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, and she can be contacted through her blog for information about school visits and book sales.

Thursday 18 June 2020

Book Review: "Sally's Birthday Wish" by Ivette Corza

⭐⭐ out of 5

Well, before even opening the book I can already tell that it doesn't meet industry standards 'cos it's 7 pages too long, even for older picture books!  I'm already knocking off a star because of that, so we're at 4 stars before I've even opened it up!

The images are already letting the book down 'cos they are grainy and obviously copied and pasted from images that have been found online... I hope the author has gained permission to use them before publishing this book!

The author is using adult words in a picture book, that would confuse at best and upset at worst!  How many 5 year olds call their soft toys a "stuffed animal"?  That's another star knocked off.

Now the author has used Peter Pan and Wendy in her story... it's highly unlikely that she's gained permission to use those characters in her book!  That definitely calls for the removal of another star 'cos that's breaking an international law!

Just finished the book and there isn't a single word of speech in the entire thing!  There are a few places where it could easily have been speech and therefore more interesting to young listeners.  I'm guessing that the author didn't put her book through any edits, let alone a crit group.  It's hard being told these things so publically, but if a bit more time had gone into it then it might have had a higher star rating.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Book Review: "Science meet God: An Element is Born" by Tabitha Womack

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

Just from looking at the cover, I'm seriously hoping this isn't a horror type book 'cos they give me nightmares for ages afterwards and I'm 42 instead of a teen❗❗

Oookaaaay❓  Why has it got a character page... surely I should be able to make up my own mind about the characters... why does each character's relationship need to be explained before we even get to the first page of the book❓  Are the relationships really so confuzzled from the outset❓  Why couldn't the author have used her world-building to incorporate them into the actual novel❓

The next page is a Lakota dictionary and we haven't even got to the first chapter yet❗❗

Now a Spanish dictionary too... 8 pages into a novella and I haven't even got to the first chapter yet❗

At last!  Chapter 1 and we can finally get going❗

It's good so far, but what is a punny❓  Is it American slang or has the author created a word because the novella is set in the future❓

There have been a few grammar errors that should have easily been picked up during editing and definitely before publication... things like a full stop being on a new line and then the next letter not being capitalised which I let slip through 'cos we're all human, but not closing the speechmarks should have been picked up a loooong time before publication❗

Not sure that I'd want a 13 year old reading swearing like there has been in chapter 1 and in the first paragraph of chapter 2 as well.

Another spelling mistake that should have been picked up in the first edit of the manuscript.

Another swear - not good at all❗

More grammar problems... this is really starting to spoil a potentially decent story now❗

Another chunk that could have done with better editing... this is starting to frustrate me now  😞

There's two lots of chapter 5... either this book wasn't edited at all or the author/editor just said they'd edited without even opening up the document.  There have been too many errors to receive the full 5 stars unfortunately, so we're currently down to four.

This is a really good book, but there are far too many basic errors throughout it - misplaced speechmarks now❗

Oh❗  The book finished just as it got going❗  That's pretty frustrating... if the author had kept writing, it could have been a fantastic novel for young adults as opposed to a good novella in need of editing❗