Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, Spark of Ash by Molly Lee!

Today's read gives way to a strong heroine and a mission to save life. I did read the first book in the series but skipped over the second, which probably means I'm going to have a few holes when tackling this last book in the series. It should hold quite a bit of action, tons of snark, demons, angels, magic, and...well, romance, I guess. It definitely should be a lot of fun if it's anything like book one was.

Ember of Night, #3
by Molly Lee
Entangled Teen
Young Adult Fantasy
400 pages

The Seven―the Divine beings meant to protect the world―just declared war. On me. They took Ray, my baby sister, and now they’re using my boyfriend to do their dirty work.

Well, screw that.

I may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth now, but I know what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, I know about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of my new crew, we’re on the hunt. And with each located scroll, I face new battles, bloodier and harder than I’ve ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been my bright light in the darkness, and Draven is my hope when all seems lost, and if I don’t get them back?

Well, then I might just become the scariest legend the world has ever known.



This book takes off where book two left off. While I did read book one of the series, I didn't read the second one, and that did cause more than a few holes when I picked up book three. So, these do need to be read in order.

Harley is just enjoying a few days calm with her soul mate, when he's suddenly pulled away by the Seven. With his memories removed, he kidnaps her younger sister to train her as a seer to serve the most powerful of the Seven. Harley is given a chance to save her sister, but must find the seven scrolls and give them to head of the Seven. But Harley has already accepted her destiny, unleashing not only her own unknown powers, but reviving her father's, the Devil's as well. Together with her friends, she mush find a way to stop the Seven, figure out if she can trust her father, and discover what her place in destiny truly is.

This is a quick-paced and easy read, which has something happening on every page. There is action, fight scenes, secrets, betrayal, family issues, romance, and much more. Harley is a no-nonsense character with amazing powers, who has grown into her position and is ready to take anyone on...even if it means she'll die trying. She protects those she loves fiercely and is holds life of anyone and anything dearly. She's a character to root for...may not have tons of depth, but she doesn't need it.

Romance is present but only in the beginning and grows again toward the end. This leaves Harley more than enough space to tackle the evil and learn to find her own place in things. So, action fans will enjoy this one as well as those who like a golden-romance, which by no means overpowers the tale. 

Friendship is golden as is family. Despite Harley's immense powers, she can't go it alone and does incorporate the help of those around her. The relationships are inspiring and make the entire time fun to follow. But then, there is always a wonderful back and forth in the dialogue to keep humor and snark as high as the action and tension. Even when a couple holes appear in the plot or something comes across as a bit to easily solved, the read is simply enjoyable and entertaining. And that's more than enough.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Review: The Adventures of Rumi and Bixby Bear by J.R. Rothstein

Today's read isn't a new or up-coming release, but rather one which has already been enjoyed by many a reader. Circling around friendship, this is the imaginative tale of a girl and her teddy bear as she travels to amazing places and the things she discovers. Doesn't that sound promising? (I thought so.) Plus, the artwork on the front cover drew me in with its sense of dreams and artistic flair. 

In other words, it's time to head off into adventure! 

by J.R. Rothstein
Illustrated by Nasim Jenabi
Redstone Publishing 
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8

The Adventures of Rumi and Bixby Bear is a fun and contemplative story about a child in search of friendship. With her friend, Bixby Bear, at her side, Rumi undertakes a great journey and discovers depth and wisdom within herself.



With a heart-felt tone and the longing of a child to understand more, these pages glide on a deeper discovery of friendship, the world around us, and the direction of life.

Rumi is hesitant to go to school, afraid that the other children might tease her, but when she gets there, she opens up with questions for her teacher, ones he can't completely answer. At home, her grandfather  gives her words of advice, and although loving, she's not sure she understands them, either. So, with her imaginative friend, she goes on a dreamful journey to discover what answers she can find.

This book is based on the poetry of the famous Persian poet, Rumi, and weaves into a tale about a young girl. That said, this tale follows along a deeper type of journey and incorporates more than a little food for thought. Younger audiences will have difficulty grasping what's going on, but slightly more mature readers (6+) will be able to pick up some of the meanings, and if nothing else, find a string to lead into discussions. The text is also more geared to this age group, due not only to the larger amount of words on each page (which do work well as a read-aloud) but the vocabulary also leans in this direction.

Bright illustrations break up the deeper flow of the words and help sink into the situations. When Rumi's imaginative journey begins later on, these balance with the text to create the experiences and moments, which broaden Rumi's horizons. It makes it clear what is happening and gives the listeners focus while the words flow by.

Love, warmth, hope, and exploration ring high on every page. While there are whimsical tones, these are light, but they are enough to keep the meaningful words from weighing down too much. I believe that the adults reading this one to the kids will have even more to think about than the listeners and, obviously, have a better grasp as to what's going on. But this is definitely a lovely way to introduce young listeners to this more poetic and meaning-of-life thought process and words. 

More about the book...

The Adventures of Rumi and Bixby Bear is a contemplative and educational picture book that takes the poetry of Rumi, the famous Persian poet, and turns it into a book on friendship and self-development that children and parents can understand. The story is a journey of discovering wisdom and depth within oneself that even adult readers would love. I have also developed a curriculum for teachers and parents to encourage conversations and discussions with children about the book (which includes games and coloring books). More details can be found on our website: http://www.rumiandbixbybear.com/

Here are also some thoughts from the Huffington Post:  https://thriveglobal.com/stories/1940902/

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Review: Gugulu, Little Bear Dares by Srividhya Lakshamanan

Today's read embraces so many fun things that I couldn't turn down taking a peek. Plus, isn't that animal on the front so adorable? And what a name! While this one does address kids' desires to become more independent and head out into the world a little bit more on their own, it also takes a look at lesser known animals and introduces young readers to them. 

In other words, it's time to head into the wild and see what we can find! 

by Srividhya Laksmanan
Illustrated by Akansha Krishnan
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Go on a wild adventure with Gugulu, the sloth bear, as he takes on a journey deep inside the western ghats of India.

Gugulu's parents won't allow him to go to school alone. But he can't wait to explore the forest on his own. So one day, he runs ahead of his parents. And before he knows it, he ends up in a river filled with danger - first a roaring leopard, then a gang of gaurs, but soon he shrinks in fear. Will naughty Gugulu be able to reunite with his parents?

Gugulu, The Little Bear Dares, is a quirky, funny, beautifully illustrated story about new experiences and courageously facing challenges when encountered.



Animal fun swings high as a cute, little bear tries to prove himself independent and runs into more than a couple surprises on the way.

Gugulu has decided that it's time for him to head to school on his own...without his parents. After all, he's big, now, and doesn't need the help. All runs well enough until he comes to the river.

This is a cute tale about a sweet bear, and his desire to 'grow up'. Young readers/listeners will identify with his desire to prove that he can do some things on his own, even if his parents don't think he's ready. While some moments run smoothly, troubles do come, and the meeting with the parents is heart-warming as well as offers a sense of security and safety.

The illustrations are bright and bring across and animals with a sense of joy and energy. They are easy to identify, which is a must, since this book also introduces young readers to animals, they may not have run across before. While Gugulu has his adventures, he meets other animals along the way...many of them. At the end of the book, each one is again illustrated and shortly explained, so readers learn more about them.

This is a book written in rhyme, which flows well for the most part. There are also three word sounds or actions tossed in, which listeners can repeat and 'read' along with.

And here she is...

Srividhya is an award-winning children's author, entrepreneur and writer. She always had a passion for storytelling and started to write when she was eleven. ​Her early success came when one of her dramas got selected by the 'All India Radio'. She spent years reading and writing stories, giving her characters a bright sparkle. ​She spent 15 years in corporate jobs. Later, she founded and managed a fashion e-commerce company, Pink Hippo, before venturing into publishing.

Website - https://www.andbooks.in

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Review: Swift and Hawk Cyberspies by Logan Macx

Today's read is the first...yes, you read that right, the FIRST... in a new series. See, I can start a series in the beginning! This one aims for middle graders and centers around spies and action and high tension and more action and... Well, that's what the blurb claims, and I have no reason to doubt it, yet. These teens specialize in AI and robotics, and must be pretty athletic, too, considering all of the amazing scenes they will find themselves in.  Yep, I'm expecting action pure and have the Mission Impossible theme song playing through my head non-stop.

Ready to dance on the wild side of life?

Swift and Hawk, Book 1
by Logan Macx
Walker Books 
Middle Grade Spy Fiction
352 pages
ages 8 to 12

An addictive new spy series for Alex Rider fans who love breathless plot, cutting-edge tech and action-packed adventure.

When their families mysteriously disappear, Swift and Hawk, teen experts in AI and robotics, are recruited by the secretive Möbius Programme to crack an unbreakable code. They are immediately plunged into a life-and-death rescue mission, that takes them from hidden tunnels beneath the British Museum, to the dangerous docklands of Amsterdam in search of the mysterious ship Nightfall. Caught in a treacherous world of spies and saboteurs, Swift and Hawk will be pushed to the limit as they follow a trail that leads to the remote island of Spøkelsøy, and straight into the hands of a dark and chilling enemy.




Action? Yes! High tech pure? Oh yeah! An evil villain with power and chilling goals? You bet! As spy stories go, this one packs in all of these things and more.

Caleb lives with his CIA mother and attends a school for gifted tech-kids in Britain. When informants visit their home and insist they go with them to a unknown place, Caleb's mother distracts them long enough for him to escape. After finding his best friend, Caleb learns that families of high tech talents are being kidnapped, and him and his friend are both instated into a secret organization. Their code names are Swift and Hawk, and the two of them are about to go on a dangerous mission, which chases them around the world and takes them to extremes.

This is one for spy fans who love action, action, and more action. There's never a boring moment, there's tons of intrigue, and high tension is a given. The villain fits this mix perfectly and the two main characters are definitely kept on their toes the entire way through. There is quite a bit of high-tech included, but then, Swift and Hawk both excel on this end. While this could leave the reader confused, everything is described with enough detail to make sure not to loose the reader, and yet, it never grows boring. The action scenes flow in the same way, giving detailed enough accounts to make them come to life but never going over board either. It's a quick-paced read, which doesn't loose the reader in the slightest.

There is a strong friendship between Swift and Hawk, and that is inspiring. The two have slightly different skill sets and harmonize very well. They enjoy what they do, love a challenge and will do anything to get their families back. In other words, they are easy to root for from beginning to end. The only slight thing which bothered me was that neither really gained a personal connection with the reader. The first chapter already starts with Caleb, aka Swift, watching the strangers talk to his mother, and never lets the reader really get to know him, his surroundings, or his normal life. It's about the same for his best friend Hawk. A tiny bit more character building would have really drawn in.

The ending comes as fast and hard as the rest of the tale, leaving off in an exciting cliff-hanger. Hopefully, book two will be out soon because readers are going to want to immediately grab it up and see where things go next. 

And here he is...

Logan Macx is rumoured to be an ex-spy formerly with the British Secret Intelligence Service, specialising in cyber communications and unexplained events. His whereabouts are unknown at this time but he is in periodic communication with the ghost writers of this series – Edward Docx and Matthew Plampin. He can sometimes be spotted at @LoganMacx1.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Review: The Power of the Pearl Earrings by Linda Trinh

Today's read dives into ancient warrior fighting (a favorite of mine), family, Vietnam culture, and elementary/middle school problems. This, I believe, is going to be a three book series, and I got my hands on book two. Nope, I didn't read the first one...because I seldom do that (it seems). This is a chapter book and meant for the slightly older end of that age group...so those with a good handle on their words.

Ready to kick and head into school yard adventure?

The Nguyen Kids, Book 2
by Linda Trinh
Illustrated by Clayton Nguyen
Annick Press
Chapter Book
128 pages
ages 6 to 9

OCTOBER 18th!!!

I touch my earrings and feel a rush of wind. I can almost hear Grandma Nội’s laughter through them.

In Book 2, spontaneous and energetic Liz, the middle Nguyen sibling, is determined to prove she is just as important and brave as the fierce Trung Sisters, freedom fighters in ancient Vietnam that she learned about from Grandma Nội. That is, until the new boy at school threatens her plans by stealing her best friend and excluding her because she’s a girl. But Liz finds help and a powerful reminder of her Vietnamese heritage where she least expects it—in her Grandma Nội’s pearl earrings. By harnessing their mysterious power, Liz decides to show Michael exactly what girls are capable of.

You can find it:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59880644-the-power-of-the-pearl-earrings

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Power-of-the-Pearl-Earrings-Linda-Trinh-Clayton-Nguyen/9781773217116

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1773217119


Note: I did not get a chance to read the first book in the series, but this wasn't an issue since it was no problem to dive right into the tale. Reading it as a series would have offered some background information, however, so I would tend to start with book one. Also, the copy I received did not have the illustrations, yet.

This tale takes a look at Liz, who is the middle child of three siblings, loves ancient freedom fighters, and comes from Vietnam heritage. She enjoys playing fighter with her best friend and is delighted when two new kids arrive in her class, but her joy ends soon. The new boy makes fun of her, is great at everything, and steals her best friend, starting an all boys club with him. Luckily, Liz has her Grandma's earrings because if she can figure out how their power works, she might be able to get everything sorted out again.

Liz is an energetic girl with a huge imagination and big heart. She struggles a bit with her position as the middle sibling and tries to make herself independent from her older sister, while irritated that her baby brother gets quite a bit of attention. Her popularity at school is understandable since she is a ball of sunshine, despite these issues, and has tons of fun. The Vietnam culture is also woven in very naturally and introduces young readers to different aspects. I especially enjoyed the addition of traditions, beliefs, and such. There's always something happening in the tale, and it's interesting to see how Liz will handle it all.

There are tons of messages packed into this read, which snuggle in with the plot. First, there's racism, which Liz's aunt faces with her customers, and Liz does make a statement herself towards others, which falls into this category. Then, there's the boys looking down on girls. There's the middle child syndrome. She has problems with her best friend alienating her and turning against her. We can't forget the bullying, and then, there's a 'new' kid issue as well. All of this wraps into the short read, ignoring the saying that 'less is often more'. While the story and Liz are cute, the messages gave the read the feel of a book on a mission and didn't explore or round some of them up as well as it could have.  Add, at times, choppy writing flow, and it slid a bit short of its potential. 

Still, I can recommend it. It's a cute read, and Liz is an awesome character. Despite the rough areas, the rest flows well and is entertaining. Liz's love for martial arts is inspiring, her warmth toward others is inviting, and it is a fun tale in so many ways. I recommend giving this one to those who are almost ready to cross the border from chapter books to middle grade reads and do think readers will enjoy it.

And here they are...

LINDA TRINH is a Vietnamese Canadian author who writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She explores identity, cultural background, and spirituality. Her work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines. She lives with her family in Winnipeg.

CLAYTON NGUYEN is an illustrator and animation student at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Review: The Scarlet Letter (Manga Classics) by Nathaniel Hawthorne

As my followers know, I do try to sneak in graphic novels whenever I can ,since these do resonate with young readers and are one of the first sections my own kids visit. One criticism I've run across on the graphic novel front is that kids aren't hitting 'real literature'. So, when I stumbled across this series, I couldn't dare pass it up. It takes the classics (a huge range) and has transposed them into graphic novel form. In the series, everything from Pride and Prejudice to Dracula to The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin to Romeo and Juliet to...well, it just goes on and on.

I'm assuming the next question might be, 'Can a manga do a classic justice?' Well, let's find out! 

Manga Classics
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
re-written by Crystal S Chan
Illustrated by SunNeko Lee
Inked by Morpheus Studios
Manga Classics
YA Classic
308 pages

Nathaniel Hawthorne's powerful tale of forbidden love, shame and revenge comes to life in this manga presentation of the classic story. When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child, she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in a Puritan community during the Colonial American period, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless. This beautiful manga retelling of Hawthorne's classic American novel is faithfully adapted by Crystal S. Chan and features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into this tragic saga of Puritan America.



Remaining amazingly true to the original novel, the illustrations and dialogue bring new life to a classic and allow the tale to resonate with another branch of readers.

The story is as anyone whose read the book already knows—Hester Prynne gives birth to an illegitimate child and must face the town's wrath, hate, and gossip during Colonial times in a Puritan community. And this manga brings exactly this tale across, staying very true to the original. 

First, for those who are new to the manga world, there are instructions on how to approach this type of novel (as they are read in a different direction than our Western world is accustom to). Then, it starts with the writer's finding of his ancestor's notes, which inspires him to recapture Hester's tale. I was wondering how all of this would flow...whether it would be lighter, changed, different atmosphere and such. But this is a very serious read, which brings across the exact same atmosphere, scenes, characterization and circumstances. 

The settings and scenes, of course, pick up mostly in the illustrations, and these do a great job at making the time visual while keeping it simple. Little details like Hester's 'A' poke forward with a subtle intensity to make the scenes and importance sit. I was also impressed at how well the emotions and characters are brought across. The illustrator takes care to capture each one with the right features and let their personalities shine without over doing it, either. The dialogue did meld a bit away from the original, but only in the sense that it was easier to read and understand. I even found this aspect well done.

Of course, classic lovers and those, who really want to dive into the novel, will probably want to grab up the original, but this form does a great job at offering a slightly different point of view without altering the main strings. It is easier to digest and is even worth a peek from those, who do adore the original novel. To say that it is probably more inviting for the younger audience is, in my opinion, a given. 

After reading this one, I'm more than curious to dive into the other manga classics in the series.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, Wind, Ocean, Grass by Karen A Wyle!

 Today's read is great for a mid-week pause. It invites to a second of relaxation while enjoying art and a poetic tale surrounding the wind, water and grass. I've enjoyed other works from this author and had a feeling this one might win me over again. So, let's take a look.

by Karen A Wyle
Illustrated by Tomasz Mikutel
Oblique Angles Press
Picture Book
50 pages
ages 4 to 8

This unique picture book has neither human nor animal characters, but instead features the wind speaking to the grass, explaining how long grasses are both like and unlike the waves of the ocean. Through lyrical prose and breathtaking impressionist-style paintings, the reader follows the wind’s journey over sea and land: the many moods of the ocean, the different seasons of the grassy field. We see glimpses of the birds that live off the bounty of the ocean, and the birds and flowers that live among the grasses.

Through this nature metaphor, the story, without becoming didactic, teaches children about seeing commonality and celebrating differences.



Beautifully illustrated and poetically written, this read embraces nature and blows along with the atmosphere of an ancient tale.

The wind speaks to the grass, and soon, the comparison to the ocean begins. The wind tells of its observations, comparing one to the other with the similarities and differences. The entire text takes on a poetic tone, which snuggles in with the painting styled illustrations. The two harmonize together to create an inviting, artistic atmosphere, which will even grab older readers.

The text is well down and flows wonderfully. While the vocabulary is well set for the age group, the metaphors and meanings do need a bit more maturity than most younger readers/listeners will have. Slightly older ones will pick-up on this end better, and it's a lovely way to introduce the audience to this more insightful way of thought. It can be used to lead into discussions and questions as to the meanings and thoughts behind some of the phrases in a classroom, group, or homeschooled setting as well.

But ignoring the learning possibilities, this book is beautifully created. Each illustration is a piece of art, and while some will grab the attention of younger readers better than others, the scenes do a wonderful job at portraying various aspects of grass and water in nature. Adults will appreciate this aspect as well.

It's a gentle read with the flow of an ancient tale as the wind takes on the narration. The phrases calm and the scenes do invite for a deeper glance, making it a lovely read for the right listener.

You can learn more about Karen A. Wyle and her other works here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Review: Rock Star Recess by Patrick Bagatta

Today's read swings into imagination and recess fun. I picked up this one because my own kids were School of Rock and Fancy Nancy fans. Plus, that cover is vibrant and energetic and so packed with promised chaos that it screams over-the-top entertainment. Since most picture book tend toward calmer tones, this one definitely catches attention. But lets just go ahead and see what it's about.

by Patrick Bagatta
Illustrated by Emily Mullock
Union Square Press
Picture Book
40 pages 
ages 4 to 8

School of Rock meets Fancy Nancy in this exuberant story about rock n' roll dreams colliding with the reality of elementary school.
Elsie’s music class has played Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star too many times, and she wants to try something new. When her music teacher suggests she “rock on her own time,” Elsie devises a plan. It’s recess, and the playground will make a great venue. Soon she and her best friends are setting up a stage. In true rock-star fashion, their band enlists classmates to help with hair and makeup, special effects, and security. They even host a press conference and an autograph session! Elsie has thought of everything to throw the most epic of recess rock concerts . . . or has she?


The amazing powers of imagination hit full-force, engulfing everything (as a kid's does) to form the best reality ever.

Still caught up in the joy of singing during class, Elsie knows exactly how to spend recess. Her and her friends are going to perform a rock concert. Thirty minutes seems short, but Elsie and her group have everything under control. Soon, make-up, autographs, stage crews, management and more are churning full-gear...until she realizes they forgot something extremely important.

Elise is a ball of energy...or maybe, calling her a small tornado is more appropriate. She's bursting with ideas and determination, and it's hard not to get caught up in her excitement. Her two friends stand at her side, offering words of advice and jumping into the swirl with as much commitment as Elsie. It's an atmosphere packed with positive vibes, energy, and drive to inspire and make a listener/reader smile.

Of course, this is completely over the top and impossible in any twist of reality, except for the imagination. But any child with an active one will know (and their parents, who try to get their attention) that the world disappears. So, while some scenes made me raise an eyebrow, I remembered my own 'spy adventures' as a kid and can only say that these pages hit spot on. The writing is very natural and slides some comments in for a tiny bit of food for thought along the way. 

And there's the message, which rides through like a show, but then, this is about a show. It's not preachy and simply rounds off the story, while staying present enough to be noticed. 

This is a cute read, which will grab attention when read-aloud or revisited by the reader to gaze at the vibrant illustrations. I don't see this one as being one to read again and again and again, but it's definitely worth a fun visit and could make a nice start to a series. I can imagine that Elsie and her friends have quite a few more ideas waiting to be placed into action.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Review: Oceans of Love by Janet Lawler

I'm switching the read, which was supposed to appear today, over to tomorrow...simply because this weekend was SO busy that I didn't get enough side-time to pick up a little longer book. So, peek by tomorrow to see the middle grade read about recess and rock stars. 

Today's read swims into the underwater world and motherly love. I picked it up because I had a feeling the illustrations alone would already make this one enjoyable. Plus, motherly love is always a theme to snuggle up with and enjoy.

So, grab those snorkels and let's see what this book holds. 

by Janet Lawler
Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
Random House
Viking Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 8 to 12

A beautiful watercolor celebration of the love between ocean mamas and their babies, big and small.

From whales and dolphins, to hermit crabs and jellyfish, the ocean is filled with many different creatures. Join them on this imaginary undersea journey as ocean mamas care for their babies, each in their own special way! Because one thing is universal: there's no other love like that between mamas and their little ones.

With bright and beautiful watercolor illustrations comes this tender and heartwarming celebration of all the different mamas and babies you can find, especially those that live under the sea.



The world under the ocean's surface swims in motherly love and introduces more than a few adorable creatures.

Motherly love is the main theme in these pages, but it takes a new spin as it heads into the deeper waters of the sea. The entire books is written in rhyme, which flows well and makes it works nicely as a read-aloud. The text amount and vocabulary is just right for the age group. There's just enough to set the scene and allow the reader to then, settle into the illustrations. 

The illustrations are my favorite part of this read. It's a mix of playful imagination and reality. The sea life stays close enough to the true appearances to give readers/listeners a good idea of what they look like, and make them recognizable. But they receive eyes and slightly playful forms to make them endearing and cute. This makes each scene fun to visit and allows readers to probably discover several new creatures they've never seen before.

The idea of motherly love hits every page and, yet, it's gentle. These moms help, protect, and play with their young but because of the settings, the 'motherly love' slides into the atmosphere more than being at the forefront. The last page makes up for this with a mother-child embrace. 

It's an adorable read and especially nice for all of those sea life fans out there.

There's also a free coloring sheet to go along with the tale on Janet's website

You can learn more about Janet Lawler at her website :  http://www.JanetLawler.com

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Review: Little Wanderers: The Everlasting Seasons by I.K. Silver

I'm always thrilled to discover well-written reads from self-publishers or smaller presses, and today's read fits that category. I'll admit that the cover didn't quite ring with me, but the author was so sweet and the blurb so grabbing that I decided to give it a go. And I'm glad I did. 

Little Wanderers #1
by I.K. Silver
Middle Grade Fantasy
240 pages
ages 8 to 12

Snowy is a tiny dwarf leading an almost normal life in the village of never-ending winter. Aside from the ever-dreary sky, living next to rowdy neighbors, and being treated like a child, nothing seems to pose a challenge.

All that changes when rumors about Snowy breaking a taboo spread. Disheartened at what he deemed betrayal and feeling stuck in his village, Snowy sneaks out to look for Originem, a village where misfortune befalls no one. However, the aftermath exceeds his wildest expectations.

Snowy finds himself in a magical world, suddenly dealing with the quaintest of things, from singing fruits and a wizard cat to dark woods (brimming with vicious beasts) and other villages locked in one season. But to reach his destination, Snowy, and his new friend, Kokoro, must first solve the mysteries surrounding the villages of everlasting seasons, as the secret that connects them may threaten their very existence


Snowy is a dwarf, living in a village of endless snow, but there has always been endless snow. No one leaves the village, and those who did long ago never returned. But Snowy wants to know what's beyond the village and sneaks out to discover the world. What he discovers is more than just a little adventure.

This is a richly written fantasy with many engaging characters, wonderful dialogue, and an adventure to get lost in. The writing flows very well, dancing between a pinch of humor, emotions, action, and imagination in just the right way to keep readers in the pages. It is interesting and fun to meet each character as Snowy comes up against the most amazing creatures and situations. Of course, there are lessons to be learned, but these flow right with the tale.

I enjoyed the writing quite a bit and easily was caught up in Snowy's adventures. The author does a good job at making the characters really come to life, and their decisions sit. I was missing a bit more details in the world building end, but it was already a rich, character driven world. So, I'm being nit-picky on that end. The only true 'wondering' thoughts I have go along with the intended reading level and audience. This story is very adventurous and does speak to the middle grade audience, but the vocabulary is a little high for the lower end of this age group, while some parts of the story and its playfulness fit more snuggly with the younger end. I do see this one as a great read-aloud and believe it's the perfect read for those bedtime or rainy-day stories, since the reader could really make this one come to life. It's definitely a wonderful world, and I do hope to see Snowy again in the future.

And here she is...

I.K. Silver is the author of Little Wanderers middle-grade fantasy series. The first book in the series, Little Wanderers: The Everlasting Seasons, was released in 2021. I.K. Silver is currently working on the second book in the series (Little Wanderers: The Rose of Many Colours). As I.K. Silver is fond of nature, cats, and magic, you’ll find that reflected in her writing.

Website: https://www.littlewanderersbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlewanderersbookseries

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IKSilver7

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/i.k.silver

Friday, May 13, 2022

Review: Ghosts in the Closet by PJ McIlvaine

The moment I read the blurb on today's read, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It's a historical paranormal set in the US directly after the Titanic tragedy. And yep, the main character is a survivor of the catastrophe. She's also very wealthy, which adds a different twist on the usual characters, who need to fight their way up. But with everything going on...and that in such a short read...this character has enough to deal with as it is.

Ready for some mystery, spooks, murder and history? 

A Gripping Historical Mystery with Hints of the Paranormal
Violet Yorke, Gilded Girl
by PJ McIlvaine
Darkstroke Books
Young Adult Historical / Paranormal
141 pages

She sees ghosts…but are they malevolent or friendly?

Poor little rich girl Violet Yorke has seen ghosts for as long as she can remember, but no one believes her.

Not stodgy Grandmother, who took charge of the heiress after her parents were killed in a failed robbery. Nor kind-hearted Aunt Nanette, or Uncle Bertie, a charming rogue. Not even the patient Hugo Hewitt, Violet’s godfather and trustee of her vast fortune.

Everyone dismissed the child’s insistence about ghosts as a harmless eccentricity—until the night her bedroom caught fire. Violet was promptly sent overseas, fueling her anger and resentment.

Two years later, a rebellious twelve-year-old Violet is on her way back to Manhattan on the doomed Titanic. As the ship sinks into the deep Atlantic Ocean, she’s put in a lifeboat by an apparition who rescued her from the clutches of a jewel thief. Presumed lost at sea, Violet shocks everyone by crashing her own funeral.

Following Violet’s recovery, Grandmother has grand high society designs for the girl, but Violet has other ideas. She’s determined to uncover the secret of what really happened to her parents. Then there’s the mystery of the moon-faced boy at gloomy Dunham Hall and his connection to the ghost on Titanic. Also hot on Violet’s trail is the jewel thief, the specter of her murdered governess, and a vengeful ghost lurking in Violet’s childhood home.

Being a poor little rich girl in 1912 Gotham isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in this delightfully dark and droll supernatural historical fantasy.



American history weaves with mystery and a pinch of the paranormal to form a gripping and intriguing read.

After a very adventurous trip with the Titanic, which left her a couple days in a hospital, Violet finally reaches her grandmother to find that they are in the middle of her, Violet's, funeral, since she was missing and presumed her dead. While Violet might have survived the historic wreck, she's wrapped into a deeper scheme, which has followed her since leaving the harbors of Europe. Not only does someone want her mother's jewels, but there's a murderer on the loose. Add a ghost, who may or may not have ill-intentions, and the mystery is anything but simple...as is the danger.

The blurb hooked me on this one, and I'm glad it did. The author does a wonderful job at bringing a historical time period to life, while creating a grabbing tale. The first pages already plunge into intrigue and adventure as Violet makes her way through a city alone, encounters her first dangers, and all of that to end up at a huge funeral. Even with all of this going on, the details of the historical setting are knitted in here and there. These portray life at the time without ever going into wordy descriptions, but rather, bring the details across right along with the quick-paced plot. Add that the characters each have enough back-story and depth to make them interesting, and this read packs quite a bit...especially since it remains under 150 pages.

I was surprised at how well this read rounds everything off while keeping to the length. There are quite a few characters, several sub-plots, and the mystery is definitely not easy to guess. Even Violet has enough personality to keep the reader invested. There was only one aspect which distracted me, and that was by no means enough to ruin the read. 

When I picked this one up, I thought it was a stand-alone or first in a new series, but when I started reading, there were always bits and pieces mentioned about Violet's trip on the Titanic, and I was convinced that I'd misunderstood and, actually, was reading the 2nd or 3rd book in a series. I was still going to mention that this one works as a stand-alone, since it still flows well and isn't hard to follow. After reading it, I discovered that there aren't any other books leading up to it, and that this Titanic part of Violet's life really is only mentioned when necessary...which is too bad, since there are attacks, attempted kidnapping, disappearances, ghosts, unexplained happenings, and much more, which supposedly happens during that time. So, it always felt like a part of the story was missing...which, in a way, is positive because I did intend to go back and pick it up. Too bad that's not possible.

This is definitely a well-done read and will thrill mystery fans, who love historical settings. It's quick, hard to guess, and flips time back into a rich setting.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Review: Greedy the Crow by Mother Melania


Fearless and Friends, Book 2
by Mother Melania
Illustrated by Cayce Marie Halsell
Picture Book
36 pages
ages 3 to 8

Greedy the Crow's greedy ways are going to get him in trouble! Will anybody help him?



With fun characters, this tale weaves in a wonderful moral lesson, while taking on the atmosphere of a classical tale.

It's Fire Awareness time, and Fearless is making his rounds from house to house to make sure his friends are aware of fire hazards and prepared if anything should happen. Each friend has very different living circumstances, but all seem to meet the needed standards. Except for crow. He loves to collect shiny things and this might be a problem.

This read has a bit more text than some picture books, which makes it a lovely read-aloud (I could really see this one as a lovely audiobook) or a great read for those who have a better handle on their words. The tale is interesting, and the characters each have very distinct and memorable personalities. Fearless is always kind and polite, and even Crow and Fearless get along...despite Crow's issues. There's always something happening and even moments where I could see a group of kids whispering and giggling as Fearless doesn't notice something. So, it is a lovely read.

The illustrations are well done and let each animal's characteristics come across nicely. They make the danger of fire hazards and hoarding clear.

The message is clear and, yet, flows right with the story, keeping it from coming across as overly preachy. Add the worksheets and vocabulary, which is also included, and this is even one for homeschoolers or those who want to work on their reading skills.


Special Bonus!

Clink on the Link to Download Capers and Harry: High Climbing and other great children’s books:



And here she is...

Mother Melania is the Abbess of Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, CA. Her parents would read to her until they were hoarse. It is only natural for her to grow up to write the Fearless and Friends book series, which teaches values to children in a fun way:


Capers and Harry: High Climbing: Capers the Cat gets stuck in a tree, but is too vain to admit it. Can Fearless the Fire Duck and Harry the Hound rescue their friend?


Greedy the Crow: Finders Keepers: Greedy the Crow's greedy ways are going to get him in trouble! Will anybody help him?


Mimi the Mynah: It's All Mine!: Mimi knows two words - "me" and "mine." When disaster strikes the Duck Pond, will she finally learn a new word?


Bluster Blue Jay: Not My Fault!: Bluster Blue Jay is not the easiest bird to be around. Nothing ever works for him, but it's never HIS fault! When he joins Fearless and Grateful on their camping trip, can they be patient with him? And will he learn a lesson about accepting blame? Join them and find out!


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