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The Big Cheese Festival

The Big Cheese Festival4 Stars

There are issues that plague all children as they grow up. Each child struggles with identifying who they are as a person, how they relate to other people and how to find out what they believe in. Children can be cruel to each other while they learn how to navigate the messy world of emotions. This can come out in the form of bullying. In The Big Cheese Festival the authors explore the concept of bullying and how it can impact the life of another. What may seem like funny and harmless words to one can truly hurt another. We’ve got a fantastical world of anthropomorphic mice, one of whom only has half a tail. He is named Stubby and due to the unkind bullying from his brother’s friend worries about whether or not he’ll find any worth in himself.

Bullying is a big issue to tackle. Some children’s books try to address this and drop the ball completely. Jackson and Raymond have bundled up the idea of bullying in their book. They take an obvious difference, like having half of a tail, and use it to illustrate how others might react to something so clearly different from the norm. It’s a cute book with the little mice getting ready for a festival. Cutter Mouse, who is friends with Stubby’s brother, is the perpetuator of the bullying. It is often someone close to the bullied who begins the abuse, which Jackson and Raymond have captured here.

While the story is simple and easy to either read or read to a child, there are a few areas in which it lacks. The mice all look exactly the same, in the same outfits. The girl mice have different hairstyles but the boy mice don’t have anything to separate who they are from each other. Different coloured outfits may have helped with this issue. The mice also don’t seem to express emotion. For a story about bullying and overcoming that, showing joy or sorrow would be necessary.

Stubby does stand up to the person who is making him feel poorly which is an important message to children. He doesn’t do it with violence or by calling Cutter names back. He uses his words. S. Jackson and A. Raymond know that children need to learn these skills to survive in this modern world. The Big Cheese Festival helps to make it less frightening and more relatable by creating a fun and entertaining world.

Pages: 37 | ASIN: B01H3S381O

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Uncle Stubby Gets Married

Uncle Stubby Gets Married4 Stars

You need to be able to tap into a certain flavour of whimsy in order to write a good children’s book. Let’s not forget that the illustrations need to be catchy and colourful to hold the attention of the little ones either reading or being read to. A children’s book is most entertaining when it spins a different point of view on something that children have already been exposed to. Uncle Stubby Gets Married by S. Jackson and A. Raymond takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together. This book is part of a series with other animals and their lives. Perfect for children, this book draws out the marriage between Uncle Stubby and his betrothed Sparkles as their friends and family travel to help them celebrate it. The story is full of kindness, cheer and all the good feelings weddings are supposed to elicit.

The language in this book is very simple. It may be difficult for a child who is learning to read but it is perfect to read to a child. The pictures are bright and interesting, which should help keep the attention of the audience. At the beginning of the book there is a comprehensive breakdown of the entire story so parents or teachers can determine if the book will suit their needs or themes. As it takes place in the Valentine Forest, this is a good book to read around Valentine’s Day, if you are looking for theme-specific books.

The images are, for the most part, real photographs of various animals manipulated to be posed or displayed in a certain way. There are little additions like a crown or the plethora of sparkles and these add to the story. It is interesting for children to see ‘realistic’ pictures of animals they are familiar with engaging in very human activities. It allows them to have a sense of imagination and wonder just what exactly squirrels get up to when humans aren’t looking. The one downside to using manipulated photographs is that when a character appears that is either created by hand or through computer graphics they stand out a fair bit. This occurs with the Mouse Fairies in the Valentine Forest. Their appearance is a stark contrast to the other characters in that they are fully clothed with added hair. They are more anthropomorphic than a photo-enhanced squirrel with a sash around its waist.

Nitpicking aside, Jackson and Raymond know how to craft an interesting children’s tale. The story is cute and even though it is part of a series, it can stand alone quite well. Readers do not need previous knowledge of the characters to understand the story in Uncle Stubby Gets Married. For children, and maybe even adults, who have a fantastical view of the world this is a lovely tale of romance, happiness and friendship.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B01MY5NJF0

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Monster Literary Book Awards: February 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

The Time Slipsters (The Dreadnought Collective Book 3) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK #1 "Pretty Hate Machine": The Reader Feedback Dooms Day Edition by [Templeton, Don]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The TVC Project by [Bridges, Tom]
The Nightmare From World's End by [Stava, Robert J.]Coffin Dodgers: A Sci Fi Horror Book by [Adams, Tom G.H.]

“Books are the linchpin of my existence. My earliest childhood memories revolve around the magic of reading, of being transported through time and space via a vivid story. Since I was old enough to know what a book was, I knew I was destined to write books as well.” – Don Templeton, author of Pretty Hate Machine

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Quite a Character

 Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Oliver and Jumpy is book 4 in your children’s series that follows playful characters as they go on various adventures. Why was it important for you to create a children’s story that focused on kindness, friendship and helping others?

Many picture books have lessons to tell, but can be very obvious. Children don’t really like to be told what to do. A good example is always better and Oliver, although he is quite a character, shows that you can have fun and adventure, and at the same time do good.

The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like with the illustrators?

I thought a long time about which quality of illustrations I should pursue. I did not want to go cheap with dots for eyes figures. I would have loved to follow the very complex pictures of the fairy-tales books of 100 years ago. Unfortunately, being self-financed, this option would have been far too expensive. I grew up with Walt Disney and decided to follow that style, which is easy enough for most illustrators to create, but with facial expressions possible. I tried out six illustrators. The first one, Marvin Alonso, was outstanding. He did illustrations to about eleven of the stories before finding greener pastures. Then I found Maycee Ann Reyes who works together with her husband. The rest is history. This team was simply fabulous. They needed a minimum of supervision and created the scenes of the stories totally by themselves. I just provided the story and simple instructions. Maycee turned out a picture every 3-4 days. These series has about 500 illustrations. Oliver and Jumpy began 4 years ago and it was a herculean task which is now finished. This is a triumph of self-publishing. No run-of-the-mill publisher would have been able to produce such an elaborate work in that time.

My favorite story is Butterfly Trouble. What is your favorite story in this book and in the series?

I like the Dog story. I wrote this story because every time we have our daily walk through the neighborhood, there is a bored dog barking and my wife is saying that we should knock on the door and see if we can take him for a walk with us. My favorite story of the series is Story 18 called Moon Crystal. Oliver travels to the moon to bring healing crystals back to Sillandia. This book won the Readers Favorite Book Award Gold Medal.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?

I have been working and finished the Chinese and Spanish version of the series. I am now working on the German one and other languages will follow. My final goal will be to find a company who is willing to invest in a TV series. I would like to see children all around the world to benefit of the marvelous work of my illustrators.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Google | Website | LinkedIn | Amazon

Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

Picture book: A cat series book for kids riddled with mystery and fantasy.

Oliver is an elegant tuxedo cat, who is full of himself. As a matter of fact he says: “I love myself!”, quite often. Naughty, isn’t he? But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that he has a soft heart and will always want to help others. The great thing is Jumpy’s pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in! He calls her his kangaroo taxi! These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids. A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words. These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value. Love you all! Meow! Story 10: Unhappy Dog – The friends help an unhappy dog to escape his boredom. Story 11: Kite High – Flying high is everybody’s dream, but how to get down? Story 12: Butterfly Trouble – Butterflies don’t like to be caught. Buy Now From Amazon.com

Monster Literary Book Awards: January 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

Recusant (The Brin Archives Book 2) by [Cronin, Jim]In His Way by [Duvall, Rebecca]

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva Book 1) by [Vick, Alex C]The Inlooker: Full Length (The Dreadnought Collective Book 2) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

REN: Awakened by [Brittany Quagan]Seed Me by [Lavery, Konn]Master Athina (The Books of Athina Book 4) by [Estes, Danny]

Zurga's Fire (The Orfeo Saga Book 3) by [Eiland Jr., Murray Lee]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The Onryo by Rocco Ryg

Slippery Things by Lane Baker

The Great Scourge by C.A. MacLean

The Heart of Hannen by Fawn Bonning

Jesus and Magdalene by João Cerqueira

The Crown Princess Voyage by Dylan Madeley

 

“Books give me the freedom to step outside of myself. That words alone can transport the reader to a reality as believable as the one he or she actually lives in, should not logically be possible. It’s a kind of real life magic.” – Alex C. Vick, author of Stealing Magic

 

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Stealing Magic

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva #1)5 Stars

Have you ever wondered if there are parallel dimensions where magic exists and people can travel from one world to the next with a simple portal? If you could what would happen? What could possibly go wrong with this? Alex Vick answers these questions in her book Stealing Magic. A quick read that pulls the reader into an adventure of mischief and saving two worlds. The book is told from the third person perspective so you get to hear the thoughts of all the characters. The three main characters are Shannon, from Terra (Earth), and Jax and Darius from Androva. They all meet when Jax and Darius travel through a portal from Androva to Terra to harvest magic from the trees that grow there. Shannon sees them and sees them using magic. It is then that she discovers she also has magical abilities. Shannon seeing the boys and discovering she can use magic causes an irreversible change that effects both their worlds and leads to great changes for the inhabitants of Androva.

Terra is your typical modern day Earth environment, teenagers complaining about school, cell phones, internet and day to day mundane activities. Androva is a world where magic is incorporated into daily life, however their world does not have great trees like Terra, and that is where the living magic comes from. Androva is also governed by very strict laws they call The Code. This is the law that all citizens must adhere to and live by in order to keep the balance of the Treaty in place. Jax is your typical rebellious teen that wants to prove he is the best at magic and knows better than the “stupid rules” that are in place to keep him from learning more. Darius is his best friend and loyal to a fault, he will gladly take the blame for Jax when he can for no other reason that he wants to protect him. When Jax broke several of the laws in The Code, a chain reaction of events starts taking place. In an attempt to reverse these events Jax brings Shannon through the portal into Androva and starts teaching her how to use her magic. It turns out she is stronger than anyone suspected and learns quickly. The three friends now put into place a plan to find out how to fix things, however they soon discover they cannot change what has already started.

Some of the key themes in this book are loyalty, family bonds, trust and letting go of the past. All these topics come up in Stealing Magic, as well as the lesson of doing things for the greater good not self-advancement. Given the reading level of the book I think it handles these difficult subjects well and gives good examples of self-sacrifice and showing how hard change can be. Vick has managed to provide a diverse set of characters to love and hate and even the ones that are hated are still very relatable, Marcus being a key example. Marcus is the bully that wants to control people but his passion is strong and while his methods are questionable, his desire to protect his world is genuine.

Overall Stealing Magic is a good book and great start to the Legacy of Androva Series. I look forward to reading more about the adventures of Shannon, Jax and Darius as they grow from teens into powerful magicians. There is a lot left for Alex Vick to cover in this series as the first book just gives you a taste of the world of Androva and its connection with Terra.

Pages:  | ASIN: B01LXQEPYR

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Hungry Monster Book Awards: November 2016

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winner

Bean Takes a Walk by Ann Bevans & Matthew Ethan Gray

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

Mother Athina by Danny Estes

Game Over by Derek Eddington

Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg Spry

The Second Sphere by Peter Banks

Seed of Treachery by C.A. MacLean

Wolves Among Sheep by Steven Pajak

Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc by Jesse Teller

The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke

“When I look at a book, I see the history of books, old tomes with sacred knowledge. The authorities that controlled the books controlled the people. Books brought the old world to order. My books are how I bring my life and my thoughts to order, the only lasting way I can see to impart wisdom and ask questions.” – Jesse Teller author of Chaste

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Data Pilots

Data Pilots by [Wall, W.H.]4 Stars

Data Pilots takes the classic “secret level” lore from video games – finding the secret level grants the player an elite, secret status – and uses it to transport the hero, Tom Howard, into a world where his brain is seamlessly integrated into an exclusive development playground. Neuralverse is an open-source database environment set aside for a few privileged thinkers where literally anything they can think of is rendered in immersive virtual reality.

Tom is something of a prodigy. He’s able to master Neuralverse controls almost immediately, makes a basic UI change and is rewarded with praise from the best data pilots in the system. He also discovers the darker side, full of hackers and profiteers. What he does with his power can either secure or topple this virtual world, and he doesn’t know who to trust.

A lot of this story hearkens back to the early days of the cyberpunk genre, like the integration of computing with the human brain, visualizing computerized data as an immersive experience, even holodecks. The author uses a lot of ideas from the past and blends them all together to build this world. I enjoyed the way that music takes an important role in the story, but can’t say too much – you’ll have to read it to find out. There’s also a neat time dilation in the Neuralverse. Since everything happens at the speed of thought, four hours spent on one project inside is more like four minutes in the real world.

Tom comes across as almost too talented, even for a teen prodigy. Everything is easy for him, and he masters complex skills in a very short time. Most (but not all) obstacles provide more than a moment’s annoyance. His skill earns him great praise from the other data pilots in the system. However, Tom does have humanizing flaws that he must overcome. He has a selective memory and does things like ignoring EULA notices as well as disregarding advice to keep his overworked brain from exhaustion.

My biggest problem with the book is that the author kills any suspense or tension built up during a scene by disclosing the bad guys’ identity and intent. The book is full of, “unbeknownst to Tom…” and “Little did he know…” moments that telegraph a critical plot twist long before it happens. The book needs some editing tweaks. The most common problem is putting dialogue from two or more speakers on the same line, without a paragraph break. In some scenes, it’s difficult to tell exactly who is speaking since it all runs together.

Data Pilots is a fast-paced novel for younger readers, immersing them into a race-against-time climax to unlock memories and data in order to protect a unique, collaborative environment from destruction. I’d suggest this for ages 12-18 because I think teen readers will find a lot to like here, especially if they are also interested in programming and designing virtual worlds.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B01MSI7LL1

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Sprk.It

Bean Takes a Walk

319511465 StarsBean in the Garden is the first book of the children’s series, Bean in the Garden, by Ann Bevans and Matthew Ethan Gray. The books are designed with preschool children in mind, so Bean in the Garden is short, colorful, and easy for young children to understand.

Bean sets out to take a walk around the garden, and packs his favorite toys in his backpack. On the way, he meets Mrs. Berg, who has a new teapot but is out of tea. Bean offers to get her some tea as part of his adventure. Along the way, he meets three little peas who are about his own age, and they all have toys just like his. When he discovers a hole in his backpack and all of his toys are gone, he realizes the three peas were trying to return what they had found. The story is all about sharing, making friends, and being kind; a great message for preschool kids.

The first thing that struck me about the book was the illustrations. Mr. Gray’s artistry fills the page with bright colors and engaging images. This is a world of vegetable people. Bean is, of course, a bean and his mother is a lovely red beet. His neighbors include a friendly lettuce, Mrs. Berg, and a potato, Miss Tots. The clues to Bean’s toy dilemma are right there in the pictures so adults can encourage their children to search for the “lost” toys as they read along. Kids may also want to look at the pictures and imagine their own Bean adventures.

Another message I got from the story is that some things that seem bad, like a hole in your backpack, don’t have to be a big crisis. Bean reacts with shock when he realizes his toys are lost, but instead of being angry, he realizes that the three peas were trying to help him all along. It’s a good way to teach children about kindness and understanding, especially since kids who will be reading this are learning how to control their expectations and emotions.

There are three books in the series thus far, each available in both print and eBook formats. For toddlers and preschoolers, you can’t go wrong adding this book to their reading list. You can get more information about the authors, the series, and links to purchase the print and eBooks at http://beaninthegarden.com/

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B01LNRBK7K

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The Mansion’s Family

The Mansion's Family (At the Crossworlds Book 2) by [Channing, Rose]4 StarsThe Mansion’s Family is the second book by Rose Channing in the Crossworld’s series. While the first book focuses on Ellie and Savannah Senka and how they reset the magical worlds balance, The Mansion’s Family goes deeper into the character’s history and family. The book also devotes a large portion to the Eva’s story. Channing brings the twins back to other world where magic is not known or very strong. It is in this world the girls discover Travis, their father. They find they have a half sister and brother that inherited some of their father’s magical powers as well. The book also brings back Jerome and his escape from imprisonment. This brings out war in their magical world and many hard choices are made by all.

The beginning of the book opens with the start of the Fall Celebration. Everyone is rejoicing in the rebalancing of the magic and you see relationships forming between the main characters. From this point the book jumps between two plot lines; the Senka twin’s quests to find additional magical people that were trapped in the other worlds after the great storm that don’t know magic has been restored, and the story of Jerome and his escape. The twins journey into the other world through the shadow cave brings them more than they could have dreamed, they found magic and their blood family. After some trepidation from Travis he agrees to return with the twins and his new family to the Mansion for a visit. They grow as a family and twins start to really feel like they know their heritage.

While the twins are building their world back up at the Mansion out in the woods Jerome has used the magic he still had to continue to control his people and to seduce Dece. Dece hid her power of being a builder, or so she thought, but Jerome sensed it and manipulated her. He lied and tricked her into freeing him from the trap June’s army placed him in. Once free he continued to use Dece to further his plans to take back over the world. While planning he was also hoping to get his daughter Eva back from June’s mansion. Eva meanwhile was plotting how she would kill Jerome one day and break herself away from the evil he stood for and carried with him.

When the time comes to go to war, Ellie and Savannah must face some difficult choices, they will be tested more than ever before, it isn’t a matter of if their powers are strong enough to do what must be done, but if their hearts can take it. The war is devastating on many levels, everyone loses someone they love in the battles, not all the main characters will make it through this war. Eva will forever be changed by the things she endures and see.

The Mansion’s Family has complex topics that blur the lines of right and wrong. What is good and right is not always what needs to be done, what feels wrong is what sometimes needs to be done to save the greater good. This book is the changing point for many of the residents in the Mansion, they are no longer children with the carefree ability to learn their magic and grow without fear of the what if’s. Now they have all experienced the good and bad and have a greater understanding of the balance that must be achieved, and that the two are not mutually exclusive of each other.

Pages: 479 | ASIN: B00ZVH4F3U

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