Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Review: Bizzy Bear: Train Engineer by Nosy Crow and Benji Davies

After yesterday's review for older readers (and even adults), we're taking a huge swing back in the other direction. I do have a soft spot of board books, and this little bear looked adorable. Plus, trucks and cars and all those wonderful things bring smiles on many young readers' faces. So, obviously, I was going to take a look at this one. It's scheduled for release beginning March.

Ready for a peek? 

by Nosy Crow
Illustrated by Benji Davies
Nosy Crow
Board Book
8 pages
ages 0 to 4

Come along for a train ride with Bizzy Bear in this board book full of sliders to push, pull, and turn.

Join Bizzy Bear as he guides the big green steam engine across the city, through the level crossing, and then up into the high mountains. But where are he and his passengers going, and will they get there on time?

GOODREADS   /    AMAZON    /   B&N


With lots of pull, push, and rotate fun, this cute book lets the excitement surrounding trains come to life.

Bizzy Bear is a train engineer. Right away on the cover, young readers can already pull a tab and watch the train grow from an engine to one pulling a car with passengers. Every page holds a new surprise as Bizzy Bear travels around to all sorts of different places.

Not only train fans will enjoy this book. First, Bizzy Bear is simply an adorable bear, and each of his friends are portrayed as kind and inviting. The joy is visible thanks to the bright and very detailed illustrations. So, this is definitely a book with good vibes...even the ending packs a lovely surprise. The various sliders and twists are well built and will withstand some abuse. Plus, the details will have listeners coming back again and again just to investigate the scenes and find something new.

The entire thing is written in short rhyme. The one phrases is repeated every time, making this one listeners will 'read along' with. The word choice is appropriate for the age group and easy to understand. It's a book to enjoy from beginning to end.

Sneak Peek: Snow and Red by Eileen Mueller and A.J. Ponder with Giveaway!


by Eileen Mueller & A.J. Ponder
Dragon Shifters’ Hoard, #1
January 13th 2022
YA Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy


Snow & Red have always had strange powers. When they collide with the Draki twins, their lives explode.

Red’s always liked playing with fire, and Snow’s so frosty, she’s nicknamed the Ice Queen. Mom’s warned them not to use their powers. To be careful not to reveal they’re freaks.

But when Snow and Red sneak out at night to have fun, they have no idea of the dangerous world they’re about to get dragged into—a world of dragon shifters, mages and deadly Fae.

Snow and Red are attacked in an alley by a local gang. They instinctively react with fire and ice. Two buff guys swoop in to rescue them. Insanely attractive, with shimmering gold and silver tattoos on their faces and arms, the Draki twins may be more dangerous than the girls’ attackers.

As the girls get to know them, they’re drawn deeper into the deadly underworld simmering beneath the thin veneer of Pinevale.

Snow and Red is the first heart-pounding adventure in the Dragon Shifters’ Hoard YA paranormal romance series. If you love sizzling attraction, magic, urban fantasy and dragon shifters, pre-order your next exciting adventure today.

Goodreads / Amazon


Red whirled to help Snow, fire racing through her veins. A guy yanked her leather backpack—hard. He lunged toward her. Red-hot anger flashed through her. She flung a hand up to defend herself. Flames sprang from her fingertips and shot out. Fire licked along the thug’s sleeve.

He screamed, dropping her arm, and backed off, batting at his jacket. The stench of burning fabric jammed up Red’s nose.

Snow wasn’t doing much better. Her clothes were glittering with ice as she dodged and kicked at a guy slashing at her with a wicked curved blade. “Red!”

A tall guy grabbed Red by the shoulders and slammed her against a building. Her head whacked the bricks. Sharp pain lanced through her skull. She struck out with her foot and kicked him in the shin.

He swore. A knife flashed, angling toward her neck.

She ducked, heart racing. Gods, were she and Snow going to die tonight in a stinking alley? She’d felt so alive, with fire running through her veins. And they’d just found that photo of Dad. They were onto something, she was sure.

“Give me your purse, lady.” The man’s leering eyes and stinking attitude made Red want to burn his face off.

Red’s legs trembled. Her feet were shaking. No, the ground itself was shaking. Wow, that was some weird anxiety reaction. Or maybe someone had spiked her juice while she’d been dancing. Surely not. They’d been with Snow’s cute I.T. guy and friends from school.

“So, think you can play with fire?” the tall man sneered, his blade at her throat. He had the cutest baby blues. And a face that could belong to an angel. Not much good when a guy was holding you at knife point.

Red gulped.

A rumble filled the air and two large dark figures in leather hoodies dashed down the alley. Another tremor ran through the ground. An earthquake at a time like this—whaddaya know, hyper crazy. What else could go wrong tonight?

One of the dark figures ran at them and swung a punch at the man holding the knife. The puncher’s fist, covered with gold tattoos, flashed past Red and connected with Angelface’s nose. There was a crunch. Angelface crumpled to his knees. His knife skittered across the asphalt and clanked against a trash can.

The dude in a leather hoodie towered over Angelface, his face deep in the folds of his hood.

Had the earth moved for him, too?

A freak gust of wind blasted the alley. The other hooded stranger tackled the thug harassing Snow.

The thug hit the ground, then rolled away and scrambled to his feet. “It’s the Draki twins. Let’s get out of here.” He raced off, two more of his gang following him.

The man who’d thrown the punch dragged Angelface up by the scruff of his neck and held him against the wall. “What did you want with these girls?” he growled. Dark hair peeked from the edge of his hood.

The other guy in the leather hoodie, a blond, crowded in, cracking his knuckles.

“Uh, n-nothing. Mr. Sparkles sent us.”

Snow dashed over to Red, clutching her flimsy purse against her body. Ice rimmed the hem of her sequined tank. She was shaking, lips white with rage.

The hoods were too busy questioning Angelface to notice.

Red grabbed Snow’s hand. “Come on. Let’s get outta here,” she hissed.

Snow blinked. “Who are they?” she asked. “The guys in the hoods? And that pretty gang? I mean, all those boys were so good looking it was crazy.”

So, she’d noticed their looks too. “Whoever they are, they’re dangerous as hell.” Red pulled Snow’s arm. “Let’s get to the car.” Together, they raced along the dingy alley past trash cans and dumpsters.

“Hey!” Boots pounded behind them. The two hoodies were on their heels.

And here she is...

Eileen Mueller is a USA Today-bestselling and multiple-award-winning author of heart-pounding fantasy novels that will keep you turning the page. Dive into her worlds, full of magic, love, adventure and dragons! Eileen lives in New Zealand, in a cave with her dragonets. She writes action-packed tales for young adults, children and everyone who loves adventure.

Visit her website for Eileen’s FREE books and new releases, follow Eileen on Amazon and BookBub and become a Rider of Fire in her Facebook group!

USA Today bestselling author A.J. Ponder has a head full of monsters, and recklessly spills them out onto the written page. Beware dragons, dreadbeasts, taniwha, and small children—all are equally dangerous, and capable of treading on your heart—or tearing it, still beating, from your chest.

Visit A.J. at ponderbooks.com or join A.J.’s mailing list to discover new releases and secret stories. Follow A.J. on Amazon and BookBub.


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Monday, January 17, 2022

Review: 2000 AD Encyclopedia by Scott Montgomery

I did think about classifying today's review as a Mommy and Daddy's Day post, but I know there are tons of YA readers out there, who love these comics. I, myself, am not a comic guru, but it'd be wrong to not admit that these tales shape the reading world and beyond as much as any novel does. And since this one packs a ton of information on that end for the 2000 AD world, I'm more than happy to present it today. (It comes out next month, btw)

Ready for a lot...and I do mean a lot...of comic adventure?

by Scott Montgomery
2000 AD
Comic Encyclopedia
332 pages

FEBRUARY 22nd!!!

From A.B.C. Warriors to Zenith ! Meticulously researched and compiled for comics fans everywhere, the 2000 AD Encyclopedia is the essential fact compendium to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic!

What are the essential Judge Dredd stories? In which progs did The Ballad of Halo Jones run? What year was the first appearance of Nemesis the Warlock? Just who are the Thrillsuckers? Look no further, Earthlets! Every strip and major character from 2000 AD’s trailblazing 45 year history is catalogued and detailed, accompanied by stunning artwork and illustrations. With this show-stopping hardcover collection, must-read characters and storylines from across the cosmos are at your fingertips!



This is a must have for all 2000 AD fans out there, which include Judge Dredd, Rouge Trooper, Strontium Dogg, Slaine and Tank Girl. It covers 44 years of goodness, and believe it or not, 40 featured characters are found on the cover alone. 

To say this book is packed is an understatement. It starts out with a list of the characters in alphabetical order and on which page to find them. That list alone made me head spin. Each one is highlighted with their background, story importance, appearances, tidbits, and more. If a comic fan needs information or a bit of clarification, this book definitely will fill any gaps and more. Plus, there are other historical facts and interesting bits of information thrown in to give this one a very, all-around, information flair.

The characters are illustrated and presented in their original and well-known style. Thanks to the tons of information, the graphics, while well done, don't have full-page displays, which would really knock this one out of the park...but it would make a colossal sized tome, too. It is great to see each character and get to know them and revisit them. The writing does make each bit of information entertaining and fun to read. I never felt it was dry, and even I as a non-comic fan, was grabbed in and want to learn more. 

Fans of these comics will enjoy this book quite a bit and I can see it being an amazing present or surprise, too. So, yes, I can recommend this one and give the author a huge thumbs up.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Review: Max and the Isle of Sanctus by John Peragine


Secrets of the Twilight Djinn, Book Two
by John Peragine
YA Fantasy

In the second book of Secrets of the Twilight Djinn, Max Daybreaker embarks on all new adventures. Max must battle a Kraken, ride a fire-breathing dragon, and defeat the evil djinn whose powers are growing every day. The stakes are high for Max as he tries to protect his friends from angry sea gods and a vengeful sultan while also saving his mom from a terrible curse! Max must reach the Isle of Sanctus using his unpredictable magic power and foes on all sides before time runs out.



After reading the first one in this series and enjoying it quite a bit, I was looking forward to where Max's adventures would take him next. This is the 2nd novel in the series and is best read as such, since it starts where book one left off.

Max now has powers, a crew, and is off to more adventure and figuring things out. There's a huge cast of intriguing characters, which was a bit much for book one, but here, the previous footwork pays off and every single one shines. I have my personal favorites, but every one has quirks and adds to the tale. Thanks to Max's continuing inability to always judge people correctly...a part of his character arc...it's also hard to sometimes judge whether those he meets or befriends are truly trustworthy or not. This, of course, adds to the already high tension and adds some unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Like book one, there is something always going on with never a dull moment. Now, that the world building is well placed thanks to the first book, this one can really flow along plot and excitement. It makes for an easy read, which is hard to put down, and promises so much more excitement the book to come.

Fantasy fans, who love djinn, magic, adventure, high seas, family, friends, and tons more are sure to enjoy this one from beginning to end.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Review: Hardcourt by Fred Bowen

Today's review heads into the world of sports...mainly basketball. Young readers love books about sports (as I hear over and over again from school librarians and kids). So, when I got my hands on this one, I was thrilled. Am I a sports' fan? Well, I've played quite a few sports and been on various teams over the years, but to say I'm a fan of any sport in particular...uh, no. Not really. This book definitely held all sorts of information, and I learned quite a bit.

But read on to find out more!

JANUARY 18th!!!

Stories from 75 Years of The National Basketball Association
by Fred Bowen
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Middle Grade Sports Non-Fiction
112 pages
ages 8 to 12

Celebrate seventy-five years of the NBA in this exciting and beautifully illustrated middle grade account of the legendary athletes, coaches, and teams that changed basketball forever and created a national phenomenon enjoyed by millions today.

The National Basketball Association is the biggest league for one of the nation’s most beloved sports. Played in massive stadiums by athletes who are now household names, with millions of fans around the world, basketball has truly become a global phenomenon. But it didn’t always exist the way we know it now.

Follow basketball from its humble beginnings as a casual indoor pastime played in gyms and colleges through its evolution for seventy-five years of hardcourt history. The NBA gained legions of fans thanks to the introduction of rules like the three-point line and the twenty-four second clock, and teams such as the Harlem Globetrotters, who paved the way for desegregated teams. Discover the story of the legendary Olympic Dream Team of 1992 and beloved players like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James, along with the early game-changers who made basketball what it is today.

With the expert storytelling of veteran sportswriter Fred Bowen and stunning full-page illustrations from award-winning artist James E. Ransome, experience the biggest and best basketball league in the world, the NBA.



Well-written facts and history accompanied by bright and engaging illustrations make this a book to get lost in.

From the very first thoughts of founding a professional basketball team, these pages follow the history of basketball from it's first moments onwards. Hitting upon the development of  the game by a gym teacher with peach baskets, various important moments, personalities, problems and successes of the sport over time are presented and explained. The book is divided into 'quarters' and various chapters under those. At the end of the book, there are several lists of teams, individuals and such, which are great for those who like more exact numbers and details.

I enjoyed the comprehensive view these pages take on the history of the NBA, since it reaches further than just the famous individuals and feats surrounding the league, but includes the history which affected it. It centers around the struggles and intriguing solutions, which kept the dream of basketball alive and brought the NBA to where it is today. This includes organization beyond the NBA and shows how the efforts of those not directly involved in the organization did influence the NBA and did help to keep it alive, directly or indirectly. It definitely gave me a deeper respect for the people behind the sport, and portrays the clever twists and turns used to keep spectators interested in the game...because it wasn't always clear the sport would go on.

The illustrations are very well done and allow the energy of the court to come across clearly. The faces of the individuals mentioned are recognizable and, yet, there's a nice artistic flair, too. But it's the text, which makes this one shine, since it brings across the facts in an interesting fashion...and that in an appropriate as well as easy to understand fashion for the intended age group. It never talks down to the reader, but actually, is one even some adults will enjoy picking up and flipping through.

And here they are...

Fred Bowen is the author of Gridiron and more than twenty additional children’s books about sports, and for the past twenty years has written the weekly KidsPost column in The Washington Post. Fred lives in Maryland with his family. Visit him at FredBowen.com.

James E. Ransome’s highly acclaimed illustrations for The Bell Rang, which he also authored, received the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. His other award-winning titles include the Coretta Scott King winner The Creation; Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s BarbershopSweet Clara and the Freedom QuiltBefore She Was Harriet, and Let My People Go, winner of the NAACP Image Award. He frequently collaborates with his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome. One of their recent titles is Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, which received four starred reviews and was an ALA Notable Children’s Book.  He lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley region with his family. Visit James at JamesRansome.com.