Archive | August, 2011

“Here Comes Mr. Trouble” Book Review and Interview with Brett Battles!

30 Aug

Today I am excited to share with you an interview I had with Brett Battles. Mr. Battles writes adult thriller novels and he recently published his first novel for children (and young adults). The book is called “Here Comes Mr. Trouble” I was very happy to find this book because it is sometimes hard to find this type of thriller novel that is appropriate for young kids like me. PLUS read on after the interview to see my review of Here Comes Mr. Trouble.

 I noticed on your website that “Here Comes Mr. Trouble” is your first book you wrote for kids. I really like intense action stories but sometimes it’s hard to find books like that appropriate for younger kids like me. “Here Comes Mr. Trouble” is really exciting and it is written well for kids. How did you like writing for a younger audience?

I loved it! The only thing I did different than what I do in the adult books I write was let my imagination stretch a little farther. Otherwise telling a good story is telling a good story no matter which age group it’s for. I knew I had a good story with “Here Comes Mr. Trouble.” Writing it was a ton of fun from beginning to end!

You told me that you are going to write a sequel to “Here Comes Mr. Trouble”. Will it be about Eric, the Trouble Family, or both? When will it be out and do you have a title yet?

I am. Eric (sorry about the spelling), won’t be in the next book, but will most likely be making a reappearance later. In the meantime, there are other kids in need of the Trouble family’s help, plus there’s a lot of stuff for them to figure out after their experience in “Here Comes Mr. Trouble.” The next book is tentatively called “You’re in Big, Mr. Trouble.” Hoping to have it out at some point in the first half of next year. (No exact date yet.)

  I really liked the Uncle Colin and Mr. Trouble (Ronan) characters. Do you make your characters like people you know (or yourself) or are they all made up?

Pretty much made up. Occasionally, I’ll take little traits from people I know and give them to characters in my books, but never make a whole character based on someone I know. I do, however, use a lot of friends’ names, which is fun. That said, I think there’s a lot of every author in the characters they create, especially their heroes. We can’t help but give them
some of our own traits.

 What kind of book did you read when you were a kid? Did what you read as a kid make you decide to become an author?

I was about your age when I decided I want to write novels (I was 10 and in fifth grade. I remember it clearly.) I just loved stories and reading so much I wanted to do it myself! While we had a lot of reading choices when I was young, I think the choices these days are broader, and, often, written considerably better, too. The series of books I read that sticks in my mind was one called “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators.” It was about these three middle-school aged boys who, with the occasional help of the movie director Alfred Hitchcock, solved mysteries. The coolest thing was their clubhouse built in the middle of a junkyard owned by one of the boy’s uncles (I think.) They had secret tunnels, and all sorts of crazy things that helped my imagination run while. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend going back and reading them yourself. They’re nowhere near as good as some of today’s books. I took a look at one a few years ago and thought, “I used to like this?” But back then they were gold to me.

Thank you Mr. Battles!

**NOW FOR THE REVIEW**

Here Comes Mr. Trouble (The Trouble Family Chronicles)

By Brett Battles
Published in 2011 by Crate Space (Kindle Version Reviewed)
252 pages -ages 9+

Eric was having a bad day. Actually he was having a bad week……make that two weeks. He seems to be having the worst luck of his life. What makes maters worse is that he thinks his mom is missing. Eric’s dad just thinks she’s on a business trip but his mom is a hairstylist and she’s NEVER been on a business trip. Eric begins to think he is going crazy. It all starts to make sense (well….sort of) when a phonebook pops out of nowhere open to a page with an ad for a business  that promises to help you with your troubles, he decides to call. Who answers the call? The Trouble family! The Trouble’s promise to help Eric get his life back to the way it used to be. What Eric finds out  is things are a lot worse than he thought!

I like suspenseful action-packed books and it’s really hard to find books like that for young kids  like me. Here Comes Mr. Trouble is a great book for kids who want an exciting story and parents will approve of it because there is no foul language or extreme violence. The reading level was perfect for me (not too hard and not too easy). The story kept me reading it because I wanted to know what happens next. I really liked the Mr. Trouble character (and Uncle Colin) but the other characters were awesome too. I am happy that Mr. Battles is writing a sequel with the title “You’re in Big, Mr. Trouble” which will come out sometime next year. I think adult readers would also like the story because the plot is pretty involved and the story is full of action!

Here comes Mr. Trouble is available in regular book form and also in ebook form (I read the Kindle version and you can buy that  HERE). To learn more about Mr. Battles and his other books please visit his website by clicking HERE.

I give Here Comes Mr. Trouble five out of five book worms!

Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework

28 Aug

Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework

Written by Nadja Spiegelman and illustrated by Trade Loeffler

39 pages – Ages 6+

Published in 2010 by Toon Books

Zig and Wikki are best friends, aliens, and around 11,12 or 13 years old. When they have to find a pet for school,they end up landing on Earth and learning about flies, dragonflies, frogs and raccoons. Wikki got shrunk and nearly drowned and Zig nearly left Wikki behind! Will they make it home with their homework?

This book is a funny graphic novel. I recommend it to every kid who likes comics or kids that are learning to read. This Zig and Wikki book is filled with fun facts about some of the Earth’s creatures. The illustrations were really great! It is an easy read but interesting.

I give it 4 out of 5 book worms.

Roland Smith’s NEW Book The Surge is out! Good Reading While I wait Irene out!

26 Aug

The official release date isn’t until September 1 but you can get it today! I did! I’ve been waiting for the sequel since I read Storm Runners (see my review HERE). Pretty funny that it came out the day before we are supposed to get hit with a huge hurricane!

Did you read Storm Runners? What did you think of it?

Book Review -The Mahogany Door and Interview with Author J. Mark Boliek

25 Aug

The Mahogany Door: Book 1 of the Bruinduer Narrative

By J. Mark Boliek

355 pages – Ages 9+

Published in 2011 by Split Rail Books

First my review of the book then READ ON for an interview with Mr. Boliek!

What would you do if you could save someone who was lost in a different world? Years ago, JT, Kali, Michael and Charlie traveled to the world of Bruinduer through The Mahogany Door, a magical portal. The friends thought Charlie died in Bruinduer, but he didn’t. He is just trapped and the others now realize it and they vow to get him back. JT, Kali and Michael have to travel back through The Mahogany Door. They’ll face old enemies, fight in a war, cross a desert, have to find trust in Billy (their guide in Bruinduer) and convince Charlie (who wasn’t happy to see them) to come back home.

I have to say, when I first started into the story I thought it was going to be too much like the Witch, Lion and the Wardrobe, but it wasn’t. The story of The Mahogany Door is unique. The story really kept me reading (seriously, I couldn’t put the book down (see my Dad’s comments below)). I like how the book is told by a narrator telling the story to young kids.  The reading level was good for 9+ readers and there really are no parts that are slow. There are also some nice illustrations throughout the book.  I recommend it to everyone!!!!! The book leaves open questions like -Who is the man telling the story? -Why did Kali leave? -What’s with Billy? Hopefully these questions will be answered in the next book in the series -Kali’s Regress!

PLUS not only can you enjoy The Mahogany Door book, you can you get a music CD with songs about the book. The songs are really great, my favorite is called “Rear View Mirror” . You can listen to the music by clicking HERE. Also an enhanced version of the eBook is available at the iBook store  (iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) where the songs are embedded in the book and the reader can play the song when they get to the song’s assigned chapter. How cool is that?!?  To learn more about The Mahogany Door, J. Mark Boliek and the music please visit J. Mark Boliek’s website by clicking HERE.You can purchase the book and CD on Mr. Boliek’s website or at The Regulator Book Shop by clicking HERE

I give it 5 out of 5 book worms!

DAD’S COMMENTS -I really did not like this book because my son ignored everything I said when he was reading it. The book got him into a lot of trouble because he couldn’t keep his nose out of it. (Seriously, a book that can keep a nine-year-old engaged for that amount of time has to be good!)

I liked the Mahogany Door so much that I asked Mr. Boliek if he would answer some questions about his book and music. He was very nice to let me do the interview. READ ON!!! :)

   I really enjoyed the CD that came along with the book (my favorite song is “Rear View Mirror”). So which came first, your idea about the book or the music?

The book was definitely first, then the music. I created the soundtrack for the book as a way to create something new in the world I developed and as a way I can relate even more with my audience. I listen to a lot of music as I write, and there are many songs that influence me, and I know that the audience that I want to reach also enjoys music. My wife has a
master’s in music degree and my brother-in-law is a wonderful musician. I noticed that my family and friends not only love or play music, but we also love to write it. Two and two together, we tried to capture the characters in song, and I hope we did a good job with it.

“The Mahogany Door” was an awesome story. I read on your website that you had the story in your head for a long time. What made you finally write it down? Did you always think that you would write it as a kids book?

Not to sound too sappy, but it was a story that I just had to write. And what is even more interesting is that the story in its form now is very different from the original idea. The plot has changed multiple times as I have lived more and more of my life. I also had not planned on writing it as a kid’s book. There are some very dark themes in the story, and as I first wrote, it was very much an adult tale. It had a lot of Stephen King influence in it. After the events of September 11, 2001 happened, I made it more kid friendly, because many kids born after the terrorist attacks on that day would see the world as a different place than it was when I grew up. I wanted kids to know or at least have the sense that even though bad things might happen, there is still a lot of good in the world, and our futures are what we make of them. I also would like for it to be a story families can share together.

 Your book has a lot of symbolism in it. What does Bruinduer represent and where did you come up with the name for Warhead Dale?

Bruinduer – is a Dutch Afrikan word that means “Brown Door”. A door represents choices that we make every day. We have the choice to walk out of the front door and make the world what we want it to be. Maybe not form it quite like Michael and the characters do in the book, but we can decide whether we are going to make it good or not so good. It can also represent the opening to one’s soul, the heart so to speak, in this personal case, an opening to my soul and how I have had conflicts with some of the choices I have made in my life.

Warhead Dale is a play on words. A Beachhead is a military term that describes a line that is protected on a beachfront until reinforcements can arrive and after that the unit can then move forward to advance on its enemy.  “Beachhead Dale” really didn’t sound all that good, so as Beachhead is a military term, I replaced, “Beach” with “War” and thought it sounded better. A dale is just a valley of sorts. It represents the place where JT, Kali, and Michael begin their fight to save Bruinduer. It also plays a larger role – but it would take a long time to explain it, but you will find out more in books 2 and 3.

What’s with Billy? He’s really mean in Michael, JT and Kali’s dreams and pretty nice in real life.

Billy represents 2 things. There is a very distinct difference between perception and reality. As I was younger, Religion and God (spirituality) made a lot of sense to me. It was very cool going to Sunday School and my youth group. As I got older, a lot of bad stuff happened in my life, and a lot of that bad stuff that happened, I blamed God for. Religion didn’t seem like such a cool thing to me anymore. As I started taking my journey with faith when I got older, I did not recognize a lot of what religion stood for or what God was so the journey became very scary for me. As I got a little further down my path I started to realize that God had not really changed – my perception of him had.  As you see through the book, the trio see God as something that may want to hurt them and is very mean and scary, but as they travel through Bruinduer, they realize that he is trying to help them – all they have to do is listen.
So first, Billy Represents God and religion in my personal life. The second thing that he represents is pure motivation. If I did not have Billy screaming at the trio in their dreams, there may not have been any reason for them to make the trip to Warhead Dale – and with that, I would not have had a story. :)

 I really enjoyed “The Mahogany Door” and I am happy to see that the sequel “Kali’s Regress” is in the works. What do you hope readers learn or find in your books and music?

I really hope that readers have as much fun reading the books and listening to the music as I have writing the stories and songs. If readers take more out of the stories than that, then I am very happy about that too.

**Thank you Mr. Boliek!!**

AWESOME 39 CLUES CONTEST / GIVE-AWAY!! Enter to WIN 39 Clues Author Agent Cards!

23 Aug

THE CONTEST IS CLOSED! I will post the winners later today! I will also email the winners for their address :o

I HAVE FOUR PACKS OF 39 CLUES AUTHOR AGENT CARDS TO GIVE AWAY TO FOUR LUCKY FANS!

These cards are promotional and are not available in stores! CHECK THEM OUT!

Each pack has seven Author Agent Cards from the original 39 Clues series. You get the Agent Cards and codes for Rick Riordan, Jude Watson, Peter Lerangis, Linda Sue Park, Gordon Korman, Margaret Peterson Haddix and Patrick Carman! Very cool for 39 Clues fans!

All you have to do is tell me who your favorite character from the 39 Clues is and why in the comment section below. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere as long as you have an address I can send your cards to. If you are under 18 ask your parents if it is OK to do this. I’ll pick 4 people randomly from the submitted comments. Don’t forget to include your email address in the comment field -it won’t show up in the comment but then I can email you if you win. The contest starts NOW and will be open until September 13th 2011. I’ll pick the winners on the 14th and contact them.

Good Luck – Erik (Ekatarina)

**Don’t forget the adventure continues with The Medusa Plot in stores August 30th! See my review for it HERE!**

The Quest of The Warrior Sheep

21 Aug

The Quest of The Warrior Sheep

By Christopher Russell  and Christine Russell

Ages 9 and up – 224 pages

Published in 2011 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Oxo, Sal , Jacey, Links and Wills are unlikely heroes. They’re sheep and one doesn’t normally think of sheep as heroes or particularly brave.  When bank robbers accidentally drop a cellphone from a hot air balloon, the phone bonks Sal on the head. The sheep think it’s the Baaton of Lord Aries (the god that sheep believe in) and they think they have to protect the Baaton from all evil. The sheep set off to help Lord Aries and return his Baaton. The only problem is the bank robbers want the phone back and will do anything to get it baaaaaack. Will the band of wooly heroes succeed or will they end up as fried chops?

When I first saw the title of this book “The Quest of the Warrior Sheep” I thought -“This HAS to be funny”. Well I wasn’t disappointed! This book had a lot of funny parts to it. I really liked the sheep characters especially Links because he creates funny raps for whatever situation they are in. The story plot was unique and it kept me interested in what would happen next. The reading level is good for 8+ kids and young advanced readers. “The Quest of the Warrior Sheep” is the first book in the series. The second book “The Warrior Sheep go West” has just been published in the USA (August 1st). I am anxious to read the second book and hope that there will be more to follow!

To learn more about the Warrior Sheep you can visit their official website by clicking HERE.

I give The Quest of The Warrior Sheep four out of five bookworms!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PERCY JACKSON!

18 Aug

EVERYBODY ALL TOGETHER……

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR HALFBLOOD, SON OF POSEIDON…..

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO  YOU!!!!!!

An Interview with Pooja Sardana, Children’s Book Author and One of the Creators of PictureBookTree

16 Aug

Today I am posting an interview I did with Pooja Sardana, children’s book author and one of the creators of the PictureBookTree website. When you join Picture Book Tree, you can read any book listed on the website and you have unlimited access for a whole year for only one dollar! You can print the books out or you can read them online. There is also a page called “Magic Box” where there are coloring pages and other activities. Picture Book Tree is a great place for younger kids (Ages 4+) to read books online. You can also track what you read by organizing the books into a reading list and check which books you have already read.  The site is very easy to use and young kids should be able to navigate it with a little help from Moms or Dads. The stories tell about nice characters like Benji in Mr. Might Meets His Hero (my favorite).  The books have nice messages about things like how nice life is, being respectful, having good friends, and helping out. The illustrations are colorful and very nice to look at. You can even read a sample book, “I Love You Mommy” at the website (click on the book to go there)!

INTERVIEW:

 I read on your website that you got the idea to write books for other people because you used to make picture books for your son, Aman, and he really enjoyed them. How did you get the idea to turn it into The Picture Book Tree and the interactive website?

It is a very interesting incident how this whole thing shaped up. One day, I went out with my friend to buy some books for his son. The bookshop was filled with children books but the books were quiet expensive. With heavy heart, she could only pick two. On our way back, I thought, why not gift her my picture books? I could always make more for Aman. I came back home, wrapped the books in a beautiful gift wrap and gave it to her. Her son just loved the books even more than what she has bought for him. I was narrating this incident to my husband and he said, “Children books should not be sold in a bookstore. They should grow on a tree, where every parent and kid can climb and pick as many as they wish. Children should not be denied the joy of reading because they or their parents cannot afford it.” And that was it. With the help of my husband, we planted this seed, which has grown into PictureBookTree now. This tree wish to serve all parents and children across the globe with its fruits of love, care, and affection in the form of short and beautiful stories about caring, sharing, love, and growing up.

You write and illustrate your own books. Where do you get your ideas for the books? Do you ever start with a drawing or illustration first and then make a story out of it?

The ideas are nothing new. They are the same good things which every parent wants their kids to know, learn and experience. And like any parent I as well wanted Aman to understand the importance of giving, loving and sharing things. Respecting the nature and the world he lives in. Being sensitive towards other fellow beings, animals, and our natural resources. I did not want to preach him that this is right or wrong but my idea was to make him aware, make him enjoy loving, giving and other values and not do it for the sake of doing it, so I thought of these stories, which were a great way to make him understand the love we can spread around us.

Regarding making the books, I usually start with a story and then the illustrations follow. However, my new book, ‘How do I Look’ which is due for release this month, started with the illustrations and then parallelly I started writing the story for the same.

 The option to read the books online or print them out is very nice. How many books have you written and how often are books added to The Picture Book Tree website?

There are 8 books which have been digitized and are available on The PictureBookTree. 5 more books are due for release this month and early next month. Around 15 books  are in the pre-production stage right now and are planned for release by October-November. Lots of parents are writing to us and sharing the stories they use at home and tell their kids. So our tree of stories is growing and we hope by end of this year this tree will have lots of stories for parents and children.

 Your books have great messages like sharing, friendship, love and just enjoying life. The illustrations are bright and detailed. What age reader are you writing your books for and what do you hope others gain from your books?

Thank you for the compliment :) I am glad you liked them. Most of the books are for 4 years and above. None of the stories actually teaches you anything, it simply points at the beautiful side of the life we are blessed with, and the moment a kid looks there, the book has served its purpose. I believe the only thing we need to do with these young adults :), whom we call kids, is make them aware, make them aware of these beautiful feelings like caring, sharing, love, and friendship. That is all we need to do and then rest happens on its own as they are beautiful gentle souls and connect to love much more easily than we do.

*Thank you for letting my readers know about PictureBookTree Mrs. Sardana!*

Broken Ladders

14 Aug

Broken Ladders

By Michelle Isenhoff

Ages 9+ – 43,000 words

Published in 2011 by Michelle Isenhoff at Smashwords (ebook)

Hannah was really sad when her brother, Seth,  left to join the Union army to fight  in the Civil War. She was devastated that her father also joined the Union army because he wanted to try to keep Seth safe.  Hannah’s mother was going to need a lot of help to keep the farm running. So Hannah, her sister Maddy, her older brother Joel, and younger brother Justin help as best as they can. The bank that Hannah’s family owed money to wanted the money back and was threatening to take the farm if they didn’t come up with it soon. Hannah decides that she will save it and prove to her father (and herself) that she is able to help just as much as her brothers! Hannah finds the adventure she has been wanting. She has to save the farm, take care of her mother who fell sick and out-smart a sneaky double-crossing shop-keeper!

I liked this book a lot! I recommend this book to every one interested in historical fiction or just a good story. I learned a lot about what life was like during the Civil War times, like how families were sometimes torn apart by the war or illness.I have read other historical fiction books but they are almost all told from a boy’s perspective and I like how the story is told from a girl’s point of view.  I liked Hannah’s character and how she is someone who just won’t give up.

Michelle Isenhoff has 2 other historical fiction books available at Smashwords -“The Candle Star” (book one of her “Divided Decade Trilogy” Broken Ladders was book 2 and Book 3 (not out yet) will be called “Beneath the Slashings”) and “The Color of Freedom”. All the books take us readers on an exciting new adventure with different characters in different parts of early America. I just loaded “The Color of Freedom” on my Kindle last week! To read more about Michelle Isenhoff please visit her website by clicking HERE. Michelle Isenhoff also writes Bookworm Blather where she blogs about books and reading -check it out! Click on any of the book pictures to purchase them at Smashwords or you can also purchase paperback versions and ebook versions HERE , Nook versions at Barnes and Noble, and Kindle Version from the Kindle Store!

I give Broken Ladders 5 out of 5 book worms!

Franny K. Stein -Book 1 – Lunch Walks Among Us

12 Aug

Franny K. Stein -Book 1 – Lunch Walks Among Us
By Jim Benton
Ages 6-9 -112 pages
Published in 2004 by Aladdin

Franny K. Stein isn’t just any little girl. She is a MAD SCIENTIST!! On Franny’s first day of school she didn’t make any friends except for her teacher, Miss Shelly. Franny was different from the other kids. Instead of playing with baseball bats she like the play with the flying around animal kind of bats! The other kids in school were kind of scared of her. Miss Shelly told Franny to “experiment” with making friends. So Franny did experiment…..on HERSELF! She turned herself into a cute little girl who fits in with everyone else so the other kids will like her. When a giant trash monster attacks the school no one, but (the old) Franny knows what to do!  

The story and characters in this books were OK. I was hoping for a little more to the story. The publisher has the reading level at 7-10 and amazon has it at 9-12 but I think it’s more like 5+. There is no bad language or violence so it would be a good book for younger advanced readers. The Franny K. Stein books is a whole series. To learn more about it visit www.bentonbooks.com. I did read another Franny book, “The Fran that Time Forgot”, and that book was OK too. One really great thing about the books are the illustrations. My little sister (who is just starting to read) likes to look at the illustrations and can even read some of the words.

I give the book 2 out of 5 book worms.

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