What’s In A Name Challenge: The Boy Who Lost His Face…

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Afternoon all! All this thinking about the Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge that I will be hosting in 2014 (do join us, won’t you?), reminded me in rather abrupt fashion that I haven’t actually finished the What’s In A Name Reading Challenge that I started this year…oops.

WIN6 Beth Fish Reads reading challenge

A quick health check noted that I only have three books to go, and while scrabbling around for a replacement book in the Lost/Found category, I happened upon a book on my to-read pile that fit the bill perfectly: The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar.

Taken from: the Non-Christie Listie as a late replacement

Category: Six– a book with Lost or Found or the equivalent in the title

In an attempt to fit in with the cool crowd, David helps to steal an old lady’s cane, humiliating her in the process.  The old lady curses David and over the next weeks, all the things that the boys did to the old lady start happening to David.  David must find a way to break the curse or forever live in fear of breaking bottles full of liquid, falling out of his chair and having his pants fall down.

boy who lost his face

The Book’s Point of Difference

Well. I’m not sure. It’s pretty standard middle grade fare.  Possibly the fact that there is an inordinate amount of swearing, and many references to the Three Stooges.

The Pros:

– David is a very ordinary kid and therefore very relatable.  He’s obviously trying to do the right thing, but fate seems to have other plans.  The banter between David and his small new posse of friends is quite funny at times, also.

– There is a sweet little romance plotline that develops nicely as the book goes on.  Nothing too sappy and nothing too overdone, but it adds another dimension to the story.

– This one reminded me a lot of middle grade books from the late 80s and 90s.  All the angst of early puberty is being played out here in a very safe way, and therefore this book will have great appeal to its target audience.

The Cons:

– As I said, there is a LOT of swearing for a middle grade book.  Nothing too extreme, but it is quite frequent.  As an adult reading this, it didn’t bother me in the slightest, but it may upset parents/delight the target audience…you’ve been warned.

Overall, this is another good read from Sachar, with all the humour and oddness that fans would have come to expect.  Certainly the themes of honesty and being one’s self aren’t rammed home too hard and there is plenty here to keep the younger readers engaged.

…On that note, if you’re looking for a readers challenge for 2014, why not check out the Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge?  Click on the button below for more details -we’d love to have you aboard!

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Until next time,

Bruce

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Fi50 November Challenge: Past Regrets…

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Get ready, Get set, and…GO get your Fi50 attempts and link them up here! That’s right, our IT department (comprising an ornamental frog by the name of Ernest who hangs out between the illustrated hardback versions of The Lord of The Rings trilogy) has finally figured out how to embed a linky widget. You’re welcome!

fiction in 50

To play along, simply create a piece of fiction in 50 words or less based on the monthly prompt, post it, and link it up to the linky within this post or in the comments section.

This month’s prompt is….

past regrets button

I have titled my entry this month:

Apocalypse (is just so) Now!

They warned  us.

Don’t be caught unprepared

Now I’m stuck until the limbs fall off the lumbering beast that is undeath, without the essentials to make it worth un-living.

No brain-slicing attachment for the sushi roller.  No ergonomic, organic, merino lamb’s wool zom-baby sling.

Hipsterism – the zombie apocalypse’s sole survivor.

If you want to play along, or read other participants’ efforts, click on this here link to be taken to the linky:

Next month will be our last challenge in the current list of prompts, so if you have any suggestions for monthly prompts for 2014, please feel free to suggest them – I’ll post an updated list of prompts in early January so you’ll have plenty of time to prepare.  In the meantime, next month’s prompt is…

reflections button

I look forward to reading your mini-tomes!

Until next time,

Bruce


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Heads Up: Fiction in 50 November Challenge…

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Very soon it will be time once again to get your flash fiction on! On Monday we’ll be kicking off the November round of Fiction in 50.

fiction in 50

 

This month’s Fi50 is based around the prompt:

past regrets button

All you have to do is create a piece of fiction in 50 words or less, then come back and link up your post so we can all hop around and enjoy some very brief moments of reading bliss.

Click on the button for detailed information on participating!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Haiku Review and Giveaway: The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets…

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Welcome, one and all, to my stop on the Stanley and Katrina Book Blast Tour for their fantabulous book The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets!  You can get all the info about the book and giveaway below.
TPPotPoP as I like to call it, is an insightful and sometimes scandalous peek into the secret lives of two pets, the next door neighbour’s guinea pig and an inquisitive bird.  The book is made up of the private correspondence of Stanley (dog) and Katrina (upwardly mobile feline) as they tussle over the various issues that arise between all cohabiting couples.  The illustrations perfectly complement the light tone of the booK. This is sure to be a winner with all those who can’t resist a book pawthored by animals!
Curt correspondence
betwixt canine and feline
Guess who gets their way?
Might I suggest that this would also makes good present for some of the middle grade mini-fleshlings of your acquaintance?
Until next time,
Bruce

Celebrating 

Stanley and Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge are celebrating their one year blogiversary (click here to read their inaugural post) by hosting their very own “Book Blasty Tour”. Thank you for taking the time to visit this special stop along their tour. 


About the Book

Title: The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets

Authors: Stanley & Katrina, Pet Authors

Illustrator: Miro Chun

Year published:  2012

Updates: This book was updated in September of 2013 with a new cover, interior illustrations, and a sneak peek of book #2 in the series.

Publisher: CreateSpace

Number of pages: 106

Recommended ages: 5+ 

Summary (Amazon): After three years of living under the same roof as the dog in the house, Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge decides to write a letter to her canine housemate, Stanley. Katrina loves treats, naps and bossing the dog around. Stanley loves snow, attention and turkey. The diva kitty, Katrina, will have none of Stanley’s antics and most certainly will not stand for him eating her food. The only reasonable solution is to take him to Kitty Court.

Amazon U.S. * Amazon U.K. * Amazon Canada 

 Barnes & Noble *  Leanpub(digital formats) 


The Buzz

“The book is really humorous. It is unique in a manner where you see the cat and dog communicating with each other about themselves, their likes, and dislikes in a letter form. The narrator’s tidbits add to the charm of the book. The contrasting characters and their individual personalities have been etched well. The author has put the perspective of the pets in the forefront and written a unique and excellent book for children.” ~ Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite


We enjoyed this book tremendously! It charmed us, made us laugh, and kept us wanting to read more. A tip of the hat to the pair of pets whose rivalry leads the story along its delightful course.~ Amazon Reviewer


About the Authors: Stanley & Katrina

Stanley is a three-year-old black Labrador/Rottweiler mix who does his best to ignore Katrina.
Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge is an eight-year-old grey tabby cat who loves her toy mouse.
They would love to tell you where they live but all they know is that they live in a tan house. For more information about Stanley & Katrina, please visit their website, www.StanleyAndKatrina.com.

* Free Printables For This Book! *

Kid Lit Printables has created fun and FREE printables for The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets. Click here to view all available printables, now. 


Stanley & Katrina’s 

Book Blasty Tour Stops(2013)

November 8


* $25 Book Blasty Tour Giveaway *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs:November 8  to November 30, 11:59 pm, 2013 
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget above or by clicking here.
Terms and Conditions: A randomly drawn winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or any other entity unless otherwise specified. If you have any additional questions, feel free to send us an email at stanleyandkatrina (at) gmail (dot) com.
* This giveaway is sponsored by the authors, Stanley & Katrina. *

Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse….Read it if….

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Afternoon friends and hangers-on! Today’s offering is a little bit different to my usual fare – a concise non-fiction book for the young adult crowd.  Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse by Jolene Stockman is a short motivational book dealing with those tricky issues of adolescence (and let’s face it, beyond), identity and personal power.  I was drawn in by another blogger tipping us off about copies for review, and was promptly and enthusiastically rewarded by Ms Stockman herself speedily supplying me with an e-copy.  And so, to my end of the bargain – an honest review!

Stockman is a clever little Kiwi cookie as evidenced by her bio:

bio1 Jolene is an award winning writer, speaker, and an expert for Girlfriend Magazine Australia. She is a Master of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and one of the youngest in the world to achieve the Distinguished Toastmaster Award. Jolene is the author of Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse, The Jelly Bean Crisis, and Total Blueprint for World Domination. She lives in New Zealand and is currently workingon two new books. Learn more at www.jolenestockman.com ”"

I must admit I was a little intimidated in launching into Jawbreaker, but I was happily reassured after the first page or two that I was in safe hands for my journey into the oft-tangled thicket of personal insight.  I was also afraid that the motivational speaker-ese language of the introductory chapter would continue throughout the book, triggering my jump onto the first step of an escalator spiralling downward toward my own personal hell.  But it didn’t! Huzzah! Instead, I was treated to a highly readable and actually motivating tome that provided food for thought and practical suggestions across a range of personal circumstances, as opposed  to the many faux-motivational tomes out there  that are thinly veiled attempts to make you purchase the author’s DVD collection, week-to-a-view illustrated diary, essential oils travel kit and line of motivational lingerie.

Essentially, the book hinges around the analogy of the Jawbreaker – the idea that we all have a unique, special centre that is the essence of who we are, and that around this centre, by chance, habit or design, we build layers that become our identity.

3Djawbreaker

Read it if:

* you much prefer your many-layered, multi-faceted personality to be represented metaphorically as a tantalising, colourful, mouth-watering Jawbreaker, rather than a stinky, tear-duct burning, halitosis-inducing onion

*you are, or ever were, a young person who suspects that one’s position in the schoolyard social hierarchy will have little to no bearing on your life once you pass through the school gate for the final time

*you like your self-help to be palatable, easily digestible within one sitting and with a side order of sass

One of the great strengths of this book is the concise format – it really can be read in one sitting.  It is also divided into handy little chapters for those with short attention spans, or for those who are looking for an encouraging word in a particular area.  Another helpful thing about the book is the practical exercises that are offered with various topics – these are simple, quick activities that illustrate the points being made and allow the reader to apply the information as superficially or deeply as they wish.

For example, Stockman discusses “anchoring” positive emotions to particular objects, places, or smells as a means of easily recalling those emotions when you need a boost.  I found this a particularly helpful tip and immediately got down to some practice:

imageHere I am anchoring the feeling of comfort and calm to a beanie that Mad Martha kindly made for me. Now whenever I feel a bit out of sorts, I can don my beanie and immediately benefit from its association with positive feelings of peace.  Thanks, Ms Stockman!

Another concept discussed in the book is the idea of a personal Fuse, or the knowledge of a particular activity or pursuit that really speaks to your passions and connects you to that part of your identity that is most important and essential to who you are.  Again, the shelf denizens found this intriguing and began reflecting on the activities that light their own fuses….

mad martha crochet

Take Mad Martha for instance, who is particularly enamoured with the art of crochet.  Here she is making Christmas stockings for the mini-fleshlings in the dwelling.  See how she glows with happiness at the ability to express love and warm regard through the medium of yarn.  Clearly, this is her Fuse!

The whole book is chock-full of little snuggets of useful information, like those that got the shelf-denizens so worked up.  Really, this book would make a fantastic graduation present for older teens as they prepare to venture out into the world of “being a grown-up”.  Alternatively, I think there’s a lot here that would excite those in their early teens who have a certain level of personal insight and could benefit from a guiding hand in the form of some encouraging and challenging home truths.  And as evidenced by our enthusiastic participation, there’s also plenty in there for adults looking for a supportive nudge and someone to say, “Hey! You’re super!” (preferably in a Kiwi accent. I found it greatly enhanced the authenticity of the experience).

If I’ve whetted your appetite for personal development, you can purchase Jawbreaker, along with Jolene’s other books, here.

And may I casually point out, to those considering partaking of the Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge, 2014, that Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse, would make the perfect choice for category eight (a book with some form of wordplay in the title)?

Until next time,

Bruce

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Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge 2014: Sign Up!

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Afternoon all! After a very brief and not very deeply considered period of reflection, I have decided to take the plunge and host a readers challenge for 2014.  I hope you will join me in committing to conquer this most wiley and tricksy of beasts:

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The Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge!

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* The Challenge will run from January 1st to December 31, 2014.

* Challengees must read at least one book from each category (listed below).

* Books selected must be aimed at a target age range of under-18, so anything from cloth books to Young Adult is acceptable.  Books can be any format you like – print, audio, ebook – and any genre.  Alternatively, books could be ABOUT children – for example, parenting books, or memoirs about children

* The categories listed are a loose guide and creative interpretation of the categories is not only encouraged, but applauded. Loudly.

* Challengees should link their reviews/progress under the relevant linky lists on the main challenge page.  If you don’t have a blog, you could link to your Goodreads shelf/reviews, or simply comment on the challenge page as you go.

*Feel free to display the challenge button (html for which is in the sidebar) and share about the challenge wherever you like!

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1. A book with something related to Safari in the title (eg: Rumble in the Jungle, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt)

2. A book with a piece of furniture in the title: (eg: 100 Cupboards, The Adventures of the Wishing Chair)

3. A book with a specific time in the title: (eg: Grim Tuesday, The Eleventh Hour)

4. A book with someone’s name in the title: (eg: Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret?, Cinderella Ate My Daughter)

5. A book with something that comes in pairs in the title: (eg: Shoes From Grandpa, The Twins at St Clare’s)

6. A book with something precious in the title: (eg: Where’s the Gold?, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone)

7. A book with something unsightly in the title: (eg: Scarface Claw, The Ugly Duckling, Get Back, Pimple!, Trash )

8. A book with some form of wordplay in the title : (eg: Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need, The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets, The French Confection)

So what are you waiting for?? Click the link to sign up below!

I hope to battle out this challenge with you all by my side, intrepid explorers!

Until next time,

Bruce

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Backward Glass: Read it if….

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Afternoon all! Today’s offering is one that I took a punt on and purchased after reading the blurb…Luckily I was rewarded with an enticing time-slip novel, the likes of which I haven’t encountered for quite some time.

Backward Glass by David Lomax follows the fates and fortunes of Kenny Maxwell, who, upon moving to a new house for the umpteenth time in his life, uncovers a mummified baby in the wall while renovating with his dad.  If this wasn’t shocking enough, along with the baby is a handwritten note, addressing Kenny by name and asking for his help to change the past.  Or maybe the future. Or possibly both.  What follows is a complex and action packed adventure through history (and beyond!) in which Kenny falls through a mirror and meets, befriends and befuddles a bunch of other kids as they try to make sense of their ability to travel through time in the backward glass.

Oh, and there’s also a crazed time-travelling madman on the loose whose modus operandi involves whacking mirror kids on the head.  Just to spice things up a little.

backward glass two

Read-it-if:

* you weren’t immediately put off by the thought of a mummified baby

* you adhere to the notion that the first rule of time-travel is to generally ignore and gloss over the rules of time-travel…lest your head explode from the temporal anomalies that may ensue

* you never leave the house without coins, clothing, and telecommunication devices from different periods in history…just in case

* you suspect that the crotchety old man (or lady) on your street who keeps shouting incomprehensible absurdities every time you walk by, may actually be yourself from the future, warning you of some terrible oncoming calamity

* like that other scion of time-travel, Martin McFly, Esq., you believe that unflattering comments about your  wildly unfashionable clothing upon arriving at a different chronological juncture will likely be the least of your worries

As I mentioned, I haven’t had the chance to sit down with a good timeslip novel for quite a while, and this definitely is a GOOD timeslip novel.  Lomax does begin the novel with a list of rules that govern mirror travel, and the complexity of these may seem immediately daunting.  Don’t be put off though – I found that while the time travel elements are quite complicated (and this increases alarmingly as the plot unfolds), it was definitely possible (indeed, perhaps even preferable) not to focus too much on the details of the wheres and whyfors and simply let Lomax’s competent story-telling guide the way.

Also, although the blurb focuses quite heavily on the dead baby and the antics of Prince Harming (the crazed, skull-cracking madman), these aren’t the major focus of the tale, and there is plenty of humour and time-travel-related red herrings here to entice the willing reader.  On that note, I feel the need to share with you one of my favourite passages, in which the main characters are discussing the spectre of Prince Harming:

“Aw, that’s just a story anyway,” said Jimmy.  “Like the boogie man. Or Santa’s evil brother.”

We all turned to look at him.

“What, your mom never told you about Opposite Christmas, when Nerfidious Claus comes to take the presents away if you were bad?”  We continued to stare.  Jimmy’s head sank.

“Man, I had the worst childhood.”    (p. 73)

Lomax will definitely be going on my “authors to watch” list – in the “eagerly awaiting his next book” sense, not the “creepy, hanging around outside his house” sense.

Until next time,

Bruce

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