Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What's Coming in July!

I actually had a day free from reviews today (Yippee! and Wow!) Yes, it does get crazy when I try to put up a review almost every single day (leaving weekends as free as possible). And I've always hoped to somehow find time to squeeze in a 'What's Coming!' post. Why? Because there are so many books I can't wait to share with you, and I wish I could get you as excited about these as I always am. (Some awesome books are coming up!)

But, alas, it's never worked out.

Until today.

So, here's some of the goodies you can expect to see this month here on Bookworm for Kids...
(and no, this isn't the entire list, just a tiny taste)

And notice the diversity! I didn't even realize how many different cultures are hitting this blog until I did this post. Amazing!

10 Things I Hate About Pinky

Written by bestselling author, Sandhya Menon, this is the highly anticipated, third book in the Dimple and Rishi series. It has romance. It has diversity. It has a fake boyfriend. And oh-so-much more!

Coming July 21st, we'll have this one up here tomorrow, July 1st, so you can get an early peek into my thoughts.

YA Romance

Bubble Kisses

Vanessa Williams? Yes, this is from THE Vanessa Williams that so many already know and love—actress, singer, dancer, and now... author!

This one came out May 5th, but you can see my thoughts on it on July 2nd.

Picture Book, ages 4 to 8

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything 

Science Fiction meets the very modern theme of immigration and ICE in this middle grade novel, which I'm really looking forward to diving into. It releases on August 4th, but you can already hear my thoughts about it on July 7th.

Middle Grade Science Fiction, ages 8 to 12

The Sisters of Straygarden Place

And it's time for some mystery mixed with fantasy! This novel comes from an author, who grew up in Africa and promises chills and surprises. It's release date is planned for September 15th, but take a peek with me already on July 13th (and nope, that's not a Friday this month. Oh well)

Middle Grade Mystery/Spooky, ages 8 to 12

The Little Kitten

I'm LOVED the first book in this series and was super excited when I was asked to review this one. It's not fall yet, but it's never, ever, ever too early to dream. Coming out on July 21st, you'll see my review here on July 15th.

Picture Book, ages 4 to 8

The Invention of Sophie Carter

It's rare that I peek into a book more than a week or so before I post a review here, but I was so tempted by this one, that I already have read the first few chapters. And...I'm hooked! This already shows so much promise that I can't wait to drown myself in these pages. Coming July 14th, you'll have to wait until the 17th before I get this review up.

Young Adult Historical Romance

The Jade Rebellion

Science Fiction collides with magic to form a tale about rebellion, artificial intelligence, greed and slams it into dystopian form. I'm always up for a bit of action-packed science fiction, an I'm hoping this one fits the bill. My thoughts will be up on July 23rd.

Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy


This tale is set in the 1980's and revolves around more meaningful topics such as learning to trust oneself, dealing with the loss of a loved one, and carrying on. I'm expecting a lot of emotions and magical moments in this one, but we'll see. It's release date is scheduled for August 4th, but you'll get a glimpse at my thoughts on July 21st.

Middle Grade Contemporary (maybe, a little historical?)

Picture of Dorianna

I happened across this one by accident but fell in love with the surmise—so mysterious! It comes out from Konjur Road Press on October 23, but I'll have my thoughts up already on July 24th.

Young Adult Paranormal

Trust the Grind

And since I love to spice things up and head in other directions than just fiction, I'll be diving into this book about well-known athletes and the stories of how they achieved their goals. This is one for upper middle grade through young adult and, I'm hoping, will make sport fans' hearts' beat faster. I'll be reviewing this one on July 28th.


I'd love to list all of the others, too, because I plan on reviewing a total of (at least) 25 reads during July. So, grab that beach chair and a cool drink because there is bound to be something here for your young reader, too.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Review: The Morning Flower by Amanda Hocking

by Amanda Hocking
Wednesday Books
YA Fantasy
352 pages

AUGUST 4th!!!

New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to the magical world of the Trylle with The Morning Flower, the second book in the Omte Origins arc.

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lays the secret kingdom of the Omte—a realm filled with wonder... and as many secrets.

When Ulla Tulin took her internship at the Mimirin, the only mystery she thought she'd have to solve was that of her birth parents. After a girl named Eliana gets kidnapped while in her care, Ulla knows she has to find out the truth of who Eliana really is—and the only way to do that means traveling to the Omte capital, the place she suspects her mother is from.

Ulla didn’t expect that when she arrived she would discover the identity of a Skojare man who crossed paths with her mother—a man who could very well be her father. When the head of the Mimirin learns Ulla's father is connected to the Älvolk, a secret society who believes they were tasked with protecting the First City and the only ones who know its location, he sends Ulla and Pan to Sweden where they find him living among the Älvolk. But all is not what it seems with the Älvolk and their urgent quest to find the Lost Bridge to the First City leaves Ulla feeling uneasy—and possibly in danger.



Note: This is the second book in a series and needs to be read as such, since it picks up where the first one left off and offers basically no backstory to catch a reader up.

While the first book in the series laid the foundation of the world and characters, this second one shoots off into an ever growing mystery and brings mounting tension just like it should.

Eliana's disappearance and the desire to discover more about her own past has Ulla driving off in search of the impossible—the Lost Bridge to the First City. When she arrives at the Omte tribe, she's not sure what to make of the Queen's inability to answer her questions, but another door opens as she runs across a strange man, who knew her mother and might be her father. Learning that her father supposedly is a part of the secret guard, which protects the mythical city, she's sent to Sweden to live with the guardians there and him. But Ulla has doubts behind the true intentions of her journey and soon finds herself deeper in secrets than is safe.

As in book one, this is an imagination packed world, which gently brushes against modern reality every now and then. The characters are easy to like or hate, and yet, others sit heavily in the gray zone, making it difficult to decipher what their true intentions are. Ulla grows with every book as she struggles not only to uncover more about her own past, but also to come to terms with it. She has a few true friends at her side as well as Pan, the obvious love interest. It's fun to cheer the characters on as they stumble over lie after lie, and discover all sorts of things about this intriguing world.

The plot thickens in this second book, just as it should. There were still a few paragraphs I grazed over, but all in all, it is an engaging read. The romance slides alongside the main plot, adding a little zest without overpowering the story line...which I appreciate. Still, it's a bit too obvious for my liking, although the awkward moments fit well to Ulla's age. The new characters weren't as easy to fall into in these pages, but then, book one excelled in this area and with the increasing tension and mystery, the new characters simply aren't getting the same love as Ulla, Pan and friends.

Fantasy friends who enjoy refreshing takes on fantasy worlds and rich world building are sure to enjoy this one.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Review: Only the Cat Saw by Ashley Wolff

by Ashley Wolff
Walker Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 3 to 7


What does a curious farm cat see when the sun goes down, the stars come out, and everyone else is fast asleep? Find out in this brand new, fully refreshed and repainted edition of Ashley Wolff’s classic Only the Cat Saw.

When night falls, a family eases into supper, bath, and bedtime. But while their day is ending, their farm cat’s adventures have just begun! Only the cat sees the sun set over a flock of sheep, an owl stalking a mouse, a shooting star...and much, much more. This peaceful, visually stunning story explores what happens at night when no one—well, almost no one—is watching.



Filled with the warmth of family and simple, daily life, this book shows that there's always something magical happening even when no one is watching.

A family goes through their daily life from evening to the next morning, eating, getting ready for bed and sleeping through the night. While the individual members are busy with their usual activities, the cat witnesses what goes on outside of the house. The wonders of nature are brought to life as the cat alone witnesses each event.

When I picked up this one, I was expecting a little more pizzazz, excitement or, at least, catching moments. Instead, this is a very gentle book, which hits upon the beauty of life. The family consists of a father, mother, older sister and a baby brother. They present a wholesome image as they conduct their meals, getting ready for bed, and then try to sleep through the night...which does have a couple very calm interruptions. The images and atmosphere is very loving, which offers the perfect background for the cat as it goes on its own adventure outside and witnesses sunsets, fireflies and other 'magical' moments.

The illustrations are lovely. While the home scenes carry many familiar things and present the family in a wonderful light, the scenes with the cat are simply beautiful. It flows right along with the text, which is perfect for the intended age group and never ways too heavy.

In these pages, it's shown that while we go about our usual lives, many wonderful things are happening, which we don't even notice. It encourages listeners to take occasional pauses and take a peek outdoors to see what they might miss out on otherwise. It's a calming book, great to read before nap time or bed time. While it might not become a favorite, it's one of those books that can easily be picked up, quickly read, and enjoyed.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Sneak Peek: Why Can't Freshman Summer Be Like Pizza? by Andy V. Roamer with Giveaway!

Why Can’t Freshman

 Summer Be Like Pizza?
by Andy V. Roamer
The Pizza Chronicles #2
June 1st 2020
YA Contemporary

RV, having successfully completed his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School, is hoping for a great summer. He’s now fifteen years old and looking forward to sharing many languid summer days with his friend Bobby, who’s told him he has gay feelings too. But life and family and duties for a son of immigrant parents makes it difficult to steal time away with Bobby.
Bobby, too, has pressures. He spends part of the summer away at football camp, and his father pushes him to work a summer job at a friend’s accounting firm. Bobby takes the job grudgingly, wanting to spend any extra time practicing the necessary skills to make Latin’s varsity football team.
On top of everything, RV’s best friend Carole goes away for the summer, jumping at an opportunity to spend it with her father in Paris. Luckily, there is always Mr. Aniso, RV’s Latin teacher, to talk to whenever RV is lonely. He’s also there for RV when he inadvertently spills one of Bobby’s secrets, and Bobby is so angry RV is afraid he is ready to cut off the friendship.


Bobby and I sat there for a while, not saying anything, just enjoying being together, feeling like we were watching the whole world but not letting the world see us.
“So? Was this worth the bike ride and the climb?” Bobby finally asked.
“You bet. I love finding special places. Like the place in the woods not far from my house. It’s a good place to think and dream.”
Bobby nodded. “Yeah. I discovered this spot when I came to the park with my folks. They just wanted to sit and relax on the hill, so I went exploring.”
“Yes, exploring is good. Where would we be in life without exploring!”
I laughed and gave Bobby a nudge. He nudged me back. “Now I’ve shown you a good place to think and dream too.”
I nodded, and we sat quietly for a long time, just happy looking out at Boston and being next to each other. Bobby put his hand on mine and it reminded me again of the first time he had touched me in the spring. The crazy, amazing feeling that went through my whole body. I know it’s stupid to say, but it was like I became alive in a new way. Even though that jolt of excitement lasted only a few seconds, I’ll never forget it.
It was great to experience the feeling again. Bobby’s gentle touch on my hand probably didn’t mean much to him, but to me it meant a lot, especially that things were good between us. It was one of those moments in life when everything seems perfect. Just the way it’s supposed to be. I wanted to stay there forever with Bobby’s hand on mine.
Then I remembered something. “Hey, Bobby!” I exclaimed, turning to him.
“It’s the summer solstice!”
Bobby looked puzzled.
“The longest day of the year. When the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Cancer. It happens every year between June 20 and 22. And this year it’s today.”
Bobby suddenly laughed. “Oh, RV. You should go on a game show!”
My cheeks were getting hot. Carole calls it the RV Blush. When I’m really embarrassed about something, my face turns bright-red. And I was really embarrassed by my nerd part coming out in front of Bobby of all people.
Bobby was still laughing. “I believe you. I really do.” He put his arm around me and gave me a little hug. “Being with you, I learn all these crazy things. That’s why I like you.”
“Don’t these long days make you feel good?” I said, more quietly. “Summer stretching out ahead. It makes me feel optimistic. Like I’ll have time to live my life, and not just do homework. Or chores. Or other things I’m forced to do. Summer is for us.”

And here he is...

Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children's and YA books division and then wearing many other hats. WHY CAN'T LIFE BE LIKE PIZZA? is the first novel in THE PIZZA CHRONICLES. The books follow the exploits of RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate the four years of his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Review: Tricycle and Friends by Lester Aradi

by Lester Aradi
Illustrated by Darwin Marfil
Post Hill Press
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

JULY 10th!!!

Based on a true story, Tricycle and Friends shares the heartfelt tale about a group of rescued animal friends and their journey of serving as therapy animals for children with special needs.

When Tricycle, a rescued, three-legged Golden Retriever arrives at his new home, he gets the attention of the other animals who live there. They want to know what happened to his missing leg, and they wonder if it hurts and if it slows him down.

As Tricycle gets to know the other residents of the farm, he learns there are lots of different creatures who have a wide range of abilities and interests. He enjoys meeting the other animals and loves the peaceful quality of his surroundings.

Based on a true story, Tricycle and Friends shares a story about a group of rescued animal friends and their real-life journey of serving as therapy animals for children with special needs. Through story and pictures, it addresses topics such as adoption, bullying, dealing with physical challenges, death of a companion, and friendship.



A dive into these pages brings the reader to a place, where animals finally find a home and children some joy.

This book is based on an existing type of farm, which adopts rescued animals and helps children with needs to spend time with them and develop relationships. While narrated through the eyes of Tricycle, a golden retriever with three-legs who is adopted and finds his way around the farm, the book slides through the various animals and children, illustrating the various problems individuals can face—bullying, friendship, death, physical challenges, and much more.

This book works well as a read-aloud. The text is a bit heavy to be read to the youngest audiences, but it does work nicely for a story time. Those who have a fairly good grip on reading can hit it themselves. It tells the story of Tricycle and how he arrives at his new, adoptive home. The animals there each of their own history or problems, but that doesn't stop them from being kind, open and friendly. It's a place full of hope and that radiates from every page.

While it does follow a light plot, I had the impression that the book does a better job at simply exposing young listeners to a place where these types of animals and children, who have their own problems, come together and support each other. The book doesn't hit only one topic, but slides from one to the next. In some ways, it was quite a stack and made me wonder how many tough issues can be hit upon in one picture book. So, I would recommend using this one only for those children ready to hit such discussions (ages 5+). But the problems aren't the point of this book, either. Instead, this book opens up discussions and simply wakes awareness of the possibilities such a place offers.

The illustrations are well done and fun to experience. As an extra bonus, however, the real life photos of situations mentioned in the book are placed on the last pages. And it's this shove between a story and reality, which makes the book that much easier to connect to.

Tricycle and Friends was presented in an online article with People.com. You can read it and discover more about this book and its authors here!

Sneak Peek: Guardians of Erin by Judith Sterling with Giveaway!

The Cauldron Stirred 
Guardians of Erin, Book One 
by Judith Sterling 
 YA Fantasy, Paranormal 

Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.

At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate. For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.

But Aengus is secretive, with good reason. He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld. Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland. Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined. 

**On Sale for only .99cents June 1st – 25th!!** 

The Stone Awakened 
Guardians of Erin, Book Two 

Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents' disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she's determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.

Ashling could use a little help herself. She's struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.

As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within. 

**On Sale for only .99cents June 1st – 25th!!** 


That same night, I found myself back inside Muckross Abbey, surrounded by the cloisters’ arches. I stood two feet from the quadrangle’s yew, exactly where I’d been before. I looked down at my pink, satin pajamas and bare feet. Winter’s chill had no hold on me, and all was twilit.
Okay, I thought. This is either an astral trip or a dream. But which one?
My gut told me I’d left my sleeping body. How better to discover what Aengus hadn’t wanted me to see in the Otherworld version of the abbey’s graveyard? Then again, I did have vivid dreams.
A sudden gust whistled along the deserted corridor to my right. I turned as a robed figure disappeared up a winding stairwell.
“Fear not.”
Startled, I whirled back around toward the velvety voice. Lorcan! Clad in black like a character out of a 19th-century romance, he peeked out from behind a stone pillar.
“He’s merely a monk. That is, he was.” His ice blue eyes were intense, even in the soft light.
I swallowed hard. “Why are you here?”
“Why are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t you?” Leaving the cloister, he sauntered toward me.
My pulse quickened. He was every bit as handsome and alluring as Aengus, and my mutinous body knew it. No. Aengus is the one for me. Only Aengus. I grasped for an explanation, an excuse that would lighten the weight of guilt dragging me down. I’m asleep, and this is all just a dream.
Lorcan stopped an arm’s length away. “You’re here because I was thinking of you. And I’m here because earlier, you stood right in this spot thinking of me.”
I regarded him through narrowed eyes. “You spied on us?”
“Don’t you think I could’ve felt it?”
“That’s not a straight answer. And I don’t know you well enough to guess what you could or couldn’t feel.”
His pupils encroached on the lighter blue. “Your soul knows me.”
Unquestionably. But what history did we share? “I’m not sure I can trust you.”
“I realize that. But you can.”
I cleared my throat. “Well, I think I came back here to see what I didn’t before. The graveyard, as it looks in the Otherworld.”
“A worthy goal. Among the buried are ancient chieftains, including the O’Donoghues, and the last King of Desmond. Aengus stopped you, didn’t he?”
“He said he was protecting me.”
“Ha! From what? The mysteries of the night? Dark and lovely, they are.”
Again, my eyes narrowed. Did he know the paranormal fascinated me? Maybe he’d sensed my excitement over the Wild Hunt on Halloween night. “Mysteries?”
“There are many associated with this place. Have you heard of the Brown Man?”
I frowned. “No.”
“He was a newlywed whose bride found him here, in this very graveyard, feasting on the flesh of a dug-up corpse.”
“Then there’s the religious hermit who lived here all by himself for a decade in the eighteenth century.”
“That doesn’t sound too strange.”
Lorcan arched an eyebrow. “No? Every night, he slept in a coffin.”
He nodded. “Then there was Herbert, a local landlord who ordered his servants to dig up some of the graves, burn the remains, and scatter the ashes in his garden.”
“Okay. Now you’re just making stuff up.”
He gave me a sidewise look. “Am I? Later, a woman in white attacked Herbert, right outside the abbey. Tales like these inspired Bram Stoker when he visited the area.”
“Bram Stoker? The author of Dracula?”
“The very same. He was often seen wandering these ruins at night.”
“After what you’ve told me, I can see why. Some people fear the unknown, but I’ll bet it fascinated him. I mean, you’ve got a ruin like this and a graveyard. When darkness falls, it’s the perfect setting for a gothic story, or the inspiration for one.”
He inched closer. Silky and seductive, his energy reached out to me. I could almost imagine he was touching me. My face. My shoulders and arms. My waist.
“Then you feel it too,” he murmured.

His eyes smoldered. “The lure of the dark.”

The Sword Unsheathed 
Guardians of Erin, Book Three 

Ashling Donoghue is no closer to finding her parents than she was the night they disappeared. But hope returns as her brother Kian channels the Sword of Light, revealing past-life secrets and truths long suppressed. 

The more she learns, the greater she fears the darkness that drowns the Netherworld also drives her. Is Aengus her true love, or is it Lorcan? Does her future wait in shadow or the light? 

One point is clear: the threads of her past-self are woven inextricably into the tapestry of her soul. An impossible choice looms before her, and all the while, evil is poised to strike. 

Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles. Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons. 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Review: Let Them Be Kids by Jessica Smartt

Adventure, Boredom, Innocence, and Other Gifts Children Need
by Jessica Smartt
Thomas Nelson
Non-Fiction Parenting
256 pages

As every parent hopes to raise kids with good manners and values, Jessica Smartt’s practical guide fills the gaps of uncertainty and provides tips on how parents can equip their children in purity, faith, and creativity.
Former English teacher and homeschooling mother of three, Jessica Smartt felt the weight of helping prepare her kids for life, especially with all the outside pressures and influence of the world. She struggled with how she could raise her children with a sense of adventure, self-confidence, manners, faith, and the ability to utilize technology wisely.
Let Them Be Kids is Jessica’s offering of grace and confidence to moms, giving them practical ideas to meet these challenges. Her well-researched, tested methods, woven together with her personal stories and witty humor, deliver wisdom on the tough topics of life, such as
  • family time vs. outside activities,
  • being “cool” or not,
  • boredom,
  • technology usage
  • sexual purity, and
  • showing grace when kids disobey.
Part story and part guidebook, every chapter includes doable strategies and encouragement for the journey.
Let Them Be Kids helps moms feel confident and equipped with ways to provide a safe, healthy, Christ-centered childhood for their children. It leads them to conquer fear and find truth that transforms them and their families as it reminds them how to enjoy and cherish the special memory-making moments of building family values together.


New parents or ones looking for a little advice will enjoy flipping through this book and grabbing some tidbits along the way.

This book is written by a blogging, homeschooling mother who has three young children. I'll admit, I always have to smile a little when I read these. As a mother of four, two of which are already graduating college and on their own, these stages lay in the past. So, my perspective is a bit different than that of the intended audience.

The author is a conservative, religious person (which works well for me), and it is necessary to note this before picking the book up. The advice she offers is sound and comes from the heart. Ideas such as getting the kids outside, listening to your gut, not being afraid to admit being wrong, limiting technology, spending time together, and so on are all tips which have stood the test of time. They are also words of advice often given, which means they don't offer anything earth-shatteringly new. But then, these tips are sound, and there's nothing wrong with saying them again. New parents will enjoy hearing them and be able to incorporate them in their own lives, if they would like to.

The text is written from an open and honest point of view. The author uses her own experiences as examples, and these are easy to understand and connect with. It's an easy read and makes sure to stay positive. The chapters each begin with the words 'The Gift of...', which already keeps an positive atmosphere. The specific tips are placed as bullet points with explanations, which makes them easy to pick out and take note of. At the end, there is a list of resources, which have everything from movie suggestions (which the entire family can enjoy) to things kids should always have around them to game suggestions and even more. Like the rest of the book, these are also a matter of opinion.

The book is nicely done and is sure to offer uncertain parents a foundation to start with or ideas to help them out when they feel they need a little direction. But, of course, many of the things mentioned are the author's opinion and rest on her ideologies and personal perspectives. Especially as a home-schooler, some of her advice doesn't quite match up with what a child attending a public school might deal with. The tips she offers can't be seen as the only and true solutions, but simply make suggestions on what has worked for her. Some of it I agree with. Other things, I do not.

Summed up, this is a nicely written book for newer parents, which offers sound advice, especially for those who carry a more conservative, Christian and traditional mindset. Those who share these values will enjoy reading through it and maybe benefit from the insight along the way.

You can learn more about Jessica Smartt...

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Or follow the tour:

Instagram features:

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Thursday, June 25th: @books_faith_love
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Monday, June 22nd: The Inspired Prairie
Tuesday, June 23rd: Running Through the Storms
Wednesday, June 24th: Bookworm for Kids
Thursday, June 25th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Friday, June 26th: Leighellen Landskov Photography
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Wednesday, July 8th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife
Thursday, July 9th: @meetmeinthestacks
Friday, July 17th: Openly Bookish

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Review: The Lost City by Amanda Hocking

The Omte Origins #1
by Amanda Hocking
Wednesday Books
YA Fantasy
384 pages

JULY 7th!!!

New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to the magical world of the Trylle with The Lost City, the first book in the final Trylle arc.

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lays the secret kingdom of the Omte—a realm filled with wonder...and as many secrets.

Ulla Tulin was left abandoned in an isolated Kanin city as a baby, taken in by strangers and raised hidden away like many of the trolls of mixed blood. Even knowing this truth, she’s never stopped wondering about her family.

When Ulla is offered an internship working alongside the handsome Pan Soriano at the Mimirin, a prestigious institution, she jumps at the chance to use this opportunity to hopefully find her parents. All she wants is to focus on her job and the search for her parents, but all of her attempts to find them are blocked when she learns her mother may be connected to the Omte royal family.

With little progress made, Ulla and Pan soon find themselves wrapped up in helping Eliana, an amnestic girl with abilities unlike any they have ever seen before—a girl who seems to be running from something. To figure out who she is they must leave the city, and possibly, along the way, they may learn more about Ulla’s parents.



In an original mix of fantasy and reality, secrets abound and open up to what promises to be an interesting series.

Shortly after her birth, Ulla was abandoned at an inn by a woman, who only left her first name. Years later, Ulla is a happy young woman, who has worked hard and made many close friends and even found something like family. Still, she wonders about her true origins. As a troll, she lives among the magical race, which living mostly separate from the modern human world, is slowly going extinct. In hopes of helping her research, she lands an elite internship in one of the magic world's most renowned centers. As a troll of mixed blood, she's grudgingly welcomed. As her research reveals more secrets than answers, and a strange girl runs across her path, Ulla begins to believe that there is much more to her and the magic world than they are being taught.

I've read a couple of this author's works before—some I've enjoyed more than others—but I'm always amazed by the variety of tales she tells. In this one, her imagination definitely takes flight and develops a rich world, which offers all sorts of possibilities for a series.

The first chapter does a great job at allowing the reader to immediately gain sympathy for the main character and launch into a gripping beginning. It has a true, fantasy world beginning with the inn and a warrior suddenly appearing at the onslaught of a storm. While the tension and mystery is immediately set, the tone hangs toward family and warmth, allowing the reader to become familiar with Ulla and her life first. Although an orphan, she's not to be pitied and actually has a very lovely situation...which I found refreshing. It sets the foundations for a rich series.

The introduction of the modern human world kind of threw me for a moment. The first chapters have Ulla living among the other trolls (which has a very normal, human atmosphere), but then, mentions of McDonald's and shakes suddenly came in. It created a surprising world, and that's not bad. While the modern world is there, it dangles more like a shadow on the sidelines and never really touches the tale in this first book. It will be interesting to see if that remains the case in the rest of the series. But the idea definitely makes the characters easy to relate to and brings familiar items like internet although the setting is actually heavy on the fantasy end.

Ulla's past and the secrets it brings with it are the main tension drivers in these pages. While there are a few light action scenes (and I do mean light), the pacing in this one is driven by Ulla's research and, even more, by those she meets. Something is always happening, which made me constantly curious as to what would happen next. But there were moments where the pacing slowed a bit, and I found myself breezing over a few paragraphs, or a page or two. Still, I didn't want to lay the book down either because I was very curious as to what Ulla would discover next.

The characters are rich in this book, which is probably what made it such a lovely read. It's clear that not everyone can be trusted, even though it isn't obvious yet who Ulla should really beware of. But each character has their very own personality and quirks, making it easy to grab a few favorites and be unsure of several others. In any case, there is a lot to come and it appears that it will be quite the adventure with all sorts of surprises.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Review: Goodbye Kindergarten by Andrea Williams

by Andrea Williams
Illustrated by Vanessa Alexandre
Mascot Books
Picture Book
ages 3 to 7

Kindergarten has been full of fun and learning, but the school year is almost done. It’s time to say goodbye to your teacher and friends.

No need to be sad! Celebrate the special people, places, and things in your classroom, and all the knowledge you’ll take with you into first grade!

Available directly from Mascot Books here!



These pages bring positive vibes, warmth and understanding to those leaving Kindergarten for the last time before summer break heads into the first school year.

It's the last day of Kindergarten. The very last day. While nervousness mingles with wonder of thoughts at what the next stage of school might bring, it's first time to say goodbye to all of those familiar things. Each page offers a variety of goodbyes to things this age group might be familiar with in their own Kindergarten rooms. Goodbye pencils, paper, glue and so much more. The list is long, and at the end, it wraps up with a touching message which makes it clear that goodbye is sad but so much more than that, too.

The illustrations in this book are cute and sweet and friendly and full of life. While there are very familiar objects, the portrayed children are so cheerful that it's hard not to smile with them. And the teacher is a bubble of happiness and care, too. All negative and sad moments are kept at bay as the memories of the past year are briefly awakened and waved goodbye to.

At first, I found it a bit simple and strange to list things to say goodbye to, which young children will definitely be seeing again when they hit that first year of school. But by running through the list, it hits upon items leaving kindergarten kids have learned to be around every day. While reading this, I can see them coming up with extra things on their own...so, be ready for a few shout-ins when using this as a read-aloud. The ending is sweet and syrupy, but it adds in all that warmth sad kids will need to hear. 

This is a cute book for those leaving kindergarten and works well as a read-aloud or in smaller settings as well.

And here she is...

After graduating from ODU with a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education, Andrea became a kindergarten teacher. The idea for Goodbye Kindergarten came from a project she worked on during her last year as a kindergarten teacher at Hillpoint Elementary School.

Andrea originally wrote this book as a parting gift for her kindergarten class. She hopes it will help more students learn to say goodbye to the school year and hello to new beginnings

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The American Holocaust by Brady Cruze with Giveaway!

The American Holocaust
by Brady Cruze
 Coming of Age Fiction 

Is the Holocaust really over? That is the question Jacob Rossner has asked himself every day since his family fled Nazi Germany for the United States. Jacob soon discovers that the so-called Promised Land is far from perfect as he journeys from New York to Raleigh. This coming of age tale examines racism and prejudice through the eyes of a child who was forced to grow up too soon, but who finds love and acceptance in unexpected places.

Brady Cruze was born in Uruguay. At the age of 12 arrived to the US and quickly enrolled in school. While in the 10th grade, Brady wrote a four page story on racism for an English class assignment. That four page story was the basis for The American Holocaust. After fourteen years of working on the book, Brady was able to publish it in 2018. Brady has experienced first hand the devastating results racism in the US even many decades after the civil rights movement. In The American Holocaust, Brady makes the argument that the US has another kind of Holocaust in it's hands and that racism is still a big part of everyday culture. 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$15 Amazon