The Secret Starling — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.” 
~ Michele Ruiz ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Jill Hedgecock wrote a terrific post HERE for The Creative Penn that gives you a way to use visual inspiration for your writing.

I’m always looking for help with query letters. Uninspired Writers has a wonderful step-by-step approach HERE.

HERE are 10 Tips for Good Storytelling from Michael Moorecock. I think number 10 might be the most important one here.

I have had quite a week. On Friday, I had a milestone birthday (although at this age, every birthday is a milestone) and turned 75. Yes, 3/4 of a century. Yow! Friday evening my daughters made me a favorite dinner — linguini and clams from my good friend Barbara Porreca’s recipe — and my granddaughter made a caramel cheesecake as good as any you could get at the Cheesecake Factory. On Saturday morning we had scheduled a Zoom call with Sonni, our exchange student from Hamburg, Germany who spent her senior year with us a long time ago. We try to Zoom a few times a year, and I was looking forward to it. Maggie suggested I use my desktop with the big screen as Sonni had a surprise for me. I thought she might have her husband and kids on the call, but it was actually a Zoom surprise party for me with my three sisters, almost all their kids, some of my former students, some lifelong childhood friends, some writer friends, and my daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids. It was really something. Since it’s my birthday weekend, the meme is about me.

I want to mention a couple books I’ve gotten recently. I normally don’t talk about picture books here, but I won a wonderful one from Carol Baldwin on her BLOG. She has lots of good writing information and gives away a lot of books on her blog, so check it out. Anyway, I won a copy of Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. It is a terrific example of a picture book biography and of diverse literature we are seeing these days. The writing and art are both spectacular, and it would make a good read-aloud in middle-grade classes.

The other book I want to mention is Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano. This is definitely an adult book. It’s a mystery of sorts, a book about a writer, and one of the funniest premises for a book I’ve ever read. Want to escape for a while? Here is your vehicle.

Now on to the business of the day. The publicist from Candlewick Press and Walker Books US sent me some books a while back. In that bunch was The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle and illustrated by Jo Rioux. It is a middle-grade mystery that will have young people enthralled.

Clara lives with her uncle in a gloomy, crumbling old mansion away from others on the spooky moors somewhere in the British Isles. Her uncle ignores her most of the time, and Clara is stuck each day with a governess teaching her the most boring lessons possible. She has no one to play with and nothing beyond books to stave off mind-bending boredom. Then one day, her uncle fires the cook, tells Clara to pack a bag, and drops her off in the nearby village. She decides to have a cake and tea while she waits, and when she reaches in her pocket, she finds 200 pounds in ten-pound notes and a note from her uncle letting her know he has dumped her there and left. She walks back to the old mansion and, when she arrives, finds a For Sale sign in front of the house and a boy named Peter and his cat waiting for her. He has been sent to stay there while his Granny is recovering from an illness. The two decide they need to fend for themselves and try to figure out why they have both ended up here, abandoned. They tell each other their separate stories and become fast friends. But it is when they find a hidden shoe that their greatest adventure and a true mystery begins.

Judith Eagle

Author Judith Eagle has created a real page-turner with plenty of tension and some very heroic and resourceful young characters. The mansion and the moors make for a perfect setting for this mystery. It is a moody place and a challenging place for these young characters, but when they are driven from it, the pace really picks up. Their problems become more dire and the mystery greater. But this is all wrapped up satisfactorily and has a sweet ending that will leave young readers content. The occasional fun illustrations by Jo Rioux add nicely to the story and will help to keep the kids turning the pages.

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.

26 thoughts on “The Secret Starling — Review & Giveaway”

  1. What a great way to celebrate your birthday! I’m glad you liked Buzzing with Questions. This mystery sounds like something my granddaughter would like. Please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy birthday! I am so happy that your family and friends surprised you like this! I love reading middle grade mysteries and have ever since I discovered Nancy Drew as a kid. I also love the books Candlewick publishes and am adding this one to my TBR. I shared on tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Whoopee! Happy birthday and what a great one it sounded like. I enjoyed the first and third link but couldn’t get to the one on query letters. I will do a search as I’m about to step onto the querying train again.
    The plot of THE SECRET STARLING is most intriguing! I have added this to my future read list but will let someone else win the giveaway. I’m currently way behind on my promised reading. Anyhow, thanks for featuring on MMGM.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy Birthday Rosi. I have a milestone coming this year too. Don’t think about my age much because I don’t want my body to know. 🙂

    So happy to see a review of the Secret Starling, as it is one in my TBR pile from Candlewick. The cover didn’t grab me at first, but the plot and characters sound interesting — especially since reading your review. Seems that we are selecting the same books to review. Will wait to closer to the publication dates. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t think I could keep my age a secret from my body! Good for you. I actually didn’t choose The Secret Starling. It was sent to me by mistake, but I really did enjoy it. Thanks for the comment.


  5. Glad you enjoyed your special birthday dinner and surprise birthday “party” Rosi. Happy birthday!
    I’ve put Finley Donovan is Killing It on my reading list – love a good mystery! Secret Starling sounds like a good one too. Thanks for offering it as a giveaway!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Birthday! I’m so glad you had a good surprise. Regarding the book, I love histories and mysteries best, and who can resist a mansion on the moors! Sounds wonderful for me, and then for my young friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy birthday! It sounds like you had the best birthday celebration in the entire pandemic, with so many family and friends present! This sounds like a really fun mystery—I haven’t seen many mysteries where the protagonists are essentially the victims of the mystery themselves. Also, I really love the cover! The meme definitely applies to me—getting rid of books is not my strong suit—and I love the quote as well. I’ll pass on the giveaway, but thanks so much for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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