Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “The Dragonfly Whisper”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. They “gift” me their books and in return I offer up 100% honest and genuine reviews. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of August: The Dragonfly Whisper

Author: Sandra Godfrey

 

Brief Summary

The Dragonfly Whisper is Sandra Godfrey’s debut novel which is currently in the process of being published by Taylor and Seale Publishing. Therefore, this review as more of an ARC review as I was gifted with a pre-published version. The Dragonfly Whisper is a novella directed at middle school readers.

Main character, Flynn Flanders, is a young boy in fifth grade who is easily distracted and often thinks about his mom who is missing from the family unit. The morning that his science project topic is due, Flynn happens to find and catch a talking dragonfly named Dash who also recently lost his best friend. Together, the odd pair head off to school where teachers warn Flynn about his failing grades and Dash unintentionally causes more trouble. Together Flynn and Dash work together to learn more about dragonflies in an attempt to win the Science Fair and hopefully reunite Flynn’s broken family.

 

Review & Star Rating

4-star2

The first sentence really sets the scene for the entire book: “Mom’s been gone one hundred days.” Immediately, my mind asks, “Gone? Gone like she left? Gone like she’s dead?” It’s a fantastic opening line that automatically forces readers to continue reading. While we learn that Flynn’s mom is not dead, simply working out of state, we do realize that Flynn’s family unit is broken. The theme of family pops up throughout the story with Flynn, Flynn’s friend Brittany, and even Dash the dragonfly. As a children’s story, Godfrey skirts around this subject from a child’s point of view, revealing its complexities while also leaving some things unsolved (as children do not always get the answers).

Godfrey’s children’s story also deals with the hot topic of children learning disabilities. This was the only reason why I rated this book 4 out of 5 instead of 5 out of 5. Throughout the story, Flynn has an “imaginary” friend named Dash, but is he imaginary? His parents sure think so, as do his friends and his doctors. No one can hear Dash except for Flynn. Additionally, Flynn tends to see fantastical things that other children do not. The evidence would seem to support that Flynn is imagining things for the majority of the story. However, there are other elements (such as what happens at the Science Fair) that makes it seem that Dash is a sentient, talking being. Is Flynn struggling with a disability and imaging the whole thing or is it all a real fantasy? A reader could make a case for either scenario.

Godfrey’s children story is sure to entertain middle school readers. Her writing at times includes advanced words intended to benefit young learners. At the back of her book, Godfrey includes several pages of education activities intended for teachers to use with their students. The book, both fantastical and whimsical, is sure to not only captivate young audiences but to illuminate their understanding of the natural predator of the sky: dragonflies.

 

Recommendations

I highly recommend this book for young readers. While it features some tough content such as family dysfunction, it is a suitable choice for middle school readers.

Support an Author

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Writing a Review

Reviews are important.

There is no debating this fact, there is no arguing this point, and there is no downplaying their importance. Reviews are crucial, especially if you are an up-and-coming author attempting to establish yourself in the writing community.

This being said, a lot of authors are either craving reviews or writing reviews themselves. It’s a way for authors to give back to their communities. In my own experience, the majority of reviews come from other authors as opposed to readers. By writing reviews, authors support one another. I’m doing so, there are some key tips and tricks to writing a good review that we all can remember.

Image result for book reviews help authors

So, here are Kayla Ann’s Top Do’s and Dont’s of Writing a Review:

Do’s:

Write a review. Yes, it is awesome to receive star ratings on Amazon, Goodreads, etc., but star ratings are not enough. If you can take your time to leave a star rating, please leave a review consisting of at least one comment. Here are some good one-liners that elevate a simple star rating:

  • “I couldn’t put it down!”
  • “The plot was great.”
  • “The characters were so relatable.”

Write a decent summary. People want to know what the book is about. You can do this is 3-6 simple sentences that may paraphrase the book’s blurb or your own summary.

Give a general rating and explain why. It is not enough to just put a rating, you should give your readers an understanding of why you chose to rate it that way; both the good and the bad.

Write an honest review. (Say it with me): WRITE AN HONEST REVIEW. Guys, I cannot stress this enough. Honesty is the best policy.  When you are honest, the author is given a clear understanding of what was liked and what needs improvement. When you are honest, the reader goes in with a clear and realistic understanding of what they are getting. When you are honest, it solidifies the review system. (See further explanation under DONT’S)

Dont’s:

Don’t write a fake review. Don’t encourage services of false reviews. What do I mean by that? Don’t offer to give 5 star reviews in exchange for money and don’t accept that deal either.

Don’t give away too much in the summary. No one wants you to spoil the end of the book. If you give everything away, why should another reader pick it up?

DON’T lie in your review. Maybe you are trying to sugarcoat the truth because the author is your friend or follower. This helps no one. When you write a dishonest review you are negatively impacting both the author and future readers while undermining the whole reviewing system. The author will be given unrealistic expectations, the reader will be frustrated by the biased review, and the reviews on that book will no longer be considered trustworthy. Please. Just, don’t. If you are not going to write an honest review, do not write one at all.

Now that you have some basic guidelines, get out there! Start reading and writing your own reviews to support the community of authors.

Support an Author

Do you have any DO’s or DONT’s that should be added to this list?

Leave a comment below!

Blogs / Life, Book Reviews

Mail Time

So, I received two new books this week from friends and followers to review in the upcoming months!

Chasing a Dream written by Joanne Patterson is a romance novel about a young woman that falls in love with a military man at an air show.

The Lost Artist written by Eric Houston, “part history, party mystery,” circles around Fred Hausman the celebrated but unknown artist/soldier in the British arm during WWII.I sense a military theme in my upcoming reading!

Thank you to the authors who shared their works with me!

Blogs / Life

Mail Time

Let me just begin today’s blog post by stating that I am a total dork sometimes who gets excited by the little things and today is one of those days.

Today is the second time that I have received mail from one of my followers. It’s not a big deal, it’s not a “fan” letter or anything like that. In fact, it’s his book that I plan to review and blog about in September.

I’ve had other books emailed over via PDF. I’ve even had a manuscript in unbound pages mailed to me. But this is the very first book, solid and complete, that has been mailed to me for a review. Now, while I love all of the books that I have been sent, all bibliophiles know that there is something simply wondrous about the physicality of a book itself.

Also, (beyond gaining a new book for my library) this was a super amazing incident for me because it shows that my hard work is really paying off. When I began blogging, I really hoped that I would reach out to this community and gain, not only followers, but friends. Well, I have definitely gained friends (you guys are awesome)!

Also, call me a dork, but receiving that book in my mailbox was a huge deal for me because I truly feel immersed in this writing community! I am engaging with so many different writers and it’s been great.

If you are interested in having me read, review, and blog about your book, please leave a comment below or message me. You can also check out the original post here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “At the Other Side of the Sea” by J. M. Galindo

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Support an Author

Book of June: At the Other Side of the Sea

Author: J. M. Galindo

Brief Summary

In his short book, At the Other Side of the Sea written in 2004, J. M. Galindo welcomes readers into his world of poetry and dedicates his work to readers who really want to express their emotions. In the prologue, Galindo introduces, or perhaps re-familiarizes, readers with the term “free verse” as it is through this strategy that he structures his nine poems: “Driving Backwards,” “Dreaming,” “The Other Side of the Sea,” “Doubt left a Hole in My Notebook,” “The Flight,” “Loosing Today Means Winning Tomorrow,” “Welcome to Politics,” “It’s the Way People See Life,” and “Nothing But a Lie.”

Review & Star Rating

3-star2

Poetry, in my opinion, is one of the hardest areas of writing to judge because a lot of it is subjective based on the reader’s personal understanding, likes, dislikes, and insights. For me, I would rate this small collection of poems at 3 stars out of 5 due to personal preferences. By the way, my three stars mean like I like it!

Throughout the book, Galindo incorporates the first person narrative, effectively allowing the reader a window into his heart. There, readers are transported into a world that encourages reflection and endurance. The poem “At the Other Side of the Sea,” for which this book of poetry is named, holds the true essence of the speaker: a wistful hopefulness and a desire to remember and preserve the positive moments and memories of life regardless of the internal or external trials one may face.

Galindo often uses repetitious phrases or stanzas to highlight certain points within his poems. Although there were a couple grammatical errors and the poems at times seemed overly wordy, the book was an intriguing and entertaining read. One of my favorite lines comes from “It’s the Way People See It” in which the speaker writes, “Some will listen, some will not . . . You can’t force a goat to become a sheep.”

Recommendations

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys first-person narrative poetry.

At The Other Side of the Sea: Free verses for a live soul by [Galindo, J. M.]

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “His Personal Reich” by L. Salt

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Support an Author

Book of May: His Personal Reich

Author: L. Salt

Brief Summary

Andrea Zissman is a simple woman alone in the world. After her mother’s death, Andrea is given instructions to empty a safety deposit box. There she discovers a marriage license (proving that her mother did indeed marry her father although her grandmother told her differently) and half a picture containing not only her father but a brother she has never known. What begins as a journey to find her family turns into an adventure that dates back to World War II and Hitler’s reign of terror. Teaming up with Leon Callais, an eccentric journalist who is also searching for Andrea’s father, the two travel to Iceland.

There the dream of family turns into a nightmare filled with Neo-Nazis and the construction of a machine called “Nothung” which can prove detrimental to the fate of the world as we know it.

Review & Star Rating

3-star2

I was so very conflicted on how to rate this novella. As an action/thriller it does not disappoint. There is non-stop action from the very beginning as the first page pulls readers in with mystery and intrigue. Between the threats of Nazis and an erupting volcano, there is a feeling that Andrea and Leon may be killed at any minute. The plot line is there with its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The story itself, or I should say the idea of the story, is fantastic!

Where it falls short is within its brevity. At 22,000 words and a little over 50 pages, there is simply not enough. The story reads more like a movie script in which relationships must be formed quickly and epiphanies must be made within 120 minutes. The relationships and conflicts between characters are filled with potential that demand at least double the page length. Due to the brevity, some moments feel forced, especially Andrea’s forgiveness at the end of the story. Additionally, while all the “key” elements are there, I wish Salt had included the in-between stuff, the sub-plots that really develop characters (showing not telling).

As far as criticism goes however, it is not the worst to hear that your readers were disappointed by the brevity and wanted more of the story.

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I will also note that there is sexually mature content in this book that is not suitable for all readers.

Recommendations

I do recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun, quick read. It took me only a couple of hours to finish the book from start to finish. The plot line was intriguing, but perhaps you, like me, will wish that there had been more downtime to allow the characters to breathe.

His Personal Reich

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews

Why Reviews Matter

Whether I am speaking to novice writers or veteran authors, I cannot say this enough: Reviews Matter.

Perhaps as an author, you are okay with simply self-publishing your book and putting it online, but realistically, you want people to read it. The only way that you can get more people to read your work, is if the people who have already read your work review it.

On Amazon we’ve all seen those sections underneath books that say, “Customers who viewed this item also viewed. . .” or “Sponsored products related to this item.”

Do you know that the only way to get your book to pop up on those suggested reading links is if your book gets at least 50 reviews. Here’s the cool thing though, it does not have to be 50 good reviews; it can be a mix of good, neutral, and even bad! Yes, of course, we all want the five star review, but even a one star review is helpful in gaining visibility.

Reviews = Visibility

Image result for support an author write a review

That is why I started offering book reviews a couple weeks ago and why I am pleased to announce that I will begin posting one book per month starting tomorrow as I work to support my fellow authors! I encourage you to do the same!

Pop back in tomorrow to read my review on L. Salt’s His Personal Reich.

If you are curious about having me review your latest book, please read my original post here: Now Offering — Book Reviews!

Support an Author

I also plan on sharing these reviews on my newly created GoodReads profile.

Check it out here!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blogs / Life, Book Reviews, Review, Reviews

Now Offering: Book Reviews

After getting some wonderful and insightful feedback from you amazing bloggers, I have decided to go forward with offering book reviews for up-and-coming authors.

Image result for gif let's do it

Do You Want a Book Review of Your Debut Novel?

  • If you are a first-time author or beginning author, I would love to read your published works and give an honest review.
  • This offer is primarily available for your DEBUT novel, even if it was written a year ago.
    • Not a new author? Shoot me an email anyway and if my load is light, I’ll still consider reviewing your book!
  • This offer is only available for published works (sorry, but I’m not currently offering a BETA reader services).
    • Your book can be self-published or traditionally published.
  • I am more likely to select a book that is a print version as opposed to PDF or files (sorry, but my eyes can’t read a whole book on a screen guys, it hurts.)
  • I am interested in all types of genres except for horror, gore, and erotica.

The Way it Works:

If you are hoping that I will review your work, please go through my Contact page and send me:

  • Your name (author pen-name is also fine)
  • The title of your book, when it was published, the length of your book in word count, and what format (traditional, self, print, electronic, etc.)
  • A short blurb about your book
  • It is the author’s responsibility to send the book to me
    • The author assumes all shipping costs
  • I will do my best to review one new book per month. Depending on the volume of requests, you may have to wait a few months.
  • Please be aware, I will be giving an HONEST REVIEW. This means that I may not love your book. However, I will always do my best to be professional and courteous in my comments!
  • Whether or not I am interested in reviewing your book, I will respond to your inquiry. Please be patient with me 😀

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I reserve the right to refuse any author and/or book based on personal preference. Please do not spam me with requests, it will only ensure that your emails get moved to my spam folder. It may take me a little while to get back to you, but I will get back to you.

If you intend to email me with a book request, feel free to drop me a comment below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

Blogs / Life

Would you Like a Book Review?

Hello Everyone!

I would really appreciate some feedback on this post.

I was asked if I do book reviews or feature authors and their books on my blog. I’ve been considering it and I think I am leaning toward one direction, but I would love to hear back from my followers.

Would you be interested in reviews? Or would it take away from what this blog already offers?

If I did offer book reviews of new authors, I would probably do one Book Review per month depending on my own work load.

So, what do you guys think? Is it something you would be interested in seeing? Is it something you would be interested in doing (sending me books)?

Image result for gif what do you think

Review, Reviews

Listen to the Lyrics

Now that some time has passed I feel more inclined and open to discuss the lyrics of The Greatest Showman. You can read my original review of the movie here.

**********This Post DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS*********

The music of The Greatest Showman is half of its beauty! Yes the movie is wonderful, the plot is strong, and the characters are fantastic, but it is the music that people are most drawn to. Now, I cannot discuss every song in minute detail, otherwise you would all probably click away from this screen in seconds. So let’s just talk about three incredible songs (trying to cut it down to three was really difficult!)

Opening Song – The Greatest Show” (<- Click to hear song)

This is one perfect example of some foreshadowing. The movie opens with a song that features stomps, claps, intense moments, and high energy. It seems like the perfect opening talking about triumph and delight. However, half way through the song we come across these words:

“It’s everything you ever want

It’s everything you ever need

And it’s here right in front of you

This is where you want to be . . .”

In the opening, the song cuts short here with just Hugh Jackman (Barnum) softly singing and repeating these lines to himself as the lights dim, the circus disappears and he is left alone in the dark. This moment foreshadows Barnum’s ultimate conundrum: choosing between his family and the circus.

“Never Enough”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQWZK5U233s

Now the majority of this song is the repetitious phrase “never enough” which makes it seem like this song is talking about how Barnum can never get enough of the spotlight, never get enough of the praise, etc. And while that may be partly true, it’s important to take another look at the lyrics that lead up to that repetitious chorus.

“You set off a dream with me

Getting louder now

Can you hear it echoing?

Take my hand

Will you share this with me

Cause darling without . . “

When we remember these lines, the song becomes more about the person that Barnum wants to share his world with (his wife). Ultimately, while he continues to grow in popularity, the further he gets from his wife, the less satisfied he is. Because without his wife, “it’ll never be enough.”

“This is Me” (You know I had to talk about this one)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV9BmH0tuH4

This song is probably the most straightforward song out of the entire movie. “This is Me” is all about accepting who you are as a person and loving yourself for it! The scene in where they storm through the mob is seriously the definition of good cinema.

Well there you have it, just three songs from a musical in which every song is a hit! What was your favorite song and what do you think of my deductions about the lyrics?