Book Review: The Secret of Misty Mountain by L. Michelle Bowen

The Secret of Misty Mountain
By L. Michelle Bowen
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

About the Book

When is it right to tell a secret?

When Anne, a young country girl who lives in the beautiful countryside of South Carolina meets Catherine, a pretty and wealthy new girl in town, they become unlikely friends. Everything seems perfect until Catherine confides in Anne a secret too big to keep. When schoolmates learn of her secret, it threatens to tear apart not only her friendship but Catherine’s family as well.

The Secret of Misty Mountain will resonate with anyone who has ever been sworn to secrecy too big for them to bear.

My Review

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

The Secret of Misty Mountain is a tale about friendship and keeping secrets. Anne is a girl growing up in the south. During the summer before eighth grade, Anne meets Catherine, a new girl in town and they quickly become best friends.

Anne was brought up by her mother to not judge people by the color of their skin. She told her that you might as well judge people by the color of their eyes. What a sensible woman! So, when Anne meets Catherine’s widowed father, she also meets Virginia who is their black housekeeper. Anne can tell that Virginia is a great substitute for Catherine’s deceased mom, and she immediately considers Virginia a friend.

Then, when school starts, a big secret comes out, and it’s Anne’s fault! Has she just ruined her friendship and Catherine’s family at the same time? The way Anne’s father deals with the secret is perfect. Talk about excellent parenting!

This is a story of secrets too big to keep and the importance of friendship and trusting your friends. I definitely recommend The Secret of Misty Mountain for middle grade readers as well as older readers.

The only thing that I caution about is that the “n” word is used once. It’s used in the context that Catherine is afraid someone is going to call her a vicious name, but only because of the environment we live in right now, I’d be afraid to use it in any context.

Excerpt

“Anne, I need to tell you something. I haven’t told you this because I wasn’t sure how you’d react. The whole reason we moved out of Nashville was because people weren’t ready for what I’m about to tell you. It’s the reason we live in the middle of nowhere. And if you repeat this, I’ll surely die because people just aren’t ready. You hear me, I’ll surely die.”

I was nervous. I had no idea what Catherine was going to say, and I felt a bit sick. “Ok, Catherine. You can tell me. You can tell me anything. You can trust me.”

“Anne, Virginia is family. Actual family. She’s family because she’s…she’s my daddy’s wife.”

Silence. There was no sound to be heard. Absolute silence. I was numb from the top of my head to the soles of my dirty feet. I kept trying to think if I might have heard wrong. If maybe she meant something else. But there were no ways to twist the words. “Virginia is my daddy’s wife.” 

I can’t even imagine how long Catherine and I stared at each other. I kept thinking: Say something, Anne. But no words came.

“Well, are you going to say something?” Catherine asked.

And there it was. I had to say something now.

“Well, I’m not sure what to say. I’ve never known someone married to a colored person before. This is all new to me. You’ve got to give me a second here, Catherine,” I said. My head was spinning. I never really thought I’d have to think about this kind of thing.

About the Author

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina but I was mostly raised in Greenville, South Carolina. I have a heart for the southeast and all of it’s southern charm. I love the accents, the attitudes and the atmosphere. I was raised between the Great Smoky Mountains and Atlantic Ocean. My childhood consisted of vacations to both. We would climb through the woods and wade the creeks of the mountains and then head to the beach to jump the waves and play at the arcades.

All my life I have been a story teller. Everything I said and did were presented in grandiose fashion and my children were sponges to that. I loved reading books to them (and their friends). I never passed up the opportunity to read to them or tell them about something unique that happened that day, but in story form. One night, while my children were visiting their grandparents for the weekend, I had a very funny dream about a girl who’s mama tricked her one morning to get her out of bed. When I woke up, my first thought was to tell the kids. But they were gone. The story was too funny not to tell them so I began writing it down so I wouldn’t forget.  As I was writing the cute scene, I began to envision the characters more vividly and enjoy their company. When my kids got home, I told them the story and when I finished, my middle child said, “What happened next, mama?” And that was the birth of my first book, The Secret on Top of Misty Mountain. I started pouring myself into knowing more about Anne and Charles and Catherine and falling in love with them and rooting for them throughout their journeys.

In my free time, I like to watch and sing to musicals, have coffee with my daughter, cook and read books. But my favorite thing to do with my free time is to be with my kids!

Links: 

Web: https://www.lmichellebowen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MBowenAuthor/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MBowenAuthor

Book Review: The Gift of the Quoxxel by Richard Titus

What would you do if you were the monarch of a perfect,
tropical paradise without a care in the world? Well,
King Norr would like to leave, and the sooner, the better.

“Where else but Nibb?” his subjects would contend.
Venturing away from Nibb was heresy and could only
result in misfortune and “haddock.”

Oddly enough, a rash of “haddock” had recently befallen
the sleepy isle making it a veritable hotbed of curious
quandaries. For example —

Had Doctor Hinkus fallen prey to marauding drumbkins?

Whose prank had set the Palace afloat?

What’s a spudcake?

Do pirates bathe?

Did Uncle Fenwad roll into the bay?

Is snoring an art form?

Do Nibbian pigs have a future in aviation?

Were mollusks armed and dangerous?

It’s a “what-happens-next?” armchair adventure for
readers of all ages.

Captain Gadd may be Norr’s ticket off the island, but
it’s not going to be easy. The King isn’t entirely worried,
however. A lifetime of experience tells him most
challenges disappear by simply taking an additional nap.

Amazon

My Review

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

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book, but what I got was a fantasy that is unique and funny with quirky characters. I read the first edition, which was difficult for me to follow at times because it seemed to go around in circles, but the author sent me the most recent edition, and he has outdone himself. He’s rewritten a lot of it and made it so much easier to read! I had already liked the dialogue, but now it’s even better. I think middle-grade readers especially would get a kick out of it because of the silliness.

My favorite character is Yill. He is quite sarcastic and very funny. The king comes in a close second because he’s very non-kingly and unintentionally funny. In fact, at one point, his wife wonders if she married him for love or for entertainment.

I enjoyed the made-up words (words from Nibb). Some are self-explanatory, such as bloffix, which is a meaningless exclamation. Then there are others that I had to look up in the glossary at the end. One of my favorites was gabthrax: “ailment whereby one talks oneself to death; occurring sometimes in toucans, and more often in politicians.”

The Gift of the Quoxxel is a fun and light-hearted read. I can absolutely recommend the second edition for all ages, but I think middle-grade readers will enjoy the humor the most.

About the Author

The Gift of the Quoxxel is Richard’s debut novel. His life experience includes visual arts, truck driving, camp counseling, verb conjugating, and mastery of an adequate meatloaf.

A Michigan native and parochial school survivor, Richard resides with wife Marina close to, but far enough from New York City. How they ended up there, he’s not really sure.

Website http://www.richard-titus.com
Twitter Quoxxel1

Book Review: The Haunted Stepsister by Medeia Sharif

Sixth grade isn’t easy for Jesenya Moradi, especially since her father’s recent remarriage and tension with her new stepsister, Kammy. After an incident at school that nearly destroyed Kammy’s life, Jess has been desperate to get on Kammy’s good side. But a fateful trip to an allegedly haunted bathroom changes both girls’ lives forever.

The rumors about the bathroom are true, and now Jess is convinced a demon’s possessing Kammy. Eerie things happen whenever she’s around – flying objects, flickering lights, not to mention the fact that something, or someone, is making people into its puppets.

Worse, the demon seems fixated on making Jess confess her part in ruining Kammy’s reputation. Sticking to her Muslim faith, Jess enlists the help of an imam to exorcise the demon from Kammy. But can they get rid of the demon before it destroys her new family? 

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.

Jess and Kammy have been stepsisters for a short time, but they’ve known each other from school for quite a while. There are, of course, emotions that are important for the girls to deal with. That’s what this story is about in part. I think if the author had stuck with that, this could have been an excellent book.

There’s a paranormal side to the story involving a demon in a haunted bathroom possessing one of the stepsisters. That part of the book wasn’t believable and seemed poorly researched. Knowing middle grade readers, many of them would roll their eyes and go on to the next book.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the targeted audience would like The Haunted Stepsister, which is too bad because it does teach that lying hurts everyone, especially the liar.

About the Author

I was born in New York City and I presently call Miami my home. I received my master’s degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. After becoming a voracious reader in high school and a relentless writer dabbling in many genres in college, I found my niche writing for young people. Today I’m a writer for all age levels published through various presses. In addition to being a writer, I’m a public school teacher. My memberships include Mensa and SCBWI.

Website http://www.medeiasharif.com
Twitter medeiasharif

Book Review: The Right Hand Rule by R.M. Clark

Amy, Amanda, Marshall, and Ziggy expect their middle school to be empty on Saturday morning so they can get ready for the regional science fair. They don’t expect a botched experiment to attract a horde of time-displaced ancient Mayans when their unusual science advisor, Frederick Froth, goes missing.

The four must use their unique science skills and work together as they grapple with a Mayan god, the Dark Rift, and the principles of science to rescue Mr. Froth.

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.

Four of the school’s brightest students have been chosen to go to the regional science fair. When they arrive at the school on Saturday to work on their projects, Mr. Froth, the science teacher, is nowhere to be found. He has set up an experiment for them in which they will have to apply all of the skills that they learned from their projects to find him.

The experiment seems to be going well until it doesn’t. The students not only need to use their skills, but they need to learn to work together as a group. That’s not so easy when Amy is not as cooperative as they’d like.

The characters are likeable, even Amy eventually. Ziggy, Amanda, and Marshall work hard to figure out the clues left by Mr. Froth. When things go wrong, they have to depend on the scientific method they learned from Mr. Froth to get the desired conclusion.

Middle grade readers who are interested in science will particularly like The Right Hand Rule. There is scientific information included within the story, as well as information about the Mayans (Mr. Froth’s current interest). And it has an ending that is a surprise!

About the Author

R. M. Clark is a computer scientist for the Dept. of Navy by day and children’s book writer by night. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons. He is currently at work on his latest middle grade novel. Visit his author site: http://www.rmclarkauthor.com

Book Review: Fighters, Feared and Fallen by N. D. Richman

Title: Fighters, Feared and Fallen (Boulton Quest Series, Book 3)

Author: N. D. Richman

Publication Date: June 14, 2016

Pages: 210

Recommended Ages: 10+

Thomas is swept into Robert Cain’s web of terror
He’s forced to fight in a child army
Against the most evil of people
And learns the first casualty of war is the truth

“If you can’t trust yourself, Thomas, who can you trust?”

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.

Fighters, Feared and Fallen, book #3 in the Boulton Quest Series, is a middle grade and young adult book. I read the first 2 books, Brothers, Bullies, and Bad Guys and Sinners, Survivors and Saints quite a while ago, but I remember liking them so I was happy to read Fighters, Feared and Fallen.

Book #3 is mostly about Thomas being abducted along with thousands of other children and taken into the future. They’re taught to fight to save the world…but are they being told the truth? I wondered since they were not treated well if the leaders were being honest. Their excuse was that they needed to harden the kids to be good fighters…but is that true? Thomas definitely learns how to fight and fight well.

I was sad to see that there aren’t any more books in the series. I understand that the author reached his goal by encouraging his children and other youngsters to read, but there are questions that haven’t been answered!

About the Author

I started to write for my son, a reluctant reader. I set out to write a series of books that captivated from the first chapter and pushed the reader through with a solid plot, relentless action and adventure, and humour.

Comments received from parents and teachers indicate I’ve accomplished my goal. I’m very proud of the Boulton Quest Series. It has captivated the hearts of reluctant readers around the world, boys and girls alike, and is entertaining their brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents.

Camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and getting into trouble:  What a great way to grow up!  One of my favourite memories is sitting on the handlebars of my brother’s bike, my dog on my lap, as he careened down the steep mountain trails above our home in Kamloops, BC. My brother and I had caves, tree forts, frog filled ponds, and cactus patches to play in, and sling shots for protection. Somehow I survived my childhood and proudly moved on to fatherhood. My children, Christopher, Michael, Thomas, and Katherine, kindly donated their names, characters, and ideas to the Boulton Quest series of books.

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Book Review: Don’t Forget to Chew Your Food! by GetChrissy

Jewels and her brothers, Manny and Brooks lived in a small village of the darkest of shades, and a colorless world surrounds them. Her brothers were very different from the villagers there and so was Jewels. She wanted to fit in with the villagers while her brothers could care less to fit in with the boring, bland people there. 

Manny and Brooks discovered another village far beyond the forest, one that was magical and of many colors beyond their wildest dreams, the likes of which were only found only within the forbidden books known as the Corridor of Hues, which were destroyed in their village.

Jewels and her brothers are cast out from their village and take a leap of hope to join the colorful world that the brothers discovered. Many strange surprises await them along the way. Is the grass truly greener on the other side? One can only hope so…

Amazon

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.

Don’t Forget to Chew Your Food! is a novella that is a fantasy about Jewels and her two brothers. They live in a boring and colorless village but they aren’t like the other villagers. They want adventure and excitement. The villagers eventually throw them out, so they search for another village the boys had seen on one of their explorations.

The other village is colorful and has a lot of strange creatures around it, but there are no people! When they meet the owner of the village, they still want to stay. But does he want them to stay?

Don’t Forget to Chew Your Food! would probably appeal to middle-grade readers. The descriptions are what I like: I can picture the creatures and the forest in my head but the author keeps it concise. It is a dark fantasy, which I usually don’t mind, but I prefer more hopeful books for younger readers.

About the Author

GetChrissy is a fantasy author who loves to write. She enjoys using her quirky imagination to create a world even more colorful than her own. When she is not working on her next adventure to share with her readers, you can find her practicing new skating tricks on her rollerblades.

www.getchrissy.com

Book Review: The Land of the Beasts by S.F. Claymore

“Psykoria is on the brink of civil war. King Breetor knows he must do something to appease the unrest. He decides that the only way he can win peace is by impressing the other lords with a feat so grand it will win their undying respect.

There is a legend of a land where the greatest beasts in the continent reside. In a war past, men bore witness as dragons appeared in their realm to help end the conflicts. Breetor has decided to follow their trail and find this land. If he can bring back proof of its existence, perhaps he can end the unrest in his realm once and for all…”

Goodreads * Amazon * Google Play * Smashwords

My Review

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

King Breetor decides that he is going to go to a faraway land to defeat a dragon and bring proof back to his people. There is growing unrest and he thinks that they will respect him if he shows them how brave he is.

What an adventure! Breetor and his men battle the sea and actually find the Land of the Beasts. Not only are there dragons but there are many dangerous beasts. The people who live in this land are welcoming, but when they find out that Breetor wants to kill a dragon, they’re not happy because they believe it will cause a war with the dragons.

Breetor’s adventure turns out to be very different from what he’d envisioned. He learns a lot about dragons as well as the Land of the Beasts. Will he be able to accomplish his goal of proving his bravery?

The Land of the Beasts is a fun adventure for readers around middle school age. For me it was a quick read that was good but it would have been better if I could have connected with the character.

About the Author

Born and raised in the UK, I have a technology-based education, but my passion has always been in creating stories, worlds, characters, and doing anything that allows me to use my imagination.

I’ve had the privilege of being able to travel many parts of the world in such a small number of years, learning of different cultures and histories. Everywhere I go, I’m always absorbing new knowledge, and when one has so many ideas bursting in their mind, there is no greater joy than allowing them to materialise.

Book Review: The Frights of Fiji by Sunayna Prasad

A world of magic and adventure awaits for 12-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer kidnaps her to an enchanted island, filled with magical creatures and technology, but also danger. It is up to Alyssa to defeat the peril and overcome the warlock.

My Review

I chose to review this book after requesting a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Alyssa McCarthy was an orphan living with her uncle and cousin. She was suddenly introduced to the world of magic. Although she didn’t believe in magic to begin with, she seemed to just take it in stride. I found it odd that she told adults about the things she’d seen and expected them to believe her. Most children her age know that adults wouldn’t believe in such “nonsense.”

After Alyssa leaves home, her adventure and the magic involved is all creative but a little over the top. I don’t think middle grade or young adult readers would go for it. The story does have a good ending, however.

About the Author

Sunayna Prasad has been writing stories for over several years, starting at the age of six. Now twenty-four, she is done with college and will pursue a career in art and design as well as continue to write for children. Aside from that, Sunayna also likes to cook, watch movies, and draw. She lives on Long Island, New York, with her family.

Website http://www.sunaynaprasadbooks.com/

Audiobook Review: Primrose’s Curse by Kiara Shankar & Vinay Shankar

Narrator: Laura Welsh

Length: 1 hour and 28 minutes

Publisher: Vinay Shankar SP

Released: Apr. 21, 2019

Genre: Children’s; Fantasy

Synopsis

Primrose Fernetise, a beautiful, audacious 12-year-old girl, and a group of woodland animals with divine mystical abilities set out on an adventurous mission to Hellevue, a murky island on the dreary part of Mystopical. Their daring mission involves vanquishing the evil sorceress Queen Evelyn Velecrona and breaking the curse she has cast on humanity.

How do the woodland animals and Primrose plan and embark on their brave voyage to defeat the wicked sorceress?

Will the bunch of lovable woodland animals and an innocent 12-year-old girl really succeed in bringing down the dreadful Queen Evelyn? Also, will they be able to bring back peace, well-being, and happiness to humanity?

To find out more about this epic fairy tale, please do consider listening to this entire audiobook.

Available on Audible

My Review

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

Primrose’s father is sick so she decides to go deep into the forest to find a healing plant. What she finds are magical woodland animals and an exciting adventure. If she and the animals are successful, they won’t just heal Primrose’s father but all of humanity!

Primrose’s Curse is for middle-grade readers. Based on the books I’ve read for middle-grade readers, I’d recommend this one to girls who are just beginning to start middle-grade books.

The narrator has a great voice for this book. She also has a good pace and timing.

About the Authors

KIARA SHANKAR is a young talented author from San Francisco, California, USA. Apart from writing books, she loves reading, artwork, writing poems, playing with her friends, and listening to her favorite Bollywood music.

Kiara’s poem “A Deadly Star” was published in the national level writing contest book “A Celebration of Poets” (Fall 2018 Edition – published by Creative Communication, Utah, USA).

VINAY SHANKAR is Kiara’s dad, a software professional, who found himself inspired by his daughter’s idea of writing fictional fairy tale books and decided to co-write books with her. This collaborative effort of the family is helping to bring great ideas to life!

Viki Publishing * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest * Instagram

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About the Narrator

Laura Welsh is a Voice Actor currently living in Sunny California. She divides her time between the Studio and maintaining her Succulent Garden, equally passionate about both! Her professional career has spanned from TV and radio commercials, video games, cartoons, and Youtube channels, and of course narrating audiobooks. Delighting in her work, she hopes to be able to bring joy and pleasure in the projects she assists with for many many years to come.

Instagram * Facebook * Twitter * Website

Book Review: Big Bad Wolf by Nancy Gray

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Jane is ecstatic when she gets the role of Red Riding Hood in her school play, but she didn’t realize that they’d be using the stuffed wolf prop as the Big Bad Wolf. That tattered old prop has always scared her and, lately, she has been having strange dreams about it that make it seem like it’s something more.

Jane will have to get help to save herself from the hungry spirit that has haunted her people and her nightmares before it consumes her, or worse, escapes the prison of the last creature it took to sate its horrible appetite.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

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My Review

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

Big Bad Wolf is a scary story for middle grade readers and I think it would at least send a chill down the spine of young readers. Jane is in middle school and gets the lead part in a play as Red Riding Hood. The wolf is an old stuffed wolf that was donated by a family and it scares her and gives her bad dreams.

Of course Jane tries to tell herself that she’s silly for being scared which is a normal reaction, but she finally gives in to the realization that something is very wrong and it’s more than her imagination. She eventually enlists the help of other students who also end up believing that the wolf is evil. Will they be able to get rid of the evil that lurks inside the wolf?

This is a good story for this time of year. Not only is it scary and a fun story to read but it touches a little on some Native American beliefs which may be of interest to readers. It’s definitely a story for middle grade readers and it could be one of those stories that will help get reluctant readers to pick up a book.

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About the Author

Nancy Gray has published a number of works including her middle grade series Spine Chillers. She also published her YA fantasy series Blood Rain. Her short story “Chosen” appeared in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Author Quest: a Penguin Special from Grosset & Dunlap. Her work also appears in various anthologies.

Nancy Gray has been writing for over ten years. Gray lives in South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys books, video games, anime, manga, and horror.

Her latest book is the mid-grade horror, Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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