Book Giveaway, book review, Fake ID, Jeffrey Deaver, Lamar Giles, Lee Child, Life and Times of Benny Alvarez, Peter Johnson, San Francisco Book Review, Sandra Brown

The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez — Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

 ~ John Steinbeck ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends: 

K. W. Weiland has a great post HERE on how to get your message across in your story without beating your readers over the head with it. 

I ran across a good post a while back reminding us of ways to cut words. Click HERE to see what Kaylee Baldwin has to say about that.

Kristen Lam always has something interesting to say, and this is now exception. Click HERE to find the Five Warning Signs Your Story Needs Revision. 
Every Sunday morning, I try very hard to make time to watch all the major news shows. It really helps me to put things into perspective for myself. This morning there was a special treat on Face the Nation. Bob Schieffer had five mystery/thriller writers — Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Karin Slaughter, and David Ignatius — on his show to discuss their craft. It was a lot of fun. If you missed it, you can see it by clicking HERE. It reminded me that sometimes I need to read something that is just for fun — not for review or as homework for my own writing. The segment runs 15 or 20 minutes and you can build a good escapist reading list while you watch.
Last week a offered a copy of Fake ID by Lamar Giles, kind of a mystery/thriller for the younger set, to one of you. This week’s winner is Jen Garrett! WooHoo for Jen!! She is a writer and mother. She has written award-winning scripts, articles, and poems and is hoping to have one of her children’s books published one day soon. You can find more about her at here site HERE and you can also find her blog there. Jen, I will get the book out to you this week. For the rest of you, I have another giveaway this week so keep reading.  
Since it is summer, and since I am getting ready to fly to Minnesota tomorrow for a very short trip, I am going to take it easy and post a review of wrote for the San Francisco Book Review a while back. The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez by Peter Johnson is my choice for this week. Here is my review.

For seventh-grader Benny Alvarez, life is never dull. At school, where he hangs out with best friends Jocko and Beanie, he has a special teacher the boys call Ms. D (for Demigoddess). Benny is always, it seems, in conflict with pretty Claudine and her girlfriends. His family is very interesting. He has a younger brother, Crash, an older sister, Irene, and her odd boyfriend, Aldo. Benny’s father is retired, his mother is an executive, and his grandfather has suffered a couple of strokes which affects his speech and thinking. Ms. D has decided to have the students work on poetry, not a subject the boys are too crazy about, and she brings in a visiting poet. The girls believe poetry must have rhyme and line breaks, but the boys think poetry in sentences and paragraphs is just fine. The competition heats up and forces Benny and Claudine into head-to-head conflict.

“Another one of my traits is that I can argue you to death. You want 
to argue that the cafeteria pizza is great, I can counter with a 
hundred reasons why it isn’t, even if it’s my favorite meal.”

Peter Johnson has created an engaging cast of characters, all very realistic and believable, and placed them in a likewise believable setting and situation. The writing is funny and smart, and the story is told in a pitch-perfect voice of a very likable and shrewd Benny.

Peter Johnson

If you would like to win my gently-read ARC, all you need do is be a subscriber or follower (free and easy in the right-hand column), have a US address, and leave a comment. Next time I post I will draw a name of one commenter. If you want extra chances, please Tweet the link or post the link on your Facebook feed or your blog. Tell me you have done this and I will give you extra chances. Be sure to check Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways. Click HERE to find it.

By the way, I have no idea why I can’t get all my text to be in the same font. Blogger seems to take on a life of its own sometimes, and I can’t control it. Sorry. 

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