Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review and Giveaway of Turn Left at the Cow

Thought for the Day:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

I know that I used this Thought for the Day once before, but I think it bears repeating and what better time than as we come to a brand-spanking new year? 

Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Fantastic post found HERE on all the dragons we writers need to kill. Don’t miss this one. 

Wonderful post on Adventures in YA Publishing by Sandra Neil Wallace can be found by clicking HERE to learn more about Turning History into Fiction. 

Setting is so important and this post will tell you exactly how important. Click HERE
When I was last here, I promised one lucky reader a copy of Period 8 by Chris Crutcher. Our winner this week is Jill the Owl! Well, she isn't really an owl, but that is the moniker she has chosen for her public-blogging self. She actually teaches sixth grade and besides running her own blog (The O.W.L. Outrageously Wonderful Literature from the Middle Grades) and hosts a blog for book reviews by her students (Hooked on Books). If you click on the titles of the blogs, you can check them out. Congratulations, Jill. I will be sending Period 8 to you this week. If you didn't win, keep reading. I've a terrific book to give away this week.

I'm kind of on holiday break this week, so I am going to paste in a review I wrote recently for the Sacramento Book Review. Some of you may know I am from Minnesota, so when I found a funny tween book set in Minnesota, I was all over it. This is a really good one.

Turn Left at the Cow

Posted in Tweens by - December 23, 2013
Turn Left at the Cow By Lisa Bullard
Harcourt Children’s Books, $16.99, 304 pages

Thirteen-year-old Travis feels like an outsider in his step-father’s house. Travis leaves California for Minnesota and his grandmother. He wants to find out about his real father. What he finds is not what he hoped for. His father disappeared long ago, before Travis was even born, and right after his father had robbed a bank. Gram is pretty sure he is dead. He wouldn’t leave her wondering all these years. But she didn’t think he was the kind of person to rob a bank either. When Travis comes to town, Gram hands him money at several times to buy things. Suddenly the sheriff is at their door. Some of the robbery money has started turning up. People think Travis has the money. Travis has made friends with Kenny and Iz, kids his age who live next door. They are looking for the money, too. Iz thinks the reward will solve all her problems. The mystery deepens for these kid detectives.
 “Any minute I was sure the stars were going to jump out of their constellations and spell out the word dweeb across the sky. I mean, there I was, alone with this hot girl, and I decided the thing we should do was play language-arts games?”
This is a terrific story with lots of fun, action, mystery, a little romance, and great characters. Kids will love it, but so will adults. It’s funny and smart. This is a real winner.

Just be a follower (free and easy -- look in the right-hand column to join) and leave a comment. I will be giving away a gently-read hardcover of this funny book. This drawing is for U. S. addresses only. If you would like to check out reviews of other middle-grade books, hop on over to Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog. Click HERE to be magically transported there. 

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve. See you next year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Help and a Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:
This is a post that really speaks to me and probably will to most writers. Laurie Wagner at 27 Powers Writing True Life is speaking our language HERE. And if you subscribe to her blog she will send you 27 writing prompts. 

Fantastic post about creating three-dimensional villains can be found HERE

Once in awhile TV offers us an interesting discussion about out craft of writing. This week on Face the Nation, four exceptional writers discuss books that have moved them, what is the future of books, and other interesting topics. If you missed it, you can view the video segment by clicking HERE
Last post I offered a copy of My Very Unfairy Tale Life to someone who is a follower and left a comment. The winner is Michael G-G! (Woop! Woop!) If you don't know Michael, he is a blogger extraordinaire running the Middle Grade Mafioso and Project Mayhem blogs. If you click on those titles, you can see what he is up to. Michael, I will be sending your book out to you this week. Thanks for reading. If you didn't win, read on. I will have another exciting giveaway this week.

I usually do my Christmas Shopping round-up of reviews earlier, but time just got away from me this you. But if you are like most, you probably have a couple of last-minute gift you need to buy. Maybe I can help you out. Here are my favorite books for different ages from this year. Click on the titles to link to my reviews.

Picture Books
Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine - A charming story with a very subtle lesson.
The Invisible Boy - A lovely story of inclusion.
The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair - A funny, funny book with a lesson tangled in.
Sophie's Squash - A different kind of love.
The Frazzle Family Finds a Way - Just a heap of fun.

Middle-Grade and Tween Books
Will In Scarlet - A great, fun retelling of the Robin Hood story.

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings - Magical poetry for kids of all ages.
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things - Kids love series and this is the first of what is sure to be a great series.
After Eli - One of the best books of the year that can be enjoyed by kids and adults. 
Below - An amazing, beautifully-written mystery one can't put down.
Never Say Die - An amazing adventure story boys will love.

Young Adult
Period 8 - Nobody writes better books for teens than Chris Crutcher. This is no exception.
Whistle in the Dark - A lovely coming-of-age historical novel.
Golden - A mystery that demands pages be turned as quickly as possible, but don't miss a word.
Orphan Train: A Novel - A crossover novel for everyone young adult and up to 99. Don't miss this.
Darius & Twig - A Walter Dean Myers book. Need I say more?

Such a rich period in history. 
New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day - If you love good, fresh bread, you will love this book.
Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories From History Without the Fairy Tale Endings - Truth really is stranger than fiction. These are amazing stories.
Reduced to Joy - A book of poetry that will remind you what a gift poetry can be.
The Catch:Sea-to-Table Recipes, Stories & Secrets - Positively gorgeous, useful cookbook.

I absolutely recommend all of these books. I hope this has been of
some help to you. I promised you a giveaway and I won't disappoint. In the young adult field, Chris Crutcher is just about as good as it gets, so I'm offering a gently-read copy of Period 8, his latest offering. This drawing is for U.S. addresses only. Just be a follower (easy peasy - look to the right) and leave a meaningful comment. If you want extra chances, just Tweet the link or post it on your Facebook page or some such and let me know. I will put your name in once extra for each such posting. I might take next week off, but who knows. I might be inspired to post. In any case, I'll be back soon.

Don't forget to check Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog for other Middle-Grade reviews. Click HERE to be taken to her blog.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.