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Friday, November 3, 2017

Penelope March Is Melting by Jeffrey Michael Ruby - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Glacier Cove is a peaceful town on top of an iceberg. The people there are living happily in their frozen world, but something bad is going to take place. Penelope knows what it is, but will she be able to stop it? Penelope loves books more than people, she has no friends and the only person she likes hanging out with is her brother Miles. She sometimes tolerates her classmate Coral because she's being teased and bullied as much as Penelope. Penelope is destined to meet a stranger who will change her world, who will this person be?

Penelope has to save her town, but how will she do it? She has to fight a cruel enemy, someone she can't easily find. Together with Miles and a pile of strange cookies Penelope is going on a mission. What is Coral's role in this difficult endeavor and what will they find when they reach their destination? Will Penelope and Miles be able to save Glacier Cove and its inhabitants?

Penelope March Is Melting is a fabulous funny story. Penelope loves books, she isn't very popular and she also isn't terribly happy. She's a curious girl and an adventure is exactly what she needs to make her life a bit more interesting. However, saving her whole town is a lot of responsibility for a twelve-year-old girl, so I couldn't wait to see where that would lead. I felt bad for Penelope that she doesn't have any friends, but she and Miles are close and I loved the bond between the siblings. Jeffrey Michael Ruby describes it in a wonderful warm way filled with little jokes and small gestures of affection, which often made me smile. I love a good sibling story and Penelope March Is Melting definitely falls into that category.

Jeffrey Michael Ruby has a fantastic sense of humor. Penelope March Is Melting is a book full of surprises, terrific jokes, original elements and bizarre situations. It's exactly the kind of book I like, I love reading something unusual. The story is fast-paced and action-packed. There's a nice amount of magic, there are monsters and there's plenty of entertainment. I especially loved how Jeffrey Michael Ruby focuses on details. People in Glacier Cove eat turnips, there's a teacher with constant hiccups and much much more that constantly made me laugh out loud. Penelope March Is Melting melted my heart, it's a gorgeous charming, captivating and lively story.


Penelope March Is Melting is meant for 9-12 year olds, however it's so entertaining that I think most grownups will really enjoy it as well.

About Jeffrey Michael Ruby

I'm the chief dining critic at Chicago magazine, a marvelous publication for which I have written and edited since 1997.

I also spent 11 years as the magazine's humor columnist, and penned a blog about my wife's various pregnancies. I have written features on food, sports, travel, and celebrities, and earned nine nominations from the City and Regional Magazine Association for best food/dining criticism and best column. Even won once.

I sumo wrestled once in front of 20,000 people in a basketball arena in New Jersey. That, I lost.

My writing has appeared in countless places including Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Time, Newsweek, Men's Journal, and Southwest Airlines magazine. My first children's book, Penelope March is Melting, which New York Times bestselling author Pseudonymous Bosch called "a marvelous and magical debut!" comes out on November 14th, 2017. My 2005 book, Everybody Loves Pizza: The Deep Dish on America’s Favorite Food, was featured on The Food Network, History Channel, NPR, CBS, and, for about two seconds, Oprah.

My favorite beer is Guinness. My favorite band is The Replacements. My favorite bald former Harlem Globetrotter who appeared on multiple episodes of Scooby-Doo is Curly Neal.

I'm an Aquarius, a reluctant dog owner, and a laundry hater. I live with my wife, kids, and dog in Chicago.




1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I’m a 45-year-old man living in Chicago with my wife and three kids. I’m a Kansas native, a reformed punk rocker, and the chief dining critic of Chicago magazine.

2. What makes your heart beat faster?

Watching the NCAA basketball tournament. I let my 10-year-old son skip school last year to watch with me. Usually, I’m a pretty good dad, but March Madness is my Kryptonite. I’m like a little kid again.

3. Which horror monster do you fear the most?

The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. I still freak out every time Dorothy is in the middle of the twister and she looks out her window when Miss Gulch rides past on her bike then turns into the witch, cackling on her broomstick. Scariest moment in movie history.

4. If the zombie apocalypse would happen today, what would you do?

I’d set up a bunch of treadmills around the outside of my house. The zombies would just walk and walk and never get anywhere. If they somehow got inside, I would run to the kitchen and microwave a fish. It would smell so gross, no one would come in the kitchen for weeks. Even zombies.

5. What's your favorite scary movie?

The original Halloween. Pure terror, and not a single drop of blood. Bonus points for the creepy theme song.

6. What's your worst nightmare?

I’m stuck in a pit of fat-free yogurt with writhing snakes and various members of the United States Congress. And I’m wearing an itchy wool sweater with no shirt underneath.

7. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters and why?

I could see Millie Bobbie Brown, the intense girl who plays Eleven on Stranger Things, as Penelope. Brainy but also vulnerable. Miles would be played by Jacob Tremblay, that amazing kid from Room. Buzzardstock would have to be a lovable but vaguely dangerous older gentleman like Terence Stamp.

8. What inspired you to write scary stories?

I was the kid who always checked ghost stories out of the library and read them late at night under the covers. That adrenaline rush of fear is addictive. I wrote Penelope March alone in a secluded cabin in the woods in Arkansas, and every night before I went to bed, I watched a horror movie. Just to torture myself. Why write scary stories? I guess I’m just paying it forward.

9. If you'd go to a Halloween party what would your costume be?

English football hooligan.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on a middle-grade horror novel about four boys in Colorado who go camping in the woods and compete to tell the scariest ghost story. The loser has to sleep alone in a cave where all sorts of terrible things have happened. I’m tentatively calling it The Devil’s Lap.


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will win a print copy of Penelope March Is Melting.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Penelope March Is Melting sounds like a book that is fast-paced and action-packed.

  2. Nice review and interview. This sounds like a clever, fun story for grade school/middle school. Do I detect a possible climate change allegory in there as well?

    1. Definitely. I tried not to be all preachy and obvious about it, but it's there.

  3. I love finding humor in the books I read. From your review, it also sounds like this is action packed and exciting to read.

    1. Thanks, Danielle. Most of my favorite stories mix humor and horror. Hopefully I got it right myself.

  4. LOL What a fun interview. And this book is so my kind of story! Thanks so much for a chance to win it and the introduction to a new author:)

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Laura. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it does turn out to be your kind of story...

  5. Awesome interview, very entertaining :)

    1. Judy, very kind of you to say. To tide you over until the book comes out, check out my creepy 1-minute trailer!

  6. I love discovering new authors, and this looks just my kind of read!

    1. Thanks, Ruth. Read it and report back to me!

  7. Replies
    1. Many thanks, Erica. Hope you seek it out and enjoy it.

  8. Wow, the cover is simply gorgeous. And I really love the fact that I can read this book with my daughter.

    1. Thanks, Irma! Hope your daughter gets into it.

      By the way, the cover artist's name is Alex Neonakis and she is insanely talented.

  9. This looks a fun enjoyable book, would love to read this .

  10. this sounds great. id love to read this

    1. Hi Janine. I hope you do, and I hope the book lives up to the glowing review.

  11. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Looks like an interesting book.

  12. The treadmills idea to deal with zombies is hilarious!