Please Come! Elaine Donadio Book Signing— Feb. 1, 2020

                                     Mystery Writers of Long Island

Barnes & Noble Massapequa
Sunrise Promenade
5224 Sunrise Hwy.

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020
2:00-4:00pm

Like mysteries? Meet the author of Who Do Voodoo?—me!
Lots of talented book writers and wonderful mysteries for readers of all ages!

 

Book Review: The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz (YA) (MG)

Book Review: The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz (2016) (Young Adult) (Middle Grade) 4 Stars ****

This book is a take-off on The Canterbury Tales. Set in France in 1242, we are told the story of three amazing children and a dog by a variety of characters, each of whom adds a section to the story. The book is compelling, with many messages on many different levels. The sometimes bawdy humor and double entendres with the intense story line may be more appropriate for a Young Adult reader. Any fan of medieval history will be enthralled by this story. Many events and characters are based on historical facts and people who actually lived, but the author does take liberties with combining story elements for dramatic effect.

Jeanne, Jacob, William, and Jeanne’s reincarnated greyhound Gwenforte travel as a group to Mont Saint-Michel to eventually stop a book burning of some 20,000 Jewish books, including Torahs, as ordered by King Louis IX and the Queen Mother. Initially running for their lives, the children meet up, finding comfort in one another. They encounter problems and people in trouble along the way. Each child uses a special power to save the day: Catholic Jeanne—visions of the future and a steadfast heart; Jewish Jacob—the healing power of prayer and herbs; part-Muslim, part Christian William—his super strength and unusually large size; reincarnated Gwenforte— the ability to protect Jeanne. As the populace becomes aware of the powers of this group, some believe them to be saints and others, especially the king’s forces, believe them to be agents of the devil. Separated from their parents by violence, each child must rely on strength of character, cunning, cooperation, good luck, and the help of the other children and a powerful adult.

In the end, returning to their families is not an option. Jeanne, Jacob, and William go their separate ways to live out their lives and fulfill their destinies.

The story is compelling and well told. I’m not sure about the attention span o middle grade readers on this on. Probably, twelve and up would be a more suitable age even though the book is labeled as middle grade. It was somestimes difficult to know which character was telling the tale at a specific time. I often had the feeling that the author was giving hints as to a secret identity since there was often a lot of evasiveness in answering questions of validity of knowledge.

This book encourages God, religion, cooperation and acceptance among the different faiths, and the concept that a few bad people in a religion or government should not condemn the whole group. I do recommend it, especially in our world of intolerance for those who do not believe as we do.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

Book Review: The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst (Middle Grade)


Book Review: The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst (2015) (Middle Grade) 2 Stars **

Cutesy! Inappropriate! Help! I’m trapped in the land of too, too cute for words but at the same time, a creepy story with creepy characters who invade dreams and kidnap, bind and gag little girls and set kidnapped creatures against each other to fight to the death. What??? Picture stepping into a toddler’s My Little Pony show mixed with a violent video game meant for tough twelve year old boys. There’s a big contradiction for me. This book is labeled middle grade, but it is written on the level of an easy reader. The character is a twelve year old girl, but I cannot see how any twelve year old reader can be enthralled by this story.

By the way, I found this book on a list of often-read, most requested books. This scares the heck out of me!

This book is saccharine sweet but angry at the same time. This age group should not read about writhing in fear, bound and gagged little girls, but at the same time, what 10-12 year old modern kid wants to read about sparkly flying ponies with names like Glitterhoof, friendly Monster and smelly monsters, and countless furry pink bunnies as the rescuing army of the kidnapped parents and hapless children and creatures imprisoned in cages. “Come along, children and furry things,” Glitterhoof said as he trotted up the stairs. This is how the rescue party begins their quest in a middle grade book?! ? How is this appropriate reading for this age group?

The plot: Twelve year old Sophie lives with her parents in a three story building which houses The Dream Shop, a book store on the ground level, an illegal dream store in the basement, and two uppermost floors with the family living quarters. Sophie’s parents distribute dreamcatchers to each customer who purchases a book. since they offer free replacements, when the dreamcatcher is returned for repairs, the parents take it to the distillery in their basement where, unknown to their customers, it’s put through a distiller where old dreams and nightmares are liquefied and bottled for sale to people who live vicariously through the dreams of others to experience terror, adventure, heroism, happiness, success and love. Basically, we have parents who manipulate customers, steal their most private thoughts and fears, and who then benefit financially from this invasion of privacy. Sophie and her unlikely crew go on a quest to save her kidnapped parents and the girls from the clutches of Mr. Nightmare, a predator with a kind face and polite manners. In the end, it all works out (in the author’s mind).

Personally, I would not be happy for my grandchildren to read this book. Besides being a confusing conglomeration of bits and pieces from too many age groups, I find the messages to be morally bereft. In the end, there’s no remorse on the part of Sophie’s parents who continue to exploit and manipulate. This is not OK.

Maybe the author is sending a hidden message through this smokescreen of fantastical creatures? I see unresolved anger, mistrust, manipulation, suspicion, lies, and a lack of accountability. So, what’s the message? No one has a right to interfere with your dreams?  Is this the only way the author could send this message to her readers? Ho-hum.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

Please Come! Elaine Donadio Book Signing— Feb. 1, 2020

                                        Mystery Writers of Long Island

Barnes & Noble Massapequa
Sunrise Promenade
5224 Sunrise Hwy.

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020
2:00-4:00pm

Like mysteries? Meet the author of Who Do Voodoo?—me!
Lots of talented book writers and wonderful mysteries for readers of all ages!

 

Author Elaine Donadio Interviewed by Stephanie Larkin Between the Covers

Please click here to watch Stephanie Larkin interview me, Elaine Donadio, and fellow authors Janet Rudolph and Nicholas Shatarah in Massapequa, NY.

Book Review: Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Middle Grade)

Book Review: Ghost by Jason Reynolds (2016) (Middle Grade) 5 Stars *****

Finally! A kids book award finalist that truly deserves serious consideration. A book that excels in its story, messages, characterizations, relatable experiences, and … ta da…is well-written! Seventh-grader Castle Cranshaw, has nicknamed himself Ghost because of his now you see him, now you don’t ability to run away from danger. With a school file folder filled with examples of Ghost’s bad behavior, we have a perfect example of a kid gone wrong who has no idea how to fix himself. Two local, upstanding men serve as role models when they  literally and figuratively, save Ghost’s life.

Raised in poor, rundown Glass Manor by a loving, striving mother, lonely, troubled Ghost suffers from the memory of his now imprisoned drug-addicted father shooting at him and his terrified mother three years earlier.  Seeking refuge at the local convenience store owned by elderly, hard of hearing Mr. Charles, Ghost and his mother are hidden in the back storeroom while Mr. Charles calls the police. Ever since that horrific day, Ghost stops in daily to see Mr. Charles and to buy a small bag of his favorite sunflower seeds.

Ghost tricks the school track coach into allowing him to do a test run even though try-outs had passed. True to his name, Ghost impresses the coach with his run and, with his mother’s permission, is invited to join the track team. Mrs. Cranshaw is skeptical at first, but acquiesces after Coach Brody promises to kick Ghost off the team at the first sign of trouble in school or if his grades are negatively impacted. The daily structure and strict rules of conduct imposed on the team members turn Ghost’s life around.

This improvement in behavior comes slowly since Ghost does not know how to ignore a fight. The victim of constant teasing because of his ill-fitting clothing, cheap sneakers, bad haircut (done by his well-meaning, broke mom), lack of friends, cringe-worthy butt of jokes neighborhood, jailed attempted murderer of wife and child imprisoned druggie father, Ghost has to deal with more than he can bear. He loves his mother and knows she’s doing all she can. As a matter of fact, this hospital cafeteria lady is studying to become a nurse with online courses. This makes Ghost very proud.

Let’s get back to Ghost and his poor choices. Immediately after being allowed on the track team, Ghost manages to stay out of trouble for seventeen hours and two minutes. Ghost knows there’s a lot at stake but he can’t seem to help himself. Knowing Ghost’s background, the school principal cuts him some slack involving an altercation between Ghost and a school bully who pushes all of ghost’s buttons by reciting a list of Ghost’s most embarrassing family secrets and throwing a piece of greasy chicken at him during lunch. Coach Brody also decides to go easy on Ghost after hearing the details.

Ghost’s sneakers are old, ill-fitting and an improper choice for running track. Ghost’s shoelaces become untied during a race, causing him to trip and fall. He can barely contain his embarrassment and decides to cut down his high-tops with scissors to make it easier to run. Needless to say, this plan backfires since running is not easier and the insults and teasings come in by the truckload. In Ghost’s desperate, misguided way of thinking, now the only solution is to steal a pair of beautiful running sneakers. He manages to leave the store unaccosted, but no one is buying the story about the gift from his mother explanation.

When Coach Brody goes to the local sporting goods store to purchase new team uniforms, he is shocked to see a still photo shot from the store surveillance camera on a bulletin board showing Ghost escaping with his stolen merchandise. The coach confronts Ghost and takes him back to the store in shame and pays for the sneakers with his own credit card, a string of warnings, and much-needed lectures.

Ghost, who has not had too many people to count on in his life, begins to trust the adult males around him and to seek their counsel. He has friends, belongs to a team, and is admired by his classmates. His attitude and expectations have changed.

At the end, Ghost proudly runs a race in his new uniform and new sneakers, with his mother, aunt and cousin cheering him on from the bleachers. Who wins? No one knows. The author does not tell us. I believe the goal is to improve Ghost’s self-esteem to a point where it doesn’t matter whether or not he wins this time, because he can win in the future. Ghost is an all-around winner and we can only hope he will now follow that path through life.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

Please Come! Elaine Donadio Book Signing— Feb. 1, 2020

                                     Mystery Writers of Long Island

Barnes & Noble Massapequa
Sunrise Promenade
5224 Sunrise Hwy.

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020
2:00-4:00pm

Like mysteries? Meet the author of Who Do Voodoo?—me!
Lots of talented book writers and wonderful mysteries for readers of all ages!

 

Book Review: The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta (Middle Grade)

Book Review: The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta (2018) (Middle Grade) 4 Stars ****

I have to remind myself this is a fantasy book for kids. My adult brain does not have patience for it, but since it is hugely popular, I will grant it the praise due to any book that gets kids to read. Fans of the Captain Underpants series will love this book. It’s Halloween in Parsippany, New Jersey, where sixth-grader Kiranmala gets ready to celebrate her twelfth birthday. But where are her adored parents?

The doorbell rings, presumably with trick-or-treaters, but instead two highly unusual brothers announce they have come to whisk Kiran away on their magical horses to a far-away land to claim her rightful place as a princess and to rescue her kidnapped Ma and Baba who “have passed through the mouth of the beast into that other place.”

At their heels is the dreaded rakkhosh, intent upon devouring Kiran. “The advancing rakkhosh was drooling so much goo from its mouth now that strings of the frothy stuff were sticking to the tree stumps and bare bushes it passed.” The brothers use a portal in the state of Arizona to leave the boring 2-D galaxy and travel to the fantastical land of the rakkhosh and other demons, slithering snakes, scolding birds, other strange creatures, and Kiran’s real family in the Kingdom Beyond Seven Oceans and Thirteen Rivers.

Kiran’s biological parents are the evil Serpent King and the gentle, translucent Moon Maiden who sometimes wanders in human form. When the demon Serpent King turned his wife’s seven sons into a seven-headed snake, Princess Kiran’s desperate mother placed her new-born daughter in the River of Dreams in a clay pot, where she was found, raised and protected by the the loving Ma and Baba who never told her of her real identity or that the magic spell would end on Kiran’s twelfth birthday. The Serpent King then replaces his lovely Moon Maiden with a malevolent new wife.

Solving riddles, completing tasks, following moving maps, outsmarting the terrifying creatures she meets along the way, outmaneuvering her diabolical king father and her loathsome stepmother,  Princess Kiran follows the hero’s journey in her quest to save herself, her beloved parents, her community, and the world. A happy ending, of course!

The book is loaded with sound effects, silly poems, ooey-gooey immature conversations, and a continuous stream of one-liners. A thrill a minute. I felt out of breath reading this fast-moving story, presented at a frenetic pace, as the evil, ugly monsters launched a campaign to rid the world of Princess Kiranmala.

Let’s not forget the yuck factor in the food in this strange land: “Fried dried cockroaches. Also pillowcases—deep-fried or now, for you health nuts,steamed.”

How about the not so funny talking birds: “What, d’ya want me to draw you a map?” the bird snapped, spitting a few more seeds before it flew away. “This ain’t Joisey, Princess, fuggedaboutit.”
(New Jersey)          (forget about it)

Here’s a very angry Kiran expressing herself to her seven-headed snake brothers: “Oh, booger-nosed snot fest, where did YOU come from?”

Can’t leave out the intergalactic granny: “Be gone, you fart faces!”

 

This book has all Indian characters and is drawn from folktales and children’s stories from West Bengal, India. The author spent summers in India and was immersed in Bengali culture. She blended Western culture with the Bengali culture and arrived at this ucky-yucky story that kids apparently love.

The book cover is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The illustrator used gold leaf paint on the tips of the serpents’ heads. Unfortunately, my photograph could not capture the beauty of this technique.

OK. So maybe it’s me. This book belongs to the land of middle graders. Even as a kid, I would not have liked this book. But here’s the thing: This book is a best seller, so what do I know?

 

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

Please Borrow My Books From NY Public Libraries!

Great news! Printed copies of my books can now be borrowed from Queens, Nassau and Suffolk County Libraries in New York. Request an inter-library loan!

Queens Libraries—Bay Terrace, Central(Jamaica), and Whitestone 

Nassau Libraries—Manhasset, Port Washington, Syosset

Suffolk Libraries— East Hampton, Huntington

The digital copies are available in Queens Public Library and may be available in other library systems throughout the country. If your library cannot provide access to these books, please ask them to purchase in digital or paperback formats to add to their collection.

The Science Project
The Ocean’s Way
Who Do Voodoo?
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion
Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Happy reading! If you do decide to borrow my books from the library, please remember to write a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble websites, or any other place you choose!

Thanks,

Elaine

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you at elainewrites@earthlink.net

All Rights Reserved 2020

Book Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (Middle Grade)

Book Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (2015) 5 Stars ***** (Middle Grade)

Ewww. Ughhh. Yuck. Dreadful. Frightful. Absurd. Wonderful. Fun. This is the most ooey-gooey kids book I’ve ever read. Loved it! If your middle grade reader is looking for a fright-night, this is the place! Set on a Caribbean island, “a Jumbie (JUM-bee) is the name for every bad-thinking, sneaky, trick-loving creature that comes out at night with the purpose of causing trouble.”

There are many different types of jumbies: the douens (dwens), La Diabless (LA-jah-bless), Soucouyant (soo-coo-YAH), and Lagahoo (lah-gah-HOO)” to name a few. “The jumbie crawled with ease over thick trunks and gnarled underbrush, even though night in the forest was pitch-black.” Their purpose? To disrupt, terrify, and kill, especially children who disobey their parents and wander into the forest at night or respond to the jumbies’ calling their names.

Feisty, brave, adventurous, confident, twelve year-old Corinne La Mer lives happily with her father, Pierre, after the death of her mother Nicole one year before. It is All Hallow’s Eve when the people of the island pay respects to their deceased relatives. Unwittingly, Corinne unleashes the power of Severine, the meanest jumbie that ever lived. A shapeshifter in the guise of a beautiful woman, Severine entices Pierre with her charms, while administering evil potions to change Corinne’s father into a mean, snarling, gnarling jumbie.

Corinne is befriended and helped by Dru, and the orphaned, homeless brothers Bouki and Malik, as well as the frog whose life Corinne saved at the beginning of the story. Corinne approaches the white witch for help, but her powers are waning with her advanced age and debilitated physical condition. Corinne learns the surprising truth about her mother, Severine, and her ancestry. Corinne wields her own magic with the fruit of the sweetest orange tree in the land, and the stone necklace, a gift from her mother before her death, which Corinne always wears tied around her neck. In the end, life returns to normal with a few exceptions—some happy, some sad.

This book is beautifully written with fully developed action and transitions. The author, born in Trinidad, appears to have a complete and subtle understanding of the subject. The book shows rather than tells, so we learn the characters by what they do and say. Inspired by the Haitian folktale “The Magic Orange Tree” this book contains heroes, villains, magic, tasks and deeds that must be accomplished to save the hero, her family and friends, and the community in which she lives. Our hero never seeks fame but steps up to the task when she realizes she’s the only one who can do it — the journey of the hero!

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites @earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020- Barnes & Noble, Massapequa, NY 12:00-4:00pm

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