Check out the latest book review of Things Evie Eats
It’s always exciting when you get a book review so I wanted to share the awesome review of Things Evie Eats that I received from the lovely Karen over at The Next Best Thing to Mummy.
This is a delightful book with fantastic illustrations
Especially useful to parents and carers who have a fussy eater
Reviews are like gold dust to authors. You can read the full review HERE while I do my happy dance.
Potions in the Pizza: Book Review.
I received a copy of Potions in the Pizza, the first book in The W.H.O Files, a middle grade fantasy by Mikey Brooks. It’s a fun read about a family of witch-hunters… think, a kids version of Supernatural.
Brooks is an illustrator as well as an author and this cover screams, “read me I’m an exciting book.” Once again, I wish I could draw *sighs*
10-year-old twins Ethan and Emmy’s parents have never told their kids what they do for a living. Then just before Halloween, while their parents are away on an emergency business trip, Ethan, Emmy, and their best friend Jax discover a HUGE secret: could the twins’ parents actually be . . . witch hunters?
Meanwhile at school, a new team of glamorous lunch ladies arrives on the scene, serving meals that taste way too good to come from a school cafeteria. There’s only one logical explanation: they’re witches, and the meals they serve are spiked with a dangerous potion! Why have witches come to Roosevelt Elementary? Where have Ethan and Emmy’s parents gone? Can it be a mere coincidence that their parents left just as the witches arrived? Whether they’re ready or not, Ethan and Emmy have only one option if they want to save their school and find their parents: become witch hunters themselves.
I love the idea of dinner ladies being witches (I think they may have been witches when I was at school too!)
First off, Potions in the Pizza is very American and, whilst I have watched enough American TV to understand ballpark, wieners and blacktop (actually, I had to Google that one to be sure), British ten-year olds might not. Of course, if you’re from the US this is not a problem.
Obviously I am far from the target audience for this book and I found the first part was a little slow and tied up with ‘school issues.’
Also, I didn’t warm to Ethan and Emmy straight away. Ethan is a bit whiny and ineffective and Emmy is rather self-opinionated and selfish. But it did give them plenty of room for improvement and they both had great character arcs. Once the book gets down to the nitty-gritty of dinner ladies being witches and Ethan discovers the truth about his parents real job, the story cracks along at an enjoyable pace and by the end I was totally rooting for the twins as they battle to save the day.
And that brings me to a niggly issue I had with the plot. Why on Earth did Ethan and Emmy’s parents not come up with a cover story about their job? Even real-life secret agents usually have some pretend-legitimate occupation that they use to explain their long trips out of town to their family and friends. Saying you work in the ‘family business’ is surely the quickest way to induce wild speculation with your children or their class mates. What were they thinking?
Also, I felt the dialogue was trying too hard at times, but again I’m somewhat older than the target age-range, so maybe the language would be ‘cool’ if I was younger. There are also some fight scenes but they are not gory and are suitable for the target audience.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It is a ‘witch-hunting’ story with a lot of twists and turns and I did not expect the ending. (No, I’m not telling). I will be looking out for Book 2 to see how the story unfolds.
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including BEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURES series, and author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel, THE DREAM KEEPER. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.
Love the bio. Would like to see Mr Brooks dancing the funky chicken lol.
I received a copy of The W.H.O. Files: Potions in the Pizza from Future House Publishing in exchange for an unbiased review.
To review? Or not to review? (when you don’t love the book you’re reading.)
My vision for my website was always to talk about all things book related – not just my own work. This naturally included reviewing the books I was reading from other authors. However, it also leads to a dilemma that probably every reviewer faces sooner or later.
What do you do when you don’t love the book you’re reviewing? To review, or not to review? That is the question.
The start of the problem.
Usually I only review books I’ve chosen myself and love, but recently I was asked to review a book by an author I’d been chatting to online. The book sounded unusual and interesting so I agreed. I’d not finished the first chapter before I realized I’d made a huge mistake.
Firstly, the names of the characters and places were so difficult they spoiled the flow of the prose.
Now I live in Wales. I’m used to words that are hard to pronounce. We have a town with the longest place name in Europe and the second longest official one-word place name in the world. I can reduce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch to Go-go-goch and move on without batting an eye but the names in this book were stupidly similar.
The hero (let’s call him X’xfdi) couldn’t be simply X because his sidekick was X’icidh and his love interest was X’ydlth. Already my brain couldn’t sort out who was who and, worse than that, as the majority of the first pages consisted of a detailed description of a desert landscape, I really didn’t care.
Sadly, the book didn’t improve.
Now, I am a love-em or leave-em type of reader. If a book doesn’t keep me interested in turning the pages, I have no problem dumping it. I have more half-read books on my Kindle than any person should have. The fact that I haven’t finished these books means I’m not going to give them 5 or even 4 stars on Amazon.
I didn’t want to give my friend’s book 4 stars either. 😲 What’s a girl to do?
Amazon’s rules make it difficult.
Amazon considers anything under a 4 star review to be the sign of a bad book. So, we have three levels of bad but only two levels of good. This makes my review criteria something like:
⭐️ Terrible book. My three year old grandson could invent a better plot. Almost unreadable editing. Boring as hell.
⭐️⭐️ Couldn’t finish reading as got distracted by emergency fingernail painting. Already can’t remember what the plot was about.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Had some promise and would have been OK as a first draft but should never have been published in present form.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Covers everything from:
- the book was OK but I probably won’t want to read it again and in my author/editor head I found plot holes and spotted problems with the grammar
- I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Loved it ❤ and would recommend to anyone.
Really, I’d like to spread my ‘Four stars’ criteria into the lower categories but Amazon sees this as a black mark …
… and I didn’t want to give the author a black mark.
- Tell the truth – Give it 2 stars and risk upsetting my friend.
- Lie – Give it 4 stars and risk losing the trust of my readers who might buy it on the strength of my review and find out how dreadful it is for themselves.
- Review privately – Send my review to the author and ask if they’d like it posting online. (Also involves risk of upsetting friend.)
- Do nothing – Don’t post a review at all. This option is OK until the friend keeps on asking what I thought, at which point I have to block them and never speak of the matter again.
There has to be a right way but I’m not sure what it is.
What should I do? How do you handle less than favourable reviews?
Let me know in the comments below.
Book review of “I am Otter” by Sam Garton.
One of my grandson’s favourite books at the moment is “I am Otter” by Sam Garton. I first encountered this book on Facebook in the days before it was picked up and published by Harper Collins. Sam Garton is a fantastic illustrator. His work has a retro look to it that I love. Buying the book when it came out was a no-brainer for me.
The funny logic of Otter and his sidekick Teddy makes for a great children’s book. Who can fault Otter for opening a toast restaurant because he’s bored while otter-keeper is at work? However, it’s not all plain sailing at Otter’s restaurant.
Otter decides the problems are Teddy’s fault and promptly fires him but things don’t improve … and then the Otter Keeper comes home. Otter tries to blame Teddy for the mess. But where is Teddy?
Otter and the Otter Keeper search high and low for Teddy but he can’t be found. Otter is very sad. The trouble is, he can’t sleep without Teddy so more searching ensues. Eventually Teddy is found and Otter is happy again. “And now, when things go wrong, I understand they are not actually Teddy’s fault at all.”
There are some good talking points in this book which are particularly relevant at the moment to my grandson and his little sister. Was Teddy to blame for the problems at the restaurant? Why did Otter tell the Otter Keeper it was Teddy’s fault? What should he have done?
Other Otter adventures include Otter in Space, Otter goes to School, and Otter loves Easter but if you join Sam Garton’s mailing list, he regularly sends fun newsletters with the latest exploits of Otter, Teddy and the long-suffering otter-keeper which always make me smile.
This is a lovely book with detailed illustrations that give you lots to talk about with your child. A modern classic.