Series: A Child’s Introduction to Culture Around The World

Author: Carole P. Roman

Illustrator: Kelsea Wierenga

Type of Book: eBook 

Length: 30 pages

ISBN: 9781511440844

Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction

Release Date: June 7, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

~ I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I really love the idea of having children’s books that introduce kids to other cultures. In today’s global economy, it is will be very important that children grow up knowing about other races, religions and cultures. 

This book won the NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award 2015 – for Children’s Interest 

I believe these types of books are also essential to eliminating racism and prejudice from our world. Everyone knows that today’s children are our future leaders and instilling a sense of global community in them at a young age can only be a good thing. 

I love the fact that the author has included the information of how to pronounce the words that may be unfamiliar to the reader, such as showing that China is pronounced as Chai-Na. What a great idea!

The only negative I could come up with regarding this book would be that I would have liked the font to be larger and that I would have preferred to see an extra empty line between sentences just to make reading the book easier. 

This series has books about many different countries and I hope to get a chance to read all of them. I am also looking forward to sharing these books with my three year old granddaughter and introducing her to other cultures. 

According to Amazon, these books are targeted at readers ages 3 to 10, but even adults may find themselves learning things they had not known before. 

The illustrations are clean and relevant. They are the perfect compliment to the story. 

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born.”Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life” has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. “Pepper Parrot’s Problem with Patience” Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

Her new non fiction series, “If You Were Me and Lived in…” combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us. The debut book in the series, “If You Were Me and Lived in…Mexico” has won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children’s Non Fiction 2012. France, South Korea, and Norway. Rebecca’s Reads has given If You Were Me and Lived in…Norway an honorable mention in the 2013 Choice Awards. If You Were Me and lived in …France won second place. ForeWord Review has nominated If You Were Me and Lived in…France for best in children’s non fiction literature 2013. They will be followed with Kenya, Turkey, India, and Australia. She plans to do Portugal, Greece, and Argentina next year.

Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.




Kelsea Parks Wierenga graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2006. She has worked seven years as a professional illustrator and designer for CreateSpace.com, a Print On Demand book publisher in Charleston, South Carolina. Sometimes I’m a Fire-Breathing Dragon is an original story that Kelsea wrote, illustrated and published in 2010.

Kelsea is currently illustrating author Carole P. Roman’s cultural children’s book series available on Amazon.com. These informative and entertaining books detail every day life for kids living in countries around the world including: Mexico, France, South Korea, Norway and many more.

To learn more visit https://kelsea.carbonmade.com/about 

4 Stars for A ZOMBIE NEW YEAR’S EVE by Anthony Renfro – BOOK REVIEW



Author: Anthony Renfro 

Type of Book: eBook

Length: 74 pages

Genre: Zombie Fiction

Release Date: November 2015 

Publisher: Press Books http://www.pressbooks.com 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
~ This eBook is currently free on Amazon 

I enjoyed this story, but once again, there are editing and proof-reading errors that force me to drop my rating on this book. For example, one line states: “The men fell back into their quite search mode…”

It should be “quiet” not “quite”. 

Becky has so-far survived the Zombie Apocalypse but when three men spot her walking alone, they decide to capture and take advantage of her.

Since Becky is no match for the three men in a physical altercation, Becky must use her intelligence and cunning to escape with her innocence intact. 

Becky was separated from her husband Joe and they made plans to meet in a certain place on New Year’s Eve. But is he still alive? Or will Becky have to survive the Zombie Apocalypse all alone? 

The story is well written, but there are multiple editing/prof-reading errors throughout. For that reason I have deducted a star from my final rating. I rate this story as 4 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 


Anthony Renfro lives in Apex, North Carolina. He is a reader, writer, runner, husband, father, and stay at home dad – one of the toughest jobs anyone could ever do. He was born in Bristol, Tennessee, and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro.  

To learn more about Anthony Renfro visit his website at http://www.awrenfro.com

To contact Anthony, send an email to: atothewr@gmail.com

To find more twisted tales by this author, visit http://www.amazon.com/author/anthonyrenfro 

4 Stars for YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE by Roberta Kagan – BOOK REVIEW



Author: Roberta Kagan

Series: Book Two of the ALL MY LOVE, DETRICK Series

Type of Book: eBook

Length: 436 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Release Date: March 2014

Publisher: CreateSpace 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
This novel is an amazing work of historical fiction. I have read many fiction and non-fiction books about Nazi Germany and most of them focus on Jewish people being hidden and trying to stay alive long enough for the war to come to an end. This book is not that at all. In fact, this book actually takes into account how ordinary German citizens also suffered under Hitler’s Third Reich. 

I liked the fact that this book actually tells the story from several different perspectives. It also illustrates how people of different ethnicities, different backgrounds, different religions and even from varying socioeconomic backgrounds all became inextricably linked to one another during the Holocaust. 

This story is based on actual events and it is a heart-breaking and gripping read. I was drawn into the story and read it in its entirety in only 24 hours. 

This is the second book in a series and I am definitely interested in reading the next novel. 

The only negative comments I have about YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE: A HOLOCAUST NOVEL would be the fact that there are a multitude of editing and proof-reading errors. These errors take away from the enjoyment of the story and I find them very distracting. 

Error Example Number One: 

“Unlike his small stature, Hitler’s voices rang through the halls like an entire marching band.”

– Since Hitler is only one person, it should say “voice” rather than “voices”. 

– Also, in my opinion to say “…like an entire marching band” comes across sounding awkward. If I were the editor of this novel I would have changed the above sentence to say: “Despite his small stature, Hitler’s voice was anything but small. In fact, it was so loud that it rang throughout the hall with a power that could not be rivalled, even by an entire marching band.”

Example Two: “He took the ring out of his pocket and pulled the top back to reveal the ring. It was diamond, over a carat. So much more than a poor boy like Manfred would ever have been able to afford. Before, before he became a part of the New Germany…”

– Obviously there are multiple errors in the above paragraph, including one sentence that repeats the word “before” twice. 
Example 3:

– “Before the war, ended British had promised the land of Palestine to be awarded to the Jews.”

– There are several errors in this single sentence. Firstly, the comma is in the wrong place. Secondly, it should say “Britain” or “the British” not “British”. Thirdly, the wording is wrong. This sentence should read: “Before the war ended, Britain had promised that the land of Palestine would be awarded to the Jewish people.”

– There are so many other errors that it is impossible for me to list even a portion of them. There are misspelled words. Words with letters missing (such as “llies” where it should say “Allies”) and many instances where words are written twice. 

Because of the editing errors I feel that I have to reduce my overall rating for this book by one star which means that rather than a five star rating, I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 


Roberta Kagan’s ancestors experienced Nazi cruelty first hand and both of her grandparents lost their entire extended families to the Third Reich. She has written many historical fiction novels.

To learn more about her and her books visit her website at www.RobertaKagan.com 

4 Stars for A ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS by Anthony Renfro – BOOK REVIEW


Author: Anthony Renfro 

Type of Book: eBook 

Length: 54 pages

Genre: Zombie Fiction

Release Date: December 2010

Publisher: Press Books 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

This book is was being offered free of charge on Amazon just before Christmas. 

It’s four days before Christmas, and Mike Beem has put up a Christmas display in honour of the upcoming holiday. When a zombie picks up Rudolph, Mike is annoyed. 

“You see, the biggest problem was this. When you messed with Rudolph, you screwed up the whole display.” When the zombie walks away carrying (and trying to eat) Rudolph, Mike has no choice but to shoot it in the head to save his holiday display. 

“Now, most people would ask, why? Why worry about lawn decorations when the rest of the world was suffering through a Zombie Apocalypse?”

Well, you will need to read A ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS to find out the answer. 


The fact that this book is only 54 pages in length and is currently being offered free on Amazon makes downloading and reading A ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS a complete “no-brainer” (pun intended). This book also contains a bonus short story entitled “A Vampire at Christmas”. 

I enjoyed this short tale and the only flaw I saw was that there were a few editing and/or proof-reading errors. 

It just goes to show that even in extreme circumstances, such as a Zombie Apocalypse, people’s desires to help others and Christmas spirit will still prevail.

I rate A ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS as 4 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 


“Sometimes a little bit of luck is all we need…”

Currently Anthony Renfro’s story A ZOMBIE NEW YEAR’S EVE is being offered free on Amazon. Com and on Amazon.ca 


Anthony Renfro lives in Apex, North Carolina. He is a reader, writer, runner, husband, father, and stay at home dad – one of the toughest jobs anyone could ever do. He was born in Bristol, Tennessee, and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro.  

To learn more about Anthony Renfro visit his website at http://www.awrenfro.com

To contact Anthony, send an email to: atothewr@gmail.com

Click here to discover more twisted tales by this author. 

5 Stars for THE BLACKTHORN KEY by Kevin Sands – BOOK REVIEW


Author: Kevin Sands

Type of Book: Hardcover

Length: 371 pages

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction 

Release Date: September 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4651-8

Price: $17.99 U.S. / $21.99 Canada 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

~ I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A review was not required, but it is appreciated. 

Wow! According to the publisher, this book is aimed at Middle Grade readers (ages 10-14) but I can easily see older young adult and adult readers absolutely loving this book, much as I did. 

I feel compelled to compare “The Blackthorn Key” to the Harry Potter series for a couple reasons. First, this book does not cater to kids of a lesser intelligence, nor does it patronize its readers. This book is aimed at articulate and intelligent readers who want a complex story with multiple plot twists and a smart but still likeable protagonist. Secondly, the lead character (Christopher Rowe) is extremely loyal and has a highly developed sense of right and wrong. Christopher has to make many choices throughout the book and he rarely jumps and makes rash decisions. When he needs to make a choice his sense of morality and loyalty to his master are factored into his decisions.

I love the choice of time and location, as well as the choice of apothecaries as central to the plot. Kids reading this book may not realize it, but they are being educated at the same time as they are being entertained. 

There is a King, a cult, baker’s and their sons with hidden talents (especially with rolling pins). There are orphans, beggars, noblemen and women. There are crazy people who talk to ghosts, corrupt officials, true friends, bitter enemies and even assassins. This book has it all. 

If you want a book that will both challenge and delight you, look no further than THE BLACKTHORN KEY. 

I cannot give this book anything other than a perfect 5 out of 5 Star rating. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

This book (if it isn’t already) is sure to make the bestseller lists. Christopher Rowe’s name may even come to be known on the same level as that of “Harry Potter” and Christopher’s friend Tom is the “Ron Weasley” of this historical world. 

I am hoping that the author plans to continue this series with many more tales of mystery, alchemy and adventure. I know I will be keeping my eye out for absolutely anything else that writer Kevin Sands publishes. 

It is hard for me to believe that this book is Kevin Sand’s debut novel. I am proud of the fact that this Canadian author has burst onto the literary scene with such a polished and professional work of fiction. 

This book needs to be on everyone’s MUST READ list. If you fail to buy this book you will definitely be missing out on an exquisitely crafted book. 

Watch a video preview of The Blackthorn Key

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher. He lives in Toronto, Canada. The Blackthorn Key is his first novel. – See more at: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Kevin-Sands/501383023#sthash.HXZ5oPcg.dpuf 


The Blackthorn Key  



Tom wasn’t listening. He was deep in concentration, tongue pinched between his teeth, as he steeled himself for combat with the stuffed black bear that ruled the front corner of my master’s shop. Tom stripped off his linen shirt and flung it heroically across the antimony cups gleaming on the display table near the fire. From the oak shelf nearest to him, he snatched the glazed lid of an apothecary jar—Blackthorn’s Wart-Be-Gone, according to the scrawl on the label—and held it on guard, a miniature ceramic shield. In his right hand, the rolling pin wobbled threateningly.

Tom Bailey, son of William the Baker, was the finest fake soldier I’d ever seen. Though only two months older than me, he was already a foot taller, and built like a blacksmith, albeit a slightly pudgy one, due to a steady pilfering of his father’s pies. And in the safety of my master’s shop, away from the horrors of battle like death, pain, or even a mild scolding, Tom’s courage held no equal.

He glared at the inanimate bear. The floorboards creaked as he stepped within range of its wickedly curved claws. Tom shoved the curio cabinet aside, making the brass balances jingle. Then he hoisted his flour-dusted club in salute. The frozen beast roared back silently, inch-long teeth promising death. Or several minutes of tedious polishing, at least.

I sat on the counter at the back, legs dangling, and clicked leather heels against the carved cedar. I could be patient. You had to be, sometimes, with Tom, whose mind worked as it pleased.

“Think you can steal my sheep, Mr. Bear?” he said. “I’ll give you no quarter this day.” Suddenly, he stopped, rolling pin held outward in midlunge. I could almost see the clockwork cranking between his ears. “Wait. What?” He looked back at me, puzzled. “What did you say?”

“Let’s build a cannon,” I said.

“What does that mean?”

“Just what you think it means. You and me. Build a cannon. You know.” I spread my hands. “Boom?”

Tom frowned. “We can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because people can’t just build cannons, Christopher.” He said it like he was explaining why you shouldn’t eat fire to a small, dull child.

“But that’s where cannons come from,” I said. “People build them. You think God sends cannons down from heaven for Lent?”

“You know what I mean.”

I folded my arms. “I don’t understand why you’re not more excited about this.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re never the one on the pointy end of your schemes.”

“What schemes? I don’t have any schemes.”

“I spent all night throwing up that ‘strength potion’ you invented,” he said.

He did look a little dark under the eyes today. “Ah. Yes. Sorry.” I winced. “I think I put in too much black snail. It needed less snail.”

“What it needed was less Tom.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” I said. “Vomiting is good for you, anyway. It balances the humors.”

“I like my humors the way they are,” he said.

“But I have a recipe this time.” I grabbed the parchment I’d leaned against the coin scales on the countertop and waved it at him. “A real one. From Master Benedict.” 

“How can a cannon have a recipe?”

“Not the whole cannon. Just the gunpowder.”

Tom got very still. He scanned the jars around him, as if among the hundreds of potions, herbs, and powders that ringed the shop was a remedy that would somehow get him out of this. “That’s illegal.”

“Knowing a recipe isn’t illegal,” I said.

“Making it is.”

That was true. Only masters, and only those with a royal charter, were allowed to mix gunpowder. I was a long way from either.

“And Lord Ashcombe is on the streets today,” Tom said.

Now that made me pause. “You saw him?”

Tom nodded. “On Cheapside, after church. He had two of the King’s Men with him.”

“What’d he look like?”


“Mean” was exactly what I’d imagined. Lord Richard Ashcombe, Baron of Chillingham, was King Charles’s loyal general, and His Majesty’s Warden here in London. He was in the city hunting for a pack of killers. In the past four months, five men had been butchered in their homes. Each of them had been tied up, tortured, then slit open at the stomach and left to bleed to death. 

Three of the victims had been apothecaries, a fact that had me seeing assassins in the shadows every night. No one was sure what the killers wanted, but sending in Lord Ashcombe meant the king was serious about stopping them. Lord Ashcombe had a reputation for getting rid of men hostile to the Crown—usually by sticking their heads on pikes in the public square.

Still, we didn’t need to be that cautious. “Lord Ashcombe’s not coming here,” I said, as much to myself as to Tom. “We haven’t killed anyone. And the King’s Warden isn’t likely to stop by for a suppository, is he?”

“What about your master?” Tom said. 

“He doesn’t need a suppository.”

Tom made a face. “I mean, isn’t he coming back? It’s getting close to dinnertime.” He said “dinnertime” with a certain wistfulness.

“Master Benedict just bought the new edition of Culpeper’s herbal,” I said. “He’s at the coffeehouse with Hugh. They’ll be gone for ages.”

Tom pressed his ceramic shield to his chest. “This is a bad idea.”

I hopped down from the counter and grinned.

•  •  •

To be an apothecary, you must understand this: The recipe is everything.

It isn’t like baking a cake. The potions, creams, jellies, and powders Master Benedict made—with my help—required an incredibly delicate touch. A spoonful too little niter, a pinch too much aniseed, and your brilliant new remedy for dropsy would congeal instead into worthless green goo.

But new recipes didn’t fall from the sky. You had to discover them. This took weeks, months, even years of hard work. It cost a fortune, too: ingredients, apparatus, coal to stoke the fire, ice to chill the bath. Most of all, it was dangerous. Blazing fires. Molten metals. Elixirs that smelled sweet but ate away your insides. Tinctures that looked as harmless as water but threw off deadly, invisible fumes. With each new experiment, you gambled with your life. So a working formula was better than gold.

If you could read it.



Tom scratched his cheek. “I thought there’d be more words and things.”

“It’s in code,” I said.

He sighed. “Why is it always in code?”

“Because other apothecaries will do anything to steal your secrets. When I have my own shop,” I said proudly, “I’m putting everything in code. No one’s going to swipe my recipes.”

“No one will want your recipes. Except poisoners, I suppose.”

“I said I was sorry.”

“Maybe this is in code,” Tom said, “because Master Benedict doesn’t want anyone to read it. And by ‘anyone,’ I mean you.” 

“He teaches me new ciphers every week.” 

“Did he teach you this one?”

“I’m sure he’d planned to.” 


“But I figured it out. Look.” I pointed at the notation ↓M08→. “It’s a substitution cipher. Every two numbers stand for one letter. This tells you how to swap them. Start with ‘08,’ and replace it with M. Then count forward. So 08 is M, 09 is N, and so on. Like this.” 

I showed him the table I’d worked out.

A=20, B=21, C=22, D=23, E=01, F=02, G=03, H=04, I=05, K=06, L=07, M=08, N=09, O=10, P=11, Q=12, R=13, S=14, T=15, V=16, X=17, Y=18, Z=19 

Tom looked between the cipher and the block of numbers at the top of the page. “So if you replace the numbers with the right letters . . .” 

“. . . You get your message.” I flipped the parchment over to show the translation I’d inked on the back.


One part charcoal. One part sulfur. Five parts saltpeter.

Grind separately. Mix.

Which is what we did. We set up on the larger display table, farther from the fireplace, based on Tom’s reasonable suggestion that gunpowder and flames weren’t friends. Tom moved the bleeding spoons from the table and got the mortars and pestles from the window near the bear while I pulled the ingredient jars from the shelves.

I ground the charcoal. Sooty clouds puffed into the air, mixing with the earthy scent of the dried roots and herbs hanging from the rafters. Tom, glancing uneasily at the front door for any sign of my master, took care of the saltpeter, crushing the crystals that looked just like ordinary table salt. The sulfur was already a fine yellow powder, so while Tom swirled the ingredients together, I got a length of brass pipe sealed at one end from the workshop in the back. I used a nail to widen a hole near the sealed end. Into that, I slipped a loop of woven, ash-colored cord.

Tom raised his eyebrows. “Master Benedict keeps cannon fuse?”

“We use it to light things from far away,” I said.

“You know,” Tom said, “things you have to light from far away probably shouldn’t be lit at all.”

The mixture we ended up with looked harmless, just a fine black powder. Tom poured it into the open end while I propped up the pipe. A narrow stream spilled over the side, scattering charcoal grains onto the floor. I stamped the powder in the tube down with cotton wadding. 

“What are we going to use for a cannonball?” Tom said.

Master Benedict didn’t keep anything in the store that would fit snugly in the pipe. The best I could come up with was a handful of lead shot we used for shavings to put in our remedies. They scraped down the brass and landed with a hollow thump on the cotton at the bottom.

Now we needed a target, and soon. It had taken a lot longer to put everything together than I thought it would, and though I’d assured Tom that my master wouldn’t return, his comings and goings weren’t exactly predictable.

“We’re not firing this thing outside,” Tom said.

He was right about that. The neighbors would not look kindly on lead shot flying through their parlors. And as tempting a target as the stuffed beaver on the mantel was, Master Benedict was even less likely to appreciate us going to war with the animals that decorated his shop.

“What about that?” I said. Hanging from the ceiling near the fireplace was a small iron cauldron. “We can shoot at the bottom of it.” 

Tom pushed aside the antimony cups on the other table, leaving enough space to put down the cauldron. I picked up our cannon and pressed it against my abdomen to hold it steady. Tom tore a scrap of parchment from our deciphered recipe and held it in the fire until it caught. Then he lit the cannon’s wick. Sparks fizzed, racing toward the pipe like a flaming hornet. Tom dived behind the counter and peeked over the top.

“Watch this,” I said.

The blast nearly blew my ears off. I saw a burst of flame, and a mound of smoke, then the pipe kicked back like an angry ox and nailed me right between the legs.” 

By Kevin Sands