96 Miles — Review

Thought for the Day:

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Word choice is pretty fundamental to what we do. Connie J. Jasperson at Life in the Realm of Fantasy has a very helpful post HERE on Choosing Words to Add Depth.

Writer’s Digest has a great post HERE that will give you 10 Ways to Hook Your Reader (and Reel Them in for Good).

C. S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive has much to offer. HERE is her post Incidental Characters That Make Your Novel Zing.

12C244CC-2755-4CA4-B363-517A7910DE6C_4_5005_cMeme of the week — and the pandemic goes on and on. Sigh. We had a little family gathering last night, keeping our distance as well as we could, and watched Hamilton on the Disney channel. We have all been lucky enough to see it live in the theatre, but for me, seeing it with closed captioning on TV was a real gift. When I saw it in the theatre it was from the balcony and my old eyes could not really see the faces of the actors, and my old ears missed a lot of the words. The writing simply blew me away. I worked on a poem last week — all week — and ended up with a pretty good 8-line poem. How the heck could Lin Manuel-Miranda write that entire thing by himself? I am so in awe of his brilliant work. And the acting and the singing and the brilliant choreography! If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth the price of the Disney channel even if you don’t watch anything else. I have seen a LOT of theatre, and this show is tied with Les Miz for best ever for me.

Last week I offered a gently-read copy of World’s Wackiest Animals to one of you. This week’s winner is Patricia Tilton. Congratulations, Patricia! I will get your book out to you soon. Patricia was the featured MMGM blogger last week on Greg Pattridge’s weekly round-up. Patricia, an Ohio writer, blogs at Children’s Books Heal HERE and always has wonderful reviews of a variety of children’s books.

96 Miles hc mec.inddI have mentioned how much I like survival books. I think they are especially good at the middle-grade level. Pre-teen kids as main characters often don’t know what is impossible, so they keep on going when an adult might well have given up. One of the very best survival stories I’ve read is 96 Miles by J. L. Esplin, and that is the book I’d like to tell you about today. When I saw it available for review for the Manhattan Book Review, I knew I had to have it. It is a perfect story for today with all that is going on around us. And with four major characters, it is a bit unusual for the survival stories we often see with one main character such as Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, another favorite of mine. When cooperation is a key to survival, it gives the story a lot more that can go wrong. And go wrong, it does. It is not too long and a real page-turner so will also be great for reluctant readers. Here is the review I wrote for MBR.

John and younger brother Stew have been training all their lives for disaster. Their dad is a survivalist, a good thing when you live on a remote ranch in the Nevada desert. Shortly after Dad leaves on a business trip, the power goes out. Not at their ranch, not in Nevada, but, it turns out, in the Western U. S. But the boys know how to survive. They have trained for this. But no one counted on a bunch of men holding the boys at gunpoint and stealing everything, even their water supply and generator. They have to get to Brighton Ranch—ninety-six miles away—and they have to do it in three days. They should be fine if they stick to the plan. But they don’t count on having company: a young sister and brother who join their trek whom John and Stew can’t leave them behind.

J. L. Esplin
J. L. Esplin — photo by Josie Jones Photography

Author J. L. Esplin has written the perfect novel for our times. The writing is great, with tension on every page, a believable cast of characters, a dead-on teen voice telling the story in the first person, and everything that can go wrong going wrong. This is a real winner. Don’t miss it.

I have no giveaway this week. I have donated the nice hardback copy I got to the school. Don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE. I hope you all had a nice holiday weekend with family time and pretty fireworks.

22 thoughts on “96 Miles — Review”

  1. Darn you, Rosi! You keep finding these great sounding books. I just spent money on Dictionary for a Better World, and then you review THIS!!

    Thank you. You keep piquing my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This one sounds so good. You had me when I read the line about the men holding the boys at gunpoint. And glad you had a fun family time together. I’m hoping to watch Hamilton soon too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This book sounds like an adrenaline-filled read (in a good way)! I also love the week’s meme, and I’m glad you enjoyed Hamilton—I’ve never seen it, so I’m looking forward to watching it! Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Rosi, I am delighted to win the “World’s Wackiest Animals.”
    Your 4th of July sounded lovely — especially watching “Hamilton” on Disney+ with family. Subheads would help me, too. What a treat!

    I love to read survival stories and this one is timely. You gave just enough to detail to make me curious about how the boys travel 96 miles!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Survival stories are always a hit for me and the young readers the book is intended for. Exciting story line in this one. I’ll be looking for a copy to add to my reading later this summer.
    The links this week are so enticing. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait as my first few days of the week are filled with commitments. I’ve bookmarked them though and will give them the proper time some night this week. Congrats on taking the top spot in MMGM this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you want to get your students hooked, read the first couple chapters aloud. They will break the doors down to get this book. Thanks for featuring me on MMGM and for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.


  6. I love survival stories too, and when my boys were in middle school, we read all the Hatchet books together. I think this is one we’d all love. I loved your meme at the top. Bill Murray is always hilarious. And thanks for the reminder about Hamilton. I’ll have to catch it since we have Disney plus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Hatchet and, if time allowed, I would like to read it again. It’s a classic in the genre. you and your boys will like 96 Miles. I hope you can see Hamilton. It’s great. Thanks for the comment.


  7. I love survival stories! But you’re right; they’re usually about one character surviving on his or her own. So this book must be unique. Haven’t seen Hamilton yet. This week, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a very unusual survivor story and well worth your time. I hope you can read it soon. I also hope you got to see Hamilton. Such a great show. Thanks for the comment.


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