Review: Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin

Hi guys! Today is the first day of school for all of us here on LILbooKlovers, and I’m actually pretty excited about my junior year. Today, I’m posting another review here on the blog, and today I’m reviewing Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin!Bumbling Bea


About the Book

Beatrice thinks she has no talent, but that doesn’t stop her from auditioning for the annual middle school play.  Easy!  Except Michiko, a new girl from Japan, shows up and ruins everything. So begins Beatrice’s humorous and diabolical plan to scare away Michiko.  But Michiko has goals of her own with no plans to leave soon.  Then there’s that “other” girl, Bumbling Bea, who is such a blabbermouth.  What’s a girl to do?  Plenty.



Disclaimer: I received a free signed copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

Overall Thoughts: A long time ago (like a few months actually) I read a short story called “The Nose” in English. One of the weirdest stories I have read. Even though it was 30 pages, I couldn’t get through even 2 without stopping! I had the same experience with Bumbling Bea, and I did not like it. This is probably the first 1 star review I’m giving a book in a long time, and that means something. Bumbling Bea just wasn’t the best book I have read, especially compared to the books I read before and after it. I did like the premise, though, and I was expecting a comical, light read, but that’s not what I got. I know that some people will enjoy this book, and I have no doubt about that, but for me, it’s one that I didn’t like at all. I just don’t like it at all, and even though I reserve 1-stars for DNFs, I can only give it 1 star.

Writing Style: The writing style is what bugged me the most about this book. There was just too must telling and too much unnecessary detail/backstory. One of the biggest “make or break” parts of a novel is the voice of the narrator, and I learned from my creative writing that in writing fiction you must show the details and only include those that are necessary. Pardon if I start going into “mini-lesson” mode; that’s how I convey my feelings sometimes.

First, regarding showing, I was told what happened. I wasn’t shown what was happening. Anton Chekhov, a famous Russian playwright, once wrote, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” As a reader, I want to see what is going on. I want to be transported into the story. I want to feel the wind caressing my body as it provides me relief from the heat of the glaring sun, not just being told that the wind was blowing. I was told what happened during the day, which did not contribute to the plot (I’ll talk about that in a minute). I didn’t feel like I wanted to keep on going. In fact, I set it down for a while and finished both The One Memory of Flora Banks and The Bakersville Dozen before I picked it up again.

Second, regarding unnecessary details, I would sometimes encounter a page that is full of unnecessary backstory and details, and it honestly stalled the plot. It’s good to insert some flashbacks and backstory in some spots, and I love them, but they weren’t used in the best way in this book. I just kept going, “Do I really need to know this?” as I continued the novella.

Also, the voice didn’t exactly match a middle school student’s voice. When I read The One Memory of Flora Banks, I loved how the childlike narration matched Flora’s personality. As I read Bumbling Bea on the other hand, it didn’t really match how a MG child would speak. I’ve read my fair share of Middle Grade books and I’ve been in middle school just two years ago to know what is the right voice for a younger protagonist. I’ve read MG books such as 14 Hollow Road, Be Light Like a Bird, and How to Steal a Dog that truly capture the child/MG voice, but Bumbling Bea did not match what an MG reader would read. I don’t think it fits exactly with it’s intended audience (10 – 15). I know the narrator is in 8th grade (I was 13 in 8th grade) and Bea didn’t capture the simplicity and innocence that I love to see in MG characters.

Antihero: So the author took a gamble with using an antihero as the protagonist. By the way, an antihero is a protagonist who lacks heroic virtues, which I think is different from a flawed protagonist. Beatrice has an “alternate ego” called “Bumbling Bea,” a snarky, sarcastic version of herself that’s disrespectful to those around her. Did the main character annoy me? Yes, at points. Personally, antiheroes are huge gambles when writing a book because not everyone is a fan of them. Now me, did I like Beatrice? No, not until the end. Now are there books where you just love the antihero? Yes, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (which I want to read a lot) is one example where many people who did not like them loved the main character. But it just didn’t work for me.

Concluding Thoughts: I wish I could say why I think you should read this book, but I honestly can’t say. If you want to try out this book, go ahead! You might like it much better than I did. But those were my reasons why it did not click with me. It had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t well executed. I wish I could say more good things about this book, but sadly, I cannot. It just doesn’t feel like a middle grade book.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you have any thoughts or questions?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Marty Frye Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Action Figure & Marty Frye Private Eye and the Case of the Stolen Poodle Blog Tour: Exclusive Excerpt!

Hi guys! Happy Friday! I’m about to go out of town to see the Niagara Falls (woo hoo!), and I’m super excited! To celebrate, I am super glad that I am hosting a tour stop for the Marty Frye Blog Tour! Hope you enjoy the excerpt and check out the books!

MARTY FRYE Blog Tour


About The Books:

Title: MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE MISSING ACTION FIGUREMARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE MISSING ACTION FIGURE

Author: Janet Tashjian

Pub. Date: June 27, 2017

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback

Pages: 96

Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Synopsis: Broken into three short stories of poetry and petty crime, this charming chapter book will have young readers in search of a rhyme in no time. Book 1 in the Marty Frye series!

Marty Frye is not your ordinary sleuth. Marty Frye is a poet detective–he makes up rhymes as he solves small crimes. When his friend Emma’s diary is missing, Marty is on the case. When Katie’s flour is nowhere to be found, Marty tracks it down. And when the brand-new Action Chuck figures mysteriously vanish from the toy store, Marty unravels the mystery. Will there ever be a case too hard for Marty to solve? Or a word too impossible to rhyme?

Broken into three short stories of poetry and petty crime, this charming chapter book will have young readers in search of a rhyme in no time.

A Christy Ottaviano Book 


Title: MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE AND THE CASE OF THE STOLEN POODLEMARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE STOLEN POODLE

Author: Janet Tashjian

Pub. Date: June 27, 2017

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback

Pages: 96

Find it: AmazonB&N,  TBDGoodreads

Marty Frye is not your ordinary private eye. Marty Frye is “the poet detective”–he solves petty crimes by turning rhymes. In the course of a busy day, Marty tracks down his friend Emma’s lost diary, finds a box of toys missing from Mr. Lipsky’s store; and locates a bag of disappearing flour for his little sister, Katie. Although he hits some dead ends along the way, Marty Frye combines his three favorite hobbies–sleuthing, rhyming, and climbing trees–and leaves no case unsolved or unrhymed.

Three short stories with clear, simple sentences make this charming easy-reader an ideal stepping-stone to longer chapter books. Laurie Keller’s quirky illustrations capture the spirit of Janet Tashjian’s tongue-in-cheek humor. Young readers will be off in search of a rhyme in no time.


Exclusive Excerpt from Marty Frye and the Case of the Stolen Poodle, pg. 63-71

When Marty got home, his sister, Katie, was doing her homework. The kitchen table was filled with piles of pennies, nickels, and dimes.

Katie counted out pennies as she worked. “Three plus seven equals ten,” she said.

Marty swiped one of the pennies. “No disrespect, but your answer’s incorrect.”

Katie threw herself over the rest of the coins.

“Stop messing around with my equation! I have a test tomorrow.”

Marty was heading upstairs to play video games when their neighbor Jackie burst into the kitchen.

“Darlene is missing! You have to help me find her!”

Darlene was Jackie’s poodle. Jackie loved dressing up Darlene in sweaters and bows and tiny shoes that Marty thought were silly. He wondered if Darlene ran away because she didn’t want to be Jackie’s canine doll anymore.

“Don’t break a sweat—I’ll find your pet,” Marty said.

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” Jackie did a hula dance around the kitchen table that made Marty want to hide inside the cupboard.

But when you’re a poet detective, you don’t say no to a new case.

Marty and his sister followed Jackie to her house. “There’s a Bobby the Bloodhound marathon that Darlene and I were going to watch today. But our television isn’t working—I was trying to figure out how to tell Darlene.”

Marty was having second thoughts about helping Jackie. But Jackie had lived in their neighborhood for years and was a good friend.

It was time to ask some tough questions.

“About Darlene—when was she last seen?”

Jackie told him she was getting ready to take Darlene for a walk when she realized her poodle had suddenly disappeared.

“What’s that smell?” Katie asked.

Jackie led Marty and Katie into a kitchen full of goodies. Marty remembered that Jackie liked to cook and his mouth began to water when he saw the counter lined with tarts and quiches. (Here was another mystery—how could he possibly be hungry after eating so much candy that afternoon?)

Jackie took out plates for her friends. While the girls ate, Marty snooped around the house.

He found chew toys.

He found dog food.

But no Darlene.

Marty spotted something sparkly. He reached underneath the shelf then held up his discovery for Jackie to see.

“Put down your quiche—I found your dog’s leash!”

“That’s because I hadn’t slipped it on Darlene yet! Someone stole her, Marty!”

Marty was disappointed the leash wasn’t a clue. He’d already solved two crimes today—would he be able to solve a third?

Did that make you interested? If so, please check out Janet’s books!


About Janet: Janet

Janet Tashjian is a middle-grade and young adult novelist who’s been writing books for children for fifteen years. Her first novel Tru Confessions was made into a critically acclaimed Disney TV movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf. The Gospel According to Larry is a cult favorite and Fault Line is taught in many middle and high schools. Her novels My Life As a Book, My Life As a Stuntboy, and My Life As a Cartoonist are all illustrated by her teenage son, Jake. Their collaboration continues with My Life As a Ninja coming April of 2017.

Janet lives with her family in Los Angeles, enjoying her respite from the long Boston winters. When she isn’t writing, she’s rewriting. Learn more about her and all her books at JanetTashjian.com!

Janet has been doing school visits for fifteen years; you can email her at spatulaproductions@mac.com for details.

Website | YouTube | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter


Giveaway Details:

3 Winners will receive a finished copy of MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE MISSING ACTION FIGURE and MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE AND THE CASE OF THE STOLEN POODLE, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/19/2017- Novel Novice– Excerpt

6/20/2017- Why I Read– Review

6/21/2017- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

6/22/2017- The Pages In-Between– Review

6/23/2017- LILbooKlovers– Excerpt

Week Two:

6/26/2017- BookHounds ya– Review

6/27/2017-So Few Books– Interview

6/28/2017- Miracle Milli Reads Review

6/29/2017-Book Review Becca– Review

6/30/2017-Don’t Judge, Read– Interview


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you have any thoughts or questions?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Contact | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

Summer of Authors #2: Exclusive Interview with Jenn Bishop

Hi guys! Tomorrow I’m taking the ACT, so today’ll be more focused on getting my mind and self ready for big test! But for today… We’re continuing our Summer of Authors with Jenn Barnes, author of 14 Hollow Road, which releases in 4 days! Go check it out, and I hope you enjoy this review!


About 14 Hollow Road14 Hollow Road_jkt_3p.indd

The night of the sixth-grade dance is supposed to be perfect for Maddie: she’ll wear her perfect new dress, hit the dance floor with her friends, and her crush, Avery, will ask her to dance. But as the first slow song starts to play, her plans crumble. Avery asks someone else to dance instead—and then the power goes out.

Huddled in the gym, Maddie and her friends are stunned to hear that a tornado has ripped through the other side of town, destroying both Maddie’s and Avery’s homes.

Kind neighbors open up their home to Maddie’s and Avery’s families, which both excites and horrifies Maddie. Sharing the same house . . . with Avery? For the entire summer? While it buys her some time to prove that Avery made the wrong choice at the dance, it also means he’ll be there to witness her morning breath and her annoying little brother.

At the dance, all she wanted was to be more grown-up. Now that she has no choice, is she really ready for it?


 

Jenn Bishop

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing for many of the same reasons that I love reading—that experience of stepping into someone else’s shoes and experiencing things alongside them. I can also appreciate now the escape that it provides. There’s nothing like the experience of time disappearing as you write. That total immersion is rare, but amazing! As a kid, I was fortunate to have many opportunities for creative writing in school—especially elementary. My stories might have been a little derivative then, but there was so much joy in their creation.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I tend to read mostly contemporary books. It’s tricky to pin down a favorite book—it’s a real moving target, as I read about 150 books each year and I’m always finding new favorites—but some of the authors whose work I most admire include Rebecca Stead, Rita Williams-Garcia, Hanya Yanagihara, Jason Reynolds, and Junot Diaz. It’s hard to say who has impacted my writing style—I feel, if anything, my voice is something I’ve honed and developed over years of sending long emails, talking, and picking up certain modes of speech from friends and family.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I’m fortunate right now to be able to write full-time, not that I actually am “writing” for 40 hours a week. A lot of the time I would devote to a traditional job is also used for reading, Skyping with classrooms, and tending to the business side of writing. In my truly free time, I love long distance running, film, and being outside.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #2: Exclusive Interview with Jenn Bishop”

Exclusive Interview + Giveaway with Kym Brunner!

To all you Star Wars fans, May the Fourth be with you! Today is also National Bird Day, which brings us to today’s special guest: Kym Brunner! Kym wrote a book called Flip the Bird (yes, there is a secret pun… please see question 5 for that answer… the bird is named Flip), and to celebrate the upcoming “Be Kind to Animals” week and International Bird Migratory Day on May 14th, she is giving away a copy of Flip the Bird! Woo hoo! Here’s a special interview I conducted with her after I saw her at SE-YA (I’ve made a lot of author friends there).


Kym Brunner

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?FlipTheBirdCover

I’ve always loved reading, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I thought, “Hmm…maybe I could write a book.” I bought a book called “How to Write a Book For Dummies,” and that was all the permission I needed to go ahead and try writing a book too. Found out I absolutely loved it and an obsession was born.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I love reading––PB through adult novels––but mostly I read YA and New York Times bestsellers. Growing up I was really into Stephen King because there wasn’t a true young adult category. I suppose that’s why I love suspenseful books so much. As far as writing style, I can only say that I write the way I think and talk, so I don’t model myself after any particular author. But when I first started writing, I was reading a lot of Meg Cabot, Carolyn Mackler, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green. Fingers crossed that I picked up a few tips vicariously through reading their books.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?KymBrunnerAuthorPhoto

I always tell my husband that I have two full-time jobs… teaching 7th graders and writing novels. When I’m not teaching or grading papers, I’m writing or thinking about writing. I get up early and write before school, and then work for several hours after school on my novels. On weekends, I still get up early and write, sometimes all the way until dinner. Writing consumes me and I don’t even notice the time.

4. Your latest book Flip the Bird is targeted especially for middle grade to teenage boys. Why did you choose to write for this audience, and how would you respond to that “teenage boys don’t read”?

I didn’t choose the audience; the book chose me, so to speak. I took a falconry class at a raptor rehabilitation center after attending the Medieval Times dinner show, and the sport captivated me. I could easily have made the story a female apprentice, but having brothers myself, I could easily picture this being a dad-son sort of activity. As far as teen boys not reading, I can only shrug. I do think there are a lot of teen boys reading out there, but as a group, their interests might stray toward video games, girls, and sports for awhile. But I’m hoping they eventually come back to reading, and that they continue to make time to read when given a chance to relax. Reading novels not only expands your mind and gets you to consider other aspects of issues, but it’s very relaxing. Everyone needs down time without the noise and violence of a video game to collect their thoughts and think about what kind of person they want to be. Reading gives you lots of opportunities to explore who you are and who you will become as an adult.

5. What was the inspiration for the title of Flip the Bird? Is there a reason why Mercer chose to name his hawk “Flip”? (Is there a secret pun in the title?)

Definitely a secret pun in the title! The original title was (get ready to cringe)  “A Falcon’s Feather.” Yeah, so that is what we call “a working title,” something to put down at the top as a placeholder, but you can see it didn’t work at all. One day, we were laughing about someone flipping the bird to me in traffic, and I was like, “Bam! That’s it! He’ll name his hawk Flip!” Thus, it should probably be titled, “Flip, the Bird” with a comma. 🙂

6. Would you want to be a master falconer? Would you like to have a bird as a pet, and if so which one?

Maybe one day I’ll pursue being a falconer myself, but it is a huge time commitment and can be somewhat of a big expense if you do it correctly. I have had birds as pets before (cockatiels, umbrella cockatoo, green cheeked conure) and have loved them all. I also have several bird feeders right outside the window where I sit and write.WANTED - DEAD OR IN LOVE cover(3)

7. In one of your previous novels Wanted: Dead or In Love, the souls of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde start to take over the bodies of high school students Monroe and Jack. Did you have to do any research on the deadly duo to write this book? If so, what are some of the most interesting or surprising things you learned?

Boy, did I ever have to do research! Hours upon hours of reading books and watching documentaries. The thing that surprised me the most was that Clyde Barrow lived in the poorest part of Dallas during the Depression, so much of the stealing he did in the beginning was to survive and to help his family. I think his first arrest was for stealing a turkey, and another was for failing to return a rental car on time, both in his teens. Not making any excuses for him, but his first murder was a prison guard who had raped him daily during his year incarceration when he was only 17. After Clyde was released from prison, he followed the guard home and killed him.

8. You are currently serving as a 7th grade teacher along with your writing career. How would you instill a new love for books in a student who does not like reading at all?

I talk about how much I love books and have librarians come in and book talk the newest books a couple of times a year. No one likes to be told what to do, so I hope that my enthusiasm for certain books makes them curious enough to want to read it too.

9. Could you tell me some of the reasons why you think that Chicago is the “best city in the world”? If I were to go there (which I already have!), what are some activities or attractions you would recommend to a visitor?

Chicago is beautiful and filled with diverse, smart, talented people. It’s got every type of food you can imagine with a ton of pro sports teams and there’s just a cool vibe when you walk along the lakefront. I’d recommend trying foods from around the world at all of the ethnic restaurants we have, take a bike ride through Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, visit the Art Institute, and catch a free symphony on Wednesday afternoons in the summer near the Bean! Of course you should go have a snack and a drink on the Signature Room on the 95th and 96th floors in the John Hancock (and you don’t have to pay to go to the 98th floor observation deck).

10. I am so glad I got to see you at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, TN! What do you like most about being an author at book festivals? How was your experience at SE-YA?

SE-YA Fest was amaaaazing! I loved how many teens were bussed in for the day to attend the event! So fun to talk to a room full of eager readers that had the most hilarious questions for the authors. It was so well run and the campus where it was held was stunning. What I like most is being able to talk with teens about books, and especially happy when they’ve read my book and want to take a picture with me. Makes me feel so happy and proud.

11. Have you written any other works? What can we expect from you in the future?SmartCookie_Cover(1)

Always writing, always hoping the next book is picked up by an editor who loves it too. I’ve written a humorous MG sci-fi novel that my agent will be sending out to editors soon. My “WIP” (work-in-progress) has some “eco-fiction” elements in it the way Flip the Bird did, but this one also has a futuristic world and a suspense plot filled with lots of twists. Fingers crossed that all my books eventually land in the hands of readers.

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Read, read, read…and write, write, write. Everything takes practice so you’ll have to write for awhile before you can critically read your own work. Join a critique group and have others read your stories and tell you what is working and what isn’t is the most valuable tip I can give you. Writing a book is hard work, but anyone can do it if they dedicate the time to making the pages sing. Best of luck and thanks for interviewing


About Flip the BirdFlipTheBirdCover

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.


When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.


With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making diff
icult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.


About the Author

Kym Brunner dreams entire novels in her head, but needs about a year to write it all down.  She wishes there was an app for this. She’s addicted to chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she’s not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. Her article, Cracking Down on Multiple POVs:  Surrender and Nobody Gets Hurt, appeared in Writer’s Digest online (July, 2014). She is the author of the three YA novels listed below. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and her two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. Keep in touch by following her on Facebook (Author Kym Brunner), Twitter (@KymBrunner), or at her website, http://www.kymbrunner.com.

Wanted: Dead or in Love, Merit Press, June, 2014
One Smart Cookie, Omnific Publishing, July, 2014
Flip the Bird, HMH Books for Young Readers (coming Nov. 1, 2016)

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Now onto the giveaway!
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Hope you enjoyed this interview! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.
~ Kester