Friday, March 30, 2018

Review: Up in the Leaves by Shira Boss

The True Story of the Central Park Treehouses
by Shira Boss
Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
ages 4 and up

“Bob lived in the big city. The city was very crowded .” 

A true story about Bob Redman, a New York City boy who built a series of intricate treehouses hidden in Central Park

This picture book tells the true story of Bob Redman, a child growing up in New York City. Tired of the noise, the people, and the rushing around, Bob took shelter in the natural beauty of Central Park—where he covertly built a series of treehouses, starting with a simple platform and growing more and more elaborate over time. He played cat-and-mouse with the park workers, who kept tearing down his houses, until he was finally caught. But his story ends with a happy surprise . . .


This warming story grabs with a gentle adventure many kids enjoy, climbing trees, and shows the wondrous paths life can take.

This true story tells of Bob Redman, a kid in New York, who never felt at home between concrete, streets and buildings. Finding comfort and joy in climbing trees, he soon takes it a step further and begins to builds tree houses in Central Park. Each time, the tree houses are ripped down, but he builds again. His love for being in the trees continues for many years and blossoms into something much more.

I was personally touched by this story, since my own brother did much the same thing when we were growing up—almost the exact same thing. So, my kids and I might have a slightly different view on this book than many readers.

That this story stems from a true event, already draws in and adds a special dust of curiosity to young listeners. Bob's desire to climb trees is something easy to relate to, and that he does it in a park, adds to the excitement. There's a natural comfort and a sense of adventure as he climbs into the branches to hide away from the world time and again. Add the construction of tree houses from whatever he could find to the mix, and this is a real life adventure kids dream of doing themselves.

The illustrations come across as natural as the story, allowing the listener to sink into the scene. The tree houses add a touch of wonder and inspire listeners to imagine what their own house might look like.

The ending lacks the normal idea of goal chasing and determination, as Bob finds himself unsure of his future and slides into his future profession, which will hit some readers/listeners different than others.

And here they are. . .

The author. . .
Shira Boss is a writer who lives on the Upper West side of Manhattan, three blocks from Central Park. Up in the Leaves is her second book. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University, including a master's in Journalism. When her Japanese maple tree needed puning, several people suggested she call arborist Bob Redman. Now, they have tow sons, two whippets, and many more trees.
Connect with Shira at

The Illustrator. . .
Jamey Christoph's  illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and in several award-winning children's books, including Gordon Parks by Carole Boston Weatherford (Albert Whitman). He works out of his 1920s home in Cleveland Heights, OH, with his crazy dogs, Owen and Jack.

Sneak Peek: Crossing the Line by Ellen Wolfson Valladares with Giveaway

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Review: Lucy and Chester's Amazing Adventures by G. Brian Benson

by G. Brian Benson
Illustrated by Paul Hernandez
Picture Book
38 pages
ages 4 and up

Have you ever wanted to go on an adventure around the world and into the stars? Readers of all ages will be enchanted as they find themselves swept away with Lucy and her very best friend Chester on their exciting adventures! Open your wings, become inspired and let your creativity soar on this fun rhyming journey that teaches young readers the importance of imagination.


This is a picture book for those young adventurers out there, who are ready to shoot off to the farthest lands and explore the most amazing places.

Lucy with a great imagination, who's ready for adventure. With her best friend, her stuffed bunny Chester, in tow, she rides on fantasy's wings and heads off to explore the world (and even farther).

This is a book full of fun, power and curiosity, which allows young listeners to go anywhere there dreams will take them while exploring several wondrous corners of the world and beyond. With the words "Be yourself, be free" in the beginning of the book, the atmosphere is set. This is a book to empower and encourage young listeners/readers to dream and explore.

Lucy is cute and her drive to head out into the world is contagious. Chester, her trusty bunny, adds just the right amount of sweetness to make both simply fun to follow. The text is done in rhymes, which flow fairly nicely, and are easy for young listeners to follow. Different parts of the world introduced—Paris, China, Egypt as well as jungles and much more—letting the diversity of Earth shine. Each visit is very short but just enough to leave an impression before flying off to the next. It's a tempo which keeps the excitement high.

The illustrations are bright and let the energy radiate from every page. Lucy and Chester are having the time of their lives, and this shows on every page. It's hard not to get caught up in their adventurous fever and wish to be able to go with them on their amazing travels.

And here he is. . .

G. Brian Benson, founder of Reawaken Media, is an award-winning author, actor, filmmaker, and inspirational speaker. His mission is to wake up the world with conscious, thought-provoking media that inspires. As a 4x Ironman triathlete, Brian knows the value of hard work and never giving up on his dreams, a message he shares with audiences through each of his creative talents. A parent himself, he understands the importance of creating positive, fun, and empowering literature for children to thrive. Brian lives in Los Angeles, CA where he keeps his gaze skyward.  To discover more please go to

Happy Book Birthday, Entombed in Glass by Stacey Rourke!

Entombed in Glass
by Stacey Rourke
YA Fantasy/ Fairy Tale and Folklore
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Mirror, mirror on the wall.
What’s behind that fated call?
He’s the seer of present, future, and past,
Yet remains a nameless face entombed in glass.
Raised as a servant in the underwater kingdom of Atlantica, Alastor worked his way up to a regal member of the Royal Guard. Only as a decorated soldier did he stand a chance of winning the hand of the woman he’s loved since childhood … Poseidon’s only daughter, Princess Vanessa. But, when the war against humans rages, dark magics are evoked to give the mermen a fighting chance. Temporarily granted legs, they charge from the sea into a doomed battle.
Doing the bidding of his masters as a trusted pawn,
The claims of his loyalty couldn’t be more wrong.
Waking on land, with bodies all around, Alastor’s lone goal becomes returning to the ocean and the only life he’s ever known. A plan that is quickly diverted when Hades, Lord of the Underworld, appears with a twisted agenda all his own. Cast to a land far from the lapping comforts of home, Alastor’s sole companion is a troubled misfit named Sterling that soon comes to depend on him. Trained to be a hero, how far is Alastor willing to go to return to the woman he loves? And can he live with the sacrifices he's forced to make?
Each day he schemes to break free from their thrall,
and honor a self-made vow … to kill them all.

RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 

Author Links:
Instagram: Rourkewrites.
Buy Link: Rise of the Sea Witch:
Entombed in Glass:


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New release: The Grown Ups' Crusade by Audrey Greathouse

The Grown Ups’ Crusade 
The Neverland Wars #3
by Audrey Greathouse
Clean Teen Publishing
March 27th 2018
YA Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Gwen has returned to Neverland with Peter Pan and the lost children, but this time, the adults are following close behind.
The Anomalous Activity Department has plans to finally conquer Neverland by bringing the final battle to the vulnerable island. The children will have to rally fairies, mermaids, and allies from other magical realms to stand a chance against the shadow-casting army of grown-ups heading for them.
The black-coat soldiers are far from their only problem. Lasiandra is missing. No one has seen her since Gwen left her at the lakeside with Jay, and the mermaids searching have found only grave omens in the stars. With the island on the cusp of a war that threatens to strip the land of its magic, the last thing Peter and Gwen need is the ancient flagship that appears on their horizon, sailing pirates straight for their shores.
When the battle begins amid old and new enemies, Gwen’s maturity will be a double-edged sword. She will either grow stronger or grow up… maybe both.


Gwen gathered fruit as fast as she could in the dim of the early morning. Mangos and marionberries, peaches and papayas, star fruit and oranges… she shoved the land fruit into her bag, never breaking pace as she trekked weast across the island. She needed to get to the coast and back before any fairies awoke. The entire fairy population had indulged in joyful revelries the night before, celebrating some amorphous holiday unknown to humans. The dawn would find even the most temperate fairies still lolling in drunken dreams and merry slumber. But dawn had not yet arrived and not everyone slept; stars still speckled the bluing sky and certain inhabitants of Neverland were still speaking with them.
Tromping over vines and fungi, Gwen bushwhacked her way through the forest-jungle on anxious feet. The mermaids had not been helpful as of late.
The new mermaids she’d met wouldn’t even give her their names. Eglantine and Cynara had been snide at best, and contemptuous at worst. Gwen wouldn’t have minded it—she didn’t care what mermaids thought of her—but she felt certain they knew what had happened to Lasiandra and refused to explain. This drowsy morning offered her a chance to tempt them with an overabundance of land fruit without anyone noticing. She would persuade the mermaids to cede their starry secrets and hurry back before any stray fairy or curious child found her at the incriminating lagoon.
Gwen reached the wood’s end and hurried down the steps carved into the chalky cliff face. She moved so fast she half-flew toward the slender figures half-submerged in the lagoon.
Gwen had not seen Lasiandra since the night she escaped with Jay from Lake Agana. In the chaos, she had never retrieved the scale from Lasiandra, and thus lost her ability to call her friend. She hadn’t worried about it—until days and weeks passed without sight of her at the lagoon.
“What business have you with Lasiandra?” Eglantine had demanded last time Gwen visited. “What matter is she to you?”
“I’m just worried about her,” Gwen had answered, innocent and truthful. The region’s entire Anomalous Activity Department had been on duty that night, trying to apprehend lost children and capture whatever magic followed them. Lasiandra’s disappearance was ominous, to say the least. A few fairies had not returned from the mission, and there was no question of what fate had befallen them.
In response, the mermaids had only mocked her, contorting their melodic voices into cackling imitations of her land-dwelling accent, “I’m just worried about her.”
“Worried about her! Concerned about a mermaid?” Cynara had declared, insulted and amused. “We are not of such a feeble nature as you landmaids. Mermaids have more strength in a single scale than you have in all of your heart. You need not worry for a mermaid, girl. We can take care of ourselves.”
Gwen had wanted to believe her.

And here she is. . .
Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at 


Cover Reveal: Roadie by Denise Jaden

by Denise Jaden
 YA Contemporary (with romantic suspense elements)
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s Reivews & PR

MAY 1st, 2018!!!

She's not welcome.

Guarded and angry at humanity, Kass has nowhere to go for the next three weeks. She recoils from Eli's gentle patience, while accepting his not-quite invitation to join their band tour. He gets her, though, and he is the only person to ever make it past her cutting back talk.
But she’s a life-hardened punk who won't get along with the rest of the band. He’s a sensitive guitar player. Sparks will fly as they try to meet in the middle on their rock and roll road trip.
Roadie, Track Two in a new upper YA Series, features page-turning band drama, sizzling romance, and nuanced characters. If you like Rainbow Rowell and Gayle Forman, you’ll love Denise Jaden’s new series.
Buy Roadie today and hit the road with some unforgettable characters.

Denise Jaden’s novels have been shortlisted or received awards through the Romance Writers of America, Inspy, and SCBWI. The first draft of her debut novel, Losing Faith, was written in 21 days during NaNoWriMo 2007 and she loves talking with writers and students alike about her Just-Get-To-The-End fast-drafting process. Jaden’s other young adult novels include Never Enough, Foreign Exchange, A Christmas Kerril,  and Avalanche. Her non-fiction books for writers include, Writing with a Heavy Heart, Fast Fiction, and Story Sparks. In her spare time, she homeschools her son, acts with the Vancouver film industry, and dances with a Polynesian dance troupe. 
Find out more at

Author Links:
Buy Links:
Outcast (Pre-Order):
Roadie (Pre-Order):

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Review: Songlines by Carolyn Denman with Giveaway

The Sentinels of Eden, Book One
by Carolyn Denman
Odyssey Books
YA Fantasy/Paranormal
320 pages

'We belong to the Earth, Lainie-Bug. We were sent here in human form for a reason. If you don’t know what to do, then just be human.'

Right. Like that was ever a simple thing to do.

In the heart of the Wimmera region of Victoria, an ancient gateway to Eden is kept hidden and safe by a creature so powerful that even the moon would obey her commands – at least it would if she had any idea that she wasn’t just a normal girl about to finish high school.

When a mining company begins exploratory sampling near Lainie’s sheep farm, a family secret is revealed that makes her regret not having learnt more about her Indigenous heritage.

What she’s told by their farmhand, Harry – an Aboriginal elder – can’t possibly be true, but then the most irritating guy in class, Bane, begins to act even more insanely toward her than ever, until she can no longer deny that something very unusual is going on.

When Harry doesn’t return from his quest to seek help to protect the area from the miners, Lainie sets out to discover the truth of her heritage, and of the secret she’s been born to protect.


With a unique setting, background and twists, this is a young adult fantasy/paranormal novel to enjoy and devour.

Lainie lives with her aunt near a small town on a farm in Australia. Not only does she face the normal troubles of school and farm life, but experiences visions and has a quirky sense of intuition. When miners arrive and start taking over the land, not only Lainie's aunt has her hands full with a battle to stop them, but Lainie notices things around her are growing stranger. Her past and future are nothing like she thought, and the truth is almost impossible to believe.

This was a refreshing read. Lainie is full of spunk, humor and a fire-ball of quirky wit. She's down-to-earth, hard working, can handle sheep like nobodies business and still, isn't unsure of herself in many ways. In some ways, she's immature in her actions while, in others, she's beyond her years. It's an interesting mixture which makes her easy to like and tons of fun to follow.

The setting is in Australia, and the author does a fantastic job at bringing the surroundings to life. The scenes are vivid, and it's easy to feel at home in Lainie's world. The unique twist with the Garden of Eden, gives this a whole new direction with lots of unexpected surprises and turns. While some aspects of the read are familiar in this YA genre, others are completely new and unexpected. There's never a boring moment, and it's impossible to see where everything is heading or what will happen next.

There is a love triangle of sorts, but this is a romance which builds, learns, forms friendships and holds all of the necessary building blocks before nearing anything comparable to a fresh bud of love.

In other words, this is an intriguing read and one YA paranormal fans are sure to enjoy.

And here she is. . .

Carolyn lives on a hobby farm on the outskirts of Melbourne with her husband, two daughters, and her parents. The fact that she always has at least three of her pets following her around at any one time in no way means that she is the fairest in the land. They probably just like her taste in music.

As well as writing stories for Aurealis and Andromeda Spaceways magazines, Carolyn is also the author of the YA Australian fantasy series The Sentinels of Eden. 



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Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: Barry and the Chronicles by Alun Davies

by Alun Davies
Valley Boy Ltd
Middle Grade Fantasy
192 pages
ages 8 and up

Barry encounters an evil force of Witches intent on capturing the minds of young children with a view to making themselves more and more powerful.Barry finds other Spiders along the way to help him stop their plans and together they battle for the upper hand.

Throughout the story there are constant references to The Spider Chronicles because it is a book of instruction, philosophy and meaning whose teachings are to be both followed and believed if good is to prevail over evil. Sometimes the content is easily understood but it cannot always be so and readers of all ages must seek the many messages being delivered.

The way Barry's life evolves is quickly read but hard to forget; there are many threads to follow and weave.This story could stay with you for years to come.


This is a lovely mix of a witches, a slight bit of special talents and one very special spider and its adventures.

Barry is a young spider with much to learn. He follows The Spider Chronicles like all other spiders, a book of spider wisdom and guidelines, and has a few special talents, which allow him to share some level of contact with other species including humans. When he runs across some witches and their evil plans, he decides to do what he can to stop them.

This book is written with the input of a strong narrative, who, at times, almost takes on a character roll all of itself. The narration is interesting and provides everything needed for the story at the right time. While it flows seamlessly into the plot, it does occasionally 'talk down' to the reader, which may or may not bother the intended age group. 

Barry is a brave spider, who thinks a little further than his fellow spiders and, although young, has a nice bit of wisdom. His adventures are fun and interesting, and hold messages for the reader along the way.  The chapters, especially the first ones, read a bit like individual tales. The over-reaching story arch is clever and original, as Barry, the spider, tries to stop the witches from their evil plot against children. It never borders on boring and keeps a nice pace the whole way through. It's easy to sympathize with Barry and cheer him on.

All in all, this is a cute story for middle graders ages 8 to 10 and works also well as a read-aloud. 

And here he is. . .

Originating from the South Wales Valleys, Alun Davies had a varied and extensive career including roles in the Civil Service and international trade and accountancy practices before starting his own business. Now retired he lives in London with his wife and three grown up children. In his spare time he writes music and has written original songs to accompany the release of the animation.

Instagram -

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Review: A Very Happy Easter Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen Illustrated by Natalia Moore

by Bonnie Rickner Jensen
Illustrated by Natalia Moore
Thomas Nelson
Board Book
24 pages 
ages 2 and up

Snuggle up close with your little ones to see why the Easter season is such a very happy time.

The weather is warming, flowers are blooming, and cuddly critters are leaving their nests. Join the adorable woodland animals as they thank God for all the blessings of Easter.


With Easter and the Spring season, there are many things to give God thanks for, and this cute little picture book brings these to light it a bright and cheery way.

The cover shines with a glittery effect over a happy, Spring scene and sets the mood for the pages which follow. The pages are fairly sturdy, making it easy for smaller hands to flip through. Each page depicts a different Spring scene from playing in rain puddles to birds building nests to frogs hopping in a pond. Each two-page spread is accompanied by a four line poem, which starts out with 'Thank You, God,. . .' and continues with a smooth rhyme in a prayer of joyful thanks. The various situations are ones young listeners will recognize and smile at.

The illustrations are bright, have an artistic flair and radiate warm, sunny feelings. The characters are inviting and always smiling as they actively enjoy the moment. The illustrations fit the rhymed verses, making it simple for young listeners to usually realize what is happening. . .even if they flip through the pages on their own. It inspires joy and play the whole way through.

This is a religious book and that stands at the forefront. Each page is a thank you prayer. The message of Easter is mentioned but mixes in with the more familiar moments of modern day life, making this, in many ways, more of a thank-you prayer for Spring. It's cute, sweet and carries tons of warmth young listeners are sure to enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy through Booklook Bloggers.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Review: Willow Woods Academy for Witches by R.L. Weeks and Skylar McKinzie with Giveaway

Willow Woods Academy for Witches
Willow Woods Book 1
by R.L.Weeks & Skylar Mckinzie
YA Fantasy / Mystery

An unforgettable YA novel filled with mystery and magic. Fans of Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures will love this series.

Kat and Angie have just enrolled at Willow Woods Academy for Witches against their parent's wishes. They're thrown into a magical, mysterious world that is everything they dreamt it to be. However, when an ancient book falls into their laps, their worlds are turned upside down.
10 years ago, a rivalry between the covens of Willow Woods Academy and Morwood's School cost many their lives and cast a dark shadow over the academy. Now, Morwood's has opened again for the first time since the incident, and mysterious happenings are occurring - and they all seem to be surrounding Kat.
School's never easy, and with her exams coming up, a stalker in the trees, and her family name shadowing doubt over what side she's on, the first year of school is more of an adventure than she had ever anticipated.


This is a fun, coming-of-age type of story with magic, mystery and tons of unexpected adventure.

Kat and Angie run away from home and enroll themselves (thanks to a little forgery) in the Willow Woods Academy for Witches. At first, they think they'll get everything in control, but soon, mysteries about the past catch up to them and they're in for a whole lot more than they bargained for.

This is a magical adventure which grabs from the first page and keeps hold until the very end. There's a wonderful mixture of characters, and the scenes pull into an intriguing world. Kat and Angie are a little naive in many respects in the beginning, but the problems quickly have them adapting. There's a lot of mystery about the past from the very first page, and it only grows and thickens the whole way through. There are characters to love, ones to hate, and many others in between as the school and the world develop, laying a wonderful basis for the rest of the series.

Willow Woods Academy for Witches and Wizards
Willow Woods Book 2

An unforgettable YA novel filled with mystery and magic - Fans of Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures will love this series.

The girls are back at school, but Angie's dreams about a secret order may be more than just dreams. 
Lara Ash is about to find out that all choices have consequences, and that being back from the dead isn't as fun as she first thought. She catches the eye of Angie's older brother, Grayson, and clings to him as her world falls apart. The rift between her and Angie Dupree, her sister Kat's best friend, causes Kat and Angie to fall out for the first time. 
Angie meets two new friends, the peppy Isolde and secretive Lizzie. However, they seem to be holding secrets of their own. 
When it comes to crunch time, can the group work together to stop an evil from destroying their lives, or will their own secrets be too much? 

This book is recommended for readers aged 13+. 
Warning: This book deals with bullying and has scenes of mild violence.

R L Weeks is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Dead Loves Life Series, Bloodlust, The Fallen, Willow Woods Academy for Witches, Cursed, and the owner of Enchanted Anthologies, publisher of Fractured Fairytales Books 1 & 2, A Deadly World: Vampires in Paris, Things Only the Darkness Knows, and Christmas Nightmares.

She lives in a small village in the UK.
When she's not writing, she's traveling, reading (paranormal, fantasy and horror being her go to genres) and designing covers for Dark Wish Designs.

Skylar McKinzie lives in the small town of Screven, Ga. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family. She also loves long walks and sitting by the bonfire in October, which is her favorite month of the year.

She writes horror and paranormal romance. She is working on her next novel due to be released by the end of the year.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!