Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hey, Y'all, I Moved Across the Country! Sorry for Fewer Reviews Recently ;)

Hi, Y'all,



I've made a huge life move! Our home sold in ONE hour and was not even on the market. We had only three weeks to find a short-term rental in Florida that was pet friendly and furnished. I rented it ONLINE and took a chance that it would be okay.


We gave away, threw away and left behind most of our stuff and put the rest on a moving truck to Florida and to storage. I drove nearly 1500 miles to the east coast of Florida where we are staying in Jacksonville. Immediately, we searched for a home to buy in Daytona Beach or Port Orange. We found our home in two weeks and were under contract immediately.

Currently, we are waiting for Hurricane Dorian to leave us alone, so we can live our Florida dream, lol! At least I came to Florida just in time for the first hurricane of the season, right?

So, cross country move, 1500 miles, sold a house, bought a house, got rid of belongings and lightened our load and mood. Changed my latitude to change my attitude!





This is why there are so few postings on the blog for July and August. But now, if Dorian is kind, I can get back to what I love: the WORLD OF FICTION!






Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Naked Mole Rate Saves the World

Naked Mole Rat Saves the Day
by Karen Rivers
Algonquin Books for Young Readers
2019
304 pages
ISBN: 9781616207243

Available: October 15, 2019

Naked Mole Rat Saves the World is just what readers expect of a Karen Rivers' book: quirky, funny,  and heartbreaking. kit (spelled with a lower case "k" because she's so small) is dealing with more than just "normal" middle school problems. Her mother struggles with mental illness issues. Her mom used to be a famous singer, but now she's so anxious, she can't leave the house. In fact, she's  so anxious that kit is named after her mom's tattoo: k.i.t. which means "keep it together," and kit turns to this phrase throughout the book.

kit's best friend Clem was injured after a fall during the show "The Most Talented Family in America," and now she's shut herself off from kit and their friendship. While Clem deals with depression, kit tries to navigate alone.

Young readers will empathize with the friendship between Clem and kit and the loss kit feels as she wanders. Rivers' characters are believable and lovable. kit will remain with readers long after they close the book.

This is one read with tons of heart and will likely lead to spirited discussions in middle grade book clubs about anxiety, depression, friendship, mental illness in families and how to seek help. I received the ARC of this book which did not contain phone numbers for depression or mental health helplines. The finished book is likely to include toll-free numbers and how to seek help. It would be a plus to include questions for book clubs as well.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy great characters and value friendship and compassion. Recommended for any middle grade book club and whole class reads. Grade 5 and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Middle Grade Non-Fiction Pick: Fearless Felines...

Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats
by Kimberlie Hamilton
Illustrated by Allie Runniyan, et al
Scholastic
160 pages
2019
ISBN: 9781338355833

Available November 5, 2019

Thirty true stories of fearless and daring felines who saved their owners, fought in wars, and patrolled buildings make this middle grade book a treasure trove of fun facts about brave cats. Any young cat lover will revel in the clever antics of each character--and what characters they are!

Cats may not have their place in history books, but author Kimberlie Hamilton insures that young readers will know about them. The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats and believed them to be gods. Cats came to Britain around 55BC when the Romans invaded. From that moment on, cats became important in castles, breweries and businesses to chase and kill vermin. By 1995, cats begant to outnumber dogs as America's favorite pet.

Kid readers will love impressive cats like Pyro who flew missions with his pilot owner in WWII and was considered a good luck charm among all the flyers. A cat aptly named Bomber could tell the difference between Royal Air Force planes (British) and enemy (German) planes during the war. When he alerted his family, they ran for the bomb shelter. A stray cat named Hammer appeared at Army headquarters in Iraq. Not only did he keep them mice-free, he was a therapy cat for wounded soldiers, and he came to the United States when the troops came home.

There are stories of other cats saving their family from fires and attacks from other animals. Some cats have even detected cancer in their owners! So, if your cat is behaving badly: pawing at you, bothering you, creating a ruckus, there's probably a good reason he is trying to tell you something very important. Cat behavior is fascinating to watch and to read about. This little collection is full of TALES about TAILS!

Recommended for non-fiction projects and for cat lovers everywhere. Grade 4 and up. With index, glossary, quiz with answers, further reading and recommended websites.






Thursday, August 1, 2019

Dinosaur Pick: Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts!

Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts!
by Mike Lowry
Illustrations by the author
Orchard Books
128 pages
ISBN: 9781338359725

Available October 15, 2019


New York Times bestselling illustrator Mike Lowery tackles the most entertaining non-fiction topic and most popular subject for elementary to middle school non-fiction fans: dinosaurs!

Easy and fun to read, this book is accessible and hilarious and fans of Dav Pilkey will cheer! Dinosaurs come to life in funny comic fashion. True to the cover factoid, "a gazillion true facts!" this beauty delivers hours of entertainment. A section on how to draw dinosaurs offers would be artists and cartoonists a how-to guide.

Give this to any dinosaur fan and expect them to do a happy dance! This may be the most checked-out book at elementary libraries. For those librarians who purchase this one, you should invest in more than one copy as I see this being checked out again and again.

A MUST READ! Highly, highly recommended for every dinosaur fan and every library grade 1-high school. Even teen readers will find this an appealing read. Reluctant readers will be enthralled.

FTC Required reading: I received this ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Non-Fiction Pick: The Brain Is Kind of a Big Deal

The Brain Is Kind of a Big Deal
by Nick Seluk
Illustrated by the author
Orchard Books
40 pages
ISBN: 9781338167009

Available October 1, 2019

Written and illustrated by New York Times bestselling creator of Heart and Brain, this book is a must have for all learners and those young readers interested in science and biology.

Told through a series of jokes and smart comic bubbles, kids have an accessible story about the most important part of the body. They learn that their brain takes care of all the things their bodies do: including those things they don't have the THINK about like breathing, their hearts beating, and their blood pumping. Seluk sets the heartbeat of learning with smart cover design and back cover which features a poster of the brain's band.

A helpful glossary is included for understanding new vocabulary words. Although targeted for grades 1-3, this picture book is easily adapted into all levels of science and biology classes.

Highly, highly recommended for learning about the brain in an entertaining and fun way! A must-have!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F&G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fantasy Pick: The Oddmire: Changeling (Book One)

The Oddmire: Changeling
by William Ritter
Algonquin
264 pages
ISBN: 9781616208394

Expert storytelling by New York Times bestselling author of the Jackaby series, Changeling is book one in a new series and it's a hit!

Cole and Tinn are brothers; twins, really. But they're not. One is a changeling left by a goblin who was supposed to spirit away the other boy. Kull was interrupted and the baby goblin changed. Now the boys look like exact twins, and Kull slips away into the night without his prize.

Although Annie knows she gave birth to one son, she raises both boys as twins. She is aware of of the town folk who whisper that she's raising a goblin, but they're her boys and her sons. She loves both of them. Kull keeps a close eye on the boys for years, and now that they're thirteen, he plants a note for them to find. It's a tough job for a goblin to learn human language. Tougher still to learn to write human language, but he does.

The boys find a note that tells them to come to the Wild Wood or all the goblin world will die including the changeling. Both boys are curious and agree to go together since they're brothers. Neither wants to be a goblin, but they don't want their twin to be a goblin either. Their adventure begins on a journey to find their truth.

The antagonists they meet along the way are fantastic creatures and great characters. Ritter writes a solid middle grade fantasy tale that readers will love. Changeling is magical fun!

Highly recommended for all middle grade readers. A MUST READ for fantasy fans.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Don't Call Me Bear!

Don't Call Me Bear!
by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic
2019
32 pages
ISBN: 9781338360028

Warren, the Koala, wants readers to know that koalas are NOT BEARS! He is a marsupial. Those darned tourists get it wrong all the time! Australia doesn't have bears he says, and you should know about its marsupials like kangaroos.

Blabey doesn't disappoint with another cute character (like Pig the Pug) and effective art. Warren is a lovable, angry bear (don't tell him!) Back cover art is genius. A cute way to introduce Australian animals and marsupials.

Back cover in which Warren is NOT having fun! Surrounded by Koala "Bears," he's still telling readers Koalas are NOT BEARS!


Recommended early readers and kids who love animals!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Picture Book Pick: The Squirrels Who Squabbled

The Squirrels Who Squabbled
by Rachel Bright
Illustrations by Jim Field
Scholastic Press
2019
32 pages
ISBN: 9781338538038

Spontaneous Cyril is a fun loving squirrel who lives in the moment, throws caution to the wind, parties like it's 1999, and does nothing to plan for winter. When he realizes he'll go hungry, he chases down the last pinecone he can find. Too bad Plan-Ahead Bruce has his eyes on that same lone pinecone.

It'a a all out race and pinecone war to grab the last one! As they race to beat each other, they struggle in the water and go over a ledge. The art follows them as readers will tilt the book sideways to read on. On the next page four panels of art tell the story of the hard fought race. The book is interactive for the young readers when they have to turn the book and view the art from different angles, and that's why this story is more fun!

When the squirrels break out in giggles, they realize they are having a great time and could be friends, and readers will learn, "The best thing to share is a laugh with your friend."

This playful story comes to life with prose by BRIGHT Rachel Bright and hilarious art by Jim Field. I love the nod to strange character names kids may not have heard before: Cyril and Bruce. Kids will learn at least two new vocabulary words: squabbled and spontaneous which show that young learners can understand and use multi-syllable words in speech.

A true keeper of a story! This is a must-have for every young reader's collection.

Highly recommended early readers pre-K and up.




Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Creepy Pick: Creep

Creep
by Eireann Corrigan
Scholastic Press
2019
304 pages
ISBN: 9781338095081

Available October 1, 2019

Haunting and eerie, an abandoned mansion holds secrets and terror. The last family (the Donahues) who lived there moved away in the middle of the night and no one knows why. When Olivia takes an interest in her new neighbors and becomes friends with Janie, the new girl who lives in the spooky house, a mysterious letter soon appears.

The letter is threatening, and the writer claims to be the sentry of the house, and states no one can live there. If they do, "the ceilings will bleed and the windows will shatter..." Janie and Olivia soon join forces with  Janie's troubled and brooding brother. The three kids set out to solve the mystery: why did the family before them move away, and who is the Sentry and what does he, or it, want?

As the kids navigate interviewing neighbors, they learn the Donahues received menacing letters from the Sentry as well. Could this be the reason they moved? Why does the Sentry want this house?

Creepy enough to interest middle grade and middle school readers. Tame reading for YA fans of horror. Reluctant readers will find this an enjoyable book. This is a Scholastic Book, so you will likely find it on fall's Scholastic Book Fairs.

Recommended grade 5 and up. Scholastic says ages 12 and up, but Creep is tame enough for younger fans.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Friday, June 28, 2019

YA Pick: This Might Hurt a Bit

This Might Hurt a Bit
by Doogie honer
Simon Pulse
2019
328 pages
ISBN: 9781534427174

Kirby Burns is dealing with life, sort of. Since his sister's death a year ago, his family has moved to Upper Shuckburgh, a town so small, there's more cows than people. Kids who live on the rural route ride the bus to school, as Kirby does. Neighbors are distant, but the nearest neighbor owns three "horse dogs" which terrorize Kirby as he waits for the bus each morning.

Lucky for Kirby, two nearby boys become his friends. The three friends get into mischief and teen vandalism. One night when they are attempting to paint a farmer's cows, they almost get caught. They get away, but someone recognized Kirby.

That minor event sparks revenge and wrath unleashed on Kirby and his friends. He's so busy running from bullies, he doesn't deal with his grief. His parents give him an ultimatum: let read them read his notebook or he can read it to them. He has a deadline to decide.

When Kirby finally breaks, his grief spills out and the family begins to heal.

This Might Hurt a Bit begins as a cheerful romp of teen shenanigans and slides into bullying, fighting and assault. Finally, Kirby faces his sister's death, and the subject of grief which is beautifully handled by the author.

Kirby's friends PJ (the stealthy ninja with a mad backpack full of tricks, a la "The Goonies" and Jake, the dark goth loner kid, are memorable characters readers are unlikely to forget.

Highly recommended grade 9 and up. Profanity, teen behavior, vandalism, underage drinking, bullying, violence, death.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Picture Book Pick: STEM: Tangled

Tangled
by Anne Miranda
Illustrations by Eric Comstock
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2019
40 pages
ISBN: 978481497213

Available June 25, 2019

Clever, fun illustrations teach pre-school readers about shapes and geometry. In this  "tangled" tale, the shapes get stuck in a jungle gym until a smart line figures out how to free his friends.

Endpapers contain all the shapes and their names. The youngest of learners will know all their shapes by first grade!

Rhyming fun by Anne Miranda will keep the pages turning and the readers giggling.

A MUST buy for all parents of pre-school age readers. Picture books are one of the best tools for teaching concepts in middle school and high school! Tangled would be a great addition to every math teacher's book shelf and is a must for geometry classes.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer Camp Pick: Camp Shady Crook

Camp Shady Crook
by Lee Gjerstsen Malone
Aladdin
2019
276 pages
ISBN: 9781534422261

Archie Drake has the perfect scam at summer camp: pretend to somehow be related to THE Archie Drake, a famous billionaire. All the campers whisper and think he is the son or grandson of the guy
anyway, so why not just play along? Rich kids will give him money, candy, clothes and luggage if they think he's rich, too. The truth is: Archie is there on scholarship, but he's not fessing up to that.

When smart aleck girl Vivian shows up and threatens to ruin his scam, Archie cuts her in for a piece of the action. Secret partner Oliver doesn't want a girl to be part of their team, but Archie convinces him it's better to keep her close where they can watch her.

Camp Shady Brook is the worst summer camp on the east coast, maybe even in the entire nation. Ms. Hess runs it like an evil prison matron. The owners haven't spent a dime in upkeep on the camp and it shows. Screen doors hang loose on cabins, the lake is polluted, decks are full of splinters and shaky, the food is worse than slop, and the kids have nothing to do. Archie and Vivian make it their business to find out where all the tuition money goes, and they suspect Miss Hess of stealing it.

Camp Shady Crook is a delightful middle grade romp perfect for readers who love summer camps and cons. Even reluctant readers will find the short chapters an inviting and entertaining read.

Brilliant cover art and art continues on spine to make this book attractive in a book case or on a shelf in the library or retail book store.

Here is the spine art



Recommended grade 5 and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.




































Camp Shady Brook









anyway, so why not just play along.


Archi Malone has the perfect

ISBN:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

YA Pick: The Voice in My Head

The Voice in My Head
by Dana L. Davis
Ink Yard Press
2019
308 pages with Questions for Discussion
Resources
ISBN: 9871335998497

The Voice in My Head is a WINNER!

Twins Violet and Indigo have always been close, but since Violet's diagnosis, Indigo feels pushed away. Her pretty, popular, perfect twin is dying. There is no cure, and worse, Violet has decided to die on her own terms: with dignity. Choosing assisted suicide and her death date puts her twin Indigo into a panic. How can Violet  think about leaving her? And why would she choose death? How will she (Indigo)  navigate without her sister? Feeling lost, Indigo climbs a building, considering suicide herself. Before she lets go, she hears a voice in her head. She realizes she doesn't want to die after all. Choosing life, Indigo tries to save herself but falls.

Waking up in the hospital, Indigo tries to make her family see it was an accident. As the voice in her head keeps her company, Indigo decides to take Violet to The Wave, a remote rock in Arizona where the voice tells her Violet will make the trip and live. Violet has her own rules. The entire family packs up with the help of a preacher and the church bus and travels to the desert. The family each reads Violet a letter, and little brother Alfred asks Violet (when she dies) to promise to be his best ghost IRL (Alfred talks in text lingo!)

The voice in Indigo's head is comic, irreverent and sounds just like Dave Chapelle. The voice tells Indigo that God is omnipotent and can do what she wants. She can make a bet if she wants because she's God. At one point, God responds, "duh." Indigo tells the voice there's no way God would say Duh, but the voice retorts that it invented language and it can say whatever it wants.

Alfred, Indigo, Violet and God (Dave Chapelle) are characters that will stay with readers long after
closing the pages. The bond between sisters and the entire familial vibe is so perfect that Davis better be looking to bring this story to screen, and no one is better at it than her! (Dana L. Davis is an actress and Hollywood insider).

The Voice in My Head is on its way to award season! I predict several state awards including Texas Lone Star list (grades 6-8) and/or Texas Tayshas list (grade 9-12). I predict The Voice in My Head will be on @Cybils Fiction shortlist and top 10 Teen Fiction (and I'm never wrong)!

Highly, highly recommended grade 7 and up. Suicide, assisted suicide, and death. Discussion questions are included as are resources for suicide prevention. The family is religious and God plays an important part in this book. The Voice in My Head is perfect for private and parochial schools and church reading groups. No profanity, violence or sex.

FTC Required Reading: I received the book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Club Pick: Lie To Me

Lie To Me
by J.T. Ellison
Mira
original copyright 2017
Paperback available September 2019
407 pages
ISBN: 0980778330950

A twisty, dangerous psychological thriller is just right for a summer beach read.

"Moves at a blazing-fast pace and smoothly negotiates more twists and turns than the backroads of Tennessee. It will keep you guessing every step of the way to the surprise ending." --Lisa Scottoline, NY Times bestselling author of One Perfect Life 

Dark psychological marriage noir, Lie To Me will leave readers breathless and exhausted. Once a reader begins this book, it's impossible to stop reading. Page-turning action and twists within twists within an enigma are fast paced and tragic.

Married literary giants Sutton and Ethan Montclair's life is idyllic--from the outside. They are each accomplished writers earning big paychecks and hordes of fans. When Ethan has trouble writing, and Sutton wants out of a publishing deal, their finances take a downturn. They welcome a new baby boy that Sutton never wanted. Ethan tricked her into having the baby, and she still blames him. When their baby dies, their entire world unravels as they blame one another and lie about everything.

When Sutton suddenly disappears, friends and family whisper that Ethan must have something to do with it. He swears he knows nothing about his wife's disappearance and turns to the bottle for solace. Suddenly, Ethan has found his muse and begins writing the best prose of his entire career. The police build a case against him, and an unknown narrator drops in here and there to warn the reader that someone is pulling the strings. Just when it looks like Sutton may have been found or Sutton is to blame, other strings are pulled.

This is one wild ride and a great book for adult book clubs who will be talking about it long after they've read it. Pick this one up today for your beach vacation or your home staycation. Good luck figuring out who's to blame!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation for my review of this book.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Interviewed by Romance Writer Mary Ann Marlowe, Author of Dating by the Book

I was interviewed by Mary Ann Marlowe, author of Dating by the Book. She had questions about bloggers and reviewers and how we affect books and the publishing market.

Her interview is located here 

I loved her book and you will too! If you love Indie bookshops, quaint towns, book clubs, close friends, drinking tea and/or wine, handsome love interests, fun dialog, and some unexpected twists and turns along the way, pick up Dating by the Books. My review is here 

From Mary Ann's blog: 

Six months ago, writer and bookstore owner Maddie Hanson was left at the altar. Since then, she’s had zero interest in romance—despite the fact that she runs a book club full of sexy eligible bachelors. But when her latest novel is panned by an anonymous blogger who goes by the name Silver Fox—and who accuses her of knowing nothing about passion—she decides to prove her nemesis wrong by seeking a romance hero in real life . . .

There’s the smoldering rock musician, the bookish college professor, and her competitive childhood friend who may want to steal her bookstore more than her heart. Even Silver Fox is getting in on the action, sending Maddie alarmingly—and intoxicatingly—flirtatious emails. And that’s not all. Her ex wants her back.
Now Maddie is about to discover that like any good story, life has twists and turns, and love can happen when you least expect it—with the person you least expect . . .

Pre-order now!

Amazon | BN | Kobo | Google Play | BAM!