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The Sisters of Straygarden Place — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Characters can be happy for the last three minutes… until then, it’s a bumpy road.”
~ Julian Fellowes ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Every manuscript needs to be tightened and trimmed. HERE Kathryn Craft has a great article with 5 Random Ways to Trim Your Manuscript.

Backstory is always hard. How much is too much? How do you get it in without putting readers off? So many issues. Janice Hardy at Fiction University has a good post HERE to help you out.

It is often said to write what you know, but you probably can’t set every story you write in your home town. How, then, can you make your setting realistic? Joan Hall writes about that HERE at the Story Empire blog.

2020 has brought a lot of changes for all of us. Most are not so nice, but one nice change in my life is that we (my daughters, son-in-law, granddaughter, and myself) have instituted family dinner and movie nights. My son-in-law comes for dinner, but doesn’t usually stay for the movies. He is a railroad engineer and doesn’t have a set schedule. He needs to sleep when he can and often is called to work in the middle of the night. We have made up a list of great classic movies, things my granddaughter has never seen, and some that even my daughters haven’t seen. Last night we had lined up The Great Escape for the movie, and Gordon decided to stay. He couldn’t resist. I hadn’t seen that movie for a very, very long time, probably 30 years or more. I had forgotten just how good it was. I hope you find some time to revisit some classic movies during this dark time. And I’d like to give a recommendation also for Arsenic and Old Lace, which we watched last week. So funny!

When I get the lists of books available for review, I look them up and read a little about them before I make my choices. I don’t read much fantasy. Fantasy doesn’t usually capture my interest, so I was a little surprised when I found myself choosing The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins, but there was something about it that called out to me, so I asked for it. What a unique and fabulous book. I couldn’t put it down. It is the most unusual story I have read in years. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review.

Mayhap and her sisters Pavonine and Winnow were left by their parents in the magical Straygarden mansion seven years ago. The mansion takes care of all their needs. All they have to do is ask for what they want, and their wishes are granted; mysteriously food appears, or the very clothes they want are suddenly there. All that’s required is that they stay inside and never go into the tall grass surrounding the mansion. But one day Mayhap discovers Winnow has gone into the grass. She tries to follow her and bring her back, but the grass frightens her, so she has to come back in. Winnow comes back that evening, but she is not the same, and the grass seems emboldened, attempting to get into the house. In trying to help Winnow, Mayhap uncovers very disturbing secrets.

Hayley Chewins

This is a completely unique fantasy with a very strange world. Hayley Chewins has written this unusual and lovely story in lyrical prose that will be a gift to those who read it. The story is incredibly compelling, the characters are well-rounded and fascinating, and the mystery of it all will keep those pages turning. Don’t miss this one.

I have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

23 thoughts on “The Sisters of Straygarden Place — Review & Giveaway”

  1. Glad you have family night. I was having dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend once every week or two but they are self-isolating now that our COVID-19 numbers are up. I have seen my daughter outside for a bit, but it’s hard. I really have too many books to read, but your compelling review has me wanting to read this book so I’ll enter the giveaway. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantasy books were not on my radar until a couple of years ago and just wow to the worlds these talented authors can create to suspense my disbeliefs. I prefer character-driven fantasy books and have this one already on my TBR. I shared on Facebook, Twitter, and tumblr for extra chances for this exciting book. I’m glad your family can get together–with numbers here, we are staying apart and my birthday next Monday will not be the same without my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This book sounds like a fascinating read. With all of their needs being met, I couldn’t help but think of the house elves in Harry Potter, who quietly prepare everything! You shared just enough to interest me. Thanks for the recommendation.
    I think we all need to reread The Diary of Anne Frank and remember what confinement is really like. A friend just wrote a story from a teen’s POV, Lockdown With Anne (Frank). Excellent.
    https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2020/12/06/lockdown-with-anne/

    Have you seen the movie “Freedom Writers” (based on a true story) with Hillary Swank. Excellent movie. Your library should have it. It’s my husband’s favorite. Look it up on Amazon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You make a great point about re-reading The Diary of Anne Frank. That would put things in perspective. I think I did see Freedom Writers when in came out. I will have to look at it again. Thanks for the recommendation. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good luck in the drawing.

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  4. Great selections today for your writing friends today. I will have to revisit them as one run through won’t be enough to take in all the advice.
    Your chosen book review for today makes me want to get a copy which I probably would not have down otherwise. The characters and fantasy setting are begging to be read. Thanks for featuring on my anniversary edition of MMGM.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, put my name in the hat for this one! Why? It’s hard to explain. It just sounds great!

    I absolutely loved The Great Race, which we have seen a few times. And also Arsenic and Old Lace. Classics are classics for good reason. And I really like the Julian Fellowes quote. Priceless. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your name is in the hat. This is a book that is hard to explain. Absolutely unique. Good luck. I will put The Great Race on our list. I hadn’t thought of that. Glad you like the quote. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. This sounds like an intriguing book! The cover reminds me of Jonathan Auxlier books, which always have an eerie mood to them.
    I love your family’s classic movie night. Last weekend we watched Jingle Bells with Jimmy Durante, which a very unique squirrel. Hilarious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not familiar with Jonathan Auxlier, but I will check him out. It’s such an intriguing book! Jimmy Durante! That is a name I haven’t heard in a long time. I will put that one on our list. Thanks for the recommendation and for the comment. Good luck in the drawing.

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  7. What a neat book! The sentient-ish house reminds me of Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (a great book with a deeply boring sequel), but this sounds totally different from that book in many other ways. I’m glad you all are enjoying some classic movies, and I love the quote and meme! I’ll let someone else win this neat book. Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The ending of The Great Escape is a real shock, but it is something young people need to know about. History is a great teacher. Glad you like the quote. It is funny. Thanks for the comment. Good luck in the drawing.

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  9. I got this from the library and was wondering if I had time to read it before it is due. Thanks to your review, I will definitely do so. I like juvenile fantasy but had been feeling more like reading suspense lately.

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