Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Review - The S.T.A.R. Powered Twins

A Law of Attraction Book for Children "The S.T.A.R. Powered Twins Discover the Secret of Words" (1)
A Law of Attraction Book for Children: The S.T.A.R Powered Twins
BY: Dorothy A. Lecours
ILLUSTRATED BY: Chrisann Zaubi
PUBLISHED BY: DragonPencil
PUBLISHED IN: December 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60-131-063-7
Pages: 88
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

“The S.T.A.R. Powered Twins” is to help develop and encourage young children to read. Adults are to read a ten page segment of the story per day to the child. The child needs to retell the events of the story, before the adult will continue with it.

The book starts out with the birth of Grace and Jace Star. Their parents and grandparents teaches them about nature, cooking, imagination, designing, and art. Grace and Jace learn about the words Never Allowed, Don’t, Can’t, No, and Not. Grace and Jace learn how to read, and over time they became excellent readers.

The Illustrations in “The S.T.A.R. Powered Twins” are beautiful. There are hidden words in the pictures for the young readers to find. There is a wonderful message of “I Am” that ever parent should teach their children. This is a great book to help your children learn how to read before they start school.

Note: I would like to thank the Author Marketing Experts, Inc. for sending me this complimentary copy to review.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Review - How to Train Your Dragon



Kid Konnection is a a weekend feature related
to anything about children books.


How to Train Your Dragon
BY: Cressida Cowell
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
PUBLISHED IN: 2003
ISBN: 0-316-01098-7
Pages: 214
Ages: 9-12
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

In the first book in the series, on the island of Berk, eleven-year-old Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the son of the Viking chief, must follow the rite of passage and capture a dragon from a cave. Hiccup, along with other children, are led by Gobber the Belch to catch their own eggs. Whoever can’t find an egg and train a dragon, will be kicked out of the tribe forever.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Review - Fear Street Nights: Darkest Dawn

Darkest Dawn (Fear Street Nights #3)
Fear Street Nights: Darkest Dawn
BY: R.L. Stine
PUBLISHED BY: Simon Pulse
PUBLISHED IN: 2005
ISBN: 978-0-689-87866-4
Pages: 182
Ages: Teens & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Several months have passed since “Midnight Games,” and the night people have gone on with their lives, no longer in fear of Angelic Fear. Jamie is the only one who still believes that the curse lives on. She still has nightmares of being possessed by Angelic Fear. She runs across a mysterious bracelet that is similar to the Fear amulet.

More deaths start to the occur. Jamie’s cousin, Dana, starts to wonder if she has lost her mind. After awhile Jamie starts to wonder the same thing, especially after she starts seeing the Fear Mansion that was demolished over a year ago. Is it Angelic Fear back from the grave again? Or is it someone else?

Jamie becomes the main character in “Darkest Dawn,” the third and final book in the “Fear Street Night” trilogy. Die-hard fans from the original books will enjoy the continuation and conclusion to the Simon and Angelic Fear storyline. I was disappointed that the character Dana Fear didn’t have a bigger part. She is a much stronger and likeable character than Jamie. The plot is a little darker than the first two books. Overall, I did enjoy the exciting ending to the series.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Q&A with author Matt Mikalatos


Q&A with Matt Mikalatos, the author of "Imaginary Jesus"

Imaginary Jesus


Billy:

How did you start writing?

Matt:

It mostly grew out of my drama classes in high school, actually. We would write our own sketches and plays, and when I got into college I realized that I loved writing, not just acting. So I was actually a writing major at the University of California in Riverside, and I wrote a couple of unpublishable projects before Imaginary Jesus. But high school is where it all started, with an excellent Drama teacher named Mrs. ten Pas.

Billy:

How did you come up with the idea for "Imaginary Jesus?"

Matt:

I have always thought it interesting to take Biblical stories and transport them into the present so I can see what makes sense and what is weird. For instance, Jesus walking up to fishermen and saying "Follow Me" doesn't seem like a big deal. But imagining him walking into a fast food restaurant and telling the employees to follow him is a completely different picture. It's weird to imagine people leaving burgers burning on the grill and walking out the door after Jesus. So, as I started to wrestle through a lot of our misconceptions about who Jesus is, I thought it would be funny and interesting to see what it would be like if we could actually see our misconceived Jesuses. It all grew out of that first chapter in the book, where someone points out, "Hey, your Jesus seems a little weird. I don't think that's the real Jesus."

Billy:

Who are your favorite writers and why?

Matt:

Oh boy... how many do I get to list? Here are a few:

1) John Steinbeck. If I could grow up to write like anyone, it would be JS. I re-read "East of Eden" about once a year. He has an amazing ability to draw out the complexities of human interactions that shows a keen understanding of human nature and what drives us. He doesn't waste words, and his books are moving and powerful.

2) Gene Wolfe. Gene Wolfe gets touted all the time as one of the best living writers in the English language, and I think this is true. His books are the type of books that I can re-read multiple times with increasing enjoyment. Check out his collection of short stories "Strange Travellers" or the novel "Pirate Freedom."

3) Flannery O'Connor. Again, keen insight into human beings, but Flannery also has keen insight into everything else. Everything she wrote, essays, short stories and novels are all amazing. The short story "Parker's Back" is my current favorite. I've never lived in the South, either, I'm a California boy.

4) Michael Connelly. I love the Harry Bosch detective novels. I always pre-order them and then wait by the mailbox. I love reading about someone so dedicated to justice and the fact that every human being matters and they all "count." And he's a gifted story teller, who uses plot to reveal character over time. Harry Bosch is certainly my favorite series character.

There are a lot more... Vonnegut, Beuchner, Lewis, Chesterton and more. But I don't want to bore you by listing a million authors!

Review - Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

Imaginary Jesus
BY: Matt Mikalatos
PUBLISHED BY: Barna
PUBLISHED IN: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4143-3563-6
Pages: 225
Ages: Adults
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

“Imaginary Jesus” is about a man named Matt Mikalatos, a fictional version of the author. The first chapter opens up with Matt, a former comic book store clerk, sitting in a coffee shop with Jesus sitting across from him. A strange comes up to them and starts a fight with Jesus. The man calls himself Peter - Peter the apostle.

The imaginary Jesus runs out the coffee shop. Both Matt and Peter try to follow him, but Jesus is just too fast for them. Peter takes Matt through time on their quest to find the real Jesus, where they meet a talking donkey. Along the way, Peter shows Matt several fake/false Jesuses, including Magic 8 Ball Jesus and Liberal Social Services Jesus.

When I first saw the silly cover, I didn’t now what to except. It looked like a kid took his crayons to the cover. When I started reading the first chapter, which starts at 0, I was laughing out loud until the very end. “Imaginary Jesus” is hilarious debut novel. At times the book reminds me of the book “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” but “Imaginary Jesus” has a wonderful message hidden behind all the silly humor. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a few good laughs, and at the same time learn something new about yourself.

Note: I would like to thank the Tyndale House for sending me this complimentary copy to review.

Review - What Sex is a Republican?

What Sex is a Republican?What Sex is a Republican?
BY: Terri McCormick, M.A.
PUBLISHED BY: The Capitol Press
PUBLISHED IN: 2010
ISBN: 978-09815728-0-2
Pages: 320
Ages: Adults
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

“What Sex Is a Republican?” is a autobiography of the former Wisconsin State Representative, Terri McCormick. Her childhood and family life is briefly covered in a few chapters. Terri didn’t become a political player until after she became involved in reforming her children’s school. She went up against the teacher union, leading the way for the state to form more chapter schools.

The author covers her campaign to become the State Representative of Wisconsin, which she held from 2000 to 2006. During this time, she talks about the mistreatment she encountered from other politicians and media outlets. It was not because of her sex, but because of her political beliefs.

Terri became what I would refer to as a “rare politician” - an official who is working for the people and not their political party. She discusses about the radical partisanship that is in both parties, and the “front row politician” - the party leaderships that pull the strings on the bills and amendments being passed.

The book is not a straight autobiography. At times, I felt like I was reading a text book about the corruptions and backstabbing in our government.

Terri McCormick does a good job on writing about how our government has changed. Our country’s founders wanted a nation that was run by the people. It seems the politicians have forgotten about our Constitution, and instead they only think about their parties and their own agenda. The book covers the ups and downs of campaigning, which would be a good guide to read if you are thinking about running for an office seat. I recommend “What Sex is a Republican?” to any political junkie, or just someone who wants to learn how to make some changes in our troubled government.

Note: I would like to thank The Cadence Group for sending me this complimentary copy to review.

Review - Fear Street Nights: Midnight Games

Midnight Games (Fear Street Nights #2)
Fear Street Nights: Midnight Games
BY: R.L. Stine
PUBLISHED BY: Simon Pulse
PUBLISHED IN: 2005
ISBN: 978-0-689-87865-7
Pages: 183
Ages: Teens & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

A year has passed since the events in “Moonlight Secrets.” The night people are still recovering from the death of one of their own. Jamie’s cousin, Dana Fear, arrives in Shadyhigh. Dana is going to finish high school there. And yes, Dana is a descendant of the Fear family.

Dana starts hanging out with the night people - a group of teenagers who hang out at 3a.m.. She befriends Nate, who is still getting over Candy’s death in “Moonlight Secrets.” Strange events start to occur, and the body count rises. Is Angelic Fear back from the dead?

“Midnight Games” is a fun, fast-paced sequel. There are more screams and scares than the previous installment. It was clever to bring in Dana Fear, as she is connected to Simon and Angelic Fear. I can’t wait to read the final book.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Thursday Ramblings - March 25, 2010




My short story "The Long Walk"(previously published in the Long Story ezine) will be published in the upcoming anthology "Flash!" from Lame Goat Press.

I keep catching a cold this year. I've been sick the entire week. Once again, my writing has been a little slow. Today is the 25th, and my grandma would have been eighty years old.

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow SoulsI read the book "Imaginary Jesus" by Matt Mikalatos. My review will be posted soon along with a Q&A from the author. Today, I finished reading "What Sex is a Republican?" by Terri McCormick. My review for the book will be posted sometime next week.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (Quirk Classics: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
I bought the book "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls" by Steve Hockensmith. I have the first book ordered. I should be receiving it soon. This week in the mail I got "The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls" by L.J. Smith. I have all the books in the series, but I have only read the first two books. I am a fan of the television series.

Leprechaun Triple FeatureI bought two "Leprechaun" DVD sets last weekend. Each set had three movies in it, so I got six movies for under twenty dollars. I had only seen the original movie with Jennifer Aniston. I'm ready to watch the fifth movie. I can't recommend these movies to anyone, unless you enjoy a cheap-made horror film with bad acting.

Review - The River Kings' Road

The River Kings' Road: A Novel of Ithelas
The River Kings’ Road
BY: Liane Merciel
PUBLISHED BY: Gallery Books
PUBLISHED IN: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-5911-8
Pages: 388
Ages: Adult
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

I don’t read much fantasy books. The first look at the cool cover design caught my interest. “The River Kings’ Road is set in the kingdoms of Oakharn and Longmire - once a strong empire, but has fallen apart, splitting into two empires. The village of Willowfield is brutally murdered by the red mist - created by a crazy witch named The Thorn. The villagers are all killed including Sir Galefrid, and his family.

A mercenary knight, Brys Tarnell, saves a crying baby from the massacre. The baby Winston is the heir to Sir Galefrid. Brys doesn’t know anything about raising a baby and gets help from a baker’s daughter, Odosse. She is also a mother.

Leferic, Galefrid’s brother, wants control of both kingdoms. Once he hears of the rumors that his nephew has is alive, he makes a deal with the witch. Now, Brys and Odosse must protect Winston from the clutches of The Thorn.

“The River Kings’ Road” is an exciting debut novel by Liane Merciel. The action starts up in the first chapter, as the massacre of Willowfield occurs. The descriptions of this fantasy world is well written. The dialogue between the Brys and Odosse is superb. The author is currently working on the second novel in the series titled “Heaven’s Needle.” I can’t wait to read it. I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys fantasy/adventure novels.

Note: I would like to thank Gallery Books for sending me this complimentary copy to review.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Review - Fear Street Nights: Moonlight Secrets


Moonlight Secrets (Fear Street Nights #1)Fear Street Nights: Moonlight Secrets
BY: R.L. Stine
PUBLISHED BY: Simon Pulse
PUBLISHED IN: 2005
ISBN: 978-0-689-87864-0
Pages: 174
Ages: Teens & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

After a brief hiatus, R.L. Stine returned to his “Fear Street” series with book one in a new trilogy back in 2005. Lewis, Jamie, Nate and other teenagers begin sneaking out at night - giving them the freedom to do anything the want. They hang out at the old Fear mansion that is soon to be demolished. The mansion is said to be cursed by the spirit of Angelic Fear. One night the kids discover a hidden room filled with valuables. They steal several of the objects.

A year passes by and the Fear Mansion has been torn down. Several shopping stores have been built over the ruins, including a bar called “Nights.” The bar stays open late at night and serves beer to the teens. Strange accidents soon occur, and it eventually ends up with one of the teens being murdered. Is the curse of Angelic Fear true?

I grew up reading the “Fear Street” series. I quit reading them in the late 90’s when I could no longer find in the stores. After I did some research online, I found out that there are dozens of “Fear Street” books that I don’t have. In 2005, I was looking forward to this new series, but I could never find them at my local Walmart or at the Barnes & Nobles in the city. I never thought about the books again, until late one night I typed in “Fear Street” in the search engine at Overstock.com. That’s were I found the “Fear Street Nights” trilogy. “Moonlight Secrets” is under 200 pages and is an easier and faster read than the new supernatural style teen books that are out today. There’s not very many thrills in the first book. It mostly just introduces the characters and sets everything up for the second and third books. Fans of the original series will get a kick out of the return of Simon and Angelic Fear. This is a must read.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Review - Goosebumps Horrorland: Escape From Horrorland



Kid Konnection is a a weekend feature related
to anything about children books.

Escape From Horrorland (Goosebumps Horrorland)Goosebumps Horrorland #11 Escape From Horrorland
BY: R.L. Stine
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic
PUBLISHED IN: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-439-91879-4
Pages: 132
Ages: Ages 9-12
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Book Eleven in the series changes format. There are no longer two stories, just one. The characters Lizzie and Luke Morris, from the original “One Day at Horrorland,” return to the park to save the other kids. They have no other choice, but to go through the Hall of Mirrors and enter the black & white Panic Park. There are no exits, and finally the person behind the horror is revealed.

This is an exciting sequel. It was great to see Lizzie and Luke back. I was disappointed with the villain. I expected that there would be a much eviler menace, maybe even an old villain from the original series. Overall, I enjoyed reading it.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Book Blogger Hop for Friday, March 19, 2010

Jennifer from Crazy for Books has created this meme.

If you'd like to participate, here's Jennifer's instructions:


Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blog Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!


So, if you'd like to participate, just repost this on your blog, sign MckLinky and check out other blogs in MckLinky! Let's connect and make new book bloggy friends!! So, if you consider yourself a book blogger, come join the fun!


Pretty please - Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

Review - Goosebumps Horrorland: Help! We Have Strange Powers!


Goosebumps Horrorland #10 Help! We Have Strange Powers!
BY: R.L. Stine
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic
PUBLISHED IN: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-439-91878-7
Pages: 139
Ages: Ages 9-12
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Twins Jillian and Jackson can suddenly read people’s thoughts. At first they thought it was really cool to have superpowers, but they change their minds when a weird scientists starts following them.

In the second story, the twins join the other kids in Horrorland. Several villains from previous books return to haunt them.

“Help! We Have Strange Powers!” is the worst book in the series. The plot is silly and at times just plain dumb. It makes me wonder what R.L. Stine was "on" when he wrote this mess. Only read this book for the second story - please ignore the first.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Thursday Ramblings - March 18, 2010



Howl: Dark Tales of the Feral and InfernalIf you haven't heard, my adult horror story, "The Leeds Devil," is in the the anthology "Howl: Dark Tales of the Feral and Infernal" - available now on amazon.com and createspace.com. I'm currently reading "The River King's Road" by Liane Merciel. I received the book last Thursday. My review of the book will be published on March 25, 2010 as part of a Blog Tour.

I finally got caught up on writing book reviews. I had a pile of "Goosebumps Horrorland" books on my desk. I've written a review for all of them. I'll post them at a later date.

A Cousin's Challenge (Indiana Cousins, Book 3)I won the book"A Cousin's Challenge" by Wanda E. Brunstetter from a book giveway on goodreads.com. I received the book in the mail yesterday. It looks like it will be a good read.

More Mail News: I got the book "Cowgirl At Heart" by Christine Lynxwiler in the mail last Friday. Last Thursday, along with "The River King's Road," I received "Demon Possessed" by Stacia Kane and "The Birds and the Frogs" by Brian D. McClure. The review for "Demon Possessed" was posted today as part of a Blog Tour. "The Birds and the Frogs" was posted on Sunday.

The Baby-Sitter (Point Horror Series)Prom Nights from HellOn Friday, I received the books that I had ordered off of overstock.com. They were: "Prom Nights From Hell" by Stephenie Meyer, Kim Harrison, Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle and Michelle Jaffe; "Thirteen: 13 Tales of Horror by 13 Masters of Horror" by R.L. Stine, Caroline B. Cooney, Christopher Pike, D.E. Athkins, A. Bates, Jay Bennett, Carol Ellis, Diane Hoh, Lael Littke, Sinclair Smith, J.B. Stamper, Ellen Emerson White and Patricia Windsor; "Eye Candy" by R.L. Stine; "The Baby-sitter" by R.L. Stine; "Fear Street Nights: Moonlight Secrets" by R.L. Stine; "Fear Street Nights: Midnight Games" by R.L. Stine; and "Fear Street Nights: Darkest Dawn" by R.L. Stine. As you can see I'm a R.L. Stine Fan.

My Zombie ValentineOn Saturday I bought the book "Sweep" by Cate Tiernan. Today, I bought the book "My Zombie Valentine" by Katie MacAlister, Angie Fox, Marianne Mancusi, and Lisa Cach.

I stopped by the library and picked up two books on the "free books" shelf. The books are: "Born Into Light" by Paul Samuel Jacobs and "John Chancellor Makes Me Cry" by Anne Rivers Siddons.

Today, I got the book "Imaginary Jesus" by Matt Mikalatos in the mail. I'll probably read it over the weekend, so expect my review to be up sometime next week.

The Stepfather
I plan on watching "The Stepfather" DVD tonight.

I finally got out of my so-called "writer's block." I've jotted down several new plot ideas. I started writing on a new story this week. Everything is going well.

Review - Demon Possessed by Stacia Kane

Demon Possessed (Megan Chase, Book 3)Demon Possessed
BY: Stacia Kane
PUBLISHED BY: Pocket Books
PUBLISHED IN: 2010
ISBN: 978-4391-6761-8
Pages: 321
Ages: Adults
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

The psychic psychologist Megan Chase is back in “Demon Possessed,” the third and final book in the series. A FBI agent is wanting to know what her involvement with Greyson Dante is, and where the rumored demon meeting is going to be located at. Of course, Megan denies everything. The truth - Megan is attending the demon meeting with her demon lover, Greyson.

Greyson is pressuring Megan to join the “family” - to become a full-fledged demon, and he has a few dark secrets kept hidden from her.

Then, things start to go wrong at the meeting, including a minister performing “weekend exorcisms.” To make matters worse, a scary angel wants to kill Megan.

I have never read the first two books in the series, so it took me awhile to figure out what was going on. Megan Chase is a bold fantasy heroine, who doesn’t want to settle down. The book’s weakness is the lack of action, and it’s unnecessary focus on Megan’s emotions. The love scenes between Megan and Greyson are unbelievable. There was no passion, just dread. There are enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. “Demon Possessed” is fast-paced, just falling over three-hundred pages. Fan of the previous books will enjoy the final installment. If you’re new to the series, I would recommend reading the first book so you want be confused as I was.

Note: I would like to thank Pocket Books for sending me this complimentary copy to review.

For more information on the author visit her website at http://www.staciakane.net/.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Review - Goosebumps Horrorland #9 Welcome to Camp Slither

Welcome To Camp Slither (Goosebumps Horrorland)Goosebumps Horrorland #9 Welcome to Camp Slither
BY: R.L. Stine
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic
PUBLISHED IN: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-439-91877-0
Pages: 133
Ages: Ages 9-12
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Boone and Heather are psyched about spending the summer at Camp Hitcher. They are told about the legends of the man-eating snakes, and about campers disappearing. Will they be next?

In the second story, Boone arrives in Horrorland and teams up with the other kids from the previous story.

“Welcome to Camp Slither” is a creepy tale that will make your spine tingle. It’s a great story to tell in front of a campfire. I was disappointed that the character Heather didn’t make into Horrorland.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Review - The Birds and the Frogs by Brian D. McClure



Kid Konnection is a a weekend feature related
to anything about children books.


Every day it was the same conversation between the birds and frogs. The birds could fly, and in their eyes that made them superior to the frogs. The frogs believed they were smaller and not as important as the birds.

A young group of tadpoles gives the birds and frogs some advice. It doesn’t matter if the birds have wings, that doesn’t make them any different. They are the same as anything else on earth.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Review - The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle


The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle
BY: L.J. Smith
PUBLISHED BY: Harper Teen
PUBLISHED IN: 1991
ISBN: 978-1-61523-818-7
Pages: 492
Ages: Young Adult
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

I can’t believe these books came out back in 1991! I was excited to get my hands on the first volume. I remember when they first came out, but never got a chance to read them until now.

Elena Gilbert has come home to Fell’s Church, Virginia after visiting France. She begins her senior year at the Robert E. Lee High School, where she meets the mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore.

After the homecoming dance, Elena is attacked by her classmate Tyler. Stefan comes to her rescue, and they soon fall in love. Stefan’s older brother, Damon, comes into town. Strange attacks happen in Fell’s Church. Is Damon to blame? What is Stefan’s dark secret? If you’ve been watching the television show on the CW, you can probably answer these questions.