WWW WEDNESDAY – 17/02/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

The Watchmaker of Dachau

What did you recently finish reading?

  We're Moving Where?!

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Adventure

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Far Away Girl       Enchantée

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: We’re Moving Where?! by Glen Blackwell

About the Book:

We're Moving Where?!

When Harry’s mum and dad tell him that they will be moving to a cabin in the Canadian wilderness, his first thought is about leaving his friends behind. He then finds out that there will be NO INTERNET!!! Join Harry on the adventure of a lifetime and find out how he adapts when everything he is used to changes overnight…

 

Connect with the Author:

Twitter – @gblackwellbooks
Instagram – @gblackwellbooks

 

My Thoughts:

We’re Moving Where? follows Harry as he moves to Canada with his parents to live somewhere in the forest! Imagine a situation where there are no other people around, no internet, no school etc., just trees and animals all around. On top of this, you have to build your own Cabin to live in.

Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed this book which took us on an adventure with Harry. The author touches upon interesting and very pertinent topics of moving away, anxiety at not seeing ones friends, living in the wilderness and little access to technology. However, as the story progresses, the reader is introduced to the joys of exploring, camping and even learning how to do things by ourselves. There is so much joy in learning and this is shown to us in a lovely way through this book.

Even though the focus is on Middle Grade learners, this book can be read and enjoyed by all age groups. However, it is best when read together as a family.

WWW WEDNESDAY – 10/02/2021

Hey guys!

I missed my WWW – Wednesday post due to travel. I decided to post it today anyway, even though it is a day late!

                  ——————————————————————————————————————

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

 ——————————————————————————————————————

What are you currently reading?

 Chaturanga (Baahubali: Before the Beginning Book 2)

What did you recently finish reading?

Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes, #1)  Curse Breaker (Kingdom of Runes, #2)

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Once again I have a lot of books on my TBR list that look very interesting. I am going to try to catch up on a few books that I missed in January and then focus on those which will be releasing soon in February and onwards!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: The Awakening (The Immortal Wizards, Book 1) by Andreas Suchanek

About the Book:

The Awakening (The Immortal Wizards, Book 1)

The world as you know it is a lie.
For over a century, the mystic Wall has kept the magical society hidden from human eyes, guaranteeing peace and equality between humans and wizards. But in the shadows a war for supremacy rages.
Jennifer Danvers is a wizard. When her friend and comrade-in-arms dies, a new heir to magic awakens in Alexander Kent, whom she must introduce to the world of magic.
Neither of them suspects that the balance of light and darkness is out of control. An ancient evil is rising. Its only goal: to shatter the mystic Wall and bring darkness upon the wizards and immortals.

Powerful spells, dangerous artifacts, ancient catacombs and secret archives. Fight aside Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein and other immortals.

My Thoughts:

The Awakening is the first book in The Immortal Wizards series by author Andreas Suchanek. I came across this book on NetGalley and found the blurb to be interesting. I was definitely not disappointed. The book takes us into a world of magic, powers and characters from history who are immortal and magical! I would never have imagined getting the chance to be around Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci or even Albert Einstein, but this book brings them to life.

The story introduces us to many characters and explains how they get their power, how it works and how to use it. With a threat looming over the magical world, the author dives right in to the plot interspersing the action with background information and details. This was an interesting way to handle the story and trust me, there is a lot of action and adventure! An old prophecy is introduced and some of the key players in the plot to bring down the Magical Wall.

Some aspects of the plot feel like a repetition, considering that there is only so much one can do with this genre, but putting it aside, the story flows well and remains original for the most part. My suggestion is to persevere through, it is worth it! The characters are well thought out and though we do not interact with them as much as we would like, the reader will still enjoy the interactions.

I truly enjoyed this story and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Round-up of the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2020!

At the beginning of the year I had planned to read around 50 books (keeping in mind my work schedules and timelines). However, as a result of the pandemic and work from home situation, I was able to increase this number up to 74!

As per the Goodreads stats, the longest book I read was Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer (671 pages), Edwards take on the events that occur in Twilight.

The shortest book read, with just 24 pages was a delightful children’s book titled Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember (Let’s Learn While Playing #2) by Kelly Santana-Banks

It also turns out that my average rating is 3.5 stars!

I love how Goodreads has summarized the books and my year. Check out my list here.

MY 2020 BOOKS
The Tower Lord by Anthony RyanA Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid KemmererShadow Trials by Isla FrostFirstborn Academy by Isla FrostFirstborn Academy by Isla Frost
The Selection by Kiera CassThe One by Kiera CassThe Elite by Kiera CassHouse of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. MaasTwo Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Inebriated by Katey TaylorLegendary by Stephanie GarberDragon Connection by Ava RichardsonFinale by Stephanie GarberSunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten WhiteQueen of Corvids by J.C. McKenzieRescuing Lord Inglewood by Sally BrittonPrejudice Meets Pride by Rachael AndersonA History of Hexing by Evie Wilde
Keep Forever by Alexa KingaardThe School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe Girl in the Corner by Amanda ProwseA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa TahirAsh Princess by Laura SebastianLady Smoke by Laura SebastianEmber Queen by Laura SebastianWrong Place, Right Time by E.B. Roshan
Summer at Hope Haven by Kristin HarperLucy's Last Chance by Elle SweetMidnight Sun by Stephenie MeyerWho Threw Draco Down the Chimney? by Smita BhattacharyaThe Damned by Renée Ahdieh
The Beautiful by Renée AhdiehThe Guilty Die Twice by Don HartshornThorne Bay by Jeanine CroftProject Hackathon by Arushi AggarwalTwo Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey
Return to Virgin River by Robyn CarrThe Pigeon Whisperer by Motaz H MatarHinterland by L.M. BrownThe Tech by Mark RavineDinosaur Adventure by Kelly Santana-Banks
Aunt Ivy's Cottage by Kristin HarperPrism by Nina WalkerThe Pageant by Leigh WalkerThe Gala by Leigh WalkerFracture by Nina Walker
The Finale by Leigh Walker337 by M. Jonathan LeeTen Days with a Duke by Erica RidleyThe Guardians of the Halahala by Shatrujeet NathRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt HandlerBeyond Belief by Ronald CrouchThe Eye of Ra by Ben GartnerSol Invictus by Ben GartnerThe Case of the Smuggler’s Curse by F.S. Dawson
Murder at the Lakeside Library by Holly DanversThe Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie MidwoodNever Say No by Elizabeth NeepA ​Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir58 Farm End by Natasha Murray
Across the Lake by Nancy LiPetriWedding Bells on Victory Street by Pam HowesForever Your Duke by Erica RidleyChronicles of a Spell Caster by J.J. SingletonSummer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman
Midnight Train to Prague by Carol WindleyThe Lost Village by Daniela SacerdotiAlessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden VialMurder in the Snow (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #4)

Do share your thoughts on the books I’ve read and don’t hesitate to leave recommendations for books to read in 2021!

Book Review – Alessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden Vial by Nathalie Laine

About the Book:

A fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Keeper of the Lost Cities and His Dark Materials

It’s not unusual for twelve-year-old Alessia to lose control of her emotions and create a scene at school. It is unusual for her to be attacked by a giant frog monster and plunged into the underwater realm of Atlantis in an overturned boat.

On arriving in Atlantis, she learns that her long-lost father may have been from there. Determined to investigate, she stays and enrolls in Atlantide school: The Octopus’s Garden.

But uncovering the truth is not easy when the tyrannical Atlantide Emperor forbids asking about missing people. With the help of her newfound school friends, Alessia will have to steal evidence from a grumpy teacher, escape from rebel merfolk and make rhymes with menacing blue people of Minch to discover the key to her past.

Meanwhile, someone knows exactly who she’s the daughter of, and is ready to kill her for it.

My Thoughts:

I was approved a copy of this book via NetGalley.

I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to read this book! Alessia in Atlantis is a wonderfully written middle grade fantasy fiction that takes the reader into the depths of Atlantis. We are introduced to Alessia, a twelve year old who doesn’t seem to always have control over her emotions and who finds it difficult to make friends. When she hears a sirens call (quite unusual for humans) and ends up in Atlantis, she makes the decision to stay in hopes of finding out more about her father.

I loved reading about the lost city and the creatures who inhabit it. The author has done a wonderful job with the descriptions and paints a lovely picture. The characters in the book are fun to read about and I love how Alessia’s friends move in to help her in her search. As the story progresses, the reader is taken on a journey through Atlantis as secrets are revealed and all is not as it seems!

The book is gripping and absolutely worth the read. This book though aimed at middle grades, is a wonderful read even for adults! I do hope to read more by the author about Alessia’s adventures.

Book Review :- Chronicles of a Spell Caster: Book One – Orientation by J.J. Singleton

I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book:
The book focuses on the main character, Jet, who is entering his freshman year of college. In this world, every human has abilities that are better known as powers. Jet is different; he is the last pure Caster, someone who can use magic. Schools and colleges use the most advanced technology of this world, the AITS, to train the students, have sparring matches, and assign missions. Missions are a massive part of the curriculum, and the completion of these missions gives each student points that go toward their term grade.
Colleges and universities use this technology and have the students enter the AITS virtual reality during their second semester. With time working differently in the virtual reality, the students do a full year during the second semester. With the AITS the students refer to the time in the virtual reality as the game, and when they enter the virtual reality, they are in there to fend for themselves.

On the campus of Welwerth University, sports teams and clubs are highly regarded and some clubs shine brighter within the virtual reality. For the students that are not part of a club or sports team, it is hard to get missions done within the virtual reality in order to secure a good grade at the end of the year. To level the playing field, Jet and friends decide to establish a new club, one that would welcome all and give the rest of the student body a place to come together. This new club is called the Sanctuary. But even as everything seems to fall into place, it will all unravel with secrets, underhand deals, backstabbing, and a threat that no one saw coming. To survive, everyone will have to rally together to defeat the adversity.

My Thoughts:

In this first book of Chronicles of a Spell Caster, the author chronicles the journey of the main character Jet as he navigates his way through Welwerth University, a place where humans with powers come to learn. Jet is unique in that he is the last pure Caster, someone who can use magic directly. This sets him apart from the rest and of course defines his friends and foes.

The concept of the university is interesting in that the students are divided into sports teams and or clubs. Virtual reality is used to help train them and this concept was something that I enjoyed reading about. The author gives us a lot of interesting detail and some history as the story progresses. Even though the story is told in first person, with Jet as the narrator, we come to know many things about the AITS and the University.

As the students go through the daily classes and experiences, we are introduced to various characters each with their own agenda, strengths and weaknesses. Some become reader favourites and some, well they exist in the story for a reason. It took me some time to get into the book as the writing was not easy to get into. I was not able to relate to Jet easily as he seemed to know everything and he seemed to always win. This was until a point where we are shown fractures in the perfect facades of the characters and then their struggles become more relatable.

Overall, I found the idea of the plot to be interesting and the use of virtual reality as a training tool was unique and well incorporated. The story is worth a read for those who are fans of magic and adventure.

Round-up of 2020: Middle Grade and Children’s Fiction books!

Having read a whole lot of books this year, I have decided to do a sum up of the different genres and list my favourite books among those read in 2020! These posts will help me with the final round-up of favourite books read in 2020 at the end of the year (in another 15 days! :D)

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In this post, I am summarizing the list of middle grade fiction and children’s books that I read and enjoyed this year! They are not listed in any particular order and I truly enjoyed all of them.

Reading all these books took me back to my childhood and growing up with Enid Blyton’s novels! It’s wonderful to see how many authors have come out with such wonderful stories and even as an adult, I am glad that I have had the chance to enjoy these books!

The Eye of Ra by Ben Gartner

Sol Invictus (The Eye of Ra #2) by Ben Gartner

The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse by F.S. Dawson

Beyond Belief: The Adventure Begins by Ron Crouch

Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember by Kelly Santana-Banks

Project Hackathon (Coding Supergirls Book 1) by Arushi Aggarwal

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or book recommendations in this Genre!

In Conversation with author Ben Gartner!

It is my pleasure to host author Ben Gartner on the blog.

His middle grade fiction books have been doing the rounds and I have had the privilege to read and review them on the blog! They are quirky, fun and full of historical adventures that speak to imaginative minds!

Read on to know more about Ben and to connect further with him!

What prompted you to start writing?

Like many writers out there, I’ve been living in the world of my imagination since I was a kid. I’ve always loved to read—anything I can get my hands on, pretty much. I’ve often said the day I stop learning is the day I die, and I think we can learn a lot from both fiction and nonfiction. I think that is why, in my writing, I tend to meld the two. Fantasy, science fiction, but with some historical trivia that makes it interesting to learn.

How did the book “The Eye of Ra” happen?

This is a fun story. J I had been working on an adult thriller at the time. Around the dinner table, my kids kept asking me about it and, well, it wasn’t exactly suitable for them. I mean, I could discuss the overall process and such, but not the nitty gritty plot details and the more fun stuff like that. So we decided to work on a new story together! They helped outline and brainstorm and sketch out the characters, their motivations and quirks, and the overall storyline. Then I went and wrote out a draft, all while discussing challenges over dinner. They were great sounding boards. I could run an idea by them and tell immediately if it hit or not. They do NOT pull the punches! Which is exactly what I need, their absolute candor. So it started as a fun “side” project, but then in writing it, I realized… well, I think that dovetails into your next question. 😉

Why did you choose to write middle grade fiction?

How it started: As a fun bonding activity with my sons.

How it’s going: The more I got into the middle grade niche, I realized I really have a passion for this age group and this time in our lives. Not only for my own personal reasons, but also for scientific ones. I love neuroscience and to think about thinking, and the middle grade time period is one of immense growth in the brain. In fact, I wrote another blog post about that here: https://mgbookvillage.org/2020/03/25/why-mg-books-and-the-authors-that-write-them-are-so-important-by-ben-gartner/

But mostly, because it’s FUN (more on that later).

Why did you choose to base the books on historical events/settings?

I really enjoy the nooks and crannies of any subject. The ones that make you go “huh!” And our own human story (history) is full of those, so there is plenty of material that spurs ideas. In looking at the archaeological record left by those who came before us, we can find a lot of commonalities, a lot of intriguing differences, and—most importantly for a writer—a lot of mystery. Holes. Gaps in our understanding where we can only make speculative, educated guesses. Those gaps give birth to story.

What inspired the book titles?

Well, as you read them you will see there is a running theme around the sun. Not only because it is a source of reverence throughout different cultures and eras, but also because it is a powerful force! Ra was the ancient Egyptian sun god (book 1 title being The Eye of Ra). And Sol Invictus translates to the “Unconquered Sun,” which was the Roman god of the sun (John and Sarah travel to an ancient Roman frontier town in modern-day Switzerland called Aventicum). Book 3 will carry on this tradition when John and Sarah travel back to the time of the ancient Mexica people (now commonly referred to as the Aztec). I have a working title for book 3 too, but I’m going to save that for now. 😉

How much research went into the writing of the two books?

The setting for both is quite different and in different time frames.

Lots! Fortunately, I love research rabbit holes. I am a proud researcher, Word Nerd, and lover of etymology. The research often gives rise to the core story itself, but also fleshes out the time and place and characters with idiosyncratic details of that era. So, while I do take artistic liberties, I also try to make the details realistic. The clothes, the culture, the games, the daily life—I try to make those as authentic as possible and even enlist experts in the field to verify my writing. (There is one tiny inaccuracy in The Eye of Ra. Email me if you find it and I’ll give you a bonus prize!)

How much does your day-to-day life inspire your characters?

It is important to note that I have two boys, who are now thirteen and ten. They were eleven and nine when I started this process. In some important ways, I wrote these characters so that they would be relatable to them (they did help create them, after all!). In other equally important ways, I did NOT want these characters to be mirror copies of my own children. I’d say that both John and Sarah share some attributes from both of my children, but myself as well, and others I’ve met. They are definitely fabrications of their own. But the more I write and think about them, the more realistic they become to me. I can easily imagine having them over to sit at a dinner with us.

What do you like best about writing a story?

The immersion of imagination. Time skips by faster when I’m writing than any other thing because I become so engrossed in the world and the plot. I am the creator and it is a powerful feeling. Mwahahahaha! Plus, I love a good turn of phrase. Words are powerful.

What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

This is a great blog question, and one I’ve never been asked before. Nice one. I’ve done a lot of therapeutic writing over the years. Journals, stories that I knew would never be shown to another person, that sort of thing. For me, I love to think (often, over-think, but that’s a different topic), and writing is a very helpful way for me to process my own feelings and thoughts, whether they be emotional or more concrete. So, I’d say that my stories and I have a symbiotic relationship. We both need and feed from the other.

Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

I hope that reading is FUN for you. That doesn’t mean it can’t cover difficult topics. That doesn’t mean escapism is bad. But if you are enjoying a book, that is the best. And if you’re not having fun with it, then you should probably pick something else. My sincere wish is that you have FUN with John and Sarah on their adventures through time.

And I love to hear from my readers, so don’t be shy about contacting me at ben@bengartner.com!

My website is https://BenGartner.com.

I’m active on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BGartnerWriting.

I post occasionally on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/BGartnerWriting and even less so on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BenGartnerAuthor.

Don’t forget that book two, SOL INVICTUS comes out on Groundhog Day, 2.2.21!

Or you can pre-order now from your local bookseller here: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781734155235 or from everywhere else like Amazon and Barnes & Noble here: https://books2read.com/sol-invictus-ben-gartner

And thank you so much for having me, Namrata! Always fun to talk shop. Happy reading!

Book Review: The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse by F.S. Dawson

The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse (The After School Detective Club Book 1)

My Thoughts:

This book, written for children by author Mark Dawson under a pseudonym, is a fast-paced fun read! The story focuses on 4 children and a dog who initially don’t know each other very well, but form a special bond eventually. The children are inquisitive and get caught up in solving a mystery. This book reminds me of Enid Blyton’s Mystery series, but where the children have access to modern amenities and gadgets! A well-written book, this is definitely a series that children will enjoy reading!