Tag Archives: Book reviews

Brief Book Reviews: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman; My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; The Answer is … Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek; The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Hi Everyone!

Here are brief reviews of four more of the books I’ve read for the challenges this year. I’m a little later with this than I planned to be, and more are coming.

Title: Catherine, Called Birdy

Author: Karen Cushman

Published: July 2019

This is an interesting fictional journal by a young girl in medieval times. Intriguing, funny, full of angst – the diary tells of Catherine’s hilarious attempts to not be betrothed to anyone not of her own choosing. Her father has other ideas, usually uninteresting, well-off, older men. The entries also tell of the poor life she lived and what life was like then.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub challenge for prompt #42 – “An epistolary,” and also for the Indigo reading challenge for the prompt “a prize-winning book” as it was a Newbery honor book.

Title: My Brilliant Friend

Author: Elena Ferrante

Published: September 2012

Two girls from poor families in Italy compete with one another and cheer each other on through childhood, school years, and eventually different paths in adulthood. It is a story of privilege and wealth, poverty and hard work, adolescent discoveries and rivalries, love, and hard decisions. The characters draw the reader into their lives and earn her/his interest and caring. Interesting story.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub reading challenge and used it for prompt #9 – “set in a Mediterranean country”, and in the Indigo 2021 reading challenge for prompt “a book in another format: (eBook/audiobook).”

Title: The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life

Author: Alex Trebek

Published: July 2020

Alex Trebek, Jeopardy game show host, was a Canadian who made his mark and became well loved and respected by millions of people in Canada and the US. In this memoir he talks about things openly, things from his own life experience, including his decades of hosting a popular quiz show and the many steps he took to get there. Very interesting, touching, informative.

I chose this book as my read in the 52BookClub for prompt #14 – “written by an author over 65 (when published).” Alex Trebek was 79 when his book was published.

Title: The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Published: February 2020

In the 1980’s several young women in one small town were murdered, and the body of a missing girl was never found. Over 30 years later, Carly, the niece of the missing girl, begins investigating by taking a job as night clerk in the Sun Down Motel where her aunt had worked that shift. Strange and creepy things happen, and Carly finds herself involved in a dangerous situation when she becomes suspicious of a certain man. This is an intriguing story in which reality and the supernatural collide. The reader is taken back and forth over time lines in following the story from different viewpoints of both Carly and her aunt from years before. A little creepy, a little strange, a lot mysterious and clue-seeking combine to make this a good murder mystery with a serious twist.

This book is my choice for prompt #40 – “Found via Bookstagram” for the 52BookClub challenge.

Have you read, or are you interested in reading any of these?

Thanks for reading, and … Blessings on your day!

A champagne rejection

Hello my dear readers and friends!

Lately, I’ve been more absorbed in my own writing so haven’t been posting here on a regular basis. Gosh, it’s hard to do it all! I have an update for you today.

I’m still keeping up in the 12×12 challenge, having drafted a new story each month – January through October – a few of those drafts being very skimpy. A few months I’ve come up with more than one, and I have yet to write a new one for November.

Another part of 12×12 is revision. Each month we are to try to revise a manuscript as well, and they don’t have to be ones we’ve written during 12×12. As long as we are revising one of our stories it’s acceptable. I’ve not kept up in that department, although I have tackled a few.

An added bonus is that we receive badges when we write or revise, so I’ve kept up the monthly drafts for the fun of getting those.

Let me see … my count to date is 20 new drafts and 4 revisions! That’s better than what I did when I participated in 2012 and in 2016. When we reach the end of December we get a place on the winners’ wall if we’ve written 12 or more drafts over the twelve months, no matter in what month they were written. I’m so happy to know I’ll be on that wall this year. My thought right now is that I’ll join 12×12 in 2018 and spend much more time on the drafts I already have, working them into polished manuscripts ready for submitting.

 

 

Now, here’s the really exciting part. This week I sent my very first query to an agent I admire. Within two hours I heard back. You may be thinking I’m excited because the agent answered positively wanting to represent me, but no. The reply was full of good advice and suggestions for the story I’d included. That, my friends, is called a “champagne rejection” – and I’d received one on my first agent query ever! I am not discouraged. I’ll try again later after applying myself to the rewrite and looking over my other manuscripts, too. And, a writer friend suggested to keep an open mind because there may be other agents with whom I could have a good working relationship. Oh alright.  😉

I’m also keeping up on reading books when I can. To see my total thus far you can check my “Books I read in 2017.” After adding a book to my list I write a brief review of it in Goodreads where I have surpassed my reading challenge goal of 200 long ago, doubling it, with mostly picture books. Yep! I love to read.

Are you taking writing challenges? Or reading challenges?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

 

 

 

Quiz: What percent royal are you?

I have a confession. I’m feeling a little burned out with reading books for reviews and posting two a week. There’s a lot going on these days in my life – including our youngest daughter’s upcoming wedding in about two weeks! Yes, about 16 months ago she met the love of her life and it was an instant connection. They were engaged five months after that, and soon … my “baby” will be a married woman! I’ll share some about it here when that exciting weekend is over.

Alas, I’m not even getting to my own writing, and I have yet to come up with a new story draft for this month of 12×12. This week at home I’m trying to get refreshed and have not pushed myself to keep up with computer stuff. Part of that includes that I’ve started doing Zumba. (Dance exercise) I am not nearly active enough anymore, usually sitting too much at the computer. Apparently the saying now is “sitting is the new cigarette.” Yikes! Means that it’s unhealthy to sit too much. And we know it is. Anyway, Zumba is a fun and challenging workout, my body is complaining at doing what it’s no longer used to doing and I’m enjoying it anyway despite the ouches.

 

 

 

A few days ago my husband and I got away for a day to visit his sister and brother-in-law in their new house in the port town of Lunenburg, N.S. Wow! Gorgeous, and with a close view of the water and the tall ships anchored there for a few days on their sail to different ports. We took the short walk around town and my sister-in-law and I went into a little dress shop. Lo! and behold! I found a dress to wear to my daughter’s wedding! What a load off my mind that was. The following day I bought shoes to go with it, usually quite an ordeal but this time it was easy and painless. I’ll be able to show up at my daughter’s wedding after all. 🙂

Now, I have a quiz for you to do. As you read in my subject line, it’s to find out what percent royal you are. 😉  Just follow THIS LINK to do the quiz. Afterward I hope you will come back here to comment so I can know your quiz results. Here’s mine, silly but fun:

100%    You must be a long lost member of the royal family! Everyone bow down because we found the real Queen—and long may you reign! Now all you have to do is find your happily ever after…by reading ROMANCING THE THRONE!

I haven’t read Romancing the Throne. Have you? If so, should I? Did you like it?

SO if I’m 100% royal … where is my entourage? including someone to do the housework so I can write, and I’d like a chauffeur, please.  🙂 (laughing but .. wouldn’t it be nice…)

What are you doing this season? And … what percent royal are you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Exciting schedule for July!

Today I have exciting news for you about my blog schedule for July. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, I will have fun things happening just a little different from my usual schedule.

I am involved in two blog tours for an author who has THREE picture books being released this month. THREE! (can you say WOW!) A blog tour is the same idea as a traditional book tour except it is virtual. Instead of going from bookstore to bookstore or library to wherever the author can arrange to build awareness about her/his new book, it’s done on the Internet. On other people’s blogs there can be reviews, interviews, other fun things to promote the book, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m devoting most of my blog posts in July to Susanna Leonard Hill, her three new books, her two illustrators – Daniel Wiseman and Erica Sirotich – and other fun promotional things.

Oh, and did I mention giveaways? No? Well, there are going to be giveaways!  Yes! Somebody, and it could be YOU, is going to win a book! Actually, three of you are each going to win a book. Three new books, three winners! And Susanna has offered to sign and personalize them for you! You could win a book for a child you know and love, or for a school library, or your local public library, or for someone on the other end of the spectrum who still just loves books but now needs them to be much simpler and easier to read … with lots of pictures. (Picture books aren’t just for kiddies, you know.)

So, do come back Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, and any day in between for fun stuff. Please leave comments, enter the draws, send your friends here, too, and share about all this on your social media. Let’s give a huge show of support for these creatives.  Thank you so much!

Do you ever help promote books by mentioning them on your social media?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Books, writers & writing

Saturday was an interesting day, and now I get to relive a little of it with you.

Just before noon my husband and I treated his mom to an early Mother’s Day dinner at a restaurant we all like. Sunday would be busy so this was pleasant for all of us.

In response to my invitation to the 2:00 book launch of Laura Best‘s newest middle grade novel, Cammie Takes Flight, we parted company with Mom after dinner and my husband and I set off on the hour-or-so drive to the community hall hosting the event. Laura has tremendous support in her community, so, of course, the hall filled up with people before 2:00. She was busy signing MANY copies of her book before and after she read a chapter from it. The representative from her publisher, Nimbus Publishing, was very impressed. He is fairly new with Nimbus and had been warned he had to be well stocked with her books. I know his load was much lighter when he left.

At the launch I was delighted to be able to talk with Syr Ruus whose books I have reviewed: here, here, and here, and Jan Coates whose books I reviewed here, here, here, here and here. There are more to appear on my blog from both of these authors. I reviewed Laura’s first two books here and here, and I later will be reviewing Cammie Takes Flight.

As an introvert, to go to these things took much effort at first, but it’s getting easier as I’m happy for these authors and delighted to go when I can. 

My own writing is coming along. Although my revisions are less than what I should have so far – only 2 instead of 5 – I can fix that this month. The really good news is that my new drafts stand at 11! I have to “buckle down” and pick one to focus on and get it presentable for critique. It would be wonderful if I can get a few stories ready for submission. 

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. For some reason, this year it was a difficult day for me as I am missing Mum so much lately. I hope you mothers out there had an especially wonderful day.  

Do you go to book launches? Do you support authors’ work in other ways?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

2 Book Reviews: Granpa Guff, Accidental Astronaut; Granpa Guff, The Pasta Wars

Granpa Guff, Accidental Astronaut








Book: Granpa Guff, The Accidental Astronaut
Author: G. Guff
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 
Date: May 6, 2013, 2nd edition
Genre: children's; humour
Pages: 86
Price: Kindle, under $5.00; paperback $20.00
My Rating: Amusing story children will enjoy

I’d received early copies of Granpa Guff’s two books shown here in exchange for my honest review. (My apologies to Granpa Guff for the late post.) I enjoyed reading the stories again to tell you about them.

What an interesting imagination the author has! In his desire to create stories that amuse and entertain young readers he also has managed to stir the imagination with his visuals and vivid storytelling. The illustrations are fun, too.

Granpa Guff, The Accidental Astronaut, has Granpa Guff innocently climbing on board a space ship. Too late he realizes it’s time for “blast off” and he has to stay there. What ensues is the craziest trip to Mars you can imagine. Mexican Barking Spiders are hidden on board, Granpa gets spacesick, and on it goes. This is a very entertaining story, and … who’s to know but that it might even be true? Just a little.

 

Book: Granpa Guff, and the Pasta Wars
Author:Grandpa Guff, Pasta Wars G. Guff
Publisher: Fort Guff Press
Date: October 7, 2013
Genre: children’s; humour
Pages: 67
Price: Kindle, under $5.00
My Rating: Amusing story children will enjoy

 

Oh My! What stories Granpa Guff can tell! He seems to know so much.

In this book Granpa relates some history to his grandchildren. He tells about Italians arriving in America and setting up restaurants. The competition between rivals was fierce and so began the Pasta Wars. The craziest things happen. Creepy things hidden in spaghetti to sabotage the competition, giant pizzas that just kept growing, and no one knew what was really inside them because they were made like pies with a top crust back then. Or, that’s Granpa’s story. Oh, and you’ll learn why large wooden pepper mills are handy to use, the origin of ‘raining cats and dogs’, and … come to think of it, Granpa’s book is quite … um … informative!  🙂

The illustrations are funny and very well done with flair. They add a beauty to the story.

Both stories are written from Granpa Guff’s old-timer voice as he relates these tales to his two grandchildren who, mostly, believe every word he says – with some argument worked in. Very entertaining.

You can find Grandpa Guff, Accidental Astronaut and Granpa Guff, Pasta Wars on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Updates and my word for 2017

It’s been a busy start to 2017.  Besides the ‘normal’ – and extra concerns of – daily/weekly family things that go on, and trying to keep up with my writing, I’m attempting to figure out a level of activity that I can handle and in which I’ll make progress. It’s time to push past my comfort zone a little more — and not panic!

It’s also time to get back into writing book reviews here on my blog, however brief they may be. I’ve been reading a lot more books, as you can see if you scroll down on my bar to the right, and I want to share some of them with you. For almost all of them I write a short blurb on Goodreads and also on Amazon.  I also will be setting up a new page – books I read in 2017 – to keep a recorded count and maybe introduce you to books you haven’t read. Have you checked out my 2016 reading accomplishment? I read 219 books! Only 38 of them aren’t picture books, but 219 total! I’m happy about that. 

This month I’m working on Storystorm ideas and have twelve so far. A couple I have are more than just a phrase or title; they’re more-rounded story ideas – and I think they might be worth developing.

I’ve joined 12×12 in 2017 and feel very upbeat about it this year. I know I have to work harder to get anywhere with my drafts and manuscripts, so that is going to be where “pushing past my comfort zone” comes into play.

Now that the busyness of the holiday season is past, this week I will happily reconnect with my writing coach. Starting tomorrow I’ll also be meeting with my new writing/accountability partner once a week for brainstorming, sharing, and encouragement – apart from the local writers group that usually gets together each week.

Hopefully, I haven’t set myself up for failure as I aim for progression this year. That is my word for myself in 2017. PROGRESS. It can be used as either a verb or a noun. I heard it for myself as a noun, PROgress, but in order to make PROgress I have to proGRESS.   😉  For me it feels like a push and coaxing along.

What is YOUR personal word for 2017? What are your writing and reading goals?

Don’t forget to enter my January 18 draw HERE for a copy of The Man Who Was Thursday. (I plan to read my copy of it this week, by the way, as it was recommended to me by a friend more than once — which is likely why I bought it more than once!  lol   🙂  )

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂