Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review of The Bird Brain books, written by Emlyn Chand and illustrated by Noelle Griffin


Emlyn will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so leave a comment here and check out all the stops on the tour:

The Bird Brain Books

Courtney Saves Christmas

Courtney is a peppy young penguin who just loves exploring, and is overjoyed when she receives a compass from Santa on Christmas morning. She’s so grateful for the gift, in fact, that she just needs to give Santa a great big hug and say “Thank you!” in person. The only problem is she lives in the South Pole, and Santa is all the way on the other side of the globe!

With the aid of her new compass, Courtney sets off on a journey that takes her almost an entire year. By the time she reaches Santa’s workshop, the elves are in a flurry preparing for the upcoming holiday. Unfortunately, Rudolph is feeling very sick—too sick to guide the sleigh. If Courtney can’t find a way to help, Christmas will be ruined and all the children of the world will be devastated. What’s a little penguin to do?

Davey the Detective

Davey dubs himself the luckiest crow in the entire world when he finds a wonderful, shiny object. It even has a fantastic name: “paperclip.” Wow!

One dark and dreary day, Davey’s treasure goes missing, and he is beside himself with grief. Luckily, he knows just how he can find out which of the forest animals is to blame for the theft. Inspired by the torn pages of a Sherlock Holmes story that were used to fashion his nest, Davey calls on the help of Sarah the sparrow to investigate the mystery and, hopefully, retrieve his prize.

Together the two birds begin to collect clues. Their trail leads them straight to Mr. Bushtail, a greedy squirrel who keeps a giant store of objects in a hollowed-out tree trunk. When Mr. Bushtail refuses to cooperate, the two birds have no choice but to break into his tree house in search of the truth.

Honey the Hero

Honey, an inquisitive young parakeet living in the Australian Outback, decides to become a superhero after she spies a human family watching Superman. Since she already has the power of flight, all she needs to do is create a costume to conceal her true identity and then fly off in search of animals that need rescuing.

Unfortunately, every time she tries to help, Honey only ends up making matters worse. She spoils Kangaroo’s game of hide-and-go-seek by revealing his hiding place to Wallaby; Mr. Anteater must go hungry when she alerts the ants to his presence, and Mrs. Koala is made a laughingstock among bears when Honey pretends to be her Joey. Finally realizing that she’s not as heroic as she’d like, Honey gives up her day-saving efforts.

But what happens when someone actually needs Honey’s help? Will she rise to the challenge?

Poppy the Proud

Poppy is the prettiest peacock in the entire garden, but one day his privileged existence is upset when an all-white peacock is born and promptly named the most beautiful by a smitten flock. Intensely jealous, Poppy no longer knows where he fits in and decides to reclaim his title as the fairest bird in all the land, no matter what it takes.
In a desperate attempt to regain the admiration of his peers, Poppy steals items from the humans that visit his park. He wraps himself in a beautiful silk scarf, wears a series of ornate bangles around his neck, and even tries to dye his feathers with colored dust from a festive Holi celebration. Unfortunately, each of these attempts not only fails to improve his appearance, they actually make it worse. What’s a poor bird to do?

In this compelling tale of self-esteem, pride, and learning what makes each of us special, Poppy the peacock discovers that true beauty lies beneath the feathers.

Tommy Goes Trick-or-Treating

Tommy is a mischievous little woodpecker who loves to fly to the edge of the forest and watch the people in the nearby suburb. One evening, something strange and exciting happens—people emerge from their houses wearing costumes and carrying colorful buckets with smiling faces on them. What’s even crazier is that they shout a special codeword while standing outside of each house, and are given delicious-looking candy.

Tommy simply must join in the fun. He and his friend, Michael the raccoon, fashion their own costumes and head off to join in the festivities. Thanks to Tommy’s knock-knocking beak and Michael’s quick paws, the duo is able to heist many a candy bar from the unsuspecting homeowners and children.
But are they missing out on the true spirit of Halloween? 

My Review:

The illustrations are what really did these books for me. I found many of them giggle-worthy--in a good way! There's just something about a parakeet in a little superhero mask and anteaters crying. The illustrations add a graphic-novel quality that young readers are sure to appreciate. I'm actually quite sad that I ended up reading these on my Kindle with no color.

These are fairly text heavy for picture books, which I like. They are more for kids to read to themselves rather than parents reading. Many of them also align to the character education schools have initiated in the last few years, such as Character Counts! They could be used to supplement those programs or create tie-ins between reading and the character education.

Poppy the Peacock was my favorite of the five. I think the message was the clearest, and children have an easy time identifying peacocks with pride and beauty, so it's very accessible.

Each sells for $0.99 at the Kindle store (buy links below), so they are not a huge investment to check out. The illustrations alone are worth it.

Author Bio

Emlyn Chand emerged from the womb with a fountain pen clutched in her left hand (true story). When she's not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm Novel Publicity. Best known for her Young Adult novels, she is also developing a small, but devoted, following to her children's book series and is beginning to dapple in other genres as well. Emlyn enjoys connecting with readers and is available via almost every social media site in existence. Visit EmlynChand.com for more info. Don't forget to say "hi" to her sun conure Ducky!

Online Links

Website & Blog: www.emlynchand.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/emlynchand
Twitter: www.twitter.com/emlynchand
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/emlynchand


Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review of "The Dare Club: Nita" by Laurie Bradach and Kim “Howard” Johnson



Laurie and Kim will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so make sure to leave a comment here and visit the other stops on the tour:


Series: The Dare Club
Format: E-book & Paperback
Genre: Contemporary YA, Mystery
Length: 330 pages in paperback

Blurb:

Nita Conroy has relocated to the most boring town on the planet. That is, until would-be boyfriend Brad Keeley spills the beans about a secret group of girls known as The Dare Club. During her subterranean initiation below the high school, Nita overhears a plan by contractors and school officials to embezzle millions of dollars in grant money. When she is betrayed, The Dare Club's pranks become deadly serious.

With the clock ticking, Nita will need the help of her new friends to expose the chilling plot--and hopefully survive long enough to snag a date to the homecoming dance.

Excerpt:

At least a dozen of the most popular, meanest students on campus were now spinning manically, twisting and turning, swiping at stains that just kept getting bigger. More students had rushed to their aid, and now those do-gooders were frantically trying to rid themselves of the mysterious goo that seemed to be everywhere. One brave soul put hand to mouth, and a cry went up that the substance was chocolate.

Runny, melted chocolate was extruding everywhere.

The students began to examine their chairs. The dark wood seats had perfectly camouflaged the squishy chocolate bars that had been placed on them. The chairs could be wiped off, the clothing would come clean again, but Lauren Wells might never recover from the humiliation.

“Lauren needs her diaper changed!” someone shouted. “It’s already on YouTube!”

“Epic,” Nita whispered under her breath.

It took several minutes for order to be restored. Mr. Withers excused all of the candy-coated students, while the rest of the class—Nita included—were instructed to remain in their seats.

Mr. Withers began walking up and down each aisle, dabbing at the stains on his shirt, making them larger and more noticeable. “There will be an investigation into this matter,” he said. “And when I find out who is responsible…”

He had just started up Nita’s aisle when the bell rang. The raven-haired girl literally sprang from her seat. As she did, a candy bar bounced from her purse and landed right in Mr. Withers path. Nita heard the sharp intake of breath, and saw the girl’s panicked look. Mr. Withers saw it too, and began weaving up the aisle through a cluster of departing students. For a moment he was buried in the crowd. In that instant, Nita scooped up the candy bar and stuck it in her own backpack.

Then Mr. Withers was there.

His eyes narrowed. “Did I just see what I think I saw?”

My Review:

I was reminded of the serial, teen-girls-kick-butt chapter books I used to read in middle school, so the nostalgia alone was enough to make me enjoy this book. The opening scene, with a streaker in the cafeteria, had me laughing, and the rest of the book maintained my attention. I kept wondering what kind of dare the club would try next, and some proved to be pretty creative (like the melty chocolate bars in the excerpt above). There are a few good twists and turns to the plot that had me guessing, and the teen romance subplot helps round out the narrative. 

I questioned a few things, like why a teenager who'd been arrested for terrorism would be allowed to go home with a friend's dad, no ankle monitor even, but younger readers, with less life experience, would probably overlook issues like that.

The editing could also have been a little more thorough. Commas were missing in some direct address, for instance, as well as a few other errors in punctuation and grammar.

All in all, this is a fun book for readers in the twelve to fourteen age bracket.

Unfortunately, this is not an AR book.

About the Authors:

Kim “Howard” Johnson has written comic books for Marvel, DC, and Event Comics. He is a director of improvisational comedy, an actor, and is rumored to hang around with the Monty Python gang. Howard’s other books include Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday and The Funniest One in the Room.

Laurie Bradach has nearly escaped the world of comics. Currently, she devotes her time to writing action-adventure stories without the use of word balloons. She is active in her local Romance Writers of America chapter, Heart and Scroll, and is a founding member of Random Moon Books. Laurie is also the author of A Good Draw, a romantic suspense novel.


Howard and Laurie are delighted to have written their first book together without killing each other. Be sure to look for the second book in the series, The Dare Club: Lindy.



www.doubledarebooks.com
Buy the paperback or Kindle edition through Amazon: