Thursday, October 31, 2019

Review: What John Marco Saw by Anne Barrows

by Annie Barrows
Illustrated by Nancy Lemon
Chronicle Books
Picture Book
44 pages
ages 4 to 8

From the bestselling author Annie Barrows, What John Marco Saw is a captivating tale that celebrates the importance of slowing down.

Sometimes the smallest people have the biggest things to say: John Marco is small and everyone around him is big and busy–too busy to stop and listen. The thing is, John Marco is busy, too! He's busy noticing and exploring the world around him. Maybe everyone should slow down and pay attention to John Marco. If they do, they might witness some the incredible things John Marco sees.

• A stunning display of Barrows talent for creating stories that speak directly to young readers
• Features bright and richly illustrated pages that focus on John Marco's perspective and helps little minds connect with the story
• Annie Barrows has written many books for children, including the New York Times bestselling Ivy + Bean series—which has sold more than 5 million copies

Fans of Hungry Jim and What Can a Citizen Do? will also enjoy the charming illustrations and sweet storylines found in What John Marco Saw.

• Great family and classroom read-aloud book
• Books for kids ages 3-5
• Books for preschool and kindergarten students


Being small and going unnoticed flips into an adventure with discoveries, humor, and a situation which many younger kids can relate to.

John Marco is small and the youngest in his family. Everyone else is bigger and so loud. Unfortunately, he tends to go unnoticed, especially when he has something to say. But just because others refuse to acknowledge him doesn't mean he should be ignored.

After reading this one, I immediately handed it to my youngest daughter. She's small, has a quiet voice and is so much meeker than her older siblings. Just like Marco, she's often shoved aside and ignored when she has something to say—something which frustrates her to no end. So for our family, this was a very easy story to relate to. 

John Marco is cute and sweet and a nice kid, but he gets lost under the rest of the family's louder members. His frustrations is easy to relate to, but yet, he doesn't let it bring him down. It's fun to follow him as he discovers things the rest of his family overlook. Unfortunately, they're too busy to listen to him even about these. It will grab young readers' attention, and they will empathize with him. Even though he never lets it get him down. And this is what makes John a character to root for. His attitude remains, for the most part, positive. The end of the tale holds humor and winds things up very nicely.

The illustrations make it easy to follow along and add the extra zest along the way. The characters are well depicted, allowing their personalities and emotions to come across clearly. Plus, it's fun to watch John make his discoveries. These too allow the humorous ending to come across wonderfully and are sure to add a few giggles along the way.

It's a cute read with a topic many young kids can identify with.

And here they are...

The Author...
Annie Barrows has written many books for children, including the New York Times bestselling Ivy + Bean series, which has sold more than 5 million copies. She lives in Northern California.

The Illustrator...
Nancy Lemon lives in Charleston, South Carolina. This is her second book.

Sneak Peek: Dorothy in the Land of Monsters by Garten Gevedon with Giveaway!

Dorothy In the Land of Monsters 
by Garten Gevedon
Oz ReVamped, #1
October 11th 2019
YA Fantasy, Paranormal

Shifters, Zombies, and Vampires? Oh my!
My name is Dorothy Gale, and I think I might be dead.
When my dog Toto and I got swept up in a twister, we landed in hell. A very colorful hell. Like a rainbow dripping in blood. Now it looks as though this dreadful underworld plagued with vampires, zombies, and shifters will be the site of my eternal damnation.
They say this terrifying land called Oz isn’t hell or purgatory and escape is possible, but first I must survive the journey down the blood-soaked yellow brick road to the only place in Oz where vampires dare not tread—The City of Emeralds.
With enchanted footwear and the help of my three new friends—a friendly zombie, a massive shifter lion, and a heartless axe murderer of evil night creatures (who also happens to be the hottest guy I’ve ever seen)—Toto and I have a chance to make it to the Vampire Free Zone. When we get there, I must convince the most powerful wizard in this magical land of monsters to send us out of this radiant nightmare and back to the world of the living. They say he’s just as frightening as this monstrous land, that he detests visitors, and even the most horrifying creatures cower in his presence. But I must seek him out. And when I find him, I’ll do whatever it takes to make him send me home.


Gray everywhere. As I stand on the porch of my aunt and uncle’s home, all I can see is the great gray expanse of prairie on every side. No trees, houses, buildings, people, nothing at all breaks the broad sweep of flat gray country that reaches to the edge of the gray sky in every direction. The sun scorched the plowed fields into a dusty, gray mass that expands to the horizon line, the endless gloom broken only by the little black shadows of the fissures running through it like the marbling of a corpse.
Even the grass is dead and gray—the hot sun singed the blades until they were the same lifeless gray color that blankets everything. Years ago, the house was a pristine white, but the torrid summer sun burned and blistered the paint and the heavy winter rains battered it away, and now the house is as weathered and gray as everything else here. It’s fitting for what it’s like to live here in Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. It looks like what it is—bleak, leached of any color, any excitement, anything interesting at all—drained of life. Gray is gray is gray is my life. It surrounds me from all sides, all the time. And it sucks. Thanks a lot, climate change.
I came to live with my Uncle Henry and Aunt Emily on a crappy little farm when my parents died in a car accident. I was thirteen. Because Emily was the only family I had left, she got stuck with me. She could have refused me and left me as a ward of the state, but she was kind enough to take me in. Even though I don’t share the same connection with Emily and Henry that I did with my parents, they’re still family—the only family I have—so, I may complain about this being the middle of nowhere, but it’s better than being in an orphanage or foster care or some group home. Yeah, their place is tiny, and old, but at least it has four walls, a floor, and a roof.
The two-bedroom farmhouse I live in is as weathered and brittle as the farm it’s set on. One story with no attic and no basement, the only feature it has is a cyclone cellar which we’ve had yet to use since I’ve lived here. It may lack color and any of the luxuries most people in America have these days—cable, wifi, consistent hot water to shower with—but I am grateful I have somewhere to live, even if life here is so gray that the grayness proliferates, turning everything in it to a gray as dry as dust.
When Aunt Emily came here to live with Uncle Henry, she was a young, pretty, vivacious woman with golden hair and bright emerald green eyes—or I thought I remembered her that way. Even she’s gray now. Just like it changed this once green land, the sun and wind have changed her, and her once sparkling green eyes are now dim and muted, tinged with a melancholy gray. Living here in this sweltering, exanimate world has stolen her radiance and left her ashen. It’s exhausted the red from her cheeks and lips, and now they’re pallid and gray too. Once she was curvy and a little plump. Now she’s gaunt and never smiles. Can’t blame her for never smiling, living in this dull, gray crap hole.
When I first came to her, Aunt Emily would startle when I laughed. She’d scream and look at me like I was nuts, shocked I could find anything to laugh at in this gray place. Uncomfortable and bored out of my skull, I’d laugh trying to entertain myself, trying not to let the depression get the best of me, but after being here for four years, I get it now—what is there to laugh about when all that’s here is gray?
Uncle Henry never laughs either. Morning to night, all he does is work hard. If he knows what joy is, he doesn’t let on. From his gray beard to his rough boots, Henry is also gray, stern, and solemn. With a permanent stone face, he almost never speaks. It’s like he’s made of hard, gray stone. If he didn’t work so much trying to make this gray land yield something, I’d think he was stone—a gray statue of a man.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s me that’s gray, or the lens I see the world through. Before my parents died, my life was a bright white, like a pristine sheet of paper wishing for a colorful story to grace its surface. Then the black smear of tragedy struck, and it’s as though the thousands of tears I shed diffused the black that blemished my bright whiteness, spreading it over the unsullied parts like watercolor, leaving my world gray. But I don’t think I’m gray. Not yet. I don’t think it has spread to me yet.
—“Dorothy in the Land of Monsters” Oz ReVamped #1
Chapter 1 – The Cyclone, pgs. 1-2

And here she is...

Garten Gevedon lives in New York City with her family. She's a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author who loves taking fairy tales and turning them inside out. You can visit her online at 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Ghost: Thirteen Haunting Tales to Tell by Illustratus

Thirteen Haunting Tales to Tell
by Illustratus
Chronicle Books
Children's Ghost Stories
160 pages
ages 10 and up

Featuring the only true ghost stories in existence (as the book itself will tell you), readers discover 13 eerie encounters that are perfect for sharing—if they dare.

With tales about a finger against the inside of a mirror, a wooded area where the trees look back, and a basement door blocked by a brick wall so thick it stifles the screams from below, this book is sure to haunt anyone who can't resist a spooky story.

• Filled with creepy poems and tales
• Features striking, bone-chilling illustrations from Disney-Pixar talent
• Book contains all original stories

This haunting book will consume your imagination and keep readers of every age up long past their bedtimes.

• Great for those who can't get enough of Halloween, ghost stories, scary movies, and all things spooky, as well as librarians and teachers looking for a thrilling read to share with students
• The perfect book to read by a campfire or during a slumber party—or alone under the covers in the middle of the night
• Add it to the shelf with books like A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Malice by Chris Wooding, and the Serafina series


Chills, thrills, and ghostly moments abound in this beautiful book, which has a high-quality touch along with a good dose of creepiness.

Thirteen spooky tales await to be unleashed in this lovely collection. Already the cover had me excited to dive into this one. The book carries a high quality feel, making it appear as one of those books which is kept on the 'special' shelf to be enjoyed for years. And it's not only the cover and binding which shines with that extra something. The illustrations are worth flipping through all on their own. Each one is nicely done and will have kids (and adults) thumbing through them time and again.

The tales are definitely for ghost story fans. These are not intended for more sensitive readers, but allow horrors and terrors to unfold...with some care, since it isn't intended for adults. Children do die unpleasant deaths, and the reader 'experiences' this with them. There is pooling blood and not just one evil, vengeful ghost. In other words, this is not necessarily a read for all middle graders, and I'd even tend to suggest it to a tween audience or, at least, middle grade readers who are accustom to a little more thrill and chill.

I was surprised how nicely put together these tales are. The language doesn't talk down to the audience, but rather might be a little 'high' for some. It has a literary feel, in some ways. Each story is well laid out, creepy, draws in, and grips the reader until the last sentence. The stories vary greatly too not only in plot but in settings, situations and time frames. Each one is different from the last, and each one holds its own type of scare. While some are more predictable than others, these tales do their job and will make small horror fans' hearts beat faster.

Readers ages ten and up who love chilling tales are sure to enjoy this book tremendously.

More about the creators...

Illustratus is a small, California-based design company boasting talent with years of experience in the animation industry. Contributors to this chilling collection include authors Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin, and illustrators Christ Saski and Jeff Turley.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Review: A Spooky Tale by Sue Wickstead with Giveaway!

A Walk With Our Teacher
by Sue Wickstead
Children's Fiction 
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

When the teacher decided to take the class out on a walk the children did not want to go....
What could possibly go wrong?
Why did the class not feel well?
You will just have to read the book to find out.

Available for purchase...


This is a sweet tale, which doesn't get overly spooky but is tons of fun to read. The characters are well done and come across naturally, while adding just the right amount of personality. The different scenes kept the tale interesting from start to finish, and it wasn't clear what would happen next.

The illustrations are bright and well done. They followed right along with the story and added to the adventure. Kids would have fun flipping through them and following the story on their own.

The tale is easy to read and makes a great read-aloud. There a nice repetition of a line every few pages, which makes it fun for kids to bounce in and maybe even say it along with the reader. It's a cute story for a Halloween read.

And here she is...

I am an author and a teacher and have written six children’s picture books, all with a bus included somewhere.
Having been able to share my first book, 'Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus', it was time to think about writing a book for younger readers.
While visiting a local school the children were writing stories about a journey, we read Jay-Jay’s book and then I remembered a book that I had written some years before and I read this to the class too, and they loved it.
The original story was based on a walk with my class around the neighbourhood of Bewbush, Crawley. The walk had led to map work and sequencing. Then together with the class I wrote an imaginative adventure.
The events we imagined were put into a class book. The book was shared with many classes and it was always a favourite.
Now years later I decided it was time to update, improve and look at publishing the book.
There is indeed a walk around the district of Bewbush. and following the publication of the book I went back to see if and how the neighbourhood had changed.
‘Oh, I see you have written a book without a bus!’ commented a friend.
But, look through the pages and you will see there always has to be a bus!
The neighbourhood of Bewbush was a new estate built in Crawley town in the 1970's. The area was built without any shops, school or safe places for children to play. It was an area of high need and was supported by a special playbus which offered a much-needed playgroup venue.
I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share my stories. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.

Social Media Links –
Facebook: - Author Page
Facebook  - Playbus page


*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Haunting at Paradise House by Killian Wolf with Giveaway!

Reapers of the Veil, Book One
by Killian Wolf
Grim House Publishing

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House.

Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves.

Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

Purchase Links

And here she is...

Killian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy. 

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

Social Media Links –
Twitter- @Killian_Wolf22

Instagram- killian_wolf


Win a paperback copy of The Haunting at Paradise House (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 28, 2019

Review: Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh

by Blair Thornburgh
Illustrated by Scott Campbell
Atheneum Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Debut picture book author Blair Thornburgh and award-winning illustrator Scott Campbell put their heads together to celebrate one of the most important bones in your body: the skull!

You probably don’t think much about skulls.
So what’s the big deal about them?

Well, every head
of every person
you’ve ever seen
has a skull inside.

And that includes YOU!

This smart, skull-positive story cheerfully dispels any fears kids might have about their skeletons, flipping our view of skulls from a spooky symbol to a fascinating, cool, and crucial part of our bodies.


Full of energy and silly moments, skulls grab an unusual spot in the limelight...along with cheese grilled sandwiches...and informational fun.

Skulls are found inside everyone's head, and these pages let their importance shine. Although sometimes skulls are seen as scary, and they hold lots of holes...important ones..., skulls carry a crucial role in our bodies. With the help of a very spunky girl and a bit of humor, young readers learn more about their skulls.

When I got this book in my hands, it screamed 'unique'. And it is, while being informative too. The topic is clear: skulls. With a ton of fun, not much text, and never ending excitement, the basic aspects of a skull are laid out in a very clear and slightly humorous way. It carries a tad bit of...hmmm..I want to say creepiness or macabre, but that isn't really it. Perhaps, it's the strange place skulls have in our society which gives this book the dash of uncomfortable but alluring spice. The author pulls the entire thing together wonderfully by adding just the right amount of humor. Add the very realistic facts, and it's an interesting mix, which is sure not to be forgotten the moment the book is laid down.

The illustrations fit the mood perfectly. Many of the people illustrated are depicted without faces and skin, but rather display their skulls in full glory. I think it's exactly this which gives the book an interesting atmosphere. But it's always cheerful, keeping chills away. The emotions in the illustrations add to the humor, while making the basic importance of a skull clear.

At the very end of the book is a list of lesser known facts about the skull, making this a well-rounded book in so many ways.

And here they are...

The Author...
Blair Thornburgh is the author of several books for kids and teens. A graduate of the Hamline MFA Program in writing for children and young adults, she lives outside of Philadelphia. Visit her online at

The Illustrator...
Scott Campbell's paintings have appeared in numerous shows and publications around the world. He has created award-winning comics, such as 'Igloo Head and Tree Head', which appeared in the Flight anthology and is the illustrator of Zombie in Love and Zombie in Love 2 + 1 by Kelly DiPucchio; East Dragon, West Dragon by Robyn Eversole; and If Dogs Run Free by Bob Dylan. He is the author and illustrator of Hug Machine. Scott lives in New York City. Visit him at

Sneak Peek: Death Island by Kelsey Ketch with Giveaway!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Review: Architek by Dominique Ehrhard

by Dominique Ehrhard
Schiffer Publishing
Children's Activity Book
128 pages
ages 5 to 8

An introduction to architectural creation, the 95 precut cardboard elements in this book can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to build all sorts of fantastical structures. Follow the full-color idea diagrams to create more than 20 unique projects, then disassemble them and try something different. Developing direction-following skills and 3-D creativity, this kit allows young architects to both learn traditional design rules and break them. Alternate the color and black-and-white facade graphics to customize your creations--no glue or fasteners needed, just slot into place! The vibrant cutouts increase spatial visualization skills while giving future architects first-hand experience with color, form, and pattern.


Any kid, who loves to build, create, and use their skills as well as their imagination, is going to enjoy this clever book immensely.

At around 4-5 inches by 4-5 inches this is a small, square, sturdy, and thick book...but it is by no means a board book for young readers. This is a construction set within a book, offering not hours of reading but tons of building fun. The idea behind the book is to give children a chance to discover the small architect inside of them. Each page holds one or more construction pieces (95 in all), which can be slid into each other according to desire or design. The pieces are sturdy and will hold up to being used time and again. There's also an instruction booklet in the first pages, which gives an illustration of various 'buildings' which can be built and directions on how to construct them. They are easy to understand and follow.

I and my kids love books which allow us to go hands on. Reading is fun, but doing is a thrill too. The pieces in this book are easy to punch out and slide together nicely. Once placed together, they hold and stay put until taken apart. The pieces illustrate different colors and designs, allowing imagination to flow and the artist to get its chance to shine as well. While the instructions in the beginning help to build some buildings, the possibilities are endless, and this set offers little architects to come up with their own creations.

While it is recommend for ages 5 to 8, older readers will have fun with it as well. It's simple, fun, and offers hours of play possibilities. In other words, we really enjoyed working with it.

And here he is...

Dominique Ehrhard is passionate about paper, pop-ups, and architecture. He has worked as a game designer, painter, and author of beautiful books for children with elegant engineering and design since 1986.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Review: Hungry Jim by Laurel Snyder

by Laurel Snyder
Illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Chronicle Books
Picture Book
56 pages
ages 4 to 8

When Jim wakes up one Tuesday morning, he doesn't feel like eating his pancakes. In fact, Jim doesn't feel like Jim. He feels rather, well, beastly. But he is hungry. Very hungry....This tale of moods from Laurel Snyder and Chuck Groenink offers a depiction of the beastliness that lives inside all of us—and the power we have to put it in its place.


With a twist of humor, the beastly nature comes out in all of its horribleness and breaks the normal mold of picture book material often seen today.

When Jim wakes up and hears his mother calling for breakfast, pancakes is the last thing he wants to eat. He feels beastly, and his stomach agrees. With a desire to devour far more than just a usual breakfast, Jim finds that no matter how much he tries to satisfy his beastly tummy, it demands more. 

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this one, and I'll admit that it left me a little surprised. It wasn't because I didn't like the is a treat!...but it doesn't follow the sweet, innocent, heavy, lovely message norms of modern picture books. In other words, it breaks past a few barriers and might even offend some adults. And it's good so! For what 'beastly' attitude sticks with prim-and-proper? The message is a little hidden but doesn't take much to realize what's being said. It does open up for discussions on how to deal with those more terrible feelings we might have—if the caretaker would like to do this.

When Jim devours his mother before heading out of the door, it's clear he's having an inner battle. Young listeners will feel his struggle and still gasp and giggle as he eats one thing/person after the next. The illustrations are well done and flow right with the story. Jim comes across as sweet despite his horrible urges. The twist at the end holds a little tension and more than a little surprise. It's sure to grab young listeners attention and have them demanding to hear the tale again.

And here the are...

The Author...
Laurel Snyder is the author of many books for children, including the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-Winning Charlie & Mouse. She lives and writes in a small yellow house in Atlanta, Georgia, which she shares with her husband and two sons.

The Illustrator...
Chuck Groenink hails from a village in the north of the Netherlands, where he spent his formative years clibing trees, drawing, reading, and cycling. He lives in Syracuse, New York.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Review: Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience by Winter Lawrence

Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience 

by Winter Lawrence
Melange Books
Fire and Ice
YA Science Fiction
338 pages 

 Just when Gwen thought she could beat any video game hands down, her boyfriend goes and gets her stuck in a top-secret government simulator named Eve 2.0. Being trapped within a couple of her favorite video games doesn't seem so bad at first, but as time becomes a factor and the A.I. program begins to get smarter, Gwen soon realizes that winning or losing isn't just about pride anymore; it's about making it out alive. 


Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Not only gaming fans, but action lovers, who enjoy a dash of science fiction, are sure to sink into every page of this fast-paced read.

Gwen, aka Teddy, isn't really a people person. And she definitely wants nothing more to do with her ex-boyfriend and neighbor. When her gaming friend, and maybe boyfriend, sends her the newest development from his father's gaming lab and it's delivered to the wrong address, horrible things start to happen. Her ex's younger brother suddenly lands in comma with no hint as to what's wrong with him. But Gwen soon suspects it has something to do with the new game. Before she knows it, she's transported into the virtual world and must find a way to defeat whatever is thrown at her. She must not only save her life, but those of the two guy's and the poor younger brother as well.

I really enjoyed reading this one and couldn't put it down until I reached the last page. It is definitely an edge-of-the-seat kind of read. Gwen is a girl with heart, who really wants to do anything she can to save— especially— her ex's younger brother. She's determined, takes risks, but doesn't always know what to do. And this is what makes her so likable. She's willing to give up the reigns and realizes she doesn't know everything. Her willingness to work with others and admit she's wrong make her easy to cheer for. But that doesn't mean she should be underestimated either. Gwen packs her own skills.

The story itself feels a little familiar—players accidentally being sucked into the virtual world and forced to play a 'real' game. But the author offers enough unique backstory and a little secret intrigue  to give it a different twist. Add a difficult romantic triangle...which isn't as much of a triangle as it first appears...and the tale has several twists and layers to add just enough depth. The main characters are pretty easy to care about. And a super cute dog, who might hold his own surprises, adds a nice touch toward the end. In other words, this is a book to lean back with and simply enjoy the ride. 

About Winter Lawrence...

Winter lives in the moment and loves nothing more than being surrounded by her family, her fur-babies, and a ton of great reads! When she doesn't have her nose stuck in a book, she's usually thinking up far away, fantastical worlds or she's cooking up a storm in the kitchen! Because of her love for all things literary, Winter pursued a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Professionally, she is a manuscript editor and, in her spare time, she enjoys hosting author spotlights, posting book reviews, and teaching workshops. In her private time, she is an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romances, and one day she hopes to inspire young readers in the same way her favorite authors continue to inspire her today. Find out more about Winter at her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Happy Release, The Witch's Tower by Tamara Grantham!

Dragon Swan Princess
by Tamara Grantham
Twisted Ever After, #2
Clean Teen Publishing
YA Fairy Tales, Fantasy

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)



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


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Review: Bad Day by Ruby Roth

by Ruby Roth
North Atlantic Books
Picture Books
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Popular children's book author-illustrator Ruby Roth gives us the heartening story of a little boy who's had a very bad day and just needs some quiet space to work out his feelings in his own way, on his own time

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? In Bad Day, things are not going well for Hennie. Small things loom large, going from bad to worse as the day-that-never-ends goes on. But with a deep breath and some quiet reflection, Hennie begins to make sense of his feelings and discovers the power of turning inward. Affirming and funny at wonderfully relatable moments, this timely mindfulness resource helps children process their inner lives, guiding them toward self-empowerment and resilience.


Everyone has had a really bad, no good day, and this book brings it down to a relatable level while packing in some humor and good messages along the way.

Hennie decides there's only one way to handle his bad day—to pull a paper bag over his head and leave it there. Forever, if need be. He fusses and fumes, and while staring at the paper, thinks back to all of the bad things that happened to him. And there were quite a few. But as he thinks, he realizes something he didn't before.

Hennie is adorable, and his attitude is completely understandable. The idea of simply pulling a paper bag over the head is something many readers can relate to (young and old). The illustrations allow this fuming to come to life with a touch of humor. The scenes allow Hennie's problems to come across clearly, but also illustrate how silly pulling a bag over the head can be. Young readers will sympathize...even with the bad moments of his day.

Hennie solves his problem himself by suddenly realizing that it was a tough day. I found this a bit of a stretch, since I don't know of any kids that age who can make this step on their own (not even many adults). Still, the message is one readers can learn from and does offer a sensible alternative to dealing with bad days.

And here she is...

Featured on CNN, FOX, Today, and other major media outlets, Ruby Roth is an artist and the world's leading author and illustrator
of vegan and vegetarian books for children.

Vegan since 2003, Roth was teaching art at an elementary school when her students' fascination with her eating habits inspired her to write That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals in 2009—the first book of its kind in children's literature. Vegan Is Love and V Is for Vegan. Today, Roth's books have been translated into multiple languages including German, Italian, Korean, French, Polish, Finnish, and Slovenian.

Complementing her degrees in art and American Studies, Roth has researched animal agriculture, health, nutrition, and the benefits of a plant-based diet for over a decade.

Sneak Peek: Between Wild and Ruin by Jennifer G. Edelson with Giveaway!

Between Wild and Ruin 

by Jennifer G. Edelson 

September 28th 2019
YA Paranormal, Romance

Truth, like love, isn’t always obvious.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby Brooks has never had a boyfriend. After moving to small-town La Luna, New Mexico following her mother’s untimely death, boys aren’t even on her radar. Ruby just wants to forget the last horrible year and blend in. But when she discovers an ancient pueblo ruin hidden in the forest behind her house, and meets Ezra, a bitter recluse whose once-perfect face was destroyed in an accident he won’t talk about; Angel, the town’s handsome sheriff’s deputy, and Leo, a stranger who only appears in the forest, Ruby finds herself caught between love, mystery, and other worlds. What happened to Ezra’s face? And why is she so attracted to the one boy in town everyone despises? As Ruby unravels her own powerful connections to both Ezra and the pueblo ruin, she’ll learn surfaces are deceiving. Especially in the heart of New Mexico, where ghosts and legends aren’t always just campfire stories.

After walking through dense stands of pine trees, I follow the remnants of what may have been a trail toward the top of the mountain. Higher up, the pines and junipers dappling the mountainside grow taller, but there aren’t as many. As they thin, small gusts of wind whistle through the forest, echoing through the trees. Otherwise, the forest is completely silent.
Closer to the top of the mountain, the rocky ground levels off and the land spreads across a plateau below the mountain’s peak. Unlike the forest, the plateau is more like a jungle, marked by thick hanging moss and clusters of tall, unidentifiable conifers. Trees stand like sentries several rows deep. Beyond them, fallen logs lie scattered among overgrown shrubs and boulders in circular bands like rings on a tree. I walk through it all, making my way past thick brush into a clearing.
Fresh sap and damp earth assault my nose. Under bright sunlight, large, rough-cut slabs of glittery rock blanket the otherwise bare field. Some lie stacked on top of each other like the crumbling remains of a building. Awestruck, I circle the structure, running my fingers over what looks like a ruin.
“Incredible, isn’t it?”
A voice behind me sends my heart racing toward my throat. I jump, whipping around to find a young man leaning casually against a pine near the clearing’s perimeter, looking off to his left as though listening for something.
Even in the shade, his face glows. He smiles, showing off teeth that gleam like snowflakes between perfect lips. Hair as dark as Liddy’s French roast coffee falls around his face in unruly waves. His features are angular but refined, and his high, rounded cheeks soften the striking juxtaposition.
I blink, then blink again. Ruby. I rub my eyes. You’re hallucinating. But he’s still there, staring at me.
While I gawk, he pushes himself off the tree. “Not many people make it up here.” He smiles broadly.
A soft, purple-hued halo circles his golden irises, catching fire in the sunlight. They settle on me, and my heart stops, completely paralyzed by his faultless storybook features.
I exhale, trying to swallow inconspicuously. “It’s definitely a hike.”
“Who are you?”
“Who am I?” I sputter. “Who are you?”
“Leo.” He grins.
“I’m Ruby.”
“Ruby.” My name rolls off his tongue with a smooth “R” and a musical lilt. Somehow, he even manages to make it sound appealing. “First time up?”
“Yes. We just moved to La Luna.”
“La Luna,” he repeats. “Welcome.”
“Thanks,” I mumble. Earth to Ruby, I mentally smack myself. Since when has any boy made you senseless?
“You okay?” He smiles like he knows I’m not. Like he knows whyI’m not. “Do you want to sit down? The altitude can be a bitch if you’re not used to it.”
“No. I mean, yes, I’m fine. No, I don’t want to sit down. You just really startled me. You should announce yourself next time.”
“Next time?”
“Next time you sneak up on somebody.”
Leo raises a perfect dark eyebrow. “But then it wouldn’t be sneaking, would it?”
My cheeks flush, and I suddenly want to drop through a hole in the ground. I choke out, “Ummm,” and something incoherent and then stare at my toes like they hold the keys to my future.

And here she is...
Jennifer G. Edelson is a writer, trained artist, former attorney, pizza lover, and hard-core Bollywood fan. She has a BFA in Sculpture and a J.D. in law, and has taught both creative writing and legal research and writing at several fine institutions, including the University of Minnesota. Originally a California native, she currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, kids, and dog, Hubble after surviving twenty-plus years in the Minnesota tundra (but still considers Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, and Santa Fe all home). Other than writing, Jennifer loves hiking, traveling, Albert Camus, Dr. Seuss, dark chocolate, drinking copious amounts of coffee, exploring mysterious places, and meeting new people--if you're human (or otherwise), odds are she'll probably love you.