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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Welcome Back Guest Author Penny Ehrenkranz (Penny Lockwood) Part One

I have known Penny Ehrenkranz for years and she was interviewed on this blog five years ago for her book. Now she is on this blog again to talk about her new series: Ghostly Visions from 4RV Publishing. If you want to know more about her you can read this interview from February 6, 2011.

I will be talking with Penny about Ghostly Visions, which is made up of two books: Ghost for Rent, which she published a few years earlier and Ghost for Lunch. First I had the pleasure of reading Ghostly Visions. Here is the blurb and my review. Penny will be here very soon. Meanwhile, enjoy learning more about her books. 

Blurb for Ghost for Rent:

This young adult, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. The story begins when eleven year old Wendy Wiles learns her parents are planning to get divorced.  Forced to leave her beloved city home for a cheaper country place, Wendy, her mother, and her twelve year old brother move to rural Warren, Oregon.
    On move-in day, Wendy meets a neighbor girl who tells her their quaint country home is haunted.  Events proceed quickly as Wendy, her new friend, Jennifer, and Wendy's brother, Mike, see ghostly figures dancing in the woods.  Despite Mom's claims that "there's no such thing as ghosts," paranormal events continue to occur in the Wiles' home. Meanwhile her brother Mike, arch-tease, continues to torment Wendy, claiming he's causing the unusual happenings.
    Wendy searches through library records to get to the bottom of the mystery.  Finally with Jennifer's help, Wendy begins to unravel the truth. At last even Mike can no longer disbelieve and decides to aid Wendy in her search.  By the end of the story, the three young sleuths have uncovered an accidental death, a suicide and a murder. 

Blurb for Ghost for Lunch:

Wendy Wiles attracts ghosts, first in Ghost for Rent, when her parents separate and she, her brother, and mother move into a haunted house. The mystery of who the ghosts are and why they "live" in the Wiles' home brings answers and a reunited family. In Ghost for Lunch, new neighbors and their restaurant bring new ghosts into Wendy's life, and she, her brother, and their new friend discover the two cases are connected.

My Review for Ghost for Lunch

I had read Ghost for Rent many years ago when it was first published. I thought it was a fun read and that it was perfect for middle grade students. The story moved along and there was a satisfying ending. So I was surprised that not only was there a sequel, but the sequel Ghost for Lunch, is bundled with the original book, Ghost for Rent. I started reading Ghost for Lunch and the familiar characters invited me into the story. If you haven't read the first book it is there for you to read. For anyone who hasn’t read Ghost for Lunch, it takes up where Ghost for Rent ended. Only this time, Wendy’s best friend Jennifer moves to California and is replaced by a new family from California that moves next door. Mike, Wendy’s brother, is thrilled when he finds the family has a boy his age. When Wendy and Mike find out this family has bought an old restaurant in the nearby town that they think is haunted, Wendy is both intrigued and worried remembering her experiences with the ghosts in their old farm house. As the children begin to uncover more secrets about the ghosts who had haunted them in Ghost for Rent, strange things begin to happen in the restaurant leading them to believe that this place is indeed haunted. You can feel her fear as the author brings you into the story. The reader feels how Wendy is feeling as Ms. Lockwood describes the experience as if you were there. As the story progresses you just might believe there really are ghosts. The writing is crisp and clear and aside from the fact that certain things in this book seem a little dated, and there is no real time reference, the story moves along at a fast pace. I would recommend this as an excellent book for grades fourth through sixth.

I give this book 4.5 ghosts


Penny Ehrenkranz Bio:

I was born and raised on the East Coast, in Stamford, Connecticut.  I attended Stamford public schools and graduated from Stamford High School in 1964.  Classmates back then knew me as "Susan Lockwood." After high school, I attended and graduated from business school and also attended community college.
My family and close friends have known me as Penny since before I was born. My brother was enamored of Sky King's niece, Penny.  He asked my parents if they would name me Penny.  My dad wanted to name me after my mother, so my birth certificate says "Susan."  No one called me that, however, and in my mind, "Susan" is my mom, not me.  I am "Penny," and all of my bylines are either Penny Lockwood or Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz.
Like a great number of writers, I knew I wanted to write from the time I was a youngster.  Writing for me has always been easier than talking, and as a child, I spent a lot of time writing letters and crafting stories for my own enjoyment.  I find it somewhat amusing that one of my early stories was "Patty and the Country Ghost," and my first published novel, Ghost for Rent,is the story of a country ghost.
I lived on the East Coast until 1977 when I moved to California and I met my husband.  In 1978, we moved to the Pacific Northwest where we made our home.  We are the proud parents of a son and daughter, both of whom are now happily married. We have two lovely granddaughters, and an adorable grandson. We currently share our rural six acres with two dogs and two cats.  Over the years, in addition to dogs and cats, we've had goats, rabbits, doves, cockatiels, finches, budgies, and a turtle. I spend my "spare" time with my family and friends, gardening, crocheting, and sewing projects. 
I have worked and volunteered for a number of non-profit organizations.  Much of that work is reflected in the non-fiction articles I have written offering advice to both parents and teenagers.  My non-fiction has appeared in parenting, writing, and teen magazines. My fiction leans toward fantasy and soft science fiction, often with a touch of romance,  and has been published in a number of small press genre magazines and online. My children's books have a touch of the paranormal (ghosts), and I have released one picture book with another under contract. I have been writing since I was a child, and if I'm not writing, I'm reading.  I'm pleased to have been published both in print and online.  You can find out more about my books by clicking on the various links on my website.

In addition to my writing, I worked as  an editor with MuseItUp Publishing, Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, and  4RV Publishing.  

Until the next time, which will be tomorrow, I hope you will think of someone who would love these books. My next blog will feature Penny's interview so you can learn more about this fascinating author.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Review of Jacqueline by Jackie Minniti

I have great news for one lucky person who commented on my last blog, Welcome Guest Author Judy Alter! about Judy Alter's novel,  The Gilded Cage. The winner of the free book is:

                                       Ina Roy

Thank you to Judy Alter for being on the blog and thank you to the people who commented on it. 

Today I would like to share with you a middle grade novel, which I received from the author, since she is going to be on my radio show, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages, this Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 4PM EST - 6PM. 

I always try to read as much of the work of each author I interview as much as I can, but I don't always succeed. Usually I read a few pages and then I have to stop for various reasons. This was not the case with this book. The book, Jacqueline, grabbed me from the start.  The writing is clear and enjoyable. It is written in the point of view of a ten year old girl during World War II in a small city in France. She and her mother are in a tiny apartment awaiting the return of her father who is fighting in the war. In her building are a Jewish family, who are being taken care of by the building's occupants, except for one who is going out with a German officer. One day a letter comes saying that her father has been lost in battle. Not believing this is true, Jacqueline becomes obsessed with finding her father. Meanwhile, she discovers a slightly damaged cat, and her Jewish neighbors, except for their son, David, are taken by the Germans.  Her mother takes in the boy, and Jacqueline tries to live a normal life going to school when she can and teaching David to live like a Catholic boy. Always she keeps searching for her father. When she meets an American soldier she has hope that at last she will find her father. Jacqueline's determination to keep going while the war rages and the relationship she finds with this American soldier kept me reading this book as much as I could. The story is believable and based on a real story related to Ms. Minniti by her father. I would recommend this book to every child in grades 5 and up. This is an excellent way to show what it was like for children during that time period in France. 

I give it 5 stars:       *****

Jackie Minniti Bio:

Jackie Minniti was born and raised in the heart of New Jersey where she spent 25 years as a classroom teacher and was an education writer for the Courier Post. After retiring from teaching, she moved to a small beach town on the west coast of Florida and turned to writing full-time. Jackie decided to pen a book showing what it’s like to be on the front lines in the classroom. She incorporated the information from her master’s thesis into a story that combines the readability of a novel with the elements of a self-help book. Project June Bug, the story of an idealistic young teacher’s determination to help a high school student with ADHD, was published in 2008. It won several literary awards including an Eric Hoffer award and a Mom’s Choice Silver Medal and was named Premier Book Awards “Book of the Year. 
Her latest novel, Jacqueline, is a middle grade historical based on her father’s experience in France during WWII. Set in Nazi-occupied Rennes, it tells the story of a 10-year-old French girl and the American soldier who befriends her. Jacqueline combines the drama of fiction with the authenticity of personal history in a tale of faith, family, unusual friendships, and the resiliency of the human spirit that will capture the interest of even reluctant readers and give young readers a window into history.  To accompany the novel, Jackie has created a study guide that is cross-referenced with the Common Core standards for Language Arts/Literacy and History/Social Studies (Grades 4-8.)

Jackie is currently a columnist for The Island Reporter in St. Petersburg. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association, the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Several of her stories have been included in Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. She lives on Treasure Island with her husband, John, and two noisy macaws and enjoys reading, walking on the beach, boating, and visiting her three children and six grandchildren in New Jersey. Jackie has been a featured speaker at schools, book clubs, women’s clubs, and libraries and writes a blog featuring Florida writers ( She can be reached through her website:

Until the next time, I hope you will tune in on Thursday to listen to Red River Radio Tales from the Pages and learn more about Jackie Minniti. I will also have Susan A. Royal, another author on the show talking about her new book. There might be some surprise guests calling in as well.

My next guest here on the blog will be Penny Ehrenkranz, who has added a sequel to her new book, Ghost for Lunch in the series, Ghostly Visions. Check back later this week.

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