Bird, Cousins and Robbers, Crystal Chan, Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, Michael A. Carestio, Tales of Black Jack Jetty

Cousins and Robbers — A Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Most of us don’t need a psychiatric therapist as much as a
friend to be silly with.”  
 ~ Robert Brault ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:

The Editor’s Blog has a terrific post you can find HERE that covers habits, motions, and common actions of fictional characters. This is a good one. 

Find Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling HERE. This is a very fresh take. Don’t miss this one.

Anne R. Allen has a great post on her blog about four ways to NOT start a novel. This is worth your time. Click HERE to read it. 
When we last met, I promised a signed copy of Bird by Crystal Chan to one of you. This week’s winner is Reader Noir. Congratulations, Reader Noir! WooHoo for you! I will get the book in the mail to you this week. Reader Noir are a couple of mysterious people who go by the initials are R and K. They write book reviews on a blog called Reader Noir which you can find by clicking HERE. I’ve just subscribed recently so I can’t tell you much else. But check it out. I will have another give away this week, so stay tuned.
I was contacted recently and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a middle-grade book, Cousins and Robbers — Tales of Black Jack Jetty by Michael A. Carestio as part of a blog tour. I had never done a blog tour before and the book sounded interesting, so I agreed.They have some nice giveaways, so be sure to read all the way through and check out their graphic near the end. 
At the very end of Black Jack Jetty, a crooked hook of land along the New Jersey shore, lives an extended family of aunts and cousins there for the summer months. The country is in recession and this is not the usual summer. Parents have been laid off and jobs are hard to find and there is a lot more stress on all the family members than usual. In addition, a number of daring daylight robberies have taken place in the last several days. Riley is nine and she is the real leader of the group, and in a few days she will be joined by cousins Jack, Willy, Nick, and Angel, who isn’t really a cousin, but is a student of their aunt, but all accept him as if he were a member of the family.
The series of daylight robberies seems to be nearing the family home and, since

Michael Carestio

there is a treasure that had been found by their Uncle Black Jack, and since the rumors of the treasure seems to have exaggerated its value, the family is worried the robbers have their home in their sites. The kids decide they will be the ones to solve the crimes. They spend some time on the widow’s walk of the house and eventually figure out the robbers are likely pretending to be landscapers to blend in. They identify their vehicles. When they are out riding their bikes one day, Riley and Jack are investigating the inside of the trailer they believe is involved in the robberies, when the robbers come out, close up the trailer, and drive away and into a terrible neighborhood in nearby Atlantic City. Angel and Nick follow, sending Willy home after making him promise if they aren’t back in two hours, Willy is to tell Aunt Jane. 

This is a fun little mystery with characters young middle-grade readers will relate to.  The bad guys are seriously bad and the family is pretty realistic. As I try to look at this from the point of view of the intended audience, I think  young middle-graders will enjoy it. From my perspective as a writer and critiquer, I had problems with it. The omniscient narrator — a literate seagull — was hard for me to wrap my head around. The book could also use a good round of proofreading. There is a prologue that is not really a prologue at all, but a segment of one of the chapters. That said, I think it will be successful with the younger crowd who really like mysteries with heroes their own age. 
I have a signed copy for one of you. All you need do is have a US address, be a follower or subscriber (easy and free — check the right-hand column), and leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, tweet or post about this post with the link and let me know. I’ll give you extra chances. Please check out the blog tour by clicking HERE and see their very special giveaways. And don’t forget to stop by Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday post by clicking HERE

 

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