The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Eileen Cook Takes Pleasure in Unraveling Isobel

January 10, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Recommendations

In pushing The Divining Wand’s restart button, one has to smile at how comforting it is to be greeted by Eileen Cook’s (The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA, Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, and Fourth Grade Fairy, Gnome Invasion, and Wishes for Beginners ages 9 -11) “almost” annual new release. And what a NEW release it is.

Described as: “A darkly comic novel that blends paranormal mystery and romance with humor,” Unraveling Isobel has charmed the literary critics:

“Isobel, all snark and sharp edges covering some intense vulnerability as she continuously checks in to see if she has crossed into mental illness (as her father did when she was young), is a compelling narrator.” —The Horn Book, January/February 2012

“Spine-tingling setting….Isobel’s sass and her steamy romance with her new stepbrother will help readers race toward the dramatic conclusion.” —Publishers Weekly

“This blend of paranormal romance, murder mystery and quirky, coming-of-age narrative offers tasty moments….Cook gives readers a fast-paced plot, a likable narrator, and interesting characters.” —Kirkus

Here’s what it’s all about:

Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

Eileen takes a walk on the dark comedic side of storytelling and emerges with a winner. Her writing has never been better, more current while also unique for this genre.

Unraveling Isobel is highly recommended for fun, lessons learned, and Eileen Cook’s snarkily lovable imagination.

Want a sneak peek? Read Chapter One.

[Please note that there is also a Kindle Edition.]

Barrie Summy and I So Don’t Do Makeup

May 20, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

For all tween mystery fans, Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky) has put Sherry (short for Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin back out in the world, to solve her THIRD mystery in I So Don’t Do Makeup.

Readers can expect two differences — one minor, one major — in this book with the first being that the mystery is introduced almost immediately. According to the author, “this is one of the great things about writing a series! Readers know the characters and expect a certain voice. In this case, they expect a mystery. So, the writer gets to jump right into the thick of things more quickly.”

And that’s exactly what Sherry does EXCEPT this time (major difference) she’s not using her detective skills to help her mom — a policewoman, who died in a drug bust well over a year ago, and is now a member of the ghost patrol watching over the real world. On the contrary, Mom urges Sherry to stay away from this mystery but, alas, even “spirit” Moms have only so much control. Besides, Sherry and her friends have been innocent victims of this crime.

To better understand, here’s the synopsis:

This third mystery about fast-thinking sleuth Sherry Holmes Baldwin is perfect for tweens and teens who love investigating with heroines they can relate to.

What’s better than a sleepover? A sleepover with makeovers! Sherry and her friends have an awesome time with eye shadow, glitter, and more hair products than a salon. But when the girls wake up the next morning with serious skin issues, Sherry is freaked. Someone must have tampered with her makeup!

It turns out that the mall’s cosmetics kiosk has had lots of products returned by upset customers. Sherry is determined to get to the bottom of things. After all, she’s a bit of a crime-solving celebrity (well, at least in the spirit world). Ghost academies around the world are impressed by Sherry’s and her ghost mom’s skills.

And if anyone can solve a mystery involving mascara, it’s Sherry Holmes Baldwin.

Now view I So Don’t Do Makeup book trailer that showcases the storyline.

What Barrie Summy has done in this book is to have Sherry and her friends put aside their differences to work toward a common goal of solving the crime! Indeed they use their common sense, research and technological skills, along with bravery and commitment, in order to succeed. Talk about empowerment and enhancing preteen self-concepts…not only for Sherry, but for her fans!

The author admits she admires Sherry’s tenacity, especially when things don’t come easily for her, the character refuses to give up. As a Mother of four children, however, Barrie knows even the best child isn’t perfect. In fact she’s not afraid to reveal Sherry’s flaws — a few being a lack of preparation for schoolwork combined with a degree of thoughtlessness for a teacher. As an adult this scene upset me, while the author hopes it makes young readers “feel a little uncomfortable and encourages them to evaluate their own behavior in a similar situation.”

The bottom line is that as much fun, character-building, and outwitting adults scenarios as there are in these tween mysteries, there are also important lessons to be learned. Well beyond the glitter and glamour products of I So Don’t Do Makeup is a basic wholesome tale of preteens respecting the value between right and wrong, then doing their best to have justice served.

I So Don’t Do Makeup is available now and by remembering last week’s post, Guest Barrie Summy and Her Middle Grade School Fans, both girls and boys love this series…especially during summer vacation days!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Barrie Summy’s
I So Don’t Do Makeup in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is NEXT Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in NEXT Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return NEXT Thursday to possibly claim your book.