Friday, October 15, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Purgatory by Dirk Stevens!

I've got a Halloween treat for the 2nd review today. This one comes from a new author and caught my attention yesterday...on release day! It's short, thrilling, and completely unexpected...everything to make an amazing Halloween tale.

But go ahead and see for yourself.

by Dirk Stevens
YA/NA Paranormal
46 pages

Lil's single mistake ends her engagement, and her life. Now forced to haunt the man she loves, Lil struggles to find a way to keep him alive


Short, grabbing, and leaves off with a lingering impression...this is a short-tale, which fits the need for an engaging, thrilling, quick-evening read.

It was supposed to be a fun evening at a Halloween party with her finance and friends at her side, but when Lil runs into someone from her past, she makes a mistake, which ruins her life in an instant...and then, through a tragic event, death even steals that away. Left with tons of regret and the knowledge that all of this might be more than her beloved finance can take, she doesn't cross-over into the afterlife but hopes she can find a way to keep him from the decision she knows he'll make—joining her in death.

This tale takes place in early college years but is completely appropriate for the young adult audience and will even resonate with them as well as the older, new adult crowd. It starts out with older teen fun, Halloween, and a fraternity party, stringing along with usual teen drama. But the switch on this atmosphere flips when disaster hits, shifting the story onto an entirely different path. Emotions weave with secrets, spells, ghosts, and a hidden darkness in a way, which makes it easy to connect with the characters, while never knowing what will really happen next.

The author keeps the tale gripping from beginning to end, making this a story which can't be put down...nor does it need to at only forty-six pages. To say that the ending is unexpected and a treat is an understatement. It's great for a Halloween nibble or those who simply want a quick jaunt into a more gothic tale.

Review: Simon's Search for the Scary Dragon by Stephen G. Bowling

It's another packed review day with two books hitting the spotlight. With all of the holidays, I've been finding one amazing read after the other, and just couldn't turn some of them away. So, I let my review pile stack up to new heights (silly me!) and will just have to squeeze a few more in. 

Today's read caught my attention thanks to that beautiful cover. I love the dragon in the tree...or is it the tree? See? I was more than curious to see what this one would hold. 

And I'm going to keep my mouth shut, now, because everything else is in the review below.

by Stephen G. Bowling
Illustrated by Vitali Dudarenka
Valley of Mexico
Picture Book
25 pages
ages 4 to 8

Simon decides to find the Scary Dragon. What he finds may surprise you.

Simon, a young bird, has heard all the rumors about a Scary Dragon that flies around the barn. He decides to look for it and asks his barnyard friends if they have seen it. No one can help until the wise Owl tells him who might know. Will Simon find the Dragon? Will it be as scary as he has heard? Find out in Simon’s Search for the Scary Dragon, the second book in the illustrated Simon’s Tree House Adventure Series.



Gorgeous illustrations makes this cute adventure one to love and revisit again and again.

Simon has heard all sorts of rumors and whispers about a scary dragon as he spends his day flying around the farm. So, he's decided it's time to see it for himself. With a protective pop-bottle lid bound to his head, he heads on his quest to find the dragon, visiting the various animals along the way in hopes they may assist him. But he may not discover what he expected he would.

Can I just say I love the illustrations in this book? Honestly, these are enough (really that lovely) to gain a full five stars. These are done with love and detail and allow each scene to open up the door to Simon's world and adventure. I smiled at every one and could sink into them time and again. So, these alone would make this a book to keep on the shelves and read to each round of children which comes through.

Now, for the tale itself. It's a cute, sweet and very nice tale with traditional feel and a true story for the age group. There aren't any hidden agendas and makes a lovely read for story time. The entire thing is written in very clear rhyme. I wish it hadn't been, since this story could have worked very wonderfully without that. But for rhyme fans, it's a treat. There were one or two spots where it stumbled a tiny bit, but it was still enjoyable. 

Summed up, I'm a bit torn on this one...but just a tiny bit. The illustrations shoot this one into the 'must have' category, the tale and character go right in there with it, but the rhyming style wasn't quite my thing...although it does work and I have no doubt kids will enjoy it. So, thumbs up on this one.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Review: Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds

Today's read comes from one of my more favorite authors. While I've especially enjoyed poetry from him and some young adult reads, I was surprised to find this new venture. The blurb also caught my attention on this one—a superhero, whose superpower is to keep others super.

But I won't say anything else. Let's just dive in!

by Jason Reynolds
Illustrated by Raul the Third
Caitlyn Dloughy Books
Middle Grade Contemporary
272 pages
ages 8 to 12

NOVEMBER 30th!!!

From Newbery Medal honoree and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds comes a hilarious, hopeful, and action-packed middle grade novel about the greatest young superhero you’ve never heard of, filled with illustrations by Raúl the Third!

Portico Reeves’s superpower is making sure all the other superheroes—like his parents and two best friends—stay super. And safe. Super safe. And he does this all in secret. No one in his civilian life knows he’s actually…Stuntboy!

But his regular Portico identity is pretty cool, too. He lives in the biggest house on the block, maybe in the whole city, which basically makes it a castle. His mom calls where they live an apartment building. But a building with fifty doors just in the hallways is definitely a castle. And behind those fifty doors live a bunch of different people who Stuntboy saves all the time. In fact, he’s the only reason the cat, New Name Every Day, has nine lives.

All this is swell except for Portico’s other secret, his not-so-super secret. His parents are fighting all the time. They’re trying to hide it by repeatedly telling Portico to go check on a neighbor “in the meantime.” But Portico knows “meantime” means his parents are heading into the Mean Time which means they’re about to get into it, and well, Portico’s superhero responsibility is to save them, too—as soon as he figures out how.

Only, all these secrets give Portico the worry wiggles, the frets, which his mom calls anxiety. Plus, like all superheroes, Portico has an arch-nemesis who is determined to prove that there is nothing super about Portico at all.



This author never ceases to amaze me. Now, digging into the world of middle grade graphic books, he takes an every day kid, Portico, with every day problems and forms him into the most amazing superhero of all...and that with a ton of fun, humor, and reading surprises along the way.

Portico lives in the biggest house on the block, making it almost a castle. Kind of. He has lots of neighbors with quirks, enjoys his life, but suffers from the 'frets'...not only because his parents on the verge of a divorce. When one of his friends has him turn into a pretzel, he discovers his alter-ego, Stuntboy. Stuntboy's purpose is to be super and take on things, which might make those around him less super. But being a superhero isn't always easy.

Yes, this book tackles tough themes kids can relate to—divorce, bullies, etc. But the author manages to turn everything on its head and make it a super-fun way to hit reality. And that in a kid-fashion pure. Portico and his friend have a wonderful imagination, and he allows himself to sink into this 'super' him, not only to deal with his anxiety but to help those around odd ways, maybe. But it's super sweet and kind. Stuntboy is a hero to root for and cheer on the entire way through because he has determination and a true heart of gold even when problems sometimes make things hard.

The set-up of this book is a blast. It's not the usual graphic novel form, but rather, more of a picture book in the form of a middle grade read with some comic areas mixed in. The narration bounces around a bit scatter-brained at times, and then, switches gears into tale fashion. It's an entertaining mix which keeps things from getting to serious and lets the imagination of Portico shine through. The illustrations keep humor high and let Stuntboy's adventure gain goofy, heroic highlights.

Middle graders, especially the reluctant readers in this group, will enjoy this adventure and maybe discover a superhero in themselves.

The Seeker's Core by K.M Jenkins with Giveaway!


The Seeker's Core

Half Blood Academy Book 1

A Children of Chaos Novel

by K.M. Jenkins

YA Academy Fantasy 

In a universe governed by gods, darkness awakens and demigods are called.

Two journeys.

Two planets.

Lennox walks a path that separates her from her family. But allies along the way bring her to her destined fate.

Becca seeks to advance knowledge in the medical field. Fate has other plans in store when she stumbles upon long forgotten ruins.

Two demigods walk different paths on separate planets. Will they find each other before it’s too late or will fate change their lives forever? The journey of a universe forever changed begins right here.

K.M. Jenkins is a published best selling speculative fiction author who writes epic battles, forbidden romance, and tales of fantasy and adventure. She has a big love for the fantasy genre and loves dragons above all creatures. When she is not writing, you will find her running her business as a cover artist at ​KJ Magical Designs, LLC and chasing her twin boys around the house. Between the three she has epic battles throughout the day and nothing ever gets boring.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Review: Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins


by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Atheneum Books
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8

From the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of A Hungry Lion and Stumpkin comes a charming, wryly humorous story of adventure, mistaken identity, and a vampire family’s day at the zoo.

On a Saturday morning, baby Dracula visits the zoo with his family, where baby Penguin lives with hers. But these intrepid young adventurers are not content with staying in their proper places.

Instead, baby Dracula slips into the Penguin House to spend the day eating, swimming, and hanging around, while baby Penguin waddles into the stroller to explore the rest of the zoo. Dracula’s family doesn’t even notice the switch—will they bring the right baby home?

Observant and adventurous young readers will love this tale of the shenanigans that happen when parents’ backs are turned.



With a very original twist, giggles and laughs are guaranteed in this well-illustrated book.

The vampire family is spending a day at the zoo. While visiting various animals, they don't notice that their youngest decides to switch places with a baby penguin. The change goes unnoticed to create a lovely adventure.

I love picture books which allow the illustrations to carry the story as much as the text, and this book does that masterfully. The story is simple and tells about the vampire's family's visit to the zoo and what they do there. While illustrations, though, let the reader see the switch-a-roo and the reality, which the family doesn't notice. It's these juxtapose view-points which really make the humor shine.

Not only was the story unique, but it is a nice tale. Listeners can point out things which don't necessarily agree between the illustrations and the text, which allows them to get involved and keeps boredom at bay. The text is also just right for the age group and makes for a lovely read-aloud.

And here she is...

Lucy Ruth Cummins is an author, an illustrator, and art director of children’s books. She has been happily paired with Jean Reidy for Truman, which was named a New York Times Best Children’s Book of 2019, and Sylvie. She also is the author-illustrator of A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of AnimalsStumpkin; and Vampenguin. When she was little, she had a pet spider in the shed where her dad kept the lawnmower. Every day little Lucy caught flies and placed them in her spider’s web at mealtimes. Lucy was born in Montreal, raised in upstate New York, and lives with her little family in Brooklyn, New York