. I will get your book out this week. For the rest of you, I've got another good one to give away.

Now and then I receive emails from publishers offering me books in exchange for a review. I usually don't accept them because I just don't know when I will be able to get to them, but when Workman Publishing offered me a copy of Spy on History: Victor Down and the World War II Ghost Army, I could not resist. I'm glad I didn't. This is a fascinating story and one kids and adults will find interesting. And notice the book was written by Enigma Alberti, which is a nom de plume for a group of authors who work on this series. This is the second book in the series. I haven't seen the first, but I will be looking it up.

Sergeant Victor Dowd was part of a top-secret unit during World War II. They had been trained, not to fight in combat like most soldiers, but to fool the enemy into believing there were a whole lot more soldiers facing them than there really were and to keep the enemy off kilter in other ways. They had some pretty interesting tricks. They sent out fake radio messages and false reports using Morse Code. It turned out the Germans had analyzed the cadences of the radio broadcasts and the signature tapping when someone sent Morse Code messages. This special group had to study the groups they were pretending to be, to be able to match the way they did things, and fool the enemy into thinking the troops were there. They also had props such as inflatable tanks and guns to fool the enemy even further. They would set up checkpoints, collect firewood and gather around fires, hang up laundry, anything they could to convince the enemy they were a much bigger and more well-armed group they they actually were. This group was critical to the success of many operations and was responsible for saving many lives. 

This book has excellent writing and shows the great research that was done to
Scott Wegener
bring this story out. There are drawings by Scott Wegener interspersed through the book to help keep those reluctant readers on task. In addition there are some bonus pieces to help kids learn about decoding and even a sheet with insignia patches  of the Ghost Army. This is a chapter in history about which I knew nothing, and I am absolutely fascinated by this book.

I have a gently-read hardback for of this 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When the Sky Breaks -- Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”
~ Neil Gaiman ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Lee Martin has 10 truths authors need to learn to accept HERE

Mary Kole has a great post HERE on KidLit about how to bring dead characters to life in your stories.

If you are writing for kids of any age, you should be aware of KitLit411. If not, here is a link to one of the best posts I’ve seen there, and I have seen plenty of excellent posts. This one is chock full of links that will help you improve your writing and on the road to success. Click HERE for all kinds of good help.

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season. I know I did. I had lots of relaxing time, caught up on some of my reading, and feel like my batteries are recharged. I was even inspired to write an article I will be sending out to some children's magazines this week. (Fingers crossed!) I had wonderful time with family including a very short but really nice visit from Maggie all the way from New York. But now everyone is back where they belong, the grandkids will go back to school, and I am back to blogging.

One of the things I like about Common Core is that it has given us a great many wonderful non-fiction books. When I get a chance to grab some of those for review, I do it. I want to tell you about one I really enjoyed early last year. It is called When the Sky Breaks: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and the Worst Weather in the World by Simon Winchester. This one comes from Smithsonian, and their non-fiction books for kids are always great. Here is the review I wrote for the Seattle Book Review.

Most middle-grade readers are old enough to remember hearing about the terrible damage Hurricane Sandy caused just a few years ago. Many have probably heard of Hurricane Katrina as well. Every year these youngsters see reports of tornadoes, typhoons, and other great storms. Has it always been this way? What causes these awful events? These are the kinds of questions kids are curious about, and this is a book that will help to quell that curiosity. Author Simon Winchester was a scientist before he became a journalist and writer, and that shows nicely in his approach to the subject. It’s clear he has a good understanding of the subject of violent weather
Simon Winchester
and brings both scientific knowledge and historical perspective to the subject of storms. He then ties all of this together into a story the weather tells about the larger issue of climate change. Winchester’s writing style is that of a storyteller. He uses creative writing techniques, making it fun for readers while they are learning, and learn they will. The text is supported with spectacular photographs of storms and storm damage and of illustrations for stories of times past, as well as charts and maps to support the science.

I have a gently-read hardback for of this 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 Greg Pattridge's blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.