LOVE, ISH by Karen Rivers is a unique and engaging middle-grade novel that should be read by all ages. 

Title: LOVE-ISH    

Author: KAREN RIVERS     

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Length: 236 PAGES

Publisher: DANCING CAT BOOKS   

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE AUTHOR  

Release Date: APRIL 22, 2017 

ISBN: 978-1-77086-492-4   

Price: $12.95 CDN    

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟 
DESCRIPTION:

Mischa “Ish” Love knows she’ll be one of the first settlers on Mars. She’s applied to – and been rejected from – the Mars Now project forty-seven times, but the mission won’t leave for ten years, and Ish hasn’t given up hope. She also hasn’t given up hope that Tig will be her best friend again. 

When Ish collapses on the first day of seventh grade, she gets a diagnosis that threatens all her future plans. As Ish fights cancer, she dreams in vivid detail about the Martian adventures she’s always known she’d have – and makes unexpected discoveries about love, fate, and her place in the world. 


MY REVIEW:

Most Middle-grade books, especially those targeted at female readers, seem to contain little more than what I call “fluff.”

From their stereotypical pink covers to the oh so dreamy boy the main character has a crush on, Middle-Grade books for girls SUCK!!!

I LOVE that LOVE, ISH is different from any other book targeted at Middle-grade readers.

The cover of this book is awesome. It shows off Ish’s long red hair, and the artist’s decision to have her standing on the globe of Earth and looking towards Mars is 100% perfection.

I was not as happy with the description on the back of the book as I was with it’s cover. It does not really do this book justice, but I have the feeling that this was done on purpose to grab the interest of the target age group. Once they begin reading and are pulled into the story, they will realize that this book is truly one of a kind. Readers will discover that even though there are some very serious issues discussed in this book, they will want to keep reading despite the fact that they will be learning in the process.

Parents who do not try to keep their middle-grade children in a bubble and who realize that kids are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for, will want to buy this book for their sons and their daughters. Just because the protagonist is female, does not mean that this is a girl’s book. In fact, both boys and girls will be able to relate to Ish and to her struggle to find her place in the world [or, maybe on Mars instead.]

The writing style of author KAREN RIVERS draws middle-grade readers into the story instantaneously. Her knowledge of what clothing and footwear appeal to this age group is an example of her attention to detail, sibling rivalry and the jealousies that seem petty to adults but feel so very important to tweens and teens are another example.

Ish’s dream is to be the first woman/girl to live on Mars. In pursuit of this goal, she has read anything and everything that she could get her hands on that has to do with Mars and about the difficulties of colonizing a new planet.

I love that this book encourages readers to dream big. Ish found a website where people can apply to be part of the first Mars colony expedition. She is only twelve years old and has already applied more than 40 times. She has received a rejection every time so far, but she will not give up hope. She plans to keep applying until they finally accept her. The message implied by Ish’s actions is twofold. First, young people have dreams and aspirations and should be encouraged to follow those dreams, no matter how unlikely they seem. Secondly, the message to others is to be tenacious, and to not allow setbacks (or the opinions of others) to stop you from pursuing your dreams.

This book deserves a very high rating. There is so much contained in it’s pages that is unlike any other middle-grade book on the market. In fact, even though the target readership is ages 10 through 15, I believe that readers of all ages will fall ìn love with LOVE, ISH and that upon completion, they will recommend it to their friends and families. 

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars in the Middle-grade Fiction category.    🌟🌟🌟🌟

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Living with Elliott is sort of like coexisting with a talking, breathing shard of broken glass. You never know when it’s going to poke you in the foot and leave you bleeding all over the clean floor.”


“My brain is basically a salad spinner, whirling unrelated ideas.”


“The thing with chemo is that it is the worst and also, it sucks all the energy out of me, leaving me as floppy as a piece of paper. I feel like I’m constantly carrying something heavy, but that heavy thing is me.” 


***** CAUTION *****


*****STOP READING THIS REVIEW NOW IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO KNOW WHAT ISSUES ARE BROUGHT UP IN “LOVE, ISH.” *****

So, if you are reading this, you have decided that you want to know. Good for you! I would have made the same choice.

Some very important social issues are discussed in LOVE, ISH. Some of these are discussed below: 

Ish lives on the shores of a lake in California and, just like in real life, the lake is getting smaller and smaller. 

In fact, the lake pictured below is called Lake Cachuma which is Santa Barbara’s primary water source. According to the New York Times, it is currently only at 7% capacity and is expected to dry up completely by the end of 2017. 

– Above is a picture of Lake Cachuma as it is today.

– Below is a picture of that same lake when it was full of water. The difference is staggering. 


[To learn more about California’s very real and extremely terrifying present-day water crisis, click 
HERE]    

Not only is the lake water disappearing, but before that started happening, a large chemical company located on the opposite side of the lake from Ish’s home, spilled a large amount of toxic waste into the lake. 

Ish even mentions the fact that the water changed to a bright blue color for several weeks after the incident.
Unfortunately, this type of corporate negligence happens way too often in our world today. 

It is an issue that our children will be left to try to remedy when they grow up. Not only that, but the polluted water can (and often does) end up entering into the water that comes from the taps in our homes. Recent news stories regarding the tainted water supply in Michigan prove that this is very much a relevant and legitimate problem. 

 
This will not only affect our children in the future, but it can cause very real, and very scary health problems, right now. 

What happens to Ish (being diagnosed with a brain tumor) could, in fact, have been due to the toxic spillage into the lake behind her house. This possibility is not explicitly mentioned  in the book, but astute readers will pick up on it anyway. 


[To learn more about recent toxic spills into lakes, rivers and oceans click 
HERE

Ish passes out on her first day of middle-school and it is discovered that she has a brain tumor. She undergoes chemotherapy and radiation treatments and the author does not shy away from writing about the aftereffects of those treatments.

“The thing with chemo is that it is the worst and also, it sucks all the energy out of me, leaving me as floppy as a piece of paper. I feel like I’m constantly carrying something heavy, but that heavy thing is me.”

I cannot think of any other middle-grade book that writes so openly and honestly about this topic. In other middle-grade books, if cancer is mentioned at all, the authors usually gloss over the details, and, almost always, the cancer sufferer is an adult, not a child. It is my opinion that by doing this, we are doing a disservice to our children. With the prevalence of cancer in today’s society, it is likely that most children will experience cancer in some way; whether it is a friend, or a family member, or even just the old lady who lives down the street.


[To learn more about childhood cancers click 
HERE]

I give HUGE Kudos to Author KAREN RIVERS for writing such an important and yet entertaining novel. I hope everyone who reads this review runs out and buys her book immediately. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Information was taken directly from the author’s website. 

Q & A About Karen Rivers

Where were you born?

I was born in Nanaimo, BC, on June 12, 1970.  

Where do you live?

I live in a little green house in Victoria, BC with two kids, two dogs, and two birds.  

Where did you go to school?

I did most of my schooling in Victoria.  After I graduated, I went to UVic for a couple of years, then I went to UBC and ended up with a degree in International Relations (‘91) and most of a degree in Physiology, that I never quite finished.  

Why did you become a writer?

I became a writer because I didn’t have any other choice. Every time I tried to stop writing, a new idea would pop into my head.  Sometimes I wish I had a job with regular hours (and a regular paycheque!) but mostly I feel incredibly lucky to be able to tell my stories for a living.

Where do you get your titles?

I don’t know!  Much like writing the books, I think a lot of it is magic.  And sometimes, my editor comes up with a much better title, so we use that one instead!   Writing a book is like being part of a big team.

What were you like when you were a kid?

Karen at age 10

I was a bookworm. I read so many books, it was ridiculous. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books. I was also really skinny. When I was nine, I got glasses. Big glasses. It was the 1970s and/or 1980s, so that’s what glasses looked like. I had a lot of bad haircuts. I blushed a lot. I never knew how to do a cartwheel. I thought they’d teach us at school but it turned out everyone else knew how to do one before they even got there! I was pretty quiet and very shy. I think I was sometimes funny, too. I was always competitive so I got good grades. I think at different stages of my life, I was a lot like some of my characters.  I still am.  I think we are all always every age that we’ve ever been, like the layers of an onion. 

What’s your favourite book for kids?

For a long time, I avoided reading kids’ books or YA at all because I thought if I read someone else’s book, I might think my own books didn’t measure up and I would be filled with self-doubt.  I hate to think about all the great books that I missed by worrying about that.  Now I read a lot of YA and Middle Grade, so much that I have a hard time picking a favourite, but today I”m going to say that Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME is topping the list.     

Are you married?

No.

Do you have any pets?

Yes.  I have a dog named Happy and a dog named Augie.  They are rescue dogs.  And I have two birds, named Herbert and Feisty.   

Do you write every day?

Yes.  Even if I don’t actually write it down, I’m always thinking about the book that I’m working on, and trying to unravel all the tangly bits.  

Writing every day is necessary to keep me from panicking.  It makes me feel more sane than when I don’t write every day. But I do take some days off.  That’s life!  You can say, “Oh, every day I will drink 8 glasses of water!”  But the truth is, some days you just aren’t that thirsty.  The same is true for writing. 

What’s your favourite of your books?

I’m so proud of all of them for different reasons, I could never pick a favourite.  Usually my most favourite is the one I’m working on right now.

What’s your favourite colour?

Green.

Lucky numbers?

3. And 14.  And, of course, 42.

Favourite ice cream?

Coconut


To learn more about this amazing Canadian author visit the following links: 

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A New MUST READ Young Adult novel that will have adult readers fondly thinking about growing up in the 80s. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is available now!


 
Title: THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS

Author: JASON REKULAK     

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION  (THE 1980s)

Length: 285 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: SIMON AND SCHUSTER through the Goodreads Giveaway program

Cover Design: WILL STAHLE

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781501166839

Rating:   5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟     

  

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Although THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is targeted at young adult readers, anyone who, like me, grew up in the 1980s will find this book a trip down memory lane.

Jason Rekulak may be a debut author, but it is obvious that his years working as an editor for Quark Books embued him with an excellent sense of the proper balance between the plot and character development.

Will Marvin and his two best friends are the ultimate underdogs. It’s 1986 and Vanna White is the ultimate girl next door. When the boys learn that she is featured in Playboy magazine, they are determined to get copies.

Will is a nerd. I can relate. I remember taking classes in Basic Code and doing anything on a computer took hours and hours of entering programming code. But, Will loves it. Hos ultimate life goal is to design video games for a living.

Then he meets Mary Zelinsky. She is a computer nerd too. Will is stunned. He had no idea that there were girls who liked computers. Remember – this was the 80s and women were still battling the secretary stereotype.

Can Will get the girl, perfect his video game called The Impossible Fortress, and get his hands on the dirty pictures of Vanna White?

This novel will have adult readers waxing nostalgic for the less complicated days of their youth and both adults and young adults alike will be able to relate to the terror and elation of discovering the opposite sex for the first time.

THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is liberally sprinkled with pop culture references and readers will find themselves digging out their old mixed-tapes.

I absolutely loved this book and I will be recommending it to all my friends. I doubt this is the last we have heard from debut author Jason Rekulak and I, for one, can’t wait to read whatever he comes up with next.

I rate this book with an enthusiastic 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Now, I’m off to my basement to try to find my old Atari system. I can’t wait to play Space Invaders – old school style.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

JASON REKULAK was born and raised in New Jersey. He has worked for many years at Quirk Books, where he edits a variety of fiction and non-fiction.

He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is his first novel.

To learn more and to play a version of The Impossible Fortress game, visit his website.

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TRAPPED IN ICE by Canadian Author Eric Walters – A 5 Star YA Historical Fiction Thriller based on a true story. A MUST READ.

Title: TRAPPED IN ICE

Author: ERIC WALTERS 

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION, CANADIAN FICTION

Length: 225 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE 

Release Date: 1997

ISBN: 978-1-77049-994-2 (Softcover)

Price: $12.99 CDN ($8.91 on the Chapters.ca website)   

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I sometimes wonder why we don’t learn more Canadian history in high school. I am 100% sure that if TRAPPED IN ICE was read in history class, not one student would complain of boredom.

ERIC WALTERS has taken the tale of the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and fictionalized it into a tale that everyone should read.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of historical fiction or not, this book will draw you in and you will find it nearly impossible to put down.

Thirteen year old Helen lost her father and her home all within the span of a single year. Her mother accepted a job as a seamstress on the Canadian Arctic Expedition and arranged for Helen and her younger brother to join the expedition as well.

Up until this trip, Helen has only ever experienced adventure through the many books she has read. What should have been a moderately scary trip becomes a nightmare when the ocean unexpectedly freezes over early. This catches everyone on board The Karluk by surprise, even the experienced and tough Captain Robert Bartlett. The ship becomes locked in the ice with no chance of a thaw for many months.

Actual photo of the Karluk stuck in the ice in 1913

In fact, it is likely that the ship will sink before the ice thaws enough for it to be released. What follows is a true tale of the ship’s Captain, crew and passengers and their terrifying trek across the ice flow to try to reach land.

Photo of Captain Robert Bartlett at home in Newfoundland before leaving for the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition

Readers will find themselves drawn into this harrowing tale of how Helen and the others push themselves beyond human endurance based solely on their will to survive.

This book is not very long, it consists of only 225 pages and readers will become so swept up in the story that they will want to read it in a single day.

I love the fact that author Eric Walters has chosen to bring to light a part of Canadian history that is largely unknown and I hope that he continues to write more books like this one.


I rate TRAPPED IN ICE as 5 out of 5 Stars and I highly recommend this book to all readers aged ten and older. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

To learn more about The 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and it’s true story click here

TRAPPED IN ICE won the 1999 Silver Birch Award. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

It all began in 1993 when Eric was teaching a Grade 5 class.  His students were reluctant readers and writers and Eric began to write to encourage them to become more involved in literature.  His first novel, Stand Your Ground, was created for this class.  It is set in the school where Eric was teaching, Vista Heights Public School, and some of the features of the community of Streetsville and many of the names of his students were incorporated into the story.

  

Since his first novel Eric has exploded on the children’s and young adult scene.  Over the following years he has published over 94 more novels and picture books with more than ten scheduled for the coming years.

These novels have been enthusiastically received by children and young adults and critically acclaimed by teachers, reviewers and parents.  Eric’s novels have won more than 100 awards including eleven separate children’s choice awards. 

He is the only three time winner of both the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch and Red Maple Awards – in which over 250,000 students participate and vote the winner.  In November 2013 he received the prestigious Children’s Africana Book Award – Best Book for young children – for his book The Matatu.  This American award was presented to Eric in a ceremony at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

 https://youtu.be/yheY6Lut3iU   

Eric’s novels are now available in places as far award as New Zealand, Australia, India and Nepal and have been translated into more than a dozen languages including French, German, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese.

Eric has presented to more than 1,500,000 students across North America and internationally in Japan and Germany.  His presentations blend drama, storytelling, audience participation and interaction.  He presents to students from K – Grade 12 as well as adult groups and keynote speeches.

 June 2013 Eric became ‘Dr. Walters’ when he was granted the honorary degree of Literarum Doctorem by Wilfred Laurier University.  He gave the address to graduating  B.Ed., B.A. students in the spring convocation.

Eric, along with his wife Anita, and Ruth and Henry Kyatha, are the co-founders of The Creation of Hope which provides for over 400 orphans and disadvantaged children throughout the Mbooni District of Kenya.

100% of money donated by schools goes directly to serve and through the website these schools are shown – school by school, dollar by dollar, item by item – how their donations are spent.

Eric is the father of three (Christina – born 1985, Nicholas – born 1988, and Julia – born 1992) and he and his wife live in Mississauga with their two dogs – Lola and Winnie the Poodle.  In his free time (what little of it he has) he walks, hikes, and plans his next adventure.  He spends time every summer in Kenya at his orphanage.

To learn more about Eric and his phenomenal books visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

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EMAIL: ericwaltersauthor@gmail.com   

 

A GIRL CALLED OWL by Amy Wilson releases on Thursday – A magical read for ages 8 and up

Title: A GIRL CALLED OWL 

Author: AMY WILSON     

Illustrator: HELEN CRAWFORD-WHITE    

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 336 PAGES

Publisher: MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Release Date: JANUARY 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5098-3246-0

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟

“When you have a kid, don’t call it something stupid. Don’t call it Apple, or Pear, or Mung Bean. Don’t call it Owl. This advice is a bit late for me. Because she did. She did call me Owl. Thirteen years ago she looked down at a tiny little baby – me – and decided that Owl would be a good way to go.”   

This Middle-grade novel contains  everything that kids aged 8 to 12 want in a story.

Owl may be an unusual name, but it fits since her life is anything but ordinary.  Living in a single parent household, Owl has always been curious about her father. Throughout her childhood, she repeatedly asked her Mom for information about him and was told fairy tales about how wonderful he is and how he cannot leave his kingdom.

 Unfortunately, now that Owl is older, she doesn’t believe the crazy stories her Mom tells to explain his absence from their lives, she wants to know the truth.

But, when frost starts appearing on her skin and other strange things start happening, she begins to wonder if maybe her Mom was telling the truth when she said that her father was JACK FROST.

Readers will join Owl on a quest to find out more about her father which ultimately leads her to find out more about herself as well.

Releasing this book in January was a brilliant move on the part of the Publisher. This book is set in winter and filled with images of both the beauty and the wildness that the season can bring.

Kids who love books about magic, winter, fitting in, feeling different and books about family will love this book.

Not only is this is a wonderful quest-type story, it is also a book that proves that family doesn’t always look the way you think it should, and that ultimately it is love that matters.

I rate A GIRL CALLED OWL as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

I highly recommend it to children ages 9 to 13.

❄Readers will never look at a snowstorm the same way again! ❄

* Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.

  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Amy Wilson has a background in journalism and lives in Bristol with her young family.

She is a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing and has many owls in her house, from drawer handles to cushions.

She is still waiting for them to speak to her…  

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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BOOK LAUNCH EVENT IN BRISTOL AT WATERSTONES ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 26th, 2017 – CLICK HERE

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Living and working by the sea, she brings projects to life for a range of clients and industries. From publishing to branding, websites to illustration and everything in between.

Originally a graduate of Brighton University, she worked at the wonderful Crush Design for many years as an art director before setting up her own shop. Now with a small studio she is attempting to take over the world and over deliver on every project she gets her hands on.

To learn more about this amazing illustrator visit the following links:

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LINKEDIN 

MY LIFE HEREAFTER by Lynette Ferreira is a Young Adult book with an interesting take on what the afterlife looks like. 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: MY LIFE HEREAFTER 

Author: LYNETTE FERREIRA  

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SUPERNATURAL FICTION

Length: 252 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Release Date: NOVEMBER 7, 2016

ISBN: 9781326846404

Price: PAPERBACK  $10.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK (FROM NETGALLEY): 

EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME EVEN THOUGH IT SHOULDN’T. Everything is exactly the same as before that day which she can now only vaguely remember. The day her school bus ran over the cliff. The day she and most of her fellow students ended up here. The twins, Mark and David, were also on the bus, but David did not come here with them. David was sent across the valley to the other side. Mark convinces Sunel to help him find his brother, no matter what the dangers might be. Fiction: Supernatural Thriller

MY REVIEW: 

This is a Young Adult / Middle-grade fiction novel that imagines a possible scenario of just what is waiting for us in the afterlife.

When young teenager Sunel finds herself and sixty of her former classmates have died, she is initially in a state of shock. 

To make matters worse, she is the reason the bus crashed. This means she is the reason everyone is dead. 

As the shock wears off she finds herself in a world that is very similar and yet very different from the one she left behind.

My favorite scene is when the teens are led into the Hall of Judgment and are told they will be called in one at at a time. Upon entering the testing room Sunel sees three doors.

 “The first door says Recycle. Next to Recycle, there is Rehabilitation. And next to Rehabilitation, there is Rapture.” I thought this was very clever.

This book touches on many interesting and important topics. It is not often that you find a YA book that openly discusses the afterlife. It seems to be a topic that Young Adult authors do not embrace for some reason, and the few authors who do write about the topic choose ghost story-type tales. 

Kudos to Author Lynette Ferreira for tackling such a controversial topic.

This book also has elements of other issues important to today’s youth such as bullying and peer pressure as well as taking responsibility for one’s actions.

With the variety of characters, readers should be able to find at least one that they identify with. I think that young teens and middle grade readers will enjoy this book and hopefully it will open up dialogue about the issues detailed in it’s pages.


*Thank you to 
Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

Lynette Ferreira is the author of more than twenty fiction novels.

She writes stories about first love, really cute boys, kissing and all the drama.

Her stories always address social issues and are most times set in a supernatural world.

She does not really like the cold, is afraid of the dark, and loves anything in, on or smothered with chocolate.

She lives in Northern Ireland with her family.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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4 Stars for the unique middle-grade novel BRAINWALKER – Ever wondered what it would be like inside your father’s brain? Now you can find out. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Title: BRAINWALKER

Authors: ROBYN MUNDELL and STEPHAN LACAST

Genre: FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE

Length: 260 PAGES

Publisher: DUALMIND PUBLISHING

Release Date: OCTOBER 1, 2016

ISBN: 9780997652505   

Price:  $9.99

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


BOOK DESCRIPTION (From Amazon)

One teen’s incredible journey may just blow his father’s mind…

Fourteen-year-old Bernard thinks outside the box. The only problem is that neither his school nor his ultra-rational physicist father appreciate his unique ideas. When he reacts to a stressful situation at school by mooning the class, his suspension sends him straight to his father’s workplace. After his frustrated father leaves him unattended, Bernard does what any teen would do: wander into the particle accelerator and accidentally get transported through a wormhole! 

Edit It doesn’t take long for Bernard to realize he’s in deep trouble. Not only did the wormhole drop him in the middle of a civil war over a depleted resource, but the battle is actually taking place inside his father’s brain. Bernard has one chance to save the dying side of his father’s creative brain from the tyrannical left side. Can he use his outside-the-box thinking to save his father’s life?

Brainwalker is a young adult sci-fi fantasy novel that turns the world of neuroscience on its head. If you like incredible fantasy worlds, fast-paced entertainment, and the human mind, then you’ll love Robyn Mundell and Stephan Lacast’s amazing journey inside the brain. 


MY REVIEW:

 This middle grade novel is wonderfully written and readers from ages 8 – 12 will love this book.

The author has imagined an entire world inside the brain of a boy’s father.

I loved the fact that the boy and his father were very different and that they had trouble communicating and understanding each other.

When the boy is sucked through a wormhole and ends up inside his father’s brain, he finds himself on a mission to save his father’s life.

During his quest he ends up learning more about his father and more about himself in the process.


A great read with a terrific message.


I rate this as 4 out of 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

  


FAVORITE QUOTES:


“Blind faith is stronger than truth. Far stronger.”


“Remember, what you call luck is the meeting of opportunity and flexibility.”
 


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

 

Robyn Mundell is an award winning playwright. A graduate of New York University, she performed in dozens of plays in New York. She studied with such theater legends as Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg, and Stella Adler.

Robyn wrote and performed in several of her own plays including Pieces of Oand Traveling Bowls of Soup, produced by Pulitzer-prize winner Beth Henley.Traveling Bowls of Soup opened at the Met theater to rave reviews and received several Drama-Logue awards. Robyn has since been selling original screenplays and TV pilots to major film companies and networks. She is the daughter of Canadian Nobel laureate Robert A. Mundell, and is married to actor-playwright Raymond J. Barry. Together, they have four children.

STEPHAN LACAST

French-Born Stephan Lacast likes to think of himself as a geek, which depending on your  dictionary means either “knowledgeable about computers”, or “boring social misfit.” At the age of twelve his idea of fun was building computers and programming, and by fifteen he was a contributor to a computer magazine. A graduate of Paris-Dauphine University, he holds a Bachelor in Economics, a Master in Business Administration, and a Master of Advanced Studies in Information Systems.

After teaching at Dauphine University, Stephan went on to work as a consultant and engineer for one of the top ten Information Technology services companies in Europe, before deciding to leave Paris and move to the United States.

To learn more about BRAINWALKER visit the following links:

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5 Stars for Rémy Simard’s Children’s Graphic Novel: SIMONE: THE BEST MONSTER EVER – Perfect for all ages – Coming in April 2017 


Title: SIMONE: THE BEST MONSTER EVER 

Author: RÉMY SIMARD    

Illustrator: RÉMY SIMARD      

Translated from French to English by: KAREN LI   

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, GRAPHIC NOVELS AND COMICS 

Length: 50 PAGES

Publisher: OWLKIDS BOOKS INC

Release Date: APRIL 15, 2017  

ISBN: 978-1-77147-293-7 (Hardcover)

Price: $16.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Morris is a green, googly-eyed monster. He loves zombie bowling, rain storms, and anything gross or disgusting.

Simone is a cute little girl. She loves sunshine, flowers and cute puppy dogs.

When Simone ends up in Morris’s world she is the scary one. The monsters run away from her horrifying cuteness and her happy smile. In this monster-world everything is topsy-turvey.

Despite his initial terror of Simone, she and Morris end up as best friends and the unlikely pair have a host of hilarious adventures.

Kids will be able to relate to each story. There is school, Halloween, Christmas, sports and much more.

These comics were originally published in French and luckily have now been translated into English. 

The illustrations in this beginner’s graphic novel are sheer perfection. The monsters still look like monsters, but they are not really scary. This will draw the children’s attention without causing nightmares or fear.

The colors are bright, vibrant and bold and the illustrations will make fans of not only the young children, but also their older siblings, and even their parents. 

Each page in this book is its own story, which is told in 4 to 6 comic panels. This format makes this book terrific for bedtime reading since parents can easily read a few pages per night and pick the book up again the next night.

This is an amazing book to introduce children to the joy and wonder of graphic novels without having to worry about non-age-appropriate content.


I rate this visual treat as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 and I highly recommend it to children of any age from 4 to 99.


** Thank you to 
Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

       



 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR: 

 

RÉMY SIMARD is an award-winning illustrator and author of many books and comics for children.

When he is not busy creating, Rémy loves zooming around the streets of Montreal, Quebec on his motorcycle.

To learn more about him, click on the following links: 
OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

GOODREADS      

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK       

INSTAGRAM    

AMAZON      

FOLIO PLANET    

PLAY ILLUSTRATION    

WORKBOOK.COM   


ABOUT ME: 

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SCHIZO by Kim Firmston offers a glimpse into the life of a teen whose mother is mentally ill 

Title: SCHIZO 

Author: KIM FIRMSTON  

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, BULLYING 

Length: 150 PAGES

Publisher: LORIMER  

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55277-871-5

Price: $9.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  

Dan and his little brother Dustin live in a single-parent household. Dan is a fifteen year old boy who is just trying to live his life. He has all the normal teenage concerns and desires. There is a girl he really likes and his favourite thing to do is to play his base guitar.

BUT there is one thing that distinguishes him from the rest of the kids at his high school and it is so time-consuming and so emotionally draining that he is exhausted and sleep-deprived every single day. This is obviously affecting his grades.

The difference between Dan and his friends is his mother. She isn’t like the mothers that his friends complain about. They all think their mothers are psycho and  complain about them bitterly. If they only knew!

They may call their mothers “psycho” but they have no idea what life is actually like with a mentally ill mother.

Dan’s mother is a schizophrenic and she has recently stopped taking her medication. This makes her unpredictable and can lead to her becoming violent.

Dan feels powerless and as if he is all alone in the world:

“I wonder, sometimes, if anyone else has a life like mine. I’ve never heard of it. Not once.”

Dan is doing his best to hold his family together and to protect his brother. But soon things begin to spiral out of control. Will Dan be able to keep himself and his brother safe? Or is his mother’s schizophrenia going to tear the family apart?

WHEW!!! What a book. I started reading and couldn’t stop. I read the entire book in a single sitting.

Author Kim Firmston should be applauded for writing a book that directly tackles the issue of mental illness. Unfortunately, even though we are making progress in bringing the issue of mental health out of the shadows, there is still a long way to go.

In the story Dan is tormented by a bully who often says: “…You’re a schizo-nutbar. Like your schizo mom.”

Dan replies by saying: “Don’t call my Mom that. She’s sick. You wouldn’t call someone with cancer names, would you?”

Dan makes a great point. Schizophrenia is an illness, and until people start to believe that, things will not really change. Talking about it and having books like this one available is an important step towards understanding.

 According to Dan, “…mental illness isn’t just something you announce. People think it rubs off.”

As ridiculous as it seems to those of us who are aware that mental illness is NOT a choice, there is still a large segment of the population that believes that everyone can choose how they act and react. This needs to change.

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

I highly recommend it to teens and other young adult readers. It is especially important that books like this are available in all high school libraries so that they are easily accessible to those who need them.

If this book reaches just a single young adult and makes him or her feel less alone then it has done its job.

Thank you to Canadian author Kim Firmston for providing me with a free copy of this book. 

To find out more about mental illnesses or to find links to places where you can seek help, click on the following logos:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

WHO is this so called KIM FIRMSTON?

Kim says she is a real life mutant – though one without any cool powers. When she is not writing or cursing obvious villain mistakes, she warps young minds in her Reality is Optional Creative Kids’ Programming, at WordsWorth Writing Camp and through the ACS Dramantics Theatre Camp, among other places. 

Her short story, Life Before War, was short listed in the 2008 
CBC Literary Award and published in FreeFall MagazineReturning Home, was published in the Alexandra Reader Anthology. Her children’s plays (many of which were co-written with children) have been produced across North America, the Calgary Fringe Festival, and as far away as the UK and Egypt. She has published six YA books which can be seen here, has been the Writer in Residence for Open Book Toronto, toured Labrador as part of TD Book Week, and was even interviewed on CJSW.


Kim is dedicated to sharing writing with children of all ages including those not able to write yet and promoting youth who wish to make it their career. 

Other websites where you can find Kim: 


http://www.boiledcat.com/

amazon.com/author/kimfirmston

GREAT by Glen Gretzky & Lauri Holmes Lives Up To It’s Title!!!

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Title: GREAT

Author: GLEN GRETZKY and LAURI HOLOMIS

Illustrator: KEVIN SYLVESTER

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, SPORTS, INSPIRATIONAL, AGES 4-8

Length: 32 pages

Publisher: PUFFIN – An Imprint of PENGUIN CANADA BOOKS INC.

ISBN (Print Book) 978-0-670-06990-3

ISBN (EBook) 978-0-14-319494-1

Price: $16.99 HARDCOVER

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 13, 2016

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The second I set eyes on this book, I knew that I had to have it. Being both Canadian and the mother of two boys means that hockey is in my blood. Plus, no self-respecting Canadian parent would pass up the opportunity to purchase a children’s book that is not only about hockey, but also conveys a very important lesson for both kids and their parents.

Come on! The Foreward is written by “The Great One” himself – Wayne Gretzky. In it he states: “I am very proud of this book and the message it gives to kids. Our Foundation’s Mission Statement is about helping to equip kids for life and that begins at home. Let’s ensure our kids have the encouragement, love and support they need to grow up to be strong and confidant adults. Every child should know that they’re Great.”

What an awesome message! And, it is a message that I agree with 100%.

Most fans of Wayne Gretzky are aware that his father – Walter Gretzky dedicated himself to making his son into both the hockey player and the man that he grew up to be. GREAT is inspired by Walter Gretzky.

In the story a boy named Taylor is excited to have made the hockey team of his dreams. He is going to be playing with Wayne – a kid who everyone is already calling “The Great One”.

The coach is Walter (Wally) Gretzky. Taylor is so nervous to be on such a great team that he doesn’t play very well.

Taylor wants to be the star of the game and when he hogs the puck rather than passing, his team loses. He tells Coach Wally that he knows the loss was his fault and that he thinks he should quit.

Coach Wally’s response is the perfect one. He is the kind of coach that every child deserves to have and Taylor ends up learning lessons not just about hockey, but also about life.

The illustrations in this book are PERFECT. The cartoon showing Taylor leaving for an early morning practice while his bleary-eyed Mom looks on reminded me so much of my own time as a Hockey Mom. Another illustration showing Taylor shooting pucks at a battered garage door made me laugh out loud in remembrance. Throughout the entire book are illustrations that any hockey parent and their child will love. I rate the illustrations as 5 out of 5 stars.

In fact, I enjoyed GREAT so much that I rate the entire book as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book is set to be released on September 13, 2016 – just in time for hockey season. It would also make a great Christmas gift for any hockey fan (regardless of their age.)

* I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

GLEN GRETZKY:

GLEN GRETZKY is the Executive Director of the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, which raises money to help children and families across Canada and the United States. Glen is also the Brand Manager for Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and continues to be involved in community events and fundraising. He lives in Brantford, Ontario

LAURI HOLOMIS:

LAURI HOLOMIS has worked with the Gretzky Family and the Wayne Gretzky Foundation for many years. She continues to work in the sports world and is passionate about teaching kids confidence. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, Ryan, and son, Wyatt. The author lives in Toronto, Ontario.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

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KEVIN SYLVESTER  is an illustrator, writer and broadcaster based in Toronto. His series, The Neil Flambe capers, is now out and loads of fun (according to him).

Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders won the 2011 Silver Birch award for Fiction. Neil Flambe and the Aztec Abduction was runner-up in 2012. Neil Flambe and the Crusader’s Curse is up for the 2013 Silver Birch. Kevin’s picture book Splinters was nominated for the 2012 Blue Spruce! Cathy Rondina’s and I won the Silver Birch for Non-Fiction in 2012 for Don’t Touch that Toad. My book Gold Medal for Weird won the 2009 Silver Birch for Non-Fiction.

Kevin has also been a broadcaster with CBC Radio in Canada for years and years (although he is originally from Western New York). Kevin is willing to have people contact him with any questions or comments. His email address is:  atsylvesterartwork@gmail.com.

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Photos and illustrations were all obtained through Kevin Sylvester’s website.

5 Stars for LABYRINTH OF FIRE by Keith Robinson – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

 

 
Title: LABYRINTH OF FIRE

Series: THE ISLAND OF FOG: Book Two

Author: Keith Robinson

Type of Book: Audiobook – Unabridged

Narrator: Fred Wolinsky 

Length: 9 hours and 53 minutes

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy 

Release Date: July 6, 2015

Publisher: Audible 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 



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

This is the second audiobook in The Island of Fog series. This is a mixture of post-apocalyptic fiction mixed with pure fantasy aimed at middle grade audiobook listeners. This would be a terrific audiobook series to listen to in the car or on a plane during a family vacation. 

The main characters are all twelve years old and have recently left their home island where they had been sheltered in seclusion since birth. They discovered themselves to be shape-shifters. Each child has a specific form that they can change into at will. 

This is where the fantasy portion of the story takes over. One child is a dragon, one is a harpy, one is a centaur, one is a manticore and one an ogre. 

The Manticore

The kids are needed to communicate with the creatures of Miss Simone’s world, but some of them are apprehensive. 

They have good reason to be worried. The harpies and dragons are constantly attacking the human villages. Dragons have even been known to eat humans.

It is up to the kids including Lauren, Hal and Dewey to travel to the dragon stronghold which is located at the Labyrinth of Fire. 

Can they convince the dragons to cease and desist? Or will they end up making matters worse and starting an all-out war?

Fred Wolinksy has a talent for creating multiple distinct voices; one of the kids even speaks with a minor lisp. 

The story is fast-paced and will hold the attention of even the most restless middle-grade child. It has lots of action, kids that accomplish what adults can’t and lots of interesting creatures and characters. This is the perfect middle-grade adventure series. 

If you haven’t yet read ISLAND OF FOG or LABYRINTH OF FIRE, I suggest that you purchase these terrific audiobooks right away. 

I give this audiobook a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Check out my review of the first book in the series ISLAND OF FOG. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

Keith Robinson is the author of the Island of Fog books, a children’s fantasy series chock full of mysteries, adventures and monsters. The novels have received extremely positive reviews across the board, including favorable comments from successful fantasy author Piers Anthony.

To learn more about Keith Robinson and his books visit http://www.unearthlytales.com/ 

ABOUT THE NARRATOR: 

 

Fred Wolinsky has narrated many, many audiobooks and has worked as a puppeteer. To find out more, visit his website at http://fredwolinsky.weebly.com/about.html