Category Archives: My Reviews of Books

The Adventures of Firebolt. This is going to be Furtastic!

Mawson’s Guardian Says:

Calling all dogs, cats, fur-friends and anipals.  Gather round, flop your bellies down and flap your ears up, for we have news. Coming soon (January 2020) are the Furtastics!

Yes, soon everyone can enjoy the adventures of Shelby and her friends as they gain super powers, discover the hero life – and get to wear great costumes!

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We’ve been thrilled to read the first adventure of The Adventures of Firebolt.  My goodness, this is just the right sort of read for Little People and all those who love them. It’s just right for reading aloud and smiling together at what Shelby gets up to.

In the opening story we meet Shelby. She is an ordinary dog who likes to play catch and snuggle on the recliner along side her friend Chester the Cat. Then, one morning, after a mysterious encounter with her water bowl, she gains super powers. She doesn’t even realise it at first. But with Chester’s help, and a great costume, Shelby can become Firebolt!

 Firebolt is based on Shelby, the heroine dog from the 2019 movie A Dogs Way HomeWe are going to also meet Fast Eddie, Captain K9 and Aero Star. ( Here you can see the inspiration for Fast Eddie – what a hero!)

We are also excited by the motivation behind these stories, which authors Debbie Pearl and Brittany Nicole Lewis describe as follows:  “Teaching children “invisible lessons” with stories that promote healing and well-being, bringing happiness and comfort to children all over the world. “

Pre-orders for The Adventures of Firebolt will be possible on Amazon.

Follow Firebolt and his Furtastic friends on Twitter here and you can also get links to video teasers . Learn more about Firebolt and the Furtastics and their creators at TheFurtastics.com.

You have wandered into Mawson Bear’s web-den. Mawson is the Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .  “Reading this book is like receiving a great big hug of reassurance and a huge hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows.” Review by Lady Bracknell

 

Free the Bears, by Mary Hutton and Julie Miller

Mission of Free The Bears: To protect, preserve and enrich the lives of bears throughout the world.

Mawson’s guardian Mark says: Today I am proud to talk about the book ‘Free The Bears’. It is the story of a rescue organisation which I have supported for twenty years. This fascinating and often heartbreaking read is about a long hard battle to better the lot of cruelly treated animals.

It is now widely known that for the sake of the supposed ‘properties’ of their bile thousands of bears have been imprisoned and cruelly treated. In Perth, Australia, one evening in 1993, Mary Hutton watched in horror as the first footage of the practice played on the TV. ‘It was the eyes that did it, those limpid black pools, pleading and frightened’. After weeks of sleepless nights she decided that she ‘had to do something’. But what? All she could think of was drawing up a handwritten petition and nervously standing in the local shopping centre.

‘Would you like to sign a petition to help the bears in China’, I said in a weak voice. ‘Too right I would, love! Just give me the bloody pencil’. .. After half an hour people were queuing to sign. Ch. 1

And so it began. A 55 year old housewife and mother found her named linked with the bears in newspapers, even Parliament. ‘What can we do to help?’, strangers began to ask. ‘It was then I realised I could not stop with this one petition .. I had to help free the bears, one step at a time’.

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The sloth bear on the back cover had a miserable existance ‘dancing’ for tourists. Now he lives safe and pampered. In exchange, his Kandahar owner received seed money for a small business.

In the early days the small but fast growing group focused on raising money to direct to those on the ground, in particular Jill Robertson who later formed Animals Asia and who has done so much fine work. Out of the blue ‘Free The Bears’ was asked to help with little Sun bears in Cambodia and destined for a horrible fate (I will not describe it here: it still upsets me). This mission seemed impossible and was not helped by some idiocies of bureaucracy at the Australian end. But again, good people rallied: a member of Parliament, a television crew, an airline, Taronga zoo and many more. The saved bears, ‘Lucille’, ‘Victoria’, and ‘Mr Hobbs’ touched down in Sydney in 1997.

Since that time Free the Bears has worked ceaselessly, one step at a time, first in Cambodia then Laos and Vietnam, to build and run sanctuaries for the animals. Teaming with local groups and agencies, Free The Bears has helped raise awareness in these nations about their precious wildlife. Humans are helped too: some of the very villagers who, driven by extreme poverty, once poached bears, are now equipped and trained to be rangers, diligently protecting the wildlife in their territories.

Such was the success in Cambodia that Mary was approached in 2002 by Mrs Maneka Ghandi and Wildlife SOS of India. They wanted to do something both about the plight of sloth bears forced to ‘perform’ for tourists, and about the poverty of their owners, the Kandahar people. Could Free the bears help? Free the Bears did. More than five hundred bears later, a great day arrived in 2009.

I watch with a lump in my throat as Raju, the last known dancing bear of India, walks the road to freedom. This is animal welfare history in the making.

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Mawson Bear has always sat up proudly in support of ‘Free The Bears’ which works for fellow bears everywhere.

Mary speaks not just of the good days and successes but of the struggles, the disappointments, and of personal loss. We are also confronted, sadly, with the seeming unending capacity of some humans for the ghastly treatment of animals. Some of the rescued bears were so badly injured and weak they could not survive. Others had lost limbs, or had organ troubles, or had lost all their teeth, or were blind. Twenty six years after Mary Hutton stood up alone in that shopping centre, and despite all the work achieved by Free the Bears, and by similar organisations around the world, the need is as great as ever. Yet every single bear rescued can now live a safe and pampered life in a sanctuary.

The light is back in their eyes.

Ways to help: One way would be to buy and read this book and share it about. All proceeds go to the bears.

Where to find Free the Bears published by Pan Macmillan Australia (2013), ISBN13: 9781742611969. Please consider buying direct from FreeTheBears.Org. Here you can even get a signed copy; also merchandise like the cute teddies in my photos. A book or a teddy or a donation, or just sharing on this post: it all helps.

Useful links: The book can also be found at Amazon and AbeBooks.com and at Bookdepository.com .

Writer Julie Miller is passionate about travel, animal welfare, and Thailand in particular.

At FreeTheBears.Org and also on Instagram you can can see the latest on the work. Sometimes (and this shows how the effort is needed as much as ever) you can follow a rescue in progress.

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Wildlife SOS does tremendous work with bears and elephants.

You have wandered into Mawson Bear’s web-den. Between naps in gardens, Mawson ponders about Baffling Things. He is the Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .

Nana Scrappy, by Ryan Cochrane

“Life was good, Nana Scrappy was thinking to herself as she poured another cup of herbal tea.”

Mawson’s Guardian Mark says:

With her lovely house, her careful routines, and her beautiful garden cared for by Eugene O’Squirrel, Nana’s life is indeed good. She is even going to be awarded for her superb home grown cabbages. The unexpected visit by her muddy pawed granddog Barry couldn’t possibly upset it all. Could it?

But it does. Understanding breaks down between the young dog who loves burgers and his loving Nana who only wants him to eat the best food for puppies ‘designed by scientists.’ Barry disappears. Nana must join forces with all the O’Squirrels, Harold the archaeologist and a huge guineapig with bad burps to find the youngster. Will they be in time? Will Sparfield the guineapig eat all the furniture? And what about the prize for cabbages?

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Scruffy, Blizzard the Husky, Mawson and Gustav getting worried about missing Barry

As I read this delightful story about friends helping one another, I wanted to be young again so as to be able to read it with a child’s eyes. Or have a child at hand to read it to. I could almost hear the places where we would stop and exclaim at moments in the story and point to the illustrations (by Jessica McCarthy) . We would exclaim at different things, I’m sure, every time we read it, and there are many postive messages.

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If you like dogs, squirrels, guineapigs, burgers, and visits to Nanas you will enjoy reading this tale. (You don’t necessarily have to like cabbages.) And it’s only the first. There will be more.

Nana Scrappy is published by Olympia Books and is entirely suitable for young dogs, bears, guineapigs, squirrels, and all who love them.

Where to find it: Amazon, Olympia Books, Book Depository, and AbeBooks.com.

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You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .

Readers Favourite 5 stars for: It’s a Bright World to Feel Lost In

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite.

It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In, by Mawson, is a book for children of all ages written by Mawson Bear, who is otherwise known as Mark O’Dwyer.

A bear’s world is bright and shiny, and filled with infinite possibility, but sometimes waiting for that special someone to share the world with can be hard. Bears know that their someone is out there and on the way, and they can feel those hugs even before the awaited one is in sight. Bears love unreservedly and don’t seek to change their loved ones. And then they do the hardest thing of all, which is to watch those loved ones grow up and go out to explore their own expanding worlds, leaving their bears behind. But they do come back…usually, and share those adventures. And then, there’s the art of being oneself, of penning the perfect poem to celebrate me instead of us, which certain bears can do so well. And always the chance of being discovered once again.

Mawson Bear’s heartwarming and poignant book for children of all ages, It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In, will captivate anyone who’s shared a secret with their teddy bear or felt the comforting warmth of that furry presence in the bed on long dark nights. Mawson’s story is lyrical and compelling, and the illustrations which accompany the text are brilliant. Each image is cunningly composed and photographed to showcase the artist Bear in the best possible light and reveal both his personality and depth of emotion.

It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In, by Mawson (available here) is most highly recommended. Five stars. This review has been copied from the Readers Favourite website.

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Where to find it:  You can  plonk your paw here to order it here through Book Depository (free shipping all over the world). Also at Amazon and Abebooks.com and Goodreads.com and, oh! all over the place.

Mawson’s next book is called ‘She Ran Away From Love’, and will be ready to be in your paws in 2019.

You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps) and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .

Heart of Brass, by Felicity Banks, first of the Antipodean Queen series

Heart of Brass by Felicity Banks is published by Odyssey Books , “where books are an adventure”. This book certainly is an adventure! AND you get a bonus story in a Choose Your Own Adventure supplement. More about that soon.

Society doesn’t allow young men to marry science experiments.

Straight from that first line we steam into enormous fun. Emmeline Muchamore needs to marry and fast to save her family from penury. But ..

Mrs Dawes was unlikely to appreciate the sight of her perspective daughter in law steaming violently from between the breasts.

Our heroine must take action to prevent this, understandably, as any well-bred young lady would, but what she does is disastrous. In just one day she plunges from the eligible ranks of London’s high society to a grim prison ship.

(From the Blurb). “She is unable to explain her actions without revealing she has a steam-powered heart, so she is arrested for theft and transported to Victoria, Australia – right in the midst of the Gold Rush.”

To keep her brass heart a secret Miss Muchamore adopts one desperate measure after another. She is even forced to associate with, sniff, an Irish currency lad, Patrick. What a come-down for a British lady. But through it all, equipped with her probability parasol, her very special pet rats and her affinity with the mysterious properties of metals, our Emmeline hangs firmly on to her bonnet.

This new horizon was mine. It just didn’t know it yet.

Felicity Banks has created a heroine whose foibles and prejudices only add to her strengths. I loved the droll lines delivered on every page. Readers might also become intrigued by the pivotal events in (non-steampunk) Australian history referenced in this rollicking story. A special mention too for Elijah Toten, artist of the eye-catching cover.

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Mawson: Let’s see. Balloons, portmanteau, bonnets, goggles? Yes. Bushranger aeronaut and Barry the Horse? Yes. The Southern Cross? Hmm, it looks a bit small.

The second book in the Antipodean Queen series is Silver and Stone “Emmeline, Matilda, and Patrick have sworn to rescue Patrick’s mother from the infamous Female Factory prison, but when a vengeful police officer tracks down their hideout, things get worse fast.”

Magic in the Mail: Emmeline’s Empire also puts you in the world of Emmeline Muchamore. “It’s a tale of secrets, hope, aeronauts, lighthouses, first love, and fruit ices for all.”

Felicity Banks has also written Monster Apprentice.
“When pirates threaten the tiny hidden island of Luar, Dance knows her home has only one hope of survival”.

After the Flag Fell, by Felicity Banks

With Heart of Brass, you also get a second book. Yes, two for the price of one, more in fact, because After the Flag Fell is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style bonus which picks up after the exciting finale of Heart of Brass. YOU can choose what fate befalls the characters! There are all sorts of scenarios to act out. Mawson Bear’s Guardian spent another two hours engrossed in the possibilities – meeting terrible fates too often and going back to make new decisions and try again for a nicer ending.

As for Mawson Bear’s Baffled Bunch: as you can see by plonking a paw here, once they were inspired by After the Flag Fell they Got-Up-To-Things all over the house when no-one was looking.

You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps). and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In 

 

Magic In The Mail, created by Felicity Banks

FELICITY BANKS, creator of Emmeline Muchamore, heroine of the Antipodean Queen Series, also writes Interactive Fiction where you not only read but, as the term suggests, you also get involved. It’s a different and absorbing way of reading, and its suitable for all ages.

There are adventures, murder mysteries (Murder in the Mail) and magical ones. The stories arrive in your mail and you also receive the beautiful artworks which provide the clues you need. Isn’t it grand to get things in the post! And YOU have to work things out. You can even talk to other readers on a forum and share your thoughts about the clues.

One of Mawson Bear’s Baffled friends is nervously getting ready to appear in one of the pictures you will get when you read and play the new mystery called ..

Magic in the Mail: Feuding Fae 

“This is a tale of two missing magical creatures; a phoenix and a water dragon. The missing ones have left a trail of art behind them. Can you help find them before it’s too late?”

You can see examples of the artwork and fuller explanations at Felicity’s Home on the Web right here.

Magic in the Mail: Emmeline’s Empire puts you in the steampunk world of Emmaline Muchamore. “It’s a tale of secrets, hope, aeronauts, lighthouses, first love, and fruit ices for all.”

If you have already struck gold (and brass, aluminium and iron*) with Felicity Bank’s Heart of Brass you will know it includes a bonus story called After the Flag Fell.  This is also a Choose Your Own Adventure style story. YOU make choices on behalf on the characters and see what fate will befall them.

When Mawson Bear’s Baffled Bunch got their paws on Heart of Brass and After the Flag Fell they were so inspired that they were Getting-Up-To-Things all over the house when no-one was looking.

You too could become excited by the whole idea of Interactive Stories!

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Scotland the Brave tries towing the basket to get it airborne. Hilda Bear hangs on to her bonnet.

In one of their scenarios, Wombat the Bushranger Aeronaut tries yet again to get the balloon airborne. Scotland The Brave, equipped with aluminium vest*,  has volunteered to tow it up with his steam truck.  Will our brave bunch have enough balloons? Will Scottie’s  truck get up enough steam? Will Hilda lose her hat? Will Barry the Horse fall out of the basket? Truth to tell, Scottie and Hilda don’t actually have counterparts in Heart of Brass but they excitedly got involved anyway.

*Aluminium and all the metals have particular properties in the steam punk universe of Heart of Brass. All of us in this house now want to have our own brass goggles!

You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps). and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .

 

Esme’s Wish, by Elizabeth Foster

“I’m going to find out what happened to you, Mum, no matter what.”

Mark, guardian of Mawson Bear says:
From the startling opening wedding scene of Esme’s Wish to the highly satisfying conclusion, this novel aimed at younger readers is a fine read for those of any age who still yearn for wondrous worlds. This older, ahem, vastly older reader, felt immersed in Aeolia’s realm of blue water and orange dragons. I enjoyed the pacing, the mystery, and also the perfect language which does not assume that younger readers will flinch from some longer words that are precisely placed for the sentence. Above all, I was gripped by a fallible child’s quest for her missing mother, Ariane, and, as her doubts grew about Ariane’s actions and motives, her determination to find the truth.

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The island of Esperance in Aeolia, a realm of seas, islands, lagoons, oh- and dragons.

The praise I’d meant to lavish can be read in so many reviews on Goodreads by delighted readers that I will take another tack: how the producer of the movie (a movie must be made) could so easily bungle it, as they have for too many once-glittering worlds (poor ruined Narnia, for instance).

“Silently she sat, swamped by a loneliness her small frame couldn’t contain”.

Bungle one: the casting. Fifteen year old Esme with hair “as stringy as sea grass matting” feels small and abandoned, lurching between nights of despair and getting her nerve up for each stage of her quest. She must not be portrayed as a drop-dead gorgeous, confident 19 year old who need only flick her hair to bring wizards and warriors rushing to her help.

“ .. Esme barrelled into a boy … A spyglass flew out of his hand, spun high in the air, and thwacked him on the side of his head on the way down.”

Bungle two: The dreaded sloppy romance angle. There isn’t one. In what a producer will itch to turn into a classic movie “meet cute” scene, Esme does run into Daniel. She also meets a girl, Lillian. The point here is that Esme, after having been shunned for years, must go about the awkward and messy business of learning what it is like to have friends.

“This library holds the largest collection of song spells in all of Aeolia”.

Bungle three:  Skimming over Esme’s search in favour of visual “action”: earthquakes, swooping dragons, and strange creatures in lagoons. Esme’s strength is that she starts with only a few clues and her determination, but keeps on at it, scouring compendiums and researching the wonderful Library. She absorbs new learning, both magic and science, plans out her moves and takes sometimes incautious lunges forward without help. No magic wands to solve it all here.

“The dots were soon recognisable as a flight of orange dragons, their wings beating like sails beneath bolting clouds”.

The world of Aeolia is breathtaking, and the producer’s instinct to flood our retinas with overblown imagery would detract from the story. This is about Esme and Ariane. Try instead, producers, to match Elizabeth Foster’s craft: make your scenes fleeting and vivid, deft brushstrokes rather than visual battering rams.

Elizabeth Foster is planning a followup to Esme’s Wish. See news on her web den.

I will leave you now to the wind-played harps and song spells of Esperance in Aeolia.

Esme’s Wish is published by Odyssey Books, a small press where books are an adventure.

You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps). and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .

‘Great book, well written and extremely engaging. Bonus it is all about bears!!!!
Marvellous !!!!!!!’  Reviewer Navaron on Amazon.

 

 

The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken Hodge

Considered queen of the Regency romance, Georgette Heyer is one of the most beloved historical novelists of our time. As Hodge states in the Foreword of her biography: ” She gave her name to a recognisable genre of fiction”.

Thrilled by Jane Austen’s books, the Tedettes looked about for more Regency novels. They’ve now got their paws on Chivers 1984 edition of The Private World of Georgette Heyer

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(Foreword) “From none of the 51 titles in print when she died would you guess (Heyer) spent the early years of her married life (to Ronald Rougier) in rough camps first in Tanganyika then in Macedonia. But she recognised this for experience she could not use. No heroine of hers would ever sit in a grass hut writing a novel”.

“A best seller all her life without the aid of publicity, Heyer never gave an interview and only answered fan letters herself it they had made an interesting historical point.”

The biographer had access to private papers, correspondence and family archives. Hodge details the research that Heyer applied to her period and the skill and craft that went into her characters.  Yet for most of her career, she was dismissed as a ‘light romantic’.

Hodge’s overriding theme is well expressed, I think, in this observation: ” If anyone could make the romantic novel respectable it should have been G. Heyer, unacknowledged moralist and stylist extraordinary. It did not happen in her lifetime and she minded, silently .. (yet) .. She gave an immense amount of pleasure to all kinds of people, and must have known she did.”

More posts soon as Mawson’s Guardian (and the Teddettes) explore the regency world of Georgette Heyer.

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You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps). and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In  from Publisherobscura.com .

‘Great book, well written and extremely engaging. Bonus it is all about bears!!!!
Marvellous !!!!!!!’  Reviewer Navaron on Amazon.

Octopus and Family, by Annabelle Lee: review

Mawson’s Guardian writes: When I finally got Octopus and Family away from Mawson (waited for him to nap), I poured myself a coffee and had a look myself. I may be a Grownup but I LIKE picture books.

OctopusMawson This little book is full of puns both written and drawn. The first page introduces Octopus. I flicked to the next. There was a splutter of laughter from someone in the room. Was that me? I chortled at “Loctopus ”. And, really,  who could resist the lovely “Froctopus”?  “Xylopus” tickled me. Who knew octopuses, sorry, octopi, could be such fun.

 You know what puns are like: many will unexpectedly hit the spot for you and others will set off your (grownup) friends. Can you work out what “Octovist” is, for instance?   Mind you, trying to explain some of the jokes to little ones (and to your hug of bears) could get you into a world of bother. But then why should only the kids get all the picture books? This one is for you.

I’m sure these puns will cheer up anyone. It will make a fun gift for your friends (remember keep one for you.) Ask your friendly bookshop to get hold of it. Or plonk a paw on the blue stuff here to get it, with free delivery too, from Book Depository.

It’s at Odyssey Books, home of beautiful and whimsical novelty and gift books. (While you’re there, look about for a bear you know!)

By following her Facebook page  you can see news about Annabelle Lee’s next book for grownups (that’s you). On Instagram   you can  peek at more Octopii. Is Bachelorette-Opus perhaps anyone you recognize?

Where to find it: BookDepository, and Amazon and more.
Book info:
Published May 2017 as paperback (ISBN: 978-1-922200-84-6). Now available in hardcover ( 978-1-922200-85-3).

You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps) and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .

‘Great book, well written and extremely engaging. Bonus it is all about bears!!!!
Marvellous !!!!!!!’  Reviewer Navaron on Amazon.