Sunday, August 1, 2021

What's Coming in August?

Summer isn't done, the relief of my kids, who never like school to start up again...and I'm excited to spend some hours outside, enjoying cool evenings with a book in my hand. 

This month, I'm not sure if a single theme sticks out. After doing some counting, I discovered I have a pretty even balance of picture books, middle grade reads, and young adult novels...and that doesn't happen very often. There's some fantasy, dystopians, humor, contemporary...  oh and chills with thrills are included, too. Add some fairy tale retellings, mysteries, wonderful non-fiction...

Let's just call this month the one with a little of everything!

Grab that beach towel, some sunscreen, and let's see what goodies are on their way!


The blurb caught my attention right away—a dystopian future where civil war rages, but a 12-year-old boy lives out on the land away from it all...and is bored. When he finds a government created robodog, an amazing journey and adventure begins. More I don't know, but we'll find out on the 2nd!

Middle Grade Science Fiction / Dystopian


Nothing warms the heart like a cute bunny! Doesn't this one look adorable? I enjoy gentle adventures and bet this one is a sweet read. Take a snuggle with me on the 12th.

Picture Book


Set in the 1910's, this one follows a girl as she swears revenge on ocras. She's convinced they hunted down and killed her brothers. As a young girl, she's not supposed to be on a whale hunting ship, let alone become a part of the crew. I'm looking forward to this one and will hit high seas on the 11th.

Middle Grade Historical


What's summer without a romantic read? But those out there, who want more than a little romance might also like this one. There's the hint at something beyond the stars and a dash of science fiction. Add dark secrets, high school issues, and...well, I'll know more by the 12th.

Young Adult Contemporary


I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to get my hands on this one. I've seen it popping up here and there for months and have wanted to see what all the buzz is about. Hear more about it on the 16th.

Middle Grade Animal Fiction


From cuteness to horror? You bet! I don't read a whole lot in this genre, but this one caught my attention. It's about a small, sleepy town and four friends who stumble across a very creepy mystery. Coming from Swoon Reads, this seemed a strange fit...but I'm ready to discover what it's about on the 17th.

Young Adult Paranormal / Horror


Adorned with a foreword from Jane Goodall, this one hits on the story of a teenage boy, who gives everything he can to help two bears. It should carry tons of heart and emotions. Find out more with me on the 20th.

Young Adult Contemporary


From bears to dragons! This one takes a boy on a fantastic adventure, while addressing the problem of being shy. There are dragons galore (I already took a quick peek), but find out more with me on the 22nd.

Picture Book


Staying in the dragon theme, it's time to toss them into reality. I found the surmise on this one intriguing. A high school girl looses her sight in an accident, but an operation leaves her seeing some people with a dragon-like double imposed on them. See if dragons exist with me on the 23rd.

Young Adult Fantasy


This one has been receiving praise for its lovely illustrations and masterful handling of tough issues. It's suppose to hold a wonderful atmosphere of hope as well. Take a look with me on the 26th.

Picture Book

Oh, and I still have this month's joker read... something which is waiting on the sidelines in hopes of getting a chance to pop in and shine.



This is the 2nd in the Blackberry Farm series. I read the first a while back, and having enjoyed it, am looking forward to see what this second adventure holds. When will I get to it? Only the stars know!

Middle Grade Contemporary

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Review: The Captain's Daughters by Doreen D. Berger

Today's review takes us to the future and the infinity of space...and universes. This one is for the middle grade audience and is packed with adventure. When I saw the cover, I'll admit I was wondering how the horses would filter in, and it wasn't what I thought. 
Spaceships, twins, evil aliens, strange creatures, kidnapping, and the desire to return home....sounds intriguing to me.

So, off we go! 

by Doreen D. Berger
Polaris Print
Middle Grade Science Fiction
254 pages
ages 8 to 12

For most adolescents, growing up is hard enough when one has both feet planted firmly on the ground. But for mischievous, twelve-year-old sisters Diane and Robin, life is complicated further by the fact that their father, Captain William Marsh, is the commander of the Starship Polaris. Living among the stars provides a never-ending realm of creative possibility for the free-spirited girls’ pranks and adventures.

When aliens bent on profit and revenge kidnap Diane and Robin, only their indomitable spirit, ingenuity, and a common love of trouble allow the pair to escape the alien vessel. Finding their way home seems assured until the sisters realize they have been taken further from home then they could ever have imagined, and that they must evade an enemy who will stop at nothing to get them back into his evil clutches. Blocked by interstellar battles, malevolent creatures, and overwhelming obstacles, the sisters fear they may never find a way to return to their own universe and to the father they love.



Family love, sibling relationships, alien creatures, and exciting space adventure combine to make an entertaining read and, what seems, to be the start of a new series.

Diane and Robin are twelve-year-old twins, whose father is the captain of a spaceship. While riding their horses, a present from their father since they've been riding for years, they are surprised by a blinding light. Kidnapped by aliens, the sisters need to find a way to escape and figure out their way home. As if that wasn't enough, they learn of an evil enemy, who will do anything to stop them.

This is an easy to read space adventure. The twins, Diane and Robin, are a little mischievous but have tons of heart. Their love for their father and desire to return home is inspiring, while they face all sorts of high tension obstacles and intriguing creatures. It's well-paced and keeps the reader in the pages all the way through.

Imagination flows from every page, which really allows the creatures and worlds to shine. Luckily, readers aren't bogged down with detailed and technical descriptions, but each science wonder flows at an age appropriate level. The writing style was a little choppy, at times, but it still draws in. I enjoyed diving from one situation to the next with the girls and seeing how they got out of each situation. Diane and Robin do act a bit young for their age and sometimes skip the obvious once or twice. Still, they are fun to follow and root for. What I really enjoyed, though, was the lovely family relationship they shared. The love is impossible not to see, but then, some of this comes across better because of the inclusion of sections written from the adult's perspective. 

This is a read, which packs tons of space excitement, family love, and tension, which is perfect for this audience.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Review: The Upside Down of Nora Gaines by Cathrina Constantine

 Today's review is a book I've had my eyes on since early this year but never found a chance to pick it up. Finally, I've had time to open it up and dive into the pages. This one is a paranormal horror read for young adults. I just love the cover and title. Plus, I do know the author and enjoy her tales. 

So, ready for some chills and thrills?

by Cathrina Constantine
Young Adult Horror
314 pages

Nora has visions of horrific things. Things that lurk in the shadows and feast on bones. After moving with her mother into an old farmhouse, Nora discovers a blank journal that fills itself with an ominous warning. A cursed beast is coming for her and time is running out. When the blood moon rises, so shall the beast.

Local teen, Rebel, has his own trepidations about the house. His parents, both paranormal scientists, were investigating it when they died under mysterious circumstances. His growing feelings for Nora motivate him to battle the ghosts of his past, if it means keeping her safe.

Allies to turn to enemies. Fiction turns to fact. The past and the present collide. All in an epic battle to claim unfathomable power. Can Nora unlock the secrets buried within the farmhouse in time to save herself and those dear to her from a grisly fate?



Eerie and unpredictable describe this read to get lost in until the very end.

Nora's life is no longer balanced, since her parents got a divorce. She's given up so much to support her mom, even moving to a farm in the middle of nowhere. But she's not happy, especially when her ability to sometimes see the supernatural kicks in. Something is wrong with the house, and as she gets to know several people in town, her suspicions grow. Unfortunately, it might be more dangerous than she even suspects.

This was a wonderful, chilling read about ghosts, small towns and dark secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nora has some problems to deal with, but she handles them with the finesse of a teen—sometimes better than others but as best as she can. It was easy to feel for her and understand her decisions. Her relationship to her mother was also well done as the love between them is evident and ever-so is real life. It was interesting to dive into and see that things aren't smooth and take work, but family is still family.

The plot was gripping and carried more than a few unexpected moments. I enjoyed the dance between the past and present, and the paranormal side was a dark treat. Add in the boy from town and other characters, and it is an easy tale to get lost in. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Review: Deep in the Sea by Susan B. Katz

Summer thoughts tend to bring images of the beach, sun and ocean with them. Today's read connects land and water, and teaches young listeners about the various forms of life found under the water's surface. And that with tons of doors to flip and flop! (Yes, I'm a door fan.)

Ready to take the dive? 

by Susan B. Katz
Illustrated by David A. Carter
Little Simon
Board Book
12 pages
ages 2 to 5

Compare sea creatures to land animals with similar names in this interactive play-on-words pop-up book with spectacular illustrations.

Lions roar...sea lions snore. Are catfish, dogfish, and elephant seals the same as a cat, a dog, or an elephant? Pop-ups reveal their differences in this delightful introduction to amazing creatures of land and sea.



Exploring animals in the sea and on land gains a touch of fun in this easy to flip book.

While young listeners will easily recognize almost every land animal presented in these pages, the sea creatures will be more of a discovery for them. But this book is definitely not about dry learning. Each land animal (a cow, for example) is depicted, and then the door is flipped to show a sea creature with a very similar name (sea cow, in this case). The correlation does draw a few smiles, but more importantly, some of these will stick in young listeners' heads.

The illustrations are bright, bold and simple. Each creature/animal is depicted in a fairly basic but colorful way with only a little bit of surrounding. So, this remains centered on the creatures. They are clearly created to make them recognizable and yet, there's a pleasant, child-appropriate flair to them, too. The flaps to open with each connection, add a nice amount of, they are sturdy enough to hold more than a few rounds of opening and closing.

The entire thing is written in very short rhyme. Each animal receives only a single sentence, keeping everything short and sweet. But that's all that's needed, too. It's a fun way to learn about sea creatures and holds several young listeners probably haven't run across before.  

And here they are...

Susan B. Katz is an award winning author and bilingual certified teacher. She has written ABC, Baby Me!All Year Round; and Deep in the Sea, among others. She lives in California.

David A. Carter is a master paper engineer and creator of How Many Bugs in a Box? and more books in that series, which has sold more than six million copies. He is also the author and illustrator of the critically acclaimed One Red Dot, among others. Carter lives in Auburn, California, with his family.

Sneak Peek: Frostbite by Lynn Rush with Giveaway!


by Lynn Rush
Touch of Frost, #1
YA Paranormal


Amanda gives a whole new meaning to cool…

Amanda Smith is sick of getting chased from town-to-town. So when she lands in tiny Trifle, Arizona, she hopes it’s her last move for a long time. Despite hating the smallness of the town, she settles in and finds a best friend, and even a boyfriend. Normality at its finest.

But for a girl who can shoot snow from her hands and lift a two-ton truck over her head like a bag of feathers—normal is not an option.

The scientists who murdered her mother come barreling into Amanda’s quiet life. She must decide if she’ll run again or stay and fight. The price of either choice might be her life or the lives of those she’s come to love…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


“You barely know me, Zach.” And I was so the wrong girl. He just didn’t know it.

“I’m trying to get to know you. You won’t let me.” His dark eyebrow quirked up, and his dimple flared as he offered me his totally addicting half-smile.

He was right, though. So trained to stay protected I’ve pretty much forgotten how to…be. So controlled. So…

I inched closer, which probably looked ridiculous as I scooted across the sand, but if I was going to take a chance, Zach was going to be that chance.

His eyes widened, and he leaned forward as his grip on my hand tightened. Despite the sand mixed in with our hands, his warmth still crept up my arm. But it also left a trail of goosebumps.

Do. Not. Freeze. Him.

I drew in a breath, then pushed that last inch separating us. My reward was the softest pair of lips. The contact, as light as it was, sent a shockwave through my chest, rattling down my spine. The warmth of the sun toasting us, and his now familiar scent, swarmed around my body, filling me with him.

All Zach.

I turned my head a fraction and that angle offered me even more of him. That pouty bottom lip I’d been eyeing since I’d first seen him was all mine to taste. To nibble. And I took full advantage.

And here she is...

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author, Lynn Rush, is a full-time writer, wife, and trail runner living in the Sonoran Desert, despite her fear of rattlesnakes. Known as #TheRunningWriter, Lynn can't resist posting epic sunrise pictures while running in the desert with her trail sisters, even if she has to occasionally hop a scorpion.

When she's not running or writing, she's watching movies that fuel her everlasting love of superheroes, vampires, and all things Supernatural. The books she reads usually carry the same theme, but this former college athlete loves reading sweet sports romances as well.

She's madly in love with her Ironman husband of 20+ years who is the inspiration for what true love is. You can find her on social media as @LynnRushWrites and her website is:

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Bookbub / Instagram


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