Monday, 3 August 2020

Book Review: "In Power And Knowledge" by Joe Lemaiyan

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

OK, first off, this isn't a novel 'cos it's only got 73 pages and the author says it's for Young Adults, so it's less than a quarter of the length of a fantasy novel, so I'm guessing it was self-published.  It also says that it's Book 1 so I'm thinking it would have been better to put the other books together with this one to make it into a longer piece of fiction instead of multiple shorter novellas.

Just finished chapter 1 and there wasn't a single word of speech throughout it.  If it's the same in chapter 2 then I'll be reluctantly knocking a star off.

Yay, we have a sentence of speech, so the book is keeping its five stars so far!

We're back to no speech again now... it's a very 'telling' and very little 'showing' book unfortunately.  If chapter 4 has such a small amount of speech then the star is still coming off... four stars is better than a single star though  ;-)

Chapter 4 has a small amount of speech, so maybe the author is only putting it in every other chapter for some reason?

Each chapter is incredibly short... usually only a couple of pages long - that's not industry standard for a YA novel either!

There's been a small smattering of speech, but nowhere near enough so the first star is coming off, unfortunately.

Oh!  The book finished just as it was getting going!  It's been a good read, just needs to be a lot longer and with oneheckuva lot more speech - if it had both those things it would have been a well-deserved five stars from me!

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Book Review: "Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten" by Laura Purdie Salas


⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

The author has tried her best, but she's used language that would confuse a young child and might even make them feel worse.  The only redeeming feature is the illustrations!

You will need to help the child understand every page, unfortunately.  It has potential, but right now it's very much a disappointment.


Monday, 27 July 2020

Do I dare to get hopeful?

I sent out several manuscripts for a writing competition back at the end of April.

I haven't been rejected yet.

I also sent out a submission to an open submission window in May and people have been getting rejected for that over the last week or so.

Not me though.

Dare I get hopeful that I've maybe made it through to the next round❓  That the open submission one will request a full manuscript and that the writing competition will consider me for the anthology❓  That maybe, just maybe, my writing and editing is good enough for serious consideration now, rather than be immediately rejected❓

I've come a loooong way... so do I dare to allow myself to dream of at least getting to the full request again❓❓

Please keep those fingers crossed 🤞 for me that things finally work in my favour.  I'm not gonna publish the names of either the writing competition or the publisher with the open submission window until they are finalised and the sucessful authors have been announced.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Book Review: Bea's Thanksgiving by A. White

⭐ out of 5

OK, before I even open the book I'm confused about two things - firstly why the editor is credited and secondly why there's such a huuuuge age range... 10-18 years old covers at least two age ranges of book - Middle Grade for the 10-12 year olds and Young Adult for the 13-18 year olds.  I'm also guessing that the book is either written in or set in America as British kids would barely have a clue Thanksgiving even existed, let alone why it is a holiday in America!

In under 10 pages I'm thinking it should be Young Adult because of several word choices that a 10 year old would never understand but the main character seems to be a lot younger than a teen, so maybe that's why the author gave such a huge age range for the target audience?  IMO it should either have easier words and be aimed at the younger end of the target audience or keep the words but significantly mature the main character.

The main character is 8-10 years old, so it's younger even than middle grade 'cos children prefer their characters to be a couple of years older than them, so it should be an early chapter book for 8-10 year olds, maximum... there's no way an 18 year old would read a book with a main character who is a decade *younger* than them!!

The end of page 11 and not a single word of speech so far... a child would definitely have stopped reading the book and closed it up, never to pick it up again by now, so the combination of all these things means the book already loses a star.

Sixteen pages into the book and there have been three thoughts but still no actual speech. It would be so easy to do with a bit of minor editing, but the author obviously decided against it, unfortunately.

A huge knocking off of a star because of the swearing!  Do you really want a 10 year old to ask how you pronounce and what a b***ard (my own stars in place of the full swear word in the book) is?

Finally!  Page 17 and we've finally got a small amount of speech!

Another swear word... f**k this time.  That's another star gone and we're not even through the first chapter yet!  If it was aimed at Young Adults then I would maybe have let them slip through, but there could be 10 year olds reading it and there's no way I would want them reading swearing like that in a book!

F**k has just been repeated in less than a paragraph.  If there's one more swear word then I'm stopping reading the book.

Three times in a paragraph.  That's it, the book is losing the final star and I'm not reading any more... I haven't got a clue how the book was published for such a huge age range and without even lesser swear words used.  The rest of the book may be better, but I'm stopping reading now and giving it a single star because I can't publish a review without a star rating.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Book review: "Kat and Juju" by Kataneh Vahdani

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

Immediate thoughts on the cover, really cute and deserves the five stars that every book I review starts off with, so far... I wonder if the author is also the illustrator though?

Lets get the book opened  ;-)

Oooh!  It *is* illustrated by the author, which is even better!

This is a great book... still a very well-deserved 5 stars and I'm already tempted to buy the hardcover version for one of my nephews!

The author has really got inside the head of young children who feel left outside of the popular crowd at playgroup/nursery/primary school and this is still a five star book, half way through... I've usually found something negative in a book by now, but this book is proving me wrong this time!

What a perfect ending, nothing negative or critical to say at all!  A very well deserved five stars and I'm gonna go and buy it for my nephew now... a must buy for any parent or carer or even childcare place with a child (or even several children) who feels very lost and alone and seems to be a lonely outsider!

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Book Review: "Sneasy the Greasy Babysits Abigail" by Michelle Birdsong and Robin Birdsong

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a good book, but it doesn't come anywhere near meeting industry standards as far as pages (it's got 16 pages but the industry standard is 28 or 32 pages, so it doesn't come even close to it).  The story is kinda rhymey but only on certain lines, and would be much better as either everything rhyming or no rhymes at all, not both at the same time.  Those two reasons are why I'm knocking off a star.  The illustrations are funny and so appropriate to a child's sense of humour, and I have no doubt they would enjoy it when it's read to them.  I'm just wondering about the pronounciation of "Sneasy" though... is it "Sneezy" or does it rhymn with grease or is it something else entirely?

Overall, a good book that will really appeal to young listeners who are reluctant to get clean after playing in the mud or who don't like having their hair washed or whatever.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Guest blog post from Catherine Rosevear

Many thanks to Amanda, for letting me write a guest blog post!

I’ve been writing for children for about five years now. I’d wanted to for many years before that, but I never had the time – or I thought I didn’t. Looking back, I think that I just needed to make a start, because once I got started, I felt motivated to continue, even when time was short.

Ever since I was really small, I’ve always loved reading. As a child, my favourite books were the Paddington books by Michael Bond, which really inspired me to be a reader and – later on – a writer.

When I first started writing I bought a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook, and as soon as my first chapter book, ‘The Secret of the Wooden Chest’, was complete, I went through the yearbook and looked at the lists of agents, trying to decide who seemed like the best fit for my book. I sent it out to a few agents before I realised that it probably needed editing, and so I used Cornerstones Literary to help me with a copy edit. But I still wasn’t successful in finding an agent who was interested and so, eventually, I decided to self-publish it with Matador (the self-publishing imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd).

Matador advised me to get a cover illustration ready and so, after yet more googling online, I turned to Ian R Ward, who produced a beautiful cover illustration for my first book.

The Secret of theWooden Chest’ came out with Matador in 2017, followed in 2018 by the second book in my chapter book series, ‘Mystical Moonlight’.

Since then I’ve been doing school visits with these two books, and also continuing with new writing projects. Currently I’m working on a Middle Grade book for slightly older children.

One thing I really love about taking my self-published books into schools is the enthusiasm of the children I meet, who are usually not only really keen on reading, but also exciting about writing. For this reason, I sometimes suggest a writing competition for the classes I visit. I then go back to the school a couple of weeks later to collect the children’s stories and take them home to read. Their imagination and powerful storytelling never cease to amaze me!

Since self-publishing, I’ve joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and have attended several of their workshops, which has really helped me to develop my skills. Last year I even attended their UK conference for the first time, where a whole weekend’s worth of workshops and talks inspired me with further ideas. One of the best things I leaned at the conference, was that a writer should spend a big chunk of their time reading – both inside and outside the genre they write in – so that they can learn from other writers. I’ve always loved spending a lot of time reading, but now, as well as reading for relaxation, I feel that I can justify spending even more time reading, and I consider it to be part of the work of learning to be a writer!

So, whether you’re a reader or a writer – or both – keep reading!





Catherine Rosevear lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband, two children and a very opinionated Tibetan Terrier. She has self-published two children’s chapter books – ‘The Secret of the Wooden Chest’ (Matador, 2017) and Mystical Moonlight’ (Matador, 2018), both of which follow the adventures of a girl called Hannah who is able to use magic to get in touch with a girl from ancient Roman times! She also writes a regular blog at catherinerosevear.wordpress.com, and she can be contacted through her blog for information about school visits and book sales.