Book Review: Coronavirus Haiku by James Weir

The coronavirus pandemic. A time of social distancing. Isolation at home. Ever-climbing numbers of sick and dead. Economic collapse. Job losses. Protests. Incompetent government responses. Uncertainty. Toilet paper shortages. How can we possibly cope with all this bad news?

Why, make fun of it of course!

And what better way to make fun of a world-wide catastrophe than to do it using haiku. Remember haiku? The bane of your public-school English class – a three-line poem of five syllables, then seven syllables, then five syllables. It’s perfect for these times.

Take a break and read this collection of over one hundred verses designed to make you laugh, make you groan, and sometimes even say WTF?

Remember, this collection uses profanity, and revels in it’s use of immature themes. It may not be the best choice for the kids to read, but your dirty grandma will love it.

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I haven’t read a lot of haiku because it usually seems forced. James Weir’s Coronavirus Haiku doesn’t feel that way to me. It’s contemporary, often political, and frequently humorous.

A couple of examples:

Sickly coughing bat
Gets revenge at the market
Pandemic panic

Quarantine fifteen
“Did you put on some weight honey?”
Sleeping in the car

If you’re looking for something to lighten your mood in these crazy times, Coronavirus Haiku will do exactly that.

About the Author

When he’s not busy being a poet (and we use the term poet very loosely here), James Weir is a small animal veterinarian. In addition to clinical practice, he holds graduate degrees in pathology and in public health. He has also worked as a stand-up comedian. He has been published before, but mostly boring science crap. He has four works of funny haikus listed on Amazon, and is currently writing a book of funny stories from his 30 years in veterinary practice.

Short Story Review: Tagged by Henry Bassett

There are many forgotten games we played as children, one of which was tag. You would call “Tag, you’re it!” just before making physical contact with another and something would pass from you to them, but what if that thing left something behind in you too?

An unknown entity has infiltrated an office, whilst the staff go about their daily routines unaware of its presence. As it systematically picks its victims, will those who remain suspect anything or will it succeed in consuming them all?

My Review

I chose to read this short story after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I read Recently Deceased by the author a couple of days ago, and I found it thought-provoking, so I wanted to see what Tagged had to offer.

I have found that I like the author’s writing style, even when I come across a story like this that almost seems unfinished. It’s set in an office where something is happening to the workers, one by one as they touch each other. It affects each worker in a different way.

But what is it? Where did it come from? What happens when the day ends? There’s so much more I want to know. I felt a little robbed when the story ended.

About the Author

Henry Bassett is an ebook writer first published in early 2019 with The Dead Chronicles of Martha Railer series; a supernatural urban dark fantasy which comprises of six instalments. He went on to write dark fantasy one-offs and, at this time, is working on a new dark fantasy series The Black Bear Brotherhood.

Audiobook Review: Alexandria Rising by Mark Wallace Maguire

Author: Mark Wallace Maguire

Narrator: Thomas Cassidy

Length: 8 hours 47 minutes

Series: The Alexandria Rising Chronicles, Book 1

Publisher: Speckled Leaf Press

Released: May 12, 2020

Genre: Action; Adventure

Rand O’Neal, an ambition-less reporter, is given a single task upon the death of his grandfather: Destroy a mysterious map. What should be a simple errand thrusts Rand into a journey across three countries where he discovers humanity’s biggest secret. The book is labelled an action adventure, but contains elements of science fiction, suspense, and mystery.

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I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Mark Wallace Maguire. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

The beginning of Alexandria Rising intrigued me. Rand’s grandfather died and left him with everything including the task of destroying a map. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are others who want the map, and Rand finds himself on the run. He does pretty well running, especially since he’s new at it and he’s obviously running from professionals.

Once Rand is caught, my interest waned. It was difficult for me to keep my mind on listening to the story. When Rand finally acts, it’s pretty far-fetched. He seems to be a completely different person from the uninspired drunk at the beginning of the story.

The narrator did a great job with timing and pacing and I liked the added sound effects here and there.

Mark Wallace Maguire is a Kindle best-selling author of several books, including the highly-praised Alexandria Rising Chronicles. He is a 2017 Independent Author of the Year Finalist and a 2017 Georgia Author of The Year nominee. He is also an award-winning columnist and journalist whose work has appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers at home and abroad. He’s been honored by several organizations, including The Associated Press, Georgia Poetry Society and Society of Professional Journalists.

In 2005, he was named Berry College Outstanding Young Alumni of The Year.

When he’s not writing, he enjoys hiking, playing guitar, shooting short films and gardening.

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Narrator Bio

Thomas Cassidy: Voice actor from the UK. Narrator of over 80 audiobooks ranging from London based police thrillers (The Edmonton Police Series), a variety of financial and self-help books, to the globe hopping excitement of the Alexandria Trilogy. In his spare time he enjoys martial arts, fitness, old German cars and conspiracy theories.

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Short Story Review: Recently Deceased by Henry Bassett

Death is an instantaneous event. What follows is confusion and uncertainty. Join one individual at the moment in which their body and soul separate, yet are trapped together as they journey with the living to their final resting place.

My Review

I chose to read this short story after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This story is very short but it’s thought-provoking. What happens after we die? It definitely elicits a response to contemplate the after-life. Death is such an unknown, even for people of faith. You can absolutely believe that you’re going to Heaven or Hell, but how do you get there?

I think Recently Deceased being so short certainly brings the subject to the forefront of the reader’s mind long after the story has been read. It did mine.

About the Author

Henry Bassett is an ebook writer first published in early 2019 with The Dead Chronicles of Martha Railer series; a supernatural urban dark fantasy which comprises of six instalments. He went on to write dark fantasy one-offs and, at this time, is working on a new dark fantasy series The Black Bear Brotherhood.

Book Review: Wilbur Wolf by Sally Lee Baker

A fun read-aloud tongue twisting tale brought to you by the letter “W”. Wilbur Wolf worries when the winter wind whistles wildly through the willows in the Wyoming wilderness. Number 23 in a series of ABC alliterative stories, “Wilbur Wolf” emphasizes each letter “w” or “W” with a bold font. Children will enjoy the fun story while learning the many uses of the letter “W” and finding the hidden letter in each picture.

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My Review

This is the first book in the series that I’ve read. Each book in the series focuses on a letter of the alphabet. Obviously, “W” is the focus in Wilbur Wolf. I was impressed by how many “W” words the author was able to use while coming up with a story that children will enjoy. The illustrations are also cute and will help keep the attention of young children.

Wilbur Wolf worries about everything, even the wind! Wyatt is the smartest wolf in the pack, and he decides that Wilbur worries because he has no self-confidence. Wyatt comes up with a plan for the wolves to help Wilbur and, in turn, will keep him from disturbing everyone with his worries.

This my favorite kind of children’s book. It is fun to read, it teaches children about the letter “W” and it teaches about self-esteem. That makes it triple good!

About the Author

Sally Lee Baker is incredibly excited to announce that she has been recognized as a Book Excellence Award Finalist in the Children’s Fiction Category for her books, “Toni Tanager” and “Vinny The Vegetarian Vulture”.

Out of hundreds of books that were entered into the Book Excellence Awards competition, her books were selected for their high quality writing, design and overall market appeal.

To view her complete award listing, you can visit: https://honorees.bookexcellenceawards.com/#!/Toni-Tanager-Childrens-Fiction/p/143373756/category=36034731 and/or https://honorees.bookexcellenceawards.com/#!/Vinny-the-Vegetarian-Vulture-Childrens-Fiction/p/178508618/category=46250245

“Toni Tanager” was released in 2018 and is about Toni Tanager, a small bird, who teases two three-toed tree toads until Terri Tanager takes her to task to treat the tree toads like she would like to be treated.

“Vinny The Vegetarian Vulture” was released in 2019 and is about a vulture who claims to be a vegetarian. The virtuous Violet Vole videos Vinny to vet his claim.

The books are perfect for elementary students and teachers who want to increase vocabulary.

You can get copies for yourself on Amazon or by ordering through your favorite bookstore.

Sally Lee Baker, storyteller, author and illustrator wrote her first tongue twisters for kids using the letter “B” in a Writing for Juveniles class in college. After marrying, raising two girls and then reading to grandchildren, she was inspired to write alliterative stories using each letter of the alphabet.

Not knowing where to turn for a good illustrator, Sally attempted some drawings herself. After several efforts she surprised herself at being able to draw characters which she could scan on to her computer to color and manipulate through a drawing program. By the time she wrote the “H” alliterative story she was able to do all the drawing on the computer alone.

As library clerk at her local public school she had many opportunities to read to students and note which books were well received and which were not. With one daughter and family near Edmonton, Alberta, Sally takes advantage of visits there to read in other public schools.

Sally and her husband, Ted, have retired as missionaries, from SEND International and live near their other daughter and family in Faro, Yukon Territory of Canada.

Website: https://sallyleebaker.wixsite.com/books
Twitter: Sally Lee Baker

Audiobook Review: Turn to Dust by Rachel Amphlett

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: 7 hours 56 minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2020

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 9

Release date: May 14, 2020

 When the body of a naked man is found in the middle of a barren field, a rural community is left in shock – and fear.

Discovering that someone is offering money in return for information about the dead man and anyone connected to him, Detective Kay Hunter realises there is a dark side to the victim’s past.

When a key witness disappears and a web of deceit and lies threatens to derail the investigation, she fears the worst.

Can Kay and her team of detectives find out who is behind the man’s murder before another victim is targeted?

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

My Review

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Rachel Amphlett. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

When a body is found in a field, Kay Hunter and team can’t believe the horrific condition the body is in. They soon realize that it may have been thrown from an airplane. As the team investigates, there’s another murder, and Kay is determined to find the murderer. What the team finds is worse than anyone had imagined.

This series is about the same investigative team, but each case is quite a bit different. Detectives come and go but even though it’s difficult, they remain strong. I like Kay Hunter and the members of her team. She’s intelligent, strong, and dedicated and her team members are supportive of her and each other, and they know each other well.

I like Rachel Amphlett’s writing style, and Alison Campbell does a good job with pace and enunciation. I like the fact that the same person narrates all of these books. It’s almost like listening to a friend.  Turn to Dust is a detective mystery, and like all of the books in this series, it has an interesting and surprising end. If you like crime fiction, this is a must read. I’m looking forward to more Kay Hunter books.

About the Author

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

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About the Narrator

Alison Campbell is an actress based in Bristol, U.K. She has lent her voice to 50+ audiobooks, cartoons, documentaries and dramas. She can be found treading the boards across the country, in everything from Shakespeare to hip hop kids adventures. On screen she has appeared in dramas and science documentaries, her most recent co star was a CGI elephant. She can also be found performing the Natural Theatre Company’s award-winning surreal brand of interactive comedy around the globe.

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Audiobook Review: Wombat & Jones: The Great Banana Mystery by Arran Francis

Wombat and Jones are excited to attend the famous Boris Beaker’s banana bread baking class and like many other friends in town they can’t wait to get to work on making scrumptious banana bread. However, there’s just one problem — before class gets underway, Boris discovers that all of the bananas have gone missing!

Boris Beaker and his disappointed students know there is no chance they can make banana bread without this key ingredient, but Wombat isn’t willing to give up that easily. Putting her investigative skills to the test, she gets help from her trusty sidekick — Furlock Jones — and together they attempt to solve The Great Banana Mystery.

Written by author Arran Francis, creator of multiple series for BBC’s CBeebies Radio, Wombat & Jones: The Great Banana Mystery is a funny tale about friendship, problem-solving, and teamwork. Simple mistakes and jumping to conclusions can happen after all, but Wombat & Jones try their best to put it right and learn from them. 

Where to get it:

https://www.wombatandjones.org/thegreatbananamystery

It can be streamed or borrowed from libraries too.

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free audio copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

What a cute story! It’s written for children, but adults will enjoy listening to it as well. It’s pretty short but lots of fun.

When bananas and a monkey go missing at the same time, Wombat and Jones know that they can hunt down the missing bananas…and maybe the missing monkey who is the prime suspect. Wombat and Jones go on an amusing adventure as they search for the missing bananas. The baking class can’t make banana bread without them!

As soon as I began listening to this story, I recognized the narrator as one of my favorites from another series. That made it even better.

Wombat & Jones: The Great Banana Mystery would be a fun activity for children during these long summer months.

About the Author

Arran Francis is the creator of multiple series for BBC’s CBeebies Radio and has worked as an audiobook producer on behalf of MacMillan Audio, Audible and Harper Collins. He launched Wombat and Jones Audio in 2019 with the aim of writing children’s novels to be released exclusively in audiobook format.

The audiobooks for the Daisy May’s Daydream Parade and Wombat & Jones series were released last summer with further books in the series and standalone titles being scheduled for publication in 2020.

Social Media Links

www.facebook.com/wombatandjones

www.twitter.com/wombatandjones

www.instagram.com/wombatandjones

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Book Review: Wakes & High Stakes by Trixie Silvertale

A flamboyant funeral. A dashing gigolo. Can this psychic sleuth beat the odds on murder?
Mitzy Moon is never one to celebrate death. But a compelling invitation to a 1920s themed memorial service, aboard a riverboat casino, entices her to take a gamble. And the only thing hotter than the tables is the newly wealthy widower—until he disappears.

Despite the extravagant decor, Mitzy smells a rat in designer clothing. And warnings from the sexy sheriff, her meddling Ghost-ma, and a spoiled feline all fall on deaf ears, as the list of greedy suspects grows with every spin of the wheel. She’ll have to play her cards just right or end up on a fatal losing streak!

Can Mitzy win against the house, or will she double down on death?

Wakes and High Stakes is the eighth book in the hilarious paranormal cozy mystery series, Mitzy Moon Mysteries. If you like snarky heroines, supernatural intrigue, and a dash of romance, then you’ll love Trixie Silvertale’s dicey whodunit.

Buy Wakes and High Stakes to cash-in on a caper today!

My Review

This series keeps getting better and better!

Mitzy Moon finally has a family since she inherited her grandmother’s bookstore. She’s gotten to know her father and Grams (in her ghostly form). All of the main characters are unique, flawed, and loveable. Mitzy is clumsy, smart, and hilarious. Grams is a force of nature. Erick, the sheriff may be the closest to perfect any person can get, but that may be because he’s seen through Mitzy’s eyes.

Mitzy is invited to a funeral for a socialite because of her grandmother’s association with high society. During the wake, there’s a murder! Mitzy is able to worm her way into the mansion of the deceased (the first one), and meets her ghost. She promises the ghost that she will try to find out who murdered her.

The relationship between Mitzy and Erick is slowly evolving. It’s obvious that they care for each other, but Erick knows that Mitzy is hiding something from him about how she always has so much information. Is he ready to hear that she’s psychic and talks to ghosts? She doesn’t think so!

I always like the Mitzy Moon stories, but I’m really looking forward to the next book because Mitzy is going to learn more about her mother who died when she was just 11. I can’t wait!

About the Author

Trixie Silvertale grew up reading an endless supply of Lillian Jackson Braun, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew novels. She loves the amateur sleuths in cozy mysteries and is obsessed with all things paranormal. Those two passions unite in her Mitzy Moon Mysteries, and she’s thrilled to write them and share them with you.

When she’s not consumed by writing, she bakes to fuel her creative engine and tends to her herb garden.

Website: http://www.trixiesilvertale.com

Book Review: Forsaken by J.D. Barker

When horror author Thad McAlister began his latest novel, a tale rooted in the witch trials of centuries past, the words flowed effortlessly. The story poured forth, filling page after page with the most frightening character ever to crawl from his imagination. It was his greatest work, one that would guarantee him a position among the legends of the craft.

But was it really fiction?

He inadvertently opened a door, one that would soon jeopardize the lives of his family.

She wants to come back.

At home, his wife struggles to keep their family alive. Secretly wondering if she caused it all…a deal she made long ago. A deal with the Forsaken.

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My Review

J.D. Barker is one of my favorite authors, so I bought a copy of his first book Forsaken. The other books of his that I’ve read are mystery/suspense and this one is horror, so I knew it’d be different.

Thad is a bestselling horror novelist. He has a journal that his wife gave him at the beginning of their marriage. He writes his novels in it, and the stories just seem to come to him. Eventually, it becomes apparent that these stories aren’t fiction, but historical; and the results of Thad writing them will affect not only his family, but the future of mankind.

The chapters alternate between Thad’s most recent novel, The Journal of Clayton Stone, and the present. This is the kind of horror I like: “normal” people who end up in extraordinary circumstances. His writing reminds me of Stephen King, and, in fact, Needful Things is mentioned at the beginning and end.

Forsaken is a suspenseful, crazy page turner. It’s impressive that this was J.D. Barker’s first book. If you like horror, you will like Forsaken.

About the Author

J.D. Barker is the international best-selling author of numerous novels, including DRACUL and THE FOURTH MONKEY. He is currently collaborating with James Patterson. His novels have been translated into two dozen languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker resides in coastal New Hampshire with his wife, Dayna, and their daughter, Ember.

Website: https://jdbarker.com/

Book Review: The U.S. Piggy Bank by Karl Steam

What is debt and how big is a trillion? These questions are explored as readers learn about the size of the nation’s debt. Despite all the negative numbers, this book manages to spin a positive message. It introduces a topic that normally causes division and uses it to promote hope and unity—two American values that have served the nation well over the years.

Its hard not to gasp when a trillion is put into perspective. Fun size comparisons will captivate audiences just as they do in “How Much Is a Million” by Steven Kellogg and David M. Schwartz. The U.S. Piggy Bank does not stop there though. It introduces a topic that effects every U.S. citizen, allowing readers to feel a personal connection with the story.

Learning extensions are abundant with this book. Lesson ideas for math, social studies, and language arts are listed in the back, making it a great resource for classrooms and home learning environments. If you’re looking for a gift that a teacher will use year after year, this is it.

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My Book Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I found The U.S. Piggy Bank interesting. It starts with several comparisons to explain how much a trillion is. For example, if you stack a trillion golf balls, it would stretch from Earth to Venus!

After demonstrating how much a trillion is, the importance of national debt is explained, as well as the importance of it not being too high. A short history is given as well.

Although The U.S. Piggy Bank is written with children in mind, it’s a good book for everyone to read, especially politicians. It’s only 39 pages long, so anyone can find the time to read it. Also included are suggested classroom activities in math, social studies, and language arts with a link to activity pages on the author’s website.

About the Author

Karl Steam is a children’s author and illustrator. Some of his works include Purple Pup, How Santa Changed, and the Kids vs. Nature series. He resides in the Lakes Region of the Upper Midwest with his wife and four children. Karl enjoys fishing, camping, and traveling. Oh yeah, he likes writing too.

Website: karlsteam.com