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Celebrate Summer With Our Fabulous Four Books Giveaway

Enter our fantastic summer giveaway
Courtesy of Candlewick Press


What better way to welcome the summer solstice than with a giveaway? But this is no ordinary giveaway! In April I enjoyed a wonderful pre-LA Times Festival of Books dinner with four fab Candlewick authors and was given autographed copies of their books. Good Reads With Ronna is giving away those signed novels to one lucky winner and it could be you. Read about the books in the giveaway. A handy Candlewick  tote bag is also included:

Burn_Baby_Burn by Meg Medina book coverBurn Baby Burn
Written by Meg Medina
(Candlewick Press; $17.99, Ages 14 and up)
Pura Belpré Author Award winner Meg Medina has another hit on her hands with this riveting read which took me back decades to that scary summer following my first year at university in New York. That’s when the letters of the S.O.S. distress signal stood for something much more sinister – the killer, Son of Sam. Here’s a description of the novel from Candlewick:
Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept.
While violence runs rampant throughout New York, a teenage girl faces danger within her own home in Meg Medina’s riveting coming-of-age novel.

Read a sample chapter here.

Honor_Girl by Maggie Thrash book coverHonor Girl
Written and illustrated by Maggie Thrash
(Candlewick Press; $19.99, Ages 14 and up)
I read this graphic novel memoir in three sittings because I just had to find out what happened to Maggie at Camp Bellflower for Girls, the summer she fell in love. I cared about her immensely and so will YA fans into candor, introspection, and the intensity of first love. Here’s a description of this impressive debut novel from Candlewick:

Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She’s from Atlanta, she’s never kissed a guy, she’s into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie’s savant-like proficiency at the camp’s rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.
All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor, this graphic-novel memoir is a debut of the rarest sort.

The Hired GirlThe_Hired_Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz book cover
Written by Laura Amy Schlitz
(Candlewick Press; $17.99, Ages 10-14)
While everyone was out at the pool during my Florida vacation this winter, I remained indoors because I could not put down this multiple award-winning novel from Newbery Medalist Schlitz. I relished being brought back in time to 1911 Baltimore following the ups and downs of protagonist Joan Skraggs as she becomes the hired girl in a wealthy Jewish household and tries to find her place in the world. Fans of historical fiction should add this to their must-read list.

Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz relates Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!), taking readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.

Dan vs. NatureDan_vs_Nature book cover
Written by Don Calame
(Candlewick Press; $17.99, Ages 14 and up)
Novelist and screenwriter Don Calame, has penned a fast-paced, fun YA novel for the most reluctant of teen readers. If you’re not sure what’s in store, better check out Calame’s clever book trailer here because it really gives you a good taste of the author’s unique sense of humor. High schoolers will appreciate the predicament that the main character, Dan Weekes is thrown into, survive being with his future step-dad or survive the wild.

Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip to “bond.” Determined to trick Hank into showing his true — flawed — colors on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn’t counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide—not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be. With a man-hungry bear on their trail, no supplies, and a lot of unpleasant itching going on, can Dan see his plan through now that his very survival depends on Hank?
From screenwriter Don Calame comes another outrageously funny and raunchy tale of teen boys whose plans go awry — this time, on a survivalist camping trip.

ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY NOW – Increase your chances of winning. You’ll receive an extra entry for following Good Reads With Ronna on Facebook, but please let us know you’ve followed by telling us when you comment below. Thanks and good luck!

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Stories With Heart

Catherine Linka share her picks for …


I once heard black author Rita Williams Garcia say that some of the fans who connected most closely to her characters were Asian. Apparently, the story Rita wrote held truth for many families.

The authors of these books have all won major literary awards, but don’t save these books  for Black History Month. These are terrific human stories that show that even though our experiences may be different, we all feel longing, heartbreak, injustice,  and self-consciousness.

These books can all prompt great discussions about how the characters feel, what they have to deal with and what choices they make. I especially recommend them for book reports or Mother/Daughter book clubs.

THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE ($15.99 – Hardcover, $7.99 – Trade Paperback, Random House/Wendy Lamb Books) by Christopher Paul Curtis

I love eleven-year-old Deza Malone, a smart, sassy girl who loves to read and write. Like many during the Depression, her family is surviving on the edge until an accident forces them apart. Getting the family back together is the heart of this story. Great themes of love, family loyalty, and hard work. Historical Fiction (8+)

THE OTHER HALF OF MY HEART ($16.99, Delacorte Books for Young Readers) by Sundee Frazier

Twins Minerva and Kiera are like their parents, one is black and one is white. When their Southern grandmother invites them to visit and insists they enter the Miss Black Pearl Contest, the two sisters’ bond is tested. Grandmother clearly prefers one girl over the other. Kids will respond to this injustice. (8+)

CAMO GIRL ($16.99, Aladdin) by Kekla Magoon

Ella’s always been on the outside. The only black student in a white school, she also has a large birthmark on her face. When a cool new black boy arrives, Ella has to choose between staying loyal to her only friend or being popular. It’s a dilemma that kids will easily identify with. Contemporary Fiction (9+)

ONE CRAZY SUMMER ($15.99, Harper Collins) by Rita Williams Garcia

Three sisters are sent to spend the summer with the mother who walked out on them seven years before. Their mother is distant and resentful of their presence, and eleven-year-old Delphine must keep her sisters fed and busy at the Black Panther’s youth program. Readers will cheer these three girls as they speak up for themselves and try to form a bond with their mom. Historical Fiction (9+)

Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events.

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Heart Of a Samurai

319Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus (Amulet, $15.95, ages 12 and up) on shelves beginning August, is reviewed today by Vinny from the San Gabriel Valley. Vinny will soon be a high school freshman, but this summer he’s currently enjoying volunteering for Arcadia Parks & Rec, biking, swimming and reading.

From a small fishing village in Japan came four individuals; a young boy named Manjiro, and his four friends, Jusuke, Denzo, Goemon, and Toraemon. They were fisherman. Simple. That was the class they were born into, and that was the class they would forever be… or so they thought. After being thrown off course while they were fishing off the coast of Shikoku, Japan, the five fisherman were left stranded on a, from what they knew, deserted island. It was what was visible for miles in the vast sea, and it was their only chance of survival due to the bird population of the island, hence the name Bird Island, commonly referred to in the story. Their boat was in pieces thanks to the harsh conditions that came upon them as the rapid current and strong winds took them away, far away, from Japan.

The fisherman took advantage of the heavy bird population on the island and ate what was left of them until there were no more. Killing anything that lived was, what many would think of as frowned upon by some Japanese, and short prayers were said commemorating the life of anything killed that once lived. There were many prayers to be said, and when almost all the fisherman were too energy deprived to even move, and all hope was gone, in the distance, headed toward the island on a ship was their only chance of survival. They were what the Japanese referred to as, Barbarians. Little did they know, and emphasis on that, these “barbarians” with piercing blue eyes, were really just Americans. It was due to the fact that Japan lived in isolation that the Japanese had no idea what lie beyond their country, in any direction. There were rumors that these Barbarians were “cursed” and it really is unfortunate how Japan wasn’t opened to the whole concept of foreigners and multi-cultural traditions in the first place that these Americans Manjiro and his friends saw were, what they perceived as, people who were trying to hurt them.

51l1o3psy-l_sl500_aa300_Throughout this incredibly inspirational novel, all of the fisherman become more adapt and open to the American way of life aboard a whale hunting ship called the John Howland. Young Manjiro earned the name John Mung during his experience on the ship, and from that time forward, that was all he was addressed as, except for his four friends, who still called him Manjiro. All five of the fisherman were exposed to what lie beyond Japan, and Manjiro, or John Mung, was the only one who really seemed to be open to it, to embrace it. It was evident too. He embraced the American life-style so much that, he accepted the offer to come live with the Captain of the John Howland, Captain Whitfield, whom he became particularly close with throughout his whole experience, which spanned quite a long number of years. It was hard making this decision, and having to leave his friends in present day Hawaii, when the ship came that direction. This was only for temporary, and Manjiro knew this and vowed that he would one day come back for his friends so they could return to their homeland. And they did, in the end. When they did, they parted their separate ways to see the families they had been longing to see for over a decade; the families they were to bring food home for, those many years ago.

They were welcomed home as, not cursed outsiders, but heroes, and forever would they be, as they were fisherman. All of men came home with heavy hearts, filled with longing and regret, and dignity, but overall, love. Young Manjiro, whom developed much over the past years, also came home with a heart such as this, but his heart was particularly genuine. It was the heart of a samurai, and samurai Manjiro became due to his efforts and accomplishments in the near future, which included influencing Japan to open its doors to outside influence from the world to. And even though he became the lowest rank of samurai, he WAS one, and most importantly, he proved that he, John Mung, could make a difference.

This was perhaps one of the best books I’ve ever read. I have to say that I greatly enjoyed having the honor to read and review this fantastic book. I enjoyed to so much, I couldn’t stop reading it, and finished it in three days. I would have read more each day, but I wanted to savor the story; let the suspense sink in. Yes, I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to you all- children and adults alike, so you too can read and become genuinely inspired by the true story of “the boy who discovered America,” Manjiro.

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