Tag Archives: bibliophile

Review! In the Land of Broken Time by Max and Maria Evans

30 Nov

brokentimeIn The Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey
Co-written by Max and Maria Evans
Translated by Helen Hagon
Illustrated by Maria Evans
54 pages – ages 6+
Published by Max and Maria Evans on August 2, 2016

Synopsis- Christopher was excited – the circus was in town! He sneaks out of his house and goes to the big top. There, he meets a girl named Sophie who also wanted to see the circus. They sneak in and are happy to be there. But all is not well. A creepy woman is trying to get them to leave, and they hide in a basket. It wasn’t their fault the basket is a hot air balloon, and that they float away, taken to a world where time is pretty weird. They meet a scientist who specializes in time, and he teaches them a little about science. The kids, and a circus dog who was sleeping in the basket, go to stop an evil man from taking over the country they have come to. Will they stop him in time?

What I Thought- This is a nice kids’ story, with a lot of innocent adventure. Kids will like reading about the travels and marvels in the fictitious landscape, and will learn without realizing it. There are a few illustrations scattered throughout the story, and they help make the story more engaging. The cover is gorgeous, and really sums the book up. Mr and Mrs Evans are a good team, and their writing style is a reflection of the wonder usually seen in the sciences. The book is simple, but good for a younger audience. It is a neat book, and I hope to see more from these authors!

I give the book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Review! Children and the Tundra by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey

27 Nov

tundraChildren and the Tundra
Series: The Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance #5
Written by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey
Designed by Lauren LoPrete
64 pages – ages 13+
Published by McSweeney’s on April 12, 2016

Synopsis- Have you ever wanted to know about the coldest regions on Earth – the hearts of children? Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with all of the cute and cuddly animals – who want out of the tundra life? Then, unfortunately, this is the book for you. It would have been really nice if it were two books. You see, due to horribly-prioritized budget cuts in the publishing house, these two very different topics-children and the tundra-are placed within the same covers. Even worse, people don’t treat it like the science book it is *cough cough*most definitely not*cough cough*.

What I Thought- This book is my kind of book! It is a satirical view on science books meant for children. The humor is VERY dry and you have to like that kind to really appreciate this book. I did show it to some friends and they didn’t get it/find it that funny, so I guess it depends on how you find your funny bone.  The book is completely factually inaccurate, all while saying anyone who says different is making things up. It includes a list of the main kinds of tundra, which include the same picture of a tundra with different picture styles and captions. It includes the history of the early sightings of children and how they were discovered by a French monk who liked writing in English. Then there is the girl who was too boring to write about…


This is only the beginning folks, so hold onto your hats and dive into the Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance!

Dr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey has 31 degrees from 32 institutions of higher learning – “most of them in countries better than yours.”. She an expert on everything and really distrusts the children species. Her husband Benny Haggis-On-Whey is basically completely useless and only adds to the humor with his incompetence.


Authors Benny and Doris

The  book is a clean read for all ages, but really young kids won’t “get” it. I would say it is a great read for 13+ who has a broader sense of humor.

I give this book five out of five bookworms with a caution that not everyone will appreciate the humor.fivebooks

Review! Merlin’s Vow by Rosie Morgan

21 Nov

merlinMerlin’s Vow

Series: The Camelot Inheritance #3 (#1, #2)

By Rosie Morgan

281 pages – ages 12+

Published by Liscarret Creations on July 2, 2016

Synopsis- Arthur Penhaligon probably has the world’s best inheritance – he is the new King Arthur, in modern times, and he and his friends are the Guardians of Cornwall. This would be great, if an evil lady didn’t want to rule Cornwall. And, in this book, winter is coming, and the Lady of Clehy, lady of ice, loves the winter. So much, she gets stronger. So much, that it would take an army to stop her. An army the Guardians don’t have…

What I Thought- This was a really good installment in the Camelot Inheritance series! The characters are refined even more, and you learn more about the “legend” behind it all. I really like how Ms. Morgan has a part-time omnipresent narration style, with characters that aren’t characters – the Writer and her Watchers. They look at the story unfolding, but aren’t supposed to interfere. Of course, the narration also switches between the main characters’ points-of-view as well. This style really makes the story a joy to read. There were a few times the h*** and d*** words were used, and they didn’t really need to be put in there. The descriptions are spot-on, and the word choice really makes it an enjoyable read. I really like this, and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Best Man by Richard Peck

15 Nov

bestmanThe Best Man

By Richard Peck

240 pages – ages 9+

Published by Dial Books on September 20, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn’t see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he’s the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.”

What I Thought- This was an interesting and very complex story. It is interesting that the subject of gay marriage is seen from a more innocent view-type, instead of jaded – one way or the other. It is complex because it really isn’t a story about gay marriage, it is a coming of age story of a boy trying to define himself  – as all kids do as they hit puberty. It is a story about family relationships, bullies at school and dealing with siblings. I liked it that the marriage wasn’t used as a tool but rather shown as a part of life. It is a reflection of the world we live in.  There were a ton of supporting characters, all which brought an interesting angle to the story. Although there was a lot going on (in terms of characters), the story was easy to follow, as if the reader is just another character in the story.  The one thing I didn’t like really, though was just the obliviousness of Archer – that just seemed a tad unrealistic for a fifth grader. This isn’t the action/adventure story that usually has me turning pages at a furious pace. It is a heartwarming look into a family that connects the reader with the characters and one that you can get lost in.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Review and Interview! Skyborn by Lou Anders

14 Nov

Series: Thrones & Bones #3 (#1, #2)
Written by Lou Anders
384 pages – ages 9+
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on September 6, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “The chase continues for the legendary Horns of Osius. Thianna and Karn’s quest to retrieve the horns from those who wish to abuse their power takes them to Thica, an ancient land where two tyrant queens reign supreme and where years earlier Thianna’s mother was labeled a traitor. Soon the two heroes are caught up in an epic battle for control of the kingdom, one that puts their very lives at stake. The only way to overthrow the queens is to beat them at their own game. But with an entire empire against them, how can Karn and Thianna hope to compete—or better yet, survive?”

What I Thought- This was a thrilling conclusion to the Thrones & Bones series, leaving things off in a way where the imagination wonders what happens next, but also gives a satisfying resolution to the story-line. Mr. Anders has a way of writing the story that keeps you reading. The characters are engaging, and the readers really root for them as they go through their struggles. The readers will also like that they can see Thianna and Carn growing up and learning from their past experiences. The setting is perfect, and draws the imagination into the story. It is a cool blend of mythology from different cultures, particularly Greek/Roman and Scandinavian. I really enjoyed reading this book, and think it has the same great feel as the other two books. I cannot wait for another book by Mr. Anders!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Here is my interview with author Lou Anders:

bloglogoWhile reading the books, the reader can pick up on the Norse culture and mythos, and the island-continent of Thica also has similarities to Greek and Roman mythos. Why did you think to include this “clash of culture” in your books?

slybornOne of my big pet peeves is when fantasy countries and lands appear to exist in isolation to themselves. In the real world, no country develops without the influence of its neighbors and even cultures that are actually very far away. I started out with the Norse-inspired people of my land of Norrøngard, but the more I researched the actual Scandinavian peoples and particularly the Vikings, the more I learned of their influence on so much of European history. They traveled all over Europe and beyond, raiding and trading with lots of different countries. There is even strong evidence that the Vikings visited North America and met (and fought) Inuits and Native American peoples. When I wrote the books, I was very careful to make sure the story always had hints of a larger world. Not only is Thianna’s mother from another country, but so is the dwarf Gindri, and there are mentions of other lands and their influence on the people of Norrøngard. In fact, as you read along you learn that even Orm himself is actually an immigrant to Norrøngard! The wyverns are European monsters that have somehow made their way to the Greece-inspired land of Thica (much to their disappointment). And Karn’s sword Whitestorm is actually an artifact of the long vanished Gordion empire. It was forged a thousand miles from his home, and although it’s not mentioned in the book, I know that the sword was actually very important to the adventures of a young queen of the neighboring country of Araland hundreds of years before Frostborn takes place! (Maybe I’ll get to tell her story one day.) So in order to make my fantasy world “real” it had to mirror the back-and-forth exchange that cultures and countries in our own world experience.

bloglogoYour books are able to immerse the readers in a sense of adventure, while they learn about the importance of key practices, such as strategy and trust, through the characters. Did you plan an overall message in your books or does that develop as you create the story and characters?

slybornI believe that theme is something that grows out of the interaction of your characters. All stories start with characters, and no matter how important a book’s message, it’s the characters that make people care. So Frostborn was born very much out of who Karn and Thianna were as people, their strengths and their faults, and how they would bounce off of each other when they met. That being said, there are some themes, or perhaps “concerns” is a better word, that I very much wanted to address. I grew up reading a lot of fantasy fiction, the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, and Michael Moorcock in particular. I love (LOVE!) those stories. But they are sort of lacking when it comes to strong female characters. I wanted to write a story that encapsulated all of the excitement and “sense of wonder” of the fantasy books I grew up with, but which was more reflective of today’s world and had something for everyone, not just one half of everyone! Also, my own children are biracial, and I wanted to write a character for them, someone who was struggling with being a “child of two worlds.” And I had a lot I wanted to explore about friendship and family. There’s another theme, which I don’t want to admit to but only hint at, that runs through all three books. If you are curious about what that is, I’ll just say to look at the villains in the books, both the people and the monsters. Who do you think the worst villains are?

bloglogo The Thrones & Bones series has awesome main characters – Karn and Thianna – but your stories also have fearsome monsters and tough enemies. Do you spend as much time developing your “bad guys” as you do your MCs?

slybornOh yes. No “bad guy” is a bad guy in their own mind. I think a really good story has another story in it, one in which the “bad guy” is actually the star. Sydia is fiercely loyal to her country and is fighting to save her way of life. Tanthal is the product of a city that has taught him since the day he was born that embracing his own power at the cost of others is the best thing for his people overall. Helltoppr was out to become king of Norrøngard when he was alive, and if he had succeeded, he would have been no different than hundreds of other kings of that land, a lot of whom came to power through violence. And Sirena has a real (legitimate?) complaint with the way Thianna has messed up her life. And even Ori, who is pretty self-centered and nasty, is actually a lot of fun to hang out with. At the start of Frostborn, Karn likes his uncle a lot and, I would go so far as to say, Ori likes Karn too. They play games together and they share a sense of humor. And they probably have more in common than Karn has with his own father (or thinks he has). It’s just an unfortunate accident of birth that Ori’s nephew is in the way of his ambition… Sad, but what can you do?

bloglogo I am a fan of your Thrones & Bones series and as much as I liked how Skyborn finished off the trilogy, I didn’t want it to end. Is it hard for you to walk away from your characters?

slybornYes. But there was also a real feeling that they had grown and come into their own and found their place in the world across their adventures, and so they were “okay without me,” if that makes sense. Karn and Thianna are at peace with themselves by the end of the Thrones & Bones series. They’re also quite powerful as individuals (and the more powerful characters are, the harder they are to write. It’s called “the Superman problem”). As I was writing Skyborn, part of me was sad because I was saying goodbye, but another part of me started itching for new characters, people who hadn’t yet found their place in the world or come to grips with who they were or figured out their talents. So I was sort of letting go and getting ready to move on. I will say though that I have a very clear idea of where Karn and Thianna’s life goes from here and their adventures are not over by any means, so it’s possible you’ll see more stories about them in the future. And as for Desstra, although she has grown too, she’s still a little lost and sad and still isn’t sure where she fits in, and that means her story isn’t finished.

bloglogo I am sad to say Skyborn marks the end of the Throne & Bones series! Do you have anything you are working on that you would like to share with us?

slybornYes I do! I recently delivered The Dragon Squire to my wonderful editor, Phoebe Yeh. It’s currently scheduled to come out Summer 2018, and it’s the story of a young squire named Tuggle who works for a knight who is supposed to fight a dragon named Brinstax. But Tuggle tries to hedge his bets with a witch’s potion and the result is that he and Brinstax accidentally switch bodies! It’s a lot of fun and maybe a little bit lighter and sillier than the Thrones & Bones series. I wrote it to be something that new readers could jump in on without having to know anything about the world of Thrones & Bones, but I did hide easter eggs for T&B fans in the book. Meanwhile, I’m working on something else now, a young adult novel featuring an older version of one of the characters in Thrones & Bones having a solo adventure. I won’t say which one but maybe you can guess!



Lou Anders drew on his adventures traveling to Greece in his twenties to write Skyborn, combining these experiences with his love of pulp adventure fiction and games (both tabletop and role playing). However, he has yet to ride a hippalektryon. Anders hopes that his third book in the Thrones and Bones series will continue to appeal to boy and girl readers equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction, and was named a Thurber House Writer-in-Residence. He has published over 500 articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com, on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, and on Twitter at @Louanders.


Website: http://www.louanders.com


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThronesandBones

Tumblr: http://louanders.tumblr.com

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/louhanders/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/thrones_and_bones

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/61741.Lou_Anders


Review! Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins ** Checking in to #HotelBruce!

2 Nov

hotelbruceHotel Bruce

By Ryan T. Higgins

48 pages – ages 5+

Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 18, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- When Bruce gets home from a southern migration trip with his goslings, he is tired. He is grumpy. And he is definitely not in the mood to share his home with the trio of mice who have turned his den into a hotel.

There’s a possum pillow fight wreaking havoc in one room, a fox luring guests into a stew in the kitchen, and a snuggly crew of critters hogging the bed. Bruce growls and grumbles and tries to throw them all out, but the entrepreneurial mice just can’t take a hint. Bruce is in a little over his head, especially once the goslings join the staff. Will this grumpy bear ever get his quiet, peaceful den back to himself?

What I Thought- Imagine my excitement to see another book about my favorite grump of a bear – BRUCE! This was a sweet sequel to Mother Bruce (see my review HERE).  Higgins’ illustrations have the richness and detail that I loved in the first book. Bruce is a favorite of mine. I love how Higgins draws him with his big uni-brow  that can relate so much emotion. Plus, there is a lot of humor hidden in the illustrations. Kids will love reading all of the things the animals say, and picking up on all of the little details. Higgins’ writing style is funny, and warm.  It makes it so that the book is a perfect read-aloud. Although this story doesn’t create quite the same feelings as MOTHER BRUCE,  HOTEL BRUCE was definitely a great story by itself. The plot is goofy and of course Bruce’s kind heart conquers all in the end. I can’t wait to see what Higgins comes up with next!


I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Now I shall go check in to HOTEL BRUCE!



Review! The Wishing World by Todd Fahnestock – Blog Tour!

31 Oct

wishingThe Wishing World

By Todd Fahnestock

224 pages – ages 9+

Published by Starscape on October 25, 2016

Synopsis- Lorelei believed in monsters. After all, a monster is what stole her mother, father, and her brother. Yet no one believes her. But when she summons a griffon into her bedroom, she learns that there is an entire world existing within all children’s imaginations. And that in that world she belongs to a select group of people that can create things with their minds. And the monster that took her parents is the most powerful of those people. Sounds like a fun adventure, right?

What I Thought- This was an imaginative book. Quite literally. The characters could create things from their imaginations. Which is awesome. This is definitely a book that you wish you could take place in. The Wishing World within the book is amazing. The characters are ones you can sympathize with, especially Lorelei. Honestly, the book started off kind of dark, but nothing too bad, just plopping you into the action  – a nice hook for the reader. The one thing I had was that the beginning seemed a little bit rushed for my taste (maybe because of the all the action), with a nefarious character suddenly introduced – but the pace is spot on for a middle grade audience. Bonus points for a cool cover too, and small illustrations at the start of each chapter. Mr. Fahnestock’s writing style is exciting, and keeps you reading.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Want to learn more?

Visit Todd Fahnestock on Facebook, or Twitter


The Wishing World


In the Wishing World, dreams are real. You can transform into your own hero, find wild and whimsical friends, and wield power as great as your imagination. But Lorelei doesn’t know about any of that. All she knows is that a monster took her family.

It happened during a camping trip one year ago. Hiding inside the tent, she saw shadows, tentacles and a strange creature. By the time she got up the courage to crawl outside, the monster–and Lorelei’s mom, dad, and brother–were gone.

Lorelei is determined to find her family. When she accidentally breaks into the Wishing World, she discovers a way. It’s a land more wonderful than she could have imagined, a land of talking griffons, water princesses, and cities made of sand, where Lorelei is a Doolivanti–a wish-maker–who can write her dreams into existence.

There’s only one problem: the monster is a Doolivanti, too. What he wishes also comes true, and he’s determined to shove Lorelei out, keep her family, and make the whole Wishing World his. To save them, Lorelei must find the courage to face him, or her next wish may be her last.


Review! The Bowl and the Stone by Bish Denham

20 Oct

bowlThe Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands

By Bish Denham

109 pages – ages 8+

Published by Bound Post Publishing on October 3, 2016

Synopsis- from the author –
It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them?

Their carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, and Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.

What I Thought- This was a really good book with a solid story-line. I really love the setting and Denham’s description of the Caribbean. The story also teaches you about the culture in the Virgin Islands. The friendship between Sam and Nick (and Trumps) is a highlight of the story. It rings true to the reader and is enjoyable to read about. The story is an intriguing ghost story and mystery that is written well for Denham’s young audience.   The story is slightly scary, with the right amount of tension for a young person’s mystery. This is a good clean read.


I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Who is Bish Denham?


Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at Amazon.com.

To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts, at www.http:/bish-randomthoughts.blogspot.com.

She can also be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BishDenham/Author

Twitter @BishDenham

And Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6439315.Bish_Denham

Review! Write Back Soon! by Karen Benke

12 Oct

writebacksoonWrite Back Soon!: Adventures in Letter Writing

By Karen Benke

208 pages – ages 8+

Published by Roost Books on September 22, 2015

Synopsis- Have you ever had the joy of receiving a letter from a close friend? Followed closely by the comfort of writing a letter in reply? When was the last time that happened? Karen Benke has written a comprehensive guide to letter-writing. She includes prompts, with room on the paper for you to write in. There are also letters from authors providing advice, and little facts and inspirations are also scattered throughout the book.

What I Thought- Ms. Benke has written more than just a book about writing letters, and the reader leaves the book a better communicator. One of the things I really like is that Benke encourages the reader to write letters to themselves and reflect on their thoughts and writing. It makes the reader analyze what they wrote, and also things going on in their lives. The prompts are realistic, and thought-provoking. There is a lot of great advice from the author and guest authors that really help the reader. There are lists and other facts in the book, such as a list of most of the countries in the world, and the US state abbreviations. It also talks a little about the James Farley Post Office, which has a really neat pneumatic air delivery system. (That’s really cool!) I really enjoyed this book, and think it is great for kids and adults as well. Letter writing is becoming a lost art form and this book will encourage a new generation to “write back!”

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up By Bianca Schulze Blog Tour! AND GIVEAWAY!!!

12 Oct


101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up

Series: 101 series for Kids

By Bianca Schulze

Published by Walter Foster Jr on October 1, 2016

144 pages / ages 8-12

Synopsis from the publisher: 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up provides a comprehensive list of kid-friendly books for children to read before they grow up. This must-read review list acts as an interactive journal where kids can document the books they read, why they like them, and how they rate them. Divided into sections by subject, from fairy tales and fantasy to sports and nonfiction, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up celebrates the importance of reading and encourages family participation to develop lifelong readers. The perfect reference guide for book lovers of all ages, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up helps both kids and parents decide which books to read next!

What I thought: This is a nice addition to the 101 Series for Kids. When I first saw the title of this – 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up – I immediately thought – come on, how can you possibly come up with this list? There are SO MANY books you should read before you grow up! Then I read the following author’s note –

“There are so many amazing books to be discovered and read—and far too many to list in one fun book. The 101 awesome books contained in these pages have one collective message: Be kind, be brave, and make good choices. Remember the struggles of those that came before you and those who will come after you. Be true to yourself, and with every page you turn, live your life like an epic adventure.”

Makes sense.

Plus, Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review so she knows what she is talking about. Scanning through the table of contents, yes I did see some books I think should have been listed, but I can’t argue against any of the books Schulze lists (well maybe one). And, she only got to name 101 (although in the “What to Read Next?” section following each book description Schulze got to list a few more).


As with all the books in the 101 Series for Kids, the pages are well-organized and colorful. Schulze gives a brief synopsis of each book and some comments as to why the book belongs on the list. There is also a section below each book named for kids to record that they read it and write what they thought of it. The variety of books Schulze suggests is wonderful – ranging from classics to adventure, humor to historical fiction. Schulze even gives a nod to graphic novels. There is a nice selection of culturally diverse books and I was happy with the mix of classic and more modern titles represented.



Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review, a resource devoted to children’s literature and recognized by the American Library Association as a “Great Website for Kids.” She is a reader, reviewer, mother, and children’s book lover. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s bookseller, Bianca’s goal is to share her passion to help grow readers.


To enter the giveaway to win this book, all you need to do is comment telling us what book you think everyone should read!

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