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!

Book Review: Trailer Trash – An 80’s Memoir

New book review up on the blog. This one is called Trailer Trash – An 80’s Memoir by Angie Cavallari.

Synopsis: Trailer Trash tells the story of Angie Cavallari, your typical girl growing up in the 1980s who finds herself cradled in an arm of a society that would be considered anything but your paradigmatic suburban neighborhood.

In 1980, Angie and her two siblings are dropped into a world of the poorest tenements during a decade where material wealth was worshipped. But these are not your usual run-of-the-mill Florida retirement occupants—these are tenants with issues that Angie soon realizes are the same that can happen anywhere—even under her own roof.

Her place in society is further confused by the fact that she doesn’t live in a trailer but nonetheless, shares a postage-sized backyard with a less-desired community by societal standards and attends a prestigious private school more than 45 minutes from her cinderblock castle.

After spending a decade living in a world of indiscernible differences, Angie’s family decides it’s time to pull up stakes, sell the trailer park and buy a double-wide trailer of their own in the Carnie Capital of World, Gibsonton, Florida.

Funny at times, nostalgic throughout, Trailer Trash hits on some serious notes and undertones about societal differences and the trials of surviving childhood in any decade and any environment.

I really enjoyed this book. The writer tells the story of her life with such ease and humor. It was very easy to read and cool to see how she grew up. I never knew what it was like to live in a trailer park but now I have some insight into it.

The author seemed to have a lot of guilt pushed on her about her weight as a child and that saddens me to know that her mother would make her feel like she had to look a certain way. We all have those relationships with our parents that regardless of how they unfold, tend to mold us into who we are today. If you read my last review for Fat Girl on a Plane, I talk a bit more about body weight issues and how we need to make ourselves feel empowered in our own skin.

At one point she talks about wolf spiders and if I was in that trailer where they were, I would be sleeping in a sealed tent outside. No way in hell would I be anywhere near those things…

My favorite character would probably have to be her grandmother. She could be a hardass at times but she seemed like a very fun woman. I don’t want to give too much away so I will stop there.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants some light reading and to have a laugh. Angie will keep you smiling as you read how she took on life as a child and young adult in the world of trailer parks and all the fun/interesting people that come with them.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon or Goodreads or connect with the author on Twitter 🙂

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

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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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New Goodies!

This week has been amazing and super stressful at the same time. We moved buildings for work so it was heavily taxing for everyone involved. However, I received some really awesome bookish goodies in the mail so that made up for the stress 🙂

Thank you to Machpherson Publishing for sending me some books to review for them which I will get to as soon as I am done my review for STORGY!

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And then on top of that, I received a card from Kathy @ Books and Munches from our Christmas Card Exchange! It was everything I could have hoped for in a nerdy card 😛 and she made damn sure that I never forget about Dobby the house elf again…. 😀 (Best bookmark ever).

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I have some reviews coming up and stayed tuned on the Instagram as I am doing a Harry Potter Photo Challenge for the month of December.

My friend Elizabeth showed me this cool morphing mug that changes colour with heat and reveals the Marauders Map so I had to show you guys. Here it is along with other cool Harry Potter stuff 😛

I wish I could buy all this things to satisfy the inner nerd in me. Anyways, have to get back to reading but talk to you soon bookworms!

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!

What book have you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t?

There are sooo many books that I have wanted to read for a long time. Too many and that’s why its called a TBR (To Be Read) pile so that I will make myself get to it. But one I have had on my shelf for a long time is Armada by Ernest Cline. I fell in love with his writing style for Ready Player One and then bought Armada but never got to it so it has been on my shelf ever since.

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Synopsis: Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

This books sounds really good and if you read Ready Player One, you will understand why I want to read this one! Ernest Cline is a great writer and he really embodies the soul of a true gamer in his characters. I’m not sure what else to write here because I haven’t read the book ;P

Let me know what book you have been putting off and should be getting to in the comments!

What is the first book you remember reading?

I don’t know about you guys but when I first learned to read, it was the most exciting thing in the world to me. I could explore anywhere through imagination an become immersed in different adventures all without leaving the couch or reading nook. The first full book I read that I can remember is the 1st book in the Magic Treehouse series.


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Synopsis: Where did the tree house come from?

Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark . . . or will they become a dinosaur’s dinner?

If you grew up in the 90’s, then you definitely have read these books. There are over 100 of them now, you would think that they would run out of adventures to go on but nope. I remember feeling so proud of myself for finishing this book all in one sitting. These books were great for learning to read. This probably started my obsession with having a treehouse.

Let me know what the first book you remember reading is in the comment below. Talk to you soon bookworms 🙂

What book disappointed you?

There are not many books out there that disappoint me. I like to put a lot of faith into mostly everything that I read and they usually turn out pretty great. But if there was one book that I had very high expectations for and it disappointed me, it would be An Abundance of Katherine’s by John Green.

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Synopsis: Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

Now the reason why I may have been disappointed is the fact that I read other John Green books and absolutely loved them. I like how he writes and brings out emotions I didn’t know I could feel. But this book just didn’t do it for me. There wasn’t enough of an exciting storyline or really any plot twists to keep me into it. There was too much put on chapter development for the main character and not enough time spent on the actual storyline. I finished it because once I start a book, I get kind of OCD where I have to finish it.

By all means, read John Green’s other books because I only have good things to say about them but if you do feel like skipping one of his books, this would be the one.

Let me know what book let you down in the comments! Lets chat bookworms 🙂

I have been nominated for an award!

Hey book bloggers, guess what!?!? I have been nominated by Ari Augustine from Ravenous for Reads to win the 2017 Liebster award! If you get a chance, go check out her blog. She is an avid book blogger and does fantastic reviews along with interviews and content for writers. She has a book tube channel which is also really cool and something I hope to get to myself someday.

Now you may say, what is a Liebster? I am not too sure either but it sounds cool right? I checked it out and here is more info on the 2017 Liebster Award. I also grabbed the image from Ari’s blog because I didn’t know where else to find it but this is the official badge for the award.

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So in the rules, it tells me that I should write about my favourite blog/blogger. That would have to be Kathy @ Books & Munches because she basically started talking to me when I started blogging (which was only a month ago) and has made me laugh with her hilarious comments. She also takes the time to comment on almost all of my posts which was the whole reason I started blogging; to be able to talk to others about books and overall just geek out (plus review books for authors). She is a great book blogger and shares a lot about her reading lists, hosts contests and brings the book community together through conversations and even card exchanges 🙂

Alright so Ari left some questions for her nominees (the questions are in bold and my answers are italic):

  1. Do you judge a book by its cover or give the blurb the benefit of doubt? I tend to give the blurb the benefit of the doubt as I have read so many books that turned out to be fantastic even if they had a crappy cover. I do really enjoy a beautifully laid out book cover though 😛
  2. What are you reading at the moment? Right now, I am currently reading the last book in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. It is called the Library of Souls.
  3. If you could only take one book with you, what would it be? Hmmm this is a tough one. If I had to choose one, it would be The Glass Castle as it shows and teaches you that no matter where you come from or what happens to you, you can always move forward and live a happy life if you make it for yourself. Pretty much look after yourself because you are who you live with for your whole life (if that doesn’t make sense then we have reached the inner workings of my mind and I have started to babble).
  4. This one is a two-part question: Favorite villain? Favorite hero?My favourite villain would have to be the Jackal from the red rising series and my favourite hero would have to be Daredevil (no making fun….unless you want to, I won’t be offended)
  5. What do you enjoy most about blogging? The part I enjoy most about blogging is the different conversations I get to have with likeminded people about books that we have read. Talking about books and their fictional worlds is so fun and you get to see how others interpreted something in a novel that you may have seen differently in your imagination.
  6. What’s your blogging routine like? My blogging routine is generally done at night as I work 9 to 5 as a web developer. I will write my posts between 10pm and 11:30pm to be published next day around 10am.
  7. When did you begin your blog and where do you hope to take it? I began my blog about a month ago and I plan to eventually get to a point where I am following a lot of book bloggers and have attained a following so that my reviews will be seen by many and maybe companies will approach me to represent them in the book blogging community.
  8. Tea, coffee, or cocoa? Coffee all the way but mix some cocoa in and you have yourself a Mocha.
  9. Hardback or paperback? Paperback (not as heavy and easier to read with one hand while brushing your teeth or cooking or whatnot)
  10. If you could visit anywhere in the universe, in or out of time, parallel or present, where would it be? This is going to sound lame but I would just go to Australia. It has been my dream to go there ever since I wrote a speech about the country in grade 4.
  11. You’re going on an epic adventure to save the world. Name two characters who would help you succeed. Katniss Everdeen because she is badass at rebellions and Gandalf because he proves his loyalty and is an excellent mentor/friend.
  12. What’s your favorite word? Potential.

 

My nominees for the award are as follows and you guys can answer the same questions that I did because I really liked them:

I hope you guys can participate by writing your own posts to keep the love going and I look forward to reading all of your posts!

To finish it off, it says to write 10 random facts about yourself so here you go:

  1. Chocolate Oranges are life in my eyes.
  2. I like music better on vinyl (nothing like that scratchy sound).
  3. People say my spirit animal is a giraffe (it’s because I slap people with my neck lol jk)
  4. I play a lot of League of Legends (if you play, my summoner name is Krundor so add me up)
  5. I eventually want to have a Golden Retriever and a Border Collie.
  6. My preferred beer of choice is Pabst Blue Ribbon.
  7. Scary movies and awesome.
  8. I am a huge comic book fanatic (ask me about my collection, I dare you)
  9. Arkells are a great band (take a listen, you will like them)
  10. My favourite movie of all time is Its A Wonderful Life.

And that’s all for now! Talk to you later book worms and I will be resuming with the book challenge tomorrow!

 

Quick Update

So for the delay in posts. I had to postpone the book challenge posts for 2 days because I was travelling and visiting with family. I will be back at writing up some posts up today. There will be lots to share, the giveaway will be ending tomorrow and I will announce a winner on November 1st (I’m going to wait till after Halloween so everyone gets an extra day to submit an entry). I have also been nominated for the 2017 Liebster Award by Ari Augustine from Ravenous for Reads so I will be writing a post on that and nominating some fellow book bloggers I enjoy chatting with for the award!

Stay tuned bookworms, more to come very soon 🙂