“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


Connecting Dots by Sharon Jennings

February 18, 2015

Connecting Dots Publisher: Second Story Press; Series: ‘Gutsy Girl’ ; 183p.:c2015

Sharon Jennings’ long anticipated companion to the multi-nominated book Home Free has finally been launched!

Connecting Dots is the heart wrenching story of feisty Cassandra Jovanovich, Leanne Mets’ ‘bosom’ friend, first introduced in ‘Home Free’.

We are given a small hint that our central character  has a very direct and forthright attitude, as she remarks on her friend’s constant inquisitiveness about her life. The italicized word “my” in the sentence “so I am sitting at my desk in my room” is a subtle indicator for the reader that this tiny word will become important in the narrative of Cassie’s life.

Society in the late ’50’s and early 60’s often dictated the social norms of the day. It is for this reason that every aspect of family life comes under close scrutiny when the circumstances of Cassie’s birth are established. At age 5 with the untimely passing of her Grandmother, we see how Cassie’s sliver of childhood innocence rapidly diminishes as she is passed through the ranks of various relatives.

Over time she is looked upon as a liability. Facing ongoing criticism, her confusion and mistrust merge into a mask of stubborn defiance. Cassie’s constant ‘tough -act’ demeanor translates further when participating in a school play her ‘acting skills’ win her positive praise. Amazed at how she feels on stage, she vows to explore this revelation and strives to hone it into a new found career.  Cassie faces the ultimate test and when she freezes it is Lee’s genuine open-minded belief in her that comes to the rescue. It is at this awkward moment that the reader is given a glimpse of the real Cassie beneath the cultivated tenacious exterior.

I found this tale of a harrowing childhood to be a sensitive coming of age portrayal. Ms Jennings’ has written Cassie’s story with great perceptiveness and understanding, which is communicated to the reader who in turn cannot help but become an unshakable champion of Cassandra Jovanovich!

Spirited, inquisitive and quirky, “almost twelve-year old” Cassandra Jovanovich, exhibits such a fearlessness that despite all odds, the reader cannot help but admire, applaud and ….be…..amazed!

Highly Recommended!!!     Be prepared “to be amazed at what will emerge!”

Reading Ability: Junior : Intermediate (Grade 6,7,8)

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes: Abuse; Acceptance; Grief; Courage; Coming of Age; Acting, Actors; Friendship; Social bias;

Second Story Press: http://secondstorypress.ca/books/175-home-free

Author Interviews : http://www.openbooktoronto.com/atsintziras/blog/interview_with_sharon_Jennings


Thank you to SECOND STORY Press for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Plain Kate by Erin Bow

March 30, 2011

"Haunting, mysterious and full of wonders" E. Bunce

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
The writing is lyrical, moving and beautiful. I love Erin Bow’s writing style, she has a sparse descriptive style, which I found it to be fresh and inventive. While reading, I frequently re-read passages just to savor her words and images that they conjured.  The book has a Eastern European flavour, which is dark, somber and foreboding. The main character, Plain Kate, is endearing and a tenacious survivor, she so badly wants to belong and is looking desperately for a family. When in dire circumstances she gives away her shadow to a mysterious stranger.  As events transpire we learn the terrible reason behind this magical transaction and the consequences for Kate and those around her. At times I wanted to cry, and I would have found the book too dark without the introduction of a delightful talking cat who almost steals the show. The talking cat is terrific and he serves to lighten mood, plus move the story along. Without the cat, Kate would have been totally alone in a hostile world.

Journey to Atlantis by Philip Roy

June 9, 2010

 Philip Roy’s newest adventure ” Journey to Alantis” once again stars that intrepid trio that I fell in love with in his debut novel “Submarine Outlaw”.  Alfred (captain of the submarine), first mate Seaweed the Seagull, and canine companion extraordinare Hollie, sail into another fantastic adventure on his improved homemade submarine,  this time attempting an Atlantic crossing inorder to locate the fabled city of Atlantis!  Along the way, Al dispays  courage, determination and humour as he encounters  the Coast Guard, pirates in the Meditterean, old World War Two sea mines, and a camel in the Sahara of North Africa.

I was not disappointed in this rollicking high-sea adventure. Roy has skillfully blended the mythology and legends of ancient civilizations with geographical accuracy so that a reader could actually plot out Albert’s voyage on a map! Highly recommend it  even for  the reluctant reader!

River Odyssey, the third in the Submarine Outlaw series, coming fall 2010! ( by Ronsdale Press)

  • August 2009
  • ISBN: 978-1-55380-076-7  ; 224 pp
  • Reading ability : Grade 5 to 8

    Who would like this book?  Anyone who dares to dream and follow their imagination and loves to explore the world!

    Teacher/Curriculum Connections: ” Journey to Atlantis would be useful in the classroom, especially when read along with a geography or social studies unit on modern ocean travel, the Mediterranean area, or ancient Minoan society.”  by Karen Taylor, CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 7. . . .October 16, 2009

    War Brothers by Sharon E. McKay

    February 9, 2010

    Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:  Z       Grade Level:   5-7  

    Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Adventure


     Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre

    Red Maple Nominee 2010 ,   224 pages _____________________________________________________

    “In this gripping and dramatic tale, Sharon McKay brings the horror of the war in northern Uganda to life. Although hers is a work of fiction, the peril and loss that she so compellingly describes continue to be a sad reality for too many Acholi children today. Through her sensitive portrayal of their response to the harsh life of the child soldier, Ms McKay explores how these innocent victims of war come to grips with dangers and dilemmas that no child should have to confront.”—Allan Rock, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations 

    Review by Karen

    This is an outstanding piece of realistic fiction by Canadian author, Sharon McKay. McKay allows the reader to follow the lives of several girls and boys as they struggle to survive after being captured/kidnapped by Northern Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army through the eyes of a boy. This tour de force book is an illustration of the good and evil in humanityand has been selected as a  Red Maple nominee for the Forest of Reading 2010.   This is book  will definately generate discussions in any classroom!

    Highly recommened!!!!!

    Books of a similiar nature: Iqbal ; Parvana’s Journey;  Tree Girl

    Reading Ability:  mature Grade 7 & 8 & 9

    Genre: Realistic Fiction; Survival; Courage; Determination;

    Theme: Child Armies; War;  Survival; Fear; Peace

    Author links:http://www.sharonmckay.ca/;     http://www.myhamilton.ca/people/mckay-sharon-e