Guest Book Review: The Princelings of the East by Jemima Pett

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Publisher: Princelings Publications; 2.0 edition (November 26, 2011)
ASIN: B006F3SME2
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 10+

4 stars

Princelings George and Fred leave the safe confines of their home, Castle Marsh, to investigate a mysterious and recurring Energy Drain that ruined their grandfather, King Cole’s birthday feast (and led to a lot of good food being wasted too!). They must find the answers since this situation cannot go on forever. Soon, there might be no power left. Leaving the castle is easier than they imagined; in fact the very mention of how useful a tunnel would be is enough for a tunnel to obligingly appear. A Great Adventure calls. Fred and George, inseparable, find themselves separated but they make the best of it. They meet a number of mysterious and sometimes vaguely sinister characters, particularly the ones with a vested interest in the situation. Is the production of a delicious and popular cola drink really the problem? And is time getting messed up somehow…?

George and Fred, although twins, are appealing and different characters. George (the Brains – he is a Thinker) and Fred (the Brawn – he is the Adventurer) make a great team, relying on each other all the time. When their adventure separates them, they must learn to rely on themselves and make decisions and choices depending on the circumstances that confront each one. They are inventive, curious, brave, and sharp-witted, no mean feat to survive in a variety of situations where petty politics rule. Both George and Fred go on a real journey of discovery, but in fact, much of the journey is internal as they miss each other’s presence, but make those vital choices alone in the end.

Author Jemima Pett creates a charming and endearing world that is a fantastical mix of medieval with technology. Detailed descriptions sink the reader right into each new location and paint vivid pictures of sights and sounds, and the way the inhabitants live. The secondary characters entertain and amuse as well, with a quaint turn of phrase, or a deep, dark purpose (depending on who it is) to give them definition. Lovely idiosyncrasies such as habits and speech patterns ensure the secondary players are fully rounded in this tale. Ms. Pett’s tongue-in-cheek humour will also give many a laugh to slightly older readers.

There is a useful list of characters and locations in the front of the book, which will help younger readers through the twists and turns of this surprisingly complex plot. The author’s illustrations that preface each chapter are delightful and help cement the reader in the context. A lovely read for all ages, with enough action, adventure, inventiveness, and fun to satisfy the most demanding reader. Fans will be delighted to learn that George and Fred’s adventures continue with the second and third books in the series.

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Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

New Release: Angus MacBain And The Island Of Sleeping Kings by Angela Townsend

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Angus MacBain is unaware that his ancestral roots hail from an ancient sect of Scottish kings. When his dying grandfather gives him a dragon pendant, thirteen-year-old Angus learns of a legacy that will take him across an ocean to the island of Iona and thrust him into a heritage he did not know he had. He soon discovers that his mother, whom he had believed dead, is really a seal fairy, in hiding from a dangerous enemy. To save her, Angus must undergo a perilous journey of destiny and power to battle an evil Dacian knight and those who serve him. With only his family shield and the advice of a wizened vampire hunter to protect him, Angus must navigate dangerous terrain and dark enemies, in a land where the past and the present mingle, and sleeping kings wake.

Excerpt:

THE COMPANY OF KINGS
New York City, 2013

Gloomy shadows crept across the tired oak floor, stealing what little light peered in through a set of stained glass windows. A dying fire crackled in the corner, its golden embers fading as quickly as the old man who lay near it.
Angus MacBain stood at the foot of his grandfather’s four-poster bed, his hope slipping away with every rattling exhale from the old man’s lungs. Cocooned in a series of heavy plaid blankets bearing the family tartan, Duncan MacBain struggled to free a withered hand. He motioned for his grandson to come closer. Angus took a few stumbling steps, sank to his knees and grasped the thin hand in his.
Duncan raised his head from the pillow. His eyes seemed to glow in the dimness of the bedroom. Gnarled fingers pressed something hard and bulky into Angus’ palm, then closed his hand around it and squeezed. The object cut into the boy’s flesh, but he didn’t try to pull away.
“You’re thirteen now, almost a man. You’ve got to be brave. Remember, you’re a MacBain.” The old man inhaled another ragged breath. “The arrangements have already been made. There will be no funeral. I’m sending you to Scotland—to Iona. You must leave now.” His grandfather’s steely eyes pinned Angus to the floor. “Strange things will happen—things that—just be careful, lad.”

“No, I won’t go. Not without you.” He buried his head in his grandfather’s chest. Angus’ throat constricted like a drawstring jerked tight. Tears sprang to his eyes.
“Don’t cry for me, laddie. I’ll be in the company of kings.”
With that, Duncan MacBain heaved his final breath.
Angus squeezed his eyes shut. After a weary moment, he opened them to gaze at his grandfather’s motionless body. With the tension removed from the old Scotsman’s features, he looked relaxed, at peace. Even so, a bitter rush of sadness swept through Angus and the hole in his heart his grandfather had filled when his parents died, now returned. Angus’ chest tightened. Every breath seemed to take more effort than it was worth.
The palm of his hand throbbed. He unclenched his fist and examined an amulet attached to a heavy chain. It looked old, perhaps even ancient, with a silver long-tailed dragon clutching a purple thistle in its talons. Words scribed in a foreign language glistened on its wings.
His father had worn a dragon amulet. Angus frowned trying to remember what it looked like. Did it also have a thistle? Could it be the same one? He’d been so young when his father died, he couldn’t remember. He slipped it around his neck, the amulet warm against his chest.
“I’ll take care of it,” Angus whispered. “I promise.”
Angus made his way down the narrow hallway to Grandfather’s study. An antique clock ticked solemnly on the mantel. Without grandfather, the room seemed so different. Barren. Unfriendly. Cold. He fell into a cushy gray recliner that always reminded him of elephant skin and let it swallow him. Maybe if he just closed his eyes for a few moments, he’d wake up and it would have all been some kind of terrible dream. But no matter how he tried he couldn’t keep his eyes shut.
His gaze traveled over the towering bookcases lining the walls, filled with ancient volumes bound by his grandfather’s hands. Silent rows of books stared back at him, like leather corpses resting in their tombs. On a nearby workbench, marbled scraps of leather, paste, and a rounding hammer gathered around a dusty press.
Angus’ throat burned. He’d never be his grandfather’s apprentice again, never help him repair old books about castles, dragons and other tales.
Now he had no one, except Grandfather’s nurse, Vera. Even though she was very nice, he barely knew her.
Angus shuffled down the hallway to his lonely room and packed his things. He made sure he had his games and the favorite collection of vampire tales his grandfather had bound for him. He flopped onto his twin bed and glanced at his watch. Angus’ heart twisted. Very soon, Nurse Vera would take him to the airport and he’d fly to a strange place he’d only heard stories about.
Angus scanned his bedroom for the last time, memorizing every detail so he’d never forget. Bare spots on the wall stared back at him, places where his Dracula posters once hung. In a fit of misery, he’d torn them down and ripped them to shreds.
There was no such thing as vampires and other magical creatures. Life wasn’t about fairy tales, only heartache, despair and death.
Angus narrowed his eyes. If only death were a living thing—he’d destroy it. Make it suffer for ripping away all the people in his life that had loved him. Rage and frustration twisted inside of him.
Angus grabbed an antique sword hanging on his bedroom wall and stabbed it into the center of his mattress. Sparks flew from the bed. Celtic swirls carved into the handle of the sword started to spin. A banging sound hammered into his head like being trapped in a giant bell. He fell to his knees covering his ears. The noise died down and a voice broke into his head.
“Are you all right, Dear?”
Angus uncovered his ears and peered up at Nurse Vera. She never called him by name just, “Dear.” Nurse Vera glanced at her watch. “I’ll help you pack your things then it’s off to the airport with you.” Nurse Vera placed a hand on Angus’ forehead. “You look so tired and it’s such a long flight. Promise me you’ll try to get some rest on the plane, Dear.”
Angus nodded. He waited for Nurse Vera to see the sword and scold him for messing with something so dangerous, but she just stood there, her eyes filled with concern. Angus glanced at the bed to look at the sword—but the sword was gone.

 

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Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, Angela grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places.angela Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, Angela became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulations, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, Angela divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.

Angela’s first novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. Her newest novel, Angus MacBain and The Island of Sleeping Kings, was signed for publication with Clean Teen Publishing in 2013.

Angela resides on a ranch, in rural Northwestern Montana, with her two children Levi and Grant.

Visit Angela at http://angelatownsendbooks.blogspot.com/

Reluctant Guardian by Melissa Cunningham

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Guarding Brecken Shaefer—a dark and dangerous rebel—is harder than it looks.

Death was nothing like sixteen-year-old Alisa Callahan thought it would be. Resting on pink, fluffy clouds for eternity with her gram and best friend sounded like a dream come true. After all, enduring one torturous experience after another in her short life deserved some kind of reward, right? Unfortunately, eternal rewards aren’t given out so freely when you take your own life.

Required to pay the debt for committing suicide, Alisa must become a guardian. It sounds easy enough, but not when the boy she is forced to protect has a dangerous secret and wants absolutely nothing to do with her.

Brecken Shaefer isn’t any normal teenager. He has special gifts that are sure to make Alisa’s afterlife miserable. When feelings develop between them, everything spins out of control. Not only must Alisa face her own demons— but to protect Brecken, she must face an evil so heinous that it threatens to destroy their souls completely.

Alisa is tired of hiding from her past. When the easiest thing to do is run, can Brecken give her the strength to stay?

Excerpt:

I should have realized that suicide was not my best option. But like most teenage girls, I hadn’t planned ahead. I never pictured my parents and brothers picking up the pieces of my broken life, or the empty hole I would leave in my wake.

I honestly didn’t think anyone cared that much.

The medication I’d been taking hadn’t helped matters either. My doctor prescribed it after the death of my beloved grandmother who’d lived with us since I was a baby. Three months later, my best friend Natasha, died from a brain tumor. Nothing could have shattered me more. Not just because Natty and I were closer than Siamese twins, but because we shared a dark, horrifying secret.

Something I’d never told anyone. Not even my parents. Once she was gone I didn’t know how to shoulder that weight on my own. I was drowning in sorrow. I’d fallen into a dark pit and had every right to take that antidepressant. My parents thought it would help too.

I should have been more open about my feelings. I should have confided in my mom and dad. Explained that the medication wasn’t working. That in reality I felt wcunnighamorse. But I didn’t. I didn’t realize the drug was affecting me adversely . . . until it was too late.

The only thing I wanted that night was to not feel anymore, to not have my heart ripping in two, and to not cry so hard that my whole body ached.

Would it be painful if I rammed my car into the tall pine at the curve of the road? Would it do the trick or just turn me into a vegetable for the rest of my life?

I gambled. I took a chance and got what I wanted. Death.

 

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Melissa’s first novel: Reluctant Guardian, was accepted for publication through Clean Teen Publishing in August 2013. When Melissa is not writing you can find her spending time with her husband of eighteen years and her five children. Melissa studied music in college and loves to read all things fiction. Melissa lives in Northern Utah with her family, her horses, cats, dogs and chickens.

New Books for Review

seesawClavis sent me a group of books to review, which you’ll be seeing soon. Here’s a list of what arrived this week:

 

The Seesaw and Good-bye, Fish by Judith Koppens,

Circus 123 by one of my favorites, Guido van Genechten,crypto

A Big Book of Face Painting by Charlotte Verrecas,

Kevin’s Big Book of Emotions by another favorite, Liesbet Slegers.

 

I also purchased a copy of The Crypto-Capers in The Peacock Diaries by Renee Hand. I’ve been following this series since the beginning, so I sure don’t want to miss out on any of them.

Overdue is my review of Soccer Dreams by Clare Hodgson Meeker, but it’s coming soon. I promise.

 

Andy and Spirit in Search and Rescue by Mary Jean Kelso

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A new Andy and Spirit adventure for kids to enjoy comes to you from Mary Jean Kelso. In Search and Rescue, Andy and Spirit assist in searching through the woods around Joe’s home for a dumped dog Tully is caring for.

What a fun adventure. Tracy’s father-in-law, Tully, is looking for a younger dog to help him around the farm. When his cowboy friend, Joe, calls to tell him about a dumped dog, Tully agrees to stop by. The men find a mother and her mixed-breed pups. Tully takes all of them to his farm, but the mother keeps running off and they don’t know why. They enlist the help of Andy and Spirit to find the mother dog after an escape.

What I’ve enjoyed about this series is that Andy and Spirit are always in the midst of the action. Whether at the fair or the rodeo or rescuing bullies or run away dogs, they are in the thick of things. In Search and Rescue, they actually come into the story a bit later, but it is Andy’s keen hearing and Spirit’s animal sense that saves the day. This is another wonderful addition to Kelso’s Andy and Spirit series.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the beautiful artwork by K.C. Snider. After this many years, Snider’s work is easily recognizable to me. I love everything of hers that I’ve seen. In this book, it’s the warm colors, the stunning beauty of nature, and the expressive faces on the characters that catch my eye.

At the end of the book, readers find information on rescue groups and suggestions for interacting with cats and dogs:  education and entertainment in one lovely book.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Paperback: 28 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616334088
ISBN-13: 978-1616334086

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.

The Funny Adventures of Little Nani by Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

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Typically I read the first chapter of a book, but with this short story collection, I am reading the first story in the book and discussing it.

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BLURB: Little Nani is a little girl who likes helping people. However, when she helps people the results can be a bit unexpected. Why is that? Little Nani is a witch! Or at least she wants to be a witch. With her magic wand, she will try to cast different spells to help her friends, but she won’t be successful all the time. Follow Little Nani in her funny adventures and meet her extraordinary friends. Funny ostriches, horses that love reading, super-fast turtles, grumpy zombies… Little Nani has lots of friends! You can also draw your own characters! Little Nani is willing to become a good witch. Will she manage to do it? Who knows? Read the stories and discover what happens next!

COVER: Since the top illustration comes from the first story, I’m guessing these postage stamp or postcard type bordered illustrations contain drawings from different stories in the collection. I love the color scheme and the darker contrasting colors of the borders.

FIRST CHAPTER: The Funny Adventures of Little Nani is about a girl with a magic wand whose spells often go awry. In this opening story, “Little Nani and Some Unexpected Events,” Little Nani tries out the wand she got from a correspondence course and tries to make her friends, Big Billy and Skinny Nikki, grow up faster. That’s definitely not what happens.

This looks like it will be a cute book. I can only judge it based upon the first story I read, but all the characters have unique personalities and lovers of magic and fantasy will enjoy the horse who loves to read. Little Nani appears to be an independent-minded girl who leaps before she looks, which tends to create a bit of chaos for her and her friends. By including pauses in the story called “Drawing Time!” the author makes this an interactive adventure for young readers, who are asked to draw certain scenes from the book. I haven’t seen this before in a book, but I like it.

KEEP READING: If I were basing this review solely upon the uniquely crafted characters and the interactive aspect of it, I would say definitely. The thing that gives me pause is the dragged out dialogue. Big Billy appears riding a horse, which he tries to convince Little Nani to ride. She declines because she’s allergic to horses and can’t touch them. But as Big Billy points out, she’s stroking the horse’s head. It goes back and forth like this for a few seconds, before Skinny Nikki arrives. Skinny Nikki wants to ride, but Big Billy says no because he wants Little Nani to ride with him, to which Skinny Nikki replies, “But Little Nani won’t ride with you. She’s allergic to horses.” And then they start going on and on about how Little Nani wants to ride an ostrich, but she doesn’t have an ostrich, so she can’t ride one.

What I ended up doing is downloading another short story in the series for my Kindle (this book has all the stories in it, but they can also be purchased separately). It appears this dragged out conversation might be the way Little Nani interacts with others. In “Little Nani and The Flying Muffin” it is about how bored she is on a rainy day. She whines “I’m bored!” three times while Big Billy and Skinny Nikki get aggravated over her whining and Horse tries to convince her to listen to the story he’s reading to her.

Children probably won’t notice it. I just didn’t care for this style of conversation. I would probably still keep going. It’s one of those “don’t bite your nose off to spite your face” moments. If you like the characters and the story is funny, is it worth abandoning the book simply because one of the characters is a bit repetitive? No, you keep going and enjoy the rest.

Overall, this is a really cute story and I’m thinking it will be a hit with youngsters, especially those who enjoy humor.

File Size: 1577 KB
Print Length: 144 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00DGXKOWM

I downloaded a free sample of this book to my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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Guest Book Review: Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello

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Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (April 17, 2013)
ISBN-10: 148252709X
ISBN-13: 978-1482527094
Genre: Juvenile fiction, adventure, Arthurian legend

Five stars
When the King’s Ransom, a wondrous jeweled medallion, is stolen from Pembroke Castle in Wales, it is up to three young heroes to band together to solve this mystery and save a life. Prince Gavin (12), the youngest son of King Wallace and Queen Katherine, and his two friends, Philip (13), an orphan, and Bryan (15), a blacksmith’s apprentice, are an unlikely trio, uneven in terms of social status but firm and loyal companions. Their friend, the Wild Man, is accused of murdering the king’s advisor and stealing the marvelous medallion, a symbol of absolute power and justice, but only in the right hands. Kings have enemies, and it soon becomes apparent that someone was after the medallion for the prestige it would bestow. Gavin, Bryan, and Philip race against time to find the medallion, reveal the true killer, and save the Wild Man’s life. They have only a few days before the arrival of King Arthur. If the medallion is not found, the Wild Man will be executed in front of Arthur. Can they overcome their fears and fulfill this momentous quest? Is it possible the Wild Man has tricked them all and simply used their friendship to get closer to the medallion?
What a delightful story. I am familiar with Cheryl Carpinello’s writing from reading and reviewing her first Arthurian book, Guinevere: On the Eve of a Legend. Then I was entranced by the author’s spell-binding descriptions of life in Arthurian times and her meticulous attention to detail. Cheryl’s skills have remained as bright as ever with the unfolding of this fast-paced tale, threaded with mystery, adventure, a bit of magic, danger, darkness, and lovely twists in the end. I so enjoyed the factual information about weapons, clothing, daily life, and places, cleverly interspersed in the text and dialogue to inform without overwhelming young readers. The author has a gift for delving into the depths of each young hero’s psyche. The way each one of the trio faces their fears, learns to believe in themselves, and finds their true meaning and path in life is moving. This is a superb coming-of-age story, set in a time of chivalry and pageantry, and harking back to an age when a hero was truly a hero.

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.