BOOK TOUR REVIEW, INTERVIEW, & GIVEAWAY: Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome by Marissa Moss
Home Sweet Rome
by Marissa Moss
Mira’s Diary, Book Two
PRESENTED BY SOURCEBOOKS
As if traveling to a new country in search of her missing mother weren’t difficult enough, Mira has to do it dressed as a boy. In a different century.
A new postcard from her time-traveling mother points Mira to the 16th century Rome. But before she can rescue her mom, she must follow the clues left around the city to find Giordano Bruno, a famous thinker and mathematician, who discovered something so shocking that important Italian officials don’t want it revealed. All the while avoiding the Watchers–time-traveling police who want Mira back in her own time.
It’s another whirlwind adventure for Mira, and this time she is determined to bring her mother out of the past.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I really liked this novel a lot more than the first one in the series. Mira is getting into her time travel ability now, and this time she’s off to renaissance era Rome. While there, she meets the famous painter Caravaggio, and learns the reason she has been sent back to this time–the works of a man named Bruno are in danger since he has been named a heretic and condemned to death for infuriating the church. With hints from her mother and clues she pieces together with her own clever mind, is it possible Mira will make it in time to save what needs to be saved?
I felt like Mira grew up a bit in this installment. She’s no longer shocked as she (understandably) was by her time travel in the first book, and she wastes no time with silly romantic notions as she did before. She goes in and immediately sets about finding out what needs to be done.
I still have my issues with the believability of events in the book…the people she meets along the way must be quite gullible to swallow some of the tall tales she feeds to them. Also, I have trouble understanding just how much time she is spending in the past when she goes back. This is important to me because it almost seems as if she meets people once and then 20 years later they still remember her. It bothers me a bit.
Overall, I enjoyed Mira’s journey this time and I found myself learning a lot. The research put into writing these books shows through, and gives you a history lesson while you read a good story.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve always wanted to make books and I sent my first picture book to publishers when I was nine. Naturally, it was terrible and they didn’t publish it. I didn’t try submitting anything again until I was a grown-up, but I kept on telling myself stories and drawing pictures to go with them.
2. Who or what gives you inspiration?
If by inspiration, you mean the urge to write, I get ideas from all kinds of things –something I read in the newspaper, an overheard conversation, a childhood memory, something that’s going on in my life right now. It’s not hard to get ideas — it’s remembering them that’s a challenge, so I keep a notebook with me wherever I go.
3. What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
It’s always hard to balance complicated information with strong plots that will draw in readers. When you’re dealing with another century, it’s harder still. I wanted Rome, both in the present and in the past, to be vivid, to come alive for the reader. The city felt to me like another character and I hope I brought her to life!
4. What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?
I’m a disciplined writer and I’ve had to write while watching my kids in the park or in doctor’s waiting rooms, so having the luxury of a room of my own now is all I need.
5. What are some of your favorite books?
Top of the list from my childhood, Roald Dahl with James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Then E. B. White with Charlotte’s Web. If only I could write like them!
For writers now, I’m a big fan of Gennifer Choldenko, J.K. Rowling, Louis Sachar, Karen Cushman, Sharon Creech, Christopher Paul Curtis, too many to list!
6. Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Amelia, from the Amelia’s Notebooks, is basically me when I was a kid (and Cleo is based on my real older sister — no wonder she hates the books).
Mira is more of who I wish I was like — brave, adventurous, quick-witted. The other characters in the book are based either on people who historically existed at that time or are loosely (very loosely) based on people I know.
7. What, if anything, are you working on right now?
Mira goes to London next, during WWI and gets involved in women’s suffrage, among other things. It’s another juicy historical period that’s a lot of fun to explore.
8. Why do you love writing?
I think writing is magical. Nowhere else but on a page can you make things happen exactly as you want them to. I love the richness of language, the vividness of the pictures words can create. Plus it’s hard, challenging work, so you’re always being stretched, growing with each book. As a friend of mine put it, it’s a glorious struggle. What other work is both glorious and a struggle?
About the Author
I was born in Pennsylvania, but my family moved to California when I was two, and I’ve been here ever since. I grew up in the southern part of the state and now live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I studied art at San Jose State but fought too much with my art teachers (I was very opinionated – I wanted to do my kind of art; they wanted me to do theirs). So I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley where I didn’t take a single English or Art class. Mostly I took history where I learned how to do research, tools that have helped me in making the historical journals and working on my Young Adult novel. Then I took classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts for a year since I didn’t want another degree and a year’s tuition was all I could afford. I just wanted some guidance on how to break into childrens books.
I waited tables while I sent out stories, waiting for some editor to fall in love with my work. There was no fall-back plan, no alternative career. I’d still be waiting tables if I weren’t lucky enough to have gotten that first book. And after that, the second one, and then the third and the fourth and the fifth. . . .
Each new book is still a challenge. It’s hard work and I love every minute of it.
One commenter on this post will win a copy of the first book in the series, Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris.
Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it’s time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn’t run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?
TO ENTER, COMMENT ON THIS POST AND TELL ME WHICH TIME PERIOD YOU’D LIKE TO TRAVEL BACK TO.