Review and giveaway – Tea in Pajamas: Beyond Belzerac

Rachel Tey, author of the beloved Tea in Pajamas book is back with an intriguing and action-packed sequel.

Her second book, Beyond Belzerac, takes us to new, darker depths as Belle Marie, Tess, and Julien are forced to travel back to Belzerac when they realise that things at home are amiss. They find themselves entangled (and literally on the same boat) with Orpheus and Eurydice, of Greek mythology origins.

Tea in Pajamas cover

While the daring trio is fighting to exit the strange world of Belzerac and return to their loved ones safely, Orpheus and Eurydice, two star-crossed lovers, are too seeking to control their own fates.

I asked Rachel about her inspiration behind weaving the story of Orpheus and Eurydice into the sequel’s narrative. Here’s what she said:

The inspiration came from the actual piece of music called “Melodie” by CW Gluck. The first time I heard it my dad told me it’s from a piece of music called Dance of the Blessed Spirits, and he told me about the tale. I felt intrigued and read up more about the greek myth, and it always stuck with me. I thought it was tragic but beautiful.

Tea in Pajamas 3

Rachel began her own adventure with writing Tea in Pajamas with the goal of encouraging readers to take a step towards greater self-awareness and discernment. Here’s how she illuminates this path:

This is an ongoing journey, and one that’s not linear, with a definitive start and end. Sometimes the dark, uncertain moments can be periods of the most profound growth, so I really wanted to bring that out in this sequel…the struggle of the human spirit.

Vera really enjoyed the sequel – its magical qualities, a hint of a love story, and the tragedy of Greek mythology – appealed to her as an emerging teen. In her words, “It’s not like the other books that have perfect, happy-ever-after endings, and I like the bit of tragedy at the end.”

Her verdict kinda surprised me. I guess I’ve always pictured her as a happy-ever-after kind of girl and haven’t yet put my finger on how much she’s grown and matured! (Hah.)

I read the book myself and found that I enjoyed it even more than the first Tea in Pajamas. Perhaps it’s the good pace of adventure, the heady mix of mystery and romance, or the derring-do of Belle Marie, but whatever the case, Rachel’s writing has an enchanting, ethereal quality that easily sweeps you off your feet (in jammies of course) and lands you in another world.

I’d say it is a perfect companion for the holidays for any 9 to 12 year old. 🙂

Special thanks to Rachel for the review copy of the books. Hop over to our Facebook page to stand a chance to win the Tea in Pajamas book set giveaway!

My Blade Quest books by Don Bosco (Review plus giveaway!)

My kids love adventure and mystery books, so when Vera saw the My Blade Quest series by local author Don Bosco, she let out a squeal of delight. Needless to say, she dived head-first into the books and finished all six of them within a day or two.

blade quest series

I asked her what she thought of the books. She said:

“I love them! It’s funny, mysterious, and thrilling. I even like the villain, Garth Gan. (He has such a funny name.) I really love mystery books!”

She proceeded to show me some of the funny parts, and started to giggle at the jokes.

As you can see, she likes it when the books contain humour and mystery elements, and Blade Quest is pretty much filled with these.

JJ, who has started to read independently sometime during his K2 year, also enjoyed the series. He said:

“I like that they have to solve a crime, and they get to defeat the bad guy.”

Now that you’ve heard from the kids, here’s what I like about the books.

1. Easy to read – Suitable for young readers around Primary 1-3. The chapters are short, the sentences are simple, and yet the plot unfolds at a moderate pace, so the children’s attention can be sustained through the book.

2. The protagonists are wonderful role models – In book one, A New Game, Jay and his sister Shu travel to Penang. In book two, they jet off to Kamakura, Japan. Regardless of where they go, their mission remains key on their minds: To defeat the villain Garth Gan and protect Blade Quest Industries, the brainchild and legacy of their deceased parents. I think the characters portrayed in Jay and Shu can be positive and empowering for young kids.

3. Tons of local and pop culture references – In book three, the kids land in Melbourne and stay with Papa Jerry and Aunt Nicole, close friends of their parents. Aunt Nicole is a bit of a YouTube celebrity-chef, and the duo actually end up making a YouTube video in all of 40 minutes calling for help from her viewers to locate Garth Gan.

4. Good moral values – there is a strong theme of caring for family throughout the book despite the fact that the duo’s parents have already past on. For example, Uncle Selva, their dad’s best friend and also their guardian, was helping to manage the company, but is suffering from a weak heart.

In each book, we see the kids showing their concern for his health, and also stepping up to take on more responsibility because of it.

I also appreciate that there are themes of creativity and using power for the good of society littered throughout the series.

TIME FOR A GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Armour Publishing, we have 1 full set of 6 My Blade Quest books to give away to one lucky reader. To participate, just do the following:

  1. LIKE Super Cool Books FB page
  2. Leave a comment on this FB post – Tell us why you’d like to win.
  3. Tag a friend in your FB comment for additional chances of winning.

That’s it! Contest ends 11.59pm on 14 March, Wednesday. The winner will be randomly drawn and notified via Facebook PM/email. Good luck and happy school holidays! 😉

How To Find Joy in Motherhood {Book Review of The Happy Mom}

Think of it this way: Motherhood is like pottery. First, the potter throws a lump of clay on the table several times. This rids the clay of the air bubbles trapped inside. If the potter doesn’t do this, the clay will crack when it’s put into the hot kiln later on.

In the same way, when you start off as a mom, you’re like a lump of clay. You’re raw material that needs to be molded.

Remember your purpose as a mom. It’s not to be popular with your children; it’s to nurture them so they’ll be independent, responsible and resilient. As a mom, what matter is how you go through the fury of the fire. With the right mindset, you’ll become a person of greater patience, wisdom and love.

The happy mom book

I tucked into The Happy Mom book with much anticipation. The author Doreen Wong is a dedicated mom to three grown kids and grandmother, and has deep experience in and passion for parenting. (I have also met her son Daniel Wong, author of The Happy Student, whom I interviewed some years earlier for this post.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the read. The experience was akin to sitting down and enjoying a cup of coffee with a mentor figure, listening attentively as she downloads her years of parenting wisdom into my life.

In her book, she admits that even after 37 years of motherhood, her goal remains the same: To strengthen the bond with her children.

Wow…I have been a mother for eight years. In another 30 years, I hope to be reminded of what she said. Even in different seasons of parenting, the challenge of motherhood remains constant – to love our children as they are.

 

Here are 5 of my favourite aspects of The Happy Mom book.

  1. Doreen asks provocative, hard-hitting questions, like:
  • Do you fill your children’s lives with the things that you missed in your own childhood, whether your children want them or not?
  • What will your children remember you for?
  • Are you driven by self-centred ambitions? Or are you driven by a desire to make a difference in your family and the world?
  1. She also offers many gems of wisdom. This one spoke to me the most:

“As you journey with your children through life, integrate rather than segment the various aspects of their experience. See each child as a complete whole as you identify their personalities, passions and talents. This will help you ensure that your child gets everything they need in a holistic manner.”

And this:

“Don’t be anxious if you’re unclear about the vision you have for your children. There’s no rush to create this vision over the next few days. It will come to you over time. But if you already have such a picture in mind, impart it to your children. Impress upon them their worth and purpose. Believe in them. Know that all things are possible. Don’t lose sight of your vision as you walk beside them and dream with them.”

  1. She offers plenty of actionable steps that we can apply, such as using positive language in the home, declaring powerful words over our children’s lives, and guiding them to embrace timeless values and principles. 

Here are some particularly inspiring snippets:

  • In achievement, be yourself – Encourage your children to be the best versions of themselves.
  • In behaviour, act the same even when no one’s watching – Teach your children the importance of integrity, authenticity and consistency. 
  • In education, love learning – Help them to think through the what, how and why of new ideas. 
  1. She reminds me about the importance of trust, specifically about trusting our kids.

“[My mom] gave me confidence because she often showed that she trusted me…I didn’t hide any secrets from her, and she didn’t have to nag me about anything.”

I think trust is one of the things we often forget we can give our children especially in today’s context where the tendency is to hover and micro-manage life for our kids. We need to give them the practice in exercising their judgment, to trust them to make small decisions, gradually and age-appropriately, but steadily.

  1. She offers helpful dos and don’ts in a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book. Here is an example.

The Happy Mom dos and donts summary

My conclusion: this is a book that will inspire and empower you to find joy in motherhood. It will also equip you with wisdom to help you discern what is really important, and to help you help your children thrive.

Moms, if you want to raise your children to lead purposeful and significant lives, do not miss out on this book. Order your copy now.
Affiliate links are included in this post. Using these links, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Island of Legends – A Singapore Book Review and Giveaway

Island of Legends cover

Island of Legends is a really cool history-mystery-activity book. Third in local author Don Bosco’s book series Lion City Adventures, Island of Legends comprises 3 literary genres rolled into one: history (told through 8 legends); mystery (as the Lion City Adventuring Club members are once again sent on an adventure to solve the mystery of a treasure box); and activity book.

Vera really enjoyed the book. She said she learnt about Sang Nila Utama and how Singapore got its name. She also learnt that Radin Mas Primary School was named after a brave and beautiful princess! One of the first things she did after finishing the book was to draw a cute cartoon lion  – following the instructions and steps shown in the book!

island-of-legends-lion

What I like about the book is that it provides some puzzle or craft activity pages after each story. Like this turtle origami activity…

island-of-legends-turtle-origami

And this picture puzzle. It caters to all age groups – from emerging readers like JJ to independent readers like Vera.

Island of Legends puzzle page

This is the book to go to if your child is keen to read more about colourful folklore of Singapore’s past. The other 6 legends covered in the book are the legend of Pu Luo Cheng, a strong man called Badang, the angry swordfish, the magical turtle of Kusu island, the legend of pirate island, and enemies from the North.

Each legend is weaved into the chapters of the book, and is part of a bigger mystery that the Lion City Adventuring Club had to solve. I like that the author included history notes at the end of each legend – which presents simple facts and information about each of them.

History notes within the book Island of Legends

What I really appreciate about Don’s books is that he always packs in elements of surprise and mystery, and that always helps to intrigue and draw the attention of young readers. He shares a bit about his creative process and writing here:

Children love books where the message behind the story is something fun and reassuring. Like, be brave. Be curious. Be helpful. Be happy. Believe in your own wacky ideas.

So get together with other brave, curious, helpful and happy people, and see what sort of adventures you can have together. That’s how children learn best, by piecing together interesting bits of information and using all this to work out their own answers.

They like being detectives. They get a great sense of accomplishment when they can play an active part in figuring something out. That’s the simple pleasure of the Lion City Adventures series. And at the very end, the final page, through all the fun, everyone will have somehow learnt something good.

 ~~~~~ BOOK GIVEAWAY!~~~~~

I have one copy of Island of Legends up for grabs. To win, just follow the steps below:

  1. Check out Don Bosco’s Super Cool Books FB page for updates.
  2. Comment on this Facebook post: a) state why you’d like to win, and your email, b) Tag a friend for bonus entries.

Contest ends 11 October, 2359hrs. Open to SG residents only. The winner will be announced on this blog post, and on Facebook on 12 October. Good luck!

Island of Legends is available at all major bookstores. It retails at $15.80 (before GST).

**Thanks, Don and Marshall Cavendish, for giving us a copy of Island of Legends for this review!

 

 

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Review & Giveaway: Exploring values with The Wolf series of books

The Wolf series is all about the adventures of a grumpy and disgruntled Wolf who discovers through many unfortunate mishaps the value of friendship, self-acceptance and other such values.

Written by French author Orianne Lallemand, this series has been translated into 14 different languages around the world.

One of our favourite books in this series is The Wolf Who Wanted to Change his Colour. The kids enjoy the book because of the vibrant illustrations (which runs through all five book in the series), and because Wolf gets up to all kinds of funny business just to get a taste of how it’s like being a different colour.

Every single day, he tries something new. Such as taking an icy bath in order to turn blue…

The Wolf Who Wanted to Change His Colour

And plucking roses from gardens and covering himself with pink petals.

Vera is particularly tickled by this part because she can identify with the wolf’s dressing up to be like someone else.

Of course, in the end, Wolf learns to be content with the grey colour of his fur, which opens up the door to talk about loving ourselves just the way we are, and accepting the way that God has made us.

We also enjoyed The Wolf Who Did Not Want to Walk Anymore. A simple story, the Wolf decides one day to stop walking altogether and try out alternative means of transportation every month. He tries the mountain bike, a motorcar, a motorcyle, a train, an aeroplane, a boat and even a princess coach (that unfortunately turns into a pumpkin at midnight) and Santa’s sleigh!

Alas, he still ends up in a sorry state after travelling on each one of these transportation modes.

The wolf who did not want to walk anymore

He finally comes to realise that nothing quite beats relying on his own two feet.

Quite a good story for little pre-schoolers who like to complain after a few minutes of walking huh?

There are a total of 5 books in this series, and the other titles are The Wolf Who Loved Himself Too Much, The Wolf Who Searched for a Girlfriend, and The Wolf Who Wanted to be an Artist. You can check them out here.

Thanks to Wild Crane Press, 3 lucky blog readers will stand to win the entire Wolf series of books! If you have kids aged 3-6 years, these books would be great for them. To enter the giveaway, just follow the instructions via the rafflecopter app below. (Remember it’s mandatory to leave a comment on this post with your email address, and to like Wild Crane Press on Facebook.) Good luck! 🙂

Terms and conditions:

  • This giveaway ends on Friday, 31 Oct, 11.59pm and is open to Singapore residents only.
  • Winners will be contacted using the email provided when entering this draw and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn.
  • All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced.
  • Winners will have to collect the books from Wild Crane Press (33 Ubi Avenue 3, #06-37 Vertex Tower A).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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