Saturday, November 27, 2021

Review: Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm by Lori Adams

We're diving into the world of pirates and open seas....and magic! Today's review spins the myth of Davy Jones into a magical and very adventurous tale for high-sea lovers with a brave and risk-friendly heroine. It's the first in a new series and sets sails on November 29th (so, just a couple more days to wait). 

Ready for a peek?

by Lori Adams
Spyhop Publishing
Middle Grade Fantasy
360 pages
ages 9 to 14

NOVEMBER 29th!!!

When a young girl learns she is the Last Heir to the infamous pirate Davy Jones, she is whisked away to begin life aboard an enchanted schoolship for Pirate Heirs where danger and excitement awaits. 

Contemporary kids who happen to be Heirs of the most villainous and celebrated pirates in history. Superstitions, mysteries, curses, secrets, strange ocean creatures, undead pirates, and seafaring legends will thrill middle-grade readers in this rollicking, globe-trotting adventure. 

Avalina Jones, the Last Heir of the infamous pirate Davy Jones, has never heard of Sea Magic, flying dinghies, Pirate Heir schoolships, phantom islands, or creatures called Half Ones. And she has never understood her strange connection to water. When a beautiful woman arrives in a swirling waterspout, Avalina’s life explodes with more adventures than she can possibly imagine. She takes her rightful place aboard a giant Pirate Heir schoolship teeming with Heirs of the world’s most nefarious pirates.

Raised as a Landlubber, Avalina quickly realizes bizarre and danger are normal aboard Pirate Heir schoolships—food fights back, school supplies giggle or explode in your face. And not everyone can be trusted.

When Avalina is accused of a terrible crime, she must prove her innocence or risk being banished from the schoolship forever—and this in the middle of a crucial Treasure Hunt!

Avalina races to unlock secrets of the ship, and makes a dangerous discovery that threatens everyone aboard. With the help of her new friends Charlie, Pippa, and Bummy, Avalina draws closer to the truth, unaware that a deeper, darker fate awaits.

Worlds collide for middle-grade readers who will love the fast-paced thrills, colorful characters, secrets, legends, and the interplay of fantasy and reality in Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm. Author Lori Adams expertly delivers a story that is timeless, bringing together elements of sea lore, magic, and adventure. The first book in a seven-book series, Avalina Jones and the Eye of the Storm, is a romping tale for middle graders who are searching for the next enduring fantasy classic.



High seas and pirating adventure mixes with imagination and quirky magic to create a very rich world, and one with more than a little bit of fun.

Avalina Jones has spent most of her childhood at the orphanage, gazing across the Mississippi River. Not only does she feel as if it's calling to her, but strange things happen around her, which makes her positive she isn't like the other children. The headmistress doesn't seem surprised but refuses to explain exactly what's going on. When an odd woman comes to the building in a flying boat and kidnaps Avalina with the promise to take her where she truly belongs...and the woman knows her dead parents...the adventure begins. Avalina is a 1st year student on a famous, pirate ship school, might have a curse, and has more than a few enemies.

This is a fun adventure from beginning to end. It packs imagination upon imagination...and I do mean to the gills. Every page swims with magical hints, objects, characters, and quirkiness, creating a very rich fantasy world, where nothing seems to be impossible and surprises lurk past every gangway. The characters are just as rich and pop off the page. There's never a second for boredom and always something happening. So, get ready for fast-paced adventure because this book has that. Tons of it.

To say that this one reminds me of Harry Potter's Hogwarts is an understatement. There are many parallels in the world, although in this book, everything takes a very strong pirate twist. In that sense, I found it clever and loved getting lost in the fun. However, all the quirky details also became too much, at times, and ended up overwhelming a few of the scenes. Still, the richness is amazing and is sure to thrill younger readers.

Avalina Jones is a character to root for from beginning to end. She gets herself into sticky situations, is a bit head-strong, and yet, even held back and careful, at times. She fits her age group pretty well and definitely slides into a great character for a middle grade read. The tale is tense and also stays age appropriate. Fantasy and pirate fans are sure to enjoy this one.

Review: Imagine That by George Yuhasz

 Today's review dives into the world of imagination and lets dreams take flight. I, personally, found the star gazing aspect of this tale intriguing. I mean, if stars don't invite for dreaming, I'm not sure what would. So, I was ready to give this one a peek and see what it might hold.

The Magic of the Mysterious Lights
by George Yuhasz
Outskirts Press
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

On a night when the sky is full of stars, sometimes there appears light that cannot be explained, even by the smartest astronomers...

Evelyn is a little girl who lives with her parents and brother in a house with a big backyard. On nights when the sky is filled with brightly shining stars, she loves to go outside before bed to see the Milky

You can purchase it at    BOOKGOODIES


The magic of imagination takes a little girl's love for the stars into her backyard and beyond.

Evelyn enjoys gazing at the stars, but it seems she can see more lights than her other family members. When her curiosity leads her to her backyard and beyond, she discovers a lovely maiden...and so much more.

This is a lovely read-aloud, which entertains and opens up the doors to the wonder of imagination. The illustrations are bright and colorful, following the tale along as Evelyn discovers the wonder of her own fantasies. While they do add something to peer at and entertain, it's the text which carries this read.

The story is meant as a read-aloud. The text is on the heavier side and does include a few more difficult vocabulary words.  Those who are sure of their words can read this one on their own, too. The tale flows well enough and invites readers to embrace their own imagination and discover the wonders it brings.

It's a sweet read and also works as a bedtime tale spread over a night or two for those sleepier listeners.

And here he is...

George Yuhasz is a passionate advocate for the protection and preservation of our natural world. A proud father and grandfather, life long learner, and world traveler, he delights in sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for appreciating the joy and wonder of connecting with nature. A B.A. graduate of American University’s Schools of Government and International Service, he also holds a M.A. in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. George is a former U.S. Government special agent, intelligence officer, and contractor, and has also worked in the private sector as an investigator and security consultant. A special joy in his life was coaching the Allegheny College cross country team for fourteen fall seasons. George lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and is currently working on another children’s book and a suspense novel.

2019 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards
WINNER – Outstanding Children’s Fiction Illustrated Category
FINALIST – Juvenile Fiction Category

2019 Wishing Shelf Book Awards
WINNER/GOLD MEDALIST – Children’s Books Ages 6 – 9

2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards
HONORABLE MENTION – Children’s Picture Books Ages 6 and older

2020 Independent Press Book Awards
DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE – Children’s Inspirational Category

2020 Book Readers Appreciation Group (BRAG)

2021 Firebird Book Awards
WINNER – Juvenile Fiction Category
WINNER – Children’s Inspirational/Motivational Category

2021 Book Excellence Awards
FINALIST – Children’s Inspirational/Motivational Category

2021 Eric Hoffer Book Awards
FINALIST – Children’s Books Category

Media links:

Friday, November 26, 2021

Review: Colossus by Colin Hynson

Today's review hits a direction, which I don't see very often in the kidlit realm...and was thrilled to get my hands on. Engineering hits the spotlight to give young readers a glimpse at all sorts of possibilities. This book is for the middle grade audience and takes a look at all sorts of feats around the world. It's fully illustrated and well organized. 

Off we go! 

The World's Most Amazing Feats of Engineering
by Colin Hynson
Illustrated by Giulia Lombardo
Candlewick Press
Middle Grade Non-Fiction
80 pages
ages 8 to 12

Colossus explores some of the greatest feats of engineering in history, from ancient pyramids to enormous bridges to towering skyscrapers.

Have you ever wondered how it's possible for the tallest buildings in the world to stay standing through the most severe earthquakes? Or how a prehistoric civilization managed to build something as impressive as Stonehenge? Discover the engineering that has led to the most innovative buildings, bridges, and monuments on the planet, from towering skyscrapers to energy-creating dams to underground tunnels miles long. Learn how people have historically turned to engineering to build higher, farther, faster, and greener into the future.



With a wide view on everything from the ancient pyramids in Egypt to space stations, and from past to possible future, these pages bring the most amazing engineering accomplishments into focus.

With a clear and understandable Table of Contents, these pages open up to a wide variety of engineering feats. Many of these are ones reader's will recognize (or, at least, have heard of). Others will be new. Each one is briefly explained in its purpose (when known), it engineering uniqueness, and then, accompanied by various facts and interesting points. It's a book, which not only raises the respect and awareness of engineering, but also hits a bit upon history, cultures, and the needs of life, in general.

I was surprised at the wide span of engineering areas, which this book covers. While hitting well-known accomplishments such as the Eifel Tower and the Great Wall of China, it also hits upon others such as The Kelpies in Scotland and Nan Madol in Micronesia. Engineering objects in these pages include not only structures such as buildings, but reaches into canals, statues, space shuttles and more. Plus, it covers topics from history to future possibilities. 

The chapters are well laid and give a good overview. First, a general explanation is given before more specific examples are listed. Each of these receive a short description, which explain where they can be found, when they were created, their sizes, building duration, and any other interesting facts. Extra points are placed around the well-done illustrations, which point out more facts and interesting tidbits. Then, to add to the fun. a circle with a general fact about the theme is presented, too. While there could be more facts, these didn't overload the reader and still, leave a general handle on what's going on.

Engineering, history, and construction fans are going to find a wealth of information and variety in these pages. The information is presented in an age appropriate way, which doesn't talk down to the reader. While there are many facts, the writing style isn't dry but manages to remain a bit more relaxed. At the end, there is a glossary and index to round everything off and make this a great resource for general information. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Bloodstone by M.J. Mallon


The Curse of Time, Book 1
by M. J. Mallon
YA Fantasy / Paranormal
234 pages

I didn’t think my life could get weirder, but I was wrong…

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.

When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.

The 2nd book in the series, Golden Healer – The Curse of Time Book 2, is coming soon.

You can purchase a copy:

And here she is...

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros!

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of writing began inspired by their vivid storytelling. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery, heart-warming smile to greet her.

MJ’s writing credits also include a multi-genre approach: paranormal, best-selling horror, supernatural short stories, flash fiction, and poetry.  he has worked with some amazing authors and bloggers compiling an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown and later she wrote a spin off poetry collection, Lockdown Innit.

She’s been blogging for many moons at her blog home Kyrosmagica, (which means Crystal Magic,) where she celebrates the spiritual realm,her love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

Corinth 2642 AD by Bindiya Schaefer with Giveaway!

Corinth 2642 AD tour banner

This is my post during the blog tour for Corinth 2642 AD by Bindiya Schaefer. In a future where ethnicity is individually unique, a young investigator is forced into a pureblood, cultish society when its young members start to go missing.

This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and the tour runs from 22 November till 5 December. You can see the tour schedule here.

Corinth 2642 AD book cover

Corinth 2642 AD
by Bindiya Schaefer
YA Science Fiction
Release Date: 21 September, 2021



In the year 2642, no one person is ethnically like the other. Globalization, war, and other catalysts have given birth to a diverse and multi-ethnic new world.

Not everyone feels this new society is ideal, though. A select group of seven colonies—a pureblood, white supremacist cult complete with arranged marriages and heavily guarded borders—have only had one mission: protect the bloodline from contamination and produce the next generation of survivors. But some young people, destined for a life without choices, make a run for it, including Cara, the granddaughter of Julius Bull, the colonies' leader.

Desperate to keep her dissidence quiet for fear of potentially inciting a power struggle within the colonies, Bull brings in Jimmy Matoo—a Special Investigator from San Francisco whose brother was found dead near one of the colonies the same night Cara disappeared. For Matoo, the visit to Corinth, Oregon, is eye-opening. He has never seen a white person before and is shocked by their ideas of imperialism, racial purity, and the prospect of arranged marriages in the 27th century. His investigation reveals that dozens of young colony members have gone missing over the years, and some have been found dead on the outskirts of Corinth.

With the clock ticking, San Francisco’s Detective Matoo’s missing persons investigation soon becomes a fight for survival—turns out the residents don’t like a brown fellow in their midst. Can he find Cara, figure out what happened to his brother, and save the leader's family from the Cabal before it’s too late? Maybe. But first, he must find out who in the colony has the means and connections to smuggle the dissidents out without being detected because it could be the difference between life and death.

- Goodreads
- Bookbub
- Amazon
- B&N

Bindiya Schaefer author picture
About the Author:
Bindiya is a former defense and aerospace journalist. Before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, she lived in Dubai, UAE, and Bangalore, India.

CORINTH 2642 AD is her debut novel. To find out more visit her website or follow @authorbindiyaschaefer on Instagram.

Author links:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Instagram
- Goodreads
- Amazon


There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Corinth 2642 AD. Two winners each win a paperback copy of Corinth 2642 AD (US Only).

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Review: In a Pickle! adapted by Natalie Shaw

It's stocking-stuffer-idea time! In the next weeks, I'm going to have more than a few books, which work great as an extra, little gift from young readers out there. And today's is my first suggestion!

I have some little nieces and nephews, who love a certain might be Donkey Hodie. Anyway, this book will put a smile on their faces. At least, I'm pretty sure it will. But even I'll have to wait until December 14th for a copy.


from Donkey Hodie
adapted by Natalie Shaw
Simon Spotlight
Board Book
24 pages
ages 2 to 5


Based on an episode of the hit preschool show from Fred Rogers Productions Donkey Hodie, this 8x8 storybook follows fun-loving Donkey Hodie as she tries to save her best friend’s toy!

When Panda and Donkey are playing with Panda’s favorite toys (pickle-shaped penguins!) and one accidentally gets stuck between two rocks, will they be able to rescue it?

© 2021 The Fred Rogers Company

GOODREADS  /   AMAZON   /   B&N   


Little fans of Donkey Hodie are going to smile, when they get their hands on this one. It comes directly from one of the episodes, a silly one which puts a new twist on pickles and important rescues. For those who know the show well, there's also the words to the song, which can be sung along.

This book has a very directed audience group, and I truly believe that young fans will enjoy it. The tale is cute and allows the imagination to take flight as something as simple as pickles are fantasized into animals...and need rescuing. I doubt we'll ever see pickles the same again in our household. The text works as a read-aloud, since it takes someone sure of their words to read. And there is the written version of the song found in the show written on the bottom of several of the last pages. This works best for those who already know the song (as said, this is for fans and watchers).

The illustrations follow the show as well, making it highly recognizable for those listeners/readers. The benefit of this book form is that it shows viewers that books can be fun, while remaining in a stream they recognize right away. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Review: Sounds Like Love by Laura Ford

I'm getting in this month's Joker Read today thanks to another shift of the schedule. The blurb got me on this one, since it's not a romance but rather circles around a cat and a girl's relationship. Plus, the big, green eyes of the cat are hard to ignore. 

by Laura Ford
Friesen Press
Young Adult Contemporary
150 pages

Wendy is a bright spark who wants to find love and travel the world, but she questions how her dreams can become a reality as her world changes around her.

When Wendy arrives at her beloved grandmother’s house to collect a box of keepsakes, she picks up more than she bargained for - a green-eyed tabby cat with amazing qualities. This is just the start of a high-speed adventure, leading Wendy towards bright new horizons… if only she’ll give the cat a chance…



This is a read packed with warmth and emotion, which touches the heart and more.

Wendy's grandmother has passed away, and when she picks up the belongings, a cat sits inside one of the boxes. Wendy's parents are cat lovers, but they don't want a tabby ruining their breeding plans. Since the local shelter refuses to take it too, she finally gives in and adopts it. But there are more problems on Wendy's horizon as she discovers that she has a incurable condition. If she can learn to accept the can, it might be her first step to taking control of her life again.

This book is only 150 pages, but it packs a lot into it. Every page sits with emotion as Wendy deals with everything from the death of her beloved grandmother to a cat to her family to a health issue and more. It's a read which digs into emotions and makes it impossible not to care about Wendy's situation. She has to learn to look past her narrow view of things and expand into a whole new realm....which isn't easy.

Wendy comes across very naturally, and the cat is a perfect character to help find the balance. The themes are easy to identify and sympathize with. Never does this come across as preachy, but rather, lets the reader sink into each situation. 

Young adult readers, who love warm moments and life struggles, are going to enjoy this one quite a bit.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Review: Links to Liberty by Robert J. Skead

I always seem to have a shortage of historical fiction for middle graders. So, today's review is a book that already had me smiling before I opened to the first page. This is the third in a series surrounding the American Revolutionary War and follows the adventures of two teens as they do their best to fight for what they believe in and much more. 

So, it's time to step back in time! 

Defending the Great Chain of West Point
by Robert J Skead
Knox Press
Upper Middle Grade Historical Fiction
224 pages
ages 10 to 14

Teenage twin boys go on an adventure protecting the Great Chain at West Point, which turns into a rescue mission when one of them gets captured by the Redcoats!

The year: 1779
The war: the American Revolution
The secret weapon: twin boys and a Great Chain at West Point

In this third book in the American Revolutionary War Adventures series, John and Ambrose Clark are hot on the trail of the spy who gave away the secret of their father’s mission, which ultimately led to him being shot by Redcoats. But when there is an attack on America’s new strategic defense on the Hudson River—the Great Chain at West Point—the twins must protect it. They soon discover things aren’t always as they seem and their friends have deadly connections. Discover how the boys’ faith in Providence and each other help the cause for Liberty!



The dangers and tension of the American Revolutionary War hit with vivid reality, while weaving in secrets, adventure, and more than a few solid facts.

John and Ambrose Clark are given two possibilities of what to do next, but before they make their decision, a man is murdered in the room next to theirs. When they see the initials of the same gentleman, who killed their father, they immediately are on his trail. An enemy attack forces them to return to the battlefield in hopes of protecting the country, and they soon find that secrets run deeper than they first believed.

I did not read the first books in this series before tackling this one, and that was a mistake, since this tale starts where the last one ended. Despite the missing background information (which did leave me feeling a little at a fault, obviously), the author starts this book out full thrust forward into adventure. The twins immediately find themselves at a murder scene and discover a clue, which sends them on a chase after their father's murderer. And the action doesn't let up from there.

History comes to life in these pages as the twins face the real dangers of war, get to meet historic figures, experience the famous battles and attacks, and all of that with as much grit and reality as can be added for the age group. There is danger, there is violence, and life isn't easy for these two. And yet, they maintain enough brotherly banter and a very light dusting of fun to keep it age appropriate and interesting. The relationship between the two is inspiring as is their determination to do what is right and protect that which they believe in. 

The writing carries the fitting atmosphere for the time period. The vocabulary and style is appropriate for the upper end of the middle grade audience as well as YA readers (although the boys' personalities lean toward the younger end of that group). History fans will especially enjoy this read as the places, people, and events show that the author has done his research and more. This also makes it a great addition to classroom themes and homeschoolers. But as said, there is violence and such to fit the reality of the situation at that time.

I found this well done, enjoyed following the twins through their adventures, and even gained a deeper respect for this historical period and those who fought in it.

And here he is...

Robert Skead is the author of several popular books for children. For the American Revolutionary War Adventure series, Robert partnered with his father to develop the stories. The father-son writing team are members of Sons of the American Revolution. Their ancestor, Lamberton Clark, one of the main characters in the stories, fought in the Revolutionary War as a member of the Connecticut Militia and the Continental Army. The tales in the American Revolutionary War Adventures series were crafted to inspire readers to do great things, nurture patriotism, and celebrate the courage and creativity of colonial patriots and General George Washington.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Review: Where Snow Angels Go by Maggie O'Farrell

 Today's review is the perfect way to slide into the up-coming, winter season and works great for the holidays, too (although it isn't a holiday read, necessarily). I loved the cover and knew I had to introduce everyone to this read.

The length and age bracket make it a perfect read for the longer, cooler days and nights as this one is a modern day fairy tale...and timeless, too. The story is well laid for a read-aloud and works even as a bedtime story over a night or two. The illustrations are so full of love and heart, and that for even this slightly older age-group.

So, grab that cozy sweater and let's take a look!

by Mattie O'Farrell
Illustrated  by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini
Walker Books Ltd
Children's Picture Books
72 pages
ages 7 to 10

Have you ever woken up suddenly, in the middle of the night, without knowing why? Best-selling and award-winning master storyteller Maggie O'Farrell weaves an extraordinary and compelling modern fairy tale about the bravery of a little girl and the miracle of a snowy day.

Sylvie wakes one night, suddenly, without knowing why. Then she sees the most spectacular sight – a pair of wings, enormous in size, made of the softest snow-white feathers imaginable. An angel in her bedroom … a SNOW angel! He tells her that he is here to look after her, for Sylvie is not as well as she seems... Many months later, as Sylvie recovers from her illness, she longs to see her snow angel again. He saved her life! There is so much she wants to tell him, so much she wants to know! Will he ever come back to her? And how can Sylvie make sure that everyone she loves has their own snow angel, to keep them safe, too?



Winter dreams swirl with warmth in this beautiful tale, which will have readers curling up under a blanket of fairy tale goodness.

Sylvie can't believe her eyes when a white figure enters her bedroom in the middle of the night, whispering to itself as if confused. When she speaks to it, the wonder increases...on both sides. After all, humans shouldn't be able to speak to their snow angels and, definitely, not see them. After the angel explains its origins and it's important duty to protect her, it informs her that she's sick. When her fever is discovered, it leaves with the reassurance that she won't remember it the next day. But the angel is wrong; she does remember.

I already was drawn by the cover on this one, and it's only a taste of the lovely illustrations inside. The magic (or as the angel claims, science) of each scene comes across with the right atmosphere and allows the reader to sink into Sylvie's world. 

The text makes this a great read-aloud. While those readers, who are more sure of their words, can also dive into this one, it's perfect for a holiday or bedtime read, too. The text is longer and holds a more traditional, fairy tale atmosphere. The writing style also fits this least, during the narration and description sections. The dialogue, however, has a more modern flair, which hit me a little odd, at first, especially with the snow angel. Yet, it made the angel that much more realistic and sympathetic. I can imagine that the audio book version of this one is especially a treat. The dialogue does add a bit of humor and really lets the characters' beam from the pages.

The tale itself has everything a good story should have. While I was afraid this one might concentrate on Syliva's illness, that's only the very beginning of her adventure with the Snow Angel, and is by no means the main thrust of the book as it only hits a couple of the pages. Let's just say her snow angel has his work cut out for him.

There is the wonderment of the impossible, a bit of sadness, hope, a tiny bit of tension, and the question of what will happen at the end mixed with a vivid sense of longing. It leaves with a sense of mystery, and yet, rounds things up enough not to feel incomplete...and all of that with a sense of happiness and hope. In other words, it's a very lovely story and not just for the holiday season. 

And here they are...

Maggie O'Farrell is an award-winning Irish-British author whose books for adults have received international acclaim, including Hamnet, which won the Fiction Prize at the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Awards. Where Snow Angels Go is her first book for children. She lives in Edinburgh.

Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini studied fine art in Milan and moved to London to study photography. She is the illustrator of The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller and The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen, among other picture books. She lives in London.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Review: Dragon Legend by Katie and Kevin Tsang

 Ready for dragons? Today's review is the second book in a fantasy series for middle graders, which starts out at a summer camp in least, in book one. I did read the first book in this series (Wow!) and enjoyed it quite a bit. Believe it or not, this book even surpassed that one in several ways.

So, who's ready to take flight into adventure and fantasy pure?

Dragon Realm, Book Two
by Katie & Kevin Tsang
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Fantasy
320 pages
ages 8 to 12

The second adventure in the ROARsome DRAGON REALM series for 9+ readers! Perfect for readers looking for edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Billy Chan and his friends are not having a very relaxing summer. Their friend, Dylan, has been kidnapped by the evil Dragon of Death and it's up to them to travel through time, back to the dangerous Dragon Realm, in order to save him. Luckily they have their own dragons on side, but they'll need to collect eight magical pearls if they're to amass enough power to destroy the Dragon of Death and her followers for good. So begins an epic quest that will take them to the depths of the Frozen Wasteland and the imperial palaces of Ancient China. But can good triumph evil...?

DRAGON LEGEND is the second book in the DRAGON REALM series by Katie and Kevin Tsang, co-authors of SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID



Imagination and creativity abound in this fast-paced fantasy, which proves how important and strong the bond of friendship can be.

I did have the chance to read book one in this series and enjoyed it quite a bit. Book two, thought, took me by surprise and was even a little better. Action switches up another gear as the group of friends is thrown full-force into the Dragon Realm. While book one kept some base in the real world, this one lets the adventure take over...and what a creative world it is! The authors let their fantasies fly and develop rich scenes and sticky situations, which are difficult to see a solution for and keep the reader at the edge of their seat. It was a treat to get lost in the different landscapes and join in with the group of friends. The only thing which suffered, as opposed to book one, was the glimpses into the Asian culture. But this is fantasy and dragons pure, and there's not a thing wrong with that. 

Friendship is key in this book, and good vs evil happens in true, traditional style.  Yet, it's not predictable, but simply makes it clear who to root for...and enjoy doing that. This is one reason I don't see this really for the upper end of the middle grade audience and am going to slide away from the 'official' intended age group, suggesting it swings more toward strong, chapter book readers and the lower end of middle grade. The length might appear daunting for this lower end, but it's an easy read with the vocabulary and writing fitting this end as well. Also, there's a bit missing on the inter-personal struggles between the friends to make this a read for the upper group (not much tension or disagreement thanks to different opinions or personalities). But for lower middle graders, it's an amazing fantasy, and even I enjoyed it.

The book ends with a bang and makes it hard to wait for the next one to appear...because I have no doubt the adventure won't get any less exciting in book three. In other words, fantasy friends will surely enjoy this one.

And here they are...

Katie and Kevin Tsang met in in 2008 while studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since then they have lived on three different continents and travelled to over 40 countries together. As well as the DRAGON REALM series, they are the co-writers of the young fiction series SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID (Egmont) and Katie also writes YA as Katherine Webber.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Review: Taming Plastics and Making Waves by Albert Bates

 Today's review hits two books for a double-whammy review! These are non-fiction reads for the middle grade audience and take a look at environmental issues concerning the oceans. I would say more, but I'm going to let the reviews do the talking because...well, read on and find out.

Planetary Solutions
by Albert Bates
Nonfiction Science
48 pages
ages 8 to 12

Plastic seems like a miraculous invention. You can make it into any shape, color or size, and it can be flexible or sturdy. Plastic also lasts forever--and that's the problem. It's estimated that by 2050, there'll be more pounds of plastic in our oceans than pounds of fish. Recycling programs are growing faster than the collected plastic can be processed, and not all plastic can be recycled.
Learn about the creative solutions that visionary people across the planet are using to curb plastic waste. Become an Emergency Planetary Technician and find out what you can do every day to tame plastic.

GOODREADS   /   AMAZON   /   B&N  

Planetary Solutions
by Albert Bates
Non-Fiction Science
ages 8 to 12

This book provides an educational and engaging look at the interdependent relationship between the oceans and ourselves, and what is needed to protect the oceans' ecosystems. Young adults learn about a variety of human activities that affect water temperature, oxygen levels, acidity, ice density, sea levels and sea-life populations. Bates explains how measures such as blue carbon initiatives to prohibit deep-sea mining, replanting mangroves, protecting salt marshes and seagrasses and restoring coral reefs have benefits that have a multiplier effect--and that it is more cost-effective and financially rewarding to do these now rather than later

GOODREADS   /   B&N    /    AMAZON.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Unraveling Eleven by Jerri Chrisholm


Eleven Trilogy #2
by Jerri Chrisholm
Entangled Teen
YA Dystopian
384 pages

In Compound Eleven, freedom from tyranny is impossible.

My name is Eve Hamilton, and I’ve managed the impossible.

I am free.

Until just like that, it is wrenched from my grasp. And this time, the corridors of the dark underground city are even more dangerous than ever before. But my brief taste of freedom has left me with something useful, something powerful, something that terrifies the leaders of Compound Eleven.

And now I have a monster inside.

One I’ll need to learn to control, and fast, or I’ll lose everything and everyone I hold dear. Starting with Wren Edelman. The one boy who has taught me that anything is possible if we stick together.

But will that matter if I become the very thing he fears the most?



This is the second book in a trilogy, and I did read the first one before opening this one...which I would highly recommend doing, since the second book takes off where the first left off.

While the first book centered on Eve's life in section Eleven, she's now in the outside world. And what a different place it is! The contrast makes it clear how constricting her life was before and how unfair things are. The new world is bright, bold, and very well described, making the reader sink in just as much as book one, but this time, with a totally different flair. This gives the dystopian aspect tons of clout and makes the world sit.

Eve also gains flair in this book as there's finally time and concentration on the character arc end of things. Not only is the world around her different than what she's learned to know, but she herself has a lot to learn. Add the changing relationships and the knowledge that she can't remain, and there's more than a little inner conflict as well. In other words, this book offers the perfect middle as she develops from book one to, what I assume she will be in, book three. 

The action and tension are high enough to keep the pages turning, but there's also enough space for emotion and development on other levels. This one packs unexpected twists and turns, especially at the end, and has more than enough relationship points to add depth as well. 

The ending is one that makes it impossible not to want to pick up book three. So, I'm now just going to have to wait and see what happens next...and I'm definitely more than a little curious.