RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Firebird Chronicles, The: Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    This book has some of the richest world-building I have read! I'd recommend this book for upper middle grade/younger YA. There is some darker content that may not be appropriate for younger readers. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. ~ Lara Lillibridge, NetGalley

  • Ghost Boy
    Stafford Betty
    Ben is such a sweetheart! This book has such a feel good vibe to it, & the paranormal aspect is both exciting and full of adventure and the perfect introduction to ghost stories.I’d recommend this book for fans of Eoin Colfer. ~ Gem, Sunshine Books

  • Ghost Boy
    Stafford Betty
    This is a sweet young adult story about a little boy that sees and talks to ghosts. He is followed by a spirit guide who helps him navigate his gift and the difficulties it brings to his life. He is encouraged by his Mother and hated by his Father who calls him crazy and sends him to therapy. He suffers bullying and a family trauma. Through it all he utilizes his special gifts. I loved it and found it endearing and sweet. I recommend this book for all YA readers. It is especially appealing to all who enjoy ghost stories ~ Lori Reed, NetGalley

  • Ghost Boy
    Stafford Betty
    A lovely coming of age tale about a boy who is subtly "different": Growing up in Bakersfield, the son of a strict Alabama-raised father and a generous, open-minded Hispanic mother, Ben sees ghosts. A young girl who appears to alert him to potential danger he names Abby. She doesn't speak, but his late grandmother does. His father thinks he needs psychiatric help; his mother believes, and nourishes Ben's truth. Ben faces the decision every day to turn aside from his gift, or to fully embrace it.

    This novel I recommend to all. It's heartwarming, encouraging, and inspiring. Ben is twelve and thirteen during the story, but readers of all ages can discover excitement and encouragement within these well-written pages. ~ Mallory Haws, NetGalley

  • Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation
    Susan Elizabeth Hale
    I sing to my plants (I don't currently have a tree to sing to, sadly.) I also have spent more years than I care to count, encouraging children to sing. Sad how many think that it they don't sound like the singer on the radio they shouldn't sing. I really had to work at getting these young kids to open their mouths and sing with joy. So, yes, I could strongly relate to this book and it's author! Kudos to you Susan Hale! This was a wonderful story! I believe singing keeps the planet's spirit alive! Believe it or not, I think this book is good for all ages. Great fantasy book with even greater message! ~ Catherine Hankins, NetGalley

  • Ghost Boy
    Stafford Betty
    Ben Conover, the protagonist of "Ghost Boy," is an average preteen boy in most ways. The seventh-grader plays sports, loves nature, is nervous around girls, and is very insecure about his looks. But he differs from his peers in a very fundamental way: He sees and communicates with ghosts. And while Ben usually manages his power with maturity and a naïve wisdom, his father and his peers struggle to accept his gift, which they believe contradicts common sense and violates societal norms. As a result, Ben faces ostracism from his peers and is taunted with the moniker “Ghost Boy.” In addition to being shunned for his openness about his gift, he suffers trials that the average preteen is heartachingly familiar with, such as violent bullying (including an encounter with the dreaded “mean girl,” but with a twist), peer pressure and the overall teen stress of trying to “fit in.”

    The new book by Cal State Bakersfield religion professor Stafford Betty also takes on some weighty issues that differ from typical young adult fiction. Ben comes face to face with death (which might indicate why he is both blessed and cursed with his gift) and rejection by his emotionally unavailable father, Sam. Sam’s attempts to conform his son to conventional norms is disturbing and foolishly misguided. As a result, Ben steps into the parental role throughout the novel as he gently leads his father to accept and understand his gift, or at least to keep an open mind. Ben’s mother, Maria, embraces her son’s second sight, and this leads to conflict between his parents. Betty does not shy away from difficult subjects, which could resonate with young readers who might be struggling with similar situations.

    Young readers will be charmed by Ben’s special friend Abby. Abby appears to be the same age as Ben, but she is a spirit with otherworldly maturity. Abby has a knack of appearing when Ben needs her guidance most and is not shy about leading Ben toward a morally righteous path. Ben’s pure and innocent love for Abby is heartwarming, and the love between them serves as one of the book's greatest strengths. The true identity of ghostly Abby is a secret well-kept until the very end and is sure to both shock and enchant readers.

    Unfortunately, the spirit world that Ben encounters is also filled with spirits that are not always friendly and willing to help. Hence, Ben faces the difficult task of battling what Ben’s Jewish family friend Gretl refers to as “dybbuks” (or what Buddhists refer to as a “hungry ghosts”). Dybbuks are malcontented spirits who attach themselves to the vulnerable among us in order to control their will, and Ben finds himself tasked with the burden of trying to free the living from the grip of these restless souls. As the novel unfolds, the reader is exposed to the idea that the spirit world is as rich and complex as our world.

    Stafford Betty, father of five children, knows how to provide young teens a story filled with adventure, love and emotional depth. His decision to set most of the novel’s 16 chapters in Bakersfield is sure to delight local readers to a treat of familiar sights and sounds.

    Fans of S.E Hinton’s "The Outsiders" will find themselves intrigued by both "Ghost Boy" and Ben Conover. Both novels deal with weighty issues head on, and the thoughtful and introspective Ben is in many ways the fictional twin to Hinton’s Ponyboy Curtis. ~ Jenny Andreotti, Newspaper The Bakersfield Californian

  • Ghost Boy
    Stafford Betty
    It was a great pre-teen coming of age book. It dealt with many issues and ways to solve them. I will buy this for my preteen to read!! ~ Nichole Sellers, NetGalley

  • Ghost Boy
    Stafford Betty
    I must confess that I am not a fan of poltergeist stories and the subject didn’t speak to me at first (probably this is why I was never in the mood for this particular book). But then, I searched for the author and found out that he has a Ph.D. in theology from Fordham University, and is a world expert on the afterlife and paranormal studies and made me reconsider my desire of reading his novel.

    The book presents the story of Ben Conver, a twelve-year-old boy, who has a unique gift: he can see and talk to spirits. His best friend is Abby, who is a ghost, who protects him and who turns out be a very important person in his life.
    Despite seeing things that normal people can’t, Ben is a very normal child. He goes to school, gets bullied by other kids and seeks continuously to please his father who doesn’t believe in the ghost stories he hears and decides that Ben should be medicated. However, he starts to have second thoughts after some events in which the ghosts who talk to his son reveal some secrets that Ben couldn’t have know.
    ~ Elia Mihuta, https://readingbadger.club/2018/08/13/ghost-boy/

  • Ghost Boy
    Stafford Betty
    After Evelyn is free, she finds herself not fitting into the real world. An offer comes that offers her the chance to free the others from Boundry. This was a great book in the same tone as the first. ~ Melanie Laing , NetGalley

  • Relax Kids: The Magic Box
    Marneta Viegas
    Can't rate this highly enough, as all her books/CDs. Fab for disturbed children and useful in class sessions too. ~ Liz, Amazon Reviews

  • Relax Kids: The Magic Box
    Marneta Viegas
    Wonderful meditations for young children. Very high quality product in terms of paper/cover etc. The illustrations are beautiful: colourful and vibrant. ~ Ciara Delaney , Amazon reviews

  • Relax Kids: The Magic Box
    Marneta Viegas
    Love this. Beautifully illustrated short relaxation stories for children to visualise & relax. Great for attention & listening games too & general group R one to one intervention for relaxation, de stressing or fun imagination games. So glad I found this book!! Recommended 100%! ~ Deb Ball , Amazon

  • Relax Kids: The Wishing Star
    Marneta Viegas
    Lots of ideas of how to calm children down. My daughter uses it for her class of 5-6 year olds and they love it. Teaches everyone regardless of age how to relax and ways to achieve it. ~ Amazon Customer, amazon.co.uk

  • Relax Kids: The Wishing Star
    Marneta Viegas
    What a cracking book. Full of two to three minute bedtime (anytime) meditations. I read it at bedtime to my two daughters aged 11 & 8, they both love them. Bedtime has become a lot better since using this book. Plus I get to read to my girls again.
    One happy dad :-) 5 out of 5 stars. ~ Amazon Customer , amazon.co.uk

  • Relax Kids: The Wishing Star
    Marneta Viegas
    Love this book, it was recommended to us by a psychotherapist to relax our daughter before bedtime. Works for me too! A++. 5 out of 5 Stars. ~ Amazon Customer , amazon.co.uk

  • Relax Kids: Aladdin's Magic Carpet
    Marneta Viegas
    Recommended by a therapist as they use them in dealing with children. Very good books ~ Amazon Customer, amazon.co.uk

  • Relax Kids: Aladdin's Magic Carpet
    Marneta Viegas
    Love this book! I read it to my class! They love listening to the stories, I play calming music in the background, they share what they can see and it creates a lovely calm atmosphere. Lovely range of stories too! ~ Amazon Customer , amazon.co.uk

  • Relax Kids: Aladdin's Magic Carpet
    Marneta Viegas
    Lots of lovely ideas for creating a positive atmosphere in your home. You will need to spend some time and money collecting the resources needed for some of the ideas. I would think this book would be useful in the classroom as well during arts and crafts but you'd need to be working with a small group or one to one for a lot of the ideas. You will find lots of inspiration though and may find that some of the activities could be adapted to meet the needs of your class. ~ Amazon Customer , Amazon.co.uk

  • Relax Kids: Pants of Peace
    Marneta Viegas
    My boys (both on the Autistic Spectrum ages 12-14) have been going to sleep fairly peacefully with Relax kids CDs for the past 10 years. With Relax kids new book Pants of Peace Marneta Viegas has done it again.
    So many children are anxious or worried about all kinds of things, sometimes they don’t even know what they are worried about. This book is a fun and easy way of allowing children to find that sense of peace, calm, love, kindness and so on that is within themselves. It is also a great way for a parent to actively be involved in helping their child have a stress free environment, or at least lead them to the tools the achieve it, as initially I would suggest a parent/adult reads out the meditations to the child, I found this helped even my 14yo be calm and soothed. Personally, I would love to have it on CD as well! Well done Marneta – another winner. ~ Amazon Customer, Amazon

  • Relax Kids: Pants of Peace
    Marneta Viegas
    We have found these little messages of reinforcement and relaxation brilliant. My 12 year old has now trained herself to fall asleep to them; they are brilliant. ~ Amazon Customer, Amazon

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