Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Mask of Destiny by Richard Newsome: Book Review

Gerald Wilkins may finally get a chance to relax and enjoy his inherited wealth. Together, with his best friends, Sam and Ruby, they attend the trial of his arch nemesis, Sir Mason Green, in hopes of seeing him get locked away for a very long time. Instead, they witness the murder of Mason Green from a poison dart and Gerald is framed for his murder.

In a frantic dash across Europe, the trio must dodge the law while pursuing the mysterious cat woman, Charlotte, who happens to be the niece of Sir Mason Green. Not only must Gerald and his friends try to uncover Mason Green's true killer, they must also try to recover the ruby stolen by Charlotte. The ruby which is the key to the third casket. Gerald had hoped the the third casket could rest undisturbed, but his enemies are bent on uncovering its secrets.

Richard Newsome's final book in the Archer trilogy, The Mask of Destiny, starts as thriller, promising to be his best work yet. However, the forced ending was a bit of a let down compared to the previous books in the series. Nevertheless, still recommended for the adventure lover and thrill seeker as there are some nail biting escapes and action filled scenes. Ages 8-12.

Publishing Information
  • Publisher: Walden Pond Press
  • Date: May 15, 2012
  • Pages: 384
  • ISBN: 978-0-06-194494-9
Preorder now. This book will be released 5/15/2012

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**As per FTC regulations, I received an Advanced Readers Copy at no charge from the publisher. ARC books have no monetary value as they are marked review copies and can not be resold. I did not receive any other compensation and my opinions are not influenced by receiving an ARC book at no charge.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In The Garden by Elizabeth Spurr/Manelle Oliphant: Board Book Giveaway

Enter to Win a Fabulous Board Book for Your Toddler

Use the Rafflecopter form to enter to win this fabulous board book just in time for spring planting. Help your child get outside to work outside.

Want to know more about this book? Read my REVIEW.

Contest Details: Contest starts 4/22/2012 and ends 5/1/2012 at 11:59 EST. By entering, you have acknowledged the terms on the Rafflecopter form and agree to them. You agree to have your name published on this blog and other social media sites as the winner.

**This is not a sponsored post. The book is provided by the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for posting the giveaway.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In The Garden Board Book Review

                   In The Garden by Elizabeth Spurr and Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant: Book Review

It's Springtime and time for planting. A young boy is ready. He digs the dirt and plants the seeds. Then he waters his garden and does what any normal boy would do, he waits patiently until he gets sidetracked with other fun activities. The rain and sun work magic and help the seeds to grow. The excited boy discovers the joy of the garden he helped create.

The rhythm of the words combined with the delightful illustrations, give the young reader a glimpse of what it takes to grow a garden. The introduction to new words for simple gardening objects is sure to peak the interest of the young listener. Coupled with the visual aspects of the growing plants, In the Garden earns my recommended rating for the toddler lap reader.

Publishing Information:
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
  • Ages: 1-3
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-581-2
  • Total Pages: 22
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**Disclosure: I received the book at no charge from the publisher for review purposes only. I did not receive monetary compensation in exchange for a review.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Author Interview: Laurie Calkhoven of the Boys of Wartime Series

Part of the fun of having a book review blog is getting to interview the authors of the fabulous books I read. I thank author, Laurie Calkhoven, for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope my readers will find the behind the scenes of what goes into creating a book as interesting as I do.

How much time does it take to do the research for each of your historical fiction novels from the Boys of Wartime series?

LC: Research varies from book to book, but in general it takes about six to eight months of research before I begin to know my story. At some point in my research for every book, a character and an opening scene comes to me.  That’s when I know it’s time to start writing. Then I continue to research while I’m writing, which can take another year to eighteen months.

Often I’ll go down a wrong path and spend time digging up facts that I’ll never use, but it was early on in my World War Two reading that I came across mention of the escape lines used by English and American aviators to evade the Nazis, and I knew that’s what my story would be about.  From there on, my research was very focused and efficient.

 Did you get a chance to talk to any veterans of World War II or people who lived in France to find out what it was really like during this time?

LC: I read as many first hand accounts as I could, both by the airmen who were rescued by the Resistance and by Resistance fighters.  Unfortunately, the airmen who are still alive are quite old by now, and I didn’t get to France to interview any of the Resistance members. Luckily, many of them wrote about their experiences. There were also a couple of books published in the last ten years or so about the escape lines, and they were a great help, too.

What made you decide to write about boys during wartime?

LC: I got the idea for the first novel in the series—DANIEL AT THE SIEGE OF BOSTON, 1776—while I was researching a biography of George Washington.  When I pitched it to an editor, he suggested I put together a proposal for that book and more, each one set in a different war.  I didn’t know what I was getting myself into!

I’ve always been interested in what happens to ordinary people during those extraordinary moments in American history. Historians tend to focus on armies and generals, but I always wondered about the civilians who get caught up in those extraordinary moments.  What happens to them?  Answering that question led to my first character, Daniel, and to all the others.

In Michael and the Invasion of France, you concentrate on the American aviators. What made you decide to tell this part of the war story?

LC: As soon as I read about the American aviators and the escape lines I knew that was the story I wanted to tell. It was an aspect of the war that I hadn’t known about, and I (as far as I know) hadn't been written about for the middle grade audience. I thought American readers would be interested to know more, as I was. 

I was incredibly moved by the courage of the Dutch, Belgian, and French Resistance members who risked everything to help strangers, especially when I learned that so man of them lost their lives in the effort.  I wanted to do justice to them.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

LC: I have always loved books and stories.  The very first thing I wanted to be was a librarian.  I wanted to live in the school library when my class learned how to use it in first grade.  I’m not sure when it dawned on me that there were actual people who created the characters and stories within those books, but when it did, I knew that was the job for me.

What author do you admire most and why?

LC: There are too many authors I admire to choose just one!  I think Kekla Magoon writes great historical fiction.  Her first novel, Rock and the River is brilliant.  I just finished My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson and was blown away.

Out of all the books you have written, which is your favorite and why?

That would be like choosing a favorite child!  I think Michael at the Invasion of France is my best book to date, but I hope I keep getting better and better with each book.

Do you ever visit the places you write about? If not, tell us how you find out about these places?

LC: I’ve been to France, and I love Paris, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel there specifically to do research for Michael.  I did visit Boston when I was working on Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1776, and that was invaluable.  Similarly, I visited Gettysburg a few times while working on Will at the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863.  Not only is the Adams County Historical Society a great place to do research, many of the Civil War buildings in Gettysburg are still standing. I was able to poke my fingers into bullet holes on the sides of homes, and stand under trees that witnessed the battle, and that was invaluable in bringing the story to life.

What is the easiest thing about writing? The hardest?

LC: On any given day, my answer to that question would change.  When I’m deep into a first draft—creating characters and dreaming up stories for them—I might way that first drafts are incredibly hard and I’d much rather be revising something I’ve already written.  But when I’m revising, I might say that that’s the hard part.  But in both instances, there are days when everything comes together and I’m convinced I have the best job in the world.

Thanks so much for your insightful questions!