Odd One Out – two reviews

Odd One Out
by Betty Jane Hegerat

Purchase copies here

Betty Jane Hegerat’s most recent novel, Odd One Out, has received two excellent reviews recently in print media:

Dr. Karen Boyd reviewed the book for CM Magazine (Canadian Review of Materials) published by the Manitoba Library Association

Andréa Schnell wrote a review that was published in Quill & Quire.

Betty Jane Hegerat has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations a number of times.


Amanda on the Danube – a review

Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
by Darlene Foster

Purchase copies here

Darlene Foster writes middle grade novels about two plucky girls, Amanda Ross, and Leah Anderson, best friends from different continents. These intrepid travellers visit different places around the world and solve mysteries. Foster puts in considerable travelling and research to ensure that the details she writes about are authentic. Not only are readers entertained by great mysteries with a touch of suspense, they learn about different geography and history. If you haven’t read one of these books yet, you should change that.

In this book, Amanda convinces her parents to join Mr and Mrs Anderson on a cruise on the Danube river. The two girls end up sharing their own room on board the ship, which gives them more autonomy. It’s a pretty exciting opportunity for two girls who are on the cusp of adolescence.

Before they are even settled in, Amanda and Leah track a trail of blood droplets into a storage room on the cruise ship. Amanda sees some feet, but they are interrupted by an employee before they can figure out what is going on.

While they are on an excursion in Nuremberg, a ragamuffin of a boy gives Amanda his special violin for safekeeping. After that, strange things begin to happen. Another boy on a skateboard tries to steal the violin before they are even back on board ship. Once there, a mysterious older couple introduce themselves. They seem nice enough, but are they? Then the two girls’ room is ransacked. Luckily, the violin isn’t taken.

At the next port of call, the two girls meet up with the owner of the violin and smuggle him onto the ship with them. They do their best to keep him hidden in their room, but he disappears. Before long Amanda gets a ransom note, telling her she has to trade the violin in for him if she wants to see him safe.

You better go read the book if you want to find out what happens.

I enjoyed seeing the relationship between the two girls evolve as they mature. Leah begins by spending a lot of time texting on her new phone and doesn’t seem committed to being with Amanda. It turns out that Leah is caught up in her first romance, and it’s going badly. This creates some tension between the two of them, but they manage to resolve their differences.

There is a lot to like about these novels. The girls have strong parents who care about them, but also give them some autonomy. I appreciate learning about all the different places the girls visit and am impressed by how seamlessly the author educates and entertains me all at the same time. I like that the plot moves quickly and has enough action and suspense to keep readers thoroughly engaged. It’s a perfect read for kids aged 8 – 12, and even older readers like myself.

I’m looking forward to the next book when the two girls travel to New Mexico!

Cheriee Weichel
(This review has appeared on the blog Library Matters.)

Darlene Foster has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations. Cheriee Weichel is a retired teacher librarian who still reads and reviews books for children on her blog.

Runaway Smile – a review (2)

Runaway Smile
by Nicholas C. Rossis
illus. Dimitris Fousekis

Purchase copies here

Book Description:

Winner of the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award, in the Young Adult Fiction category. Award-Winning Finalist in the “Children’s Fiction” category of the 2015
International Book Awards
, Award-Winning Finalist in the 2015 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards.

“I woke up this morning and I had lost my smile and it wasn’t my fault and I looked everywhere and it was gone. Then I met a workman and a king and the best salesman in the world and a clown and no-one wanted to give me theirs. At school, I asked Miss to give me hers, but she gave us a pop quiz instead, and then no-one was smiling and…”

A little boy’s smile runs away until its owner learns that an unshared smile is a wasted smile.

I was kindly sent a free digital copy of this book by the author Nicholas C. Rossis. Runaway Smile is a lovely children’s book which will really put a smile on everyone’s face, here is my review:

A young boy wakes up to find his smile has run away. Where could it have gone? And how will he get it back?

This is such a lovely story which made me both smile and laugh at some of what happens. The story follows the boy who wakes to find he has lost his smile. On his journey to school and back home he meets lots of interesting characters who are smiling and asks them to help him. I won’t give away more of the story as it will spoil it, but there is a lovely heartwarming ending to the tale and it certainly brought a smile to my face as I read it.

The story is fun and actually made me laugh with some of the silliness, such as a book-reading, glasses-wearing dog, a sausage tree and a closet monster which was very funny. I love reading stories that are a bit weird like that and it just added to the humour. There are fun illustrations throughout the book and surrounding the text. These illustrations look like the one on the cover and are the same style, and by the same illustrator, as ones I’ve seem in Musiville, another lovely kids tale by Rossis, and they just add to the overall fun and humour of the story.

There’s an extra bonus bit at the back of the book which was also a fun addition to the story, an Ode to a runaway smile!

The ending of the story is one that I really loved and it’s a predictably happy book but I think so many kids and adults would love to read this. I was feeling quite down the day I read this and it put an instant smile on my face and cheered me up and I didn’t think any book could. I was so cheered up I read it again and enjoyed it even more. A lovely book I really recommend to everyone of every age!

Rating: 5/5

(This review has appeared on happymeerkatreviews blog.)

Nicholas C. Rossis has been featured on Reading Recommendations. happymeerkatreviews is a blogger dedicated to reviewing good books.

One Woman’s Island – Fan mail and reviews! (3)

From my main blog, a couple of reviews and some fan mail!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

And definitely not from some flounder!

But this is what I can call a message I really like!

Not all readers like to write reviews and post them online, and I get that! So I will never ask anyone to review my books or post their thoughts if they don’t wish to do so.

However, I do know many readers, especially friends, like to tell me their thoughts and impressions about my books after they’ve read something I’ve written. They quite often write to me privately in an email, or they tell me in person when I meet up with them. So I then ask if I may post their comments to my blog, and will do so anonymously, if that’s what they wish.

Here are comments from two friends who had previously read Island in the Clouds and have now told me what they think of One Woman’s Island

View original post 883 more words

Uncertain Soldier – a review (2)

Uncertain Soldier
by Karen Bass

Purchase copies here

A conflicted teenaged soldier. A boy caught between two countries. When the world only sees you as German, how can you forge your own identity?

Seventeen-year-old Erich is a prisoner of war working at a northern Alberta logging camp. Twelve-year-old Max goes to school—reluctantly—in the nearby town. The two would be unlikely friends, except that neither has anyone else to turn to. At the height of World War II, nobody wants to befriend a German.

Awards and honours:
2016 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People Winner
2016 IODE Violet Downey Book Award nominee
2016 OLA Forest of Reading Red Maple Award nominee
2015 Best Books for Kids & Teens selection

The review:
When I was young, I saw the 1978 movie version of Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier (1973). Until then, I hadn’t thought about what “our side” did with prisoners of war. It was more obvious with Allied prisoners in the European or Asian theatre: the prisoners were held there, where the battles were being waged. (Hogan’s Heroes, the comic TV series that ran from 1965 to 1971, was also a popular entertainment of my youth.) Less traumatic than the American Summer of My German Soldier, Uncertain Soldier tells the story of Erich Hofmeyer, a German prisoner of war held in Alberta in the winter of 1943-44.

The story begins, though, in the voice of young Max Schmidt, a Canadian lad born of German parents, who is persecuted for his heritage and understandably struggles with his identity as a result. His father is almost violently insistent that Max remain proud of and stand up for himself and his German heritage. What Max is subjected to is impossible to stand against, though: a systematic, targetted bullying that readers will recognize as being a pervasive response to otherness, not just the product of war-time Canadian prejudice. When the bullying becomes life threatening, Max runs away. Max’s flight is the impetus for an act of bravery by Erich on both a physical and an emotional level, a distillation of the uncertainty that has been tearing at Erich throughout the novel.

Read the rest of this review here

Karyn Huenemann

Karen Bass has been previously promoted on Reading Recommendations here and here. Karyn Huenemann reviews children’s and YA Literature for her blog There Will Be Books ….