Minrs by Kevin Sylvester

August 8, 2016

minrsMinrs by Kevin Sylvester


What a captivating story! For myself the setting of this narrative reminded me of the Big Nickel in Sudbury [Ontario, Canada]where one takes a long elevator ride way underground!
Once upon a time, mining an asteroid for resources would have been the stuff of science fiction lore….but this is no longer the case.
In “Minrs“, the combination of science, technology with the concept of mining in outer space, has created a realistic suspenseful, action-adventure tale, filled with as many twists, turns and bumps as experienced on a roller-coaster ride!
Action accelerates, as a communication blackout with Earth occurs and a chain of bizarre events unfolds simultaneously, catapulting those living on the asteroid into a race for survival!

Five Stars!
Highly recommended for all middle grade fans!



Blood Oath by Don Cummer

October 9, 2015
published by Scholastic Canada

published by Scholastic Canada

Blood Oath by Don Cummer

published by Scholastic Canada

c.2015; 231 pages

[a companion to Brothers at War and A Hanging Offence]

Blood Oath. Two, short powerful words that can define a multitude of things. An oath can mean to be a pledge, a bond, a vow …. an affirmation…they are all words that play a pivotal part in the telling of this story.

Author Don Cummer has chosen to chronicle a little known part of Canadian history by creating a narrative that is fast pace and riveting. Jake and Eli began their friendship by relying on each other in their daily lives. Neither could guess how much that bond would be repeatedly tested in the months that led up to and included one of Canada’s most celebrated wars, The War of 1812.

Cummer skillfully crafts a descriptive layered story that is enriched through the use of alternating perspectives. This allows a better understanding into the protagonists, as they often are witness to the same event. The view points taken by Jake and Eli are a reflection of family values and attitudes during a time period when friendships and loyalties are as flexible as the direction of the winds of change.

This is a tale full of adrenaline, heart pumping adventure that is sure to test the reader’s loyalities until the last page!


[Grade 4,5,6,7]


Student testimonial:

Myles and the Monster outside ; by Philippa Dowding

September 26, 2015

Miles and the Monster outsideMyles and the Monster outside by Philippa Dowding
Published by Dundurn Press
c2015; pp.154
Series: Weird Stories gone Wrong

Author Philippa Dowding succinctly sets the tone, on page 7, with one sentence, “you should know, before you even start this book, that it’s a little scary” in Myles and the Monster outside, the second book of her new series “Weird Stories gone Wrong”.

Within the short span of 154 pages, a reader is taken on a roller coaster collision of fear, imagination and the unknown.

“Myles and the Monster outside” begins with mundane and monotony as invisible companions that accompany Myles as he and his family embark upon the adventure of leaving all that is familiar behind and beginning anew.

Mist-like fingers, glowing red eyes, a windshield that cracks are all elements that keep a reader gripping the binding of this book with white-knuckled apprehension and at the same time pushing deeply into the back of a chair!

Once again, Dowding has created a story that challenges a reader to seek ‘courage’ in the face of the unknown……no matter what form the unknown takes.

This is truly a tale that borders upon being an urban legend stirred with a splash of truth!

Highly recommended for Grade 3,4,5 !!!!!

Five Stars!!

“Loyalist to a fault” by Evan Munday

September 19, 2015

Loyalist to a faultPublished by ECW press

[ARC generously supplied by Jenna Illies]
301p. c2015

The colourful ghoulish cover is just a teaser to what a reader can expect when they dive into the latest installment in Evan Munday’s nominated series Dead Kid Detective Agency!

If a reader is the least bit of a detective and observant, the title Loyalist to a Fault, is a clever play on an well known saying ‘loyal to a fault’ which provides a clue to the new, intriguing story involving the intrepid October Schwartz and a group of distinctly ‘spirited’ teen shades!

A story of unique friendships intertwined with decidedly weirdly poignant situations of midnight rendezvous in the local library, grave-digging in February, a pirate, a burning ship, intrigue and an interjection of horror-filled scenes …… captured my attention with such a force, that you can not help but become an unintentional invisible member of the Dead Kid Agency!

The helpful list of characters and appendix of passing references at the end of this third book in the series, allows the reader to delve deeper into the “important cultural history” that is alluded to throughout the narrative.

Mr. Munday adroitly crafts a tale that is a genuine unique blend of perspectives, voice, intrigue-filled social situations, aspects of the macabre laced with snippets of historical facts. Along with these components, and an opening paragraph that states how “many mysteries open with a heinous crime in progress” and in almost the next breath, reveals that….October, commits such an act, will totally ‘kidnap’ readers from the start!!!

Highly Recommended!!
for Grades 6,7,8!!!   Five Stars!

Genres: Mystery; Supernatural; Adventure; Humour

Eco Warrior by Philip Roy

May 8, 2015

Published by Ronsdale Press, Vancouver , BC: c2015 [ARC generously supplied by Ronsdale] In the seventh book of the awesome series Submarine Outlaw,  Alfred and his first mates are no longer EcoWarrior [book 7] by Philip Roy‘outlaws’ on the seas. Alfred now turns his homemade vessel toward Australia and pursues his dream of helping the environment become reality.  Unfortunately for Alfred, his ‘relaxed’ arrival in Perth is marred by a series of events that find him the centre of unwanted attention by authorities. When he is forced to make a quick escape via the help of a self-styled environmental activist-hippy named Merwin Hughes, the road to becoming an environmentalist is accelerated. Allowing Merwin aboard his submarine leaves Alfred uneasy. However, once the decision is reached, both individuals acknowledge this change in procedure – one with enthusiasm – the other with great reluctance. As the pair now travel toward the Southern Ocean, a stunning appearance and consequent interaction with a blue whale and her calf  leads Alfred to reflect on what he has encountered and witnessed during his many ocean travels. Caught up in the  pandemonium and violence of illegal whaling activities, Alfred soon comes to realize that every action counts. This seventh book in Philip Roy’s series adroitly explains environmental activism in a manner that it is comprehensible to readers at any level! Although Alfred’s past voyages are all filled with adventure, new perspectives and understanding, there is a subtle shift in this novel. Readers of Eco Warrior will be swept up in the innocence and trust exhibited by the blue whale and her calf.  They will also experience similar feelings of horror, anguish and desperation as did Alfred and Merwin, as the scenes of conflict unfold between the Sea Shepherd and the whaling ship. The uncertain plight of the oceans is stark – but Roy leaves the candle of hope lit within Alfred and the reader! Highly Recommended !! Grade 6,7,8,9

Student reaction to Eco Warrior:

Kevin “ I wanted to go right out and follow in Alfred’s footsteps and make a difference for the better!!”

Below is a bulletin board inspired by Eco Warrior!

World Oceans Day every day!


Series: Submarine Outlaw : Book 7 Subjects: Environmental Activism; Whales; Endangered species; Ocean life; Adventure; Environmental Protection; Ocean life; World Oceans day; Greenpeace; Sea Shepherd Genres: Action-Adventure; Whales; Submarines; Oceans United Nations World Oceans Day Video:

Blank by Trina St. Jean

March 30, 2015

blank pic 1Blank by Trina St.

Published by Orca Book publishers : c2015: 301p.

[Digital ARC generously supplied by J. Cameron ]

A shattered image.

A girl starring out at the onlooker.

An evocative and riveting cover that will seize any reader!

This gritty, in your face debut novel by Canadian author Trina St.Jean, ‘grabbed’ me from the beginning sentences and the development of the fast pace keeps a reader totally enwrapped within this thought- provoking narrative.




All three words are a nightmare to those waiting for someone to awake, yet even scarier for a victim. Upon waking, St.Jean’s central character, ‘fifteen year old Jessica succinctly expresses her own growing fear and confusion.  “But my old life is a long blank that my brain no longer fills in for me.”p.5

Addressing herself as Girl/ Jessica is swamped by stark disconnected feelings where doubt and anger seesaw with sadness and confusion.

You can feel the struggles that ‘Jessica/Girl’ is dealing with as her moods vacillate between emotion and reaction. Despite a supportive network of family and medical staff, she (Jessica/Girl) finds that even constant exposure to long time friends and ‘normal’ daily activities only enhance her feeling of frustration. As a result, over hearing a conversation or her own random thoughts, trigger unpredictable and volatile behaviour.

Questions about her former self, guilt and a host of other mixed up emotion stream through her consciousness upsetting any attempt to find a balance between what she feels are her two warring personalities. It is the chance find of a journal and a scarf that point in her a direction that could provide a resolution in accepting who she now has become.

This psychologically probing novel brings to light how bewildering and complex multiple layers of a brain injury can be through the simple question that Jessica/Girl asks, what is ‘normal’ ?

TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) often not understood and is usually associated with sports, is adeptly highlighted in this narrative. Girl/Jessica’s journey of recovery and rediscovery underlines the fact that a that brain injury can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone and leave a ‘blank’!

Highly Recommended for Intermediate Grades!!

4 stars out of 5!

Random Acts by Valerie Sherrard

February 18, 2015


Random-Acts-cover-194x300Publisher: Puffin Canada; 264 p. c.2015

Random Acts is the newest novel by Canadian author Valerie Sherrard.  The title brings to mind that one has to step out of a normal routine or comfort zone and attempt a random act of kindness, and I was delighted that this topic would be the focus of a middle-grade narrative!

However the reader will quickly learn that ‘random acts’ takes on an entirely different meaning within the parameters of this story. Teenagers, Zoey, Jenna and ‘Bean’  have been BFF’s for a number of years. It is during an afternoon of overindulgence in a ‘pizza-feast’ that the simple idea of preforming random acts of kindness takes hold, but then evolves into a story filled with slap-stick humour  and misdeeds, reminiscent of skits from the “I love Lucy” show!

Ms Sherrard has eloquently and completely captured the angst and self appreciating humour often demonstrated by teens with the voice of Zoey. As the story progresses, the relationships of these three friends is in a constant state of flux, ever changing and growing in self awareness.  Told primarily from Zoey’s perspective, her interaction with her parents plays a pivotal part in the telling of this narrative.

This delightfully well written tale will definitely have the reader smiling, laughing out loud and groaning in empathy with all the ‘random acts’ performed by our three amusing artless teens!

Highly recommended for grade 6,7,8 !!!

Genre: Realistic fiction; Humour

Themes: Pay it forward; Friendship; Family; Relationships; Teenagers