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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Book Reviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,230
26. Pulling a scam & learning to be Popular

Jackson Greene has spent four looooong months behaving like a model citizen since he was caught lip-locking Kelsey in front of the Principal's door. (He was trying to pick the lock.  The kiss was a cover-up.) BUT when he hears that Keith Sinclair is running for Student Council President against his ex-bet friend, Gaby de la Cruz, he assembles a team and gets to work.

Varian Johnson has written a guidebook to pulling scams in his book The Great Greene Heist.  Jackson's team of middle school nerds, techies, cheerleaders and chess champs manages to uncover a plot to fix the election so that Keith will win.  There are references to Jackson's older brother, Samuel, and a criminally inclined grandfather that makes ME hope for more about the Greene family of rapscallions.



Maya Van Wagenen was an 8th grade Social Outcast at her middle school.  Even the sixth graders insulted her.  When she found a copy of Betty Cornell's Teenager Popularity Guide circa 1951, her mom suggested that Maya follow the guide as an experiment and journal about it.  The result is Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, a clever, funny and moving adventure into the social jungle that is Middle School.  Maya followed advice that is timeless AND dated in her attempt to be popular.  And what Maya learned is a lesson we can all use.



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27. Knitting, Pinkerton's, Finishing School, & a Princess

I finished three books since this weekend.  No, make that four. The Detective's Assistant




 And here they are:

The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan.   Just plain fun!  Cornelia Warne is dumped with her uncle's widow, Aunt Kitty Warne, after everyone else in her family has died.  Aunt Kitty blames Cornelia's father for the death of his brother Matthew, her husband and does not want a 12-year-old hanging around.  Kate - as Aunt Kitty prefers to be called - is Pinkerton's first woman agent.  Based on the real Kate Warne, this book is a romp!  Traveling around the eastern US in the days right before Abe Lincoln's inauguration,  Nell, as Aunt Kitty decides to call Cornelia, ends up helping the Pinkerton's in several cases.  Nell's letters to and from her best friend, Jemma, who fled to Canada to escape slavers, add background painlessly.  American history delivered up with a lot of fun and some suspense and sadness, too.

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger.  Sophronia Temminick has a new weapon, the steel bladed fan - so fashionable!.  She also has a dilemma of the heart.  Should she choose Shoe, the sootie of entirely the wrong social class and race?  Or go with Lord Felix Mersey - he of the influential Papa and Pickleman leanings?  When Sidheag, one of Sophronia's closest friends at Madame Geraldine's, runs off to Scotland because of a huge family crisis (involving the death of a Beta werewolf and a renegade pack), Sophronia, Dimity, Soap AND Felix steal a steam train to help Sidheag's journey.  Things get drastic and deadly serious toward the end. 

Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton.  Through no fault of his own - well, hardly - Ben Fletcher is on probation.  He has to "keep a journal" - which he already does! - learn a craft or trade, and do community service.  The craft class offerings at community college are a bit slim.  He chooses knitting since the teacher is the hottest single female teacher at the high school.  And he finds that he is a natural at knitting.  It's so calming.  What Ben needs is calming.
Ben's parents, extremely messy home and daft friends, stress Ben out in a major way.  Add to that his tendency to take AS courses in math and science and his OCD leanings and you have one anxious teen.  And then there is Megan!  Does she like him or not??  He likes HER!  He has to keep his growing knitting mania a secret from his dad and everyone else.  But he's just sooooo good at it.
After you get past the corny behavior of Ben's dad and mom, this book is laugh out loud funny.

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot.  Olivia Grace Clarice Mignonette Harrison is about as normal as a 12 year old girl can be - except for the dead mom and invisible Dad and incredibly long name.  Dad writes every month but Olivia has never met him.  Ever.  When the sixth grade queen bee, Annabelle, challenges Olivia to a fight after school and accuses Olivia of being a princess, Olivia is stunned.  But, yeah, she is a princess and half-sister to Princess Mia of Genovia.  And, there are some allegations of serious wrongdoing on the part of Olivia's aunt and guardian.
       The premise of this series is every bit as awkward and unbelievable as the premise of the Princess Diaries but, you know what?  The audience for these books will not care. In. The. Least.  Cabot's writing is effortless; the pages turn themselves.  If you want to escape from middle school worries, girls, here's the book for you.
 From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

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28. Audiobook reviews

I recently reviewed two audiobooks with a peculiar connection.  Masterminds is a thriller set in the seemingly perfect town of Serenity, New Mexico.  The Way to Stay in Destiny is a character-driven novel set in the woefully imperfect town of Destiny, Florida.  Neither town is quite what it seems.  Click the links to read the complete reviews.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman.  Read by a cast of five(2015) 

[http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/98783/]
A contemporary science thriller set in New Mexico - a real page-turner!  This is the first in a planned series.  I'm not sure how he can top this one!



 [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/99246/]
Historical fiction set in 1970s Florida by the author of Glory Be. Another paean to the power of music.  (Try Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, too!)




I'm confident that either of these is great in print as well.

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29. Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center {Review}

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A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen’s well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

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I loved this book! I picked it up for two reasons: one, it reminded me of WILD by Cheryl Strayed (but fiction), and two, I have loved Katherine Center’s previous novels. This woman can write! She pulls you deep into the heart of her characters and has you not only routing for them every step of the way, but also learning things about yourself, as well. Her books and her writing always seems to have a hopeful, positive spin on life. Even when her characters are facing tough situations and their lives seem to be turned upside down, she brings that silver lining into every moment. Helen Carpenter was a relatable, likeable heroine and the love story wasn’t predictable, saccharine, or aggressive. This is the story of a woman discovering herself, discovering what she’s capable of and learning to love her life, even the ugly and difficult moments, because it all makes up a rich and interesting life. Brene Brown has written a quote for the cover of the book, “This wise, delicious, page-turning novel won’t let you go. Katherine Center writes about falling down, grwoing up, and finding love like nobody else.” I couldn’t agree more with her sentiments. Happiness for Beginners is thoughtful, sweet, and inspiring.

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30. Reading update

I finished these books in the last few days:

Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner.  This book is very "Matilda"-ish.  Emily, a baby found in a hat box, is adopted by a quite fashionable couple. When the couple have their own triplets, Emily becomes the housekeeper, nanny and laundress - all at the tender age of 6 (?).  Luckily, Emily's neighbors, a pleasant old woman and a large tortoiseshell cat, help Emily get her work done and teach her to read and write - in four languages - including Middle English.  An accident, a daring escape and lots and lots of brightly colored bunnies add up to truly magical adventures. 

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire -  An imprisoned monk tells a tale of swapped identities, witches, firebirds, ice dragons and Tsars.  Historical fiction meshes with Russian folklore in this cautionary tale.  It's hard to do this book justice in a few sentences.

Egg & Spoon
I LOVE this cover.

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi.  Baseball, hard boiled detectives and Joe McCarthy tangle with each other in this page turner.  I loved it.  Avi draws the period so well in this book, the mistrust, the bullying, the radio shows, the family drama.  I think I will buy this book. 

Where Things Come Back  By John Corey Whaley.  Just exactly what the large reputedly extinct woodpecker, the Lazarus bird, has to do with the other events in this book is a mystery to me.  No matter.  In the space of one summer, 17-year-old Cullen has to identify the body of his druggie cousin, figure out what to do with very attentive girls, and search for his suddenly missing younger brother.  It is Gabe's disappearance that absorbs the reader's attention against the backdrop of Lazarus Bird mania.  The way Whaley plays with timelines of different people's stories kept me turning pages.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy.  Although this appears to be fourth-grader, Eli's, story, his three brothers get a lot of attention as well.  This family of four adopted boys and two loving fathers deals with new schools, fractured friendships, secrets and grouchy neighbors in this fun family novel.

And I think there was another book!.  More later.

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31. Read a Vacation!

I took a book vacation over the last few days.  I traveled to Enchantment Lake in the Minnesota North Woods. 

As Francie was waiting for her turn to audition for a play, her Great Aunt Astrid called and told Francesca to "Come quickly." 
  17-year-old Francie is on her own - sort of - since her father died in an accident 7 years before.  Her grandfather keeps watch on Francie.  So, of course, Francie calls her grandfather about this mysterious phone call and he just laughs.

Huh!  Francie races home to Enchantment Lake, where her great-aunts live without electricity or a road and the story these two women tell Francie is both unsurprisingly confusing and unexpectedly frightening.  People along the undeveloped side of Enchantment Lake (where the great-aunts live) are meeting with strange accidents - FATAL accidents.  Dum dum DUMMMMMM!!

Reading this book was like taking a vacation.  I loved the setting - and anyone who has spent time on a wooded lake as a child will love this setting, too.  And I loved the set-up; including Francie's estranged-in-a-friendly-negligent-sort-of-way family AND where Francie is when she gets the garbled phone call.  I truly enjoyed the characters, people Francie has known all her life, changed and grown older; the batty great-aunts, the handsome lawyer-to-be, her old friend Ginger and the little brother, T.J., the sheriff, the resort owner, the fat real estate developer - yep, all of them.

BUT, best of all, is this.  Margie Preus asks a lot of questions about Francie's family and doesn't answer a single one of them!! You know what that means, right?  She's planning a series about Francie and this little community.  I am so excited!


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32. Theme Reveal - Blogging from A to Z 2015 Challenge


To keep with the theme of my blog, Write What Inspires You, my theme for the A-Z 2015 Challenge is....

Books, Reviews and Inspirational Thoughts

I am looking forward to engaging with visitors and as I surf cyberspace to visit with fellow A-Z 2015 Challenge participants!

Thanks for stopping by!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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33. Moonpenny Island

Moonpenny IslandI hated growing up.  And that time - just before the world turned upside down - when I was still a child but I felt it all leaking away - I fought that time with every sobbing breath.  It took me a while to realize that you don't just - poof! - grow up.  It happens bit by bit.  I didn't like learning about adulthood's inevitability.  (There are those who think I fight it still.)



In Tricia Springstubb's Moonpenny Island, Flor and Sylvie are perfect friends.  This is a good thing.  They are the only 11-year-olds on Moonpenny Island.  But the end of summer brings enormous changes.  Sylvie leaves to go to school on the mainland and Flor is alone.  Flor's older sister, perfect Cecelia, has started acting strangely.  And her parents, well, they should not be acting that way at all.

On a small island, it can be easy to put people in slots. Flor must open her eyes.  She needs to see people as more than just labels.  Ceclia is not "perfect".  Perry is more than just the "bad boy".  Joe Hawkes is not "trash".  And her best, best BEST friend, does not have to stay the same always.

A young visitor to the island - a paleontologist's daughter - a family crisis, and her own impetus nature force Flor to truly see her island, and her family, for the first time. 

Good book.  Read it. 

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34. Can't wait to buy my copy of WHEREVER YOU GO by Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler!

 

I recently had a chance to read the f&gs (which stands for "folded and gathered", an unbound galley) for WHEREVER YOU GO, a new picture book coming out from Little, Brown in April, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by my friend Eliza Wheeler.

LOVE THIS. When I read picture books for the first time (and second and third...) I usually read them out loud, and this one was so fun to read aloud with its rhythmical prose.

Young readers will appreciate the fun journey and look-more-closely-what-do-you-see gorgeous artwork. Adults will also appreciate the multi-layered interpretation of the prose. The following (especially when combined with the beautiful artwork on that spread) is just an example:

"Roads...remember.

Every life landmark, the big and the small.

The moments you tripped,

the times you stood tall."

*snif* (this wasn't the only page spread that made me teary-eyed)

You can read the STARRED review of Wherever You Go on Kirkus Reviews.

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35. Children of the King

The BoB competition starts on Monday, March 9th, with Brown Girl Dreaming facing off against Children of the King.  I have chosen which book I hope will win but it is not an easy choice and I won't be surprised if my choice bites the dust early.
Brown Girl Dreaming             The Children of the King

Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett offers, at least, two story lines.  Cecily and her older brother Jeremy accompany their mother, Heloise, to the family seat, Heron Hall, to wait out the War.  Their father stays in London to do "important work". They arrive with scores of evacuee children and end up taking home 10-year-old May.  Uncle Peregrine answers questions about the castle ruins on the estate by telling a story about an historical Duke's rise to power. The stories intertwine as the German assault on London begins and worsens. 


 May, whose audacity surprises, maddens, and delights Cecily, discovers two boys hanging around the castle ruins.  Who are they?  What are they doing in a centuries old ruin?  Why do they speak so imperiously?

Meanwhile 14-year-old Jeremy is tortured by his inactivity.  The pressure of duty - to help in the war effort, to behave nobly - makes him irritable and demanding.  His mother refuses to listen to him - or to hear what he is actually saying.

I sometimes wondered for whom Hartnett wrote this book.  The sophisticated language hints at so much more than it says.  Hartnett offers the most insight into two characters, childish Cecily, and controlled Heloise.  Cecily is the main character, although she seems to fumble along after other people. But the glimpses behind icy Heloise's composure enlarges the audience to adults who enjoy historical fiction and stately language.

I will tell you if I believe this book will rise BoB victorious in a future post.  In the meantime, compare Children of the King to The War that Saved My Life for two different experiences of WWII young evacuees.

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36. The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in March

Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief. Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief at checkout Fiction Books Touch by Claire North The premise alone of this book is enough to give you goosebumps. The main character, who we become to know as Kepler, is […]

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37. Treehouse series

This is NOT Mary Pope Osborne's Treehouse.  You will see what I mean when you visit this site.
This series is so BOY that I - not being a BOY - had trouble reading the first book.  Andy and Terry started with a 13-story treehouse.  Then they added 13 more stories in the second book, The 26-Story Treehouse.  Can you guess the title of the forthcoming book?*

This treehouse does not have magic time-traveling powers.  It DOES have the scariest roller coaster in the world and a baby dinosaur petting zoo, 2 or more swimming pools, and an anti-gravity chamber.  Among other things.

Check them out.  Click here.

* Here's a hint:

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38. Day 11: JESMYN WARD

Where the Line Bleeds.

Salvage the Bones.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir.

If you have not been previously acquainted with the work of author Jesmyn Ward, consider today your lucky day.

 

Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi, a small rural community with which she had a “love-hate relationship”. These hometown experiences have informed each of her three novels to date. While not technically published under the banner of children’s literature, Ward’s novels are particularly suited to the older YA audience due to the ages of the characters and the relevancy of their themes. Her pre-publication literary accomplishments are substantial: an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan (where she received five Hopwood Awards); a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University(2008-2010); a John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at The University of Mississippi (2010-2011). She currently serves as Associate Professor of English at Tulane University.

 

where the line bleeds jesmyn wardShortly after receiving her MFA, Ward and her family were forced to flee their flooding home by Hurricane Katrina. Where the Line Bleeds (Agate Publishing, 2008), Ward’s first published novel, is the story of twin brothers who grow increasingly estranged after one of them begins to sell drugs to assuage the family’s post-Katrina financial burdens. It endured three years of rejection before finding a home at Agate.

 

The devastation Ward encountered day to day—driving back and forth through ravaged neighborhoods on her way to work at the University of New Orleans—rendered her mentally and emotionally unable to write anything new during the three years it took her first novel to sell. Landing her first book deal, however, inspired Ward to pick up the proverbial pen again. Her renewed salvage the bones by jesmyn wardefforts produced Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury USA, 2011) which, although roundly ignored by the literary community upon publication, ended up winning the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction. Post-nomination, it was suddenly and profusely well-reviewed. Another rich tale centered around Katrina, Salvage the Bones chronicles twelve days in the lives of a pregnant teen, Esch, her three brothers and her father—the ten days leading up to the storm, the day it hits, and the day after. According to the book’s copy, it is “[a] big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty…muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.”

 

men we reaped by jesmyn wardMen We Reaped: A Memoir (Bloomsbury USA, 2013) is Ward’s most recent book. It is a reflection on her personal experience with the death of five young men in her life (including her brother), the causes ranging from suicide to drugs to accidents to the plain old “bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men.” In a starred review, Kirkus called it “[a]n assured yet scarifying memoir by young, supremely gifted novelist Ward… A modern rejoinder to Black Like MeBeloved and other stories of struggle and redemption—beautifully written, if sometimes too sad to bear.”

 

In her acceptance speech for the National Book Award, Ward said this about the motivation behind her writing: “I understood that I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor, and the black and the rural people of the South…so that the culture that marginalized us for so long would see that our stories were as universal, our lives as fraught and lovely and important, as theirs.” This sensibility makes her novels significant mirror and window books for mature teens of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

 

If you had not been previously acquainted with the work of author Jesmyn Ward, I trust that you will consider today your lucky day. I certainly do.

 

THE BUZZ

For the buzz on Men We Reaped: A Memoir, click here.

For the buzz on Salvage the Bones, click here.

For the buzz on Where the Line Bleeds, click here.

 

For more extensive information on Jesmyn Ward and her books, please visit these article sources:

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/breakfast-meeting-nov-17/

http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/18/author-wins-prestigious-award-for-book-ignored-by-literary-world/

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/celebratory-night-for-the-book-world/?_r=0#more-244085

http://www.bloomsbury.com/author/jesmyn-ward

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesmyn_Ward

Author Photo Credit: Adam Johnson


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39. Mister Max!


 The Book of Secrets (Mister Max Series #2)

I told my mother - age, 80 plus - about all the books I read while away and she asked, "Have you read any more books about that boy who starts a detective business?"  Um?  I honestly could not remember the series she was referring to.  It had to be a book I lent to her but...

Then she added, "His parents were in the theater.  And he called himself something like a solver."

Bing!  YES!  Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt.  And, no, I had not read the second book in the series.  But, now I have!!!  I am so lucky my mother has a good memory.

Mister Max : The Book of Secrets  continues the story of Max Starling, or Mister Max, Solutioneer.  The problems Max must solve range from a schoolboy's concerns about the boy's father, to the mayor's problems with arson in the Old City.  There is a possible romance, a coded letter from Max's missing parents, and some spatting with his self-proclaimed assistant, Pia Bendiff. 

Max's grandmother has some secrets of her own that Max has to unravel as well. 

Voigt travels into dangerous territory here, as in, Max finds himself in peril, tied up and blindfolded.  And, the coded letter makes his parents' plight all too real.  Max and his grandmother have to do something to bring Max's parents home.

Max is an astonishingly perspicacious 12-year-old.  He is able to phrase questions and offer solutions in the most convincing and subtle ways.  When it comes to his personal life and the people closest to him, he does not see things that clearly.  Whew!  I was afraid he was going to be a super-teen.  I enjoy his stubborn streak and I want to shake him all at the same time. His insistence on being independent, even though he found the money his father hid in their house, is a little maddening. He's lucky his grandmother is so understanding!

 I think I will pre-order Mister Max : The Book of Kings so my mother doesn't have to remind me of the books I want to read.

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40. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell

I loved Rundell's book, Rooftoppers. Cartwheeling has a much different setting.   Rooftoppers began and ended with the scent of magic realism.  Cartwheeling, on the other hand, hints at an all too concrete tragedy even while the heroine is enjoying her wonderful life.

The villainess in this book is smarmy and manipulative. (Do those two words mean the same thing?)  So, I skipped a few pages and got into the meat of the story.  Wilhelmina Silver has been a wild girl on the farm her father manages in Zimbabwe.  She rides, runs and fights as well as the boys, if not better.  Her life is one long adventure.  And everyone loves her - her father, Captain Browne who owns the farm, all the workers and their families and especially her best friend, Simon.

Then disaster strikes in the form of a new, pretty wife for Captain Browne.  In a trice, Will is orphaned - (these are the pages I skipped so I can only guess that Mrs. Browne did not do her best to nurse Will's father back to health) - and shipped off to Boarding School in England.

Much catty bullying and impotent glaring and despair follow and then Will runs off into a brand new wilderness, London. 



One of the best things about this book is the balance in the characters.  The bullies end up having good points - well, ok, reluctant remorse.  The teachers are not all bad.  And the boy who befriends Will has his limitations.  People are people - spotty and real.

Yep.  The ending is quite satisfying.  Rundell's writing does not disappoint.

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41. BoB

I went away.  Internet was expensive and spotty.   I am back.

So, it seems, is Battle of the Kids Books.   Here are this year's contenders.  I have only read FOUR of them.  Oh MY!  I must get some eye drops and those clips that keep your eyes open and hire a house minder so that I can read, read, read.

What I Read While I Was Away:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson - best book of the batch!
Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones - so good, sigh!
The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud - can NOT wait for the next book in this outstandingly fun and creepy series

Three adult mysteries - one set in Singapore (Aunty Lee's Delights), another featuring crossword puzzles (The Crossworder's Delight) and a short story starring Hercule Poirot.  All a lot of fun.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel - surprisingly good and suspenseful

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp - galloping adventure

I started The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett.  Not quite done with it yet.  Considering that the first version was written - and published - when Sir Terry was 17, it's pretty darn good.  I am, I confess, a Pratchett fan.

Still in pjs - retirement is awesome! - now I must get moving or the day will be done before I know it.


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42. Book Review: Goodbye Old Man


In the spring of 1915, Fortunino Matania traveled to the front lines of the Great War to research his illustrations for the British illustrated journal The Sphere. 

Neuve Chapelle, 1915, by Fortunino Matania, Royal Worcestershire Regiment Museum
He sketched the positions of the dead and the the layout of the defenses, reconstructing the battle that had just taken place. But the battlefield was still hot, and his attempts to sketch were interrupted by machine gun fire. Ducking into a trench, he bobbed his head up for a few seconds to take in the view of the nearby village and the debris—a battered teakettle, a discarded bottle, and a sardine can.

A shell exploded just five yards away, covering him and his sketchbook with dirt. He escaped to the relative safety of a field hospital, where he interviewed survivors. Returning to his studio in England, he dug a trench in his own garden to reconstruct the scene in real life, where he could study the effects in safety.


This story is just one of many contained in a new book called Goodbye, Old Man: Matania's Vision of the First World War about the Italian-born illustrator Fortunino Matania (1881-1963). The title is a reference to his most famous image, showing a soldier saying farewell to his dying horse as his buddies urge him on.

The book is softcover, 6 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches with over 100 illustrations, more than 30 of which are in color. The images are reproduced both from original art and from tearsheets. Because of the petite size of the book, the illustrations are unfortunately disappointingly small, but they're well captioned, and larger files can often be found online. List price is U.S. $18.95, but it can be found on Amazon for less than $15.00. 

The book does much to fill the gap in published information about this underappreciated artist whom I've written about many times before on this blog. It's an especially good resource for anyone interested in the documentation of World War I. I hope that someone will produce another book covering his vast output of historical illustrations after the war.


Book: Goodbye, Old Man: Matania's Vision of the First World War by Lucinda Gosling
Previous GJ posts on Matania

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43. Picture Book Roundup - January 2015 edition


Some new picture book favorites!  A fairytale, a toddler book, and poetic nonfiction.  Enjoy!


A beautiful princess, a pony, a red umbrella and red tights.  This is the girls' empowerment fairytale that you've always wanted. Be who you are; love who you are. If the illustrations in this one do not enchant you, you have no magic in your soul.  (So glad that this one made the leap across the pond!)




While tow truck and fire truck are out performing rescues, mild-mannered and bespectacled garbage truck "just collects the trash." It takes a snowstorm and an attachable snow plow to turn him into Supertruck! Simply told and simply illustrated for a young audience, this is a story of doing your job simply because it's the job that needs to be done. I like it! 

Note: Despite its snowstorm theme, this one should be popular for the 2015, "Every Hero Tells a Story" summer reading theme.


A beautifully photographed, poetic look at rain - what it does and where it lands and how we see it. Simple, gorgeous science,

It thuds.
Makes mud.
It fills.
It spills.

Have a great week, and don't forget to check out the posts on the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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44. Seeking Books, Chapbooks, Anthologies, Novellas and Collections to Review: Blot Lit

Blot Lit Reviews Accepting Review Queries 

Blot Lit reviews, a division of Blotterature Literary Magazine, is accepting review queries to help promote small press publishers and their writers. Please follow the guidelines below to submit for a review. 


What Blot Lit Reviews is Looking For:
--Novels, Chapbooks, Novellas, Anthologies, and Collections
--Must be published by a small press
--Published within the last 12 months
--Poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction 


What Blot Lit Reviews is not looking for:
--Anything that is self-published
--Academic writing


How to get your book reviewed:
--upload a brief query letter
--include synopsis of work


Must provide Blot Lit Reviews with one copy of book upon acceptance
Submitter will be notified of acceptance and further information will be provided.


Go here for more information on how to submit.

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45. Book Review: How to Render by Scott Robertson



Scott Robertson recently released his new book How to Render: The Fundamentals of Light, Shadow, and Reflectivity, and he sent me a copy to take a look at.

It's a followup to his previous book How to Draw, which I reviewed last year. Once you know how to draw the outlines of an object in perspective, the next thing is how to to use light and shade to bring out the form, and how various surfaces will look in different conditions. That's what this book concentrates on.

Scott has plenty of experience as a teacher. He has taught at art schools, seminars, and workshops, and has produced a lot of DVDs for Gnomon. He also shares regular videos on his YouTube channel.

He brings all that experience to his organization of the book. The book is divided into two main sections: 1. The physics and the perspective of light and shadow, and 2. The physics of reflectivity.


The book opens with a presentation of drawing tools, and then dives into a discussion of the kinds of light and the elements of form. He uses as examples both ideal geometric forms and photos of real objects (such as sculpture and architecture).

In one section of the book, Scott guides the reader through various practical systems for constructing shadows in perspective using geometric forms. That section feels a bit like a math textbook, but that's the only way to learn it, especially if you're creating imaginary forms.

The second half of the book analyzes reflective surfaces and their specific properties: including the Fresnel effect, reflection flipping, reflection pools, reflections over graphics, and cast shadows on reflective surfaces. He also goes through a catalog of examples of specific materials, such as glass, plastic, chrome, gold, wood, leather, and cloth, as well as examples of photographic effects such as motion blur and depth of field.


Scott does some rendering demos using both digital and physical techniques, so they will be of universal value from a technical perspective. Although there is some limited coverage of organic, natural forms (such as portraits, plants, animals, and landscapes) and passing references to atmospheric effects, the chief focus of the book is on transportation design—such things as cars, airplanes and robots.

The book was created by Robertson's own publishing company Design Studio Press. It is large (9x11 inches), thick (272 pages), and printed on heavy opaque paper. The book also provides the reader with special access to dozens of supplementary online videos.

How to Render: The Fundamentals of Light, Shadow, and Reflectivity is a rigorous book that covers the subject comprehensively and authoritatively, and it should become a useful textbook for many years to come.

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46. Info on paid book reviews

Book life logoBookLife, a website by Publisher’s Weekly, has an article titled "The Indie Author's Guide to Paid Reviews" that might be useful to you. It includes advice on Pros and Cons, How to Prepare, and The Major Players.

Speaking of reviews, here’s a new unpaid one from Amazon for Mastering the  Craft of Compelling Storytelling:

A new review from Amazon for my new Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling:

5 stars A Writer’s Must Read

Mastering front 100Wshadow

"Thank you Ray Rhamey for putting into one book so much of what we need to know as writers. This book, unlike a number of craft books, is an easy and entertaining read. More importantly, it captures in one place so much great stuff to take your writing from 'meh' to powerful. I found so many answers in my first reading and you can bet I'll be using it as reference in the future."

Signed print copies available here, Kindle edition available here.

For what it’s worth.

Ray

© 2015 Ray Rhamey

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47. Walter Baumhofer Book

The Illustrated Press and David Saunders teamed up last year to publish the definitive monograph on Golden Age pulp illustrator Walter Baumhofer.

The book tells his whole life story, from his origins as a young artist, his time in art school, and his early pen and ink and charcoal illustrations, and his striking poster designs.

The book includes many of his Doc Savage, Dime Western and Dime Detective pulp covers. The bold colors and eye-catching graphics are beautifully reproduced from the old tearsheets.

There are also many examples reproduced from his original artwork, including his photo reference, preliminary drawings, correspondence, and a collector's checklist in the back.

Their Kickstarter campaign for the limited edition was a great success, but you can still get a copy on Amazon.
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The book is printed on quality paper and is 224 pages, 9x12 pages
On Amazon: Walter Baumhofer

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48. Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror, plus advice for writers and illustrators

 

Just finished reading Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror by Chris Priestley, with wonderfully creepy illustrations by David Roberts. I've always been a fan of scary stories ever since I was little and I used to write a lot of scary, sinister short stories in grade school. My eighth grade teacher attended my I'M BORED book launch, which was a total (and wonderful) surprise, and apparently he was telling my husband about how many of the stories I wrote back then were very dark.

I don't read as much horror now but I do still love indulging in creating creepydark illustrations sometimes, just for the fun of it.

Speaking of illustrations, here's a fun interview on The Independent's children's book blog with illustrator David Roberts. Interesting that David says he doesn't think much about the age group when he's working on book illustrations. He says his work is more a response to the story. His tip for aspiring illustrators: "Don't be afraid of that vast expanse of white paper (or I guess these days you could say computer screen). Sometimes your mistakes can be good and you can always start again if you don’t like it."

Chris Priestly advises young writers to have at least a rough outline of their story. "Give yourself a decent start and plan where you are going. You don’t have to stick to it – but it will make your life easier and it will mean that you will be less likely to give up."

More info about Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror on the Bloomsbury website

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Find out more about Donalyn Miller's Book-A-Day Challenge on the Nerdy Book Club site, and you can read archives of my #BookADay posts.

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49. Seeking Book Review Editor: Prime Number Magazine

Help Wanted: Book Review Editor for Prime Number Magazine. Must have a portfolio of published reviews. The position (which is unpaid, like all of our editorial positions) entails curating and/or writing book reviews and interviews for our quarterly online publication. Expressions of interest should be sent to:

CliffATPrimeNumberMagazineDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

along with copies of or links to published reviews AND a brief statement of your book review philosophy.

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50. Love my books? Here’s how to help!

cheryl-rainfield-books-500

Do you love my books? Do you want to read even more books by me? Here’s how you can help me (and other authors you love):

Buy a copy of our books. Publishers look at sales when they’re considering publishing a new book by an author. If the previous books don’t have good sales, another book by the same author might not get published.

If you can’t afford a copy, then please request it at your local library. Most librarians are happy to order in books that readers request.

Post a review–it doesn’t have to be long, even a sentence or two–on Amazon, especially, and also B&N, GoodReads, etc. Reviews help other readers find the book. This is one of the most helpful things you can do, and authors really appreciate it.

Post your review on social media: your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. This again helps other readers find the book.

Post a photo of the book, or the book and you, a book and your pet, etc. to social media. This also helps get more reader interest.

Recommend it to your friends. I know I love hearing about books my friends have enjoyed, and your friends likely do, too.

Request a copy at your local library.If there are a lot of requests for a book, a library may order more. Or, if there haven’t been any previous requests, they may order a copy.

Recommend it to a book club.If you or a friend is reading in that genre, why not let others know about it?

Ask your local bookstore where the book is located. This may help to gain more bookstore interest in the book.

Add it to your to-read or other lists on GoodReads.You may help someone else discover a book they’d like to read.

Re-post an author’s book tweets, posts on Facebook or Instagram or other social media.

If you like a tweet or post, it helps to re-post it; many more people will see it and perhaps look up the book.

If you especially love my books, sign up for my newsletter or join my street team (where you can sometimes win prizes, hear news first, read a free short story, and more.

If you do any of that, know you have my deep appreciation and thanks.

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