Three Things I Learned from Tom’s Midnight Garden

Toms Midnight Garden Cover

After reading this magical novel, my only regret is that I was unaware of it when I was a child. Tom’s Midnight Garden is filled with imagination. The author has infused Tom Long with the curiosity, impatience, and determination of youth. Though respectful to his aunt and uncle, who have graciously taken him into their home while his brother recovers from the measles, Tom is adventurous and refuses to spend summer as a quiet guest.

Upon finishing the book, three things occurred to me.

There’s No Real Bad Guy

As most children will tell you when recalling their favorite fairy tales, there’s always a bad guy. And that’s because the hero never starts off as a hero. He must discover in himself powers he never knew he had—usually by defeating his enemy. But in this story, Tom revels in a newly found freedom and sense of wonder by spending time in the garden with Hatty.

The closest this book comes to a bad guy is Hatty’s aunt. Though severe, she isn’t all that bad. After all, she’s provided a home for the girl and, despite her conviction that her sons come first, she is not a monster.

Time Can Be an Enemy or a Friend

The annoying grandfather clock that cannot seem to tell time properly provides the means by which Tom travels into the past to meet Hatty. Mostly, Tom uses this bit of sorcery to his advantage, visiting and revisiting his friend in different seasons. He even figures out how to have Hatty hide a pair of ice skates for him to find in his own time so that he can go ice skating with her in the past. Sheer brilliance!

But Time can also be an enemy of sorts. Tom cannot control it, nor can he determine when the adventure will end. And when it does, the boy is devastated. He wasn’t even able to say goodbye properly. The grandfather clock no longer permits him to go back, and he is left with only memories of Hatty at different ages, from girl to young woman.

Dreams Can Create Powerful Connections

Toward the end, when Tom is with Hatty, and she is all grown up, his brother magically appears and can see her, too. It’s because Tom has been writing daily to Peter about his adventures. And Peter’s imagination seems to be as vivid as his brother’s, thus transporting him into Hatty’s world.

Tom’s Midnight Garden is a must-read for adults and children alike. Every page is filled with warmth, with each character—major and minor—lovingly drawn. It is a coming-of-age story, with Tom gaining an early appreciation for life through the eyes of a lonely girl growing into a confident young woman. And finally, it’s a story of friendship, forged in a garden as timeless as imagination itself.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description

Winner of the Carnegie Medal

From beloved author Philippa Pearce, this sixtieth-anniversary edition is the perfect way to share this transcendent story of friendship with a new generation of readers. Philip Pullman, bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, called Tom’s Midnight Garden “A perfect book.”

When Tom’s brother gets sick, he’s shipped off to spend what he’s sure will be a boring summer with his aunt and uncle in the country. But then Tom hears the old grandfather clock in the hall chime thirteen times, and he’s transported back to an old garden where he meets a young, lonely girl named Hatty.

Tom returns to the garden every night to have adventures with Hatty, who mysteriously grows a little older with each visit. As the summer comes to an end, Tom realizes he wants to stay in the garden with Hatty forever.

Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Tom’s Midnight Garden is a classic of children’s literature and a deeply satisfying time-travel mystery. This newly repackaged sixtieth-anniversary paperback is the perfect entrée for readers of all ages to the vivid world that The Guardian called “A modern classic.” Features new interior spot art by Jaime Zollars.

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Book Review—Dust

Like “Mr. Dark” in Something Wicked This Way Comes, a pale, desiccated stranger appears in the region, and immediately, bad things start to happen.

Dust Cover

When I first began reading Dust by Arthur Slade, I didn’t realize it was a YA novel. To me, the writing was cold and hypnotic, and it unfolded the way that darker, more severe, stories about serial killers and children do. Nevertheless, this is most assuredly a young adult dark fantasy.

Like “Mr. Dark” in Something Wicked This Way Comes, a pale, desiccated stranger appears in the region, and immediately, bad things start to happen. Unaware of the danger, the local farmers and the town’s banker fall under his spell and buy into his scheme to save them from the drought. Good luck with that.

As we follow an eleven-year-old boy named Robert, who is desperately searching for his younger brother, Matthew, we come to learn that not only has Matthew disappeared but many other children have as well. And the grownups don’t seem to notice—or care. When we come to know Robert, we can see why he believes it is up to him to find his brother.

One of my favorite things about this novel is the world-building. It takes place in Horshoe, a small town in Saskatchewan during a terrible drought. In the US, the drought occurred in the early 1930s and led to the Dust Bowl. Farmers are barely able to grow any crops due to a lack of rain. It’s always hot, and there’s dust everywhere—grit that blows into peoples’ homes, clings to their clothes, and invades their food. It’s this kind of detail that makes Dust such a compelling read.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
The children were disappearing.
And the worst thing about it?
No one noticed

A rainmaker brings rain to a drought-stricken town. The stranger amazes the townspeople with magic mirrors and bewitches the children with his beautiful butterfly.

First, one child vanishes. Then another. And another.

Only one young man sees through the lies and decides to act.

You’ll love this dark, mysterious young adult novel. Winner of the Governor General’s Award.

Get it now.

Where to Buy
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Book Review—The Infinite Pieces of Us

The Infinite Pieces of Us Cover

The more I read YA fiction, the more I realize just how hard it is to be a kid nowadays. I won’t bore you with idyllic memories of roasting marshmallows around a campfire, but I will say that for many kids—and parents—today the world is a harsh, unforgiving place fraught with consequences. And this reality was never more evident than in the wonderful new novel by Rebekah Crane entitled The Infinite Pieces of Us. In it, she has given us Esther Ainsworth, a smart, soulful sixteen-year-old girl who has already lived far beyond her years and who is now forced to live in a dry, brittle desert that serves as punishment for something she did and whose secret must never be revealed.

As adults, we are well versed in the notion that we must accept the consequences for our actions. But we also lie—to ourselves and to others—to avoid those consequences, even if only for a while. In this story, Esther learns just how willing adults are to lie to keep the consequences at bay so we can live our lives as though nothing had happened. In such a world, Esther can’t rely on adults for guidance and must turn to her peers, hoping they can help. A touching subplot explores how Esther has fallen away from her sister, Hannah, who blames Esther for ruining her life by making the family move, even though it was their parents’ decision to do so. I found Hannah tragic and vulnerable and could easily picture a sequel starring her.

If you are a parent raising teenagers, read this book. Because these honest, hurt characters will tell you truths that your children will not—that what you see on the surface doesn’t begin to describe the pain and anxiety they carry inside like an even smaller hurt child.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
From the author of The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland comes a hilarious and heartbreaking novel about coming apart, getting it together—and moving on. It’s just a two-hour drive…

Pondering math problems is Esther Ainsworth’s obsession. If only life’s puzzles required logic. Her stepfather’s solution? Avoidance. He’s exiled the family to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, to erase a big secret from Esther’s past. So much for the truth. Now for the consequences: an empty swimming pool, a water-sucking cactus outside her window, a goldfish rescued from a church festival, and Esther’s thirst for something real.

Step one: forget about her first love. Step two: make allies. Esther finds them in Jesús from the local coffee bar; a girl named Color who finds beauty in an abandoned video store; Beth, the church choir outcast; and Moss, a boy with alluring possibilities. Step three: confess her secret to those she hopes she can trust. Esther’s new friends do more than just listen. They’re taking Esther one step further.

Together, they hit the road to face Esther’s past head-on. It’s a journey that will lead her to embrace her own truth—in all its glory, pain, and awesomeness.

Where to Buy
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Hooray! Chainsaw Honeymoon Is Published!

Chainsaw Honeymoon Cover 3D

I am so excited—what a journey! The Kindle edition of Chainsaw Honeymoon is available now exclusively at Amazon, and for a limited time, I am offering it for $1.99 US. Click here to order your copy. The print edition will be available in a few days.

Yes, I want to buy now!

Take a look at what IndieReader had to say about my latest novel:

“In this tale of a daughter literally trying to scare her estranged parents back together, Steven Ramirez combines the horror/slasher film and literature genres with the light comedy/romance of a Cary Grant film. Both genres present challenges on their own. What is amazing about Chainsaw Honeymoon is how Ramirez surmounts both of these demands. Added to these accomplishments is his ability to present the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl. In the form of Ruby, Ramirez imparts to readers all the confusion brought about by puberty; the emotional neediness camouflaged by sarcasm; the obsession and continuing frustration with boys; and the bonds female teenagers forge with one another.” — IndieReader

Stop talking so I can click the link!

Book Description
Life, love, and a few dead bodies. Just another day in LA.

One year ago, Alan and Stacey Navarro underwent a painful separation, leaving their daughter, Ruby, to live with her mom and an over-caffeinated Shih Tzu named Ed Wood. People split up all the time, and most kids might get over it, providing they can still Snapchat. Not Ruby. A bright, funny fourteen-year-old who loves shoes and horror movies, she is on an insane mission to get her parents back together. But she can’t do it alone. She needs her two best friends, her dog, an arrogant filmmaker, a bizarre collection of actors, and a chainsaw-wielding movie killer. What could possibly go wrong?

Chainsaw Honeymoon is “hysterical fiction” and like nothing you’ve ever read. There’s romance, drama, and a creepy talking doll called Mr. Shivers. Cutting a breakneck, jagged swath across present-day Los Angeles, this book hurls flaming balls of movies, music, horror, and comedy—like some kind of possessed pitching machine. Is this real life? Better ask Ruby.

For fans of John Green, Robyn Schneider, and Ferris Bueller.

Vote for a Chance at a Free Book!

[Kindle Scout Ad]

VOTE TODAY!

I need your help. Earlier this week, I submitted my new horror comedy novel, Chainsaw Honeymoon, to Kindle Scout, an Amazon program that lets readers help decide if a book gets published by Kindle Press. Of course, I’d assumed that with the holidays, I wouldn’t hear back for several weeks. But on Wednesday, I learned Amazon had approved my book for a campaign. Cue the Japanese drummers! And this is where YOU come in.

Basically, I have thirty days to convince readers to vote for my book. And I am asking you to help. If Amazon selects Chainsaw Honeymoon for publication, every person who voted for it gets a free copy (subject to Amazon’s rules). So, please. Visit my Kindle Scout Campaign today and VOTE. Thank you!

VOTE TODAY!

[Chainsaw Honeymoon Cover]

Book Description
One year ago, Alan and Stacey Navarro underwent a painful separation, leaving their daughter, Ruby, to live with her mom and an over-caffeinated Shih Tzu named Ed Wood. A bright, funny fourteen-year-old who loves shoes and horror movies, Ruby is on an insane mission to get her parents back together. But she can’t do it alone. She needs her two best friends, her dog, an arrogant filmmaker, a bizarre collection of actors, and a chainsaw-wielding movie killer. What could possibly go wrong?

Book Categories
Literature & Fiction › Humor & Satire › Dark Comedy
Literature & Fiction › Horror › Comedy
Romance › Romantic Comedy
Teen & Young Adult › Literature & Fiction › Humorous › Dark Humor

Don’t miss out. This campaign ends of December 24th. Visit my Kindle Scout Campaign and VOTE.

Marked by Fate Box Set Available for Preorder

Just wanted you to know about a promotion from my fellow indie authors. Check this out.

Marked By Fate. Defined By Their Choices.

A collection of 25 Fantasy and Science Fiction YA coming of age novels from New York Times, USA Today, International, Amazon bestselling and Award-Winning authors!!

This action-packed collection is filled with teen warriors who encounter shadows, queens, witches, wizards, werewolves, and shifters. Sometimes these young adults partner with immortals, angels, vampires, demons, and gods. And with occasionally genetically engineered soldiers, cyborgs, and robots as they discover magical hidden fantasy worlds, encounter mind-blowing dystopian lands, space stations, and galaxies they could never have dreamed existed. Marked by Fate to complete these deadly and dangerous quests filled with nonstop action and adventure!

Pre-order on all vendors between now and Oct. 23rd 2017

Release Date: Oct. 24th 2017

Buy Links:

AMAZON SMART LINK: http://smarturl.it/MBFBoxsetAmazon

B&N SMART LINK: http://smarturl.it/MBFNOOK

Kobo SMARTLINK : http://smarturl.it/MBFKOBO

iBooks SMART LINK :http://smarturl.it/MBFibooks

 

COME AS YOU ARE—More News

Hey, guys! Just a quick note to let you know that today I posted the final chapter from my new YA horror novella Come As You Are at Channillo, a subscription-based online magazine. The novella will be available for reading online through the end of May.

I plan to publish Come As You Are in the next few months both in digital and print. The Kindle edition will be available for preorder first. (More on that later.) Also, I’m very excited to tell you that the book includes nine additional short stories.

If you’d like to read the novella now, check out my Channillo series page. And happy reading!

[Come As You Are Cover]

Synopsis
Ivan Stein isn’t sure he can survive seventh grade, let alone middle school. Living in a town known for its poverty and violence, he is regularly bullied along with his best friend, Ollie. But fortunes can change.

One day, Ivan finds an old notebook in an abandoned locker at school. Despite a nasty warning from the ill-tempered janitor, he takes the book home and soon learns that it once belonged to another kid named Craig and apparently possesses occult properties—powerful magic Ivan can use to punish his enemies.

The notebook describes five tasks Ivan must complete to unleash the full power of the book. But what he doesn’t know is demonic forces control the book’s pages—raw evil that will inflict suffering on the good as well as the bad and demand as payment Ivan’s very soul.

Read Come As You Are

COME AS YOU ARE on Channillo!

Hey, guys! Just wanted you to know that starting Tuesday, January 31st, I am posting chapters from my new YA horror novella Come As You Are at Channillo, a subscription-based online magazine that allows writers to share their work in regular installments. I will be publishing a chapter a week through the end of April, at which point the entire novella will be available for reading.

Please check out my series page. And happy reading!

[Come As You Are Cover]

Synopsis
Ivan Stein isn’t sure he can survive seventh grade—let alone middle school. Living in a town known for its poverty and violence, he is regularly bullied—along with his best friend, Ollie. But fortunes can change.

One day, Ivan finds an old notebook in an abandoned locker at school. Despite a nasty warning from the ill-tempered janitor, he takes the book home and soon learns that it once belonged to another kid named Craig and apparently possesses occult properties—powerful magic Ivan can use to punish his enemies.

The notebook describes five tasks Ivan must complete to unleash the full power of the book. But what he doesn’t know is demonic forces control the book’s pages—raw evil that will inflict suffering on the good as well as the bad and demand as payment Ivan’s very soul.

Read Come As You Are