Saturday, November 30, 2019

Review: Roll With It by Jamie Sumner

by Jamie Sumner
Atheneum Books
Middle Grade Contemporary
256 pages
ages 10 and up

The story of an irrepressible girl with cerebral palsy whose life takes an unexpected turn when she moves to a new town.

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother.

But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!


Determination, heart and clever spunk make Ellie a girl to follow and root for until the end.

Ellie's life is all right. There are some troubles, but all in all, she deals with things and takes challenges as they come. Until too many come. The one great change is that her seizures seem to be gone, and she can stop taking the medicine she's learned to hate. But with her father more interested in his new family than her, her grandpa's quickly worsening Alzheimer, her mother's idea to move to Oklahoma to help Ellie's grandparents, and being the new kid in school have overshadowed any happiness her health might have brought along. Somehow, Ellie's going to have to figure out how to deal with all of it.

Ellie has cerebral palsy and has to deal with the troubles it causes every day of her life. This does frustrate her at times, but it's not the only problem she has. While this book does demonstrate the everyday challenges Ellie faces thanks to her personal situation, it also presents issues young readers face themselves. Being raised by a single parent, watching grandparents face diseases like Alzheimer, and simply dealing with bullying due to economic or other differences are problems kids will recognize and sympathize with.

While Ellie does grow frustrated, she never gets depressed but rather works her way through things. This alone makes this type of character refreshing. Plus, she's got quite a bit of spunk, which makes her even more fun. The addition of a love for cooking/baking give her a well-rounded personality and offer an interesting hobby, which might draw the interest of some readers as well.

The pacing flows nicely, and there's always something happening which makes the book hard to put down. Ellie is fully aware of what each problem truly means, and this does make her seem a little mature for her age sometimes. I was a little surprised how long it took for her to actually get to the new school, but there are enough familiar problems to keep things rolling as it is. It is an interesting read with a fun character, and I'm sure kids ages 9 to 12 will enjoy it.

And here she is...

Jamie Sumner's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications. She loves stories that celebrate the grit and beauty in all kids and is the author of the middle grade novel Roll With It. She is also the mother to a son with cerebral palsy and lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit her at

Cover Reveal: Trickster by Christina Bauer with Giveaway!

Angelbound Lincoln, #3

by Christina Bauer 
Monster House Books
YA Fantasy, Paranormal

FEBRUARY 25th, 2020!!!

***A hilarious adventure after the events of Angelbound SCALA … and it’s all from Prince Lincoln’s point of view!!!*** 
With the drama of the Ghost Towers and Lucifer’s Orb behind them, Lincoln looks forward to sharing some quality time with Myla. Maybe they’ll even do a ‘regular couple thing’ like a dinner date. Or they could kill more demons together. Lincoln isn’t picky.
Then a trickster gets loose inside Antrum. And by trickster, we’re talking a giant orange monkey with magical powers and a love of causing drama with uptight thrax.
Looks like date night is on hold.
Author’s Note To Readers: You can read this book after Angelbound Origins SCALA or not. I wrote it to work either way.
Author’s Note to Self: Why do I write things out of sequence? Wasn’t SCALA published a while ago? To which I say to myself: self, this is how our gift works. Just be happy it does. And go eat more cookies. We like those.
1. Duty Bound
2. Lincoln
3. Trickster 
Don’t miss out: Get your FREE copy of Christina’s novella, BEVERLY HILLS VAMPIRE, when you sign up for her personal newsletter: ***Not available in stores***

And here she is...
Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter:


Friday, November 29, 2019

Review: The Bathysphere Boys by Ted Enik

The Depth-Defying Diving of Messrs. Beebe & Barton
by Ted Enik
Illustrated by GF Newland
Schiffer Publishing
48 pages
ages 5 and up

The true story of the invention, disasters, and adventures of the first bathysphere--a small, cramped, bare-bones spherical deep-sea submersible that set the world record for deepest dive in 1934. Explorer William Beebe and engineering grad student Otis Barton teamed up despite mismatched personalities and disagreements and changed deep-sea exploration forever. Told through engaging rhyme, this playfully illustrated addition to the Unhinged History series follows their journey from frustrated inventors to international celebrities. The tiny bathysphere was miserable to be in, with terrible lighting, little room to move, stale air, and minuscule portholes--but still the scientist-adventurers went far under the waves to experience the mysterious waters as no one ever had. After near calamities and false starts, Beebe and Barton saw, for the very first time, deep-sea creatures in their home environment, broke world records, and made history.


An often overlooked diving and engineering success not only emerges in these pages, but it does so with a whirl of quirky rhyming fun.

Will Beebe had an idea and was soon joined by Otis Barton to build a diving sphere, which should go deeper than any possibility of that time. The Bathysphere was created. But things didn't always run smoothly, but they didn't give up.

Set in rhymes, this book takes a slightly humorous (and yet, serious) twist into Will Beebe and Otis Barton's invention of the Bathysphere. It's definitely quite a quirky ride and can't be read with paying attention. The word play is speedy and hits with a sense of ridiculousness while still sitting on fact and telling the tale of how the two men achieved their goals. It's never boring and raises more than a few eyebrows along the way. In other words, its a refreshing and fun way to bring across a piece of history.

While the poem itself is fast-paced and splashes excitement between the facts, there are several pages of (still entertaining) but more informational diagrams and displays on the last pages. There's also the mention of Gloria Hollister, who collaborated with Beebe and made her own marks in the diving world.

And here they are...

The Author...
As an illustrator, Ted Enik has worked for most of the better-known publishing houses in New York, as well as for the occasional advertising agency, greeting-card house, and pharmaceutical company. He was honored to be tapped to illustrate Eloise in Hollywood and for nearly a decade was an artist for the popular Fancy Nancy “I Can Read”™ series. He recently switched hats and is now happily writing (and rhyming) up a storm. 

The Illustrator...
Illustrator/designer G. F. Newland has held a long and ponderous chain of odd jobs over the years, and to pass the time he doodled. Many of these doodles made their way into books published by Scholastic and Hachette, and into galleries and museums around the known world (e.g., Brooklyn).

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Review: Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry

An Extraordinary Moment
by Parker Curry &
Jessica Curry
Illustrated by Brittany Jackson
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

New York Times bestseller!

A visit to Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait.

When Parker Curry came face-to-face with Amy Sherald’s transcendent portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, she didn’t just see the First Lady of the United States. She saw a queen—one with dynamic self-assurance, regality, beauty, and truth who captured this young girl’s imagination. When a nearby museum-goer snapped a photo of a mesmerized Parker, it became an internet sensation. Inspired by this visit, Parker, and her mother, Jessica Curry, tell the story of a young girl and her family, whose trip to a museum becomes an extraordinary moment, in a moving picture book.

Parker Looks Up follows Parker, along with her baby sister and her mother, and her best friend Gia and Gia’s mother, as they walk the halls of a museum, seeing paintings of everyone and everything from George Washington Carver to Frida Kahlo, exotic flowers to graceful ballerinas. Then, Parker walks by Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama…and almost passes it. But she stops...and looks up!

Parker saw the possibility and promise, the hopes and dreams of herself in this powerful painting of Michelle Obama. An everyday moment became an extraordinary one…that continues to resonate its power, inspiration, and indelible impact. Because, as Jessica Curry said, “anything is possible regardless of race, class, or gender.”


Parker is a girl full of life, who loves to dance. When her mother takes her to the museum, she discovers all sorts of wonderful paintings with her friend and sister. They have so much fun. Just when mother tells them its time to leave, Parker sees a portrait which makes her stop and take it in as it effects her in ways she'd never expect.

I love the energy Parker has. She's such a cute girl packed with life. It's delightful to follow her as she puts on her boots and stomps to the museum with her sister. Young listeners will feel a connection to her right away. The museum is presented as a place full of adventure and discovery. Several artworks, which can be found at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum, are presented...but not in a boring way. Each is presented as if it comes off of the page, giving it a sense of fun and excitement. There's a short description of each one in the back of the book as well.

There are two messages in these pages. The first does a terrific job at showing how exciting an art museum can be. Paintings can be a joy to discover and there are some that will leave an impression. The second highlights Michelle Obama and shows how her portrait affected little Parker using single word thoughts to let the emotions and impressions flow. At the end of the book, there is a note from the artist of the painting. I, personally, would have liked, at least, a short biography of Michelle Obama, since the book does center around her and young listeners won't necessarily know who she is, especially as time goes on.

The illustrations are as lively as Parker herself and do a terrific job at bringing across the artwork in the museum. They make this book a joy to read.

And here they are...

The Authors...
Parker Curry is four years old, and is a full-time Pre-K 4 student. She is a precocious and talkative with a love for ballet and books. She lives with her mother, father, younger sister and baby brother in Washington DC.

Jessica (Curry) Morton is an author and writer whose work has been featured in the New York Times, as well as a work-at-home full-time mother to two little girls, Parker and Ava, and their baby brother, Cash. Her blog, Happy Mama, Happy Babies, is a mother hood and lifestyle blog that chronicles their adventures. She and her family line in Washington, DC.

The Illustrator...
Brittany Jackson (Bea for short) is and award-winning illustrator who attended the College for Creative Studies and is the grand prize winner and returned alumni of I. Ron Hubbard's Illustrator of the Future Award of 2007. Bea has worked in freelance as a character and outfit designer for various social networking and gaming platforms for more than eight years, though she is most publicly known in publishing as the illustrator for the popular children's book Hair Like Mine. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.

Review: Caspian Finds a Friend by Jacqueline Veissid

by Jacqueline Veissid
Illustrated by Merrilees Brown
Chronicle Books
Picture Book
36 pages
ages 4 to 8

Caspian Finds a Friend is an imaginative picture book about how the power to change our world lies within ourselves.

Caspian lives in a lighthouse surrounded by a cold gray-blue sea—every day, he watches, wishing for a friend, but no one comes. So, Caspian decides that wishing is not enough.

What follows is a friendship story between a boy and a bear that is tender, warm, and perfect for gift-giving.

• Features lyrical text and evocative illustrations
• Teaches the lesson about how reaching out to others can change everything
• Story is fresh yet enduring and familiar

Caspian Finds a Friend is a warm and evocative storybook that strikes a universal chord.

Featuring a cuddly bear and a relatable protagonist, this picture book is perfect for gift-giving and bedtime snuggles for children between the ages 4 and 7 years old.

• A wonderful gift for parents, grandparents, teachers, educators, librarians, and those looking for a stunning story about making friends
• The perfect gift for your little reader who loves bears
• Great for fans of Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, and Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey.


Day dreams, stars and the roll of the sea meld into a touching tale of beautiful search for friendship.

Caspian lives in a lighthouse, which is wonderful except its a lonely life. He doesn't have a friend but waits for one to come on the sea. When day after day goes by and no one arrives, he takes matters into his own hands and stuffs a note into a bottle. The result warms the heart.

Imagination flows perfectly in these pages and takes a wonderful message—finding a friend—on an almost magical ride. The yearning to not be alone touches the heart, and the boy's attitude is amazing. He doesn't get up or even grow bitter. He does what he can to find a friend, and it works. But in a way which lets dreams take flight and smiles abound.

This isn't only a beautifully told story. The illustrations invite for dreaming as well. The sea, the lighthouse, and especially the starry sky lay an amazing background which invites dreams to come true. It's fun just to get lost in the pages and enjoy Caspian's tale that way too.

This is a lovely book which makes a great read aloud and is sure to become a favorite, which needs to be read again and again.

And here they are...

The Author...
Jacquiline Veissid can often be found staring out at the sea, wishing for a new picture book idea. She lives in Hull, Massachusetts. This is her second book.

The Illustrator...
Merrilees Brown studied fine art painting and drawing as well as documentary photography. Originally from London, she now lives in Philadelphia. This is her first book.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Review: Magicorum Box Set by Christina Bauer

by Christina Bauer
Monster House Books
Young Adult Fantasy
728 pages

***New box set celebrates the launch of Book 4, SLIPPERS AND THIEVES!***

The urban fairy tale series that USA Today calls “must read YA Paranormal Romance” is now in a single ebook collection...

Bryar Rose is supposed to live by a fairy tale life template: sleeping beauty. So why does she dream of ancient Egypt and a handsome young werewolf?

Bryar Rose and her bestie Elle (never call her Cinderella) go shopping in hidden Manhattan stores run by faeries. Mayhem ensues.

Bryar Rose discovers the secret behind her connection to the pyramids of ancient Egypt ... and to the heart of a certain werewolf.

“Bauer’s unique voice blends magical fantasy, swooning romance, and a bucketful of teenage sass.” – Booklist

Fairy Tales of the Magicorum
Modern fairy tales with sass, action, and romance
1. Wolves and Roses
2. Moonlight and Midtown
3. Shifters and Glyphs
4. Slippers and Thieves
5. Apples and Arsenic


Like fairy dust, familiar fairy tales slide into an even more exciting world of magic, shifters, fae, dragons and so much more.

This box set includes two novels and one novella, each one surrounding the adventures of  Bryar Rose and her friends. Bryar Rose starts out as a pretty normal girl, except for the fact that she's has a Sleeping Beauty Template, which is faulty. Since she's not allowed to attend a usual school, she's stuck in a support group for cases similar to hers. But secrets abound, and soon she winds up in a much bigger conspiracy to take destroy magic. Mix in her best friend, a Cinderella Template, who's a thief and con-artists, and two very hot guys, who pack amazing powers, and boredom stays far away.

This story drew me in even more than I thought it might, and I found myself not wanting to put the books down...which is really not wonderful considering how long it takes to read 700 + pages. Bryar Rose has a few rough edges to her personality, but it slides in nicely with who she is and her past. The friends surrounding her are gems. Each holds their own quirks, guaranteeing more than a couple slightly humorous scenes. It's this sense of humor which balances out the action...and there is ton of action. Bad guys abound, but all aren't what they seem. In the world of magic, anything is possible and does happen. It's an exciting read for fans of strong heroines, friendship, magic, action and a slight bit of fairy tale thrown in.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Review: The Little Dragon by Sheri Fink

by Sheri Fink
 Illustrated by Lynx Studios
Whimsical World Books
Picture Book
28 pages
ages 4 to 8

The Little Dragon loves to dance in his magical meadow. When he discovers that he’s not alone, he experiences the overpowering emotions of fear, embarrassment, and anger for the first time. Through a series of heartwarming missteps, he learns the value of being open to sharing instead of isolating himself. This enchanting story helps kids recognize and express their big feelings in healthy ways, and teaches us all that dancing and life are better with friends.

Themes include: Emotions, Anger, Embarrassment, Fear, Feelings, Self-Confidence, Friendship, and Sharing.


If readers ever wanted a little dragon to be their best friend, the one in this book might just be the one they've been looking for.

The Little Dragon is such a sweet, carefree, and playful creature, who likes to dance with its whole heart. One day, when its dancing is especially carefree, it hears a rustle and a giggle in the trees. Sure enough, someone is there watching but the Little Dragon can't discover who. The embarrassment buries deep into its chest and before the Little Dragon knows what happens, its burnt down a tree. The only remedy to solve this emotional drama is to forbid dragons from ever entering its territory. But things are never that easy.

This book radiates happiness and color, fitting perfectly in with the Little Dragon's own personality. When disaster strikes, it's easy to sympathize with him, although his solution will definitely have young listeners shaking their heads and wondering what this little dragon is thinking! It's a wholesome read which brings the message across in an enchanting, fairy tale way. 

The illustrations are bright and bold, and have the atmosphere of a cartoon...which kids are sure to enjoy. The happiness streams from every page, and it's easy to follow the story. Even when a reader isn't available, the youngest will enjoy glancing through and accompanying the Little Dragon on their own. 

You can discover more about Sheri Fink and the 
Wonderful Whimsical World here!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Review: A Girl, A Raccoon and the Midnight Moon by Karen Romano Young

by Karen Romano Young
Illustrated by Jessixa Bagley
Chronicle Books
Middle Grade with a touch of Magical Realism
392 pages

JANUARY 20th, 2020!!!

In a slightly fantastical New York City, one very special library branch has been designated for possible closure. Bookish, socially awkward Pearl, the daughter of the librarian, can't imagine a world without the library—its books, its community of oddballs, its hominess. When the head of their Edna St. Vincent Millay statue goes missing, closure is closer than ever. But Pearl is determined to save the library. And with a ragtag neighborhood library crew—including a constantly tap-dancing girl who might just be her first friend, an older boy she has a crush on, and a pack of raccoons who can read and write—she just might be able to.

With an eclectic cast of richly drawn characters, a hint of just-around-the-corner magic, footnotes, sidebars, and Jessixa Bagley's classic illustrations throughout, this warm-hearted, visually magnificent tale of reading and believing from beloved author Karen Romano Young tells of a world where what you want to believe can come true.


With a tinsy-tiny touch of fantasy, this is a lovely tale about community, friendship and a wonderful library.

Pearl's world rotates around the library. She's a shy girl, who loves living between books and the library world. But not everything is bright ink and shiny pages. The library isn't doing well, and when the head of the almost never visited statue goes missing, no one but Pearl really seems to care. Determined to save the library and figure out what happened to her beloved statue's head, she enters the sidewalks and streets. Soon, she discovers a few friends and more.

There's a touch of whimsical to the writing, which immediately draws in and creates the atmosphere of an endearing read. Pearl is easy to connect with right away. Although socially awkward...or maybe because...her heart of gold shines bright and makes her someone to cheer for from the very first pages. Not only library lovers will enjoy the scene, but the idea of her centering herself on only a library adds the right touch for the dusting of fantasy which comes later on with the raccoons. It's a fun read with enough energy to keep it interesting.

The entire book is sprinkled with illustrations, something I always love t see in middle grade books. These help spice of the story and give something for the reader to look forward to. There are also side-bar notes which explain an entire slew of facts and information in a serious, but not without humor, way. While I found these interesting, my own children weren't as taken in and skipped many f them. There are also footnotes to help point out books where quotes and such come from. 

I really enjoyed the way Pearl discovers such wonderful, and even if odd, friends. The community around her warms the heart as well and shows that there is support if a person looks. It's a warming tale and awakens the love for libraries as well. Unfortunately, it was a bit slow in spots and simply a little long. But I enjoyed reading it and am sure there are middle graders out there who will enjoy Pearls adventure quite a bit.

And here they are...

The Author...
Karen Romano Young is a writer, illustrator, and science journalist. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two large, fluffy dogs.

The Illustrator...
Jessixa Bagley is an award-winning author and illustrator. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, adorable son and a slew of houseplants.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Review: Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

by Matthew Forsythe
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book
64 pages
ages 4 to 8

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home? Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom. 


An irritating hobby unveils itself as a huge success and draws like minded together to raise fun for everyone.

Pokko is a little frog, whose parents have given him many presents, which proved to be mistakes. But the present they regretted giving him the most was a drum. When conversation became impossible to due to the noise, the send him outside, but warn him not to draw too much attention to their humble home. Off Pokko goes and, at first, tries to enjoy the quiet, but soon he misses some noise. So he plays his drum. When a new noise joins in, he notices that a raccoon is now tagging along, playing its instrument. And the adventure begins.

Firstly, I love the illustrations in this book. They are vibrant and as full of life as the music Pokko seems to play. It's a delight to flip through these and watch as he heads into the forest and meets more and more friends.

Although the story centers around Pokko, it's not actually his personality that shines. Rather, the story starts off with a bit of humor, which will guarantee more than a giggle or two. When Pokko is sent outside to play (something many listeners will probably sympathize with), it's fun to watch as he's joined by other creatures and their instruments. There are a couple surprises packed in, which give the story an unexpected twist or two. The excitement and passion of the other animals radiates from the pages, and the ending wraps things up in a wonderful way. It's a fun read.

And here he is...

Matthew Forsythe is the former lead designer for Adventure Time and an award-winning author-illustrator of children's books and comics. His illustrations have appeared in many publications including The Wall street Journal and New York Times. He lives in Canada.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Guest Post by Heidi Bryant and The Catnap Stories!

by Heidi Bryant
Middle Grade Fiction 
ages 8 to 12

The Catnap Stories explores the world, led by Vince, one of the most well-traveled cats going! Take an adventure to Paris, India and Seville, and harness the mischievousness of the characters and places (based on very real cats and experiences) and discover the wonder of learning a new language.

Each story is an opportunity to give children the motivation to dream bigger and travel wider, with an educational twist that gets everybody involved. They do not disappoint any culture craving!  For more details please visit our website

Adventures of Vince the Cat

Vince Goes to Paris

Vince Discovers the Golden Triangle

Vince Discovers the Wonder of Seville

Heidi Bryant
and Teaching Foreign Languages to Kids

Would you like your children to speak another language one day? Why not start when they are toddlers?

Many people, myself included start learning a foreign language once they reach high school which can be seen to be quite late in life. Especially when you consider that children can actually cope with different languages at a much earlier age. Children who grow up in families where the parents both have a different mother tongue normally doesn’t cause any issue when the child is growing up and hearing both languages on a daily basis.

How can my child learn a foreign language if I don’t speak one myself?

Some parents may consider hiring a French tutor, but this can be a costly affair and may well prove ineffective as learning another language would generally take more than one or two hours a week. And it could take time to build a successful relationship with the tutor.

I really believe that the best tutor to teach a child is someone who is close to them – like you – the parents for example! Now… Fear not! If you don’t speak a foreign language yourself – I have several suggestions…

Let’s consider French or Spanish for example; languages that are both widely spoken outside of the actual country of origin. If you do not speak either language, then you could start by taking a couple of hours of French/Spanish lessons and learn the basic every day words; numbers, colours, animals, for example.

There are other ways though. You can teach your children other languages through dual language stories which are a great way to get started. These books often come with pronunciation suggestions or even as audiobooks and would be much more fun for parents to learn alongside their child.
Nowadays, many libraries offer story time in other languages – and there are many bi-lingual resources out there that aren’t just educational text books that are used in schools.

Another great way of learning another language is by learning songs. ‘Frère Jacques’ is the one that sticks out in my mind as a child growing up learning French. The song is all about a friar who has overslept and is urged to wake up and sound the bell for the early morning prayers.

I also think that learning tongue twisters in another language is a fun idea. My favourite tongue twister (trabalenguas) in Spanish is ‘Tres tristes Tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal’. (Translation: Three sad tigers eat wheat in a wheatfield).

Children learn by repetition — constant repetition — and learning a language is no different. If a child likes a particular story, then it is pretty certain that they will ask you to read the book over and over again.

So why not inspire your child to learn a new language today!

And here she is...

Heidi Bryant was born on 11th July. She has always lived in Kent, but worked in London since she was 18 years old. She has owned cats ever since she was nine and has two cats; (Tiesto and Eivissa).

Heidi always loved reading and one of her favourite books that she read time and time again – was a short story called ‘The Lonely House’. She also read all of the Roald Dahl books as well as the series ‘Gobbolino the Witch’s cat’.
Heidi went to Fort Pitt Grammar School where she started learning languages (French, German and Spanish). Heidi furthered her studies at the Open University where she graduated with an Honour’s Degree in Modern Languages. Not satisfied with just the one degree, she then decided to undertake a Master’s Degree in Translation at London Metropolitan University. Heidi focused on her two favourite languages; French and Spanish.
In 2018, she started learning Italian.
Heidi had the idea to write ‘The Adventures of Vince the Cat’ when she sadly lost her beloved cat Mikki to old age in summer 2018. Heidi was totally devastated and so in order to keep the memories of her beautiful cats past and present – she decided to start writing adventure stories with the cats as the main characters.
Having travelled extensively (without the cats!) through her work and personal life she has now combined her love of cats, her passion for languages and travel into these stories.
Heidi’s hope is that children will love reading these stories time and time again. She would like to inspire children to want to learn about cats (of course!), the wonderful world in which we live, foreign languages, cultures and customs.

Links - these pages have little videos and more details about the books

we are also on Facebook and instagram @catnapstories 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Sort of a Mommy and Daddy's Day Review: The Kouzlo Saga by L.L. McNeil

Today, I have a series I stumbled across on a Facebook review group...yes, believe it or not, I review even more books than I present on here (scary, I know). This one is suitable for the Young Adult audience but it's also one which will thrill older readers. It's not a romance series, but simply follows a band of misfit friends. Isn't that refreshing? I've only read the first two books in the series, but I'm told book three has just been released and four is in the starting gates already.

The Koulo Saga, Book Two
by L.L. McNeil
Three Dragon Publishing
Urban Fantasy/ Fantasy
225 pages

Seila has been slaying demons for as long as she can remember.
A Phantom, she travels the length and breadth of England in a quest to reclaim her humanity—and her soul. With her Sieken Blade, she cuts down the demons in her path while inching closer to freedom from the endless hunt.

When an Elite Demon makes sport of London’s Kouzlo—a secret organisation of supernaturals dedicated to ridding the Earth of demons and sealing the portals they slink through—its leader, an Enchantress called Fallow, implores Seila to join their cause before they’re wiped out.

Desperate to save her Kouzlo and the people they protect, Fallow pledges to help Seila reclaim her soul in return for the Phantom's formidable skills.

The demon hunter is torn between her lone hunt and joining Fallow’s decimated forces—and perhaps the chance to stop the demons once and for all.

Thrown in with Damon, a fledgling half-Fire Elemental with limited control of his powers, and Tej, a reckless human with a penchant for crossbows, can Seila and her new allies keep it together long enough to save London?


With lots of magic, demons and battle action, this is a fast-paced tale which keeps new twists coming until the very end.

Seila was once human, but when a demon stole her soul, pure determination allowed her to survive. Now, she's a Phantom, a demon hunter, and she her only desire is to kill the demon, who stole her soul and get it back. But it's a long journey and never-ending fight. When a hunt leads her into London and a stray demon, who usually avoids cities at all costs, she realizes something strange is happening. Seila not only has quite the battle ahead of her but is forced to make a difficult choice—fight a battle which isn't her own or continue to find her soul at all costs.

This is an quick paced read with a tough heroine, tons of magic and lots of grit. And it's not a romance. Seila is very determined and it's easy to understand why she leads the life she does. Her loner attitude does get harsh at moments, but is still understandable, for the most part. She has a hard shell, and yet, wins enough sympathy to make her interesting. It's easy to root for her until the last page. There are several new twists, which give it an original feel (something which isn't always the case in this genre), while holding all the action fans of Urban Fantasy and demons will enjoy.

The book plays well as the first in the series. It sets up several potential friendships and relationships without going to clearly in one direction or the other. Each character brings strengths and hope, but the author manages to keep much open for the future books without leaving a cliffhanger at the end. It's the first step, and it's a good one.

The Kouzlo Saga, Book Two
by L.L. Mc Neil
Three Dragon Publishing
Urban Fantasy/Fantasy
240 pages

Demon hunting is all in a day’s work for Seila.
As a soulless Phantom and member of Fallow Caramond’s Kouzlo—a secret demon killing organisation based outside London—Seila is driven by little else.
But she’s made new allies—Elementals, Enchantresses, Shape-Shifters, and even a Djinni—and slaying demons has never been easier.
But working as part of a team goes against everything Seila has done before, and adjusting to friends is not without difficulty, especially when she's still no closer to reclaiming her soul and her humanity. She butts heads with Lady Tress Vitali, a demon assassin, and finds the edge of her tongue as sharp as her dragon axes.
After vanquishing Sekki, an Elite Demon, another has leapt in to take his place, and Seila cannot rest while London is under siege.
With Prowler Demons on the loose and half-fire Elemental Damon’s developing powers less than under control, Seila has her hands full not just coping with the growing Kouzlo, but the new Elite Demon wrecking havoc upon London.
With demons, dragons, and kick-ass characters, this is a new demon hunter series that you can really sink your teeth into!


This one takes off with a new adventure and can be read as a stand alone...somewhat. But I wouldn't recommend it since there is important background in book one concerning the characters and the relationships.

Seila has decided to stay with the Kouzlo for the time being and work with them to keep London safe from demons, while hoping that she might stumble across the one she's still seeking. Hopefully, the rest of the Kouzlo bunch will be ready to help and willing to help her when she does. Satisfied that she and her new found friends...uh colleagues...have defeated an elite demon, she's thrilled when another takes its place. Unfortunately, the new demon is not only strong but already has a demon hunter on its tail. And this hunter carries not only amazing powers and crosses dimensions, she has a monstrous attitude. Still, Seila doesn't let anyone shove her to the side...especially someone with the vibes this hunter is giving her.

This is an exciting continuation to book one. Seila is still her loner, stubborn, risk-taking self, but she's beginning to open up a bit. Her growing attachment to her 'almost' friends is warming and makes her easy to root for despite her sometimes rough exterior. Like in book one, the heroes have their hands full. Action abounds right along with magic, demons and so much more. It's quick paced with enough emotion and heart to draw in. The secrets behind the demon and hunter keep tension high, and the danger even higher. It's a fun read, especially for those relaxing hours and magic fans who simply want an exciting read.

And here she is...

My name is Lauren, and I’m a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure.

If you're looking for the demon-hunting, kick-ass characters found in urban fantasy, the KOUZLO SAGA is the series for you! Demons reign supreme across not just Earth, but countless dimensions, and it’s down to the secret supernatural organisation of the Kouzlo to hunt them down.

Prefer a new epic fantasy story? Let me introduce you to the WORLD OF LINARIA! It’s a light-hearted, fast-paced fantasy adventure with bucket-loads of magic, dragons, sky pirates, and airships.

I have a degree in Psychology and a fascination with MBTI (I'm an INFJ) - I love reading and writing about introversion. I'm a petrol head and thalassophile, and adore castles, sunshine, and dragons.