The Most Basic Chinese - All You Need to Know to Get By by James McGlasson


“Have/ has yǒu [yo] e.g. Yǒu gōng bǎo jī dīng ma? –Do you have Kung Pao chicken?”

4 Stars: 谢谢老师

I understand the culture in China, dating taboos, and pitfalls, the concept losing face and the initial culture shock that one will endure in China. After six years in China, I haven't managed to move beyond beginners level, I could chalk it up to being busy but who's not busy with life. I am on and off again with learning, but this week I said to myself to study online or on an app and keep  "The Most Basic Chinese - All You Need to Know to Get By" by James McGlasson on my Kindle when it comes in handy for the essential need to communicate with a Chinese person or for shopping.  

This book is excellent for that plane ride to China or as a supplementary guide to restaurant ordering, daily routine conversations, numbers are significant when shopping around or bargaining. "The Most Basic Chinese" is as good as advertised. Chinese tones and audio links are including in this book, so I wish people would revisit their earlier reviews because the Tones are included in this edition. So now I have a book that I could use to jump-start my learning of Chinese, sometimes you need that extra push to get back into studying, and also I need to have more conversations with people to practice and not be such a homebody.

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Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy (YA) by Irena Davidian


“Aram had never in his life seen anything that massive and mesmerizing at the same time. For many years he had been falling asleep to Grandpa Kevork’s fairy tales about a land filled with wonders he had never heard of before, of creatures he had never seen, and of the day he would become a part of it.”

5 Stars: Imagine Magic (A Bastard's Review Kindle Giveaway )

Admittedly this is my first book to read that is about kids and magic. I am not spoiled or tempted to read or watch the Potter series I understand the gist of them and prefer to read books by indie authors who can write their thoughts and imagination clearly, Irena Davidian does that with Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy (YA).

13-year-old Aram Nazarethian’s Grandpa Kevork promise comes to true to take Aram “to place where he would never want to leave again.” The brave young man enters the necessary door full of small huddles that you can expect, but author Irena doesn’t labor too long writing the setup, and yet she writes some amazing imagery for young adults to immersive themselves in this world. World building is a craft what you put into your world has to have a purpose. Once arriving at the Academy of Lost Knowledge or as the common folks call it, "the Witchcraft Academy" Aram has what we all can relate to first day missteps of a new school. In several of the chapters, Irena builds a world of magic but also hints at potential or slight dangers of an environment with witches, magic spells, flying horses as I am thinking yea this school could be a dangerous school even entering the wrong dormitory as it’s magical consequences. Aram friendships are rich in diversity with fellow students like Nick and Theodore providing us more of an understanding of life in the Witchcraft Academy. How does money work here? And where to shop for books and uniforms and which course is the hardest? According to Theodore the "Theory of Magic”.

It’s great for 5th graders and up its 315 pages of magical adventure that doesn’t get old or boring. Hopefully, Irena Davidian adds more magical adventures to this series because it’s an imaginative piece of literary work.

A Bastard's Reviews will host an #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy (young-adult fantasy) (Kindle Edition). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends on March 23, 2018

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Kings Of This World by Peter Bailey


“Jeremy stopped and pointed at a middle-aged man with olive skin and an enormously fat belly. "Look at this guy. That's not a tan, it's jaundice. Judging by his beer belly, he must have been quite a drinker so his kidneys were already in a bad state. The dehydration is just the last straw.”

4 Stars: You Be Illin'

Sometimes I feel that world has gone completely stupid when I wake up and read my morning news, it is a momentary overreaction, and thus I begin my day and repeat the same reaction the next morning. For "Kings Of This World" by Peter Bailey I am taken to a post-apocalyptic world like a zombie outbreak, but instead of zombies looking to eat brains, human beings have become stupid (which would be worst?). The thought of encountering a person that functions on animal-like instincts taking "dumps" on the streets, having sex in public, murdering each other for the smallest reasons and add an alien conspiracy allowed me to take that leap as a reader that typically doesn't read Sci-Fi novels.

Peter Bailey takes a few chapters with introducing Matthew and all things falling apart; it kept me feeling unbalance not sure what is going, but it is well written enough to follow along. Peter handles writing touchy subject matter and horror with his innovative style and finds a way to fit other characters into the story that doesn't feel too clunky. Matthew seems all alone until he meets Jeremy who's mind is still there maybe not his sense of right or wrong or maturity, but he is smart making their relationship a right balance of convenience. For Matthew and Jeremy not knowing each other before the "stupid outbreak" brings tension adding an important dynamic to "Kings Of This World" ( I would have punch Jeremy many times ).

"Kings Of This World" for me not being an avid reader of Sci-Fi, and not wanting to read so much technobabble is an enjoyable read. A little long at times, but Peter Bailey makes it up with humor, easy to follow plot turns, and the highlight is the relationship of Matthew and Jeremy allowing you to ponder the idea of being forced to work with someone you may not like to survive the end of the world.

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ABC in action: Children's alphabet book. Teach toddlers, preschool & kindergarten kids the ABC's and letter phrases. (Fundamentals series Book 6) by Maria Yiangou


"Kk kissed the koala"

5 Stars: "Learning is Fun"

Recently I have been teaching my son English his first language is Chinese making communication sometimes hard, with my limited Chinese I am always on the hunt for teaching materials and books to introduce my son to language and education, colorful and connecting that will get him to open up his Kindle and read something that he can enjoy.

That brings me to a beautifully illustrated ebook ( also available in paperback) ABC in action: Children's alphabet book. Teach toddlers, preschool & kindergarten kids the ABC's and letter phrases. (Fundamentals series Book 6) by Maria Yiangou. Maria's book is excellent for beginners, teaching upper and lower case ABC's with stand out illustrations to teach action words for better retention. I enjoyed watching my son mimic the actions so much that I took my Kindle to my school where I teach Middle school and went to the first floor to a preschool class and the children there entirely listened as I read it to them and got the youngsters to chant the phases in the book. Maria Yiangou's philosophy is "learning is fun" I agree, I wish there were a book like this for me to learn Chinese.

Maria Yiangou has authored and illustrated other educational books I highly suggest that you check out her Amazon page, my son loves anything that has to do with shapes, I will be sending him "My shapes book: Learn 2D & 3D", thank you, Maria, from my son and me.

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Hell Holes: What Lurks Below (Book 1) by Donald Firesmith


“Low demons, like hellhounds and gargoyles, are merely the mindless beasts of Hell. Far deadlier are the high demons, such as imps, fiends, and devils. High demons are humanoids, thinking beings with the ability to use dark magic.”

5 Stars: Unleash the Hounds

Donald G. Firesmith impressed me with laying out a relatable world told from Dr. Oswald's perspective a geologist that doesn't speak in over the head technobabble that usually keeps me away from reading Sci-Fi or Fantasy. "Hell Holes: What Lurks Below", starts out with Dr. Oswald, his wife and colleague Dr. Angela Menendez ( climatologist ) along with newlyweds and grad students Mark and Jill Star tasked to investigate suddenly appearing holes in Alaska's North Slope.

The mission request comes from Kevin Kowalski, an ExxonMobil manager who tags along during the field study along with a field biologist, Dr. Bill Henderson, and reporter Aileen O'Shannon. Chapter one sets up "What Lurks Below" for the reader to ask questions about what is creating these holes, is it dangerous for the planet does it have to do with climate change? Who is this Aileen O'Shannon she doesn't seem to be a real reporter and why does Kevin Kowalski come off as incompetent? I get shades of John Carpenter's The Thing with Ennio Morricone playing in the background as I was trying to guess what and when the twist was coming. Without giving away too much away after tragedy strikes "What Lurks Below" turns into fun fast-paced sci-fi / paranormal story. While the characters do depend on magic and bullets, it's their intellect that shines and sometimes hinders which makes them realistic and refreshing.

During the chaos of this book, it ends on a cliffhanger; it is a short read with twist and turns no need for a request to review the next book "Demons on the Dalton (Hell Holes #2)" it's already on my TBR list.


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