Monday, November 18, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Ivy in the Shadows

Several months ago I won Ivy in the Shadows from Rosi Hollinbeck's blog. She often features books I haven't heard about, so I always look forward to seeing what she's reading and what her take is on those books. So once this book arrived in my mailbox, I dug right in, and soon, I'll be rereading it aloud with my daughter. But please, don't be put off by this book's cover; in my opinion, it does not do justice to the story.

The premise: When Ivy's stepfather leaves, Ivy's mom starts working (not to mention trying to hold herself together). She has to support Ivy and her little brother somehow, after all. They also take in a boarder, a twelve-year-old named Caleb. But Caleb is strange and embarrassing for Ivy to be around. To further complicate Ivy's life, she's an eavesdropper and learns much she's not supposed to know--until she learns that sometimes you have to move out of the shadows.

What I loved: The colorful, complicated, realistic cast of characters. Ivy, her mom, Ivy's brother JJ, Aunt Maureen, Caleb and Pastor Harold each bring something unique and necessary to this story. I wish I was nice enough pass along Ivy in the Shadows as a giveaway, but . . . Rosi sent me a hardcover, and you know how I love those, right? So I'm hanging on to it. :-)

For more middle grade recommendations follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading,

Monday, November 11, 2013

End Zone Celebration

Last Tuesday you may have heard some hooting and hollering. That was me. And if I were an NFL football player, I would've received a fine for excessive end zone celebration. You see, I finished a draft of a story I wasn't sure I could finish or would finish or even wanted to finish.

This draft? Oh. My. Gosh. It kicked my butt like no other draft ever before. I didn't even start writing it until about a month after I thought I'd start because I knew it would be a beast. And then, a good ways into the draft, my four-month, unplanned writing furlough arrived because I lost belief in my writing in general.

In addition, this story's conflict didn't end up following any plot notes I'd scribbled, and the ending came at a place I never imagined the ending would be.

So, when I finished this draft, I wanted to clamber to a ship's bow, lean on the railing, clench my manuscript in my fist, and shout, "I'm queen of the world!" (Titanic, anyone?) And I have to say, I still kinda do. Drafting is hard, hard, hard for me. Especially this draft. But . . . I adore revision, so it's blue skies and ocean strolls from here, right?

Yeah, we'll see about that.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Flying the Dragon

Some books come into your life like an unexpected gift of dark chocolate you discover on your desk after lunch. They're sweet, surprising, and find you at just the right moment. Such was my experience with Natalie Dias Lorenzi's Flying the Dragon.

The premise: Skye has never met her father's family, but her sick grandfather brings them all the way from Japan to the United States, seeking medical treatment. Skye's cousin Hiroshi has always had Grandfather to himself, and he doesn't want to share him with Skye, especially their kite building and kite flying. Two cousins. One grandfather. And Grandfather's time seems to be running out . . .

What I loved: The dual point of view. Readers need both Skye and Hiroshi to fully grasp what this story offers. It's also full of cultural aspects, shows the harsh reality of a fractured family, and showcases what understanding can accomplish. Most of all I love the way Flying the Dragon shows us that we all can change -- if we're willing.

For more middle grade books to love, follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading!