April 2018 Archives

A book too can be

A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.
Madeleine L'Engle

If you rewrite a paragraph

If you rewrite a paragraph fifty times and forty-nine of them are terrible, that's fine; you only need to get it right once.
Tana French

You will never find time

You will never "find" time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
Charles Bruxton

Chasing Secrets

Chasing Secrets.jpgAnd another historical for you: Chasing Secrets (Wendy Lamb Books, 2015) by Gennifer Choldenko, who never disappoints. I still remember crying over Notes from a Liar and Her Dog.

It's 1900 in San Francisco and thirteen-year-old Lizzie Kennedy would rather be with her physician father than going to Miss Barstow's finishing school. And even though Aunt Hortense doesn't think it is appropriate she is interested in science, Lizzie goes whenever she can. But dead rats are appearing everywhere. Could the plague have arrived?

Besides secrets, the story involves mysteries, sneaking around, a new friend, danger, and more. Lizzie even learns a thing or two.

Check out Gennifer's stupid author photos here or see her other books here. You'll be glad you did.

Is It Night or Day?

nightorday.jpgI love learning about history via historical fiction--it just brings it alive. Is It Night or Day? (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010) by Fern Schumer Chapman is a recent discover for me. The book is inspired by the author's mother's experiences, who was one of twelve hundred children rescued from the Holocaust by Americans through the One Thousand Children project.

It's 1938 and twelve-year-old Edith has to travel alone from Germany to America as the anti-Semitism is getting worse. She'll be staying with family she's never met in Chicago. Is that scary or what?

See if the opening lines of this book don't just grab you: "The first long train trip I ever took in Germany was my last. Now I see that it was a funeral procession. The mourners traveling with me were my father, my mother, and Mina, a Christian girl who lived with my family and was as dear to me as my big sister, Betty. We were burying my childhood."

The author creates such sympathy in the reader's heart for Edith. Wow! It's an unforgettable story and definitely a good read.

Read about Fern Schumer Chapman's other books here.

Tempests and Slaughter

tempestsandslaughter.jpgI'm a big Tamora Pierce fan and love the new book in her new series. Tempests and Slaughter (Random House, 2018) is about Arram Draper. Yes, if you've read the stories about Daine, you'll probably recognize that name. This story is set farther back in time in Tortall.

Arram is only eleven, well, ten really, but he says he's eleven. Because he's always getting into trouble. Especially at the School of Mages where he's attending with older students. Strange events happen around him. All the Masters know his name.

This story takes Arram through his mage training where he meets the two older students, Varice and Ozorne, who become his best friends. (Whose names again will sound familiar if you are a fan.) With friends by his side life is a bit easier, but the Masters keep adding more and more duties and harder classes. Throw in the crocodile god, the Graveyard Hag, and service in the arena, and Arram is juggling a lot. Will he be able to keep it all in balance?

I didn't want to stop reading and when I reached the end, I was ready for the sequel, which isn't out yet! I know I'll be rereading this story.

If you aren't familiar with Tamora Pierce, you can read about her here.


infinity.jpgA student told me about author Sherrilyn Kenyon. I found the first book in the Chronicles of Nick (a spin-off series from the Dark-Hunter® novels if you've read her adult work), infinity (St. Martin's Griffin, 2010). So far, there are nine books in this series. You can see them here. But back to infinity.

You can't necessarily judge a book by it's cover, but maybe in the case of this contemporary fantasy you can. Isn't that a beautiful cover?

Nick Gautier (Go-shay) is fourteen and mortified by the orange Hawaiian shirt his single mom bought him at Goodwill. Are those pink and gray trout? Salmon? He can't be seen in school in this . . . hideous thing. It's bad enough he's a scholarship kid in a "snotty overprivileged school."

But life is about to get worse. First, it's a fight to defend his mom's honor. Then he's suspended from school. When Nick helps three hustler friends as their watchdog, he gets shot and is taken to the hospital by this guy Kyrian.

But then life looks up. Sort of. Kyrian wants him to work for him to pay off the hospital debt. Then there's a werewolf, and the undead, and flesh-eating zombies. Nick has to hide his dangerous new world from his mom.

Sherrilyn Kenon is an author with an amazing list of bestsellers. You can read all about her here.

To Catch a Killer

to-catch-a-killer-sheryl-scarborough.jpgTo Catch a Killer (Tor Teen, 2017) by Sheryl Scarborough is one of those compelling hard to put down books.

The story opens with seventeen-year-old Erin in the back of a police car pulling into the police station. Someone has killed her biology teacher and Erin found her. She's here to give her statement. But once they learn Erin's full name there's concern whether this could have anything to do with her mother's murder thirteen years ago. It can't possibly, right?

Rachel, Erin's guardian and her mom's best friend, doesn't talk about that time or even about Erin's mother. Or who Erin's father could be. The biology teacher was helping Erin narrow her potential fathers down with DNA. Her last words to Erin were "be careful." Turns out Erin's crush, Journey Michaels, was also being helped by Miss P. Even though they've never spoken before, the two band together to solve both crimes.

to-right-the-wrongs-685x1027.jpgThe novel is full of forensic facts--Erin's been reading her Uncle's books (he's an FBI agent), suspense, secrets, betrayal, and danger. I'm excited to learn the book has a sequel.

Read about author Sheryl Scarborough here and read her forensic facts blog here.

The One Memory of Flora Banks

memory of flora banks.jpgThe One Memory of Flora Banks/big> (Philomel, 2017) by Emily Barr is such a heart-breaking story. Here's the opening line: "I am at the top of a hill, and although I know I have done something terrible, I have no idea what it is."

Flora has memory problems. She writes herself reminders on sticky notes, and on her arm to help her navigate the world. But often she is surprised that she is not ten--the age she was when she had surgery to remove a brain tumor--but seventeen and wondering why she is in an adult body. However, the night she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, everything changes. She can remember this memory without written reminders. Of course, her best friend Paige is angry at her. Flora lets her parents leave for Paris to go take care of her brother with them thinking Paige will be with her, but Paige isn't coming. Flora keeps reading "be brave" on this journey that changes her life.

This is British author Emily Barr's first novel. The book is available in 26 languages! Her second novel for young adults, The Truth and Lies of Ella Black, is a thriller that came out in 2018.

Emily Barr is also an adult book novelist. Read more about her on her website.

The finest writing not only

The finest writing not only reveals true character, but arcs or changes that inner nature, for better or worse, over the course of the telling.
Robert McKee