Monday, September 30, 2019

Review: Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen by Nancy Viau

by Nancy Viau
Schiffer Publishing
Middle Grade Contemporary
184 pages

Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen loves science! In the beginning of fourth grade, she never let a moment go by without talking about rocks. Now she's back with a new obsession: insects! Upon learning that the local apiary is for sale, she goes into action to save the honey bees. Will her someday boyfriend Todd or her best friend Kelli be part of her plan? Will That Kid Richard get in the way? Sam's lists of insect facts and funny thoughts highlight her quest to keep the bees in the community, the challenges she faces at school, and her ongoing struggle with her temper. Join Samantha as she looks to science for answers and does her part to change the world.


Entomology meets the difficulties of being in the fourth grade in this tale about a girl, who can change things if she tries.

Sam takes to the new topic in their science class like a bee to honey. When she discovers that a local bee farmer, one that her class was supposed to visit, is selling his farm to a house developer, she's not sure what to do. But she knows she has to do something. Add trouble with her best friend thanks to a boy, a stray dog, a difficult older sister, and Sam's own temper issues, and she's in for quite the experience.

Especially younger middle graders (ages 8 through 10) are going to enjoy this tale. Sam is a spunky girl who finds herself in a couple of sticky situations, ones she's not sure how to handle. This uncertainty and the topics chosen fit very well to the age group and are easy for middle graders to identify with. There's a dash of first love and the beginning steps to the problems that can cause, as well as the troubles which shake up things on the friendship front for girls this age. And all of this is handled with believable answers and in a wholesome way.

The addition of entomology, and especially bees, adds a nice, science direction. Sam is a list girl, and this gives the reader the opportunity to learn more about this insect. This information flows into the rest of the tale smoothly and never comes across as preachy.

Sam was a little hard for me to warm up to. She has some temper issues (which the author does solve in a clever way by the end of the book). This and her pushy attitude made her hard to like. Still, the story is cute and well written. And the relationship to her mother and grandfather are a treat.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Review: Max's Box by Brian Wray

by Brian Wray
Illustrated by Shiloh Penfield
September 28, 2019
Schiffer Publishing
Picture Book
32 pages

Max's parents give him a very special gift: a tiny, magical box that will hold everything, from his toys to his feelings. Max learns, however, that feelings can't be put away as easily as toys. Each negative emotion he feels--anger, embarrassment, sadness, loneliness--gets added to the box, which grows and grows. Eventually it is so large that it keeps him from doing what he loves, like riding his bike and climbing trees. With some help from his friends and family, Max is able to turn the box into something beautiful and let it go. A parents' guide explains how well-intentioned adults often encourage children, especially young boys, to ignore and "put away" their feelings instead of learning to fully live with them. This simple but powerful story not only teaches children how to "control" their emotions but discourages suppressing them, the illustrations becoming more colorful and vibrant as Max moves out from his box's shadow.


 Using an almost metaphorical example...which isn't one at all... this tale takes a new twist on emotions and how kids can deal with them.

Max gets a box from his parents, one that he can put all sorts of things in. And even better, it grows bigger to fit anything he could possibly want to put inside. Then, he tries something different. When a situations makes him feel bad, he stuffs this emotion into the box. Soon, he stuffs every negative emotion inside, and the box grows bigger and bigger. At one point, the box is so big that he can't take part in any fun things with his friends.

This is a story which should help kids learn how bad it can be to stuff emotions inside and not let them out. The story starts out simple and cute as Max simply puts normal toys into the box. As it slides into a more imaginative direction, it's clear what's happening. And Max always has this growing box in tow. It's a visual young listeners will be able to identify with, and the freeing effect at the end offers inspiration...but not without a little help. While there is a good message at the end, I found it came across a little unclear and had to be explained before the kids got it.

The illustrations are simple and fun to look at. They depict each situation nicely allowing the reality of pulling a huge box along to come across very clearly.

At the end of the book, the authors adds more advice and explanation concerning the problem children and might have with their emotions and how to use this book.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Review: Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle by Brandon Mull

by Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain
Middle Grade Fantasy
around 500 pages
ages 9 to 12

OCTOBER 1st, 2019!!!

Cursed by the Key of Forgetting, Seth has lost all memory of his past—his relationships, his experiences, and who he really is. For now he will align with his new mentor, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, who takes him to the Phantom Isle, the secret gateway to the Under Realm. Though Seth is not formally a prisoner, Ronodin wants to use him and his shadow charmer powers for his own dark ends.

Kendra is frantic to find her missing brother, but the quest will take her and her companions, including Warren, Tanu, and Vanessa, far from Wyrmroost to Crescent Lagoon—a recently fallen dragon sanctuary made up of many islands and underwater domains. Its caretaker has regained a foothold on one of the islands. If Kendra and her friends can save that sanctuary, they might uncover the answers they need to rescue Seth.

With each sanctuary the dragons overthrow, Celebrant, the Dragon King, comes closer to the dawn of a new Age of Dragons. With the forces of darkness on the march, can Kendra and her allies gather enough power to win the epic dragon war?


Fantasy takes an edge-of-the-seat, roller coaster ride in this exciting adventure, which doesn't let up until the last page...and then, with the promise of more.

(Note: This can be read as a stand-alone, but I wouldn't recommend that. The story takes off where book two ended and without reading the rest of the series, much background information is missing, which makes this book that much more enjoyable)

Seth finds himself in the darkness of the Under Realm as the student of the dark unicorn. After saving the day in book two, he's lost his memory and doesn't know who to trust or what he's really done. He only knows that there is a darkness of sorts with him, and although he has no reason to mistrust the unicorn, he's sure he isn't evil. Kendra, on the other hand, is determined to find Seth, but with dark forces on the march and being the sole remaining protector of Wyrmroost, she has quite a bit of other things to deal with as well. Although the last battle was won, darkness has not given up and is coming back more relentless than before.

Fantasy fans are going to love this series. It has dragons, magic, fairies, phantoms, unicorns, trolls...basically, everything the fantasy heart can desire. And it has heroes, ones that are easy for the age group to connect to. Seth and Kendra might be the heroes, but they aren't perfect and have a lot to learn. Still, their determination and desire to get things right make them easy to stand behind and root for.

The plot twists and turns, making it impossible to guess what those evil villains have up their sleeve. Not only that, but some aren't as evil (or as good) as they might appear. This is a very layered story with many unexpected moments and even more that keep the reader glued in the pages, wondering what will happen next.

The tale is told from various points of view, but mostly settles on Kendra and Seth. While their adventures only have them intersecting with a dab, the stories intertwine masterfully. The writing style is very easy to read, sticking heavily to dialogue and skipping over anything 'frilly'. It makes for a fast read even at 500 or so pages. The length did make me hesitate. Even afterwards, I'm not sure it couldn't have been tightened up a bit since this tale does have the heroes shooting all over the place with tons of side characters in tow. But it is a fun tale and one I'm sure kids will enjoy.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Happy 40th Anniversary, Max and Ruby by Rosemary Wells!

It's time to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Max and Ruby!!! I'm extremely honored to be a part of this amazing celebration and have the opportunity to present to you the upcoming, new story in the series from Simon & Schuster!

by Rosemary Wells
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

From beloved author-illustrator Rosemary Wells comes a brand-new story about the inimitable brother and sister Max and Ruby. Max and Ruby’s family is expanding and soon enough nobody will be getting any sleep!

Max and Ruby are in for a big surprise. Mama has a baby in her tummy and soon the family will be bigger and better. Luckily Ruby knows all about babies: what they eat, how to bathe them, and where they come from. Ruby tells Max all about it. Soon no one will be getting any sleep, but Max has an idea on how to help!

Max and Ruby have their own TV show on Nick Jr.!


Max & Ruby have always been a favorite with my family from my childhood to that of my own children. This book slides right in with the rest of the beloved series.

Max & Ruby's mother has quite the big stomach. Max is convinced she ate too many cookies, but Ruby knows better. As she explains the situation to Max, he refuses to believe a word. After all, he's seen himself that babies arrive in taxis. When the big day comes and their mother heads to the hospital, both are excited to see what happens next. What awaits them is much more than either expected.

The tale hold true to the writing and atmosphere of the rest of Rosemary Wells' beloved series. Max and Ruby might get along well, but they don't always agree. Max stubbornness and ideas hit with light humor, which will have young listeners smiling. Kids with younger siblings will be familiar with many of the situations and relate to both Ruby and Max. There's a nice added tension as things get more than anyone can handle. The ending is warm, satisfying and leaves a smile as Max & Ruby book usually do.

The style is more traditional, making it stick out among the more modern tales found in current picture books.  And it's good so. The wholesome story telling still will interest kids today and connect with them. The illustrations also hold true and portray Max  & Ruby as everyone has learned to know and enjoy them. It's a great read aloud and a wonderful book to add to anyone's collection.

And here she is...

Rosemary Wells is the author of more than one hundred books for children, including more than forty about the beloved bunnies, Max and Ruby, who star int he their own television show on Nick Jr She lives in Connecticut. Visit her online at

Sneak Peek: The Aquarathi Series by Amalie Howard with Giveaway


by Amalie Howard 
The Aquarathi #1
Young Adult Fantasy

Nerissa Marin is far from home. Though she lives an anonymous life on land during her cycle of human study, she is Aquarathi royalty by birth—and the future monarch of a hidden, undersea kingdom. But when her father is murdered, the human world becomes her only refuge.
Adrift and indifferent, Riss indulges her every whim, including her feelings for the new surf king of Dover Prep, Lokeane Seavon. But as the day she comes of age looms closer, old enemies appear and challenges are issued: If she forsakes her throne, her people will suffer for it.
To win her crown, she must become the queen she was born to be. 
Previous books in the series:

Get Waterfell for FREE for a limited time only!


“So my best friend is an alien sea princess,” Jenna says after a beat, “who transforms into human form but can’t go back home just yet.” I recognize the sound of when she’s in hyper-focused, game-face mode, and I blow out a soft breath. That’s a positive sign, at least. “Where is home exactly?”
“Ever heard of the Mariana Trench?” I ask her, and she nods. Of course she has. She’s Jenna, Jeopardy! champion of the world. “It’s the deepest part of your oceans. We make our home there…where we’re safe and hidden from humans.”
“Unless you come on land to learn about us if you’re the heir? Like you have.”
“Yes,” I say. “To not repeat history. We need to safeguard the waters of our home, too.”
“And now you’re stuck here because your father was killed,” Jenna says.
“Will you go back?”
“I don’t know,” I answer honestly. “It’s complicated. There are others there who want us dead. Speio and his family most of all, because of their loyalty to me.”
Jenna gulps, glancing at him, but he’s staring at the water, lost in his own thoughts. She moves to sit again next to me at the pool’s edge, tucking her legs beneath her. Her eyes narrow as she studies my face, fascinated.
Belatedly, I remember that the protective film is no longer over my own alien eyes, so I blink to engage it. It’s similar to the nictitating membrane of a shark that goes over its eyes when it’s in attack mode, only ours is more of a defense mechanism to protect us from discovery.
“No,” she says. “Leave them the way they are. Please.”
I comply with some reluctance. I know what she’s seeing—the pale gold sclera, normally the white part of the human eye, surrounding large multicolored irises rimmed by electric gold rings. They scream alien in every way.
A part of me recoils at her scrutiny. Does she want to remind herself that she’s not talking to something human? Will she look at me differently now that she knows what I am?
“They’re so beautiful,” she murmurs after a while. “But definitely not human. Anyone could see that. Other than your eyes, you look so normal otherwise.” Her gaze drifts down my arms, torso, and legs. “I’ve seen you in the locker room after hockey games. You look like everyone else.”
“We mimic,” I say. “To blend in.”
“I can manipulate the water in my body into any form I wish, for short periods.”
Her eyes narrow. “Any form?”
“Yes, but human is preferred.”
Jenna tips her head to one side, chewing on her lip as if scared to ask the question lurking on her lips, but eventually she does. “So what do you really look like?”
“Are you sure you’re ready to see that?” Speio’s voice is cool. He doesn’t trust that Jenna won’t go screaming to the rooftops and out us all. But he doesn’t know her like I do—Jenna is loyal to the bone. Every drop of water in me knows that I can trust her.
“She’s ready,” I say, meeting Speio’s eyes.
He sucks air through his teeth, a disrespectful sound that I ignore, and stalks back into the house. But it will be better without him. I level Jenna with an unblinking, almost reptilian stare, and she holds my predator’s gaze without cringing. Her courage in the face of everything is heartening. I stare at her for a long time before I decide both our fates—hers for knowing, mine for telling. But she deserves to know.
“Speio doesn’t like that you told me, does he?” she asks, and I shake my head.
“He’ll get over it,” I whisper. “Do you trust me, Jenna?”
She nods. “With my life.”
“Then whatever you do, don’t run.”
The color drains from her face as I slip into the pool, feeling the flimsy weight of human bones inside of me start to dissolve. Almost immediately, they elongate into the delicate skeleton that shapes my Aquarathi form. Our spinal column is similar to humans, but that’s where the similarity ends. The rest of our bones expand outward like webs of coral, hard but malleable at the same time.
My frame lengthens and strengthens, cracking into place under skin that’s transforming into something rough and brilliant. My neck distends like a swan’s, the curvature of my jaw thrusting outward and filling with razor-sharp rows of teeth. The pain is fleeting over the pleasure of the change as my limbs fold inward, my diamond-hard, dragon-scaled hide drawing and tightening over sleek, coiled muscle, until at last, I shimmer into reptilian, monstrous existence.
In a matter of breaths, I no longer resemble anything human.

And here she is...
AMALIE HOWARD is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid's INDIE NEXT selection. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 bestseller in gothic fiction, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children's Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of the #1 bestseller in Regency Romance, My Rogue, My Ruin, in the Lords of Essex historical romance series. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her at 


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Review: Three Cheer for Kid McGear! by Sherri Duskey Rinker

by Sherry Duskey Rinker
Illustrated by AG Ford
Chronicle Books LLC
Picture Book
40 pages
 ages 3 to 5

From the New York Times bestselling author that brought you Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty Construction Site comes a heartwarming and inspiring tale featuring the first female character to join the core construction crew!

She might be small, but she's got it all—she's Kid McGear, Skid Steer! Kid McGear is the newest truck to join the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site crew and she's eager to help with even the roughest and toughest construction work. But when a steep cliff puts the other trucks in danger, can the new Kid on the site prove she's big enough for even this big, big job?

• Features playful rhyming text throughout that pairs perfectly with the captivating illustrations to tell a complete and powerful story
• A thrilling tale of teamwork shows the BIG potential in the littlest readers and is a must-have read-aloud for construction fans both big and small
• Sherri Duskey Rinker is the author of numerous #1 New York Times bestsellers. AG Ford, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, has illustrated many award-winning books for children, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Construction Site on Christmas Night


Fans of tractors, back-hoes, dump trucks and all things construction will Kid McGear and all the determination the tiny skid-loader brings with him.

A flatbed arrives on the construction site bringing along a new member to the already busy crew. The little skid loader is energetic and friendly, but all the jobs appear to be a bit too big for him. When an accident leaves two important construction vehicles in trouble, Kid McGear might be exactly the hero the construction site needs.

This is such a fun, inspiring read for construction and big vehicle fans. Familiar as perhaps lesser known vehicles appear on the pages doing what they do best. It's a busy construction site and the illustrations bring this to life, allowing the atmosphere to radiate from every page. But that's only the beginning. The star is a little skid loader, and this guy has quite the sunshiny attitude, too.

There's a bit of action and some tension as a true adventure unrolls. The vehicles are never mean to each other, and yet, the disappointment of Kid McGear is impossible to miss as he's pushed aside as not being big enough. His readiness to help is pure and everybody stands at his side. There's cooperation as well as a bit of ingenuity. It's a happy read, which begs to be read again and again.

And here they are...

The Author...
Sherri Duskey Rinker is the author of numerous #1 New York Times bestsellers. Sherri lives with her photographer husband and two sons in St. Charles, Illinois.

The Illustrator...
AG Ford, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, has illustrated many award-winning books for children, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Construction Site on Christmas Night. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Forgotten Empires, Book #1
by Jeffe Kennedy
St. Martin's Press
Young Adult Fantasy
384 pages


As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…


Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?


This is a romance but with very rich fantasy and so much more.

An emperor has taken over all kingdoms and enslaved them. Mercilessly. Only one kingdom still remains relatively free, and that because they went for peace and passive relations from the first moment the emperor landed on their shores. The cost, among other things, was the hand of Calanthe in marriage. When her father dies, she is now queen of her country and has no intention of giving the emperor any more control of her island than he already has. But she walks a very difficult line. Conri is known as the King of the Slaves and leads a rebellion against the emperor and needs the ring Calanthe wears to win. When they meet, more than sparks fly.

Fantasy fans will enjoy this world. It is rich, layered and full of battles and intrigue. At the same time, it is a romance. Right away, it's clear that the hero and heroine are destined for each other. While sparks fly and romantic tension builds, there is so much more going on. The Emperor is ruthless, and Conri and Calanthe have much to protect as they try their best to defeat the powerful man. It's layered, and it's deep.

This is a heavier read, and while there is quite a bit of action, some parts drag a little. The first chapters have quite a bit to introduce...this is a rich world...but that pushes the pacing a bit back. It is, however, interesting and does set a wonderful stage for everything to come. The rest flows mostly very well, and the writing weaves smoothly. Some of the dialogue drags out a little long, again trading a quicker pace for more depth. As an action fan, it wasn't quite what I'd hoped, but the story still is very well done and draws in. It will be interesting to see where the rest of the series leads.


“Arise, Your Highness. The realm awaits the sun of Your presence.”
The ritual words cut through the thick smoke of the nightmare, bringing me awake with a start. A bad omen that I hadn’t come out of the dreams on my own—and a sign that gave the images the power to linger in my mind, stains refusing to be scrubbed clean.
The wolf fought its chains, howling in hoarse rage, shedding fire and ash.
The sea churned, bloodred and crimson dark, bones tossed in the waves, white as foam.
The tower fell into a pile of golden rubble, then to fine sand, the grains sliding against one another with soul-grinding whispered screams.
I loathe dreaming, where I have even less control than in the waking world. Calanthe Herself sings sweetly to me of the seas, the plants, and the creatures that walk Her soil. But outside our fragile island, the abandoned lands beyond cry like frightened children in the night. I can’t help them. It’s all I can do to protect Calanthe, and most days I despair of being able to do even that.
Still, with no one else to hear them, they call to me in chaotic images, the nightmares dashing me from one dark scenario to the next. No matter how the dreams plague me, I usually wake when the light of the rising sun reddens my eyelids. I keep my eyes closed, pretending to anyone who checks on me that I’m still asleep. Pulling the pieces of my composure together, I listen to the morning song of Calanthe. The birds sitting high in the canopy to catch the first warming rays of the sun show me the sky. The fish swimming in the sea speak of clean water and plentiful food. Even the trees, the flowers, the small insects in the soil all hum to me of their lives.
All reassure me of the balance, that Calanthe, at least, is peaceful and vital.
Only I and the land I’m tied to exist in that time after sleep and before true waking, in what I call the dreamthink, an almost enchanted bubble where I belong entirely to Calanthe. The emperor does not own me. The crying lands he’s orphaned are silent. My ladies have not yet woken me to wrenching reality and the trials of the day ahead.
Dreams always seem to me a terrible price to pay for the succor of sleep. Neither my naturalists nor my physicians seem to be able to explain the purpose of such dreams. And of course, Anure killed all the wizards, so I have none to tell me if magic can answer those nighttime screams. So without answers, and like the exorbitant tithes I’m forced to send to the emperor, I do pay the price, and nightly. The dreamthink is my reward, my time with Calanthe. A gift arising from waking Ejarat of the earth welcoming the return of Her husband, Sawehl of the sun. In the dreamthink, in Calanthe’s sweet communion, I can believe the old gods are with us still, that they haven’t abandoned us. That I have reason to hope.
“Euthalia, wake up. We’re ready,” Tertulyn whispered in my ear. My first lady-in-waiting, doing her duty as always. She couldn’t know she’d woken me from the nightmare instead of the dreamthink. Or that starting my day this way meant it would be certainly cursed.
No one believes in omens or curses anymore. Or hope, for that matter. In this, too, I am alone.
Euthalia is a mouthful, but no one calls me that except for Tertulyn so it doesn’t matter. Only Emperor Anure has the rank to address me by my given name, and I avoid conversation with His Imperial Nastiness to the best of my ability. Tertulyn has called me by my name since we were children, but only when no one can overhear, as etiquette demands.
As if she’d whispered them into my ear along with my name, the concerns of the realm immediately flooded my mind. The emperor’s emissary should have returned in the night and would want an audience with me—something I’d been dreading, as he never brought good news. Rumors had spread of slave uprisings, possibly even rebellion, as unlikely as that would be, that had the emperor both angry and insecure in his power. The worst possible combination in a man like him.
If I believed a rebellion could succeed, I would rejoice in the battle to come. But I had no hope of that. No one could defy Anure’s vast power and ability to destroy the least whimper of resistance, as all those kingless and queenless lands testified, crying their hopelessness to me every night.
No, such rumors meant the Imperial Tyrant would only tighten his fist—one that already strangled us nearly to death. The prospect of worse to come made me inexpressibly weary, and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet.
Nevertheless, I had to face the day. A realm awaited the sun of my presence, after all.
I opened my eyes and pasted a serene smile on my lips.
Tertulyn—already wigged, gowned, and decked in fresh flowers—stood a decorous three steps back from my bed, hands folded over her heart. All equally polished and lovely as morning dew, my five junior ladies awaited in a ring around her. They’d all been up since well before dawn to dress themselves before attending me. And yet their eyes sparkled as brightly as the birds that had shown me the sun on the sea, pretty painted lips curved in delighted smiles. Though I was only twenty-six, they made me feel old.

If a witch offered me a magic potion to remove the last ten years and restore my youth—and the innocent belief I’d had then, that my life would be a good one—I’d down it without question. Even if it meant my death the next day. No, that was a lie. I would never shirk my duty to Calanthe, not even for such a fantasy. Not without an heir to take my place. No matter how old and tired I felt.

And here she is...

JEFFE KENNEDY is an award-winning, bestselling author who writes fantasy, fantasy romance, and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA as a Director at Large.

Her most recent works include Prisoner of the Crown and the upcoming Exile of the Seas, from her high fantasy trilogy from Rebel Base books, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015, been named Best Book of June 2014, and won RWA’s prestigious RITA® Award.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter @jeffekennedy.

Author website:
The SFF Seven blog: on Sundays
Author Twitter: @jeffekennedy

SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts
SMP Romance Website:

Monday, September 23, 2019

Review: The Last Dragon by James Riley

The Revenge of Magic, Book Two
by James Riley
Middle Grade Fantasy
416 pages
ages 9 to 12

OCTOBER 8th, 2019!!!

Fort Fitzgerald is determined to uncover the truth, but a new student at school and the secrets he has to keep complicate matters in this second novel in a thrilling new series from the author of the New York Times bestselling Story Thieves!

Fort Fitzgerald can’t stop having nightmares about the day his father was taken from him in an attack on Washington, DC. In these dreams, an Old One, an evil beyond comprehension, demands the location of the last dragon. But other than some dragon skeletons dug up with the books of magic on Discovery Day, Fort has never seen a dragon before. Could there still be one left alive?

And weirdly, Fort’s not the only one at the Oppenheimer School having these nightmares. His new roommate, Gabriel, seems to know more than he’s letting on about this dragon as well. And why does everyone at the school seem to do whatever Gabriel says? What’s his secret?

Fort’s going to need the help of his friends Cyrus, Jia, and Rachel, if he’s going to have any chance of keeping the Old Ones from returning to Earth. Unless, the Old Ones offer something Fort could never turn down…


First off, I did not read the beginning of this series, and that was a big mistake. Book two takes off where the first one ends, and it is very difficult to sink into the story without having read the first in the series. In other words, this book is definitely not a stand alone and can not be read without reading book one.

Fast paced and carrying dark tones, this is a read which fantasy friends are sure to enjoy.

It took me quite awhile (more than several chapters) to feel my way into this read, but that was my fault as I did not read the first book in the series. This story packs a punch with something happening on every page. Fort is a character to cheer for and has more than just a little trouble to deal with. His situation hits full force right away and builds tension with every turn of the page. There are many surprises as the mystery deepens and more questions arise. The plot is well woven and draws in.

The characters have personality, and the dialogue brings them to life. Each one has intriguing aspects, and some are simply easy to dislike.

While this is a dragon story, it takes place in a more modern world...something my own son isn't a huge fan of. But the story definitely isn't boring and the writing sits. It's a bit heavy for more reluctant readers, but fantasy fans are sure to enjoy it. This isn't a light read but does hold darker moments. I'd recommend it more for the upper middle grade audience (grade 5 and up) since sensitive readers and younger readers might feel a bit uncomfortable at moments.

Happy Book Birthday, Hollow Queen by Sherry D Ficklin!!!

Grab your favorite e-reader device because you need this book right now! THE HOLLOW QUEEN by Sherry D. Ficklin is finally available today. Fans of this best-selling historical romance series can dive further into the STOLEN EMPIRE SERIES with another captivating and jaw-dropping novella.

Find out why USA Today calls this series— "A must read romance."

Devoured by thousands of readers, this dramatic embellished tale of real historical events is perfect for Fall reading! Sherry D. Ficklin is a master of words who takes us further into the life of Elizabeth of Russia, a truly scandalous ruler and a princess of the Romanov Empire. If you haven't read the entire Stolen Empire Series by Sherry D. Ficklin, now's the time since the first book—Queen of Someday—is currently free. In addition, both novellas—The Winter Queen and The Hollow Queen are currently on sale for only $2.99!

THE HOLLOW QUEEN by Sherry D. Ficklin


As a princess of the Romanov Empire, Elizabeth has enjoyed a life of luxury and privilege. But the sudden deaths of her parents leaves her unprotected – awash in the dangerous tide of her family’s political rivals. When the supreme council crowns her half-nephew Peter II in her place, Elizabeth is left with no title, no power—and no allies. Now little more than a bastard in the eyes of the world, she is sent to serve in the palatial home of Prince Menshikov—the real power behind the boy king. But Elizabeth won’t fade quietly into the background. Determined to uncover the truth behind her mother’s murder and expose the men who mean to rule Russia in secret, she grows closer to the handsome young king, and swears to protect him and his rule at any cost. But the forces that oppose them are as dark as they are far-reaching--and this time, Elizabeth could lose more than just her title…

This is not a fairy tale...

Novels inThe Stolen Empire Series by Sherry D. Ficklin:

  • Queen of Someday
  • Queen of Tomorrow
  • Queen of Always
  • The Winter Queen
  • The Hollow Queen (NEW RELEASE!)



And here she is...

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.


Saturday, September 21, 2019

Cover Reveal: The Call of Death by R.J. Garcia with Giveaway!

The Call of Death 
by R.J. Garcia 
Parliament House
Young Adult Romance, Suspense

NOVEMBER 5th, 2019!!!

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Priestly crashes into a terrifying future but wakes up in her dorm room now knowing the name of an infamous serial killer, Norman Biggs. He will attack her in the future unless she and her three male friends can change fate.
Hannah is a suntanned, obsessive-compulsive, California girl dropped off at an English boarding school by her celebrity mother. Hannah has difficulty understanding algebra let alone her increasingly dark visions. Rory Veer is Hannah’s smart, easy-going and romantically challenged friend and school crush. When Norman Biggsunexpectedly appears in Rory’s reality, terror is set in motion. It is Rory who must acknowledge a past he has denied if the mystery is to be unraveled.

And here she is...

R.J. Garcia is a wife and proud mom. She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has published several non-fiction pieces. She has been writing short-stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!