Book Review: Bread for Pharaoh by Jason Black

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Bread for Pharaoh by Jason Black

A Middle Grade Historical Fiction Novel published by Elder Road LLC (12/02/13)

Summary:

“Have I started to forget that she is a noble? Or was I forgetting that I am just a peasant?” (Page 45).

San is the baker’s son and in Egyptian times that means he is the boy who delivers the bread and is destined to become the baker when his father retires. You would think delivering bread would be boring, but for San, he steps into the middle of a plot to kill high members of the nobility. San is intrigued by more than just plots, he discovers Aja, a girl who wants a friend as much as he does. Together they will have to uncover evil plots and figure out if they can remain friends from different classes of Egyptian society.

 

Keywords:

Egypt, Ruler, Pharaoh, Pyramids, Bread Maker, Messenger, Running, Evil Plots, Power Hungry, Sphinx, Stone Work, Cruel, Priest, High Priest, Family, Friendship, Playing, Children

My Review:

Bread for Pharaoh was a fun and imaginative book that I enjoyed reading. San was a fun character with personality. He was a protagonist that grabbed life and made it what he wanted. Though he came from the peasant class, he didn’t let that stop him from making a friend in the nobility, going out of his way to help those around him and in different classes, taking risks, pretending to be above his station to accomplish his goals, and being an all-around active protagonist. I was pleased to read about him as a character and was extra pleased that though he was a boy, his character and Aja’s could have been gender reversed in the same story. Neither character was ultimately defined by their class or their gender and this makes for a worthwhile read, especially for young impressionable readers.

This book excelled in its simplicity. The setting was simple and geographically enclosed, though the reader got an understanding of Egypt in that time period. The cast of characters wasn’t too large. The events weren’t too out of the ordinary, though exciting enough to keep the reader’s interest. Overall it was a well-done story.

This novel was published by Elder Road LLC on December 2nd, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: Faery Swap by Susan Kaye Quinn

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Faery Swap by Susan Kaye Quinn

A Middle Grade Fantasy Novel published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (12/16/13)

Summary:

Finn is the protective older brother, but he can no longer protect his little sister when he’s tricked into the Otherworld by a faery Prince. Zaneyr doesn’t mind humans and performs the soulswap with Finn with little remorse because his plans are to save the human species. Zaneyr is in up to his elbows and the human world is much more complicated than he thought, but his father wants to merge the faery world with the human world and Zaneyr will stop at nothing to keep that from happening. Zaneyr is a warrior but with Finn consumed with getting his body back from the faery, things just got a bit more complicated.

Keywords:

Soul Swap, Exchange, Otherworld, Faery, Dimensional Energy, Warrior, Separation, Body, Self, Other Creatures, Power, Spell, Wand, Two Worlds, Tricked, Friendship, Loyalty, Brothers

My Review:

This book was fun to read, surprisingly fun to read as an adult since it’s marketed for a middle-grade crowd. It had more intent and attempted violence and evil than I would have thought for a typical middle-grade novel, more like a young adult novel actually.

The genre was also not quite a typical fairy fantasy because there were wizards and spells and wands. This book had everything! There were even creatures that were different. The fantasy world was separate from the human world and action took place in both. There was world building but it wasn’t off-putting because much of the action and the beginning of the novel took place in the close to reality human world.

There was only one true female but only because it’s about someone else, she isn’t a strong female type or a damsel in distress. Her character could almost also be another boy, she isn’t gender stereotyped into a female corner.

This book covered a lot in its longer than you would expect for a middle grade novel pages. There was a glimpse at friendship and family dynamics and loyalty as well as grief and emotional turmoil over loss and perceived loss of loved ones.

I liked Finn just as much as I liked Zaneyr and even though the faery boy was doing something seemingly wrong by soul swapping with Finn, I understood and was able to sympathize with his motives later on.

This novel was published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on December 16th, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Susan Kaye Quinn’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by K.J. Farnham

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Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by K.J. Farnham

A YA Teen Drama Novel published on amazon.com (05/15/2015)

 

Summary:

‘I’m the “kind of sick” that makes you not want to go to school and fake being happy every day. The “kind of sick” that is caused by having your best friends practically disappear from your life—sort of like the way dad up and disappeared when I was little. The “kind of sick” that results from hearing your mother say that your dad never wanted you in the first place. The “kind of sick” that Orchard Hills types of girls with perfect families, clothes and bodies don’t get.’ (Kindle Locations 1538-1541).

Does anybody remember middle school fondly? Certainly Katie Mills aka “Kit Kat” won’t. Unfortunately her problems at school aren’t forgotten when she gets home. Katie has another whole set of personal issues that have nothing to do with school. If only she can be like the OH girls. If only she can be like her older sister Kelsie. If only she could have new clothes, better dance moves, a thinner body, a dad who is there for her, a mom who won’t criticize, and on and on.

Katie is stuck in the middle of her problems with no way to get herself out of them. And then she discovers a way to fix some of her problems, but what will it ultimately cost her?

 

Keywords:

 Teen drama, middle grade, 8th grade, girl problems, bullying, bulimia, eating disorders, hiding problems, evading issues, getting help, friendships, family, body image, recovery

 

My Review:

I like to read books that I can take something away when I’m done. Don’t Call me Kit Kat is more than a story about a girl working through her problems. It is more than plot and structure. This book delves deep into what it means to have an eating disorder. What does it feel like to want to binge and purge? What does it feel like to be so unhappy with yourself that you’ll go to extreme and unhealthy measures to change? What is day to day life like for a bulimic? How can one get better with an eating disorder? K.J. Farnham answers all these questions and more in her book. I got a lot out of reading this novel.

Though it has been some years since I’ve been a teenager, I believe Farnham captures the moodiness and insecurity of being a teenager in a world full of unrealistic expectations. Katie felt very real and the character seemed more than plausible. Her reality was very realistic.

I never thought about food the way Kit Kat does and it opened up my eyes a bit more to a different person’s experience growing up. “The funny thing about food, though, is that I love it as much as I hate it. I love that I can choose what to eat and how much to eat, or even not to eat anything at all. It’s the guilt I feel after a binge that I can’t stand. Because of the guilt, I sometimes find myself wondering if I control the food or if the food controls me.” (Kindle Locations 1516-1518).

The gradual downhill slide Katie fell into was told so well and captured the essence of how any of it could happen in a way someone without any experience with an eating disorder could understand. This book will really make you empathize and understand a world you may not and never be privy to.

Warning to those who read this book: As the narrator of her own story Katie’s experiences may be so close to reality that they cause their own type of trauma. Katie is very body negative, especially in the first half of the book where she gets no help or support. She is very down on herself and quite pessimistic and her feelings are very hard hitting.

 

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

This novel was published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform 05/15/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

K.J. Farnham’s Website

Book Review: Sara Supernatural by Tiffany Belcher

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Sara Supernatural by Tiffany Belcher

A Middle Grade/YA Fantasy Novel published by Tate Pubishing (10/29/13)

 

Summary:

When Sara makes the wish for her freckles to disappear for the hundredth time, she doesn’t expect her wish to come true. She’s a redhead with freckles and everyone knows that boys don’t like girls with freckles except Sara meets Chris and he likes her freckles. Shoot! Now she needs them back. Sara and her two best friends Ashely and Jessica realize that Sara has the power to wish for whatever she wants, but with this power comes great repercussions. Sara makes a mess of things with her accidental wishes and they aren’t all as easy to fix as wishing for her freckles back.

 

Keywords:

Magic, wishing, powers, female main character, lessons learned, romance, fourteen-year olds, middle school, immaturity, selfishness, greed, fitting in, being the best, cheating

 

My Review:

Sara was a great main character. Though she was only fourteen and in middle school, she was mature and interesting even though she did fall into some typical teenage behavioral patterns. Sara wanted the perfect life and the perfect family, complete with perfect outfits and style. She didn’t try to match her wishes with her reality until she is granted the power to make her dreams come true without any effort. She has only to wish and voile, wish granted. Not every wish should be fulfilled, and Sara learns this the hard way. Sara has the ability to fix her mistakes the whole time, it is learning that she made a mistake and why there are consequences to certain wishes that makes the story.

I liked that the author gives us multiple characters with their own parts to play in the story. There’s Ashley, the picky one, who is not always confident in what she’s doing. There’s Jessica, who grew up spoiled and doesn’t always know how to put others first or to think of someone other than herself. There’s Chris, the boy who was raised to take care of himself.

Any time there’s magic involved, I appreciate a good answer for where and how the magic came to be. Belcher, about midway through the book, gives an explanation for the magic in two levels, where it originated from in the beginning and how Sara got her wishing abilities. The author also quantifies the extent the magic has on altering reality and how far Sara can go in its use, which I really appreciated. Defining the magic made it and the story more real.

The dialogue was a pleasure to read and the author really captured some more witty teenage moments full of snippy sarcastic teen talk without being overly dramatic or too grammatically poor like some teens everyone knows.

I enjoyed this book, though not as much as the intended audience I’m sure and was pleasantly surprised by the ending indication that there will be a sequel with older characters!

This novel was published by Tate Pubishing on October 29th, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Tiffany Belcher’s Website

Goodreads