Saturday, August 31, 2019

Happy Book Birthday, Kylest's Reign by Michelle Dare

Kylest’s Reign
by Michelle Dare
YA Paranormal Romance
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design

As fae prince, Kylest, treated protecting his people as a sacred honor and duty. His sister’s unexplained disappearance dealt a blow to his heart and pride. He would leave no stone unturned in his search for her.
Raven, a common fae, never dreamed Prince Kylest would ask her to help find the princess. Turning him down never crossed her mind. For Raven, a chance to serve the royal family was a special privilege.
They searched high and low, spending every moment together. Kylest tried to stay focused, but somewhere along the way, Raven became more than just a friend. He wanted more. He wanted her to be his.
Fate worked in mysterious ways, even if it had terrible timing.
The princess was still missing. Chaos erupted. Enemies resurfaced. The only way Kylest and Raven would emerge unscathed was to admit love made them stronger together.

Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.

Author Links:
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Buy Links:
Wake’s Claim:
Ford’s Fate:
Kylest’s Reign:

Friday, August 30, 2019

Review: Grape! by Gabriel Arquilevich

by Gabriel Arquilevich
Regal House Publishing
Middle Grade Historical
198 pages

SEPTEMBER 27th, 2019!!!

Grape is in trouble again! He punched Miss Roof in the arm! Now he’s suspended for two weeks, and Principal Clarkson has threatened to send him to Riverwash, a school for problem kids. But he has one last chance. Grape must spend an hour a day writing about his history of trouble, and there’s a lot of trouble to choose from... Grape’s best friend Lou is by his side, and even though Grape drives his parents crazy, they’re pulling for him all the way. But will Grape make sense of it all? Will it be enough to keep him out of Riverwash?


Bitter-sweetness and a touch of humor make this a tale which touches the heart and proves there's more to trouble than just being mean.

Grape is in trouble again, but this time, he's suspended from school for two weeks. The principal hasn't decided whether to let Grape return or send him of to a school for problem children. Grape's one chance is to write down his memories of the times he's gotten in trouble over the years. And there are some big ones to chose from. But as he writes, he might discover more than the unfairness in all of it.

While starting and ending with the usual story scenes, the rest of these pages constitute Grape's journal. It takes place in the 1970's with a boy who tries his best to work with people, but they never seem to work with him back. In the end, the spiders talk in his head and things go wacky or simply wrong. Each episode is a mixture of humor and heart-aching consequences. Grape's mistakes are clear. Still, he never has ill intentions...not mean, anyway. He, like many kids, ends up finding himself in situations which blur the lines of rules, necessities or desire. Readers will understand Grape's problems and feel for him, while clearly seeing what exactly went wrong and why.

Grape isn't a normal kid. This is never directly said but becomes clear as the tale goes on. It's never said what exactly his problem is (outside of an accident which leaves a cracked skull when he's very young), only that he has spiders which wiggle and talk in his head when they shouldn't. It's a gentle way to help readers understand those who might be a bit different. It makes a great read for especially for the classroom environment and is sure to bring new awareness and insights into understanding those around us.

And here he is...

Gabriel Arquilevich was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, a child of Argentine immigrants, a child of the ‘70s. His earliest memory of writing goes back to middle school. Later in college, he began writing poetry, and following the encouragement of a beloved teacher, pursued this with a passion. In time, he was off to UMASS Amherst, where a few years later with his MFA in hand, he took a job teaching sixth grade in Ojai, California. It was here where he says he fell in love three times: once with his wife, once with teaching, and then again with children’s literature. He's authored several middle-grade/early high school textbooks, including How to Write an Essay, A Guide to Using Shiloh in the Classroom, and World Religions (Teacher Created Materials). He also published Writing for 100 Days, which was named Cathy Duffy’s Top 101 Picks for homeschoolers. His poetry, published widely, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Jumbie God's Revenge by Tracey Baptiste

The Jumbies, Book 3
by Tracey Baptiste
Algonquin Books
Middle Grade Fantasy
272 pages

SEPTEMBER 3rd, 2019!!!

In book three of the popular Jumbies series, Corinne must use her emerging supernatural powers to battle the angry god who would destroy her Caribbean island home.

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.


Thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions today! The Jumbie God's
Revenge is the third book following the Jumbies. Did you have this one all worked out
when you started the series? 
I didn't think I had a 3rd jumbies book in me when Elise Howard asked me for one. And I
was working on two other books at the time. So I started writing down little ideas on post-it
notes and sticking them on the wall in my office. Eventually I had enough little ideas that I
could see how the whole thing would come together. I outlined the story, something I usually
don't do, and then I started writing.
This wasn't intended to be a trilogy. It has expanded by single books every time. Who knows
where it will end at this point? The great part was that people wanted more and more jumbies,
and if I had thought of a series at the beginning, I definitely would not have come up with the
ideas that I did under pressure. The difficult part was that because I didn't intended for it to be
a series there were things I didn't set up in the first novel which made things hard in book 2 and
then book 3.
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from this latest adventure? 
The moment that Corinne comes into her full jumbie powers when she is up in the mountains
and goes to the fire to have a chat with Papa Bois is easily my favorite. It's powerful and
surprising and also a little bit gross.
If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be? 
That it has to be treated like any other skill. It takes time and patience and courage, but it also
needs to be nurtured. I'd remind myself to be gentle. I went to Catholic all girl schools my whole
life, so being gentle was never on the menu.
What are you currently reading? What’s in your TBR pile? 
Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli (I read at
least one physics book a year), Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly, Hurricane
Season by Nicole Melleby, Ancient West African Kingdoms: Ghana, Mali, & Songhai by Mary
Quigley (for research for a nonfiction book I'm writing), An Indigenous Peoples' History of the
United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and quite a few others for both
research and pleasure.

And here she is...

Tracey Baptiste is a New York Times bestselling author who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago on jumbie stories and fairy tales. Moving to the United States at fifteen was one of the hardest and most exciting times of her life. Tracey is a former elementary teacher and editor. She writes everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, both fiction and nonfiction. She currently teaches at Lesley University's MFA program in Creative Writing. You can find her online at and on Twitter: @TraceyBaptiste

Where to find Tracey Baptiste:

Sneak Peek: The Dream Weaver by Chantae Oliver with Giveaway

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Review: Wonderland Academy by Melanie Karsak with Giveaway!

Wonderland Academy

 Book One 
by Melanie Karsak 
August 27th 2019
YA  Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Retelling

Welcome to Wonderland Academy. Don’t lose your head. 

Getting into Wonderland Academy is easy:
You must be a little mad.
You must follow the white rabbit.
You must find the key to enter Wonderland.
You must not be named Alice or risk being beheaded by order of the Queen of Hearts.
We might have an issue with that last one.
My name may be Alice, but Wonderland Academy is everything my real life isn’t. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to ride a jabberwocky, train with a vorpal sword, cast spells using a teacup, or shapeshift into a fairy? As long as no one figures out my real name, I should be fine.
The only problem? Aden, the Queen of Hearts’ son, is quickly becoming my best friend. And then there’s Corbin. Brooding, surly, tattooed, and definitely not my type, I can’t stop thinking about him. But Corbin has secrets of his own, and Wonderland and secrets don’t mix.
How I’m going to pass my classes and protect my secret like my life depends on it is beyond me. But I better find a way. Because in Wonderland, no Alice is safe. 
Wonderland Academy re-imagines the fantastical world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland for a fresh, new adventure. Combining whimsy, magic, and a splash of steampunk, New York Times best-selling author Melanie Karsak invites you into this beautifully re-envisioned fairy tale adventure. 
Wonderland Academy is a college-level academy novel. It contains a slow-burn (not rh) romance. The novel is clean aside from mild language. This is Book 1 in a planned trilogy. Book 1 ends on a cliffhanger (Frodo didn’t reach Mount Doom in a day, after all).
Trigger Warning: This novel also includes references to a school shooting.


This novel took a bit for me to sink into, but once I did, I didn't want to put it down and was sad when the last page hit. 

Ever since Lacey witnessed her boyfriends death during a school shooting, she's been having a rough go at things. She's in the psych ward again, but this time she truly didn't try to commit suicide. Not that anyone really believes her. Just happy to get out and take another run at regular life her grandmother throws a surprise at her—a packed suitcase along with a ticket to the Wonderland Academy. Without warning, Lacey is thrust into the land of Lewis Carroll with one very strong warning. She's not to tell anyone her true first name and not to lose her head. But as things grow stranger and stranger, she needs to find footing in a very strange world and a very strange school and an even stranger secret plan, which no one wants to tell her anything about. Only that she is there to destroy their world as they know it.

The first chapter hits off with Lacey and a nurse, discussing her release and attempted/or not attempted suicide. Lacey carries a lot of baggage, and it was tough to connect with her and what was happening during these first pages. But when she launches into Wonderland, everything starts making sense in a mad sort of way. The world building is imagination pure and draws in until everything seems possible and magical. It's perfect for fantasy friends or those who simply love Wonderland. The author takes the time for Lacey, the Academy and those around her to develop, while allowing the more sinister plot to slowly unfold bit by bit. There's magic. There's intrigue. There's drama. And there's romance.

Friendship and trust are key in these pages, and while some heart-warming moments arise, there's enough truth hidden in the shadows to keep the reader guessing. Not everything is as it seems, and Lacey tries to trust her gut. Which can be good at times, and bad at others. It's a great beginning to a series which promises quite a bit of fun. The romance might be clear-cut and might not, and Lacey's allies might be truly holding good intentions or they might not. But it's exactly this madness which makes wonderland (And this book) a fun guessing game. 

I'm looking forward to seeing where all of it will go next.


Setting my bag in a chair by the window, I pulled on my coat. It was pouring. Drops rolled down the windowpane, distorting the view of the sidewalk below. As I pulled my jacket on, however, I noticed someone on the sidewalk below. He was looking up at the window. I couldn’t make him out clearly, but from what I could see, he was wearing some kind of period costume and a top hat. He had long, pale blond hair that almost looked white.
“You all think I’m a lunatic? There’s some guy standing outside in the rain in a Victorian get-up and top hat.”
“What?” Mom asked. “What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know. Just some rando guy standing in the rain,” I said then turned, zipped up my coat, and grabbed the bag.
Nurse Gilman stepped to the window and looked outside. “It’s really coming down,” she said, eyeing the sky. She then strained her neck to the left and right. “Your mystery man must have gone back inside.”
“He was right there,” I said.
A sick feeling rocked my stomach. No, no, no. He was there. Dammit, he really was there. I edged toward the window and looked outside. I was right. The man was standing right there, looking up at the window.
He waved at me.
“Where?” Nurse Gilman asked, looking up and down the sidewalk.
“There,” I said, motioning hesitantly.
“I must have missed him,” Nurse Gilman said with a shrug.
I stared at the man.
He waved again.
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.
“Yeah,” I said. “Maybe they’re doing a show in the children’s wing or something,” I muttered then turned from the window.
I didn’t want Nurse Gilman to see my face.
Mom, however, caught my eye. Her eyebrows scrunched together as she gave me a hard look.
I dropped her gaze.
I absolutely, positively, did not want to have that conversation on the way home.
“I’m ready,” I told Mom.
“Good. Let’s get you the hell out of here.”
“Be well,” Nurse Gilman said. She motioned to the nurses’ station. The door to the waiting room unlocked with a click. Nurse Gilman motioned to us that we were free to go.
Mom and I headed down the dim hallway of the fifth-floor psych ward. The narrow hall felt like it was a million miles long. It wasn’t until we were safely inside the elevator that I finally exhaled.
“Your phone,” Mom said, handing it to me.
I had a few missing calls, messages from old friends, but there wasn’t anyone I wanted to talk to anyway. I stared at the screensaver, which had a picture of Nicholas and me. The photo had been taken just before homecoming, before everything went to shit. We’d gone for a hike that day. The autumn leaves in the background were bright orange and burnt red. We were both bundled up, our cheeks red, faces pressed together. We’d spent the entire hike planning a future that would never come to pass.
I turned off my phone and stuck it in my pocket.
Mom punched the elevator button for the ground floor.
I kept my eyes on the lights above the door, praying Mom wouldn’t ask anything.
It wasn’t until we’d passed the second floor that Mom whispered, “Lacey, are you seeing—”
“I’m fine. Really. I’m fine.”
She didn’t answer, which told me she knew well-enough I was not fine.
They’d been popping up in my periphery more frequently for the last two weeks. People who were there then not there. Flickers of light. Shadows that whispered. Otherworldy shapes. Their presence wasn’t anything new to me. While I was more prone to see them during times of stress, they’d been there all my life. I knew that if I really looked, I’d see them. It was better to ignore them.
A mermaid had taught me that.
Mom and I headed to the front of the hospital. I couldn’t wait to get away from the terrible hospital smell. A weird mix of the scents of bleach, chrysanthemums, green beans, and Band-Aids perfumed the place. It was enough to make a person gag.
Raining or not, I was relieved when the hospital doors opened. I inhaled the sweet scent of the rain-soaked air. Mom’s rusted-out Mustang sat waiting just outside.
“Okay. Let‘s run for it,” Mom called, and we sprinted to the car.
Holding my plastic bag above my head, I ran, flinging open the door of the vehicle. But just before I climbed inside, I cast a glance down the sidewalk.
The man was still standing there. He pulled something from his pocket and tapped on it. He waved to me, a broad smile on his face.
“Lacey, you’re letting the rain in,” Mom yelled.
I slipped into the car, slamming the door behind me.
Mom revved the engine then drove off, her nineties rock springing to life. I leaned forward and clicked off the music. The last thing I needed was the dulcet tones of Nirvana shouting at me post suicide watch.
Sighing, I leaned back into the seat and closed my eyes.
Why was I seeing them again?
The white-haired man had been pointing at a pocket watch. A pocket watch.
What in the hell did that mean?
I hadn’t meant to kill myself.
Not this time.
It figured. On the morning I’d been discharged from the psych ward, I was beginning to lose my mind.

And here she is...

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, The Celtic Blood Series, Steampunk Red Riding Hood, and Steampunk Fairy Tales. The author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Southern New Hampshire University.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Review: Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Aven Green, #2
by Dusti Bowling
Sterling Children's Books
Upper Middle Grade/Tween Contemporary
320 pages

SEPTEMBER 17th, 2019!!!

“High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.” 

The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school. 

Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?


Firstly, I did not read the first book in this series, although I have heard quite a bit about it. While reading the first book would have helped to know who the characters were, at times, and their backgrounds, I had absolutely no trouble sinking into this book. I recommend reading the first book but can't say there's a problem with picking up the second instead.

Aven is entering high school, and after just getting settled into middle school, she's more than nervous at the idea of having to adjust again. Especially since her best friend, Connor, is now on the other side of town, and the high school is over four times as big as middle school was. But she is 'blasé'. And ready to take it on...even though everyone stares at her...even though a cute guy suddenly seems interested in her...even though it might be tougher than she expected.

There are several things I enjoyed about this book. Firstly, it's written with Aven going into high school, but still reads like a middle grade novel. While her age and the setting would normally throw this into the young adult category, it's exactly the kind of book older middle graders will appreciate. After all, they're nervous about high school and what awaits them...and this book hits exactly that. Secondly, Aven was born without arms, and while this obviously drives many aspects of the plot, the story itself doesn't really harbor on it. Of course, there are mentions of how she uses her toes to dial a phone and such, but it's not shoved in the reader's face. It makes this into a novel great for any kid who is uncomfortable about starting high school because they believe they'll stick-out or not fit in for some reason or another. And thirdly, the plot surrounds several aspects of Aven's life and gives her a very natural, rounded atmosphere. She has friends, she has family, and she has things outside of school which help balance her even when drama hits. She's a strong girl, who tackles insecurities and bullies in a realistic, healthy way.

The pacing is very well done. It's an easy read and holds attention until the very last page without weighing down with Aven's issues. It was a little interesting how many characters have issues, though. Plus, I was a little surprised by the supposed bullying event, which spiraled her into depression. While gentle, the event was exactly that—gentle. Considering everything she goes through and must go through (reality of how harsh kids can be), it was not believable that something like that could influence her so easily. Still, it will fit for more sensitive readers at the middle grade level, and her tale of finding herself again and fighting through still resonates with the reader. Add her lovely insights, friendship which never ends, and a dash of humor, and it's a read to recommend.

And here she is...
Dusti Bowling grew up in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Education. She is the author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning middle grade novels Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and 24 Hours in Nowhere (both Sterling). She lives in New River, AZ, and is available for interview. Follow her on Twitter at @Dusti_Bowling, and visit her online at

Review: Submerged by A.M. Deese

Dance of the Elements, Book 2
by A.M. Deese
Young Adult Fantasy




“Jura pictured her friend’s beautiful face.”

Jura and Tylak have successfully infiltrated the nation of Kitoi in search of answers but come upon a web of lies that will unravel the world as they know it. With the Tri-Alliance shattered and puppets controlling The Republic, they must find a way to save their nation before all perish.

“Tylak reached for her hand, interlacing her fingers with his own.”

Together, Jura and Tylak set out to free Amira from the clutches of a ruler gone mad. Jura hopes to meet with the Sea King in a desperate attempt to stop the impending war. Instead, she encounters his daughter, Coralyn, a powerful princess with plans of her own. 

With the drums of war beating faster, and more secrets rising all around her, Jura and her allies must stop the Queen of Shadows before the Sand Sea is submerged in chaos.


This book surprised me in so many ways. I didn't read the first book in the series, which was a mistake. It takes off after the events of book one, and without having known these, I was a bit lost for awhile. So, I definitely recommend hitting the first book before tackling this one.

The story is told from various character's points of view, allowing the reader to gain a broad view of what is going on. This is also necessary as the plot is well woven and each character has their own part to play. It's also this character depth which grabs and draws into the tale, making sure there are favorites as well as those to be disliked. There were times, which the story didn't draw in as much as I'd hoped...and I'm not sure why.

The scenes are vivid and do draw in. Especially Jura had me rooting for her with her strong character and determination. There are many unexpected twists and turns, and each one added more tension then the last. It's a well-layered fantasy with a lot to offer for the right fan.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Mommy and Daddy's Day: The Great Jewel Robbery by Elizabeth McKenna with Giveaway

Every so often, it's Mommy and Daddy's Day here on Bookworm for Kids because parents like to read too. These books do not contain content, which can be considered more inappropriate than the average Young Adult read. In other words, these aren't books you'll need to hide under your bed and hope they aren't discovered by prying eyes. 

The Great Jewel Robbery
A Front Page Mystery, Book 1 
by Elizabeth McKenna
May 28, 2019
Cozy Mystery
204 pages

Tour dates: August 19-30, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 (There is no profanity. There is drinking, desire, and a kiss.)

Mystery with a splash of romance…Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.

To read more reviews, please visit Elizabeth McKenna's page on iRead Book Tours.


This is a cute, lightly funny, and definitely not boring mystery with all sorts of unexpected twists...and a few blunders... along the way.

Emma agrees to accompany her best friend to an annual charity ball, although the world of the wealthy isn't really her cup of tea. While trying to not to stick out to much, Emma watches her friend cover the party for an article in the magazine they both work for. And it works until the charity auction ends with the theft of $3 million jewels. Knowing that an incident during the ball has placed her on the suspect list, Emma still agrees to help her friend find the criminal on their own. But soon she wonders if they have a chance, and if it's the biggest mistake they could ever make.

Emma is a very sweet character with a few quirks and a heart of gold. Her insecurities, especially when placed in the environment of the wealthy, make her easy to like and root for. She isn't super keen on solving the mystery, and her intentions of helping out her best friend make her that much more golden. She's clever but makes mistakes, and she's a bit awkward yet still on top of her game when it counts. Her decision and deductions are pretty understandable, and her sometimes brutal honesty adds nice pokes of humor.

The mystery is pretty straight forward without becoming overly obvious. It keeps the read light hearted, while interesting enough to want to keep reading until the last page. I had no trouble reading it in one sitting and enjoyed every page. There is romance, but it only dusts the main plot and could have been worked in a bit more at the end. Still, it was a treat and I can't wait to see what the next book in the series will hold.


What genre do you write and why? 
My first three books were romances, two historical and one contemporary. I chose that genre because I love history and a happy ending. If I’m going to invest time in reading a story, I want everything to work out in the end. I don’t want to be sad (or mad). For my fourth book, I decided to try something different—a cozy mystery. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (I still have all of my copies), and I love mysteries. At the moment, I’m fascinated with British TV mysteries, so I think that’s what started me down this new path in writing.

Your book is set in Fontana, Wisconsin. Have you ever been there? 
I live in the village of Williams Bay, which is also mentioned in The Great Jewel Robbery. Fontana is just down the road from me. Fontana, Williams Bay, and Lake Geneva are all villages on Geneva Lake. Most of the story takes place in a mansion on Geneva Lake. I based the inside, outside, and history of the mansion on an existing mansion, though technically that one is in the Lake Geneva and not Fontana. I switched the location because I didn’t want readers to be confused over “Lake Geneva” (the village) and “Geneva Lake” (the lake). 

How long have you been writing? 
I’ve been writing fiction since 2008; however, I was a technical writer and editor for over twenty years in the corporate world. I decided to write my first book when one of my daughters asked if I liked my job. I try to be honest with my girls, so I said, “No. I’d rather be writing books.” She said, “Why don’t you do that instead?” I could have gone into a deep discussion on the family budget and the need for my corporate salary, but instead, I started writing in my spare time. I felt it was important to show my children that it is never too late to follow your dreams.

Do you have another profession besides writing? 
Currently, I do freelance editing and proofreading when I’m not working on my creative writing.

Favorite travel spot? 
Definitely Europe. I love the history and architecture. I’m fair-skinned, so beach resorts are not appealing to me.

What advice would you give budding writers? 
Get a professional editor, cover designer, and beta readers before you publish your book. With The Great Jewel Robbery, I used beta readers for the first time, and I learned so much. I think their comments really made the story stronger.

What is your next project? 
I was working on a dark mystery, Killer Resolutions, before I started writing The Great Jewel Robbery, so I am finishing that story. It’s a reimaging of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, though it is set in a remote northern Wisconsin lodge during New Year’s Eve. After that, I will write book 2 for the Front Page Mysteries series.


Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write the historical romance novels Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life (she eventually married her first crush)

The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances. Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Connect with the author: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Ends Sept 6, 2019

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Review: Spencer's New Pet by Jessie Sima

by Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
46 pages
ages 4 to 7

From the creator of Not Quite Narwhal comes a classic tale of a boy and his dog—except in this unique story, one of them is a balloon!

When Spencer gets a new pet, he’s excited to do all the things that pets do—taking walks in the park, going to the vet, and attending parties together.

There’s just one hitch: Spencer’s new pet is a balloon.

And that means No. Sharp. Objects.

No drooling dogs at the park. No prickly porcupines at the vet. And absolutely no pinning tails on any donkeys!

Spencer’s New Pet is a story of pure fun about a boy, his dog, and a friendship that endures life’s sharpest...and most unexpected twists.


This is a picture book without words, and without much color. But it's exactly this which leads young viewers to dive into a world of imagination and get lost in a very unique story.

Spencer is a young boy who receives a animal balloon, one that he treasures very much. But this balloon is also about to take him on the most amazing adventure.

I've always been mesmerized by black and white pictures which incorporate just enough color to bring details to life. Sima has down a terrific job at using this technique to paint out an adventure, and illustrate how important Spencer's new pet is to him. Any child who has seen or received a animal balloon will sympathize with Spencer's adoration. The way he handles the 'pet' does go beyond natural, but it's exactly this which lets imagination take flight.

The tale is broken down into three sections, each one depicting Spencer and his 'pet' in a exciting situation. Some moments will make gazers smile. Others will draw a sigh. It's a captivating tale, which allows emotions to flow. The last chapter, however, does take a bit of a stranger turn. I'm not sure all young viewers will be comfortable with the ending and recommend that caretakers pay attention to how it might effect more sensitive children. If nothing else, it does off tons of food for thought and discussion. By no means, is it a bad ending....just takes an extraordinary twist.

And here she is...
Jessie Sima is an author/illustrator living and working in New York City. She grew up in a small town in southern New Jersey, unaware that she was a story teller. Once she figured it out, she told her family and friends. They took it quite well. She is the author of Not Quite Narwhal, Harriet Gets Carried Away, and Love, Z. You can visit her at

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review: Sandwich Shinanigans by Verity Weaver

What Happened?
by Verity Weaver
Jolly Fish Press
Middle Grade Mystery
120 pages
ages 8 to 12

Sam Witt’s sandwich was a marvel on a plate. The sandwich to end all sandwiches. If life were a movie, there’d have been trumpets and drums playing as Sam paraded his delicious STEAM fair project into class. But not more than two hours after the breathtaking wonder’s arrival at school, the king of all sandwiches was missing.

Was it taken hostage by a jealous rival? Swallowed by a runaway tiger? Beamed up to space by alien invaders? Polished off by a rogue substitute teacher whose eyes were bigger than her poor groaning belly? Or was it something else entirely . . . ?

Crack open a What Happened? book to investigate a preposterous mystery from four different perspectives. See what the witnesses get right . . . and what they get hilariously wrong. Bet you’ll never guess what really happened!


Solving mysteries takes on an entirely new angle—a bit chaotic, tons of humor, and lessons about life along the way.

Everyone is supposed to bring in their chosen project, and Sam Witt's just happens to be a gigantic sandwich. But while everyone is out of the room, the sandwich disappears. Four kids recount their mornings in hopes of figuring out who took the sandwich. Maybe it was a tiger or aliens or a very hungry creature or something else? It's not an easy case to solve.

This is a fast and furious mystery, packed with fun, imagination and excitement. The initial crime, the disappearing sandwich, is presented in the first chapter. After that, four different characters give their recounts of their mornings...each one very different and each one at certain times. In some ways, it reads like four interviews of suspects, but without the serious atmosphere and a ton more adventure. Each character has a wild imagination and shoots off in completely new directions. The reader is encouraged to figure out what they think happened, and then the true culprit is revealed in the last chapter.

This is a very quick, easy, energetic read. Each of the characters bounces off the page and draws the reader in, so boredom doesn't even get a chance to grow. While it's funny to accompany each character as they recount their take on the situation, there's also some important messages woven in about caring for others and being mindful of those around you. But these aren't preachy and stay below the main plot fun.

There are illustrations sprinkled in, and each chapter not only starts with the time and name of the character, whose story is being told, but also with a quick illustration of them. This keeps confusion at bay and offers a nice change-up from the text. But then the writing is never boring, anyway. The thoughts of the character spill forth without pardon and add tons of humor. There are quite a few sounds (crack, boom, etc) which almost give it a comic feel. It's a mystery which even reluctant readers will enjoy. And it definitely keep the reader guessing until the very end.