Book Reviews

Book of the Month: The Lost Artist (Part 1)

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 November: The Lost Artist Part 1

Author: Eric Houston

 

Brief Summary

“You may not know this, but your father is very famous in Israel.” When Eric Houston read these words in an e-mail from a stranger, his life was forever altered. After a fifty-year search for the illustrator of the bestselling Israeli children’s book, And There Was Evening, a researcher at IBM Israel had discovered that the artist was Eric’s father, Fred Hausman. Eric knew that his father had been the highest decorated WWII Palestinian soldier in the British Army, but was unaware that he was also a celebrated artist.” (excerpt from publisher)

The story of Fritz “Fred” Hausman, written after his death by his son Eric Houston, is a thrilling story filled with enough facts to satisfy a historian and enough intrigue to appeal to the laziest of readers. The story is split into two narrative perspectives, one follows the past life of Fritz “Fred” Hausman, a German-born Jew, who leaves his home for Palestine as a boy and later fights against Nazi-tyranny as a man. The other perspective follows the present life of Elinat, a woman with reoccurring cancer, who is desperate to find the artist behind her favorite children’s story. Perhaps if she is able to find him, she will be able to find meaning in her own life.

The last third of this book is a collection of actual, factual email correspondence between Eric Houston and others (including Angela Entwistle, a representative for Lord Ashcroft, a detective, and more) as he attempts to reclaim his father’s stolen medals. Fritz “Fred” Hausman received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM),  Israel’s most important WWII medal, for services rendered in the war. However, before his son (Eric) could collect these medals on Fritz’s behalf, they were stolen and, through a series of auctions, ended up in Lord Ashcroft’s possession who refuses to return them to this day.

The entire purpose of this book is to bring light to the heroic deeds of one man who saved hundreds and the travesty of his stolen medals. As such, in Eric’s own words, “All proceeds from “The Lost Artist” will go to returning medals stolen from within the British Ministry of Defense to their rightful owners.”

Review & Star Rating

 

The Lost Artist receives 5-stars due to its dedication to reality while successfully weaving an exciting narrative. Facts are never exchanged for fiction for the sake of plot. Rather, sub stories intertwine with major plot points naturally, as they occurred in history. I might have actually learned more about that time period from reading Eric Houston’s book than I ever did from any of my history classes combined. Secondly, the love and admiration that Eric has for his father is evident throughout the narrator’s tone in his depiction of Fritz “Fred” Hausman.

The minor plot line concerning the modern-day Elinat was interesting, although I would admit that I was a tad bit disappointed where the book ended. Indeed, this book was nearly rated at 3 stars due to a disappointing ending. However, in realizing that this is only Part 1 and that Eric Houston is working on a Part 2, the cliff hanger seems more natural. I will warn future readers though, do not expect to have all of your questions answered. I believe we will be waiting on answers for as long as Eric is waiting for justice for his father’s medals.

Recommendations

I highly recommend this book to any historian or lover of the WWII time period. This is an exciting adventure with a fresh outlook on a well-discussed world event with new insights. I highly recommend this book to even those without historical or WWII leanings. While you may have to skim over a few paragraphs brimming with historical facts and data, I do believe you will find that the rest of the narrative is highly entertaining and captivating.

I am eagerly awaiting Part 2 where hopefully all of my questions will be answered and Fritz “Fred” Hausman will receive the recognition that he deserves.

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.

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!

Book Reviews, Reviews

Book of the Month – “Poems and Haikus”

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.

Book of July: Poems and Haikus

Author: BGC

 

Brief Summary

In the Author’s Note, BGC introduces her work as “personal thoughts, experiences or proses . . . [works that] reflect the human emotions by transforming words into feelings.” Following this train of thought, it is no surprise that BGC’s first poem is titled “A child’s life.” However, do not let the flower imagery at the beginning fool you. This first poem is filled with darkness, despair, and a desperate sense of wonder.

This book contains over 75 poems which topics range from: childhood memories, whimsical fiction, melancholy scenery, evolution, God,  language, Christmas and more. The length of each poem differs from one another, while some are three lines and others are the length of an entire page. BGC also ranges from using free verse or rhymed stanzas.

Review & Star Rating

2-star2

I would give this book of poetry two stars. Overall, it is a compilation of poems that do not necessarily work well together. Often times, my favorites poetry books are those that have a theme. While the poems should be different, a successful poetry book, in my opinion, should circle around a theme or idea. The separate pieces should form a whole. Additionally, there were multiple grammar and formatting issues that proved distracting from the poems.

Regardless of my above issues, BGC does have some good poems woven throughout the book. In particular, I enjoyed “Thoughts” and “United.” In the poem “Thoughts,” BGC illuminates the process through which thoughts transform into works of literature. “White sheets of paper / Filled with ink / Staining the journal / drop after drop.” Now, those are some great lines! I loved the imagery!

Other poems such as “A rat & a cat” and “A fur” were whimsical to the extreme and stuck out apart from the rest of the book in an odd way. All in all, my greatest wish is that the author had separated these many poems into certain themes or even sections within one book so as to highlight the unity of a singular idea.

 

Recommendations

For anyone who loves poetry, leaning more toward free-verse and train-of-thought, I am sure you could find enjoyment in various of BGC’s poems although you may have to sort through the different themes.

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.

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!

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.