Book Blast + Interview + Giveaway: The Adventures of Wilhelm

Imagine that — a rat who loves to travel found his way onto a blog called Writer with Wanderlust. This adventurous rodent brings children on a journey around the world and back, experiencing a variety of cultures along the way. Read on to find out more about The Adventures of Wilhelm and its author, Maria Ritter, on this blog tour coordinated by iRead Book Tours. Then enter to win a copy of this entertaining middle grade book.

Title: The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale | Author: Maria Ritter | Illustrator: Teri Rider | Genre: Middle-grade Fiction, 210 pages | Publisher: PartnerPress | Release date: August 2018

Description: Young Wilhelm leaves home and travels the world. He not only discovers the value of different cultures and the importance of family and friendship, but he also overcomes obstacles with courage and cleverness. He returns home with deep respect for all creatures on this earth and a new sense of rat identity and purpose.

My Thoughts: Wilhelm wants to see the world, so he sets off on an adventure that takes him around the world. But this is much more than a book about travel. The scenes in various countries don’t just focus on famous sites, but go much deeper into the language, food, mannerisms and music that define a culture. These little details fill the pages with a sensory experience leaving behind a list of compelling reasons to learn about new cultures and journey to unfamiliar places.

I was most surprised at learning so much about rats and the impact they have made on our world. I’ll admit that I hadn’t given much thought to these creatures other than the fact that I prefer not to see them, but the author illuminates areas — such as science and health — where rats have proven uniquely suited to things that humans can’t do. I have to admit that I’m now intrigued by rats.

This clever story is a quick-paced novel that gives middle grade readers constant peaks and valleys within each chapter compelling them to turn the page. There is a good mix of the elements of classic storytelling such as tension, danger, excitement, success, friendship and home. But at its heart, The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale is a story of about growing up, following dreams and finding your own way in life.

To follow the tour and read more reviews, please visit Maria Ritter’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

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 Meet the Author:

Maria Ritter is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in La Jolla, California. She is the author of Return to Dresden (2004), an autobiographical reflection on her childhood in Germany during and after World War II. It is a healing memoir that confronts national guilt for the Nazi past and weaves the broken pieces of loss and grief into a healing tapestry.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn some insights behind the book from the author herself.

Interview with Author Maria Ritter:

1. What’s the main reason someone should read this book about a rat, named Wilhelm?
I hope for this tale to be an enjoyable read in the rich tradition of telling tall tales and fairy tales where animals can speak, and humans understand their words and purpose among us. They invite us into the realm of unbelievable events with exaggerations, projection and fantasies we then image in our creative minds as real.

Our main character, Wilhelm, invites the young readers and others young-at-heart to travel to different places on this earth, to discover the value of different cultures, to learn about the importance of family and friendships and to overcome obstacles with cleverness and courage. Yes, Wilhelm had ‘Wanderlust’ and enjoyed the experience.

2. Is there a message that the book brings to the reader?
Every journey we take invites us to bring back some new experiences and lessons to be learned. Sometimes it takes time to reflect on them. I hope the readers will be encouraged to follow the rat to face good and evil, recognize and remember traps and other dangers, but ultimately develop human attributes: receiving and offering kindness.

The other deeper meaning lies in the underground and hidden life of one of the most disliked creatures among us, hated and to be exterminated with poison and traps. Just go to The Home Depot and see the isles filled with pest control items – it is big business and feeds into our fears of being attacked, too.

It is my hope that the readers also connect this tale to the many millions of people who live among us in the shadows, are hated and unwanted and live with few possessions and leftover food found in garbage cans. Kindness, understanding and compassion can lead the way to less fear and inspire a willingness to share our resources among all.

3. Which was the hardest character to write and the easiest?
Of course, the main character, Wilhelm, presents as a typical adolescent, leaving home enthusiastically, but inexperienced. Although his parents give him solid advice, he must learn from his own experiences, the good one as well as from his mistakes. As a writer I became also protective of him on his journey, and I had to allow him to make mistakes and learn from them, understand the complexity of his feelings and his own prejudices. I did not want to idealize him just as a cute rat but let him go and wait what happens next.

The easiest character to write about was Hohua Wikiwiki from the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. He is a free-spirited character, a surfer dude who jumps off cliffs with a red cape on and dances the hula at the Oktoberfest. He goes along wherever the opportunities arise and does not seem to worry much. He is also a fine band musician, plays the ukulele, and can find work at many festivals around the globe. He is fun to follow around.

4. What are your next writing projects?
I am currently narrating my book for an audio version with a wonderful audiobook producer, Carter Wogahn. It is such a great experience to read the story out loud and imagine a group of listeners nearby. To put voice and emotions to the different characters brings the book alive.

Another manuscript, a follow-up memoir to my first book, Return to Dresden (2004) is waiting for completion. Return to Leipzig is focused on my childhood experiences during and after World War II (WWII) and putting together my mother’s thank you letters for the many care packages we received from America during the post war years in East Germany. It is a painful yet reconciling project.

Finally, Wilhelm, the Rat has been encouraged and is itching to travel the world some more. Maybe he could start in San Francisco, travel to New York in a moving truck, visit relatives in Michigan during the summer and fly to Las Vegas to join the circus? Maybe he could even travel to Egypt to visit the famous pyramids?

5. Where and when do you write?
I have a home office, filled with books, papers, photos and trinkets I brought back from my own travels. They serve as inspiration and confirm my memories. I do not have a daily routine for writing. The writing usually comes to me if I sit still and follow my thoughts and imagination. It happens quite often that I compose ideas into thoughts early in the morning in my half sleep state. I must then get up and write it down, so it does not drift away. My imagination has been always visual and often free associative. I have accepted my free style of writing into the computer only to correct and organize the text later in proper English and sequence. It is almost like hearing music and then putting it on paper. What I have learned over the years is that it is ok to sometimes make a mess, just like the Rat, but be patient and tenacious until you complete a manuscript into a book. Being a bi-lingual writer, I am grateful to my editors and publisher.

6. Do you have a dream for your book?
Given my rich background in music and being a music consumer, I am dreaming of finding a composer to set the book to music in the style of Sergei Prokofiev’s, ‘Peter and the Wolf’. I can hear already the leitmotivs for the various characters, imagine famous tunes from different cultures, and follow Wilhelm’s adventures with the colorful sound of an orchestra. The music will tell the story! I will keep dreaming and hope music will come as a gift.

Connect with the author: Website

Win one of five copies of The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale by Maria Ritter – choice of print or ebook. Open to USA mailing addresses only. Ends April 5, 2019

Review: Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage by Julie Grasso

As a fan of Julie Anne Grasso’s books, I am pleased to be participating in the Book Review Tour for Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage coordinated by Mother Daughter Book Reviews.

About the Book

ScienceFairCover-CropHiTitle: Frankie Dupont and The Science Fair Sabotage | Author: Julie Anne Grasso | Illustrator: Alexander Avellino | Publication Date: May 11, 2015 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 134 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12 Summary: Frankie Dupont is less than impressed when he has to attend the Sustainable Science Fair with Kat and Amy. Upon his arrival, he learns that Amy’s brothers have had their robotics chip stolen. Keen to recover the chip, Frankie questions the kids in the competition, but everyone seems to have a motive. When baffling clues start rolling in via Snap-Goss instant messages, Frankie realises it will take all of his detective muscles to solve this case. An illustrated mystery for ages 8-12.

Amazon * Goodreads

The Buzz About the Books

Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage: “These books are quick and fun to read. They are perfect for young readers who enjoy mysteries and quirky characters. ” ~ Melanie, Amazon

Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage: ” Like the other books in this series, this is a story written and aimed at kids. The fantasy, thoughts and plot are laid out with lots of love just for this age group, and I think kids will enjoy this completely.” ~ Tonja D., Amazon

Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage: This fast paced, funny book is sure to thrill and entertain your middle grade reader.” ~ Susan, Amazon

Frankie Dupont and the High Seas Heist: “With each book, the author manages to think up a completely new, fun, and smart adventure for kids. I’d recommend this to any middle-grade story-lover, especially if they value friendship, perseverance, and learning new things.” ~ Ilana, Amazon

My Thoughts

Frankie Dupont books are such fun to read thanks to the smart, clever writing of Julie Anne Grasso. It’s all in the details with her books — both in solving the mysteries and in the subtle humor found throughout the stories. Here are some of my favorite examples of titles, names and phrases from Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage: I Call it Recyc-bling (yes, that’s jewelry made out of recycled materials), Ms. Ubersyentist and Martian vomit-coloured earing. Beyond the kid-friendly voice, she includes lots of great science and technology throughout the detective action. In this book, cloning and Snap-Gross (photos that pop onto a smartphone and then delete within seconds) play a big role in the story. Finally, the characters all have their lovable quirks and child-like traits (they are kids after all) that make them both endearing and real. Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage is another exciting book in this action-packed series. Recommended!

About the Author: Julie Anne Grasso

Julie Anne GrassoWith a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories to entertain them. A science fiction nerd (she even owns a TARDIS), cupcake enthusiast and lover of all things mystery, she lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little girl Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai tea and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.

Website | Blog | Facebook

Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Birds of Passage by Joe Giordano

I’m pleased to be participating in the blog tour for Birds of Passage: An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story by Joe Giordano coordinated by Italy Book Tours.

Title: Birds of Passage: An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story | Author: Joe Giordano | Publication Date: October 8, 2015 | Publisher: Harvard Square Editions | Pages: 272 | ISBN: 978-1941861080

Birds of Passage by Joe GiordanoSynopsis: What turns the gentle mean and the mean brutal? The thirst for wealth? The demand for respect? Vying for a woman? Birds of Passage recalls the Italian immigration experience at the turn of the twentieth-century when New York’s streets were paved with violence and disappointment.

Leonardo Robustelli leaves Naples in 1905 to seek his fortune. Carlo Mazzi committed murder and escaped. Azzura Medina is an American of Italian parents. She’s ambitious but strictly controlled by her mother. Leonardo and Carlo vie for her affection. Azzura, Leonardo, and Carlo confront con men, Tammany Hall politicians, the longshoreman’s union, Camorra clans, Black Hand extortion, and the Tombs prison.

Kirkus review“With Birds of Passage, Joe Giordano delivers a rollicking, wholly entertaining take on the Italian immigrant story. His rich cast of characters arrives seeking the usual: Money, honor, love, respect, a decent shot at the pursuit of happiness. But things get complicated fast as they plunge into the rough-and-tumble world of rackets, scams, and politics of early 20th-century New York City. Giordano serves up a thick, satisfying slice of the entire era in all its raw and brutal glory.”

Joe GiordanoAuthor’s Bio: Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Naples. Joe and his wife, Jane have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu Sophia. Joe’s stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, The Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review. Connect with the author:  Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

My thoughts: As an avid traveler and self-proclaimed “writer with wanderlust”, I am always on the look out for books that have a strong sense of place. Plus, being of Italian heritage I hold a special place books that give me a new perspective on Italy or Italians. So I was thrilled to join the blog tour as a reviewer for Joe Giordano’s Birds of Passage: An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story.

The book takes readers on a journey from Italy to New York through the eyes of young, ambitious Italians. I really appreciated that these characters and even the back stories of their families, were anything but typical. Yes, there are the ever-intriguing topics of organized crime, love and betrayal, as well as family loyalty, but with new complexities. How loyal do you have to be when your family holds onto Old World traditions? How far does a man go to protect is father’s estate? What makes a person “good” v. “bad” and does a well-intended motive change that?

Through the talented pen of Giordano, readers follow Leonardo Robustelli through the drama of leaving his family behind for the New World to find a better life. I enjoyed the variety of characters in this book – from a not-so-traditional Italian mob leader to an independent Italian-American young woman and from a good man pushed to defend his family to a seemingly evil one protecting a friend. And I absolutely adored the phrases — often in Italian — and details like Italian mannerisms that make this such an authentic read.

Recommended for anyone that enjoys historical fiction, especially Italophiles.

GIVEAWAY: Win 1 of 3 copies of Birds of Passage (print book USA & Canada, ebook international). Click here to enter the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!

GET YOUR FREE COPY! The Kindle edition of Birds of Passage will be free to download Saturday, November 7th through Wednesday, November 11th. Or if you can’t wait, Birds of Passage is now available on Amazon.

Note: I received a free digital copy of Birds of Passage in exchange for an honest review.
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Caffeinated Book Reviewer Reviews Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin

Sometimes when you stop to smell the roses for a while (or the coffee beans in this case), the nicest things seems to happen. Take, for example, the latest review from the new children’s review section (called Nonna’s Corner) of the ever popular book review blog, Caffeinated Book Reviewer!

Caffeinated Book Reviewer

 

What I might love most about Kimberly, the brains behind the site, is that she enjoys her books with a nice cup of coffee, just like me (but make mine a double latte, please).

Pop over to read the wonderful children’s book reviews at Nonna’s Corner and then enter to win a copy of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin plus some fun adventure-themed goodies. Good luck!

 

 

Review: Rachel’s Day in the Garden by Giselle Shardlow

Rachel's Day in the Garden: A Kids Yoga Spring Colors BookRachel’s Day in the Garden: A Kids Yoga Spring Colors Book by Giselle Shardlow

My toddler and I love this book, in fact, it’s hard to tally which of us has asked to read it more often.

A few of my favorite things (about this book):

– Creative illustrations: There is a brilliant texture and complexity to the illustrations in the book. Newspaper print peaks out behind wallpaper and clouds. And the rich colors and patterns create a wonderful sense of calm throughout the story.

– An active read: My 3 1/2 year old asks for the yoga mat so we can do all the poses while we read the story. He loves to try his own version of the poses too and invents his own names for the new positions.

– Helpful details: Included in extra pages are a full list of the yoga poses used in the story and a Parent-Teacher Guide with tips on how to help a child enjoy yoga safely.

Rachel’s Day in the Garden is a new favorite in our household and I’m sure it will be in any household with young yogi.

Note: I received a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Debbie Young’s Reading Life Reviews Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin

What an honor to be the first children’s book review posted on a new review site, Debbie Young’s Reading Life! Debbie Young is not only an author herself but an active member of the Alliance of Independent Authors as Commissioning Editor of their Author Advice Centre blog and shares marketing advice on her blog, Off The Shelf Book Promotions.

This is one of the most in depth reviews I’ve read and I really appreciate Ms. Young’s insights and comments on all aspects of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. My favorite line from the review highlights the way the book can “encourage readers” and notes: “As well as providing  a jaunty rhyme that makes the tale tootle along nicely and which will encourage readers gaining confidence to read the story independently, the book provides interesting facts about Wally’s new friends.”. As a children’s book author, I can’t think of a better compliment than inspiring children to read themselves!

The full review post can be found here: http://debbieyoungsbookblog.com/2015/02/25/wally-the-warm-weather-penguin-by-stephanie-m-ward/.