Sunday, March 31, 2019

Review: Lion Down by Stuart Gibbs

FunJungle Series, Book Five
by Stuart Gibbs
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Mystery
352 pages
ages 8 to 12

Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth when a lion is falsely accused of killing a distinguished dog in the latest novel in New York Times bestselling author Stuart Gibbs’s FunJungle series.

For once, operations at the enormous zoo/theme park appear to be running smoothly (except for the occasional herring-related mishap in the penguin exhibit) and Teddy Fitzroy is finally able to give detective work a rest. But then a local lion is accused of killing a famous dog—and the dog’s owner, an inflammatory radio host, goes on a crusade to have the cat declared a nuisance so it can be hunted. But it looks like the lion might have been framed, and a renegade animal activist wants Teddy and Summer to help prove it. Soon, Teddy finds himself wrapped up in the middle of his most bizarre, hilarious, and dangerous case yet.


Mixing humor with animal excitement and mystery, this is a fun read until the very last page.

Teddy is having quite the time with the new fish-cannon, which is supposed to be the new way to feed the penguins, when another problem appears. A dog has been murdered, and not just any dog. It's an important dog of an important person. The murderer is said to be lion. When the owner of the dog makes it his quest to have the lion qualified as dangerous and killed, Teddy needs to prove that it wasn't the lions fault. But no case is easy.

This is the first book I've read in the series, but that didn't cause any difficulties in sinking into the characters and the mystery. The author does a tremendous job at grabbing the reader right away. There's a lovely mix of wit, humor and dangerous tension, which makes it impossible to put this book down. Every page hooks, and each situation offers something new—whether mystery wise or simply fun on the humor end of things.

The characters are very easy to connect with and root for. Each interaction was a treat, and just right for the intended age group. There isn't an overfill on character depth, leaving them more with a cartoon feeling, but this works very well in the series and is sure to meet readers the way it should. 

This is a fun read and I can only recommend it.

And here he is...
Stuart Gibbs is the author of the FunJungle Series, as well as the New York Times bestselling Spy School and Moon Base Alpha series. He has written the screenplays for movies like See Spot Run and Repli-Kate, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC, and Fox. Stuart lives with his family in Los Angeles. You can learn more about what he's up to at

Friday, March 29, 2019

Review: Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir by Julie Bertagna

The Daring Adventures of John Muir
by Julie Bertagna
Illustrated by William Goldsmith
Yosemite Conservancy
Graphic Novel / Historical Fiction
ages 8 to 12
128 pages

John Muir led an adventurous life, starting with his wild and playful boyhood in Scotland to his legendary exploits in America, where he became an inventor, a global explorer, and the first modern environmentalist—and even made friends with a president! His heart was always in the outdoors and he aimed to experience all he could. Most importantly, though, John Muir told the world about the wonders of nature. His words made a difference and inspired people in many countries to start protecting planet Earth— and they still do.

This book can be purchased directly from the Yosemite Conservancy

All proceeds go directly to supporting Yosemite National Park


"Feel the life around you and inside you." These are one of the many wise phrases from John Muir, and only one of the many treasures this fun story presents.

John Muir was a young boy, who grew up in Scotland. He tended to get distracted, especially by anything outdoors and wild. One day, his father makes an announcement—they're moving to America. As if the ship wasn't enough of an adventure, they also find themselves on an ox cart to Wisconsin. There, he discovers not only more about nature, but also about inventing. But then, this is only the beginning of his many adventures.

Written in graphic novel form, this is a book kids will easily pick up and flip through. The first chapter starts out with a young John Muir leading a very usual life in Scotland. Young readers will immediately sympathize with his days in school and be pulled in thanks to the precarious and funny predicaments he finds himself in. After these first scenes are set, the story grows richer and more entertaining as he continues to America, and the true adventure begins.

The tale surrounds a historical figure many readers haven't heard of before, and even though there are important historical moments and occurrences, none ever come across as boring or 'teachy'. The book makes sure that readers see the fun in life and living, along with the wisdom and knowledge that come with experience, by creating an exciting and enjoyable atmosphere on every page.

The illustrations add the right amount of fun, humor, and excitement. They flow very nicely with the text and are easy to follow. At the beginning of the book, the main figures are quickly introduced along with subtle but humorous quirks. At the end of the book, there's a concise chronology of the highlights from John Muir's life, a glossary for more difficult terms, and a short list of sources where the inspirations for this book came from.

This is a fun book which introduces readers to a very interesting, historical figure and is sure to drive boredom far away.

Julie Bertagna
The author and illustrator originally wrote this book for The Scottish Book Trush, which is a nonprofit in Scotland which supports literacy and literature.

If you'd like to know more about John Muir, here are two great links:
-John Muir National Historic Site (a national park site):
-Sierra Club John Muir exhibit, which includes the text of all his books, quotes, links, etc. I'm on this web site often!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Review: Little Bella's Nighttime Wonderland by Joy Fernandez

by Joy Fernandez
Illustrated by Brianna Baker
Belle Isle Books
Picture Book
ages 4 to 7

As Little Bella snuggles down for bed, she looks out her window and can’t believe what she sees! Fireflies illuminate a nighttime wonderland that unfolds right before her eyes.


Each page embraces a realistic wonderland and draws to nighttime dreams.

It's Bella's bedtime, but before she snuggles into her bed for the night, she asks her mother if she can stare out of the window for a few moments. And what a wonderful sight it is! The nighttime displays its beauty as shy creatures peek out and insects begin their songs and play. It's the thing dreams are made of right outside her bedroom.

I love how this book takes the simplicity of nature and shows how wondrous it really can be. Each two-page spread draws into a fairy tale like atmosphere while portraying nothing more than deer, grasshoppers, fireflies and the such. Young readers are sure to discover a new appreciation for the world around them and will even peer out of their windows themselves to catch the world's wonders.

The text is just right for the intended age group and written in gentle rhyme, which flows fine. The illustrations are, for the most part, beautiful and truly capture the magic nighttime can display. It makes for a nice read aloud at bedtime.

And here they are...

The Author...
Joy Fernandez, a realtor and freelance writer, resides in the beautiful countryside outside Fredericksburg, Virginia. There, she and her husband raise three children and many animals, including her favorite pet, Fiona the goat. Joy’s unique love of nature inspired the writing of her first children’s book, Little Bella’s Nighttime Wonderland. Through her work, she hopes to teach small children to appreciate the natural beauty that can be found all around them.

The Illustrator...
Brianna Baker studied Communication Arts & Visual Technology at George Mason University from 2010 to 2013. After graduating early, she immediately started writing and illustrating children’s books. Brianna is happy to be a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. As an illustrator, she aims to create art that inspires imagination, kindness, and empathy.

You can discover more at...

Cover Reveal: Lost Horizon by Michelle Hercules with Giveaway!

Lost Horizon 
by Michelle Hercules 
Oz in Space, #1
YA Fantasy, Romance

June 10th, 2019!!!

A magical planet torn apart by war. A defiant space pilot cadet determined to save the ones she loves. The adventure of a lifetime.
Oz like you have never seen before.
Space Academy prodigy Dorothy Hanson doesn’t have time for love nonsense. She has one goal, complete the mission her parents started before their untimely death.
When a cosmic disturbance hits the Kansas Space Station, Dorothy seizes that opportunity to go on her first space voyage. She didn’t expect to be sucked into a vortex nor land on a strange planet ravaged by war.
Stranded, she must embark on a perilous mission to the Land of Oz, the only nation that possesses the technology to send her home. Three strangers join Dorothy in her quest, all carrying reasons of their own for reaching Emerald City. A man without memories marked with a strange symbol on his face. A cyborg with a chip on his shoulder and a mysterious past. And a scarred hellioncat plagued by nightmares in the dark.
Dorothy doesn’t know if she can trust them, but as their journey progresses, their bond becomes stronger and Dorothy’s feelings evolve from suspicion to caring too much. Torn between contradicting emotions, she must find the strength to fight the evil forces that stack up against them along the way. Surviving the trip on the yellow road is priority number one, but can she survive losing her heart?

And here she is...
USA Today bestselling author Michelle Hercules always knew creative arts were her calling but not in a million years did she think she would write a novel. With a background in fashion design she thought she would follow that path. But one day, out of the blue, she had an idea for a book. One page turned into ten pages, ten pages turned into a hundred, and before she knew, her first book, The Prophecy of Arcadia, was born.
Michelle Hercules resides in The Netherlands with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on the Legends of Gattica series.


Happy Book Birthday, Murder Is A Debate by Brandy Nacole

Murder is a Debate
by Brandy Nacole
YA Mystery

Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Nora and her two best friends, Liv and Nina, aren’t like most people. Nora is the private school kid; the rich girl, though everyone hates her. Liv and Nina attend the run-down public school on the opposite side of town where the football team is a solid two and the art department was shut down due to funding. Their worlds should have never collided, but they had one common factor that brought them together, murder.
In an online mystery chat room, the three girls meet and decide to form The Murder Club. Each week one of the girls must come up with a murder scenario for the other two to solve. It’s fun. It’s active. It’s also deadly.
When one of Nora’s classmates ends up dead, she’s suspicious of her new friends. His death mirrors the very same scenario Nora came up with in their previous meeting. As clues emerge, pointing more definitively at the members of the Murder Club, Nora begins digging for her own clues, bringing fantasy to reality. Could Liv and Nina be involved, and if so why?
They were all curious, but the question is, was one of them too curious?

Whenever she’s not reading or writing, Brandy is spending time with her family and friends, throwing around crazy ideas, teaching, and singing like a rock star at a concert for no one else but herself. She loves plants, but unfortunately is a killer of anything that requires water but can’t voice (scream) their needs.
Author Links:

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Worst Kind of Love by Jonah Evarts with Giveaway!

The Worst Kind of Love
by Jonah Evarts
YA Fiction

This is a love story. Just not the kind you're thinking of.
Jaden is dealing with some major heart aches as he enters his first semester of college. All he wants is to forget about his ex, find a new girlfriend, and get semi-decent grades. But life has much more complicated plans for him. Dauring his first day of class, he meets Cole, probably the most attractive male human being on the planet. Jaden is immediately overshadowed, throwing a wrench in his plans to find a girlfriend. It doesn't help that the single girl he is interested in wants absolutely nothing to do with him.
That soon becomes the least of his problems, as old enemies of his mental health, family, and way of thinking begin to overtake his life. Jaden tells a story of friendship, learning, and love as he uncovers truths about himself and life. A journey of endurance and self-growth awaits him as he skates through the roller-coaster that is life with many movie nights and plenty of good food to help him get by.
He isn't trying to have a love story, but he's getting one anyway. With himself.

**only .99 cents!!**

Jonah Evarts is only 18 years old, and began writing his debut novel when he was just 15. He lives in Manhattan, Kansas with two old people who gave birth to him, a twenty-something dude that lives in the basement, and two adorable canines. Growing up as a military child, Jonah lived in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and Korea (yes really) before coming to Kansas. He says that Kansas is boring. He may be correct. Jonah loves movies, music, and the occasional writing of a book. He hopes to combine these three activities in the future, and make a career out of it. Support this poor man-child in his attempt to do something with his life.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Happy Book Birthday, Dragon Swan Princess by Tamara Grantham


Today is the exciting release day for the second book in the Twisted Ever After series by Tamara Grantham. This series debuted two weeks ago with the first novel—The Witch's Tower—which hit four different best seller lists! Grab your copy of book two— Dragon Swan Princess— today! Plus, as an added incentive, Tamara Grantham asked if we could do a deal for release day and drop the book from it's normal $4.99 price point to $2.99! This is a very limited time offer that can change at any time, so we do recommend trying to get your digital copy on release day!



Dragon Swan Princess Tamara Grantham (Twisted Ever After, #2) Published by: Clean Teen Publishing Publication date: March 26th 2019 Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult

Odette is a prisoner, and her captor’s plans for her are unthinkable. But with a magical mark on her shoulder and the survival of her people hanging in the balance—she has no choice but to comply. Drekken has come home to find he must marry a noble – but he has no desire to do so. When their paths cross, sparks fly. True love and obligation war in this epic retelling of the Swan Princess story.
"Tamara Grantham, the author of THE WITCH’S TOWER, weaves the loose ends about the well-known character Rapunzel and brings forth a masterpiece." ~Lucia W. (Teen Read Magazine)


*Sale may change at any time.

The Witch’s Tower 
by Tamara Grantham
Twisted Ever After, #1
Clean Teen Publishing 
YA Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel—or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well—until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.
Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.

THE WITCH’S TOWER is the first in an inspired new series of fairy-tale retellings from award-winning fantasy author Tamara Grantham.

And here she is...

Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series and the Shine novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance of 2016, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews. Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series. Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks--which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds--and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at

Monday, March 25, 2019

Review: Off Planet by Aileen Erin

Aunare Chronicles, Book One
by Aileen Erin
Ink Monster, LLC
Young Adult Science Fiction

In an all-too-plausible future where corporate conglomerates have left the world’s governments in shambles, anyone with means has left the polluted Earth for the promise of a better life on a SpaceTech owned colony among the stars.

Maité Martinez is the daughter of an Earther Latina and a powerful Aunare man, an alien race that SpaceTech sees as a threat to their dominion. When tensions turn violent, Maité finds herself trapped on Earth and forced into hiding.

For over ten years, Maité has stayed hidden, but every minute Maité stays on Earth is one closer to getting caught.

She’s lived on the streets. Gone hungry. And found a way to fight through it all. But one night, while waitressing in a greasy diner, a customer gets handsy with her. She reacts without thinking.

Covered in blood, Maité runs, but it’s not long before SpaceTech finds her…

Arrested and forced into dangerous work detail on a volcano planet, Maité waits for SpaceTech to make their move against the Aunare. She knows that if she can’t somehow find a way to stop them, there will be an interstellar war big enough to end all life in the universe.

There’s only one question: Can Maité prevent the total annihilation of humanity without getting herself killed in the process?


This is one of the most exciting reads I've seen this year, and I can't wait to dive into book two.

SpaceTech controls most things on the planet, and powerful as they are, they are at constant odds with the Aunare —an alien culture who leads Earth in many areas. SpaceTech has fought this by killing all Aunarians on the planet. Maite, the daughter of the leader of the Aunarian and part human, has been hiding on Earth ever since the first wave of genocide with her mother, living in constant fear of being discovered, while working at a diner and teaching martial arts in the evenings.  When a strange man appears at her apartment and claims to have been searching for her for thirteen years in cooperation with her father, she's not sure whether to be happy or flee. Just before the extraction can happen to meet with her father again, the head of SpaceTech tricks her into committing a so-called crime, and the horror begins.

From the very first page, this story grabbed me in. Maite's plight draws at the heartstrings, especially when it becomes clear that she's doing the best she can...not being stupid...and yet, manages to fight against the corruption and help in her own small way. She's a great fighter but not unbeatable. She walks a tight balance, and it's wonderful to see a character who isn't a complete fool and handles logic, mistakes and troubles with a pretty natural and believable feel.

There are many side characters, but each one holds their own purpose and personality. The author reveals enough backstory to make each character leave an impression while still holding many questions to be answered in the rest of the series. But this is the same as far as Maite is concerned. Her memory has been wiped for very good reasons, and this leaves a wonderful fog for lots of interesting twists and turns to come.

While the first chapters sink into Maite's life and start to give the impression that the story might be slow, the impression is completely incorrect. The tale builds and gains on pacing, not only exposing more and more layers of intrigue but also growing in character depth and tension—harsh, at times—with every passing page. This is even true on the romance end. There are so many hints at what might become a triangle or other interests, but that is not the main thrust of this story, and even this side remains very open for much more in the books to come.

The world building is very well done. The first chapters are very familiar and allow the reader to first gain a connection to Maite before heading off into the stronger science fiction elements. These are built with care and seep in mostly with logic and careful pacing. The one or two stumbles on explanations are easily forgiven and didn't bother the story in the slightest. Science fiction fans definitely get their thrill as the chapters deepen, and the tech and alien possibilities expand in exciting ways.

This is a great begin to a very promising science fiction series, and I'm looking forward to see where the adventure goes next.

Sneak Peek: Tinsey Clover by Chelsea Walker Flagg

 by Chelsea Walker Flagg
Early Middle Grade
216 pp. 
$10.99 (paperback) 
$7.99 (Kindle)

Tinsey Clover is smart. She’s brave. Also, she can’t carry a tune to save her life. Oh yeah, plus she’s an elf the size of a chipmunk. When her bizarre magical power grows in and makes her feel like a total outsider in her own village, Tinsey sneaks into the forbidden forest on a journey to find someone more like her. From trolls to dragons, what she discovers along the way challenges everything, and everyone, she thought she knew.

A coming of age story for early middle grade fans of Sarah Mlynowski, Kate DiCamillo, and Chris Colfer.



Today’s the day. The day I’m finally going to sneak out of Snugglepunk to explore the rest of the Bungaborg Forest. Of course, I said the same thing yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. But, today, I really mean it.

I brush a strand of shaggy purple hair out of my full moon emerald green eyes and make a thirty-degree turn to the right followed by forty-four paces. A full right-angle turn to the left then another hundred-and-seven steps. I calculate the path with precision, quietly weaving my way in and out of massive brown tree trunks so old, you could climb into their wrinkles and stay hidden for weeks. The trees shoot up most likely all the way to space, spreading their enormous, greedy branches to hog all the sunlight for themselves.

Not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty much an expert sneaker. I mean, when you’ve done something as much as I’ve done this, it’s hard not to be an expert. Another ninety degree right turn. I’m close now. Thirty more yards, which is no small distance when you’re only the size of a chipmunk. Still, my bare feet know the way by heart. They glide quickly over the mossy ground beneath me.

I tune into my slightly pointy ears for a second. Part of being a great sneaker is using all your senses. I hear the call of the morning Icelandic birds and a soft, melodic humming of the other trealfur elves waking up. It’s not an unusual sound.

Trealfur elves always hum. It’s just something you do when you’ve got the best singing voices in the forest.

Chelsea is an award-winning author of both adult and children’s books. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and three practically perfect daughters.

TWITTER: @chelseaflagg

Happy Book Birthday, A Tale of Two Houses by Susan Harris with Giveaway!

A Tale of Two Houses 
by Susan Harris 
Defy the Stars, #1
 Clean Teen Publishing
YA Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Centuries ago, the royal house of witches in Vernanthia split into two factions: House Cambridge and House Montgomery. These two houses warred with each other for an age, causing widespread bloodshed and death. Those without magic—the Nulls—suffered the most. One day, a favored daughter of the Nulls was slain. With her dying breath, she cursed the covens to know no peace until love was possible between the houses.
That curse had long since been forgotten—until now.
Julian Montgomery is the reluctant Prince of House Montgomery and Rowan Cambridge is in no rush to become the Queen of House Cambridge. Both heirs long for freedom from their birthright obligations. When fate throws these two star-crossed lovers together, it sends them on a collision course with destiny that neither could have predicted.
Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet is reimagined in this compelling drama about two young people drawn by fate into an unwinnable situation. If you think you know how this story ends—think again!


“Go talk to her already.”
I jumped at the sound of Toby’s voice, who was grinning at me so much, I could see the white of his teeth.
“Go talk to her already,” he repeated, inclining his head toward the person I’d been staring at. “You’ve been standing there staring at her for quite a while. It’s starting to get weird.”
“I haven’t been staring,” I said with not much conviction as I took a large gulp of my ale.
“Yes, you have. Now is the perfect opportunity to go and ask her to dance. Considering she’s been eyeballing you when she thinks no one is looking, I do not think she will refuse you. Besides, I’m pretty certain the gorgeous creature beside her is the future queen of the Cambridge coven. You go romance her attack dog. Leave the princess to me.”
There was a hint of menace in his tone, a wolfish smile on his face. I put a hand on Toby’s arm. “We will not insult Ashbridge’s invitation by waging war here. It is horrid enough that we are stealing under his nose. Promise me, Toby. No bloodshed here.”
“Unless provoked, my Prince, there will be no bloodshed.”
I lift my arm from Toby’s as the seriousness fled his features. “Now, go get the girl.”
He pushed me forward and I almost stumbled in the dim light, causing me to glare at him for a moment before I rolled my shoulders and prayed that I don’t make an absolute fool of myself. My heart thundered like a drum as I made my way toward the girl, noticing that her eyes were the same color as her dress. My palms were sweating, and I licked my lips to try and rid myself of the dryness.
I stood a mere breath away from her when she turned in my direction, and I could not find the words to speak. Her companion, the girl Toby thought to be the Cambridge heir, giggled, even as Auggie chuckled, a dash of mischief in his eyes. But I blocked them out, my steely focus on the girl with the green eyes and a smile made of sunshine.
“I was wondering, M’lady, if you would dance with me?” I held out my hand, trying to ignore the tremble.

And here she is...
Susan Harris is a writer from Cork in Ireland.
An avid reader, she quickly grew to love books in the supernatural/fantasy and Dystopian genre. She writes books for young adults and adults alike.
When she is not writing or reading, she loves music, oriental cultures, tattoos, creepy snow globes, DC shoes, stationary, anything Disney, Marvel movies, psychology and far too many TV shows. If she wasn't a writer, she would love to be a FBI profiler or a PA for Dave Grohl or Jared Leto.