Thursday 31 May 2018

Book Review: The Toad Who Loved Tea by Faiz Kermani

Title: The Toad Who Loved Tea
Author: Faiz Kermani
Illustrator: Korey Scott 
Publisher: Matador
Publication Date: 28th January 2018
Pages: 48
Format read: Paperback
Source: Author supplied

 "The crowd clapped as Tungtang sipped the tea elegantly from a tiny porcelain cup. They sighed as she gently swirled the tea in her mouth. They applauded as she rolled her eyes, and they cheered as she rocked from side to side, trilling "Why, this is toad-ily tea-licious!" What happens when you brew together a toad who likes tea, a cruel crow, snobby customers and an ancient prediction?

A strong, fragrant story full of unexpected adventures that will take you and Tungtang, the tea-loving toad, from a muddy pond to Queen Catherine's Olde English Tea Shoppe for a real clash of cultures. Tungtang's story of her discovery of tea and humanity will change her (and the way you look at tea) forever. The Toad Who Loved Tea is the hilarious tale of a tea-loving toad's unconventional journey from a muddy pond to an elegant tea shop.

Tungtang always thought of herself as an adventurous toad until one day a nasty crow laughs at her stories of adventure and tells her real adventure is going far away to somewhere you have never been. Tungtang decides that if she is going to be a real adventurer she needs to something different, something unheard of. She is going into the town!
Grandpa Nutbelch tells her about Dustysox the Great and his prophecy about a toad that goes on a journey and achieves great fame among the humans. Tungtang believes she is the one to fulfill the prophecy.

Once she gets to the town she takes up residence in a tea shop. She loves the smell and taste of all the different tea blends. She causes quite a lot of trouble in the shop during the day, stealing buns and upsetting tea cups but she always manages to escape detection. All this disruption is causing problems for the tea shop owners and the shop may have to be closed down. Will Tungtang be caught? Will the shop be closed down? How will Tungtang fulfill the prophecy?

This was a fun book to read and Tungtang was such a cheeky toad stealing sticky buns by day and hiding in the storeroom and rolling in the tea at night. Names like Lady Lobsterpants, Dustysox and Muddybum are sure to elicit a few giggles. Tungtang’s observations of humans and their ways was also quite amusing.
The illustrations by Korey Scott were colourful and brought the story to life.

The Toad Who Loved Tea is a wonderful story about adventure and discovering your true talent quite often lies in the things you love doing.
Written as a first introduction to chapter books with full page illustrations it is best recommended for ages 3 -7 years


In his free time, Faiz loves writing funny children's books, especially frog-themed ones (frog-friendly fiction).

These include My Alien Penfriend, Golbo the Spider's Amazing Vacuum Cleaner Adventure, The Frog Who Loved Mathematics, The Frog in the Skyscraper, The Frog Who Was Blue and The Toad Who Loved Tea.

His books have won awards in the US and UK and have been translated into French, German, Spanish and Russian. He is involved in various literacy projects with schools and is always happy to hear from anyone on ideas for educational collaborations.

You can read my review of The Frog Who was Blue here




Thursday 24 May 2018

Book Review: A Kiss, a Dance & a Diamond by Helen Lacey

Title: A Kiss, a Dance & a Diamond
Author: Helen Lacey
Series: The Cedar River Cowboys #6
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: 20th march 2018
Pages: 224
Format Read: Paperback - special edition
Source: author supplied


Kieran O'Sullivan never let anything-- or anyone --stand in his way. Even the girl he claimed to love.But fifteen years later, the successful doctor's back in Cedar River. So is Nicola Radici, still as beautiful as the day he left her behind. The last thing Nicola wants is to forgive and forget. But when Kieran connects with her nephews, their guardian has to let him into their life. And maybe even her heart.

My thoughts

A Kiss, a Dance & a Diamond is book six in the Cedar River Cowboys series. This story has Kieran O’Sullivan, recently divorced, moving back home to Cedar River to work in the local hospital. Nicola Radici is also back home, with a heart-wrenching break up behind her, she has returned to care for her two orphaned nephews after the sudden death of her brother and his wife.
Nicola and Kieran have history and fifteen years is not long enough for Nicola to forget or forgive the way they last parted.

I really enjoyed this story of second chances. Nicola was feisty and strong. She had been left broken hearted too many times and she wasn’t going to give her heart away easily. Her first concern was always her two nephews, Johnny and Marco. The young boys were a significant addition to the story which had them acting out their grief and insecurities which left Nicola feeling like she was stumbling alone through parenthood not knowing if she is doing the right thing. She finds herself turning to Kieran for help and advice. But they both needed to get over past hurts before they could move on and open their hearts.

The story is a fun read; Nicola with her feisty temper and Kieran trying to find ways to be involved in her life. The two young boys and Kieran’s family all working together to show Kieran and Nicola that they were meant to be together showed what a close-knit community Cedar River is.

This is a heart- warming story about loss and hurting, finding love and carrying on with life, letting go of the past and embracing a second chance at happiness.

A quick romance read that will give you the promised happily-ever-after.

My rating 4/5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

About the author

 Helen Lacey grew up reading Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on The Prairie. These childhood classics inspired her to write her first book when she was seven years old, a story about a girl and her horse. Although, it wasn’t until the age of eleven when she read her first Mills & Boon, that she knew wanted to write romances. Her parents’ love of travel meant she saw much of the world in those early years and she feels fortunate to have had a diverse and interesting education over several continents.

She continued to write into her teens and twenties with the dream of one day being a published author. A few years and careers later, including motel operator, florist, strapper, dog washer, and retail manager, she got the call from Harlequin Special Edition. She loves writing about tortured heroes, both cowboys and CEO’s, and heroines who finally get the love of the man of their dreams.

From Welsh parents and a large family, she lives on the east coast of Australia in a small seaside town at the southern most point of The Great Barrier Reef, with her wonderfully supportive husband.

 This review is book #14 in the Australian Women Writers Challenge



Friday 18 May 2018

Book Review: The Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland

Title: The Art of Friendship
Author: Lisa Ireland
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: 24th April 2018
Pages: 400
Format Read: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied.


We all expect our friendships from childhood to last forever...

Libby and Kit have been best friends ever since the day 11-year-old Kit bounded up to Libby's bedroom window. They've seen each other through first kisses, bad break-ups and everything in-between. It's almost 20 years since Libby moved to Sydney, but they've remained close, despite the distance and the different paths their lives have taken.

So when Libby announces she's moving back to Melbourne, Kit is overjoyed. They're best friends - practically family - so it doesn't matter that she and Libby now have different ...well, different everything, actually, or so it seems when they're finally living in the same city again.

Or does it?

My thoughts

Lisa’s last book, The Shape of Us, has been shortlisted for the AusRom Today Reader’s Choice Award for book of the year, and Lisa has been shortlisted for the Best Established author. The Shape of Us was also in my top 10 reads of 2017.

The Art of Friendship wasn’t exactly how I imagined it to be. I thought it was going to be a BFF, follow their lives, a bust up then HEA. Basically it was along those lines but so much more. It was a look at the different types of friendships we have during our lives. Friends that come and go and those that we have known forever, these know all our secrets. Sometimes you follow different paths, as is the case with Libby and Kit, but there is so much history that binds you. Friends come and go, people change, and your best friend from childhood and your teens may not connect with you in adulthood. Is there a time when you should let these friendships go?

“There’s something about friends we form in childhood that makes them hard to let go, even when we no longer have anything in common.”

The narrative is written in both Libby and Kit’s POV so the reader gets a very good idea of how both women are thinking of the friendship and each other. However, the main focus is on Libby as she moves through different friendship groups and how these friendships affect her relationship with Kit.

Watching their relationship was painful with the back and forward bitterness and Libby’s overreacting to situations. I was really hoping the girls would work it out as lifelong friendships are so precious.

Ireland conveys through her story that some friendships are for a common reason, some only for a season and others are a bond that traverses time and distance.


The Art of Friendship will make you stop, think, ponder and question every friendship you’ve ever had.
Lisa Ireland came across this idea of friendships and how they impact our life after seeing an article on ghosting, which is apparently a real thing in this overly connected world of social media.

Ghosting: (noun)
The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for my copy for review purposes.

Content: infrequent coarse language, implied sex.

My rating 4/5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

About the author
Lisa Ireland lives on the Victorian coast with her husband and three sons. After working for many years as a primary school teacher, Lisa is now a full-time writer. When she's not writing, she can be found drinking coffee with friends or wandering along the beach with her extremely disobedient but totally lovable dog, Lulu.

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Reviews Aussie author challenge
and book #13 in the Australian Women Writers Challenge 

Monday 14 May 2018

Book Review: The Frog Who Was Blue (Children's Picture Book)

Title: The Frog Who Was Blue
Author: Faiz Kermani
Illustrator: Naomi Powell
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Publication date: 28th January 2017
Pages: 32
Format read:softcover
Source: own purchase

 It's not always easy being different, as Biriwita the blue frog is only too aware. He longs to be accepted at Croak College, the most famous school for frogs in Malawi, but the other students all turn their backs on him. He is just too different!

The Frog Who Was Blue is a witty and charming tale underpinned by the message that being different to others is no bad thing. It will appeal to children aged 7-9. 

My thoughts

Deep in Malawi, in the heart of Africa, lay Lake Ticklewater. It was the home of many creatures, but especially frogs, who lived there among the stones and wild plants. No one could remember why, but the Lake Ticklewater frogs were all blue. Apart from that, they were ordinary frogs.

Biriwita lived among a small community of happy frogs until one day he received an invitation to the famous Croak College, The best college in all of Malawi. He was nervous about leaving his family but Biriwita wanted to follow his dream, so he left for the college. When he arrived all the frogs were green and they laughed at him because he was blue. All the teasing and nasty words made Biriwita sad and scared so he hid from everyone. Biriwita is sitting alone watching the other frogs having fun in the water when he sees impending danger. A crocodile is slipping into the pond!
What will Biriwita a do? Can he save the green frogs?

Of course this story has a happy ending with all the frogs, green and blue, getting along.

The Frog Who Was Blue is a story about following your dreams even in the face of adversity and that someone being different isn’t a bad thing. Everyone can do great things.

The illustrations by Naomi Powell are in a freehand style and are playful and subdued.
I love Biriwita’s little pet snail who is always close by (with his little snail trail behind him) during Biriwita’s journey. A delightful addition!
You can view Naomi’s distinct artwork on her website.

The double entendre in the title is one the children easily understood when I explained it to them.

Recommended for ages 3 – 7 years.
4/5 stars🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Frog Who Was Blue is being published to support the World Medical Fund (WMF), a medical charity working in Africa. WMF's focus is on the region's poorest and most vulnerable children, including AIDS orphans, whose practical and cost-effective programmes treat over 25,000 children every year in rural Malawi. This life-saving work relies entirely on donations. More information about the WMF is on their webpage, www.worldmedicalfund.or 

About the author

In his free time, Faiz loves writing funny children's books, especially frog-themed ones (frog-friendly fiction).

These include My Alien Penfriend, Golbo the Spider's Amazing Vacuum Cleaner Adventure, The Frog Who Loved Mathematics, The Frog in the Skyscraper, The Frog Who Was Blue and The Toad Who Loved Tea.

His books have won awards in the US and UK and have been translated into French, German, Spanish and Russian. He is involved in various literacy projects with schools and is always happy to hear from anyone on ideas for educational collaborations.

Friday 11 May 2018

Book Review: The Last Straw by Ed Duncan

Title: The Last Straw
Author: Ed Duncan
Publisher: Self published
Publication Date: 2nd December 2017
Pages: 227
Series: Book#2
Format Read: Paperback
Source: from author Via Book Publicity Services

 When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott - lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family - begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D'Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession... and old scores will be settled.

My thoughts 
If you haven’t read Pigeon Blood Red, go read it first. You don’t necessarily need to read it to understand The Last Straw but you will want to because Rico is so freakin awesome.

Rico as cool as a cucumber, hit man for hire, is the best anti-hero I’ve read for a long time. Rico claims he never took out anyone who didn’t deserve it. A motto that left some wriggle room. He doesn’t have friends but he does have respect and Paul Elliot is a man he respects, they are worlds apart but also very similar in many ways. When Paul ends up as a revenge target of one of Rico’s enemies, Rico knows he must step in and protect an innocent man.

Rico always gives his enemies a chance whether they take it or not is up to them. We see a much softer side of Rico when he is with girlfriend Jean. He is protective but not controlling.
’He was a ball of contradictions; as faithful as a cocker spaniel or as vicious as a pit bull’

Duncan gives the reader a deep connection with each character; explaining their background and current circumstances.

The plot was well-rounded with defined characters and excellent pacing. The ending tied up a little too nicely for this realist but this was a minor concern in an overall superb read.

Content: infrequent coarse language. Some violence.

4/5 stars

I received a review copy from the author via Book Publicity Services

About the author

 Ed is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He is the original author of a highly regarded legal treatise entitled “Ohio Insurance Coverage,” for which he provided annual editions from 2008 through 2012.

Ed currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH. The Last Straw is the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy.