Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Graphic Novel Pick: Nat Enough

Nat Enough
By Maria Scrivan
Illustrated by the author
240 pages
ISBN: 9781338538212

Available April 7, 2020

Charming illustrations by the author and believable middle school drama and angst will delight graphic novel readers. Natalie (Nat) has never believed she is enough: not smart enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough. This theme will resonate with every middle school reader! Even though she's nervous about going to a new school, Nat has high hopes since she'll be joining her BFF Lily, and they can face middle school obstacles together.

The first day and days following don't go as planned. Suddenly, Nat is not cool enough to be Lily's BFF. In fact, Lily is downright mean to Natalie. First by ignoring her, and then by leaving Nat toxic and hurtful notes. Worse yet, Lily is hanging with cool girl Alex who is good at everything she does.

Nat is going to have to "find" her voice and be who she is, not who Lily wants her to be. She takes a chance and enters a book contest, winning first prize and a trip to the state capitol! Even cute boy Derek takes notice. Through her art, Natalie finds her voice and wins the praise of her peers.

Recommended for graphic fans and anyone else in middle school! Grade 5 and up. This title will be on Scholastic Book Fairs next year.

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

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Fantastic Middle Grade Pick: Operation Frog Effect

Operation Frog Effect
By Sarah Scheerger
Interior illustrations by Gina Perry
Random House 
306 pages
ISBN: 9780525644125

Operation Frog Effect is written as journal entries from eight diverse students in Ms. Graham’s fifth grade class at White Oak Elementary School. Each student has her own way of journaling. Blake draws his entry as graphic novel panels. Sharon writes her entries as poetry. Cecilia misses her grandmother in Mexico, so she begins each entry “Dear Abuelita” (as a letter to her grandmother) and includes English words for her grandmother to practice. Henry, a budding playwright, does his journaling as scenes from a play.

When an injured frog appears on the first day in the classroom, the class votes on what to do with him. It is decided to keep the frog and name him Kermit. Mrs. Graham allows a class vote on nearly everything. She does not appoint class duties, the students choose their role in the classroom with the caveat, choose wisely as this will be their job all year. 

The class learns many lessons about frogs and science, but more importantly, they learn about themselves and making a difference. Mrs. Graham teaches them that one small act can create a ripple effect. Later, that lesson is tested, and the students come together and work as a team to speak to the school board. 

Operation Frog Effect is a winning read that is a great choice for class reads and for the entire school to read. Like Wonder and Counting By Sevens, Operation Frog Effect teaches lessons without becoming preachy. Reluctant readers will find it entertaining and easy to read.

Fabulous, eye catching cover will make this book fly off the shelf. Illustrations help tell the story and keep visual learners entertained.

Recommended for younger middle grade readers age eight and up.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Arrivederci, Crocodile
Begun by Fred Marcellino
completed by Eric Puybaret
A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
40 pages
ISBN: 9871534404014

Arriverderci, Crocodile was begun by famous children's author and illustrator Fred Marcellino, but finished by Eric Puybaret after Marcellino's death.

A whimsical story of a wayward but humorous crocodile who is brought to France by Napoleon. Crocodile escapes and lives in the sewer until he realizes Napoleon is traveling to Italy.

Crocodile loves Italy and dances the night away with the royal crowd. The guests at the lavish gala think his "costume" is fabulous and don't realize he's a reptile! He travels to favorite tourist attractions and eats Italian cuisine until Napoleon recognizes his escaped "pet."

Crocodile escapes the ruler's grasp again in the most hilarious way!

Winsome illustrations and eye-catching cover will entice young readers. Comic illustrations of the hoi polloi versus the nobility are sure to bring on the giggles. The end papers miss an opportunity for fun crocodile facts and illustrations, and in fact, look like murky lagoon water color or pond scum. This is my only gripe about the book.

Recommended for historical content and kids who love crocodiles.

Pre-school to first grade.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen

Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen
by Nancy Viau
Schiffer Kids
184 pages
ISBN: 9780764357763

Delightful for younger middle grade readers and those girls (and boys) who enjoy science and BUGS!

Ten year old Samantha Hansen is all about rocks since her vacation to the Grand Canyon, but soon she discovers a new love: insects! (Well, insects, and her almost boyfriend Todd. Someday he could be her boyfriend once she's old enough, of course). Samantha gets mad when her best friend Kelli invites Todd over to her house. They've been friends forever and Samantha says, "Best friend. I've only gotten mad at her ten or fifty times since we met."

Samantha is excited when her class gets to visit an apiary, but worries "That Kid Richard" might like her. He's been nothing but a pest, teasing her all the time. Fourth grade is hard, and kids have to juggle terrible things like: learning fractions, liking a boy or not, wondering if the boy you like likes you back, worrying your best friend likes the boy you like, wondering why That Kid Richard is suddenly seeming a little bit cuter?

Samantha is a spunky, cute main character readers will love. Everyone will want to be her friend. Beautiful cover design and clever, colorful illustrations on end papers inside the cover will delight visual learners. Samantha shares her knowledge as she learns about bugs, and readers will learn new things with her.

Recommended grade 3 and up. Easy enough for age eight and could be enjoyed ages 8-10.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: On Snowden Mountain

On Snowden Mountain
by Jeri Watts
Candlewick Press
193 pages
ISBN: 9780763697440

Twelve year old Ellen's father goes off to fight World War II, and her mother sinks into her deepest depression yet. Ellen has nowhere to turn except her distant Aunt Pearl. Pearl shows up, takes everything into her own hands and packs the family up to live in her small frame home at the base of the mountains in West Virginia.

Ellen is used to big city Baltimore and going to school with children her age. In the mountains, there's nothing but a one room schoolhouse, a gruff teacher, farm kids, mountain kids and a stinky skunk kid. There's nothing to do in the small village and Ellen isn't one to explore the mountain. Her mother is like a walking zombie, and Ellen fears she may end up with her mother's illness after she learns her grandmother also suffered depression.

Aunt Pearl's distance thaws out over time, and Ellen enjoys spending time with her and hearing about the past. Although her mother doesn't seem any better, Ellen gets a letter with news her father is coming home.

Issues of abuse, mental illness, poverty, depression, war and friendship are deftly handled by author Jeri Watts. Although the issues seem for a much older crowd this is a lower middle grade read that could easily be read by age eight and up.

Recommended grade 4 and up and for introspective readers who enjoy a "quiet" story.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Extraordinary Birds

Extraordinary Birds
by Sandy Stark-McGinnis
Bloomsbury Children's Books
214 pages
ISBN: 9781547601004

Eleven-year old December has seen her share of foster homes. They never seem to work out for her. She dreams of flying away like a bird. So much so, that she convinces herself that the scar on her back is where her wings are now forming. Once her wings are complete, she will fly away from all the human sadness.

December studies birds all the time; her constant companion and security blanket is a book her mother left behind: Complete Guide to Birds: Volume One. She knows the book by heart and if given a page number, she can tell what bird is featured on that particular page.

December knows more about birds that anything else, and when she's placed with a foster parent who rescues birds, it's a match made in heaven, but December fights it as the reader would expect. In school, December makes friends with another bullied student, Cheryllynne who adds to the story in all the right ways.

December knows that most bullies don't want to be mean; they do it because they've been hurt--which is a very mature thought for an eleven-year old to have. She is wise beyond her years, and young readers will have such empathy for her. They will root for December to find her place on the ground with foster mom Eleanor.

With her friendship growing between Cheryllynne and her heart open for family and a home, December is finally able to face her past abandonment. She helps a Henrietta the hawk rehabilitate and learn to fly again, and when she soars skyward, December knows everything will finally be alright. All animals need a home and maybe, just maybe, she's found hers.

What an extraordinary book! The is the gem of 2019 and a MUST READ which is likely to become One Book for many schools and will win many awards this season. Did someone say Texas Bluebonnets? This someone just did! And I'm always right about award books!

Highly, highly recommended and FIVE STARS! BOOK OF THE YEAR, in my opinion.

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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Alphabet Pick: Bear Is Awake! An Alphabet Story

Bear Is Awake! An Alphabet Story
by Hannah E. Harrison
Illustrations by the author
Dial Books
32 pages

Available November 26, 2019

A different kind of alphabet story! Bear Is Awake! features an adorable bear who wakes up early and a clever little girl who becomes his willing playmate. After his long winter nap, Bear is famished and quickly raids the little girl's family's pantry. She scolds him and they travel across the town to the library (my FAVORITE part!) where the L stands for library, listen and learn. The only drawback to this two-page spread is that the librarian appears to be a stereotype: although she is black, she is middle-aged and shown wearing glasses. Authors and illustrators should be more careful about picturing librarians and teachers as always female, always middle-aged and always wearing glasses, but the rest of the story makes up for this little error. Because I'm a career librarian and educator, I'm hyperaware of this long standing stereotype.

The girl and the bear share adventures, but she knows Bear must go back to the forest and she takes him there, tucks him in and leaves him a note after he falls asleep: See you in the Spring! the note reads.

Illustrations are wonderfully whimsical. Bear will become every child's new best friend. Children should easily be able to explain the message of this sweet story: friendship, care, love and empathy.

Bear Is Awake! is a must have for any child's book shelf and all pre-school collections. This is the best alphabet book you'll ever read! FIVE STARS!

Highly, highly recommended! I love this book! Picture book of the YEAR! This book could be used with older students in art classes and creative writing classes. Writers would have fun coming up with new alphabet books of their own.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Britfield & the Lost Crown

Britfield & the Lost Crown
by C.R. Stewart
Devonfield Publishing
386 pages
ISBN: 9781732961210

First in a planned seven book series, Britfield & the Lost Crown reads likes a fairy tale. Tom, an orphan, enlists the help of fellow orphans to escape the evil orphanage with his best friend Sarah. Before he leaves, his good friend Patrick  steals a folder from the office and Tom learns a secret about his past and parentage. His parents are alive! Now he has even more questions and no answers.

The pair escape a determined and dogged detective who makes it his business to catch runaway orphans and elude police capture as the navigate by a hot air balloon which just happened to be sitting unattended in a field along their way. Somehow, two kids with no knowledge of ballooning learn to fly the balloon all over England. The story rollicks along London and many famous landmarks.

The kids meet several people who help them unlock Tom's secret and set up the next book in the series. Tame enough for younger middle grade and easy to read, Britfield's page count may terrorize reluctant readers. In that case, perhaps an audiobook or full class read would work better.

This books seems set in the past and pre-Internet, pre-cells phone bygone eras, yet some dialog between the characters is slang of today. One in particular: a character asks, "Too much information?" which if TMI in text and recent (last decade). Dialog in particular is this book's weakness. As a career middle grade (middle school) librarian, the dialog is all wrong.

Recommended younger middle grade. Middle school readers may find the story too predicable.

Grade 5- 6. Grade 7 and up may want a more YA experience.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Alphabet Book Pick: P Is For Poppadoms! An Indian Alphabet Book

P Is For Poppadoms!
An Indian Alphabet Book
by Kabir and Surishtha Sehgal
Illustrated by Hazel Ito
Beachfront Books
32 pages
ISBN: 9781534421721

What a fun way to introduce learners to new words while learning their alphabet! American children may not be familiar with any of the Indian words in this book, but they will love learning about another culture and country. Colorful illustrations by Ito make the alphabet come alive, and the choices of words for each letter convey Indian foods, musical instruments, locations, people, festivals, animals, and flowers. Included is a page of the words written in the Indian alphabet to practice writing.

This is a must have for any multicultural classroom or library. Parents will love this alphabet book for its unique appeal and lessons about the world's largest population.

Highly, highly recommended for any child's library or book shelf. This is a gem of an alphabet book which teaches so much more than the letters of the alphabet. Purchase this one for a kid you love today!

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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Non-Fiction Dinosaur Pick: Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts!

Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts!
by Mike Lowery
Orchard Books
128 pages

Mike Lowery's colorful take on everything cool and/or weird about dinosaurs and paleontologists is the most fun reluctant readers and dinosaur fans could wish for! Brimming with interesting facts about dinosaurs and their times, readers will learn about fossils, dinosaur's closest relatives, the rise of of dino and the theories of what happened to them. Lowery includes dinosaur  jokes and How To Draw pages to entertain kids long after they've studied all the facts.

Factoids are illustrated with whimsy and text is easy to read. Visual learners will understand complex eras and plate tectonics through story (comic) bubbles in the illustrations. Full of jokes, puns, and trivia, Lowery has created a awesome learning experience.

This is a MUST HAVE for every elementary collection and middle school readers will love it. If you have a child in your life with dinosaur love, purchase this one for Christmas.

Highly, highly recommended grades 2 and up.

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Picture Book PIck: Fly!

by Mark Teague
Beachlane Books
40 pages
ISBN: 97815344451

fly! is a story done with illustrations and  no words. Illustration bubbles above the mommy bird and baby (teen) bird tell the entire story. Teague captures animal behavior well and develops character for both birds via personality through their actions and "dialog" between them.

Baby bird doesn't want to leave the nest where his mother feeds and protects him. Mother tells him he's getting bigger and birds are birds. Birds fly. Soon they will migrate to Florida (Welcome to Florida sign), and he needs to learn to fly. Baby bird imagines flying on a hang glider or using superhero powers complete with cape to fly, or maybe he can take a train or skateboard to Florida. Mother tells him in order to get food and stay safe from predators like cats and owls, he must learn to fly. That does it! The image of an evil owl sends baby bird into the air.

A sweet animal story and a mother's love for her child make fly! a special book. Young readers will have a blast creating dialog for each two-page spread. Early learners and creative writers could use the picture book to develop their own stories.

Highly recommended for all young readers and creative writers.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

MIddle Grade Pick: The Line Tender

The Line Tender
Kate Allen
384 pages
ISBN: 9780735231603

See  my review in VOYA Magazine 

Lucy Everhart is only seven years old when her marine biologist mom dies. Her fisherman father becomes grief-ridden and silent, so Lucy turns to the neighbors and best friend Fred who shares her love of the sea and adventure. Now twelve, Lucy and Fred visit the beach and local fishermen every day. The discovery of a great white shark at their beach sets Lucy on the path to find out more about her mother's study of local sharks. Fred is happy to  help. Twelve going on thirteen is a strange age, and Lucy begins to feel a little differently toward Fred. After their first (and only) kiss, Fred drowns! Lucy has lost two people central in her young life, and turns to her mother's research notes to help her cope. 

Beautiful illustrations of shark species open each chapter. Cover art is eye-catching with a multitude of shark swimming by a young girl holding a notebook. The story begins as a friendship story: tender and naive. After Fred's death, the story shifts as Lucy searches for answers in her mother's research. She gets help from an unlikely old fisherman. When Lucy finds her sharks, she is able to process the loss of her mother and best friend. Page count may scare off reluctant readers. Suited for well-funded upper middle grade collections. 

Recommended for thoughtful readers and animal lovers. The Line Tender would make a great whole class read for a pre-AP English class grade seven or eight. 

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

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: The Dark Lord Clementine

The Dark Lord Clementine
by Sarah Jean Horwitz
Algonquin Young Readers
329 pages
ISBN: 9781616208943

Middle grade readers: get ready to be delighted, enthralled and enrapt in the immersive world of master storyteller Sarah Jean Horwitz!

Clementine Morcerous is the only child and sole heir to Castle Brack. When her father falls ill to a cunning spell cast by the Whittle Witch (the Witch of the Wood), it's up to Clementine to figure out how to help him and keep their castle and lands running. Father's magic is running out, the scarecrows aren't working in the land, the castle witch runs away with their grocery money, and everything is turning topsy turvy. Things are getting worse on an hourly basis, and unless Clementine moves fast, they could lose everything.

Clementine must find the Whittle Witch and figure out how to undo her magic, fix her father, get the magic back into the castle on pretend to be just as dark and menacing as the Dark Lord himself without ever letting any of the town's people know the Dark Lord is ailing. Everyone knows what happens if the Dark Lord appears weak: the people will wreak havoc and take over the castle. Clementine can't let that happen.

She turns to a magical book: the Witchionary! which has "...cataloged and chronicled" details of the Dark Lord's most dreaded enemies: witches. With her sidekicks a talking sheep, a young boy from town and help from a stranger, Clementine searches to find her place in the world and answers to her father's predicament.

Captivating and mesmerizing, full of wit and snark, and whimsical beings including witches who are indentured servants and a satyr who trades goods for spells, the Lady of the Lake (from Arthurian legend) who is indeed beautiful. But as beautiful as she is, she is an equally horrible singer with a bad memory, and worse yet she keeps mixing her metaphors which is laugh out loud funny.  She's so ditsy,  she'll throw swords at anyone who passes her whether it be a knight or not (hence the swords all over the book cover).

The Dark Lord Clementine will be up for Book of the Year and awarded many state awards.  You heard it here first! It is a rare middle grade find and a soaring triumph that kids will be delighted to read. Clementine is one tough female with equal parts intelligence, humor, and bravery. No matter how dire her predicament, she summons the strength to move forward and do what is right.

Highly, highly recommended as a MUST READ. If you have middle grade kids or know some, buy this book now! A must for all middle grade collections.

Grade 4 and up.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dystopian Pick: Day Zero

Day Zero
(Book 1 of 2 in duology)
by Kelly Devos
Inkyard Press
432 pages
ISBN: 9781335008480

Available November 12, 2019 

Strap on your seat belts and get ready for the thrill ride of the fall...

Jinx Marshall isn't sure what to expect when her mother marries her stepfather and inherits a ready made family: stepbrother Toby and obnoxious, political minded know-it-all stepsister McKenna, but she's ready for nearly anything. Well, any kind of emergency or chaos, that is. Jinx has been raised in the desert by her Doomsday prepper father for anything apocalyptic.

On a routine trip to the store for snacks, an explosion at the bank next door traps them in harm's way. Jinx finds herself in charge of saving her younger brother Charles and mouthy stepsister, McKenna. Dr. Doomsday's (her dad's) book comes in handy because Jinx knows exactly what to do.

When the kids discover that the entire country is crumbling from within, and the government blames her father, Jinx must save her siblings and prove her father's innocence. Oh, and save what's left of America! It's gonna take her background in coding, friends in the Dark Web and a background in Krav Maga, to escape. Picking up Toby at college, the kids plan to run for the Mexican border.

Her father's teachings have always taught "Trust No One," but Jinx can't do this alone. She'll have to depend on someone and work with McKenna instead of against her. If the family can't get along, they may all die together. Lucky for them, her father planned for this...

Set in the distant future, Day Zero paints a picture for our turbulent times. Explosive and exciting, readers will beg for Book Two! If you loved Yancy's The 5th Wave, get ready for Day Zero!

Recommended YA grades 8 and up. Violence, political turmoil, finance, economics, mature readers.

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
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
160 pages
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
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
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
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

by Eireann Corrigan
Scholastic Press
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
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

by Anne Miranda
Illustrations by Eric Comstock
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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
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


Saturday, June 8, 2019

YA Pick: The Voice in My Head

The Voice in My Head
by Dana L. Davis
Ink Yard Press
308 pages with Questions for Discussion
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
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!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

YA Pick: In the Neighborhood of True

In the Neighborhood of True
by Susan Kaplan Carlton
320 pages
ISBN: 9781616208608

Don't be fooled by the pretty pink cover and precious corsage; this pink book is one of the most important books of the year. Set in 1958, the message is timely today: love your neighbors. Don't judge people by the color of their skin, their religion, their family lineage, their financial status or their outward appearance. Judge them by the quality of their character. Sound familiar?

When her father dies suddenly, Ruth's family is forced to leave their urban lives in Manhattan and move to her grandparent's estate in Atlanta. The year is 1958 and race relations are at a boiling point in the South. Ruth is enrolled in an exclusive private school where girls of her privilege are given a genteel education.

Debutante season looms, and fish-out-of-water Ruth finds herself in lessons to learn how to be a Southern lady. No one has asked if Ruth is Jewish, and she never mentions it. Her mother is mortified and accuses Ruth of "passing" as a white deb, not a Jewish girl. Ruth wants to fit in and not cause trouble. Ruth joins the "pastel posse" of debs and hopes to be crowned Magnolia Queen like her mother and grandmother before her.

Ruth meets handsome golden boy Davis Jefferson and accepts an invitation to a dance. Soon she's dating him and falling in love. Everything is wonderful, and Ruth loves her new life.

In the "separate but equal" Jim Crow South, Ruth learns that Negros have to sit in the balcony at the movies and drink from different water fountains. She grew up in Manhattan and has never seen this before although she has to admit in her old neighborhood, she has rarely seen a person of color. The rabbi at her temple wants his congregation to support equality for all people, but  talk of politics and racial tension frighten Ruth.

When her temple is bombed, Ruth discovers Davis was there that night. He swears he had nothing to do with it, but Ruth suspects he's telling, "in the neighborhood of true," a lie. Ruth has a decision to make: embrace her religion and family or deny her background to live a lie. If she doesn't speak up, what kind of person is she?

Readers will love "vintage" details that bring the era to life, and cheer for Ruth as she navigates society and religion. Algonquin has another book winner! In the Neighborhood of True is sure to be on the top of every award list this year! The author does a brilliant job of creating unforgettable characters whose everyday decisions are complex and often unexpected.

Kudos to Susan Kaplan Carlton for bringing history to life and telling a story based on the real life bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation (The Temple) in Atlanta in 1958. Five suspects were arrested; one went on trial twice, yet all charges were later dropped.

Highly, highly recommended! You MUST read this book. It is amazing. In the Neighborhood of True would be a great whole class read and YA Teen Book Club read.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Nobody Hugs a Cactus
by Carter Goodrich
Illustrated by the author
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
48 pages
ISBN: 9781534400900

Hank the cactus lives alone, and that's all right by him. He doesn't need anyone. Once in awhile, someone will mosey by: Rosie the Tumbleweed, a cowboy, a lizard, an owl, but no one wants to give a cactus a hug.

Hank grumbles at all the visitors and is happy when they leave him alone. Hank is quirky, mean-spirited and rude to everyone.  For a long while, no one comes by. Hank wonders where everyone has gone. A paper cup blows onto Hank, and he can't get it off. Lucky for him, Rosie comes by and helps him.

Hank grows a beautiful flower to give to Rosie the next time she comes by. When he presents his very own flower, Rosie hugs him, and tumbleweed and cactus get stuck in a hug! My favorite line of the book is, "After all, it's better to be stuck in a hug than stuck all alone."

Cover art depicts a scowling Hank all alone in a window. By the last page, Hank and Rosie are hugging and all smiles.

Recommended age 2 and up. This fun read will introduce young readers to the desert and its creatures, and the lesson about friendship and family is a bonus!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: Caterpillar Summer

Caterpillar Summer
by Gillian McDunn
304 pages
ISBN: 9781681197432

Available: April 2, 2019

Caterpillar Summer captures a poignant and honest portrayal of a sibling relationship in which the older sibling must take on the parent role. Cat has never had time to be a kid. She's always taken care of special needs Chicken and talked him out of his "meltdowns." In fact, Cat is the only one who can control him. Chicken needs constant supervision as he is prone to wander off and get lost.

When the siblings have to spend three weeks with their grandparents for the first time in EVER, Cat finally has a summer where she can explore on her own. As she discovers more about the rift between her mother and her grandparents, Cat wonders why the adults can't just fix their differences. She may have to become the CATalyst to heal her own family.

A treasure for middle grade readers who love a story of family ties and sweet sibling relationships. This book is suitable for all school, One School, One Book reads and classroom reads. It would be a great choice for a summer reading book as well.

Recommended grade 4 (good readers), grade 5 and up.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Non-Fiction PIck: Even More Lesser Spotted Animals

Even More Lesser Spotted Animals: More Brilliant Beasts You Never Knew You Needed To Know About
by Martin Brown
David Fickling Books
56 pages
ISBN: 9781338349610

Available: July 30, 2019

Make room for unique and beautiful animals! Martin Brown has done it again! He's knocked it over the fence and out of the park with a brilliant cast of animal characters who will fascinate, educate and enamor children.

From rodents like the giant kangaroo rat to large mammals like the Syrian brown bear (who does not come from Syria at all,) kids will learn about each animal's ecosystem, status of the species (endangered, for example), diet and fun facts. Each animal comes to life in colorful illustrations by Brown. He captures each species' personality in facial expression and body movement or posture.

A title page in the front of the book directs readers to their favorite animals and the helpful glossary teaches new vocabulary terms for budding zoologists and animal fans.

Fans of animals and non-fiction readers will love this book. This book is a great pick for reluctant readers who are sure to find interesting facts and build reading skills. A MUST HAVE for all animal collections.

July is a long time to wait for this book to hit the shelves. Make sure this one goes on your to-order list.

HIghly, highly recommended grade 3 and up and all animal lovers.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas
by Aaron Blabey
Illustrations by the author
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 9781338297133

From the author illustrator who charmed kids with Pig the Pug books, a new star is born!

Brian is a piranha with an unusual appetite for fruit. Other piranhas laugh at his odd diet and declare that piranhas don't eat fruit. He loves peas, silverbeets, bananas, but doesn't offer them any meat. They tell him they'd rather eat feet or bum!

Children will laugh out loud at clever illustrations and cute, quirky prose. Sure to be a childhood favorite read and will appeal to kids who love odd creatures and sea creatures. Brian is one cool piranha!

Highly, highly recommended for all early readers. Quite the fun read!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Picture Book Pick: All Your Need Is Love (Beatles' song)

All You Need is Love
by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Illustrations by Marc Rosenthal
Little Simon
40 pages
ISBN: 9781534429819

Beatles iconic tune "All You Need Is Love" finds a new, much (MUCH) younger audience with early readers in this adorable picture book illustrated by Marc Rosenthal.

A bear emerges from hibernation to hear a bird singing "All You Need Is Love." Enchanted by the bird's song, he follows the little blue bird. As they travel into the city, other animals follow the bird and soon a parade of animals and a boy follow the bird sharing their message with those they meet. An explosion of color and art on the final pages make a city park come to life with love and humanity.

Masterfully realized on the page, the bear will be a children's favorite.

Simply beautiful! Buy this for all the kids you love! Grandparents (Beatles' fans) will have to have this book to share their youth with their grandchildren.

Highly recommended for early readers and their parents and grandparents.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Picture Book Pick: Not Your Nest!

Not Your Nest!
by Gideon Sterer
Illustrations by Andrea Tsurumi
Dial Books for Young Readers
40 pages
ISBN: 9781534429819

An industrious yellow bird builds a lovely nest for herself and is proud of her accomplishments. When she's finally ready to rest and enjoy her hard work, she finds other animals are just as pleased with her beautiful nest.

She is surprised when a  zebra (on the cover), a larger bird, a brush hog, a giraffe, a gorilla, a crocodile and other animals loungevin her nest. She moves on--building nest after nest until the tree breaks and the animals have to find another place to rest.

They are happy to share their nest with the sweet bird who took them in.

Young readers will laugh out loud at the animals' pushiness to "share" the bird's nest. Illustrations by Tsurumi are hysterical and capture each animal's personality and emotions.

Likely to become a bedtime favorite, kids will love to name all the animals they encounter. This is a must have for any young reader. Cutest book of the year!

Highly recommended for all preschool readers and animal lovers.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Book Club Pick: Dating By the Book

Dating By the Book
by Mary Ann Marlowe
Kensington Books
336 pages with Book Club Discussion Questions
ISBN: 9781496718211

Available June 2019

Maddie Hanson is nursing a broken heart since being left at the altar by Peter, her almost husband. Pouring her heart, money and time into acquaint indie bookstore, The Mossy Stone, Maddie struggles to keep the business afloat.

When old friend Max stops by every day, almost all day, offering to help and a partnership, Maddie is fierce to keep her store her own. Daily visitor Charlie is a local English professor, but not really love interest material. Enter old flame Dylan, the one who got away and left town to seek fame and fortune in the music industry. Dylan exudes hotness and all the ladies notice.

Maddie has no shortage of bachelors to choose from, but her writing keeps her busy. Her first book is due out soon, and when a reviewer slams it on a blog, Maddie is stunned. The writer, known as Silver Fox, claims the romance in her novel feels stilted and fell flat for him. At first Maddie is mad and sad, then she responds to the reviewer against her friend Layla's advice to ignore the guy.

Friday nights are book club night at the shop where Maddie and MEN read Pride and Prejudice, Gone With the Wind and Jane Eyre. As Maddie continues to respond to Silver Fox online under her pen name Claire, she thinks about meeting him.

Ex-Peter is warning Maddie that he wants to sell the shop, her shop! Maddie had better figure out her tangled finances and her equally tangled online "love life."

Clever cover design screams at romance readers to buy this book. This cover is my favorite of the year so far. Marlowe continues to offer readers spunky heroines, small town "feels," quirky love interests, and fun plots. You'll want to move to Orion after meeting this cast of characters.

Recommended for adult book clubs and all romance readers.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

#AMM Connect: MG Contemporary: FAKING IT

I have entered #AMMConnect. 

Hi, I'm (Pamela) Thompson McLeod. I write #MG contemporary. Kyle is an eleven-year old who enters a recipe contest winning a coveted spot on a junior chef show. Just one problem: Kyle can't cook! It's a recipe for disaster unless BFF science nerd Addie and YouTube videos can teach him.

I write to tell stories about characters I've met in life. Kyle and Addie remind me of so many middle school kids I've known in the library!

I'd love to be a great mentee and learn more about writing and story pacing. I consider all feedback and stand up for my story when I feel it needs to stay the same. I'd love to work with my mentor and become writing pals going forward. So much writing is quiet, introverted time that writers need a circle of like friends. I know FAKING IT resonates with  beta readers and CPs I've been lucky enough to find and feel very close to finding an agent. FAKING IT is a Readers' Favourite in the Write Mentor Children's Writing Awards 2019. With a mentor's help and guidance, this story will be the best it can be! #ownvoices for weight issues; #STEM for cooking and molecular gastronomy.

Three of Kyle's recipes are included in the last pages of the book. In fact, Kyle's entry for Grown Up Grilled Cheese is a recipe I created and entered in an online contest. Like Kyle, I NEVER cooked my recipe and yet it won! I've become addicted to entering contests with recipes I create on paper but never cook; I've placed in three contests using my strange method, lol. I share Kyle's addiction for cooking shows and molecular gastronomy.

There is a page of YouTube Molecular Gastronomy channels approved by Addie and Kyle as well.

As a career librarian, I see precocious, genius kids like Kyle and Addie in their natural habitat on a daily basis.

Once again, here's Kyle's and my recipe