Category Archives: Book Reviews

Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room – #Safety Miriam Hurdle, #Malta Darlene Foster, #Environment Kathleen Jae

I’m over at Sally’s blog in the Children’s Reading Room. Please head over to read the updates. It’s a wonderful place to meet children’s book authors and find out more about their delightful children’s and YA books.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Reading Room update with reviews for books on the shelves for children up to the age of twelve.

The first author with a review is Miriam Hurdle for her first children’s book Tina Lost in a Crowd t

About the book

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults…

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Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam Hurdle: A Children’s Book.

I’m over at Claire Fullerton’s blog. She is featuring Tina Lost in a Crowd with her delightful and insightful review. She also included Carla’s review from Carla Loves to Read. Please head over to visit her. While there, browse around to learn more about her many awarding-winning books

Claire Fullerton Author

Book Description:

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children about the situations to help them develop problem-solving skills.

My review of this delightful children’s book:

Third grader, Tina Tyler, looks forward to summer. It is the last day of classes, and she has had such a great school year that…

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Saturday Morning for Kids: Tina Lost in a Crowd #BookReview @mhurdle112

I’m over at Carla’s blog “Carla Loves to Read.” She read Tina Lost in a Crowd to her grandchildren and reviewed the book. Please head over to read this review and other information about books and reviews on her lovely blog.

Carla Loves To Read

This meme was started by Rae Longest at Powerful Women Readers. As I am a grandmother, who loves to read to her grandchildren, a mother who loved to read to and with her children, and a retired teacher librarian, this meme really attracted me. If you love children’s books, or have a favourite from your childhood, join us in introducing them to a new generation of readers.


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Amanda in Malta by Darlene Foster – New Release Tour

I’m excited to have Darlene Foster on my blog to share with you about her new release Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8). When Amanda turned twelve, she made a wish as she blew the birthday cake candles. Here she is with her wishes come true – traveling all over the world.

I was curious about writing the Amanda series, so I asked Darlene to share with you her experience.

Is it difficult to write a series?

Writing a series can be fun. I love getting to know the main characters, Amanda Ross and her friend Leah Anderson. But I worry that the stories might get too predictable. I know my readers expect some things to be familiar, but each book needs to come with something new to keep it fresh and entertaining.

Coming up with new settings is easy for me as I love to travel. I often travel with an Amanda adventure in mind, taking tons of notes and pictures to be referred to later when writing the story. Coming up with a storyline that is original and exciting is not always easy.

A few things that have helped me get new ideas:

● Hanging out with young people to learn what they get excited about. I get many of my ideas from young people.

● Watching TV shows and movies that feature kids, but not necessarily kids’ shows. I once got a great idea while watching Midsommer Murders!

● Reading lots of books in a variety of genres including the classics as well as recently published novels, both adult and children´s books.

● Reading newspapers and magazine articles. I clip and save interesting and bizarre stories and go through the stack of clippings once in a while. There is usually something that will pop out and generate a new idea or two.

● Listening to conversations in coffee shops, on the bus, on the street, on the beach – wherever. Conversations between adults, kids, or teenagers can inspire excellent ideas. I have become great at eavesdropping.

● Asking “what if” often. What if Amanda did something she knew she shouldn’t? What if a character said something they wouldn’t normally say?  What if she walked down that alley? What if…?. Sometimes a character has to do something out of character to keep it interesting.

● Making sure every book tackles at least one new problem or issue.

● Introducing intriguing new characters in each book. Even minor characters can create interest and keep the series from getting stale.

● Bringing back a character from a previous book. I introduced Caleb, Amanda´s classmate, in the New Mexico book. He was so popular that he has returned in the Malta book.

● Being consistent in the details can be a challenge. A good memory helps, as do notes. I had Amanda wearing glasses in the first book and I don’t think I mentioned them in the next two! I have a list of all the characters names to be sure I don´t accidentally change any.

My Review

The twelve-year-old Amanda is a world traveler who visited an exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean. It came as a surprise when she received a postcard from her best friend Leah asking her to come to Malta, hinting there was something wrong. She did not know how to get to Malta from Canada. Her friend Caleb and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sorensen, were going on a vacation in Malta and would like Amanda to come along.

After arriving in Malta, Amanda went to find the house according to the address from the postcard but was told Leah was not there. It was like in some detective story that a mystery boy slipped a piece of paper written with lipsticks into her pocket, urged her to try again. It turned out that Leah asked this boy, Max, to connect with Leah to meet at St. Lucian Tower. The Sorensens wanted to go to a museum. While they toured the cave, Amanda went to the Tower and saw Leah. Leah revealed that the people in the house where they stayed wanted her aunt to steal an ancient figurine of Sleeping Lady.

I find that Darlene’s book is educational for middle schoolers and adults. I followed the tour along and learned many interesting facts about this island.

· Ghar Dalam means ‘cave of darkness’ and It is over 500,000 years old. It holds evidence of the first humans on the island, such as Neanderthal teeth, from 7,400 years ago.

· The Falconry Center has many rescued birds. Maltese falcon is called the peregrine falcon, known for its speed, it can reach over 320 kilometers per hour or 200 miles per hour.

· the Knights of St. John built The St. John Cathedral in 1572. As each knight gained wealth, he and his family donated art and decorations. The inlaid marble graves showed many knights were buried here.

· The 1980 Robert Williams’ Popeye movie was filmed in Malta.

Amanda’s crime adventure weaved through the sightseeing and the historical facts made this reading interesting and enjoyable. I highly recommend this book.

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8) by [Darlene Foster]

The Blurb:

 Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.


Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colorful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.

Be sure to read all the books in this exciting Amanda Travels series!
1. Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask
2. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting
3. Amanda in England: The Missing Novel
4. Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone
5. Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
6. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind
7. Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action
8. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

The buy links

Amazon Canada here  

Amazon UK here   

Amazon US here 

Barnes and Noble here 

Chapters/Indigo here  

About the Author

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. Over the years she worked in rewarding jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, writing whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Contact the Author at:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter

Twitter https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Blog https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

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Thank you for reading this post. We love to hear about your thoughts.

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National Poetry Month – Songs of Heartstrings by Miriam Hurdle #BookReview @mhurdle112

I’m over at Carla’s blog of Carla Loves to Read. She read my poetry collection and posted a wonderful review. Carla and I have teaching and school administration in common. She is a retired elementary school principal/teacher/teacher-librarian. She blogs about book reviews, reading challenges, adults’ and children’s books, and a lot more. Please head over to read her post and browse around her beautiful blog with different features.

Carla Loves To Read

I took several weeks to enjoy this book of poems. I enjoyed them and wanted time to ponder them, not rush through them. Miriam Hurdle is a blogger I follow who shares wonderful photographs, poetry and snapshots into her life among other things. I enjoy her blog and wanted to read her book. I was not disappointed.

Songs of Heartstrings byMiriam Hurdle

Published October 31st 2018 by KDP

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Smorgasbord #Children’s Reading Room – Book #Review – Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam H. Hurdle

I’m excited that Sally Cronin features Tina Lost in a Crowd in her Children’s Reading Room with a fabulous review. Please head over to visit this post. While you’re there, browse around her other magazine features on nutrition, music, humor and a lot more.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Miriam Hurdlehas been on the shelves of the main Cafe and Bookstore for some years but now adds her new book Tina Lost in a Crowd to the shelves of the Children’s Reading Room.

About the book

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children…

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April Children’s Book Reviews @BookTrib

I became a member of the BookTrib Children’s Book Network beginning this year. Each month the members receive a “Booster Box” with several children’s books to read and share on the social media network. I received my first package of books in March, and read then posted reviews on Amazon and Twitter.

Where, Oh Where, Is Barnaby Bear? by Wendy Rouillard

This board book has beautiful and colorful illustrations. The bright and definite contrasting colors are appealing to the toddlers. The sentences are from three to ten words, easy for the little ones to follow along.

Barnaby’s friends were searching for him while he is on an adventure. They wonder if he is in a balloon or has flown to the moon, is he down by the sea, or has gone out to tea. At the end, they found him in his cozy bed with his sleepy head.

The toddlers would love the rhymes and would read along with the adults.

Amazon Twitter

The Colorless Chameleon | A Picture Book For Young Readers 4-8 | Can Chameleon Find Her Voice and Stand Up for What She Wants? | Kids Relate to Her Desire to be Heard and Understood by [Hayley Irvin, Rachel Bostick, Cassidy Reynolds, Samantha   Jo Phan]

The Colorless Chameleon by Hayley Irvin

Chameleon was a colorful lizard. She greeted her jungle friends with her vibrant colors. One day, the animals were preparing a party, her friends liked her colors and wanted to have them. The elephant took her blue before she agreed to it; the lemur took her red, and the crocodile took her yellow. Before long, she h.ad no colors left and no way to express herself. When her thoughtful friend flamingo asked how she was doing, she had no voice because her colors were gone with the colors. Flamingo asked if she were going to the party, she finally could shout, “No.” After they talked, Chameleon went to her friends who took her colors and asked them to return the colors to her. They were not happy about it but agreed to do so. Chameleon was her happy self again.

This hardcover book has beautiful illustrations with eye pleasing colors. It’s a delightful book for young children to read and learn to stand up for themselves.

Amazon Twitter

The Tale of Ferdinand Frog by [Mark Hughes]

The Tale of Ferdinand Frog by Mark Hughes

This book has three parts, The Problem, The Quest, and The Answer. The length and the word count of the book appear to be a chapter book.

The story is about Ferdinand Frog who was in love with Felicity Fogmore-Frog. Ferdinand’s friend, Wrinkleskin Rat, came to tell him that the evil snake, Samuel, wanted to win Felicity’s heart even though Felicity’s parents disliked Samuel the snake. Wrinkleskin Rat suggested seeing the wisdom and help from Osmiroid Owl. Two of them traveled miles deep into the wood and got frightened. They were rescued by Endroglen Eagle. They finally met Osmiroid Owl, who advised Ferdinand that with love, he could overcome the evil of the snake.

The text and the gorgeous illustrations are on the alternate pages. The lovely rhyming words read like poetry and song lyrics.

Amazon Twitter

Banana Fun Bread by [LEAR RIOJAS Illustrations by Chrissie Vales, Chrissie Vales]

Banana Fun Bread by LEAR RIOJAS Illustrations by Chrissie Vales

Banana Fun Bread is about a little boy, Fred chasing his imaginary banana bread everywhere. The rhyming words would appeal to little ones from baby to toddler. Sentences are easy for these kids to understand, such as:

“One loaf, two loaf, come back three, why do you run away from me?

Who, who, who are you? Don’t you know it’s too late for you?”

The illustrations are in pastel colors with cute expressions.

Amazon Twitter

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If you’re interested in receiving free children’s book, please check out the website BookTrib Children’s Book Network for more information.

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Magical Whispers by Balroop Singh – A Book Review

April is National Poetry Month. It is my pleasure to review Magical Whispers by Balroop Singh, a talented fellow poet.

Magical Whispers: Poetry by [Balroop Singh]

Blurb

I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.
‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.

In this book, my poems focus on the whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.
Each day reminds us
It’s the symphony of surroundings
That whispers life into us.

My Review

Magical Whispers is an aesthetic poetry collection. Ms. Singh weaves the softest whispers of her words into dreamy tranquility. The poems in the first section Magical Whispers reflect on the nature that evokes the heart, the mind, and the senses. Many poems have the subject of water such as the lake, the waves, the pool, the stream, and the waterfalls that convey a soothing sensation. The poems in the second section Whispers of Life reflect on the self, the love, the heartache, the hopes, dreams, fears, and the memories. Ms. Singh submerges herself in nature and sees the beauty beyond appearance. She ponders upon the hidden treasures and finds hope in the puzzle of life. The poems are inspiring to many poetry lovers.

My favorite two stanzas in “Dwindling Pool”are:

When did the magic fade?

Did it vanish with the pool fairy?

Or apathy and human avarice

Devour its exquisite grandeur?

Depleted oasis ebbing away

Reflections gather to ponder

 Confabulations grow grim

Shimmer of sun waning at the horizon

My favorite stanza in “An Escape” is:

She woke up with a fright

Shuddered at the light

That filtered through the leaves

Offering a velvety delight.

My Amazon and Goodreads Rating: 5.0 out of 5 stars

An image posted by the author.

About Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh, an educationalist, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will! The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in San Ramon California.

Website: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340810.Balroop_Singh

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BalroopShado

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/balroop.singh1

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BOOK REVIEW OF Allies and Spies BY DIANA WALLACE PEACH

My Review of Allies and Spies by Diana Wallace Peach.

In Allies and Spies, all the roller coaster, chaos one after another kept me chasing the chapters. Even though this time I didn’t stay up for two night to finish the book, my husband said, “I’ll go upstairs to wait for you” on two of the three nights when I read the book.

My Review

In Liars and Thieves, Diana W. Peach built a fascinated world of three races, the Goblins, Elves, and Changelings, each wanted more crystals for power and daily life. I found Naj the goblin, Alue the elf, and Talin the changeling, represented the races, had likable personalities. In Allies and Spies, they revealed their hidden characteristics.

When the three were caught by the goblin elders, instead of execution, they were bonded by the oath for a mission to unlock the mystery of the quake that swallowed lives with no remains. 

There more pressing matter at hand was to pay a blood debt to the Changeling Queen Arianna when a changeling was killed by them. After they stole the crystals, Talin volunteered to take them to Arianna to pay the debt only to lose them to theft while he went gambling.

Peach created one climax after another to keep the reader’s heart pounding and relaxed the reader with a little break in between (I loved it).

The three blamed each other’s authority for the destruction. In the meantime, chaos happened everywhere. Naj’s wife was swallowed on the road to Jad’ra. The entire village disappeared. The elves lost the entire row of shops. When the tavern collapsed into an old city underground, Talin was buried with it. I couldn’t help but wished none of these characters vanished. They reunited long enough for me to take a deep breath before the next disaster happened.

There were a few hints behind the scenes enough to have the readers guess who might be in control, or designed the destruction, or suspect the changelings shifted to the other kind to influence the decisions. The guesses were not conclusive.

Naj, Alue, and Talin had their moments of distrust toward each other and the danger of losing their lives. They made mistakes and had doubts about themselves. In the priestess, Saira’s word to Alue, “Each life’s path is littered with mistakes, but even mistakes are useful. Step by step, they will deliver you closer to the truth.”

Peach concluded Allies and Spies with the three characters becoming stronger in their skills and a firmer commitment to bind as one to find the truth. I look forward to reading the Lords of Chaos.

I highly recommend this series.

My Amazon and Goodreads Ratings

Author the Author

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Author Links:

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

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My Review of Eternal Road: The Final Stop by John W. Howell

I followed John Howell’s book launch tour and hosted a tour for his latest book Eternal Road: The Final Stop. I read all the excerpts presented on the tour. They grabbed my interest. I wanted to read the rest of the book and I did. I love to read or watch movies of time-travel stories. John’s book was a delight.

Eternal Road: The final stop by [John W. Howell]

My Review

Mr. John Howell began the book with the scene of Sam being killed, but her body was not found. It grabbed my attention right away. James picked up a hitchhiker, Sam, who turned out to be his grade school friend missing 17 years ago. During their conversation, James realized he was dead when his car crashed while falling asleep driving.

Sam received the assignment to take James on an eternal road to his final destiny. They had a time-travel ability by closing their eyes to focus on a time and location, and it would transport them in just seconds. Sam knew all the places they traveled, O.K. Corral Gunfight site in Tombstone, Arizona, and Alamo in San Antonio, Texas because she studied history for seventeen years while waiting for James to arrive from the other side of the world. They had fun communicating with people in the 1800s of the different terminology and technology over time.

Sam and James seemed to pick up their childhood affection where they left off, and the care for each other grew. Along the journey, Sam visited her parents to let them know she was fine and that they would reunite with her one day. James also played a visit to his mom and stepfather to let them know he was dead, but he was fine. One last person Sam faced was her murderer. It was a relief to know her killer got what he deserved.

There were decisions to make before James reached his eternal home. I also wanted to find out the relationship between the two. The ending came as a surprise. Mr. John Howell created many scenarios and evoked thoughts and emotions. I highly recommend Eternal Road: The Final Stop to all readers.

My Ratings of 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads.

About the Author

John’s bio

John is an award-winning author who, after an extensive business career, began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written five other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. The paperback versions are also available in the Indie Lector store

John lives in Lakeway, Texas, with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Contact John

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

John’s other books

My GRL,

His Revenge

Our Justice

Circumstances of Childhood

The Contract: between heaven and earth 

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