Monday, March 27, 2023

Today's read... Hello, Meadow! by Terry Pierce

If you're an outdoors family like we are, then you'll understand the already mounting urge to head outside and explore. Today's read is exactly about that. For the youngest readers out there, this one will introduce the world of meadows...but from what I understand, it's not about the facts surrounding meadows. Rather, it should be more inspiring and have a few other lessons along the way. But let's just head in and see what it's all about.

by Terry Pierce
Illustrated by Nadja Sarell
Yosemite Conservancy
Board Book
14 pages
ages to 5

APRIL 11th!!!

"We can help our meadows, too!"

Grassy, flower-filled meadows are really pretty! It’s oh-so tempting to hike and skip right through them. But meadows are actually fragile, and human footsteps and picnics can cause them harm—and then they cannot do their important work of providing habitat for creatures and plants, filtering water, and even storing carbon. The bouncy text and vibrant illustrations in this sturdy board book show little nature lovers how to easily protect meadows while enjoying one of Earth's loveliest features.



Nature, outdoor, and exploration fans discover the wonders of visiting a meadow in a way, which will have them wanting to head out and discover one themselves.

Written in rhyme, this is a little board book for the youngest readers out there and heads off into beautiful meadows. Each page offers a bright and radiant meadow scene, portraying the various aspects, which make meadows inviting, peaceful, and fun. Along the way, readers learn how they should behave to best preserve these beautiful areas.

This book is brought out by the Yosemite Conservancy and releases right on time for the up-coming months, when outdoor explorers head into nature to discover whatever they can. So, it's rather fitting to have this one center around ways to discover the beauty and variety of life, while preserving it for others to see...and letting it thrive. Each scene has two short, poetic phrases, which not only describe something wonderful about a meadow but add a tip to help conserve it. This includes everything from staying on the path to not picking flowers and beyond. The purpose of the book is clear, but the author has done a nice job at letting the amazing life and vibrant variety a meadow holds radiate from every page, too. While there aren't informational details as to what a person finds in a meadow, the broad view also will have young readers ready to head out and experience a meadow, too.

It's a bright, happy book, which promotes the preservation of meadows but also radiates the wonders a meadow has to offer. I know my little hikers would have packed this one into their packs to read again and again as we headed on our own little escapades. 


Sunday, March 26, 2023

Today's read... Shakti Girls by Shetal Shah

Poems of Inspiring Indian Women
by Shetal Shah
Illustrated by Kavita Rajput
Shakti Girls
Children's Picture Book Nonfiction / Poetry
32 pages
ages 4 to 10

From the globally well-known producer Mindy Kaling to the lesser-known freedom fighter Kasturba Gandhi, Indian women have been breaking ceilings and ushering in powerful change for decades. Learn 13 of their exceptional stories in Shakti Girls, where single rhyming poems illuminate each woman and reflect the diversity of India and its diaspora, including representations of over 10 different industries, such as women in science, politics, math, activism, sports, and more.



Through thirteen poems, readers are introduced to women from India, who have made accomplishments in everything from science, politics, sports, and more. Each poem covers the basic facts of the individual's life and accomplishments. At the bottom of the page, there's a short glossary of lesser known terms as well as a list of a few items to find in the following illustration of the individual. At the end of the book, there are several activities and puzzles surrounding the information.

I did enjoy the idea of placing the information into poetic form, since it makes it a little more digestible to the reader and not so dry. These aren't for the youngest readers out there but do work nicely for ages six and up. The added glossary is a great learning tool and does help with some more difficult terms. The illustrated portraits accompanying each one present each woman nicely and make it clear what her specialty is/was. If it wasn't for the item-search included, the background on these would be a little plain, but this adds a nice touch...not to mention the added entertainment factor. These aren't exactly difficult and do seem simple in comparison to the difficulty of the poems and information.

This is a lovely way to introduce readers to some important personalities from India and demonstrate how much women have achieved. It's also an inspiring read, which will help empower readers to strive toward their own goals.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Thorns at Sunrise by Janeen Ippolito with Giveaway!


by Janeen Ippolito
YA Fantasy / Romance


A young queen. Her imaginary friend. A kingdom on the verge of death.

She believes she’s crazy.

Queen Usilea has a secret–and he lives in her mind. Ever since she was six years old, her imaginary friend has been her closest companion, and her arranged marriage has been a great dread. When she learns her betrothed and the royal family have suddenly died, she feels obligated to attend the funeral in the foreign land of Absteph–and perhaps learn more behind their mysterious passing.

He only wants the truth.

Petar endures great pain to protect those he does not remember. His only solace is a shadowy woman who he loves–even though she denies that he exists. When a terrible tragedy occurs in his kingdom, that mysterious woman is his only hope of bringing justice to light. For the cage that imprisons him grows harsher every day, and he is losing the fight.

But there are thorns at sunrise.

Brought together on the barest thread of reality, Usilea and Petar must discover what really happened to the royal family. But Petar’s time is running out. Soon not even a Mender like Usilea will be able to save him.

This YA romance features a gender-swapped Sleeping Beauty in an original fantasy world on the brink of doom.

Goodreads / Amazon


Her imaginary friend was playing a new trick on her. This time, she would discern his meaning.

Usilea set down the quill on the paper, frowning at the words mocking her from the page. She pressed her lips together in thought. Thorns at sunrise? What could it mean? What was her mind trying to tell her?

“What do you think of my riddle?

As usual, the voice didn’t come from within her mind directly, but somewhere outside. Yet were she to glance around, all she would perceive is the vaguest sensation of shadow and soul in the periphery of her vision.

And so, she refrained from looking. Instead, she focused on the words she had written, words he had spoken into her mind at some point in the night.

I think … you’re afraid.

“And what am I afraid of, goldenbird?” Amusement teased the edges of his words. She had known her friend was a male since the first time they had met, whenever that had been. Sometime after her sixth year. “Tell me, you who know me so well.”

I know you as well as I might any figment of my imagination.

“Likewise. That is not the answer to the riddle.”

A sigh escaped her. Usilea leaned back in her cushioned chair and rubbed the tense area around her eyes. You are afraid of being lost. You are afraid of being found. You are afraid of darkness, and you are afraid of light.

No answer came from the voice in her mind. A faint smile curved her lips. He only withdrew like that when she was right and he was bewildered. She had learned that pattern over the years as they had conversed. He liked keeping his mysteries, while he equally delighted in unveiling the mysteries of others. A curious behavior for her imaginary friend.

A strange, stabbing sensation pierced through her musing.

What did it imply about her that her closest friend wasn’t real?

And here she is...

Janeen Ippolito writes about misfits who defy expectations, whether in fairy tale, steampunk fantasy, urban fantasy, humorous paranormal romance, or poetry. She also spreads wordtastic joy in her work as a fearless book strategist, nonfiction author, and coach. In her spare time, she swordfights and posts cute animal memes.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Friday, March 24, 2023

Review of... Once Upon A Legend by Mary Ting

 Okie dokie. I posted this one yesterday but was unable to read it and get up the review I'd planned to do. So, I'm making up for that now. 

Once Upon A Legend
Mary Ting
March 20th 2023
YA Fantasy


A story of love and a power that echoes through time.

A prophecy foretold by the Council.
A sword forged by the Ladies of the Lake.
A child born from love and the hope of thousands.

Seventeen-year-old Idrisa is a student from Dumont Orphan School. When the Emperor of Dumonia invites all citizens to a birthday gala for Prince Merrick, she attends and becomes entangled in a world beyond belief.

At the party, Idrisa begins to hear strange voices that urge her to go to the lake. A student from school follows and tries to kill her, but in the fight for her survival, Idrisa gains possession of an eternal sword—gifted by the Ladies of the Lake.

The Emperor demands it, but only Idrisa can wield the sword, so he imprisons her. Her only hope is Prince Merrick, but he is grieving the death of his mother and doesn’t care about anything happening around him.

While held captive, Idrisa uncovers secrets that challenge everything she thought she knew about Dumonia. Enemies and allies emerge when they hear news of the sword, and she must unlock the mystery of the weapon before darkness descends on the empire forever.

Goodreads / Amazon


I've read several works from this author and always look forward to see what's coming next. This time, her tale took an exciting, new direction.

Idrisa is an orphan and as normal as can be, or at least, so she thinks, since only royals and elites possess magic. But when she attends the kingdom-wide birthday gala of the prince, strange things begin to happen. Not only does she feel awful, but there's something pulling her toward the lake. Giving in, she follows the call and ends up with a powerful, mythical sword only she can wield. Her secret doesn't stay as such for long, and soon the king is doing what he can to gain possession of the sword himself.

This is the first book in a brand, new series (as it appears) and a great start. While the writing came across as a bit too flowery to me, at first, I soon found myself being pulled in by the characters. It's an exciting ride with tons of subplots, twists, intrigue, magic and more. While this is a type of King Arthur re-telling, it has a life of its own right along with an original world, characters and plot. I expected something more fitting for the original tale's setting, and I'm so glad the author followed her very own direction.

I can't wait to see where everything goes from here because it promises to be quite the ride.

And here she is....

Born in Seoul, Korea, author Mary Ting is an international bestselling, multi-gold award winning author. Her books span a wide range of genres, and her storytelling talents have earned a devoted legion of fans, as well as garnered critical praise. She is a diverse voice who writes diverse characters, often dealing with a catastrophic world.

Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.

Website / Facebook Page / Facebook Group / Twitter / Instagram / TikTok / Bookbub / Newsletter

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Today's read... Enly and the Buskin' Blues by Jennie Liu

Today's read is about a boy, who plays the melodica on the street for tips. And that definitely caught my interest. Firstly, a melodica is a wonderful instrument, which is so often forgotten...and I love learning about lesser-known things. Secondly, my older daughter was always looking for ways to make some extra change and often set up lemonade stands, juice stops, sold rocks from vacations, and whatever else she could think up. Let's just say that she kept our neighbors busy.
Anyway, let's dive in!

by Jennie Liu
Carolrhoda Books
Middle Grade Contemporary
208 pages
ages 9 - 13

Twelve-year-old Enly Wu Lewis is determined to go to band camp and follow in the footsteps of his musician father, who died years ago. But his mom, a single parent working two jobs, is saving every penny for his older brother's college tuition. So Enly sets out to earn the money for camp on his own, by busking with an obscure instrument he can only kind of play. When someone drops a winning scratch-off lottery ticket into his tip box, Enly thinks it's the answer to his problems--but he'll have to overcome teenage thieves and his own family if he wants to achieve his dreams.



This read has several refreshing twists, while promising a fun adventure with a few life lessons along the way.

Enly is determined to follow in his father's footsteps and become a talented pianist. To reach these dreams, he's sure he needs to attend a summer music camp, but his mother is already struggling financially to keep the family running after his father's death, making the $2800 fee impossible to round up. In hopes of making Enly and his brother's futures brighter, every extra penny goes toward Enly's brother's college savings. But Enly isn't about to give up. He uses the little money he has saved to purchase a melodica, a lesser-known instrument, and go busking. But playing on the streets for tips isn't as easy as it seems, especially when a tipped lottery ticket gets involved.

My musician heart warmed at a story about a boy, who's ready to do anything to reach his piano dreams, but even non-music-orientated readers will connect with the dream of joining a band and becoming a popular musician. Enly's determination is inspiring, especially since he takes realistic steps to reach his goal. Not only does it show that effort is needed to achieve goals, but also opens up to ideas of financial adventures such as lemonade stands and pet rock sales—entrepreneur hopes and dreams.

The characters are lovely. Not only does Enly come across as a normal kid with normal dreams and hopes, but even his friends and family have interesting personalities and goals of their own. The edition of the elderly 'friends' offered a nice twist, while opening up the door to awareness and still keeping things very fun and light. His mother's struggles show how frustrating parents can be but also demonstrates that there can be more behind their actions than first appears. But then, the family dynamics in general are well done.

There is also an exciting, unexpected adventure, which gives this tale an extra boost of tension and action. There are bad decisions, consequences, hope, desperation, and more as Enly has to figure out how to solve a difficult problem...and words of wisdom thrown in at the right time, show that there is also an easier way to go about things. So there are quite a few messages woven into the fun. 

And here she is...

Jennie Liu is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Having been brought up with an ear to two cultures, she has been fascinated with the attitudes, social policies and changes in China each times she visits. Follow her on Twitter @starnesliu and IG @jennieliuliu.