Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Blast & $25 Giveaway - The Bifrost Bridge by James Bradley Clarke

The Bifrost Bridge by James Clark

Title: The Bifrost Bridge | Author: James Bradley Clarke | Illustrator: Marcus Gran | Publication Date: January, 2013 | Publisher: Wynwidyn Press | Pages: 92 | Recommended Ages: 8+

Summary: The Bifrost Bridge is a Viking princess fairy tale intertwined with Norse mythology. Silya, the feisty ten year old Princess of Norway, eagerly awaits the arrival of her cousin and best friend, Princess Hedda of Denmark. The princesses are both looking forward to the summer solstice celebration, but trouble lurks in their future as magical villains see the girls as being vital for their deadly conspiracy. Hedda and Silya find themselves cast into a dangerous adventure filled with fire giants, female warrior angels and the God of Thunder.    


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The Buzz

"A delightful and endearing adventure that winds Norse mythology and two young girls through a whirlwind of danger, friendship and standing up to evil-doers. The Princess heroines, Silya and Hedda, engage the reader with their charming day to day life at the celebrated summer solstice festival in ancient Norway... The book moves along easily and the characters are likable at once. A fun read for the parents, and challenging enough for the children because it may have a few new words and characters they may not know. It is an adorable story that will soon become a favorite." ~ 5 Star Review, Janet, Amazon

"Bifrost Bridge is a beautiful fairytale, mixing legend and adventure and creating a wonderful reading experience for both children and adults alike. I read this to my 7 year old daughter, and my 10 year old daughter read it for herself; both of them were captivated by the story. My 7 year old loved the idea of two princesses being such close friends, and my 10 year old loved all of the action and suspense in the story. I enjoyed the Norse mythology woven into the tale. It's a wonderful family story. I will be reading it to my sons next!" ~ 5 Star Review, Rebecca F., Amazon

"When I first looked into this book, I was sure that the world of fairy tales had been overdone so many times that I wouldn't see much difference between this one & my other classic favorites that I enjoyed over the years with my children... However, I was proven wrong.. This is such a beautiful and entrancing fairy tale! Mr. Clarke takes the often repetitive world of fairy tales and adds an elegant, dramatic twist to it, producing an epic and moving adventure that children will forever cherish! My daughter and I read it together and had many nights where we just didn't want to put it down! His characters, including the feisty Silya, are memorable and seem so very real! It's a hard thing to do that with children's fairy tales and again, I commend Mr. Clarke for releasing a wonderful new fairy tale to pass on to generations to come!" ~ 5 Star Review, Vicky R., Amazon

About the Author: James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke James Bradley Clarke[/caption] James Bradley Clarke is a graduate of Hiram College, The University of Houston, and the University of Michigan. He currently resides in Oxford, Ohio, where he works as an academic librarian for Miami University. He grew up near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he has spent most of his life in the Great Lakes region. The Bifrost Bridge is Clarke’s first work of fiction. The children’s book was first developed as stories Clarke started telling to his two daughters back in the summer of 2003. Both girls shared a love for classic princess fairy tales, so he invented original princess characters for both of them. As residents in Riverside, Illinois, Clarke’s family lived in walking distance of the Brookfield Zoo where the girls regularly admired the Norwegian fjord horses. When he learned this ancient breed of horse was used by the Vikings, a specific medieval setting for the stories came into focus. As a Hiram College student, Clarke had developed a love for the epic poems of Homer and Virgil, so he chose to borrow from mythology to provide magical elements. The girls became instantly enamored with these stories and they insisted on developing new adventures for the two Nordic princess characters. The first draft of a manuscript was produced during the summer of 2005. Clarke’s daughters were delighted with the bound copy they received as a Christmas gift later that year, so he began the process of becoming an author. Clarke has a love for history and a taste for plot driven stories about extraordinary individualism. Themes of fortitude and self-determination lay at the heart of Clarke’s writing interests.

Contact him:
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Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest runs: February 10 to March 9, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, James Bradley Clarke and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Review & Giveaway - Neversink by Barry Wolverton

Title: Neversink
Author: Barry Wolverton
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Pages: 287
Goodreads Rating: 3.84 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Age Range: 8-12

Summary from Goodreads: Barry Wolverton's masterful middle-grade debut, Neversink, is an epic tale of some very un-epic birds, a fast-paced and funny story of survival, friendship, and fish, in the vein of Watership Down and Kathi Appelt's The Underneath.

Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called auks, including one Lockley J. Puffin. With their oceanfront views and plentiful supply of fish, the auks have few concerns—few, save for Lockley's two best friends, Egbert and Ruby, a know-it-all walrus and a sharp-tongued hummingbird.

But all of this is about to change. Rozbell, the newly crowned king of the Owl Parliament, has long had his scheming eyes on the small colony to the north. Now Neversink's independence hangs in the balance. An insurgence of owls will inevitably destroy life as the auks know it—unless Lockley can do something about it.

What did my 9-year-old daughter think of the book?  Read on to find out (in her own words)!

What is the story about?
The story is about many auks and puffins living on an island called Neversink. The birds all thought it was a great place until the owls who lived near them at a place called Tytonia taxed them so that they had to make smidgens (which is cooked fish) for all the owls. But only one puffin knew how to make them. It's up to Lockley to save all the birds.

What do you think of the cover and pictures in this book?

Who is the main character? How are they like you or not? Do you like them?
The main character is Lockley.  We both like fish and he and I are both very helpful. We are not alike because he does not seem to really want adventure but he will do it if he has to, but I love adventure! I like Lockley.

What is the most exciting part of the story?
The most exciting part of the story is when the owl king tried to take the auks' eggs.

What is your least favorite part of the story?
My least favorite part was the beginning before the owls gave the auks the taxes.

How did the story make you feel?
The story made me feel bad for the birds, even all the owls that were forced to be mean to the auks.

What lessons did you learn from this story?
I learned you should stand up for what is right.

Would you re-read this book? Who do you think would like it?
I would probably re-read this book and I think that it is a good book for both boys and girls.

Neversink was a fun, humorous Middle Grade novel that's sure to appeal to the animal lovers in your family!  This book read very much like a kids' movie (I could totally see an adaptation on the big screen) - full of crazy characters and dramatic moments.  

The negatives.
  • A little slow in parts.  The biggest issue that I had with Neversink is that, in certain parts, it was a little too much talk and too little action for a middle grade novel. This was mostly true in the first half. There were lots of great messages in this book, but some of the political ideals are just a bit over the target audience's head, so I don't think my daughter truly appreciated those parts of the book. She also commented about the spirit journey, saying "He basically just swam down to the bottom of the ocean and talked to the lady." And, yeah, he pretty much did - it was a little anti-climactic considering the build-up to it - we were expecting real danger! Still, overall my daughter and I both enjoyed the book and the slow pace was only an issue in certain parts.
  • The characters.  In my opinion, the secondary characters totally stole the show in this book. I was in love with Egbert, the scholarly walrus with a propensity for talking (and using words that none of the other characters understand)! He was such fun and I loved the fact that he went from sort of a bumbling sidekick to a truly loyal friend with an important part to play in the story. Another fun character was Ruby - a cute little hummingbird who spent much of her time arguing with Egbert. Lucy, Luckley's wife was great because she turned out to be such a strong character (who had to fight her natural puffin instinct to "go with the flow").  These secondary characters really made the book for me!
  • Tongue-in-cheek humor.  The book had a fun sense of tongue-in-cheek humor throughout, with little asides and fun quips.  I especially loved the comments that had to do with the supposed superiority of walruses (at least according to the walruses) and how the writer was sparing us from lots of long walrus speeches in parts.  There were also some little joking anachronisms (although these weren't always as successful as far as I was concerned - for instance, Ruby would compare something to a modern item like a plane and then someone else would point out that there was no such things as planes. Huh?). Overall, though, the fun sense of humor made the book feel whimsical, which I really enjoyed.
  • Great messages.  This book had lots of great messages about not accepting social injustice, sticking with family and friends and believing in yourself!  Of course, these are just the types of messages I like to see in a great kids' book!
So, overall, Neversink is a great read!! I highly recommend it to young fans of animal stories! My daughter and I give it 4/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***


About Barry Wolverton

I have been writing for children for 20 years, helping create educational books, documentaries, and online content for Discovery Networks, National Geographic, the Library of Congress, Scholastic, and Time-Life Books.

My debut novel, NEVERSINK, is now available in paperback. The first book in THE VANISHING ISLAND trilogy releases in early 2015.

Author Links:
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review & $100 Giveaway - Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple by Lars Guignard

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About the Book

Title: Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple (Zoe & Zak Series, Book #3)
Author: Lars Guignard
Publisher: Fantastic Press
Publication Date: January 1, 2014
Number of Pages: 267
Recommended Age: 8+


Last semester, Zoe and Zak returned the first lost Noble Truth to its rightful home. Now, Zoe and Zak are back in India for their second semester at Moonstock Himalayan Academy. School kicks off with the Activity Week Challenge in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan where the students must deliver medical supplies. Things, however, take a turn for the worse, when Zak becomes deathly ill after an encounter with a strange floating bubble. On returning to Moonstock, Zoe and Zak discover that a creature has come through the lava hole far below their dormitory. When Zoe and Zak follow the creature, they soon discover what they must do. They have been tasked with finding the second lost Noble Truth -- the Tiger Eye of Justice. Finding the Tiger Eye sounds like an impossible mission, and it's only made more confusing when Zak discovers that he has been given a supernatural power to help them with their task-- a power which Zak, for the life of him, just can't control. But he's going to have to learn how to use his new ability, because if Zoe and Zak can't find the Tiger Eye quickly, Zak's time will run out.  


***Note - This review is for book #3 in the series.  Click on these links to go to my reviews of the first two books: Ghost Leopard  Yogi's Curse*** 

Well, this series just keeps getting better and better!  The Tiger Temple was definitely my favorite book in the series so far!  This series in general has been great fun and I can't help but compare it to Percy Jackson (only, in this series the focus is Indian culture and mythology instead of Greek mythology).  I do think that this series skews a bit younger than Percy (especially since there's no romance element to these books), but it's right on the money for the 8-11 demographic.

Honestly, I can't really think of any negatives about this one, so I'll just jump straight to the positives!

  • Fun animal antics.  In this book, Zak gets what he calls "Creature Teacher powers."  He essentially can speak to and (to some extent) control animals.  This leads to lots of fun scenes with animals!  And it also leads to a cute new pet - Open Sesame, a parrot who joins the crew on their adventures.
  • Zak's gets even more attention.  Since Zak gained a power in this book, he gets even more of the limelight, which I think is a great thing since I love Zak!  I also loved that there was just a little tinge of jealousy between Zak and Zoe that was explored (but it wasn't a huge issue that overwhelmed the plot or anything - just little hints of it).  This time around, Zak was also in danger of dying if they didn't find the second Noble Truth in time, which raised the stakes a bit.
  • India's culture.  I can't write a review of these books without once again mentioning the Indian culture and mythology.  The Indian gods and goddesses are once again prominent and a new myth is explored.  I think that Guignard has done a fantastic job of weaving the mythology into the story so that readers will learn it without feeling like they've been taught!  And, of course, the Indian setting is always interesting and unique.

The Tiger Temple is an exceptional MG adventure novel!  I highly recommend it! 5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

Buzz About the Zoe & Zak Series

Book 1: "Awesome! ~ I am 11 and I liked the book because I love adventures. It was a different kind of adventure from what I usually read and it was funny too. " ~ 5-Star Review from J. Olsen, Amazon 
Book 1: "This was a fun read. This book was like a kid's version of Indiana Jones. It's also very educational as Zoe tells you real facts about what she sees and the history. I enjoyed it immensely. If you have a 10-12 year old child that loves adventure books, this is definitely a must read. " ~ 5-Star review from Simone Lilly-Egerter, Amazon 
Book 1: "I'm sure this book was written for children who are around the age of the two children in the book, 11 or so. But, this 35 year old loved this book! It had action, adventure and imagination galore! It was exactly the kind of adventure that a lot of kids that age dream of." ~ 5-Star review from The Novice Christian, Amazon 
Book 2: "I have a 10 year old son who is an avid reader!! He loves books, (but he's picky too) he loved Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. He was so excited to read the 2nd book in this series! When I presented him the first book he was not sure he would like it but changed his mind quickly, then when I heard about the 2nd book being released he almost jumped out of his chair! (no exaggeration) He is anxiously awaiting the 3rd book! I would say that any child who enjoys fantasy/adventure books should read this series! It is a well written page turner! It's a fun story that adults can even enjoy the storyline without getting bored! According to my son, 'every kid should read this series'. " ~ 5-Star review from SavyGreenSaver, Amazon 
Book 2: "I loved this book, even as an adult reading it. I was completely sucked into the plot and was constantly finding myself staying up "just a little longer" to read one more chapter. Different twists and turns in the book have you constantly guessing who is behind what and who Zak and Zoe can trust. I could definitely see myself being involved in this series as a middle schooler considering how much I enjoyed it even now. Another thing I liked about it is if you missed the first book, you could still follow along with this one and not be lost." ~ 5-Star review from Staci, Amazon
Book 2: "Lars Guignard has done a fabulous job with this series. I loved the `Ghost Leopard' & love this one even more. For late-elementary to middle school age readers, you can't beat this series. It's fun and fast-paced. Even my picky fifth grader enjoyed every page. There are bits of magic thrown in keep the action exciting. Mr. Guignard has a brilliant imagination & readers are blessed that he's chosen to use it for YA fiction. If you've yet to read the first installment in this series, do yourself a favor and read these books back to back. Don't limit it just to kids! Adults will have a blast reading these too!" ~ 5-Star review from Liz Terek, Amazon  


Tiger Temple by Lars GuignardAmazon (Kindle) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CAN) | Amazon (AUS)


About The Author: Lars Guignard

Lars Guignard Lars Guignard[/caption] Prior to writing novels, Lars Guignard wrote for film and television. As a teenager he attended boarding school in the Indian Himalayas and his experiences there provided the inspiration for the Zoe and Zak series which now include: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard, Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse, and Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple. He lives in the Pacific Northwest where he dodges bears and cougars while hiking & skiing the magnificent Coast Mountain Range. For news about new releases, please join his email list by contacting the author: Zoe& 
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Tiger Temple Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

January 15
January 16
January 17
January 19
January 20
January 21
January 22
January 23
January 24
January 25
January 27
January 28
January 29
January 30
January 31
February 1
February 2
February 3
February 4
February 5
February 6
February 7
February 8
February 9
February 10
February 11
February 12
February 13
February 14

* Tiger Temple Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (or PayPal cash). Contest runs: January 15 to February 21, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Worldwide How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Lars Guignard and Fantastic Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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