Book Review: The Bird Queen’s Book

Our external reviewer Bonnie Humber has sent in her first review for the book The Bird Queen’s Book by T.L Frances. Bonnie is new to the reviewing team. She runs paint nights in the North Bay area if anyone is interested.

Synopsis: What would you do if you found a mysterious book written in a secret language?

Thirteen-year-old Denny’s life is far from easy. He’s at the bottom of the food chain at school, he works a mind-numbingly boring student job at his uncle’s shredding store, and, on top it all, he has to try out for the school basketball team—and let’s just say basketball’s not his strong point.

But one day, he finds an ancient book in an indecipherable language. Could it be a secret code? Or maybe even… magic?
As Denny starts spinning a fantasy tale around the book, the real world begins to fade from view. It won’t be long before his problems catch up with him, crashing down one by one…

When Denny, a young lad trapped in the mundane rut of his middle school life, happens upon an old mysterious book in his uncle’s paper shredding shop, he is compelled to give the unreadable tome meaning. Inspired by the cover and beautiful, foreign script, Denny escapes his day to day problems by writing a history for the Bird Queen’s Book. His new obsession quickly starts to take over, and affect his relationships with the people closest to him. Is Denny able to keep his loved ones close, or will he risk everything that’s real for a fantasy?

Although the language and imagery were rather basic, I enjoyed the concept and the personality of a few main characters. Although this book is meant for children, I still found this story to be too simple. The story would have been better for me if the plot had more substance. There are so many intriguing areas in this story that could have been expanded upon. For instance:

  • A thirteen-year-old boy with an imaginary friend
  • The history or reasoning behind the outlawing of magic
  • The love and acceptance of Denny by his friend Max, despite Denny’s behavior

I feel that if the plot had more substance on a sociological level, the story would be more enjoyable and less flat.

I was captivated by the plot twist of the imaginary friend. I found this character to be one of
the most developed, and when I realized they were not real, I was truly surprised and I loved it! I really wanted to know and understand more about this character once this twist was revealed.

“Don’t be an idiot”, I scold myself. “It’s just a book.”

I love this quote because as any good reader can tell you, there’s no such thing as “just a book”. I really feel that this story needs some fleshing out. But once that is done, I would definitely recommend it to any young reader.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

There is also a new giveaway being hosted by us! Enter to win some traveling bookmarks and a logo sticker pack!

Enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5760930a4/?

Good luck and thanks for reading our reviews 🙂 Comment below if you have read this book and what your thoughts are about it!

What are you reading?

Hey bookworms.

I have been so busy lately that I haven’t made much progress in terms of reading books so I figured I would ask you all what you are up to! I want to know what you have been reading!


What are you currently reading? What have you recently finished reading? What do you think you will read next?

I want to know. Let us start a conversation and talk about it. I can tell you all the books I plan to read (better take a seat and grab a snack because it’s a long list) and you could tell me if you have read them or what you think of the book covers or whatever we decide to discuss about.

I’m going to get back to my current book Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos now and hopefully get a big chunk of it done. I’m excited to write a review for this one 🙂

Comment below and lets chat 🙂 Happy reading!


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Guest Post: How to Make Your Books Both Enjoyable and Educational

This is a guest post by author Fiona Ingram as part of her book blog tour.

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Teachers and parents welcome with open arms books that help kids enjoy reading, immerse them in a wonderful new world and encourage them to want to learn more about the subject or topics covered in the story. The hardest part of writing fiction that involves facts, history, mythology, geography and the details that my middle-grade adventures involve is knowing what to put in and what to leave out.

My first middle-grade book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, is set in Egypt. Although I actually went to Egypt with my mom and my two nephews (who later became the templates for my young heroes), going to a place and writing about it are very different. I think Egypt was even more daunting than I imagined because so much has been written about the country, its history, and its culture that I felt under enormous pressure to check, double check, and check again (just in case) all my facts. There are also conflicting opinions of experts so one must be careful whose opinion one chooses.

I confess I overwrote the rough drafts of the first manuscript. There was so much information that I ended up almost drowning in it. It seems a shame that hours of research goes into looking up facts that will make perhaps only a brief mention in the chapter concerned. However, there is no point in inundating readers with lots of information. After careful thought, I realized that all I should include was what the young heroes needed to know as the plot unfolded. Details should be carefully and subtly woven into the story, always being an integral part of what the heroes need to know to move along in their adventure.

So, after the excitement of Egypt, what came next? The next book in my adventure series The Chronicles of the Stone takes place in Scotland, where the heroes are in search of the Second Stone of Power. The title is The Search for the Stone of Excalibur and that should be enough of a clue for fans to see where the story is heading. I had already spent a few amazing weeks in Scotland, researching old castles. Ask me anything about castles … with or without drawbridges, moats, portcullises, battlements … you name it, I visited it.

Finally, I settled upon the fabulous, fairytale setting of Dunrobin Castle, for me
an exquisite vision, as the setting for Book Two. Interviews with experts are a real boon. Leila, our fantastic guide in Egypt, was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on the country. Contrary to what one might think, travel guides (the official ones) in any country, have a vast amount of knowledge on their subject. It came as no surprise to find that Leila had a university degree!

In Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico, the young heroes must play an ancient form of a ball game, the Mesoamerican ball game, to survive. I was fortunate enough to find an expert on the subject whose advice and book were invaluable. Again, so much has been written on this topic, as well as the ancient cultures of the Maya and the Aztecs—that feature in the story—that I really had to pare down the details to just what was integral to the plot and to the young heroes’ survival. Dialogue is a great way to include details that are necessary and having characters exchange information makes the detail realistic and interesting. I try to include storytelling by characters to share information. In all my books there are old stories or legends that make an appearance and add to the mystery. Told as a story within the main story makes it interesting for young readers. This could also lead on to further activities—for example, the students might enjoy acting out scenes from the stories, or even undertake their own research to find out if and how the fictional version deviates from the known facts.

Stories within the main story are a must. This gives an added depth and introduces cultural elements that are so unusual for young readers in a modern, media-driven and technologically saturated world. Within each of my books, the young heroes are told old stories, either legends or myths or in the case of Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, the old ghost stories surrounding the castle. What a lovely experience, with delicious shivers going up and down their spines! In Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, the young heroes hear some important stories about the ancient Aztec and Maya gods, and when their adventures are finally over, they tell the story of their exploits to the villagers seated around the campfire, perhaps creating their own legends in a way.

Another excellent idea for authors whose books contain facts and relevant information is to include an appendix, either a young readers’ guide (which I do) or even just a glossary of unfamiliar words. Parents can then encourage their kids to read this to enhance their enjoyment of the story, achieve a greater understanding of the environment and atmosphere of the events, and teachers can use it to inspire further research. Contrary to popular opinion, kids love to learn, be it new words or new facts and/or details. Books that inspire the desire in kids to learn more deserve a top place on every bookshelf.

You can find Fiona at –
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/secretofthesacredscarab/
Website: www.chroniclesofthestone.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn
Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com
Blog: http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2868182.Fiona_Ingram


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Book Review: Hollow Fissure

Hey there bookworms! We have a new reviewer that has joined the ranks to help out with some of the ebooks I have piled up over here. His name is Joseph Harrison and he is a writer. I am thankful for his help. For his first review, he took on Hollow Fissure by Max E. Stone.

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Review:

The story opens with Melissa recovering from wounds suffered when she killed her father, a sex ring trafficker. She was hiding out in Trieste, Italy until the authorities found her and now want to bring her to justice in America, specifically, Rhode Island, however, she is not without guilt as we learn that she had taken a knife to her sister-in-law’s stomach and kidnapped her own daughter under what we learn
are hallucinations. Leeann feels Jon, Melissa’s brother is hiding something from her. I won’t spoil it so you’ll have to read it.

Overall, the story was easy to read and the writing was good. The dialog was especially good, but I felt like there was something missing. There was barely any description of any place the story took place in. For example; it said Kyle and Melissa’s flat. I would have liked a little more description here, also it didn’t explain to my satisfaction why they were in Trieste, Italy. Did they have relatives there? Did they know someone there? It could have described the city. I think readers would like to know what the city looked
like and felt like. At times, I felt like I was just listening in on people’s conversations as opposed to feeling like I was actually there.

CONS
The story could have been better with more description of the places. I know this was the 4th book in the series so I understand some of the events probably happened in earlier “books” but if you are going to market this as a separate book, it should bring the reader up to date as to what happened earlier. For example, if I watch Seinfeld or the Big Bang Theory I don’t need to know what happened in previous episodes, each episode has its own story. The last sex scene in the book bordered on light porn and I didn’t think it was necessary.

PROS
The dialog and editing were excellent. I could not find any glaring errors. I liked the writing, it made me want to find out more about the characters and the plot.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find the book on Amazon.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Woohoo! Another review is done and another book added to the shelf. This one was called Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh.

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Synopsis: Ingrid always loved to sing. Auditioning for a summer job after high school shattered her dreams. She fled Germany for Detroit where she married with the hopes of starting a family. When hope crumbled, she attempts to sing again. Will singing bring the life Ingrid always desired, or will her mutilated soul lose her everything?

This book was somewhat interesting. I feel like it was definitely too long for the storyline it had because once the characters were introduced and you got to know them, there was little left to build on their personalities.

Ingrid was struggling with her inner turmoils and it was frustrating because it takes her so long to do anything about it. Granted she did have some events in the past that were deeply unsettling and would be hard to cope with. The introduction of another character named Mick to help her work on and push past her barriers was a good way for the author to add some depth to the novel.

Her husband Joe was just annoying. I know that the book is set in the 90’s so they weren’t exactly up to date on equality (2018 millennial mind here) but he did not treat her well and any woman in her right mind would have left him rather than put up with his bullshit. This is also a good thing that the author created his character this way because it helps you feel for Ingrid and want her to succeed in the end by escaping her clutches and attaining her dreams.

One thing I found kind of hard to follow was the dialogue at points. This novel is very obviously written by a multilingual author and there are many parts where people make statements in German and you don’t really find out what they said.

There were lots of little twists that kept me going to the end of the book so that was good (I like when a book is unpredictable).

Book Rating: 3/5

Click on the image of the book below to see it on Amazon!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author in a paperback version for an honest review.

Also if you guys are feeling generous or compassionate, my cousin just received a diagnosis from their vet that his dog has bone cancer and they are doing surgery to amputate one of its legs. They don’t have a lot of money and the surgery is quite expensive but this dog means the world to him. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs. You can check it out at the link below and even if you don’t donate, just sharing it and spreading the word would mean a great deal to my cousin who is just doing anything he can to save his dog.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-spryte

Charles Tyrwhitt

Book Review: Break by Clare Littlemore

Our reviewer @saramact was really excited when Clare Littlemore read her review and loved it. She even sent @saramact the second book of her series called Break so that she could read it too. So now, here is Sara’s review 🙂 !

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Synopsis: It’s been three months since Quin transferred to Patrol and discovered the terrifying truth about the community she lives in. Citizens of The Beck are disposable and those in charge are capable of terrible cruelty. Vowing to protect those around her, Quin has joined the Resistance. But she knows she is risking everything.

A rebellion of any kind must be secretive and clever. Gathering enough people to fight seems like an impossible task. When those closest to her are directly threatened, Quin knows she has to act. But time is running out. Governance will stop at nothing to protect the world it has worked to build. In the end, Quin must decide how far she is prepared to go to rescue the ones she loves.

Picking up soon after the previous book, Quin, our main character, is still adjusting to her new position in Beck society as a Patrol officer. In this dystopian society run by strict rules, Patrol officers are given more knowledge than the average citizen, which introduces them to some of the hidden horrors “required” to maintain this society and defend against outsiders. Quin and a group of rebels are quietly plotting action against the Beck society in this novel. They must stay under the radar while helping as many as they can and preparing to fight back. In this book, we learn more about the upper levels of the Beck society, while Quin and her group of friends struggle to retain appearances of good citizens while the horrible actions taken by the upper levels only get worse in their desperation to maintain control.

Just like the first novel, this book keeps you on your toes, waiting to see what happens next. This book, though, has even more action throughout than the first one, as we learn more about what it takes to keep such a strict society running – and how the citizens affected react. The characters are well developed, and the plot is entertaining without being predictable. The organization of the society is well thought out, with interesting aspects to be learned throughout the book that keep you searching for more. Overall this is very well written and entertaining and deserves to be one of the top books in the genre. I am eager to read what happens next in the series, as we were left on another cliffhanger at the end of the book!

My only complaints would be about some of the minor dramas between the characters, which are so common in young adult novels – confusion over feelings that would be solved with communication. This does give some depth to some of the characters, but I always prefer when these clichés can be avoided or written in a new way so that it feels less familiar. I also wish there was more of it! I can’t wait for the next book, and I wish this one had been longer.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can click on the book below to check it out on Amazon!

Disclaimer: This book was provided to us by the author in digital format for an honest review.

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Book Review: Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde

A new review of Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde. This is the first poetry book I have read for review. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily into poetry but this book was actually pretty good.

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Synopsis: This collection of poetry is an ensemble of many themes. Every Watering Word encompasses poetic rumination about women’s self-discovery; stories about coming of age; explorations of sex, sensuality and eroticism; epiphanies gleaned from motherhood and marriage; the structure and impact of racial and gender oppression; the trials, tribulations and triumphs experienced by love; the inheritance of jazz music and honoring the Black Christian tradition while exploring tensions underlying what it means to be African-American and Christian.

This collection of poems was very interesting. It explored a lot of different subjects. Some of them were very intense where others had a softer tone. Some would make you feel like you were in a flashback. It’s hard to capture just one feeling about the book because there are so many stories intertwined with so little pages to capture them.

There was one that stuck with me. It is near the beginning of the book and is about a woman that is being punished for some wrongdoing. The family is actually lighting her on fire to teach her a lesson and show her that the man of the house is the one in control. It was brutal and hard to read but at the same time, this is done to some people and I can’t even imagine living in a situation like that where all you would ever look for is an escape.

The beauty of poetry is that I could be seeing one thing in this poem and someone else could see something totally different. It is pretty much up to the reader’s interpretation of what they want to think it means.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Critical Critters

I was recently sent a copy of Critical Critters by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy from @Storgy and Bloomsbury Books. The book is about the animals all over the world that are on the endangered species list and are in need of saving.

Critical-Creatures

Ralph brings the animals to life through his intricate watercolour artwork and Ceri brings all the facts to the table that are justified with thorough research and a genuine exploration of the species.  The way these two can tell a story about each specific species and makes it interesting to read is amazing. I will admit that when I first looked at this book proof, I thought “Oh no, not another textbook”. But after I started to read, I found myself wanting to know each and every thing about all the different species in danger and how I could get involved to help.

I also enjoyed how they had a little side narrative going throughout the entire book. Ralph and Ceri would banter back and forth while they were in the process of creating the book and it gave the reader insight into how some of their ideas took shape.

There are so many species in this world and every single one has a different way of life. One quote really stuck out to me because it shows that we do take the natural world for granted.

Perhaps we refuse to accept their intelligence because we would then feel guilt for everything we have done to them.

 

The book did take a little while to get through but that only goes to show how many species are in danger and that the ecosystem needs our help to maintain the peace so to speak. We are the main reason a lot of these species are in danger in the first place. All the resources and websites that can help with protecting the ecosystem and different habitats are posted in the back of the book.

Overall, it was a very informative book with a comedic twist on the scientific side. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about endangered species and why they are on the endangered list.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can also see the post on the STORGY website!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series: Book Reviews

I started this series quite awhile ago and finally finished it this week. There were many breaks taken between each book which is why it took so long to finish. The first one took me the least amount of time because I read it during a breakup so I kind of used it to mentally distract me from my life (nonetheless it was pretty good). The second one was very slow for me and didn’t really have an exciting parts to keep me intrigued. The third and last book is what brought it all together for me though. I read this book on the way back from a trip to the Dominican and I don’t even remember most of the trip back because I had my nose in this book the entire time. They wrapped up the series very well and had me wondering what was going to happen to Jacob right up until the last couple pages. There was a lot of action and twists in this last book that I didn’t see coming which surprised me but kept me in it till the end.

Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s  Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Overall, the series was pretty good, I just wish the middle book had a little more sustenance to get me through it faster. The first and the last book were well done though so I am glad for that because I find a lot of series don’t have the best endings.

Book Series Rating: 4/5

 

Giveaway!!!

Hey Bookworms! I have decided to do a small giveaway since I have been having so much fun with book blogging and have enjoyed many conversations about books with the blogger community. So I am giving away a copy of a mystery Hardy Boys novel (which is what I read a lot as a kid)! All you have to do is follow Breakeven Books and share this blog post (you can also do it on the other social media channels for extra entries).

Winner will be announced on October 31st so better get your entries in quick! I will be doing more giveaways as the year goes on so stay tuned for more 🙂