Picture Book Saturday: The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres

The deets:
audience: wee ones
pages: 32
publisher: April 15th 2006 by Tanglewood Press
ISBN: 9780974930367
genre: picture book
source: earc from Netgalley in exchange from an honest review


The Mice of Bistrot des Sept FreresThis story serves up a delightful recipe for a children's book: take one adorable tale of Parisian mice who want to win the prize for the best cheese soup in France, add a full serving of the whimsical illustrations of Marie LeTourneau, mix in a dash of French language and a sprinkling of Parisian café culture, and voilà! We have The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Frères (Bistro of Seven Brothers).

With many basic French words cleverly woven into the story, readers will absorb the language without even realizing it. There is a pronunciation guide at the front of the book, and directions in the back to this website for the famous cheese soup recipe!




The nice thing about the picture book synopsis is that it tells you everything you need to know.

This book was very whimsical. I loved the adorable mice. The daughter was dainty and ballerina-like, while the brothers all shared similar names. It was cute.

I don't know if it went over well with my 5-year-old son or not, though. I read it aloud to him as a bed time story, but he didn't seem overly impressed. He did, however, enjoy my French accent as I read. The story line was simple and fun. And as the synopsis promises, you'll get a little intro into the French language in a very clever way. But like most picture books lately, the illustrations were what grabbed (and held) my attention.


Minute Review: Weirder Than Weird (Francis Burger)

The Deets:
Audience: Anyone
pages: 112
publisher: self published by author
genre: short stories, macabre
source: copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review
Available on Amazon or from the author's website


ma·ca·bre (Adjective)


Disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury.

 
Picture
 
 

I admit, I was drawn to this book because it said it was for fans of The Twilight Zone. Being a huge fan of the show, I had to check this book out.

I usually have mixed feelings about short stories. I never feel that they are long enough to connect with a character or immerse myself in the plot. But, I do appreciate them because they are great for readers that might be scared of longer books. As a teacher, I use short stories all the time for teaching purposes.

Weirder than Weird is a collection of short stories that range from creepy to down right disturbing. I knew I was in for something when the first story featured a woman with a taste for flesh! These are quick, fast paced stories that have twist endings. They really would make great skits for an episode or two of The Twilight Zone. Of course, like all short stories the plots are fast and not overly developed-- it comes with the genre, I'm afraid. If you don't like short stories, don't turn your nose up just yet. I'm sure there is a story or two in this collection that you would enjoy, as long as you enjoy things that go bump in the night.


** I admit, I had to look up the definition for macabre (again). I always forget! I saw this book being described as part of that genre, so I needed clarification.
 



Review: Legasea (Krystalyn Drown)

The Deets:
Audience: YA/MG
pages: 220
publisher:  January 28th 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press
ISBN: 9781620071625
genre: fantasy, mermaids/selkie, mystery
source: I obtained an e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review



LegaseaWhen sixteen-year-old Aileen Shay sees a dead girl floating in the bay during a midnight yacht party, she never imagines Jamie Flannigan, her new boyfriend, may be involved. The only thing she knows about Jamie is that he personifies the one thing she has been drawn to her entire life – the ocean. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes he knows more about the murder than he's telling. When another girl is attacked, and Jamie refuses to answer her questions, Aileen searches for answers on her own.

Aileen learns that Jamie's family belongs more to myths and legends than they do in the real world. They are selkies, and after the Flannigans threaten her family, Aileen suspects they are responsible for both attacks.

But they aren't the only ones in her small fishing town who can keep a secret. As Aileen uncovers the truth about the murder, the selkies, and her own family, she learns why her soul is bonded to the sea. But with that revelation comes a choice – to permanently sever her connection with the water, which comes at a painful cost, or embrace a legacy that just might get her killed.


Do not let the cover of this book fool you! It is not an overly cutesy middle-grades novel.(I was wrong!)

This was actually a solid mystery with several sub plots. The main plot centers around trying to figure out who is attacking the selkies and why. But of course, that would be too easy if that was the only thing to discover in a small fishing town. Enter mysterious new boy, Jamie. The instant connection between Aileen and Jamie starts of a romance that carries throughout the novel. Oh, but that's not all! Aileen's family has secrets of their own to resolve, and the family store (and Aileen's way of life) is teetering on a ledge. All of these story lines meet at the end with a very suspenseful climax! I thought it was really well developed, and I enjoyed it alot.

The characters were pretty good as well. They worked for the story, but I didn't really connect with them. I did notice, though, how well Aileen's character depicted a teenager desperate for more freedom and responsibility. She has some pretty clever one-liners and insights that made me smile. The author did a nice job of giving Aileen a belieavable voice.

I am a huge fan of mermaid books, but selkies kind of gross me out. I think it's the idea of peeling off skin and leaving it in a heap that makes my stomach churn. Luckily, though, Legasea didn't spend a lot of time focusing on the selkie qualities. Instead, it told a good story-- placing it high up on my list of merbooks. So, if you are like me and you enjoy mermaid/selkie stories, give Legasea a try!


Giveaway + Book Blast: Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy

After great success with the first book in the Jack Templar series, our beloved monster hunter is back!




 
After barely surviving the onslaught of monsters that tried to kill him the day before his fourteenth birthday, Jack Templar leaves his hometown on a quest to rescue his father and discover the truth about his past. Joined by his friends Will and T-Rex, and led by Eva, the mysterious one-handed monster hunter, Jack sets out for the Monster Hunter Academy where he hopes to find answers to his questions. Little does he suspect that the Academy is filled with dangers of its own, many of them more terrifying than anything he’s faced so far.
 

 
You can find more information about Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy on Amazon.
 
The man behind the book: Jeff Gunhus, Author
 
 


Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.
 
 
 
In case you haven't heard of Jack Templar: Monster Hunter, feast your eyes on this...
 


Praise for Book One: Jack Templar Monster Hunter
"Gunhus brings young readers a monster-filled romp to read at their own risk. In the first few pages, Jack, the storyteller and main character, warns readers not to read about these real-world monsters that would seem to only exist in fiction. The tone is set--sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and likable; rooting for Jack is easy...Gunhus masterfully introduces fully realized characters with whom readers can connect almost instantly. The pacing is quick but not rushed, and events seamlessly progress, complete with action, cliff-hangers and surprise reveals. " - Kirkus Reviews "The action starts right from the first chapter and doesn't let up until the book ends. This is the first book in a series, and I look forward to reading the rest of them." -The DMS


"Jeff Gunhus has made a terrific fast paced fantasy. I even wanted to bolt my doors and lock my windows! Five stars for the best book of the year." -Elizabeth A. Bolt

 
"Everything in this book was something a reader could love - action, adventure, mythical creatures, mystery and even a touch of romance. Not bad for fourteen-year-old Jack Templar. There were so many messages to take from this book - messages of love, self-sacrifice, faith and and having the belief that you can be so much more than you are if you just believed. The words poured from the page and I just couldn't help lapping them up." -Sandy @ Magical Manuscripts

 
"This was fun read with non-stop adventure. Reminiscent of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, Gunhus creates an interesting world and characters that are easy to root for. Very good pace, lots of fun and a solid start. Already anticipating the next story!" -M. Profant

Jack Templar Monster Hunter was chosen as a Book of the Year Finalist by Foreword Reviews.




Purchase your copy at Amazon * Barnes & Noble

 
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview with Missy Fleming (Happily Never After)

In case you missed my review of Happily Never After, you can read it HERE. Fire and Ice publishers has the prologue and the first chapter of the book on its site to read for free. Check it out HERE.

Happily Never After is a retelling of Cinderella with a paranormal twist and an incredible setting (hooray for Southern settings).

The author, Missy Fleming, was gracious enough to entertain me by answering a few of my random questions about her book, the writing process, and a truly useless fact.


The book:

1.       I noticed in your author bio that you do not live in Savannah, Georgia. (I was shocked!) Your book, Happily Never After, takes place in this spooky southern town. What made you decide to use Savannah as the setting for your story?

I’ve read a lot about Savannah’s history, even before writing this book, so setting a ghost story there just felt right. I’ve been to New Orleans and in a lot of ways, I imagine Savannah to have a lot in common with it: full of rich history, stories of the paranormal, a haunting atmosphere. Now, I’m even more desperate to go to Savannah, to sit in Moon River Brewery for dinner at their restaurant, to wander the town squares. Maybe this year!

2.       There are many fairytale retellings out there. What made you decide to give this version of Cinderella a paranormal twist?

The story in my head, first and foremost, was going to be just a ghost story but when I sat down and started building Quinn’s back story, I saw a lot of possibilities to compare her to Cinderella, to give it a modern twist. Once we get past the ‘ball’, the similarities stop, but from early on I knew where I wanted to take the series and the ending of this book. With a family life much like the beloved fairy tale, it gave me a lot of room to help Quinn grow as a character.

3.       I was really curious about ‘George’ as I read Happily Never After. Will we see more of his character as the series continues?

Absolutely! I am going to share his story in the next book and he will have more involvement.

The nuts and bolts:

 
4.       What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up. I think that’s the most important. I queried Happily Never After for a year, to agents and publishers, before finally getting lucky. Rejections can be a soul sucking experience, but you can’t let one or two or twenty stop you. All it takes is the right fit, the right person to champion your book.

Also, write for yourself. I went into this whole writing thing years ago knowing that even if I never get published, I’ll still be happy and feel like I accomplished something. I’ll always be proud I’ve managed to complete books. It’s not about making money. It’s about sharing a story that I hope the world will like! That mindset has helped keep me positive.

5.       What is one “mistake” you made and learned from while writing your book?

Trust me, there was more than one. I struggled a lot with pacing. Was I moving too fast? Was I dragging things out that didn’t have to be? I had the tenses all mixed up, writing in both present and past tense. I got stuck in character development. Ironically, the creepy parts were the easiest. This was only my second completed book, my first for YA, and I think it was a huge learning experience considering the genre was new to me. I also learned a story can never be perfect, no matter how many times I try to edit it!
 
Something random:

6.       Would you rather always be looking the wrong way in a photograph or always have a little bit of spinach stuck in your teeth?

I would rather always look the wrong way in a photograph. Who ever looks perfect anyway? At least without air brushing? I am SO easily distracted so it’s not a stretch of the mind to imagine I’d be looking at something else!


Happily Never After is available on Amazon.




Happily Never AfterThere's no such thing as happy endings.

Savannah, Georgia is rumored to be the most haunted place in America. Quinn Roberts knows it is. She's felt the presence of spirits her entire life, investigating and photographing them with her best friend. Only none of those encounters ever turned violent, until now. The menacing darkness feeding off her stepmother has promised she won't live to see her eighteenth birthday.

After a chance meeting Quinn reluctantly allows actor Jason Preston into her life, which has complications of its own. She's not used to letting people get close. Falling for him while fighting for her life, and her family's legacy, only complicates things more. Jason shows her exactly what she stands to lose, especially when she's being attacked by the mysterious entity. Each attack is more violent and terrifying than the last.

With Jason's help, she dives into the Roberts' family history, searching for a link between a woman who went missing a hundred and fifty years ago and what's happening now. What they find is a brutal murder and that the ghost doesn't just want to hurt Quinn, it wants revenge.

It wants her life.

Review: Spellbinding (Maya Gold)

The Deets:
Reading Level: YA
pages: 272
Publisher: April 1st 2013 by Scholastic Point
ISBN: 9780545433808
Source: eARC from Netgalley



SpellbindingThere's more than one way to be powerful . . .

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth.

 

Well, I have to admit this one didn't make much of an impression on me. It had a fairly nice story to pull me along, but beyond that I wasn't feeling much.

Let's start with the plot, shall we? I do love a good Salem witch story. With that said, this was an interesting twist to the age old story. There were witches, but probably not in the way you were expecting. For that, I was grateful.

The stereotypes and plot elements you would expect in a YA novel about Salem were in full force. You had the evil, gorgeous cheerleader type causing havoc for the unnoticed nerd girl with a secret crush on the popular boy. Not a shocker there. Said nerd girl discovers there is something unique about her and she takes full advantage of it. Again, not earth shattering. Now, crazy possessed great aunt was a wrench in the plot. 

Now, the characters were just so-so. I liked Abby well enough, but I think I liked Rem more. He was mysterious and aloof, which kept me very interested. I also liked the shop owner that Abby worked for. She seemed to have an inside scoop on things that were going on, but no ties to the Salem withces. I thought that was a little too easy at times, but I went with it.

So, it was ok. I enjoyed it, but it didn't make a lasting impression. Would a younger reader enjoy it? Probably.     

The Lost Girl read-along: Week 5

Has it been a month already? Whoa. For week 5 we are reading pages 221-293. That'sthe remainder of part 2 in The Lost Girl. If you missed out on last week's discussion, you can view it HERE.


As you read this week, think about this :
  The image of wings keeps popping up as we read. What do the wings symbolize for the characters in the book? Do the paper birds that Eva creates symbolize something different than the wings she creates in Alisha's studio?


For week 6, we will be starting part 3 in The Lost Girl. I will post the discussion questions next Sunday, so check back then to post! Remember, you get 2 entries in the giveaway for every comment you leave on the blog, plus an additional 1 entry for posting on the Facebook page (LINK HERE). So don't be shy! It doesn't matter when you post either, just as long as it's before we finish the book.

Happy reading!

Week 1 discussion questions here.

Week 2 discussion questions here.

Week 3 discussion questions here.

Week 4 discussion questions here.

 

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