Genre: Middle Grade

Review: Digging for Trouble by Linda Fairstein

Posted November 16, 2017 by Lily B in Interview, Reviews / 9 Comments

Review:  Digging for Trouble by Linda FairsteinDigging for Trouble by Linda Fairstein
Series: Devlin Quick #2
Published by Dial Books on November 7th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Childrens, Mystery
Pages: 332
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Twelve-year-old supersleuth Devlin Quick heads to Montana to dig out dinosaur bones, but instead she uncovers a mystery.After successfully apprehending a map thief at the beginning of summer, Dev is going to spend the second half of her summer vacation in Montana with her best friend, Katie, exploring the outdoors and NOT getting into trouble. But after participating in a dinosaur dig, Katie and Dev suspect that someone bad is in the Badlands when Katie's found fossils are switched out for old rocks. The good news? With Mom back in New York, no one can stop Devlin from investigating! But the fossil thief isn't the only danger here, as snakes, scorpions, and bears abound, making Montana a treacherous place for finding answers. And when the mystery takes Dev and Katie back to Manhattan--to the Museum of Natural History--the case gets even more complicated, even with Dev's friend Booker there to help. Dev has to use her brains, brawn, and yes, okay, the lessons learned from her police commissioner mother if she wants to dig up the truth once and for all.

Devlin and Katie are off to Montana to help dig out some dinosaur bones. When Katie makes a huge discovery, it was suppose to be a big thing. But something isn’t right when the fossils the girls dig up gets switched up for rocks. Soon Devlin and Katie cannot help but feel that something else is going on in the Badlands, and the mystery takes the two girls back to Manhattan and the Museum of Natural History.

This was such a pleasant read. I enjoy the writing, the writing was really well done and the characters are well fleshed out and developed. Devlin is a wonderful character to follow, she is headstrong, smart, and just a charming 12-year-old girl.

I love the strong friendships in this book, especially with the positive relationship between Devlin and her mother as well as between Devlin, Booker and Katie. Devlin cares, and it is evident with the fact when she tries to get to the bottom of a mystery when she feels like her friend Katie’s discovery seems to be underplayed and possibly stolen.

The author also does a great job of incorporating some facts in her books about certain things that end up being weaved as part of the story and does not make you realize that you are in fact also learning.

Devlin Quick is a great series for both adults and children alike. Filled with interesting characters, positive relationships and a fun storyline that makes this book a true keeper.

Author Interview

Hi Linda! I’m Lily and I want to welcome you to my blog, Night Owl Book Cafe. Thank you for taking your time and answering some questions for us today.

Let’s get right to it. What is your new book, Digging For Trouble about?

DIGGING FOR TROUBLE is my second book in a new series for Young Readers (8-12 year olds) that debuted last year. The protagonist is a smart sleuth – a twelve-year old girl named Devlin Quick who lives in New York City and likes nothing better than to engage her friends in solving a mystery. This story opens in Montana, where Dev and her best friend Katie are on a dig for dinosaur bones, and then moves back to Manhattan where they are assisted by their pal Booker. They wind up in the iconic Museum of Natural History – to see whether someone tampered with Dev and Katie’s bones. – and to see whether they can make things right.

I have to admit, I love that it features dinosaur fossils. Where do you get inspiration for your books?

As a writer, I’ve long found that there is inspiration all around us, as long as we always have our eyes open. I grew up near New York City, and the first place in Manhattan that totally enchanted me was the Museum of Natural History. What kid doesn’t love dino fossils? And how those discoveries have changed over the years. Also, I spend part of every summer in Montana, which is unusually rich in fossils from the dinosaur ages, so the combination came pretty easily.

Devlin sounds like a fun character! How did you get inspired to write her character?

When I was a young reader – in exactly this age range – I became hooked on the adventures of Nancy Drew. I envied her courage and her independence – not traits you would have found in me back then – and I loved that she was a character who came back to her fans in story after story. My goal was never to imitate that great series of stories, but to write a modern day character – familiar with new forensic tools – as a tribute to the books that inspired me in so many ways.

Which character did you find the most difficult to write?

I think creating Devlin was the most difficult part of this undertaking. INTO THE LION’S DEN was the first book, and I was well aware – as a writer of a long-running series of crime novels – that if I didn’t get Dev ‘right’ from the outset, I wouldn’t capture the imagination of readers. So a lot of thought went into figuring out who Devlin Quick is before I sat down at the computer to write the first page.

Do the characters ever try to take over your writing?

Of course they do! Before I started to write, I’d listen to authors I admired when they appeared on TV talk shows or lectures, and I would roll my eyes when they would say that their characters ‘spoke’ to them and often took over the story-telling. Most days, and especially when you write a series populated by continuing characters, it’s entirely true! I hear Booker telling me not to make him ‘do’ certain things, and Devlin asking for more freedom to go rogue. It’s part of the great fun of writing these books.

How did it feel when you published your first book?

All my young life – in school yearbooks and such – I always said that I wanted to be a writer. My father, who was terrifically loving and supportive, encouraged me to go to law school so that I would always have a career and a way to take care of myself in case the writing didn’t work. In the middle of a very rewarding career in the law, I wrote a non-fiction book called SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Our War Against Rape, which was published in 1993. One can talk about dreams coming true, but it’s all an understatement. The day I went to the post office and opened the package with the first bound copy in my hands, well, it’s one of the most memorable moments of my life.

What is it that you find about writing children’s book most rewarding?

I was a voracious reader as a kid, and it’s a trait that has served me well all my life. I love books, libraries, bookstores and people who love to read as much as I do. The stories I connected with as a child were such an influence on the rest of my life that it is a real joy to think I might be able to return that kind of pleasure by giving kids a new and entertaining experience with a good book.

What is it that you want young readers, diving into your book, to walk away with?

I want my readers to be entertained, of course. I want them to have fun with Devlin and Katie and Booker, and to want to see them back in book after book. But I also want them to be a bit smarter at the end of the pages. There’s information about forensics in each book, and in this one, there is a lot to learn about dinosaurs. Entertain and inform each reader, which I think is a good combination.

Do you mind sharing what’s next for Devlin?

Devlin’s next caper is entitled SECRETS OF THE DEEP. She and Booker are ending their summer vacation at his grandmother’s home on Martha’s Vineyard. Dev is supposed to be working on a science project, when they make some very unexpected discoveries. That should hook my young readers, I hope.

Final question before you go. Thank you for sharing everything with us. I do have to ask. What would you say your favorite food or dish is?

Hands down, from childhood to right now, if I could have one thing to eat if shipwrecked on a deserted island, it would be a supply of chocolate ice cream. Thanks for inviting me into the NIGHT OWL BOOK CAFÉ!

Thank you Linda 🙂

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Blog Tour and Review: Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Posted April 14, 2017 by Lily B in Blog Tour, Reviews / 11 Comments

Blog Tour and Review:  Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth LaurenPrisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren
Series: standalone
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on April 4th 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In a thrilling fantasy that’s equal parts Prison Break and Frozen, Valor attempts the impossible—breaking her sister out of prison.
When Valor is arrested, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s sister Sasha is already serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.
Never mind that no one has escaped in three hundred years. Valor has a plan and resources most could only dream about. But she didn't count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.
This fresh and exciting middle-grade debut effortlessly melds an unforgettable protagonist, a breathless plot, and stunning world-building—and is impossible to put down.

When Valor’s sister gets thrown into prison for stealing a music box that was suppose to bring a peace treaty to the land, Valor must do the impossible and try to break her sister out. Only problem is? No one has made it out of the prison in 300 years, but Valor is more than determined.

This was such a great novel. I love the world that Ruth Lauren has created. I could almost feel the cold from setting blanketed in a sheet of snow. The book itself is very character driven, which was awesome because I adored the characters.

Valor was brave and loyal. It was easy for me to like her, especially due to the strong bond she has with her sister Sasha and her determination to put her first and save her.

The book was fun and exciting to follow. Sometimes I forget the age of these kids as they try to find a way to escape the Prison and hopefully reveal the real thief. So as a reader, you have to keep in mind that this is a middle grade fantasy and suspend your disbelief by just jumping in and embracing the story for what it is.

I thought the writing itself was really wonderful and one of the best in Middle Grade books that I have come across. It was just so easy for me to lose myself in the story and it was just so well done. Like I have mentioned, sometimes I would even forget that this is a middle grade book largely due to the authors writing.

The pacing was really fast so I never had a moment where I was bored. I wanted it to last and was a little sad when it was over. It’s a great page turner and it kept me interested.

Overall, this book was a ton of fun and I think it be a great addition to Middle Grade reader’s bookshelf. Not only due to it’s interesting, different setting, but also due to the wonderful cast of characters and writing.

 

 

Guest Post

I am also excited to share Ruth Lauren’s stop on this blog and sharing with us how she built the fantasy world in her book.

How I built the book’s fantasy world

The idea for PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW began when I was watching the TV show Prison Break with my son. The book was later pitched as FROZEN meets PRISON BREAK and although I wasn’t consciously thinking of Frozen when I wrote it, I’d seen Prison Break and I wondered what that sort of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead.

The Russian inspired fantasy land part of the idea came soon after as I thought about where I could place the sisters to make their escape from prison even more challenging. I imagined a very cold and unforgiving climate and terrain and looked at images on Pinterest. I make boards for every idea that I have and I find it really helps me to visualize the world and individual scenes if can link them to a picture. I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison.

Once the setting was fixed in my mind, the details had to reflect the landscape—the animals that inhabit it, the clothes the people need to wear, the food they might be able to access. My editor was brilliant at helping me think about other aspects that add to making the world feel real—like special celebration days in the city, the history of the prison and the geography involved with surrounding lands and how they might impact on the story.

I drew on elements of the Russian landscape and traditional clothing but I also wanted to create a matriarchal world where only women can rule and where they often have positions of power. This book is about girls and for girls (boys and everyone else welcome too!) and I wanted the sisters to

inhabit a world where it would never occur to them that positions of power weren’t open or available to them. They don’t have to struggle or overcome to gain those positions and they see women in every role in the book—from ruler to doctor to prison guard to hunter. Why did I plan that? Because it’s something every child should see reflected in books and in the real world.

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