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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

In Children's Book Reviews on May 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm

This week’s children’s book reviews are up over on my website. Please drop by and see them. As ever, I hope you enjoy my varied choice of books and the reviews of them, and, of course, my choice for Book of the Week. Don’t forget to scroll down the page at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor where you can read the full reviews of all the books.

Children’s Book of the Week: 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjery Williams

he Velveteen Rabbit  Book Cover

Other Books I Have Reviewed

A Doctor of Divinity by Shelley J Reeves

Rufus and Magic Run Amok by Marilyn Levinson

Buddie – The Trampolining Bear by Sarah Cooper

Wow, life is good! – ‘Mungai’ has been given yet another 5 stars!

In Book Reviews, Mungai and the Goa Constrictor on January 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I have just received the most spectacular in-depth review for Mungai and the Goa Constrictor. My heartfelt thanks to the very erudite Jane Whiteoak for taking so much time to write this review. I hope many of you will find the time and the irrepressible urge to read it. 

Select a place..any where in the world and you most probably have heard stories about a pair to be very wary of, like Mungai and the Goa Constrictor! Likely, you’ll have heard them directly, from the innocent victims left strewn aside in their wake. This is a story about nature, reforestation, gold mining, animals both two-legged and four-legged and the most nebulous kind of all… that of the cold and calculating… psychological nature.
Mungai, escapes from a zoo by literally biting the hand that feeds him, to obtain his freedom. Along the way he connects with a self-centered, narcissistic snake named Goa. They instantly mirror and gravitate to the lack of conscience in each other and recognize “possibilities” of a greater future together. They exist in this world only to use everyone that they encounter to their own advantage.
Mungai and the Goa Constrictor - A Children's Book by Amelia E Curzon - book CoverThey formulate a plan to exploit a group of unsuspecting animals, promising great rewards in the future, if the animals do as they request.
Having every faith in the pair, the animals work laboriously constructing tables, chairs and baskets out of wood with the promise of hope and prosperity for their respective families. They listen attentively to Mungai and Goa, as the two speak with authority and are quite erudite in their knowledge of the woodland surroundings and little gold treasures. To doubt their sincerity would be erroneous as the animals would have a falling out with their peers and thus be made to look foolish.
Through manipulation and cajoling the two cause confusion every step of the way. The woodland and jungle animals work together in good faith but they are gullible and unbeknownst to them are being terribly misled. Their gold mining endeavours, are necessary to pay for new equipment, used by humans to work at deforestation!
They’ve all been told by the amoral pair, that the “trees are too old” and need to be chopped down, in order that new ones may be replanted in their place. The animals have no concept that they are working illegally and are actually chopping down their own habitat. The two ring leaders start to show a few cracks in their armour however, when they begin to live in loftier and loftier residences. Each move is scrupulously planned, to be farther away from the ‘workers’ each time and with every move they have obtained, through smooth talk, even greater security.( e.g. wolves acting as security guards).
Finally, a very observant crow, becomes extremely suspicious and tries in vain to alert the diligent trusting foreman, the badger. Of course, the badger doesn’t believe a word that the crow tells him, as he has complete and utter “misplaced” trust in Mungai and Goa.
The book is very engaging as one ponders, if this dubious duo will ever be seen for what and whom, they truly are. Amelia E. Curzon has done us all a huge favour, by shining a spotlight on and enlightening us, to the damage done to our society by these unconscionable and despicable human beings. Her insight into this behaviour and relaying this message, through the depiction of animals is truly remarkable. This is an excellent book that would be advantageous and fascinating to read, for all ages. It is a real page turner and I highly recommend this book to all!

Jane Whiteoak – January 14th 2013

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Read all other reviews here

Guest Post: Read, Reflect, Review by Cathy Speight

In Guest Blogger, Reviewing on December 9, 2012 at 12:01 am

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce my latest Guest Blogger, book reviewer Cathy Speight. In this wonderfully informative post, Cathy shares some very constructive tips, and much of her own wisdom, on the criteria which make for a good review and a good reviewer. A very big welcome to you, Cathy!  And thank you so much for accepting my invitation to be my guest here.

Hello everyone!

Well, I won’t bore you with a long and dreary bio, but just so that you know a little about me, my name is Cathy Speight, I live in Bristol, UK, am married, have twin daughters, and three (nearly four) grandchildren.  I opted for retirement four Cathy Speight Reviewer Guest Blogging on aecurzon.wordpress.comyears ago when the company I worked for relocated to London and then last year, I did two things:  I signed up to Facebook (I’m a late developer), and I bought myself a Kindle.  Those two things are actually how I find myself here.  Thank you, Amelia, very much indeed for inviting me along.

The Kindle revolutionised my reading.  After only one eBook  I was well and truly hooked, and I joined a number of Facebook book groups where I met a hitherto unknown (to me) group of people:  indie authors.  I discovered an Aladdin’s Cave of indie books, got chatting to lots of authors and—long story short—I found myself creating my own review blog.  For me, clicking the last page of the book wasn’t quite The End. Complete closure was writing about what I thought of the book.  And lo, Cath ‘n’ Kindle Book Reviews was born—an album or an anthology of all my Kindle books.

Having reviewed for a couple of book-reviewing sites, I picked up some very useful hints about writing reviews, and together with what I personally like to see, I’d like to share those elements I believe make a good review and offer some ‘tips and wrinkles’ (where did that expression come from?) about becoming a reviewer:

  • Read the book from beginning to end (not as obvious as it sounds!) and carefully. (I have been known to read a page three times if I thought I hadn’t read every word).
  • Were the characters well-conceived, varied enough, did you like the heroes/heroines?
  • The plot—was it well-structured? Were there any loose threads?
  • Did you like the author’s style—was it suited to the genre?
  • The pace of the story—too fast, too slow?
  • Did it evoke any emotions? Did you cry or laugh?
  • Was the dialogue natural?
  • Was it well edited?
  • Would you recommend the book?
  • Would you read another book by the author?
  • A detailed synopsis of the story isn’t too important as there is always one at the point of purchase—but of course, it’s difficult to talk about the book without reference to the story, so keep it short with no spoilers—please, no  spoilers.
  • Try and be sensible about the length of your review—too short, and there are too many unanswered questions for the potential reader: ‘this was a good book, couldn’t put it down, I could relate to the heroine, and loved the ending’ isn’t going to influence a reader very much.  By the same token, if your review is too long—you will lose a reader’s interest—not just in the review, but maybe even in the book.
  • Most importantly, if you expect a well-edited, well-presented book from an author, I feel the very least you can do is give the same in return, so there should be no typos, spelling mistakes, etc.

Finally:

  • What didn’t you like and why?  This is the most ‘delicate’ part of reviewing. Don’t be afraid to say if you didn’t like a book—but be constructive, try to be helpful, and above all, don’t be nasty or abusive.  Not liking the book because you didn’t like the subject matter is, well, a bit of a non-starter.  Don’t read a book in a genre you know you don’t like or deals with a subject in which you have no interest or would prefer not to read about;  you just won’t be able to give an objective review

Try to take a bigger-picture view.  Not long ago, I posted a review on Amazon of what I thought was an excellent book. I discovered nearly 60 reviews, most of them good. I don’t often read reviews after I’ve read a book, but I was intrigued (and surprised) by the one- and two-star reviews. I thought it was a very good book, how could it possibly be worth only one or two stars? Had these readers put their reviews on the wrong page? Of course, we all have different tastes, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but when I looked at these reviews more closely I thought they were a tad harsh.

The review was for a detective thriller. Amongst others, there were comments about certain issues that would never have happened in real life. Well, no, quite possibly that was true, but this is fiction. Isn’t that part of why we read? To escape from an ordinary real life? Isn’t that true of all entertainment, films, and drama shows? How many times have you said to yourself, yeah, like that really happens. But it’s drama, so we cut a little slack. Because it’s all good fun. Poetic licence is allowed.

Every book that lands in my lap for review is to me an extraordinary achievement by another human being and one I could never accomplish.

So before slapping one star on a book you didn’t like, it’s worth taking a moment to step back and reflect how that book got to be on your Kindle/eReader. It didn’t just happen. It may have taken years of hard work and dedication, first by the author and then a team of people doing their best, both parties keen to continue to improve in their respective crafts.  A little encouragement is one of the things that helps this process along.

A very handy tip for authors when they self-edit, is to step back from their potential bestselling masterpiece for a few weeks, even months, before rereading it.  A little break before writing a review is something I also advise.  Not weeks, though:  if you’re anything like me, I’ve forgotten characters’ names almost as soon as I’ve dived into the next book.  But after a few days, it’s surprising how differently you feel about a book.  I have sometimes upgraded from a two-star rating to a four-star rating after having had a few days to ‘digest’.

Judging by the number of books I have waiting to be read and reviewed, it would appear that there can never be enough reviewers!  Your to-be-reviewed list will grow rapidly to almost daunting proportions. Authors—especially indie authors—surf the ‘net searching for book reviewers and their blogs, and if their searches find you, you’ll be overwhelmed by requests.  Keeping to the genres you like (but don’t be afraid to try one you think you might) will keep your review list to a manageable level (says she whose TBR is quite off the radar).

Finally and most importantly, enjoy yourself: have fun writing your reviews, start a review blog, and share them!

Cath ‘n’ Kindle Book Reviews

Book Junkies’ Journal

Book Junkies Group on Facebook      

Find Cathy on Facebook

Follow Cathy on Twitter

Indies Unlimited

My Review of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin

In Amelia Curzon Reviews, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on September 16, 2012 at 2:01 am

Extremely Powerful and Impacting…

I had been looking forward to reading this book for some time and was not disappointed when I did. In fact, I was hooked by the time I reached the end of the prologue. After that it was very hard to put down.

Mildred Dunlap lives in a small town in Nevada with her cousin Edra. Since childhood both have felt a fondness for each other which has now blossomed into a full-blown, if secret, relationship. At the time of the opening chapter (late nineteenth century), Oscar Wilde has just been imprisoned for ‘committing acts of gross indecency’ (homosexual activities) and the world has been alerted by telegraph.  The news, inevitably, reaches the small town of Red River Pass where Mildred and Edra live. Forever quick to judge, and mete out punishment and derision, the resident gossipmongers have a field day with this.  Mildred becomes alarmed at the pure hatred and prejudice projected by the tittle-tattles upon their hearing this piece of news. All her life they have ignored her kindness and generosity, and instead have cruelly focused upon her appearance and wealth.  If they were to find out her secret as well, she knew life would be unbearable for both her and Edra. As a result she sets out to mislead the gossips with her own plot, which has surprising consequences.

This carefully and beautifully crafted story is not just about the relationship between two women, it goes far deeper.  It is a story about inherent ignorance and discrimination in general.  It is also a story about tolerance, love, friendship and trust. Mahurin writes her characters in superbly and the reader is inclined to empathise with the more sympathetic characters of Gus, Charlie, Mildred and Edra, and to despise the hateful and hate-filled dogmatists like Josie, whose spite and bullying tactics are enough to make anyone shudder.

Written with total conviction and bucket loads of compassion, this is an extremely powerful and impacting novel which portrays a scenario not so very far removed from the society we live in today, and illustrates just how damaging preconception can be.

I highly recommend this book and am giving it the full 5 star whack

My Review of The Bridge of Deaths by M.C.V.Egan

In Amelia Curzon Reviews, The Bridge of Deaths on August 23, 2012 at 1:09 am

Review of The Bridge of Deaths featured on Amelia Curzon's Blog - Carte BlancheA Fascinating Blend of Fact, Fiction, History, Romance and the Metaphysical

Based on an actual event, The Bridge of Deaths tells the story of one woman’s search to uncover the truth behind the death of her grandfather.  On August 15th, 1939, an English aircraft crashed in suspicious circumstances in Danish waters.  Aboard were 5 important passengers, amongst them the author’s grandfather. Two weeks later, World War Two broke out. This part is factual, as is the incredibly well-documented data revealed throughout the book. And the factual information ties in masterfully with the fictional characters and plot.

There are three main characters in the book: Bill, Maggie and Catalina. These characters are well-developed and likeable.

The fiction begins with Bill and Maggie meeting in the self-help section of a book store in London.  They are instantly attracted to each other and become close.  Bill tells Maggie of the nightmares he is experiencing involving the numbers on the side of a plane, visions of a bridge and the taste of cold salt water; all from a past life. Maggie suggests he try Past Life Regression. She then finds details of the air crash on the internet which leads her to contact the third character, Catalina.

Catalina, a Floridian woman, who has spent many years researching the crash herself – which also shows all the signs of a conspiracy – is delighted to find someone else who is interested in the mystery.  Maggie and Catalina agree to help each other and keep in touch via email and Skype calls, which also involves drinking several glasses of wine each, and smoking loads of cigarettes. The trio decide the best way to solve the enigma is through Bill’s regression, which in turn allows Bill to unravel his dreams. Between them they manage to put together the facts; before, during, and after the plane crash.

M.C.V.Egan has authored a book that screams years of dedicated research, to say nothing of how well-written it is. I was captured from the very first page. Throughout the book, I particularly enjoyed the Skype discussions between Maggie and Catalina which made me feel I was sitting there listening to them first hand, being part of the conversation, not reading about them in a book.  Although the narrative is extremely detailed in parts, I found myself wanting all the information I could get.  I was completely enthralled and found it difficult to put down. Though I did, through necessity, several times, but found the thread was easy to pick up again.

It is quite clear many years of love and hard work have gone into this work. It is also clear there is a very strong personal motive behind the writing of it. Having now finished reading, I would say those twenty years of research have unquestionably paid off.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book which is now taking its rightful place on my ‘to be read again soon’ shelf.

Without any hesitation, I am giving The Bridge of Deaths the full 5 stars.

The Bridge of Deaths is available to buy on Amazon US and Amazon UK

And yet another 5 star review! This has been an amazing few weeks for me!

In Book Reviews on June 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor~Young adult action adventure book

I have just received an absolutely wonderful review for Mungai and the Goa Constrictor from the lovely Catalina Egan, author of Bridge of Deaths. Please go over to Amazon and take a look 🙂 http://goo.gl/x4A9i

Wow again!

Another amazing 5 star review!  My second today! This review, for Mungai and the Goa Constrictor, is by the very accomplished Gigi Galt.  Thank you so much Gigi for such a great review.

Please take a look everyone.  It can also be found on Amazon at this link:  http://goo.gl/iOeV7

Wow! 

Another fabulous 5 star review for Mungai and the Goa Constrictor from the delightful and witty Scarlett Rains. Thank you so much Scarlett 😀

Please take a look, and whilst you’re there have a peek at the rest of Scarlett’s lovely blog. You’ll be pleased you did 🙂

http://scarlettrainsreviews.blogspot.com/2012/06/somewhere-deep-in-forest-ravaged-by.html

Read a NEW excerpt from Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

“Truly, Curzon crafts an unforgettable story that speaks to the soul” – Claudia Moss (USA)  Reviews 5*****

Whilst the apes were trying to swing after him at the same speed, Gerald had an unfortunate accident.

He collided with a rather large, and not very friendly beast that, like Mungai, was of dubious origin. The beast had been asleep in the branches at the time, and was non too pleased by this unwanted intrusion into his dreams. He reared up on his hind legs, delicately balancing himself on the thinnest of branches, and lunged for Gerald.

“He looks like a monkey-meat lover,” thought Gerald, but he was frozen to the spot and could only think of his imminent death, followed by a prestigious military funeral, he hoped, for his few remains.

The unidentifiable creature grabbed Gerald by the feet, and swung him round and round above his head, and then hurled him skywards towards the canopy roof, where he became stuck between two branches. He was so far up, the others lost sight of him. On his own, with no-one to help him, he thought immediately of his ‘military training’ and decided to bring in the ‘vacate the high location’ manoeuvre. This manoeuvre was something only to be used in emergency situations, which he quite rightly deemed this was. He did not have much time, so he started straight away tearing off branches and bits of other vegetation, and weaving them together securely. He kept doing this until he had a large piece, three times his own size. He took one corner in each claw, and let himself fall backwards, down from the top. It was a very crowded tree. The growth from top to bottom was extremely dense. It cannot be said he sailed down from above, more bounced than anything. He bounced and he bounced and he bounced. From one branch to the other…sideways, backwards and forwards. Hanging upside down, he could not see where he was going. It was like blindfolded skydiving with obstacles. Much to his surprise, he found the jungle floor. It was not a soft landing.

amazon.com http://goo.gl/iOeV7

amazon.co.uk http://goo.gl/4KFXD

Paperback https://www.createspace.com/3774414

Another Fabulous Review of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

In Book Reviews on April 28, 2012 at 1:20 am

Wow! Another fabulous 5 star review for Mungai and the Goa Constrictor from the delightful and witty Scarlett Rains. Thank you so much Scarlett 😀

Please take a look, and whilst you’re there have a peek at the rest of Scarlett’s lovely blog. You’ll be pleased you did 🙂

http://scarlettrainsreviews.blogspot.com/2012/06/somewhere-deep-in-forest-ravaged-by.html

Review – “A Fable That Packs a Powerful Punch”

In Book Reviews, Books, Teen Fiction, Young Adult Fiction on March 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm
5.0 out of 5 stars “A Fable That Packs a Powerful Punch”, March 3, 2012
(Clarkston, Georgia United States)
This review is from: Mungai and the Goa Constrictor (Kindle Edition)

Kudos for Amelia Curzon and her impressive fable, “Mungai and the Goa Constrictor”!

Like the other reviewers of this work, I haven’t read an animal fable in years. The last I enjoyed was a film of “Charlotte’s Web” and a while before that, I read and taught “Animal Farm.” Truly, Curzon crafts an unforgettable story that speaks to the soul, reminding us to think for ourselves, to look inward for inspiration that drives us in life and to fearlessly turn back if we find ourselves heading down a path that doesn’t feel right.

Readers, this is a story for older children and, perhaps, keenly intelligent 12 to 13-year-olds. The vocabulary will send young readers running for a dictionary, although that is a good thing. The web of intrigue the mysterious Mungai and his sidekick Goa set for the charmingly sweet, albeit gullible, creatures is what could happen Anywhere in the Universe, if people do not learn to look beyond slick words and ill-wrought intentions of those who want to slither through life looking to live comfortably from the fruits of others’ labor.

I love the fate Curzon culls for both Mungai and Goa at the tale’s end! Read it for yourself to discover the hidden treasures and subterfuge taking place under lush jungle and woodland foliage.

Great literature teachers are going to have a delightful time creating learning centers and novel maps and an array of writing assignments for this book! Well done, Curzon!

March 3rd, 2012

View review on Amazon.com at http://goo.gl/iOeV7

Mungai’s Own Website

In Mungai and the Goa Constrictor on February 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Mungai has his own website, chiefly for children and young adults,  complete with a  page of  ’did you know’  trivia about wildlife with stunning photographs and a few videos. Enjoy while you listen to the sounds of the jungle!

Mungai’s website even has its own environmental news-feed and book news-feed.

Find direct links to environmental and wildlife charities here too.

And, of course, there are all the marvellous reviews Mungai and the Goa has received plus a few snippets of the book to whet your appetite!.

Click here to visit his site: Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

February 28th, 2012

Review – A Modern Day Animal Farm Story?

In Book Reviews on February 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm

5***** review of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor by T. Levesque “The Kindle Queen” (USA)  amazon.com http://xrl.us/bmc2qt

This review is from: Mungai and the Goa Constrictor (Kindle Mungai and the Goa Constrictor Book CoverEdition)

Although, the storyline is altogether different, this one reminds me of the characters & personalities found in Charlotte’s Webb. I haven’t read anything of that genre since substituting grade school students more than 20 years ago. The story is reminiscent of a modern-day Animal Farm, but yet, not quite. I don’t want to say too much more, as not to spoil the story.
It is in my opinion that this book is geared more for the adult than a child. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a young children’s book at all. Perhaps, for an older child of 12 or 13, maybe? Given the vocabulary alone in the first two pages, is proof enough that it wasn’t meant for little ones under age 5 or 6.
Regardless of the delightfully colorful, descriptive characters that any child might find visually appealing & attractive; the more critical part of this book, being the “moral” of the story, that is…..I feel, would not or, could not, be comprehended until a much older age.
I strongly recommend this book for ages 12 & up.

February 27th, 2012

 

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