Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Review: Mathimals by Jon Hales

by Jon Hales
Illustrated by Charlene Mosley
Picture Book/Math
24 pages
ages 2 to 6

Do you find it hard to add? Brace yourself for a slightly unusual and mildly chaotic lesson in basic addition! What happens when you add 1 mouse + 1 sheep, for example? Or 4 caterpillars + 4 fish? You'll find out in this hugely entertaining picture book filled with weird and wonderful creatures. Packed with brightly coloured illustrations, clever wordplay and lots of fun details, this rhyming story is sure to capture the imaginations of young children and is designed to help simple sums stick in the mind. Perfect for ages 2-6 but with plenty for older children and even adults to enjoy.


With a touch of zany fun, this book dives into math in a way which demands giggles from every page.

This picture book has two goals: math and silly fun. The lesson is basic addition, but this isn't a math book as one might expect. It's a picture book with bright illustrations and a rhyming story which is pure fun even if the math is ignored. Clever wording and ridiculous situations make this a fun book all on its own. The math flows along on the side.

The combination is just right. Young listeners will pick up on the basic math ideas without even realizing it or needing to notice it. Older ones will catch what's going on, but can enjoy the tale as well. It's short, funny and educational too. 

And here he is..

Jon Hales is a British author, English literature graduate and former English teacher who learned first-hand the power of a great picture book while teaching in Taiwan, reading stories to his younger students. The capacity for a well crafted turn of phrase, captivating character or hilarious illustration to capture the imagination of its audience was fascinating to him. Jon dreamed of crafting stories that would bring joy to both children and adults, stories that could be read again and again without losing their charm. Jon lives in London with his wife Annie. He would like to stress that no animals were harmed in the production of his debut picturebook, Mathimals.

You can find him.
 https://www.facebook.com/ jonhalesauthor/
Twitter: @jonhalesauthor

Cover Reveal: The Connelly Boys with Lily Velez with Giveaway

The Connelly Boys 

Celtic Witches, Book One
by Lily Velez 
September 13th 2018
YA Urban Fantasy

The Connelly boys are practically royalty at St. Andrew’s Prep. Popular, wealthy, and devastatingly beautiful, the four brothers have long cast a spell over their classmates and over the sleepy seaport town of Rosalyn Bay, Ireland.
There’s only one problem: they’re also cursed.
…Or so the rumors say.
Seventeen-year-old newcomer Scarlet Monroe has never been one for rumors, but when she inadvertently banishes a demon while trying to help eldest brother Jack Connelly, the most breathtaking of the boys and the one to whom she feels inexplicably drawn, she quickly discovers there may be more to the local superstitions and folklore than she originally thought.
Before long, she’s pulled into a dark and mysterious world filled with ancient magic, powerful spells, kidnapped souls, and deadly enemies. But none of it compares to discovering the truth of who she really is…or what she’ll have to become to defeat a rising evil older than humankind itself before she loses everyone she loves—that is, of course, if she can survive the world of the Connellys long enough.
Don’t miss this first installment in the new dark fantasy series by Lily Velez, which features Irish folklore, Celtic mythology, mystery and light romance, and an engrossing world of witches and magic that will keep you reading long into the night!

And here she is...

Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she's not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. 
You can learn more about Lily and her books at www.lilyvelezbooks.com. 


Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! by Jody Jensen Shaffer

by Jody Jensen Shaffer
Illustrated by Claire Messer
Beach Lane Books
July 3rd, 2018
Board Book
32 pages
 ages 3 and up

It’s the first day of school! But is Busy Bus ready? Find out in this darling picture book that showcases the excitement and worries little ones experience as they prepare for their first day.

Today is the very first day of school! Busy Bus is excited, but he also has some first-day jitters. Will the children like him? Will he be homesick? What if he gets lost?! Luckily, bus driver Ben knows just what to do to make sure that the school year gets off to a great start.


This takes a fun twist at the first day of school, while very gently giving those who might be afraid to ride the bus, a little encouragement.

Busy Bus is nervous and excited. Soon, it will be his first day to drive kids to school. Ben, the driver,
makes sure everything is ready, but when the moment arrives to leave, suddenly Busy Bus is more anxious than anything else.

Cute, short and easy to read, this book takes the first day of school from a 'young' bus' perspective. The first part of the book covers everything there is to know about a bus, while the driver, Ben, checks through things thoroughly. Young readers learn about all the things needed for a bus' safety—air pressure, fire extinguisher, emergency door, etc. About halfway through, the gears change, and Busy Bus becomes apprehensive about meeting the kids and actually driving to school the first time. First time school goers will sympathize immediately and watch as Busy Bus works his way through this fear.

The illustrations are simple, bright and done with a playful, splatter effect. The details are kept light but just enough to draw in younger listeners. The text is great for preschoolers and plays along with the illustrations to create a fun read aloud.

Those who love school buses and cars or are about to embark on their first day of preschool or kindergarten will enjoy this read.

And here they are...

The author...
Jody Jensen Shaffer is the author of more than twenty-seven books of fiction and nonfiction for children. She's written about everything from ninja warriors to hyenas to Frederick Douglass. Her picture books include It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus; Prudence, the Part-Time Cow; and A Chip Off the Old Block. Jody lives in Liberty, Missouri, with her husband and children.

The Illustrator...
Claire Messer is a graduate of the Cambridge School of Art. She works by hand, using traditional printmaking processes to create her picture books, which include the acclaimed Grumpy Pants. She lives in the UK.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mommy's Sunday with a Cover Reveal: The Light at Finnigan's End by Jodi Gallegos

Every so often here on Bookworm for Kids, I present a book/series for Mommy's and/or Daddy's. After all, Mom's and Dad's like to read too. Today's series hits the historical end of things while adding the warmth of romance.
The stand-alone historical romance that stole America's hearts has a sequel coming out. A Shine that Defies the Dark by Jodi Gallegos released in December 2017 and has received amazing reviews and shout outs from the public. So much so that the author decided to expand the world of the novel and create another sequel or world novel that can be read as part of the series or as another stand-alone Historical Romance. The Light at Finnigan's End is scheduled to release on November 5, 2018 as book two in The Rum Runners Series. Check out the official cover reveal below and then be sure to leave a comment or two on what you think of the novel. Also, Kindle Unlimited subscribers can check out the first novel for free right now on Amazon.

   The Light at Finnigan's End 

by Jodi Gallegos 
Changing Tides 
Historical Romance 

November 5, 2018!!!

 Cleric’s Cove is home to the most brutal gang of bootleggers in Southern Louisiana, the Moret family. Desperate to find out what happened to her brother Finn, Deirdre Cassidy is determined to use her skills as a healer, as well as her feminine charms, to infiltrate the Moret crime family. Once she’s ensconced in the Moret hideout, she hopes to gather information that will lead her to Finn—or help her destroy the family that caused his disappearance. But the one thing Deirdre never counted on is Mo Moret. The eldest son and head of the Moret gang, Mo is incredibly dangerous, yet magnetic—the attraction between them palpable. Still, Deirdre doesn’t believe he'll ever set aside family loyalty for love. And even if he did, Deirdre has vowed to see the end of the Morets—whatever the cost. The second installment in the popular Rum Runners series by Jodi Gallegos, The Light at Finnigan’s End is a fast-paced romance with elements of historical fiction, set against the gritty backdrop of depression-era southern Louisiana.

Goodreads / Pre-order coming August 8th.


A Shine That Defies The Dark
by Jodi Gallegos 
Changing Tides Publishing 
December 5th 2017 
Historical, Romance 

  Gripping, romantic, and evocative of its time— A Shine that Defies the Dark is a spellbinding story of one woman who will stop at nothing to survive during a tumultuous time in American history.

 After a six-year exile, Ophelia Breaux and her mother are overjoyed to return to the Louisiana bayou. But it seems the ghosts of the epic feud that drove them away still haunt Plaquemines Parish, and with the Great Depression sweeping the nation, the two soon find they can’t make ends meet. Seeing no other option, Ophelia’s mother takes the drastic step of sharing her bed with the town judge in exchange for a reduced rent. The judge has had a life-long obsession with Momma, and Ophelia is desperate to end this arrangement and get her away from him. When Remy Granger shows up, Ophelia knows it could mean more trouble—and that’s the last thing they need. Handsome and dangerous, he’s the first boy she ever kissed, and a member of the most notorious family in southern Louisiana—but he’s also got an opportunity for fast money in rumrunning. Ophelia goes all in, and it turns out she may have a knack for the business. But she’s going to have to run even faster if she wants to save Momma… dodging the cops, rival gangs, and her traitorous heart at every turn.

And here she is...

 Jodi is a YA writer, black belt, registered nurse and case manager for a busy home health agency. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations. The most current projected completion date of her To Be Read book collection is May 17, 2176.

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Happy Book Birthday, Gen One by Amy Bartelloni

by Amy Bartelloni
 Upper YA Science Fiction
Cover Designer: Covers by Christian
Edited by Toni Rakestraw

Hosted by: Lady Amber's Reviews & PR

Generations after robots conquered Earth, the remaining population survives in the ash of their defeat. Within their walls in Authority City, bots test and develop super soldiers. Rumors of horrible experiments are enough to keep humans in line. At least, most humans.
Eighteen-year-old Delilah O’Connor scavenges the ruins with her friend Zane, and Gen, a generation one bot they repaired off the grid. Gen’s curiosity gives Delilah hope for the future, but not enough hope to go against the Authority. She finds Zane’s dreams of a human resistance pointless, and it’s enough to keep their on-and-off relationship mostly off.
When they discover two dead guards in a shady trading stop known as the Banks, everything changes. Framed for the murders and pursued by Authority bots, Zane takes Delilah to the only safe space he knows—the headquarters for the Human Coalition. Even there Zane isn’t safe. When he’s captured, Delilah and Gen must join an unlikely alliance of bot and human to go in to Authority City and save him before he becomes another casualty. Things in Authority City aren’t as they seem, they’re worse. And Delilah might lose more than her friend within its walls.

Amy Bartelloni is a reader, writer, coffee addict, & musical lover who lives with her husband, 3 children, and various animals in the northeast US. When she's not playing mom-taxi, you can find her with her nose in a book or her head in the clouds. A people watcher and science fiction junkie, she still believes dreams can come true. The author of the Andromeda series with Limitless Publishing, (Andromeda, Orion's Curse, and the Scorpio Project), and contributor to Prep for Doom, Tricks, Treats, and Zombies, and 13: Resurrected, some of her favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, Paulo Coelho, and Stephen King.

Author Links:
Buy Links:
Brute shook his head.  “Zane told us you were stubborn,” he said with a grin.  “But he led us to believe you could be fragile.”  He tipped his head.  “I’m not sure he was right about that.  From where I stand, you’re pure steel.  And we could have used you a long time ago.”
“I plan to have a talk with him about that,” she said, absently.  What Brute didn’t know what how fragile she was inside.  How Zane had seen her the day her father died.  How he held her when her Aunt ran off and left them and she thought she’d die in the streets.  How he helped her get a job and earn her own living.  If she was steel, he’d forged her, and it was time to pay him back.
“Well you probably know already, but when someone goes in Authority City, they rarely come out.”  He gestured for Gen to get off the boat first.  The bot swung her legs over the rail gently, all the while watching the waves lap the pier.
“But we are?” Delilah asked, following them on to the pier.  It was more unsteady than she thought, and she had to hold Brute’s arm to avoid falling.
“That’s the plan,” he answered.  “Smoke has a network set up for us to get them the information they need.  Then they plan to bust us out.  And not just us.  This has been in the works for a long time.”  He stepped off the dock and looked back without a hint of amusement on his face.
“She’s going to take out the zoos?” Delilah asked.  She wasn’t sure how she felt about it.  She’d gotten into this for Zane, but it was so much bigger than that.  And after spending the last few days with these people, they felt like family.
Brute shook his head.  “She’s going to take the whole damn city out.  And we’re going to help her.”

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Review: The Doll Hospital by Kallie George and Sarah Gillingham

by Kallie George
and Sarah Gillingham
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
June 5th, 2018
Picture Book
ages 3 to 6
32 pages

When toys need a little (or a lot of!) TLC, they head to the Doll Hospital in this endearing picture book in the tradition of Doc McStuffins. Don’t worry, toys, Dr. Pegs will have you feeling better in no time!

It’s a quiet morning at the Doll Hospital until…
The emergency bells ring!
Here comes a patient who needs Dr. Pegs’s help.

Dr. Pegs is about to get to work when…
Here comes another patient! And another!

How will Dr. Pegs take care of them all? Looks like the doctor needs some help herself!


Stuffed with buttons, fluff and mounds of concern, this tale radiates the joy of helping others.

Dr. Pegs is up with the sun, ready to help any toy in need. What starts as a calm day, quickly fills with all sorts of small emergencies. Even though she's trying her best, there are simply too many patients for Dr. Pegs to handle on her own. Luckily, she has some amazing helpers who can assist her to save the day.

Everything about this book is sweet and warming. Dr. Pegs is a nurse full of duty, joy and readiness to help anyone she can. She's good at what she does too. Her attitude is inspirational as adorable and cuddly patients come in, each with a problem perfectly fitting for dolls and stuffed animals/friends. Fans of playing nurse or hospital are going to love this read as each patient is taken seriously and with sympathy, but still matching to a doll house world. 

This story isn't about an all-saving nurse but shows how important having friends can be too. Even wonderful characters like Dr. Pegs reach their limit on what they can do. And that's what I really love about this tale. She knows when to ask for help and has no trouble admitting it. Team work is just as important as helping others, and it's a great message.

The illustrations are bright without being overly brilliant. The comfortable color tones and style slides right into place with dolls and stuffed animals, allowing the world to come to life. There's a nice mixture of materials and cloth in the pictures, giving it a cozy feel. The text plays right into the illustrations, making it fun to read-a-loud with lots of possibilities of expression and fun. There's simply so much to enjoy and cuddle into with this read.

And here they are...

The author...
Kallie George holds a master's degree in children's degree from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of many acclaimed books for children, including the chapter book series the Magical Animal Adoption Agency and the Heartwood Hotel, and the picture books The Lost Gift and Secrets I Know. When she's not writing, she leads workshops for aspiring writers. Kallie lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her family—and her two stuffies, Teddy and Flopsy. Visit her online at kalliegeorge.com

The illustrator...
Sara Gillingham is an award winning art director and designer who has helped publish numerou s bestselling books for children She is the author and illustrator of many beloved children's books, including How to Grow a Friend, the bestselling In My. . . series, the Empowerment series, and Snuggle the Baby. Sara lives with her family in Vancouver, British Columbia. Find out more about Sara's studio at saragillingham.com

Friday, July 27, 2018

Sneak Peek: Veiled Waters by HG Lynch with Giveaway!

Veiled Waters

Unfortunate Blood, #5
by H.G. Lynch 
July 24th 2018
YA Paranormal, Romance

They’ve faced ghosts, fought witches, and escaped the clutches of a lunatic cult…but this may be their most difficult enemy yet.
The new girl. One girl with the power to take Reid’s eye away from Ember, the power to break friendships, the power to destroy relationships.
And to top it off? Something is drowning students in the local lake.

Previous books in the series:


A sudden, familiar voice yelling his name from some great distance jerked him awake and he gasped. All he saw at first was endless, impenetrable blackness, but only for a second before his eyes adjusted and he was staring at the ceiling past Ricky’s concerned face. The younger boy’s eyes glowed blue-green in the darkness.
Slowly, Reid realized his heart was pounding on his ribs, he was gasping, and his hand was clenched tightly around Ricky’s wrist, so tightly he could feel it as a tiny bone snapped under his fingers. Ricky hissed in pain, but didn’t try to pull away, his mouth tight but his eyes gentle. With a shudder, Reid pulled his hand back to himself, and stared at Ricky with ghosts behind his eyes.
“Sorry,” he muttered apologetically, his voice hoarse. Had he been screaming in his sleep again? Most likely. No wonder Ricky had woken him. This was getting beyond ridiculous.
Ricky just nodded, rubbing his wrist as it healed swiftly and neatly. He was examining Reid carefully, kneeling on the floor by his bed. There was deep, serious worry in his face that Reid could read effortlessly in the dark. Not wanting to see it, Reid turned and glared at the useless dream-catcher on his wall. It hung there innocuously, the glass beads shining and the feathers still and pale against the dark wall.
“I guess I was right the first time; Feathers and beads do jack all to help nightmares,” he said shakily.
With a sigh, Ricky retreated back to his own bed and sat there, gazing evenly at Reid, who shifted uncomfortably. He noticed then that he was drenched in sweat and it was sending chills down his spine. His light hair clung to his forehead and ears, and his hands trembled on the mattress. He clutched the bed sheets to hide the shaking.
“They’re getting worse, aren’t they?” Ricky asked plainly, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
Not meeting his gaze, Reid nodded, running a hand through his messy, damp hair.
“There has to be something that would help. We could get you drugs, or Ember could make a potion I’m sure. We must have a recipe in one of the grimoires.Ember would have the power—”
“No,” Reid protested bluntly. The thought of Ricky going to Ember and asking her to make a sleeping potion or elixir to banish nightmares…her surprise and confusion, her hurt when Ricky explained what it was for…No.
Ricky started, frowning. “But why? It’s not like it’d put her out to do it. I’m sure she’d do anything to help you.” he insisted.
Reid just turned away, looked out the window as he got to his feet. He put his back to Ricky as he yanked his damp t-shirt over his head and tossed it onto his bed.
“Unless…” Ricky said slowly, and Reid could practically hear the gears turning in the boy’s head. “Unless she doesn’t know about this yet…”

And here she is...

H.G. Lynch is a Paranormal Romance author from Scotland. She is an avid reader, and cat-lover. She spends most of her days writing, while wrestling her cat off her laptop. She loves horse-riding, Star Trek, and snow.
Her books are dark paranormal romances. 


Happy Book Birthday, The Heart of Aleppo by Ammar Habib with Giveaway!

The Heart of Aleppo 

by Ammar Habib 
YA Coming of Age/Contemporary 
235 pages

 After standing for over 7,000 years, Aleppo’s ruin came overnight. Separated from his family during the night the rebels attacked the city, thirteen-year-old Zaid Kadir is lost in the middle of a war zone. Alongside his friends, he is forced to survive the dangers of a civil war he does not even fully understand. Zaid witnesses the destruction of the brutal Syrian Civil War as it grows more deadly by the day and rips his city apart. However, as he braves this destruction, as he desperately tries to survive this catastrophe, he discovers something. Zaid realizes that it is in the darkest hours when humanity’s spirit of hope burns brightest.  

Goodreads / Amazon      


Two days before Nabeel leaves for the last time, I find him standing at the kitchen counter with his friend, Zakariah. I don’t know his rank, but Zakariah serves directly under Nabeel in the army and only lives two miles down the road. The two of them always seem to be on leave at the same time. Their voices are low, almost secretive, but I catch the look in Nabeel’s eye. Except back then, I didn’t recognize it. “What are you guys talking about?” Seeing me enter and hearing my voice, they both look my way before exchanging glances. That gleam in Nabeel’s eyes disappears. I excitedly run up to the two of them. “Tell me!” Nabeel looks back down at me as he stops leaning against the counter. Reaching down, he ruffles my hair. “You’re too young to know about that, Zaid.” “Aww, what’s that about? I’m not part of the group now—” My brother playfully flicks me on the forehead as he crouches down a little. “I’m sorry, buddy. Maybe next time.” “You’re always saying that.” Zakariah laughs as he comes closer to me. He puts his hand on my shoulder. “That’s just not fair, Nabeel. You’re a horrible brother for leaving Zaid out like that.” I see a concerned expression momentarily wash over Nabeel’s face. However, Zakariah glances up at Nabeel and shoots him a quick wink as he continues. “Why don’t I just tell you then?” My eyes light up. “Really! You’re the best, Zakariah.” Coming to his knees, he puts his arm around my shoulders and leans close, acting as if he is about to tell me the world’s biggest secret. “You see, Zaid, your brother and I were having a discussion about which one of us would win in a wrestling match. We all know that I’m stronger, but he just won’t admit it.” He sighs and shakes his head as he looks back at Nabeel. “But you agree with me, don’t you, Zaid?” I don’t hesitate to respond. “No way!” He moves his head back in surprise. “Huh?” “Sure you’re pretty strong, but my brother would beat you!” Zakariah is slow to reply, taken aback by the statement. “C’mon, Zaid. You do realize that I’m older than him—” “Age has nothing to do with it, Zakariah! My brother was the school’s wrestling champion. He wouldn’t lose to you.” I whip my head to look back at Nabeel. “Right, big brother?” Nabeel is slightly smiling now. With a chuckle, Zakariah rises back to his feet. “Alright, alright. Well, I best be off, Nabeel. We can finish our little discussion next time.” Nabeel shakes his hand. “Give my greetings to your folks.” “I will.” Zakariah grabs my shoulder and gives it a squeeze. “See you, Zaid—no, sorry: Dr. Zaid.” Did he really just call me that? How did he know? Hearing Zakariah’s footsteps grow faint, I turn back to Nabeel. He opens the fridge door and rummages through it. “You told him?” I ask. Nabeel doesn’t look my way. “I tell everyone.” I watch him pull out a pound of chicken meat rolled up in brown paper as he turns back to me. “Aisha is visiting her parents tonight and Abbi and Ummi are having dinner with friends. So looks like it’ll just be you and me.” Nabeel shoots me a wink. “I’m going to make some shwarma for dinner. Just the way you like it: tomatoes, lettuce, onions, lots of chicken, and even more spices.” He starts setting the ingredients on the countertop. “I went by Sohail’s shop today. The mangoes he was selling were ripe, so I picked some up. We can have them for dessert. That is if we have room.” He looks back at me with a smile, but it fades when he sees my expression. “What’s wrong, Zaid?” I glance at the ground before replying, “I don’t think I want to be a doctor anymore.” “Why not?” “…I don’t think I can.” He takes a few steps towards me before crouching down to come to my eye level, urging me to continue. “Ms. Farooq said I’m not smart enough.” “She did?” “I got the lowest score in the class on the last math test. She said I’m not cut out for it.” “I didn’t realize Ms. Farooq could tell the future.” I don’t respond. “Did you tell Abbi or Ummi?” I shake my head. He takes a deep breath and glances down at my feet. His eyes look like he’s weighing something, wondering if he should say it or not. When he does speak, his voice is different. It’s no longer speaking to me as his younger brother but as his friend. “You know, Zaid, Zakariah was joking about what we were talking about.” “Really?” He nods before his gaze focuses back on me. “Not even a few weeks ago, my soldiers and I were in a bit of a… well, situation.” “What happened?” “We were in Homs. The people we were fighting—the rebels—had heavy control of some neighborhoods. We were trying to take them back. It was…” A silence ensues as he searches for the word. “Difficult.” Nabeel pauses. “Some soldiers were pinned. The army tried an airstrike to break the rebel lines. It was a heavy bombardment that leveled entire streets. The cost was high. But we couldn’t break their lines.” I don’t interrupt him. “Our intelligence said it was a lost cause. We were ordered to abandon the soldiers. They said we would lose more men than we would save. But even the army’s ‘intelligence’ doesn’t know everything.” He looks away. “Zakariah and I disobeyed our commanding officer. As did our men. Those soldiers that were pinned weren’t just men. They were my friends… my brothers. And I would never abandon them, even if it led to…” For a moment, his eyes again display that same gleam, but it disappears as quickly as it came. His gaze again meets mine. It’s firmer this time, stronger. “It doesn’t matter what people say, Zaid. It doesn’t matter what the facts say. All that matters is what you say. And, maybe more importantly, what you do.” I hang on his words, unable to say anything. “Why do you want to be a doctor, Zaid?” “I’ve always wanted to.” “But why?” “Because… I don’t want to see people suffer. I… I want to be the one to help others. I want to save lives, make a difference and put others before myself. I want to make this world a better place. Just like the Imam always talks about.”  Nabeel smiles. “Never forget that. And never go back on your word. No matter what happens. Please never forget one thing, Zaid: I love you. No matter the circumstance—no matter if I’m so far from you that you may never see me again, know that I’m with you.” He presses his finger against my heart. “I believe in you, Zaid.” 

And here he is...

Ammar Habib is a bestselling and award-winning author who was born in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1993. Ammar enjoys crafting stories that are not only entertaining but will also stay with the reader for a long time. Ammar presently resides in his hometown with his family, all of whom are his biggest fans. He draws his inspiration from his family, imagination, and the world around him.    

You can find Ammar Habib...

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ammarahsenhabib
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmmarAHabib1 @AmmarAHabib1
Blog: www.ammarhabibblog.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Ammar_Habib
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ammar.a.habib/ @Ammar.A.Habib


In conjunction with the release of The Heart of Aleppo, Ammar is running a giveaway from July 26th to August 3rd. The prize of the giveaway is a signed copy of his national award-winning novel, Memories of My Future. Memories of My Future is a historical/inspirational novel that was published in 2016. It received several accolades after its release, including the Independent Press Award in May 2017. Go here to visit the giveaway!    

Why Ammar wrote The Heart of Aleppo:

I personally believe that the Syrian Civil War is one of this generation’s greatest tragedies. With the way it is proceeding, it’ll be remembered by future generations in the same manner that we remember the Rwandan genocide and the Bosnian War of the 1990s. The motivation for writing The Heart of Aleppo was simple: I wished to bring more global attention to this crisis. Although the characters are fictitious, this novel accurately depicts the events that transpired in Aleppo during the summer of 2012. I hope that reading this will lead readers to have a greater understanding of the plight those in Syria face, as well as those in other war-torn regions. If this work helps garner more attention for those in Syria, then I will have considered this project a success. In an over-politicized world, my wish is for this work to humanize those we call “refugees”. The Heart of Aleppo is not about the politics of the Syrian Civil War or any other conflict. Its aim is not to convince readers to support any faction or political party. Instead, this story is about the unbreakable spirit of humanity. It is about how humanity often shows its true strength during the darkest times. I truly hope that these themes of hope and strength will resonate with readers. I know that simply writing this The Heart of Aleppo changed me as a person, and it made me more aware of everything that transpires in the world around me. Although the world will never be perfect, I believe that if we keep our faith in the human spirit and keep striving to always better ourselves and those around us, then we can create a little piece of heaven on earth.  

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review: The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie

by Amy Makechnie
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
June 12th, 2018
Middle Grade Contemporary
ages 9 to 12
336 pages

A ten-year-old girl is determined to find her missing neighbor, but the answers lead her to places and people she never expected—and maybe even one she’s been running away from—in this gorgeous debut novel that’s perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.

Guinevere St. Clair is going to be a lawyer. She was the fastest girl in New York City. She knows everything there is to know about the brain. And now that she’s living in Crow, Iowa, she wants to ride into her first day of school on a cow named Willowdale Princess Deon Dawn.

But Gwyn isn’t in Crow, Iowa, just for royal cows. Her family has moved there, where her parents grew up, in the hopes of jogging her mother Vienna’s memory. Vienna has been suffering from memory loss since Gwyn was four. She can no longer remember anything past the age of thirteen, not even that she has two young daughters. Gwyn’s father is obsessed with finding out everything he can to help his wife, but Gwyn’s focused on problems that seem a little more within her reach. Like proving that the very strange Gaysie Cutter who lives next door is behind the disappearance of her only friend, Wilbur Truesdale.

Gwyn is sure she can crack the case, but when she does she finds that not all of her investigations lead her to the places she would have expected. In fact they might just lead her to learn about the mother she’s been doing her best to forget.


This read is packed to the gills with emotion, warmth, mystery, hope and heart.

Gwyn moves with her parents from New York back to her mother's childhood town—a very small town—with the hope that the environment will help her mother's memory return.While there, Gwyn befriends the neighborhood boys and soon finds herself investigating a man's disappearance. In the process, Gwyn uncovers so much more than she ever expected to.

This was not the book I expected, and the surprise was a treat. Gwyn is a loving girl with spunk, who is trying to handle the situation with her mother's memory loss. Considering her mother acts and thinks like a little child, Gwyn's reactions and hesitations are understandable. The culture shock of moving from New York to the little town adds to her difficulties, and is also very well done and believable. Gwyn has a lot on her plate and she has a personality to go with it, which makes her easy to sympathize with and cheer for.

The other characters are colorful and, especially Gaysie, have a personality all of their own. And it's this which makes the read unexpected and quirky and sometimes, simply, odd.

There is a lot going on in these pages. Not only is Gwyn trying to come to terms with her mother's condition, but the mysteries in the town hit many levels. There are many layers not only to the plot but to the feelings, making this a read even adults will enjoy. That said, the complexity also slows the read down and keeps the pacing at bay.

Still, this is an engaging read with characters who are hard to forget after the last page is done.

And here she is...

Amy Makechnie lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. You can visit her at MaisyMak.com.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review: The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz

by Jessie Janowitz
Middle Grade Contemporary
ages 9 to 12

Tristan isn't Gifted or Talented like his sister Jeanine, and he's always been okay with that because he can make a perfect chocolate chip cookie and he lives in the greatest city in the world. But his life takes a turn for the worse when his parents decide to move to middle-of-nowhere Petersville―a town with one street and no restaurants. It's like suddenly they're supposed to be this other family, one that can survive without bagels and movie theaters.

His suspicions about his new town are confirmed when he's tricked into believing the local general store has life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts, when in fact the owner hasn't made them in years. And so begins the only thing that could make life in Petersville worth living: getting the recipe, making the doughnuts, and bringing them back to the town through his very own doughnut stand. But Tristan will soon discover that when starting a business, it helps to be both Gifted and Talented, and it's possible he's bitten off more than he can chew...


The uncertainty of a twelve-year-old as he faces a whole new life thanks to a family move hits humor and an unexpected twist, which opens new doors in a way he never expected it could.

Tristan figures something is up when his parents take him and his two sisters for a ride into the countryside, leaving New York behind, but he never expected to be introduced to their new, future home on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. Not happy about any of it, he takes his bike to find at least something to eat for breakfast the first morning they are there. But the town is basically non-existence...definitely lacking on the breakfast end of things. When he sees a sign offering chocolate cream doughnuts, he thinks he's rescued. But that sign isn't all it seems, and soon he finds himself making a decision he would have never even considered in New York.

The author lures in the sympathy during the first chapters as Tristan and his sisters are forced to leave everything they love behind...and that without any care for their opinion on the matter. Add Tristan's uncertainty about himself, since his one sister is 'gifted' and he struggles with multiplication, and he's a boy readers can easily identify with. Despite the negatives, Tristan is daring and holds just the right amount of rebellious attitude to make him a character to cheer for. He makes mistakes but sees them and corrects them. And he does become frustrated along the way.

There are so many good things about this book, which make it a gem when it comes to food for thought. Tristan's self-doubt and how he tackles it is one lesson. His prejudice to the small town takes a real flip as he discovers how much richness the seemingly simple people there actually have...and some of the funniest quirks. There's a wonderful dash of working together and helping hands when most needed too. 

The most obvious theme of this tale is the building of his own business. The author masterfully weaves the basics of starting up a business and the troubles in entails into the story. Tristan faces hurdles he never expected, but ones which are very true to life. The solutions he finds are easy to understand and reflect reality. At the end of the book, there is a basic run-down of the most important parts of the process. 

Humor lines the entire tale like a constant, pink cloud. Not only is Tristan's youngest sister full of cute, silly moments, but the  town's people hit with personalities as colorful as a rainbow. The pacing in the book does fall back every now and then, making it more a read for bookworms then reluctant readers. But it's still an enjoyable journey with Tristan, and the information he learns is sure to inspire young entrepreneurs and spark ideas of their own. 

And here she is...

Jessie Janowitz grew up in New York City and still lives there with her family.

She started making up stories before she was old enough to write them down. She still has one that she dictated to her mother. It’s basically Star Wars but takes place on a planet called Denkofa. Eventually, she came up with more original material. Her debut middle grade novel THE DOUGHNUT FIX, came out from Sourcebooks on April 3, 2018, is not at all like Star Wars, but there are doughnuts.

You can find her at...

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Happy Book Birthday, Monster Boogie by Laurie Berkner!

by Laurie Berkner
Illustrated by Ben Clanton
Simon & Schuster
Picture Book/Music
ages 4 to 6
40 pages

Laurie Berkner, “the queen of children’s music” (People), pairs the lyrics of her infectious hit song with Ben Clanton’s whimsical illustrations in this groovy and adorable picture book—a must-have for fans of Laurie, dancing, and all things monstrous!

I’m the biggest monster
that you’ve ever seen!
My eyes are purple
and my teeth are green.
I’m big and I’m scary,
you know what I mean?
And this is what I like to do… 

Boogie away those bedtime fears and embrace your inner monster with Monster Boogie, based on Laurie Berkner’s irresistibly fun song and featuring lively, playful artwork by Ben Clanton!

I do the monster boogie.
So can you!


This is a fun mix—an addictive song paired with bright illustrations—which brings monstrous entertainment.

There's a monster in the bedroom, one with green teeth and purple eyes. He appears to be scary, at first. But this monster doesn't have roars and growls in mind. All he wants to do is boogie and wiggle.

Laurie Berkner's song comes to life in these pages, allowing an energy packed monster to come to life. The text is simple enough for even younger listeners to understand and, coming from the song, repeats itself. Although this does come across as repetitious at times, it also makes the phrases catchy for kids and easy forthem to 'read' along even when they can't read the words themselves. A possibly scary monster transforms into a source of giggles and will have young readers boogie-ing and wiggling themselves. Still, the message is clear—first impressions can be deceiving. Because this monster is anything but frightening.

The illustrations are bright and add just the right amount of silliness and excitement. While the phrases from the song repeat themselves, the action in the illustrations does not. It's the combination of these two which makes the book entertaining.

For those, who aren't familiar with the song or might want the chance to play it themselves, the music score is on the back of the book. But even without it, this is an easy to enjoy read which guarantees smiles for fans of silly monsters.

And here she is...

Recognized as "the queen of children's music" (People magazine), Laurie Berkner is a singer, songwriter, lyricist, author, and founder of Two Tomatoes Records.  She has released twelve bestselling, award-winning albums, was the first recording artist ever to perform in music videos on Nick Jr., and appeared regularly on the network’s Jack’s Big Music Show.  Laurie's music has graced the short-form animated series Sing It, Laurie! on 24-hour preschool television channel Sprout, and she has been a frequent  guest on Sprout's Sunny Side Up morning show.  Venturing into the theater world, Laurie has written music and lyrics for two Off-Broadway children’s musicals produced by New York City Children’s Theatre:  The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess and Wanda’s Monster.  A third NYCCT show featuring Laurie’s music and lyrics, Interstellar Cinderella, will open Off-Broadway in November 2017. What sets Laurie apart?  Her music speaks to kids without talking down to them, charming youngsters without boring grownups.  Laurie finds inspiration in her audience.  “I want to create songs that matter for children,” she says.  “I was singing once and saw a four-year-old girl shut her eyes and start swaying to the music.  I thought, ‘That’s the reason I got into music.’  It keeps me wanting to do more.”