Category Archives: Children’s Fiction

Illegal Aliens

Title:Illegal Aliens
Series: Aoleon The Martian Girl-Part 4
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Children’s Science Fiction
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Publishing date: February 1st 2015
ISBN:B00T3P4S92

Synopsis: After their saucer is destroyed, they crash land somewhere in the deep Martian desert, and they set out to locate Kyrios and the secret base where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive.

My Review:

This series quickly loses its charm on me. During the first few books I found it charming, but in the fourth book I just find the storyline annoying and too much is going on all over the place. The description of the book says that we will finally figure out whether or not they can save Aoleon’s parents, but nope that doesn’t happen. It seems like someone wrote the description then someone else wrote the book and they never bothered with checking the two against each other. Much of the humor that made the books funny and endurable before has went underground just like Aleoon’s father (which we never hear anything about anymore).

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9781484709016
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate.There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. When children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Review:

This book had a huge marketing hype around it. All the marketing, the intriguing description as well as the book-cover got me very excited about this book.
In many ways this book would be better off had the author invented a fictional family to go with the castle. Instead he chose to go with the family who are historically linked to the estate, and then he throws history all over the place. Of course all historical fiction does fictionalize a lot of things, but their fictional facts should in some fashion be linked to actual historical facts or theories.
The characters were easy to enjoy but they were a little flat. The mysteries are a bit simple and the books targeted audience (8-12 year olds) wouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the mysteries presented in the book. That is everything except Serafina’s own “past” which is barely foreshadowed at all and is just info-dumped on the reader in the end. Though it is pretty clear what she is, or it is very well displayed by the books illustrations, but the whole why and whens are just dropped in the end.
That aside, this is a book that can be enjoyed, particularly by it’s targeted audience, but the hype around it is insanely overplayed. This is a normal mediocre book which could have been much better had the story been a little more complex and with more colorful characters. If the novel had been longer and there had been more space for the character’s to evolve, this would have been a superb book.
By all means, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Se the astonishing book-trailer below (I would watch that movie):

The Hollow Moon

Title: The Hollow Moon
Series: Aoleon The Martian Girl #3
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Children’s science fiction
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Publishing date: February 8th, 2015
ISBN: 9780986208232

Synopsis: Gilbert finally gets his chance to learn to skyboard. However, things go horribly wrong and they are chased by the Royal Paladin guard.

My Review:

This is the third installment in the book-series, and all though there is much more action in this one I found myself loosing interest. It is a perfectly fine story, but it did no captivate me in any way. The artwork is still fine, and it is a story that promotes a kick-ass female superhero, which is great. The overall story still lacks direction, which is one of the reasons I feel like I’m losing touch with this story. The good thing about this story is the characters, it is easy to care and fear for them. Another positive thing is that the speed picked up, and the story unfolds faster than in the previous one. There are two more books in the series and I hope the last two books will provide more sense of purpose.

Author info:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys.
He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel.
He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

The Luminess of Mars

Title: The Luminess of Mars
Series: Aoleon The Martian Girl #2
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher:  Aoléon Pres
Publishing date: February 23rd 2015
ASIN: B00S70U8NE

Synopsis: Gilbert gets to visit the Martian Space Academy (Aoléon’s school) where he encounters Aoléon’s nemesis, Charm Lepton and her friend Quarkina, as well as receiving a history lesson on the Martian people by Plutarch Xenocrates.

My Review:

The book is fast paced and full of adventure just like the previous one. The author has successfully created a resourceful and high energy superhero. For the most part the writing is to the point, but sometimes it seems like the plot loses its grasp on the story and it sort of waddle around, and at some points I think it would have done better with stronger editing.
The graphics are still fun, but I still think they speak more to the younger part of Middle Grade readers rather than the older part. The graphics follow the style of most modern cartoon shows for children.
One thing I really dislike about this series is its clunky and awkward title format. The title format makes it hard to distinguish each volume from the other, and I think it would have benefited from sticking with a traditional graphic novel format or just given each installment a title and call it a series like all other books.

To end the review on a positive note I did enjoy the story for what it was, and I think the writing will be engaging for children who are just starting to read on their own.

Author Bio

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl

PArt I: First Contact

Title: First Contact
Series: Aoléon The Martian Girl
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Science Fiction, Middle Grade
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Publishing date: January 31st, 2015
ISBN: 9780979128516
Purchase Link:

Synopsis: The launch of this exciting and innovatively illustrated new series takes the reader deep into the heart of an unforgettable and out-of-this-world friendship in a story full of hijinks, hilarity, and good old-fashioned fun.

My Review:

I would like to start off this review by commenting the nice illustrations that accompanied this Middle-Grade Science Fiction book. Even though they can look rather simple they weree vivi and color full, and complimented the story. They are imaginative and I’m sure that younger readers will really appreciate them.
The story itself is very easy to follow and the text is large, which, both, make this book great for kids who’s just learning to read on their own.
After saying this, there isn’t much going on in the story. But this isn’t necessarily bad, younger readers might need a simple story line to follow while I as an adult reader would have liked to see more going on in the story
Bottom line is that this is a book that king of reads like a TV-show, written by an authors who is 100% aware of his audience without dumbing down the language. It is very clear from the story that this book is Middle-Grade, and it doesn’t try to be anything more than that.

A brush with Danger

Title: A Brush with Danger
Author: Adam Frost
Genre: Children’s fiction
Publisher: Little Tiger Group Stripes Publishing
Publishing date: 6th July, 2015
ISBN: 9781847156167

Synopsis:Solving Crime in Record Time! A priceless painting, a mysterious letter, a piece of cheese so stinky it’s deadly… From the art galleries of Paris to the palaces of Moscow, detective Wily Fox is on the trail of Dimitri Gottabottomitch. But the brown bear is doing whatever he can to throw Wily off the scent. Can Wily solve the case of the priceless painting or will he be the victim of an art attack?

My Review:

This is a children’s book that’s party illustrated. It has large text which makes it easy to read. The story is interesting and engaging, and not too scary. The pace is quick so the reader won’t get bored, and it follows the main plot closely.
The story is relatable and the story is very suitable for any gender. Also it would be the ideal book for the young readers to read on their own.

The Choice

Title: The Choice
Series: The Sidhe #2
Author: Cindy Cipriano
Genre: YA, Sci Fi & Fantasy
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Publishing date: June 9th, 2015
ISBN: 9781922200198
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: For Calum Ranson, seventh grade brings changes in his relationship with his parents and his friends, and a confrontation with his bully. Calum’s talents have also developed to a level unheard of in the Sidhe world, and he surprises everyone when he cleverly catches the person responsible for casting Finley out from the Otherworld.
When Calum goes against everything he knows is right, he makes a choice that may cost him his friendship with Laurel. An old friend steps in, but her mysterious ways leave Calum questioning her motivation.

My Review:

Irish mythology is much complimented in this story, and it is because of the overtone of mythology that I was interested in reading this story. This book is a second book in a series, and it did not read well as a stand alone novel, but I have decided to not let that cloud my opinion of the book.
The characters were well written and came alive on the page, they were interesting even though I knew little of their background. The themes of the story were clear: friendship and loyalty, and the story was well crafted around them.
Even though “The Choice” is the second book in a series, it did easily explain the Sidhe’s world with its rules and limitations, so it was easy to get into the story and understand the realm.
As an overall, “the choice” had a good and entertaining story, which was well written with a  fastidious attention to details, but the fantasy elements could have been stronger.

 

Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm

Title: Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm
Series: Jack Staples #3
Author: Mark Batterson & Joel N. Clark
Genre: Christian, Children’s Fiction
Publisher: David C. Cook
Publishing date: June 1st, 2015
ISBN: 9781434707321
Purchase Link:

Synopsis: In this epic conclusion to the Jack Staples trilogy, Jack and Alexia must make an impossible choice during their final battle against the Assassin—one that could alter time itself and the fate of the world.

My Review:

Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm is a worthy ending to the trilogy about Jack Staples. It is not the strongest book in the series, the first book was far more enjoyable. This third and final book offer a conclusion to the storylines from the previous two books.
At times it did feel like a chore to keep reading, but it was nice to see the loose ends coming to a conclusion.

After the Storm

Title: After The Storm
Series: Timber Ridge Riders #8
Author: Maggie Dana
Publisher: Pageworks Press
Publishing date: November 20th, 2013
ISBN: 9780985150471
Purchase Link:

Synopsis: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the Timber Ridge girls are excited about getting dates and new outfits for the school dance. But a blizzard plunges them into reality when the barn’s power goes out. If Kate and Holly don’t act fast, a pony may die. But Angela Dean doesn’t care. She spreads false rumors that Kate can’t be trusted around horses.  If Angela succeeds in her latest vendetta, Kate might lose all she’s worked hard to attain-her place on the team and the respect of her two closest friends.

My Review:

After the Storm felt much like a filler book. The one incident with the pony happens in the beginning of the book, and not much happen after that. Teenage girls do have fights, but as Holly’ boyfriend told her: their argument sounded stupid.

“For once Adam was speechless. He opened his mouth, then shut it again as Holly blurted out her problems with Kate. But the more she talked about them, the dumber they sounded.”

This pretty much sums up the book. The arguments and the reasons for the arguments seem contrived. But what Adam thinks about it kind of makes up for some of it. Also because Holly and Kate are apart for much of the book every second chapter is devoted to each of their POV. The change of the POVs in it self is rather wasted, firstly because there is little to no distinction between the two voices, secondly because from the synopsis it seems like Kate is the main character while Holly is her sidekick.
Kate’s “long distance-relationship” with the famous actor should come to an end at some point. It doesn’t fit in with the story, and is more of a nauseant than entertaining.
I have been reading a lot of the books in this series, but this is the first one which is majorly disappointing. As for now I’m content with continuing reading the series.

The Venetian Job

Title: The Venetian Job: Bad guys and action: Max’s Italian holiday
Series: The Max Books #3
Author: Sally Gould
Publisher: Orbis Media
Publishing date: December, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9941827-4-6
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: In ‘Mafia Encounter’, when Max is on a family holiday in Sicily, he and Charlie notice the mafia seem to be following them. Are they related to the mafia boss? Will they have to learn the business? Will their lives ever be the same?

My Review:

Curiosity killed the Cat is not a saying Max adheres to. Max is a middle grade book hero, he follows his imagination and curiosity, which tend to get him into trouble. As he is a kid he does like impulse control, which is something that make him easy to relate to, he is a “hero” but still human.
This is the first book in the series I have read, and though most readers would start at book one, I missed references to Max’s history through the two first books. The story starts very abruptly and for me it was confusing at first, though I presume the backstory and characters are more dished out in the first two installments.
Though the minor issues aside, I could imagine Max  a younger Alex Rider adventure type, and the book certainly did not lack anything in the adventure department.

Except:

Sharing a hotel with a mafia boss – even if he was a little old man – didn’t make me feel safe and warm inside. I could feel my stomach doing somersaults while we waited for the elevator. I wondered if Charlie was nervous too. He wouldn’t admit it, even if he were.

Eventually there was a ping and the doors of the elevator opened. It was empty. That was good. Well, it was good as long as no mafia guys got in before we got out.

“I think I’ll do fifty laps,” said Charlie, after the elevator doors closed.

“What about Marco Polo? I want to say we played Marco Polo in Italy.”

He looked at me like I was stupid. “Marco Polo came from Venice; Italy wasn’t a country back then.”

Trust him to turn something fun into a history lesson. “Yeah, whatever.”

The doors of the elevator opened and we followed the signs to the pool. It was an indoor pool, there were three lanes and it was probably about fifteen metres long – long enough for races. I knew as soon as I saw it that Charlie would want to race.

At first I didn’t see anyone in the pool, but then I noticed a figure push off from the edge. Geez, I wanted to have the whole pool to ourselves. Then I saw two men in black suits sitting at the side of the pool. The bad feeling in my gut came back. At first I didn’t recognize them because they weren’t wearing sunglasses. One of them got up and came over to us as Charlie and me were stripping down to our swimmers. I could barely take off my shorts, I was shaking so much.

The man in black was tall and he had big shoulders. He said something to us in Italian.

Charlie said, “Parla inglese?”

I knew that meant, Do you speak English? I hadn’t worked out how Charlie could say four English words in only two Italian words.

“Come back to swim later,” ordered the man in black.

“Sure,” I said and began to put my shorts back on. I wasn’t stupid. I knew from school that if someone three times bigger told me to do something, it was best to do it.

“We’re staying at the hotel. We’re allowed to use the pool.” Charlie folded his arms.

Was he crazy? “We can go back to our room and watch the wrestling,” I said to him. “Let’s go.”

The man in black leaned toward Charlie and said very softly, “Mr. Petruzzelli owns hotel.”

Mr. P must’ve been Mr. Mafia in the pool. That was good enough for me. I was out of here. If Charlie wanted to stay and get his head blown off, that was his business. Real casual, I began to walk back toward the elevator.

I heard a voice behind me. “Boy! You stop!”

Author Bio:

Sally Gould loved books from a young age, but never considered writing them. While she was busy getting up to the mischief that teenagers get up to, she forgot about books all together. Then total insanity took hold and she became a corporate lawyer. Fortunately, she had two sons and they inspired her to write stories for children. Of course, her oldest son is responsible, logical, studious, considerate, grateful and even makes his bed. The youngest one is only interested in having fun – lots of it. And, except for his teachers, he makes everyone laugh. Their antics have inspired many of Sally’s stories. Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her family and two dogs – Pebbles, who is sensible, and Jade, who just wants to have fun.

Contact Sally Gould:
Email: sally@sallygould.com.au
Website: www.sallygould.com.au 
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5010299.Sally_Gould
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sallygouldchildrensauthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel