A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat by Beverly Stowe McClure

pirate-blockade-runner-cat-200x300A perfect, not too spooky, ghost adventure that kids will enjoy is the latest novel from award-winning author Beverly Stowe McClure.

Erik Burns is stuck in South Carolina with his mother and Aunt Molly after he finds a black lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car. Whoops! Kept away from all his friends and the sport he loved to play in Texas, Erik is willing to do whatever it takes to get back home.

When Starry and Stormy Knight, a set of weird twins that live down the block, try to convince Erik that people have seen a light radiating from the deactivated lighthouse and a ghostly pirate ship prowling the harbor, he wants nothing to do with it. But when he witnesses these occurrences, he can’t deny the proof before him. That’s when he hatches a plan to help the ghosts rest in peace in exchange for a personalized haunting that will send his mother rushing back home to Texas so Erick can get his life back.

Beverly and I are in the same critique group, so I had the pleasure of watching this story unfold before it was published. Talented in the areas of contemporary and historical fiction, I am always amazed by how diverse her ideas are while staying true to her fan base. A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat should be another big winner for her. Why? Because in a nutshell, no matter what Beverly is writing, she knows what relates well to her readers.

In this story, Erik has been uprooted. Not only is he away from all his friends and baseball, he’s pretty ticked his dad hasn’t tried to contact him since the move. Those emotions work their way into the unfolding stories of Major Stede Bonnet, Blackbeard, and the ghost residing in the deactivated Morris Island Lighthouse. Not only that, Erik’s mom is trying to get him to befriend a couple of odd twins, when all he wants is to be reunited with his friends in Texas.

This paranormal middle grade/tween novel has a lot to offer. A great read any time of the year, it will definitely get you in the mood for Halloween.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

File Size: 410 KB
Print Length: 265 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing (January 9, 2013)
ISBN 978-1-77127-219-3
Available in numerous digital formats. Visit the publisher’s website for more information.


I received a free digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


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Hank Zipzer: A Brand New Me by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver


Hank Zipzer: A Brand New Me is the latest middle grade novel from Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. This New York Times best-selling series is about Hank Zipzer, a funny young boy with learning challenges. Currently in fifth grade, his teacher Ms. Adolf tells him he’ll never amount to anything. Principal Love spends a lot of time lecturing him. When Hank discovers he’s in danger of not graduating, fulfilling his community service requirement might be the key to a brand new Hank.

This is the first Hank Zipzer book I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. Though I tend to shy away from celebrity written books, I found this one at a school book fair and decided to give it a try. Like Julianne Moore did with Freckleface Strawberry, Winkler and Lin have created a memorable character in Hank Zipzer.  The Lil’ Diva (11) and Lil’ Princess (9) enjoyed this book for the drama and humor. As a parent who grew up watching the Fonz on Happy Days, I loved the little clues to where the inspiration behind the book and series comes from that the girls would never pick up. There’s a mean-spirited teacher that Hank describes as grey (hair, clothes, skin) with the last name of Adolf, and Winkler is Jewish. One of the teachers from the Professional Performing Arts School is named Garry Marshall, just like the producer/writer/actor who worked on Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Joanie Loves Chachi. Then there’s Hank’s father who wants him to learn a trade that will help him succeed, which is definitely a more traditional way of thinking than the spirit of entrepreneurship we see today.

I’m certain part of the appeal for me is in spying these clues the authors included in a series based upon Winkler’s childhood. But I can’t deny this is a book that will ring true with young people today. It’s great to see Hank succeed in an arena where he has always struggled. Kids will relate to that. Sometimes adults are too quick to judge a child’s abilities or discount less than superb grades as lack of motivation. A child who struggles with a learning disability, like the Lil’ Diva, will find a friend in Hank Zipzer and some sense of triumph right along with him.

I can’t wait to go back and read the other books in this series. I’m sure my girls are up for it, too.

Highly recommended.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Age Range: 8 and up
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (April 20, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0448452103
ISBN-13: 978-0448452104

I bought a copy of this book at a Scholastic book fair. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Just Breeze by Beverly Stowe McClure

For every tween/teen girl who has felt like nothing good is ever going to happen, here comes Just Breeze, the latest release from Beverly Stowe McClure.

Breeze Brannigan quickly finds that eighth grade is destined to start out like every other school year: she still towers over her classmates, her shoes are big enough to belong to a clown, the reflection off her braces could start a small fire, and her hair is still uncontrollable and very red.

In walks Cam, the new boy in school who is different from all the other boys Breeze knows.  He must be from another planet.  As time moves on, Breeze discovers Cam might be an earthling, but he is definitely hiding something; and when Cam trusts Breeze with his secret, a secret that could put Cam and his mother in danger, Breeze is determined to help Cam keep that secret, no matter what!

As much as I enjoyed McClure’s Rebel in Blue Jeans, Just Breeze is one hundred times better. With this book, McClure’s writing has evolved into something that movies are made of.  The mystery behind Cam’s sudden appearance and how he works his way slowly into Breeze’s life when she expected this year to be just as nondescript as the others, is well done and keeps readers turning the pages.

Breeze could have been you or me (several years ago) or many of the other young girls who struggle to find their place in a family and a peer set where fitting in isn’t easy or siblings seem to be much more talented than you.

But even girls who don’t seem to fit in have friends, and Breeze’s friend Amy is perfect for her. The reader will enjoy their banter and their adventures.  What I thought was a unique twist in Just Breeze is that it isn’t Breeze who has a nemesis, but Amy. Allison is the new girl at school and she does a lot of cruddy stuff to Breeze and Amy, and she seems to like Amy’s boyfriend Tony, which puts the girls immediately at odds with Breeze somewhere in the middle.

McClure starts off with an excellent set of characters, tosses in a superb plot, and comes up with a major winner.  I think this is her first book with 4RV Publishing, and I have to say I am impressed with the quality product they put out.  Attractive font, fabulous cover illustrations from Aidana WillowRaven, and thorough editing.

Not only will Just Breeze make the perfect gift for your tween/teen reader, it will be a book that is read time and again because it is just that good!  I hope to see more collaborations between Beverly Stowe McClure and 4RV Publishing.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC
  • ISBN-10: 0984070826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984070824
  • SRP: $15.99

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