Barbara Abercrombie, Hunter Moran Hangs Out, Natalie Goldberg, Sacramento Book Review, Susan Hill Long, Whistle in the Dark

Double Review and Giveaway — Whistle in the Dark & Hunter Moran Hangs Out

Thought for the Day:

“Have compassion for yourself when you write. There’s no failure — just a big field to wander in.” ~ Natalie Goldberg~ 


Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:

I read one good poem every day, thanks to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. Click HERE to check it out. You can sign up and get a good poem every day too.


Because I am so tired of judgmental people saying things like, “You’re not a real writer unless you . . .” whatever, I was thrilled to read this great guest post by Adrienne Kress (click HERE). If you read nothing else, get to the little story about Stephen King and John Irving. It’s classic. 

My friend Morgan Mussell has a not-to-be-missed blog called The First Gates. It is always a treat to read what he has to say. In this post, he links to a great article by James Rollins called Turning Science into Fiction. If you click HERE, you will be taken to Morgan’s blog and you can link to the article there. I’m doing it this way because I think everyone should find Morgan’s rich, useful blog. 
When last I wrote, I offered a copy of Kicking in the Wall by Barbara Abercrombie. I am happy to announce that this week’s winner is Joanne Fritz! Congratulations, Joanne. She writes children’s books, poetry, and flash fiction. You can learn more about her on her blog, My Brain on Books, by clicking HERE. Joanne, I will be putting your book in the mail this week. Thanks for playing!

I am really busy doing some re-writing and also in the midst of Shannon Messenger’s latest book (you’ll hear more about it soon right here!), so I’m simply going to post two reviews I’ve done recently for the Sacramento Book Review. The good news is 1) I really liked them both and 2) I’m doing a double giveaway this week!

The first book is Whistle in the Dark by Susan Hill Long. It’s terrific! Here’s my review.

Clem has but one wish. For his thirteenth birthday he wants a dog. But that isn’t what he gets. He gets a miner’s cap. His life is about to change. He is expected to work in the lead mine, deep underground, and to help support the family. His grandfather has miner’s lung and cannot work. His Pap works every day, but it is never enough. Clem’s sister, Esther, has epilepsy and the doctor’s bills make it impossible for Pap to earn enough on his own. But this is not what Clem has in mind for his life. He hates the dark, claustrophobic, physical work. He wants to be in school and able to make something more of his life.

 “Clem’s hand went to his mouth as if to stifle a cry. He’d never before considered how his own father got the moonshine whiskey in his Thermos that day Clem caught him at it.”

Clem comes to know a girl from school, one who had been bullied by everyone, even Clem. Lindy is terribly scarred on half her face, and the kids call her Frankenstein. But when Clem discovers she helped Ester when she had a fit, he thinks differently of her. They become friends, then more.

Susan Hill Long has created a time-and place-machine with this lovely coming-of-age story. She transports readers to the Ozarks of the early 20th century with her compelling story.

The second book is Hunter Moran Hangs Out by Patricia Reilly Giff. It’s pretty cute. Here is my review from SBR.

Hunter Moran and his twin, Zack, discover there is an impending kidnapping in Newfield. Worse yet,

they figure out their little brother Steadman is the likely target. Sarah Yulefski has the inside information and charges them all they have for it. The kids erect a tree platform to keep an eye on things and find suspicious activity at the house across the street – the empty house – and decide the kidnappers must be using it to stage their crime. Their mother goes into labor and their parents head to the hospital. That’s when the boys find a note that looks like it’s from the kidnapper, but their sister Linny tears it up before they can read it. The boys find themselves in plenty of messes along the way, but ultimately discover that their dog Fred has been taken. They never seem to be at the right place at the right time to see anything useful. Will they ever find Fred? This book is fast-moving almost to the point of being manic. Younger middle-graders will enjoy the pace and story. It will help if they’d read the first book in the series and are familiar with this amazing cast of characters.

 “We slog our way across the street, dripping muck and weeds. I use my hands like windshield wipers, back and forth across my cheeks, my forehead, my eyes. Behind us, someone is laughing like a maniac.”

All you need to do to win BOTH these books in hardcover is be a follower and leave a comment. If you aren’t yet a follower, it’s easy. Just look on the right column. If you want extra chances in the drawing, tweet the link or post it on Facebook or something like that and tell me you’ve done it. I will put in extra chances for you.

Don’t forget to check out Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blogs for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday books and blogs. You can find it HERE.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave a comment.


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