Saturday, 14 November 2009

Review - Battling the Unknown: The Last Rawl Trilogy

Battling the Unknown: The Last Rawl Trilogy

BY: Meg Christian



ISBN: 0-7414-4793-2

Pages: 146

Ages: Teen & Up

Reviewed by Billy Burgess

In book one of the trilogy, the young author Meg Christian has created the fantasy world of Umberodia. In this land is a sixteen year old Katrina Rawl. Her mother passed away when she was very young. Since then, she has lived with her aunt. Katrina spends her days selling vegetables on the side of the road. She likes to read books which is something that is forbidden by the Emperor.

Katrina stumbles upon a letter written by her mother. In the letter is a message that she is suppose to give to Amile the Warrior. Soon after, the Emperor sends out his army to do a routine house by house search. The army reports back to the Emperor telling him of a young girl named Katrina Rawl. The Emperor knows this must be the only daughter of Marianne Rawl. He orders his army to retrieve the girl.

When the army arrives the next night, Katrina slips out of the house and escapes. She heads to Ioni where she hopes to find the Amile the Warrior. On the way she finds may other dangers. She also meets a skittish bird named Twitter and a young man named Arlon who help her on the journey.

This is an adorable tale set in an original world of Umberodia. Meg Christian’s love of adventure and storytelling is shown in Battling the Unknown: The Last Rawl Trilogy. The young author is donating all of the profits to the Southern New Hampshire Rescue Mission. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good quest and wonderful characters.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Review - First Night

First NightFirst Night
BY: Tom Weston
PUBLISHED BY: Tom Weston Media
ISBN: 978-0-981-94130-1
Pages: 253
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Author Tom Weston brings us an old fashioned ghost tale in First Night. The story begins with Sarah Pemberton who has caught the small pox. A family friend, Captain John Ayres, gives her an ivory bracelet to wear. Sarah dies.

The story skips to the present day. Alexandra O’Rourke and her younger sister, Jackie, are spending their New Year’s Eve with their aunt and uncle in Boston. They’re California girls and rather be home partying than spending their vacation in Boston.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Review - The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by Fiona Ingram

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab
BY: Fiona Ingram
ISBN: 978-0-595-457168
Pages: 258
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

In this first chapter of the Chronicles of the Stone, Adam and his cousin Justin are invited to go on a trip to Egypt by their Aunt Isabel and their Grandmother. The boys are excited about visiting another country. Their Aunt tells them that the archaeologist, James Kinnaird, has disappeared while looking for the tomb of the Scarab King. The tomb of the Scarab King is just a legend and has never been proven to exist by any archaeologist.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Review - Calling All Authors: How to Publish with Your Eyes Wide Open

Calling All Authors: How to Publish with Your Eyes Wide Open
BY: Valerie Connelly
PUBLISHED BY: Nightengale Press
ISBN: 978-1-933449-43-2
Pages: 291
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Have you ever wanted to be a published writer? “Calling All Authors – How to Publish with Your Eyes Wide Open” tells what traps and mistakes to avoid during publishing. Should you use a traditional publishing company or should you publish the book yourself? Will you need a publicist? An editor? Or a proofreader? These are just some of the questions that author Valerie Connelly, founder of Nightengale Press, answers in this book.

There are many myths and tales about the publishing world. “Calling all Authors,” explains these myths and brings them into reality for writers. A lot of new writers think their books will be an instant bestseller. You’ll learn that books don’t become bestsellers overnight.

As a writer myself, I enjoyed reading “Calling All Authors.” I learned that even in traditional publishing you’ll have to do some marketing of your own. You can’t just sit back and expect the book to just sell itself. Learn how to promote your book by using the internet. Learn how to benefit from good and bad book reviews.

I recommend “Calling All Authors” to all upcoming writers of any genre. This book will help you with those difficult decisions you will come across while publishing your novel.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Review - Writer Watchdog 2009 Edition: Self-publishing Directory

Writer Watchdog 2009 Edition: Self-publishing Directory
BY: Deana Riddle
PUBLISHED BY: New Vision Media
ISBN: 978-0-9822674-9-3
Pages: 213
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

With a flashy cover, the Writer Watchdog 2009 Edition: Self – publishing Directory will catch any writer’s eye. Being a writer myself, I have read several resource and writing books, but this is the first I’ve read about self-publishing.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Review - Authors Access: 30 Success Secrets for Authors and Publishers

Authors Access: 30 Success Secrets for Authors and Publishers

BY: Irene Watson, Tyler R. Tichelaar & Victor R. Volkman

PUBLISHED BY: Modern History Press


ISBN: 978-1-932690-98-9

Pages: 220

Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Authors Access: 30 Success Secrets for Authors and Publishers is a wonderful handbook for any writer. It is a compilation of podcasts from the internet radio show called Authors Access.

The authors share great tips about the craft and myths of writing. You learn about writing about romance, mystery and other genres. Being a writer myself, I found the book interesting. I enjoyed the chapters on children’s books and the article “Exploring Ghostwriting, co-Authoring, and Collaborating” by Ami Hendrickson. This is the first time I have read anything on ghostwriting. It was a joy to read.

There is a lot of information on promoting your book by the use of the internet. In “Book Marketing on MySpace,” you learn how to set up a successful myspace profile, and learn how an author can use it to promote their work effectively.

Every author needs to know how to use to sale their books. In “Amazon Adventures: Staring Down Earth’s Largest Bookstore,” you learn how to use advantage and associate programs.

There are four wonderful articles about book reviews and how to use them to your advantage. My favorite was, “Negative Book Reviews: How to Avoid Them, and How to Use Them to Your Advantage.”

One of the downfalls of the book is that it concentrates too much on self-publishing. I would’ve liked to have read more article on traditional publishing in magazines and big publishing houses. Overall I found Authors Access to be a great reference tool that every author should have on their desk.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Review - Awakening by K. Lippi



BY: K. Lippi

PUBLISHED BY: Mirror Publishing


ISBN: 978-1-936046-14-0

Pages: 231

Ages: Teen & Up

Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Author K. Lippi brings us the epic tale of Awakening, a world where vampires, demons, werewolves and other supernatural creatures exist. A California girl named Emilia Miani just returned from visiting her father in Japan. Her life is turned upside down when she meets the mysterious stranger, Shin Kurosaki. He is her guardian angel, a Japanese demon assigned to her by one of her ancestors over 500 years ago.

She learns that she has mystical powers of her own, and also a dark destiny. Her grandfather was a death angel just like her. He was hired by God. Emilia is his only heir. She is forced to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps.

A fallen death angel, Markus is stealing the souls of innocent children. He is set on becoming a new god. Emilia and Shin try to destroy his evil plans, while she starts to have feeling for her guardian.

This book is cleverly written at times. The characters are deeply explored, and I felt everything the main character goes through. The backstory was a bit too much. It could have been saved for the sequel. Yes, there will be sequel because of the ‘to be continued’ at the ending. A little cliché if you ask me. Overall it was a fun read. If you love reading supernatural, good vs. evil tales, then you’ll love Awakening.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Review - Dark Destiny: The Sleeping Beauty Story Your Mother Never Told You

Dark Destiny: The Sleeping Beauty Story Your Mother Never Told You
BY: Kym Hackenberger & Melody Lowe
PUBLISHED BY: Wicked Witch Productions, LLC
ISBN: 978-1440412417
Pages: 158
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Do you remember the evil stepmothers and queens from the classic Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales? Did you every wonder how they became evil? Authors Kym Hackenberger & Melody Lowe gives us the dark and twisted tale of how an innocent young woman became the Queen of the Dark Realm.

Elspeth, the oldest princess of Rookskrieg, is soon to marry Malcolm, the prince of Talonsbay. It’s an arrange marriage set up by their fathers. Neither Elspeth or Malcolm want to get married. Malcolm is womanizer and Elspeth just doesn’t love him. She wants to fall in love like her newly married younger sister, Isabelle, did.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Review - Goosebumps: Deep Trouble

Goosebumps: Deep Trouble
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-545-03519-4
ISBN-10: 0-545-03519-8
Ages: 9-12

The first adventure of Billy, Sheena and their Uncle Dr. Deep can now be read by a new generation in this re-release with a brand new cover and bonus features that include: Q&A with R.L. Stine, There’s Something Fishy About Mermaids, Sink Your Teeth Into Some Shark Facts!, Tales of Horror: When Sharks Attack, How to Survive a Shark Attack and An Undersea Adventure – Starring You!

Review - Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy

Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-545-03517-0
ISBN-10: 0-545-03517-0
Ages: 9-12

It’s been over fifteen years since R.L. Stine first introduced his readers to the evil ventriloquist’s dummy. Slappy is back in this re-release of the first book. It has brand new cover and extra bonus features that include: Q& A with R.L. Stine, Fright Gallery: Slappy the Dummy, A Dummy’s Guide to Ventriloquism and Slappy’s Greatest Wisecracks.

Kris and Lindy Powell are twins that share everything. Lindy finds a ventriloquist’s dummy in a dumpster near their house. She takes it home and plans on making money with it by performing at birthday parties. Her sister doesn’t like Slappy because he’s always starring at her with an evil grin.

Thinking that she is jealous of Lindy’s dummy, her father buys her a dummy at a second hand store. Kris loves the dummy and names him Mr. Woods. She finds a piece of paper in the dummy’s pocket and reads the strange words out loud: “Karru marri odonna loma molonu karrano.”

After a few strange events, Kris believes that Mr. Woods is alive and no one believes her. How will she defeat Mr. Woods?

It was fun reading about Slappy again. He’s one of my favorite Goosebumps characters and I think you will enjoy reading about him too.

Review - Garfield and the Mysterious Mummy

Garfield and the Mysterious Mummy
BY: Jim Kraft
Designed and Illustrated by Mike Fentz
PUBLISHED BY: Troll Communications, L.L.C
ISBN: 0-8167-4438-6
Ages: 4-8
Reviewed by: Billy Burgess

While visiting the museum with their owner, Jon, Garfield and Odie accidentally get locked in the museum after closing. Strange things start happening in the Egyptian department that displays the nose of Ahomose.

Garfield and Odie are caught by the security guard and his cat, Cleo. She believes the rumors that the spirit of the Ahomose wants his nose back. She has heard weird sounds at night and one of the mummy coffins has went missing.

After a strange noise is heard near the Egyptian department, the security guard investigates it. When he didn’t return, Garfield, Odie and their new friend go to find him. They can’t find the security guard but they found something else, a living mummy!

All the doors are locked, so there is no way out till morning. Garfield and Odie must either hide or solve the mystery of the mysterious mummy.

The book is currently out of print but if you are lucky enough to find it, buy it. This is a cute book that your children would love to read.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Review - Goosebumps Horrorland: Creep From the Deep

Goosebumps: Horrorland
#2 Creep From the Deep
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-91870-1
ISBN-10: 0-439-91870-7
Ages: 9-12

In this second installment of the new series, R.L. Stine brings back three characters from the original Goosebumps series. Billy and his sister Sheena are on a adventure with their uncle, Dr. Deep, on the hi-tech ship, the Cassandra. They are searching for the pirate ship called the Scarlet Skull that sank to the bottom of the sea in the late 1780’s, and carried millions of dollars’ worth of gold and jewels. After they find the ship, Dr. Deep disappears. When Billy and Sheena go looking for their uncle on a nearby island, they discover that the pirates of Scarlet Skull are still alive and they want their treasure back.

I enjoyed returning to the characters from the books “Deep Trouble” and “Deep Trouble II” that were written in the 90’s.

The second story picks up in “Horrorland” from the previous book. Billy and Sheena have won a free trip to the theme park. Their parents have also gone missing . While searching for them they run into Britney and Molly from the first book, who are also looking for Britney’s parents. When they go on the Quicksand Beach ride, Britney and Molly disappear. Now Billy and Shenna must search for their new friends and their parents, but the pirates of the Scarlet Skull may still be after them.

I enjoyed the continuation of the Horrorland. Once again the second story is only 30 pages and ends in a cliffhanger. If you are like me and countless other R.L. Stine Fans, you can’t wait to read more!

Review - Goosebumps Horrorland: Revenge of the Living Dummy

After an eight year hiatus from his Goosebumps books, R.L. Stine is back in a new series. In the new series there are two stories in each book – a 100 -page story and then a 30-page story — which will be continued in each book.

Book Review - The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
BY: James Patterson
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN-13: 978-0-316-00292-9
ISBN-10: 0-316-00292-5
Ages: 10 & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

After watching the death of his parents, Daniel takes over their work. He becomes an alien bounty hunter. He isn’t like other teenagers. Daniel has the ability to manipulate objects and animals with his mind. He can create himself in any shape that he chooses.

His parents left him “The List” - an alien enhanced computer listing all of the alien fugitives on earth. It’s his mission to stop the fugitives and hopefully one day he’ll find his parents assassin.

This book is completely different from the “Maximum Ride” series. James Patterson has created an interesting character that children and adults will love. I can easily see this being adapted into a movie.

Review - The Pain and the Great One

The Pain and the Great One

BY: Judy Blume


Reviewed by Billy Burgess

There are two stories in this book. The first story is in the point of view of the sister, The Great One. She complains about her younger brother being annoying. She thinks her parents like him more.

The second story is in the point of view of the brother, the Pain. He thinks his older sister is annoying. He thinks his parents love her more.

This is a great picture book with a lot of truth to it. This is how real siblings at this age act. Parents will love reading this book to their kids.

Review - The Berenstain Bears: Catch the Bus

The Berenstain Bears: Catch the Bus
BY: The Berenstains
PUBLISHED BY: Random House
ISBN: 0-679-89227-3
Ages: 4-7
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

It’s seven o’clock and Brother and Sister Bear’s alarm clock goes off. Five minutes late they are still asleep.

Papa Bear is awake and drinking his morning coffee. Mama Bear is cooking breakfast. Brother and Sister Bear are still asleep.

Mama Bear notices the time and wakes the children up at ten minutes till eight. The quickly get around and on the bus at eight o’clock.

This is a wonderful little book for children. I think every kid has been in this situation.

Review - A Week In the Woods

Mark moves to New Hampshire and to a small school called Hardy Elementary. His science teacher, Mr. Maxwell, doesn’t like him. Mr. Maxwell thinks Mark is a rich, spoiled kid.

At first Mark wants nothing to do with the Hardy’s famous week in the woods led by Mr. Maxwell. Once Mark begins to open up to life in the country, he changes his mine about the trip. He thought it would be fun to learn something new and he might even enjoy it.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Reviews - Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris has wonderfully crafted the vampire legacy into modern times, where vampires are now legal. Japanese develop a synthetic blood, TrueBlood, making it possible for vampires to live among the living.

Sookie Stackhouse lives with her grandma in a small town called Bons Temp, Louisiana. She works as a waitress at Merlottes, but she’s not like other waitresses. She can read people’s minds. Sookie considers this to be a disability. It’s hard for her to date anyone when she knows everyone’s thoughts. Her life is turned upside down when a dark, handsome vampire named Bill Compton steps inside Merlottes. Bill’s over one hundred years old, and is the first vampire in Bons Temp.

Sookie rescues Bill from the Rattrays, who wanted to drain his blood for drug uses. Unable to read Bill’s thoughts, Sookie starts to fall for the vampire, which causes problems between Sookie and her boss Sam Merlottes. Sam has a crush on her, and is hiding a dark secret. As she gets closer to Bill, there are several deaths, fang-bangers, in the town, and one death hits close to home. The main suspect is Sookie’s womanizing brother, Jason, who’s had a relationships with all of the victims.

Sookie must use her telepathic powers to find the killer before she’s the next victim.

Humor and clever writing highlights this book above other vampire novels. The quirky characters and plot twists kept me turning the pages until the very end.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Where is Scrooge McDuck Hiding at?

(Originally posted in the June 2008 issue of the SFC Newsletter)

Where is Scrooge McDuck Hiding at?

By Billy Burgess

It seems the future of cartoons are in jeopardy. They are being replaced by pre-teen and reality shows which is fine for an older audience. But what about the younger children who are too young for this.

I remember watching “Garfield and Friend”, “Tiny Toon Adventures”, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” every Saturday morning. You can now find a new incarnation of TMNT but it’s not as good as the original. It seems the current trend is to remake old cartoons. Can‘t the studios come up with any new ideas of their own? Surely, there are writers out there, like me, with lots of imagination, can come up with new, exciting cartoon characters and stories for today’s kids. Stories you can remember generations from now.

Not being able to sleep one night, I turned the television on and flipped through the channels. I ran across a cartoon on the Disney Channel. I watched only five minutes before I was disgusted. The story, the humor and the animation were terrible, in my humble opinion.

After a few more nights of not sleeping, I decided to record some cartoons during the day for me to watch. I was shocked when I looked at the television listings and couldn’t find any of the cartoons that I grew up with! In fact, there were hardly any cartoons on at all. What happened to the creative original cartoons that I grew up with? What happened to the after school cartoons?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Book Review: Ginger High

Growing up in the 90s, I was a big fan of teen horror novels – Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine and Lois Duncan were some of my favorite authors. The teen horror/thriller trend has died down, except for the ones where vampires sparkle. I found Ginger High by Melissa Burmester a breath of fresh air. Teen girls will easily connect with the main character, Daisy – a smart, strong young woman.

The novel begins in 1901 where a series of murders take place. All of the victims have bite marks on their necks. Could it be vampires? The story jumps forward to modern days and focuses on teen Daisy Fisher. After her school is burnt down, Daisy is sent to a new school in New York.. Ginger High is a private school for students with extraordinary powers and abilities. She befriends some of the students who can teleport, heal others, and create fire. She soon finds out that people came to Earth from a parallel world called the Kingdom of Animists.

A murder occurs at Ginger High, bringing the supernatural beings Amanta, Matthias, and Taeru from the parallel world. While they investigate the death, Daisy struggles with her supernatural powers, and with her mysterious new friend, Fredrick. Amanta must deal with a long time, buried family secret.

Fourteen year old, Melissa Burmester has written a fast paced debut novel; combining horror, mystery and fantasy. I love the cover of the book – it reminds me of the horror movie posters of the middle 80s. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. The author has a bright future in the writing world.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Review - Eclipsed by Shadow: The Legend of the Great Horse

I was very impressed by this book, reading it in only two nights. The author, John Royce, has beautifully written a wonderful epic that combines fantasy with history, a mix between Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings and the Time Machine. He uses his great knowledge of the history of horses to give us the first adventure of the Legend of the Great Horse. The dialogue and descriptions are cleverly written to entertain and educate both young adults and adults.

The main character is a teenager named Meagan, and she is a horse lover. Being an animal lover myself, I was instantly connected to her. You are hooked within the first few pages, as Meagan loses a loved one and gains a new friend, a palomino foal that she name’s Promise. But Promise isn’t like other horses, she is the Great Horse – a fallen angel from the time of Adam & Eve. Due to financial reasons, the Foal is sent to live on a pasture until she is old enough to be ridden. During this time, Meagan meets the mysterious Mrs. Bridgestone. Mrs. Bridgestone tells Meagan about the legend of the great horse and that she believes Promise is the great horse. Mrs. Bridgestone wants the horse for her own. Three years passes by and Meagan rides Promise for the first time. Magical, long white wings stretch out of Promise, flying Meagan back in time where she meets cavemen, Romans, monks, knights and other life-threatening dangers.

Eclipsed By Shadow is a fast, action-packed adventure from start to the heart pounding cliffhanger. The author did a marvelous job blending history and fantasy together in this first book of the trilogy. Fans of horse books and fantasy adventures will enjoy reading this. Once you finish reading the final page, you’ll be longing for the next installment.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Review - The Haunting of Grade Three by Grace Maccarone

*Note:1/20/20 - The Haunting of Grade by Grace Maccarone is one of my favorite books from my childhood. I made a mistake of letting a relative borrow most of my books and, sadly, I never got them back. I was lucky enough to have found not just one but two copies of The Haunting of Grade Three at a thrift store. One of these days when I have more time, I'll have to reread the book and write a better review for it.

The Elmwood Elementary was overcrowded and the 3rd grade had to move into the old Blackwell mansion.

The teacher, Mr. Jenkins, announced that they would be putting together a newspaper. The students would be put into groups. Norma, Adam, Chick, Debbie, Joey and Dan were picked for the psychic investigation committee.

They would investigate the strange things that were happening in the school. Supplies were going missing, pencils were falling off desks, dark shadows were seen, and strange noises were heard.

This is one of my favorite books from my childhood. I had lost the book years ago but I found a new copy at a thrift shop recently. This is a wonderful book about friendship. If you can find a copy, buy it!

Review - Ann M. Martin: The Story of the Author of The Baby-sitters Club

*Note: 1/20/20 - This was my very first post and you can clearly tell I had no clue how to write a blog entry, let alone a a review. I no longer own this biography or any of The Babysitter Club books. Don't get me wrong, these are great books for children but my reading tastes have changed over the years so I donated all the books to Salvation Army.

I was lucky to find this out-of-print book at a thrift store. This is a wonderful autobiography that I would recommend to all Ann Martin fans and to all children book writers.

From Ann Martin’s early days in diapers to her teaching days. You will learn how she became an editor at a publishing house and eventually became a bestselling children book authors.